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At Least Yoosta-Bees Stop Claiming to be Democrats

[ 7 ] November 15, 2010 |

I’ve mentioned this before, but shouldn’t there be some statute of limitations that prevents Pat Caddell from being referred to as a “Democratic pollster?” At some point, having conducted some polls for Jimmy Carter in 1976 has to be trumped by having spent decades not merely spouting inane Republican talking points but inventing some so dumb that even Sean Hannity wouldn’t use them.   You also wonder if Caddell could win a battle of political knowledge with Mark Penn, although in fairness the rankings of great presidents are certainly dominated by one-termers…

…more here. One odd thing about Clinton is that despite his very considerable political skills, he chose to work with some of the most gruesome know-nothing reactionary hacks in political consultancy racket — Schoen, Morris, Penn, gawd.


Yep, Simpson/Bowles Is Indefensible

[ 1 ] November 15, 2010 |

As promised (threatened?),I have more on Chait’s defense of Simpson/Bowles here.

Compromising with median legislators who hold the cards because they’re essentially indifferent to social problems is justifiable when if leads to a program that, by creating a constituency of supporters, becomes difficult to repeal.  As long as the legislation improves the status quo, it’s worth passing, and holding out for better alternatives that show no sign of getting the necessary votes for the foreseeable future doesn’t make any sense.  But this has nothing to do with a deficit plan, because deficit-creating legislation is the opposite.   It’s hard to repeal Social Security or Medicare because it provides benefits that large numbers of people treasure.   It’s easy to lower capital gains taxes or increase agricultural subsidies, because some politically powerful interests will be happy, while nobody can see the costs directly.    So there’s really no reason to compromise — making a deal on the deficit in itself doesn’t actually get you anything enforceable going forward.    And this isn’t just hypothetical; we have extensive evidence that Republicans don’t care about the deficit and would undo most of whatever decent provisions remained as soon as they get unified control of the government.    So why the hell would you give them a deal tilted in their favor?    It’s a lose-lose proposition.

The Party of Disagreeing With Ideas They’ve Always Disagreed With

[ 126 ] November 15, 2010 |

Shorter Ross Douthat:   It’s truly inexplicable that many Democrats oppose a deficit “compromise” made between a conservative nominal Democrat and a conservative Republican that includes such longstanding liberal preferences as ending the EITC and slashing the top marginal tax rate to levels not seen since the Hoover administration, and requires ongoing future cooperation from Republicans who have consistently demonstrated that any deficit reductions will be used to (partially) finance more upper-class tax cuts whenever they’re in power.   Obviously, it’s because they have no interest in governing.

…additional shorter Ross Douthat:  the fact that liberals oppose an entirely arbitrary revenue (and hence, if this is actually supposed to be a deficit proposal, spending) cap that would drastically shrink government going forward proves that liberals support all government spending.

MarkZism Redux: Tyranny or Transcendence?

[ 8 ] November 15, 2010 |

Some colleagues suggested my earlier blialogue with my husband about the socio-political implications of Facebook’s ever-changing architecture would be more entertaining in video format. Also, I was further galvanized to speak out about the perils of MarkZism when I learned on Saturday that someone I love has apparently committed a Facebook suicide. So, I played around with Xtranormal this weekend. Enjoy.

The Deficit! It’s All About Earmarks and Tort Reform!

[ 42 ] November 14, 2010 |

This is kind of fun, although obviously the most interesting decisions would fall outside or in between many of the presented choices. It would also be nice to have some options that allowed maintenance of a near-term deficit in return for closure of the long term. Here’s my plan, which manages to maintain the Air Force and Navy by returning America to the growth-killing, might-as-well-just-call-it-slavery taxation levels of the Bill Clinton’s tyrannical regime.

Just To Be Clear

[ 20 ] November 14, 2010 |

There’s nothing remotely “libertarian” about the Tea Party or its favored representatives. Misogyny, though, they’re soaking in it.

A Win is a Win and What Not

[ 10 ] November 13, 2010 |

Well, that was, uh… decisive. Oregon winning time of possession is not normally a good thing, but the 9:25 drive to end the game was relatively impressive.

