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Archive for August, 2009

The Countermobilization Myth

[ 0 ] August 31, 2009 |

In case you were wondering, still a myth. And, of course, public opinion on abortion on abortion has been remarkably stable since the early 70s, litigation-driven successes haven’t made abortion or same-sex marriage less popular in Canada, etc. etc. etc.

First Day of Class!!!

[ 2 ] August 31, 2009 |

Today is the first day of my National Security Policy course; website here, with syllabus. The National Security Policy course is one half of the core National Security major requirement at Patterson, the other half being Defense Statecraft. Did more than a bit of tweaking this year, adding the Drezner ed. Avoiding Trivia, subtracting a few things, and in general streamlining the course. I do have to say that I’m happy I established the blog requirement for both National Security and Defense Statecraft; we now have a four year record of what Patterson School students think and say about natsec that current students can refer back to.

Useful Idiot of the Day

[ 0 ] August 31, 2009 |

Saint Bradley.

I’m not sure what’s worse — his apparently sincere belief that congressional Republicans are willing to make a deal on health care, or his apparently sincere belief that “tort reform” would have a non-trivial effect on health care costs. Anyway, it’s certainly a first-rate job of spreading right-wing talking points that are extremely destructive to the possibility of actual health care reform.

Today In Democratic Senators For Torture and Arbitrary Executive Power

[ 3 ] August 30, 2009 |

In addition to the issue of Sunday news shows continuing to treat Saint McMaverick as if he were still relevant to anything, this shouldn’t go without emphasis:

Both Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Diane Feinstein (D-Calif) emphasized on Face the Nation this morning that the Attorney General’s new probe into the Central Intelligence Agency’s interrogation techniques is ill-timed and counter-productive.

Ye gods, is Feinstein atrocious. Perhaps Face the Nation could take the radical step of finding someone who doesn’t agree that torturers shouldn’t face legal consequences for violating the law.

And, in related news, if CIA agents are depressed because they might actually face consequences for illegal activity this is indeed a very good thing.

Iraqi Air Force Discovered!!!!!

[ 0 ] August 30, 2009 |

This is positively strange:

Iraqi officials have discovered that they may have an air force, after all.

The Defense Ministry revealed Sunday that it recently learned that Iraq owns 19 Russian-designed MIG-21 and MIG-23 jet fighters, which are in storage in Serbia. The ministry said Iraqi officials are negotiating with the Serbs to restore the aircraft.

The Serbian government has tentatively promised to make two of the aircraft available “for immediate use,” according to a press release from the ministry. The rest would be restored on a rush basis, the ministry said.

If returned (and it appears that the Iraqis want them) these planes will constitute the entirety of the fighter capability of the Iraqi Air Force, at least until projected purchase of F-16s comes to pass. MiG-21s and MiG-23s aren’t all that, of course (MiG-21 in particular was an excellent aircraft in its day), but I can see how it would be nice to have a core capability for training and organizational purposes. Iran theoretically still owes Iraq 100 aircraft (flown to Iran during the Gulf War) but the probability of recovering those jets is very low.

I Challenge You, Sir!

[ 0 ] August 30, 2009 |

I’d be reluctant, at this point, to take the anti-dueling clause out of the Kentucky public service oath. Give it maybe another hundred years. In particular, I’d be worried about the safety of Media Czech if Kentucky politicos were suddenly freed from their anti-dueling constraints…

Bureaucracy

[ 0 ] August 30, 2009 |

Ezra makes a critical point:

Paperwork gets lost. HR Departments are busy. People are between jobs for a few months, or they pressed submit but not “save.” So they go uninsured for a few months. Or maybe more. Maybe they don’t notice for a year. That’s fine if they don’t get hit by a car. It’s not fine if they do get hit by a car. The problem with slipping through the cracks is that you don’t know how you’ll land.

But it’s the inevitable product of a fractured system where there’s no default insurance status, or continuity between jobs and conditions. If you’re born in Canada, you’re simply covered from birth until death. Here? You’re on your parents’ insurance, or maybe S-CHIP. Then maybe you get insurance through your college. Then you’re uninsured for a bit. Your first job doesn’t offer benefits. Your second job does, but it only lasts a year. So you have to reenroll with a different insurer in your third job, and change your primary care provider. You move. You go to grad school. And so it goes.

In the process of the wife changing jobs and our… er… lifestyle change, we have had to make several shifts between programs and insurers. These are matter of course for anyone dealing with employer based insurance, although the simultaneous job change and arrival of babies complicates factors. I have spent untold hours on the phone with employers and insurance companies, in offices talking to bureaucrats, and at the table poring over the marginal differences in various plans. We have had to make adjustments to our health care expectations because of this bureaucratic awkwardness, in that some appointments get canceled and some medications either don’t get purchased or get purchased on a delayed basis. We’ve had to deal with the terrified look that comes onto the face of the receptionist at the doctor’s office when you say “We don’t have an insurance card yet, but seriously, we ARE insured.”

None of this seems to get counted when people talk about wait times, but believe it or not, the 16 hours you spent on the phone trying to organize your health care is 16 hours that you don’t get back. Moreover, the experience has made me even more unreceptive to warnings about the bureaucratization of health care; I’ve dealt with so many bureaucrats from so many different organizations that giving all of their jobs to one single government bureaucrat tasked with determining how useful my life is would seem like sweet relief…

This Seems Awkward…

[ 1 ] August 30, 2009 |

Ahem.

The British government decided it was “in the overwhelming interests of the United Kingdom” to make Abdelbaset Ali Mohmed al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, eligible for return to Libya, leaked ministerial letters reveal.

Gordon Brown’s government made the decision after discussions between Libya and BP over a multi-million-pound oil exploration deal had hit difficulties. These were resolved soon afterwards.

The letters were sent two years ago by Jack Straw, the justice secretary, to Kenny MacAskill, his counterpart in Scotland, who has been widely criticised for taking the formal decision to permit Megrahi’s release.

The correspondence makes it plain that the key decision to include Megrahi in a deal with Libya to allow prisoners to return home was, in fact, taken in London for British national interests.

There are conceivably defensible rationales for letting a guy who murdered 270 people out of prison. This ain’t one of them.

Another Senate Appoinment

[ 1 ] August 28, 2009 |

I know pretty much nothing about Crist’s choice, but give him this: he has a great name.

The United States Rations Health Care

[ 0 ] August 28, 2009 |

It’s stating the obvious, and yet apparently it needs to be said again and again.

When Everything Comes Together

[ 0 ] August 28, 2009 |

This basically just sums up LGM, I think:

Robert Farley’s best name anagram is FLYER ABORTER

Obama and Health Care

[ 0 ] August 28, 2009 |

If Obama is proven to have made mistakes when we see what comes out of the World’s Worst Deliberative Body, they will have been about his strategy with respect to Congress: being to willing to cave to Blue Dog objections while receiving nothing in return, not using whatever leverage he can to instill real party discipline. On the other hand, I don’t think changing his rhetorical strategy for selling health care could have made much difference. The McCaugheys and Palins would have put out all kinds of screaming nonsense about absolutely any proposal framed in any way and gotten in taken seriously in a large number of media outlets. Liberals need to figure out how to counteract it, not try to preempt it, because the latter is impossible.

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