Tuesday Linkorama

  • Eventually, Democrats are going to run out of excuses. Now, they can’t even pass budget on time. Of course, the Republicans weren’t much better.
  • Memo to the GOP. Socialism actually has a dictionary definition. That definition is not anything I don’t like.
  • Somehow, I don’t think the housing crunch is over. We’re continuing to prop up this bubble. Until it kills us.
  • Ah, the War on Drugs. What stupidity have you unleashed today?
  • More paranoia about kids (with some hefty lucre thrown in).
  • Defensive medicine explained. Note that those who dispute the notion of defensive medicine don’t consider tests of questionable value to be “defensive”.
  • Uh-oh. The FDIC is running low of funds. I keep hoping the economy will turn around. But there’s a lot of ominous rumbling out there.
  • Wednesday Linkorama

  • Prediction: when the Right realized that Pat Tillman opposed the Iraq War, they will drop him like a rock.
  • I have a feeling that Bruce Bartlett is right. We’re going to have to raise taxes to erase the deficit. There’s simply not enough spending that can be cut once you exclude Medicare, Medicaid and defense. To me, this is a very conservative point of view. The point is fiscal sanity, not mindless anti-tax rhetoric.
  • A great illustration of just how stupid trade protectionism is. Ford is building vans, then ripping them up to avoid trade barriers.
  • Greg Mankiw notes that healthcare will never be equal. I keep intending to pen a long post on why healthcare should not be considered a “right” (helping people in need, which I support in principle, is an act of compassion, but a matter of people’s rights). Mankiw makes a key argument here: if medical care is a right and a medical procedure is too expensive for all of us to have, how can any of us have it?
  • Conservative crowing about the revision of arctic ice melt illustrates perfectly what’s wrong with their thinking. One bad fact does not overturn thousands of others. This would be the equivalent of denying general relatively because a nuclear bomb didn’t work.
  • Racism Quick Hits

    The accusations that Obama opponents are secret (or not so secret) racists continue to fly. As does the pushback. By far, the smartest response I’ve heard if from John McWhorter:

    “It gets to the point where we don’t have a word that we use to call people racist who actually are,” said John McWhorter, who studies race and language at the conservative Manhattan Institute.

    “The more abstract and the more abusive we get in the way we use the words, then the harder it is to talk about what we originally meant by those terms,” said McWhorter.

    It’s not like we don’t have issues of real racism to deal with. Drug arrests, for example, are heavily skewed toward black people. And just today, four black men were cleared of rape accusations in a case that was similar to the Duke case, only without a giant media machine screaming about it. (The latter case also illustrates the increasing need for people to videotape all sexual encounters; for legal reasons).

    My personal opinion is that no debate is improved by injecting race into it, one way or the other. Let’s posit, for the moment, that Obama’s opponents are motivated by racism; I mean, we all know how eagerly Rush Limbaugh embraced tax hikes on the rich under Clinton. What’s the advantage of bringing the issue forward? It only diverts the debate into a cul-de-sac on racism. The ability to argue and persuade the American center to one side or the other is lost.

    I’ll agree that there is some irrational and visceral hatred of Obama out there. But I think this has far more to do with his party affiliation than his skin color. We saw this sort of thing during the last Administration. The Left denounced Bush as evil even as he advanced agendas — big increases in education funding, campaign finance reform, Medicare Part D — that they had advocated for years. And now we have many “conservatives” denouncing the big-spending and bailouts they supported under Bush. It is my firm belief that about 2/3 of Americans decided their policy opinions based on the letter after the politicians’ name. That is not new.

    In fact, that leads to the biggest problem with the accusations of racism — it destroys any possibility of crossing idealogical lines. During the Bush Administration, his defenders denounced his opponents as terrorist sympathizers who hated America. In doing so, they fell through an intellectual trap door. From that point, they could never criticize Bush and never agree with his opponents, even as he did stuff that they opposed and/or violated the law. Because to do so would mean that they had to agree with people who hated America. Thus the increasingly strained and laughable defenses of things like torture.