On Preserving the Dignity of Amateur Athletics

[ 13 ] November 13, 2010 |

As a disinterested party, I would like to announce my shock and dismay regarding allegations that Cam Newton and his family may have tried to recover fair market value for his athletic skills. Any Heisman voters in our reading audience should be outraged by this, and cast their votes for LaMichael James of the squeaky clean University of Oregon football program.

Also, Auburn is getting crushed by Georgia for some reason.

…also, Notre Dame appears to be beating Utah. Dogs and cats living together, etc.

You Are the Sucker, Catfood Commission Edition

[ 28 ] November 13, 2010 |

On a business trip to lovely Eire without my laptop cable, I was spared further reading about inevitable Democratic attempts to make peace with the Simpson/Bowles abomination.   But with a charger secured I decided to take a look.   I’ll largely leave Jon Chait’s self-refuting defense for when I get back, but the short version is that since (as Chait concedes) Republicans don’t actually care about the deficit any deficit reduction “deal” one could make with them is worthless on its face.    Absolutely nothing in the package could prevent the same kind of bait-and-switch that occurred after the Greenspan Commission’s payroll tax hikes or the 1993 Clinton budget, which where used by Republicans as a pretext for more upper-class tax cuts and spending hikes.   Given this,  any Democrat who supports a plan overwhelmingly tilted towards conservative priorities (and, indeed, constitutes a very conservative set of policy proposals rather than an actual deficit-reduction proposal) would be one of the biggest suckers in history.

Ygelsias, at least, doesn’t claim that liberals should support a compromise between conservative Democrats and conservative Republicans, but this argument nonetheless concedes far too much:

That’s not to say that pursuing a conservative-moderate deal was a bad idea. Self-identified conservatives outnumber self-identified liberals by a large margin and moderates are a much bigger force in the Democratic coalition than in the Republican one. So if you want a deal, appointing an orthodox conservative Republican and a moderate Democrat from North Carolina makes a lot of sense.

The problem in context — as Matt recognized as recently as two weeks ago — is that ideological self-identifications are largely devoid of specific policy content.    Americans might by significantly more likely to call themselves conservatives than liberals, but this is neither here not there in terms of whether they support spending being reduced to 21% of GDP* or substantial reductions to the top marginal tax rate  or substantial (if carefully unspecified) Medicare cuts.    And, in fact, the evidence is quite overwhelming that even self-identified conservatives (let alone the population as a whole) don’t support actual fiscal conservative policy proposals of the type represented by Simpson/Bowles.   So this was in fact a terrible idea that produced a set of proposals that should be considered completely indefensible — even as a starting point — for anyone close to the left of the American political spectrum.

*It might be objected that the Catfooders only want revenues capped at 21% of GDP.   True, but if we’re not going to reduce spending to something close to this level, then what the hell are we discussing here?   Certainly not a significant deficit reduction deal.

Banal Emerald Isle Blogging

[ 23 ] November 13, 2010 |

I was going to verify that Guinness is even better when tasted in its country of origin, but then remembered where I was and can verify instead that Beamish and Murphy’s taste much better in their country of origin.

Orphaned Global Health Issues

[ 6 ] November 12, 2010 |

Today is the second annual World Pneumonia Day, a small sign of growing attention to the deadliest and yet until recently one of the least high-profile childhood diseases. As recently as last year, Nicholas Kristof was bemoaning the inadequacy of investment in prevention and treatment, although pneumonia deaths outnumber those of malaria, HIV-AIDS and measles combined. Since then, a global network of NGOs, international organizations, researchers and governments formed the Global Coalition Against Child Pneumonia has begun to change this perception – a first step in changing global health practice and donor priorities.

This is good news. But it also highlights the uneven attention to specific global health issues generally – a problem not lost on researchers. According to Jeremy Shifman of Syracuse University, for example, the likelihood that an issue like maternal mortality will come to prominence on the global agenda has a
little to do with its prevalence or severity and much to do with the political context.

In this sense, the story of the emerging pneumonia campaign also reminds us to keep an eye out for norm entrepreneurs promoting causes we may have missed. Here are five more emerging campaigns on low-salience global health issues worth paying attention to: Read more…


[ 7 ] November 12, 2010 |

I’ve often wondered; you put Michael Caine on that island with Toshiro Mifune and Lee Marvin, who wins?

Via AG.