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Everyone’s Looking Forward to the Weekend Links

[ 121 ] August 1, 2014 |
  • Yes, Bloody Andy needs to be removed from the $20.  Rosa Parks and Elizabeth Cady Stanton seem like excellent candidates to replace him.  Alas, if done by a Republican Congress presumably the new bill would have Reagan on the front and John Calhoun on the back.
  • “Reading the column is like listening to Dick Cheney mutter in his sleep.”  I particularly enjoyed the assertion that the “forgotten part” of the Chamberlain story is the “peace in our time” comment.  Similarly, what NOBODY REMEMBERS about Game 6 of the 1986 World Series is that Bill Buckner muffed a ground ball, leading to the winning run.  And now you know the rest of the story.
  • deglar watched some terrible pro-Confederate Civil War movies so you don’t have to.   (Gods and Generals, I note as a connoisseur of aesthetic Stalinism, made Michael Medved’s 10 best list.)
  • Krugman on Geithner.
  • Definitely agree that the new Jenny Lewis is a welcome return to form from one of the best songwriters in this great land of ours.
  • John Brennan really needs to resign.
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Chinese Airpower

[ 15 ] August 1, 2014 |

The next Guns N’ Roses album? No, my latest at the Diplomat:

Ankit’s recent post (building on Rebecca Grant’s  longer list at Air Force Magazine) opens the question of whether China has structured its military institutions such that they support the sophisticated development and dynamic use of military aviation.

In short, how does the organizational configuration of Chinese airpower matter for how China will fight, plan to fight, and procure?

There is no single optimal way to organize military forces. Different organizational constellations produce different outcomes for warfighting, procurement, and strategic thought. Reorganizations are costly, and shouldn’t be undertaken at the drop of a hat, but nevertheless provide an opportunity to better align organizational imperatives with national goals.

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Today Among the Halbig Troofers

[ 58 ] August 1, 2014 |

Sean Davis believes he has actual new evidence to support the particularly wingnutty theory that millions of people should be denied health care coverage not merely because the card says “Moops,” but because the Moops actually invaded Spain. You will be shocked that he does not.

In defense of the theory that Congress actually intended for subsidies not to be available on the federal exchanges, Davis uses many words to cite two people. The first of these we’re familiar with: Jonathan Gruber. Which gets Davis nowhere, since privileging two stray and ambiguous comments by Gruber in 2012 over absolutely everyone else on all parts of the ideological spectrum at the time (particularly when the latter group includes not only the unambiguous statements of Gruber in 2014 but Gruber’s analysis in 2010) raises hackery to a farcical level. So, what’s his second source? He cites statements made by the superb liberal health care analyst Jon Cohn:

There is some kind of opt out, and I’ll be honest. This is not something I’ve looked into that closely because I don’t think it’s going to end up in the bill. But you know, basically this I believe was part of the Ben Nelson compromise.

Basically, where a state could opt out of the exchanges, I find it hard to believe a state would actually do that. You know, it’s – if you think about the history of these sorts of things, Medicaid was set up and is, remains, an optional program for states. States can opt out of Medicaid if they want to.

Cohn explains himself here. To be clear — proving that it can happen to the best of us — Cohn’s analysis on this point, as I’m sure he would concede, was mistaken. It should have been clear that at least some states would have refused to create exchanges in 2010. It’s true that no states were turning down Medicaid funds at the time, but 1)the block of Medicaid money is a stronger incentive than “your citizens won’t get tax credits but will also be therefore exempt from the individual mandate” and 2)not all states accepted the Medicaid immediately — Arizona held out until 1982. Given the original Medicaid holdouts despite an era of less partisan polarization and its stronger incentives, the history of Medicaid in fact made it pretty evident that some states would not establish exchanges.

But, of course, Congress (of which Cohn was not in fact a member) did anticipate this problem — which is why it created a federal backstop in cases where states did not establish exchanges. And Cohn does not say otherwise — note that he starts out by saying that “this is not something I’ve looked into that closely.” So Cohn’s excessive optimism in an off-the-cuff statement is neither here nor there; Congress didn’t share it, and the troofer argument requires the belief that Congress created a federal backstop but wanted it not to work, which is a transparently absurd reading of the statute.

So, Cohn’s statements aren’t actually new evidence at all. We’re left where we started — the troofer argument is that a single cherry skin on the ground makes an apple orchard a cherry tree. There is never going to be a threat to Drum’s 10 bucks.

see this too. Oddly, the CBO never even considered the scenario that Halbig troofers consider the statute to have unambiguously established. Please revise your views of Senate Majority Leader Gruber accordingly.

…Abbe Gluck has more.

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It’s Hard Out There For the 1 Percent

[ 365 ] August 1, 2014 |

The Daily Capitalist urges us to understand the plight of the wealthy and how a visa glitch makes life so hard:

In Washington, D.C., Mira Edmonds said her au pair’s arrival from France, which was scheduled for last Sunday, has been indefinitely delayed. Ms. Edmonds, who is a lawyer, and her husband work full-time and depend on child care for their two children, ages 3 and 6. “I don’t know how we’re going to cope if she isn’t here soon,” Ms. Edmonds said.