    If the Left goes to the rabbit whole of racial accusation, they will find themselves in the same intellectual trap door. They will never be able to criticize Obama, even as he does stuff they oppose or violates the law (see his plans to expand Bagram). Because to do so would mean they agree with a bunch of racists.

    The temporary victory of demonizing the opposition is not worth the long-term price of slicing ourselves up into intellectually isolated groups. Let’s move on. Please.

    Sickbeds Again

    Sullivan’s “view from your sickbed” is back. And once again, it confused tragedy with analysis. The story is about a young woman who needed a liver transplant but the hospital incorrectly thought her insurance didn’t cover it. The reader claims a universal healthcare system might have saved her.

    What happened was tragic, but the insurance system did not cause that young woman’s death. No system would have been able to transplant her within hours of admission and it’s highly unlikely a universal system would have transplanted her within two days. In the UK, the median wait time for a transplant is about three months. In the US, it’s almost a year. (The difference is likely due to difference in organ donation frequency).

    Moreover, a bureaucracy is going to get between patient and doctor in all transplant cases. Because of the limited number of organs available, someone has to decide where they go. Healthy livers do not just grow on trees.

    Had she lived more than three hours, it is likely that the insurance errors would have been discovered and she would have been put back on the list. However, it’s very likely she would have died even if she’d put on the list immediately.

    This is why I hate debating healthcare with sob stories. Because sob stories don’t tell the entire truth.

    Friday Linkorama

  • And people wonder why tort reform is such a big deal to doctors. Brilliant article from Philip Howard looks into solutions.
  • A new study find CO2 levels track arctic ice levels. Let’s see if the global warming denier acknowledge this study the same way they’ll acknowledge a study that disputes an aspect of global warming.
  • It’s no surprise to me that more religious states have higher teen birth rates, although I suspect there’s a correlation-causation thing going on.
  • I have to say that I’m kind of against mandatory flu vaccinations even though I generally favor mandating vaccination. One factor here is that the flu vaccine is not anywhere close to 100% effective.
  • Just when you thought the birthers couldn’t get any crazier.
  • A great piece from Jesse Walker argues that it’s not radical groups — left or right — who present the real violent threat in America. It’s the response.
  • Yet more scientific coolness.
  • Wednesday Linkorama

  • Swayze gone too?. Man, we’re losing a lot of people off the boat in 2009.
  • A really stupid post by Greenwald encapsulates a lot of the smugness that makes the Left so repugnant to conservatives. He is so locked in to the interpretation that the tea party protests are against minorities and immigrants that he can’t see the plain and simple reality the the tea parties are protesting corporate bailouts, executive salaries and the wholesale turning over of our healthcare system to monied interests. How can he be so smart on torture and so reflexively dumb on the Right Wing?
  • Ed Morrisey has a great post on how the efficient Medicare system screw up kidney transplants.
  • This is the sort of thing I hope will eventually emerge from all the tea party business — smart conservative proposals for budgetary reform.
  • One thing that history will say: George Bush was a lousy President, but he was not an idiot. Read his very prescient assessment of Sarah Palin.
  • Dear Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck. Stop. Now. We are earnestly trying to fight the rising tide of big government. We do not need you pointlessly, stupidly and ignorantly injecting race into everything to drive up your ratings.
  • I heart Bruce Bartlett. His Imposter book was a scathing (and unpopular) indictment of the Republicans. And his voice is one of the few leading us out of the wilderness.
  • Weekend Linkorama

  • Nope. It was not speculators who drove oil prices. Not that this will stop the Democrats from saying that it was.
  • I think it’s a great idea to pass a law forbidding airlines from keeping passengers trapped on the tarmac for hours.
  • What the hell? Since when can the government just take over your life because it deems you incompetent?
  • Legal reform modeled on healthcare reform. I love it.
  • Holy crap, I agree with Ezra Klein! The mortgage interest deduction mainly benefits the wealthy. For many in the middle class, it’s smaller than just the standard deduction. Scrap it. In fact, scrap the entire system and go with a flat tax.
  • A good rant from Ta-Nehisi on racism (or lack thereof)(or something).
  • Obama is now claiming the stimulus has saved a million jobs. Given that the unemployment curve is way over the Administration’s projections, I don’t think even they believe this.