Shed a tear, my friends, shed a tear.

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The Goeben’s Saga Begins…

[ 6 ] August 1, 2014 |

One hundred years ago today, Goeben and Breslau were preparing their escape…

In the years prior to the war, Germany deployed naval squadrons around the world to protect its burgeoning colonial empire. War came so quickly that some of these squadrons were trapped in unfriendly waters, chased by superior British forces.

Goeben and the light cruiser Breslau amounted to a respectable, if not formidable, capability. Germany had two allies in the Mediterranean—Italy and Austria—but Berlin worried the two traditional enemies might fight each other, instead.

The Germans were unprepared for war. Goeben—displacing 25,000 tons and packing 10 11-inch guns—badly needed a refit, as well as refueling, and Mediterranean allies weren’t ready to accommodate the vessel. Vienna still hoped it could avoid war with Britain. Italy was unhelpful.

Longtime LGM readers will recall that I wrote a much longer version of the story several years ago.

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And the Winner of Satan’s Favorite Earthling Is…..

[ 3 ] August 1, 2014 |

ALEC has an award for its favorite legislator. This is like, I don’t know, winning the award for the most horrible human being on the planet or something. Anyway, the winner, not surprisingly is an Art Pope lackey in North Carolina.

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An Unconvincing Defense of the Poor Door

[ 173 ] August 1, 2014 |

Given the, shall we say, “unfavorable optics” of the poor door scandal, I wasn’t exactly expecting to see a defense of the policy, let alone from the putative center-left. But Matt Yglesias has made an attempt at one, so let’s have a look:

the idea of a single building with two different doors — one for the super-rich and one for the normals — works as a potent metaphor. But the building is not a metaphor. It is, in fact, a building. A building in which people live. A building whose construction employs people, and whose existence expands the New York City tax base. Even better, it’s a building that created subsidized dwellings in a desirable location for 55 lucky families. The serious problems with housing policy in America have nothing to do with poor doors and everything to do with the literally millions of people in the New York area who aren’t lucky enough to get a subsidized unit on the Upper West Side.

After all, Yglesias notes, if the developer had built two buildings, one for the rich and one for the poor (editor’s filibuster: one of the weird things about this story is that we’re not even talking about class segregation against the poor – the subsidized dwellings are going for $908 a month for a one-bedroom, which means by HUD guidelines you’d need to be making at least $36k/year to afford this affordable housing – but rather against the working class, which is an unsettling increase in classist prejudice), no one would be talking about discrimination, and the real issue is that there’s not enough affordable housing in New York.

However, if you dig into Yglesias’ argument, not only do you find some major holes, but there’s some nasty stuff inside the holes.

Read more…

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The Accommodation Shell Game

[ 21 ] August 1, 2014 |

For some organizations in the wake of Hobby Lobby, the only acceptable answer is “no contraceptive coverage for you.” The Supreme Court may well go along.

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The King’s English

[ 239 ] July 31, 2014 |

I’m not sure Oak Ridge National Laboratory importing the ideas of Dr. Henry Higgins is such a good idea:

The rain in Spain won’t be falling mainly on the plain after all, at least not at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. The Tennessee-based research facility canceled what it had billed as a “Southern accent reduction” class amid employee backlash; for some staff, it came off as a little too “My Fair Lady: Appalachia.”

“Feel confident in a meeting when you need to speak with a more neu­tral Amer­i­can accent, and be remembered for what you say and not how you say it,” reads an email sent to thousands of staff members last week, advertising the new course. “In this course you will learn to recognize the pronunciation and grammar differences that make your speech sound Southern, and learn what to do so you can neutralize it through a technique called code-switching.”

The weekly course, set to run through mid-September, was offered on a voluntary basis only (with an $850 price tag). But some employees were insulted by the premise of the course and wording of the email, and complained. The lab subsequently called off the class.

David Keim, spokesman for Oak Ridge, which is the Energy Department’s biggest research facility and home to the Titan supercomputer, said the lab regularly offers accent modification classes for its many employees who are non-native English speakers. The lab employs some 4,400 people from 90 countries, as well as from across the U.S., and their work is highly technical. That makes professional development designed to help international researchers communicate more clearly and efficiently in high demand, he said.

Or Americans, especially the snotty elite classes not living in east Tennessee who are going to be interacting with ORNL employees, could just get over the idea of a proper accent and be OK with someone if their accent is from southern Appalachia, Rhode Island, Texas, or Minnesota. While obviously working with non-native speakers is a good idea that empowers the individual, embarrassing your employees because of where they are from and how they grew up makes the individual ashamed of themselves. Not everyone has to sound like they are on TV. This is real classism.

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Don’t Over-Stupid an Already Stupid Conversation

[ 74 ] July 31, 2014 |

Of all the stupid tropes that are used to describe the Israel-Palestine conflict:

What would politicians in Arizona, Texas and California do if Mexico were shooting rockets into Scottsdale, Houston or Los Angeles? You can bet it wouldn’t last almost ten years. More like ten hours, before the USA would unleash whatever force was necessary to protect the citizens of Arizona, Texas and California.

Would America keep the water and the electricity on for a people that were attacking her? Would anyone blame America for protecting their own people and showing strength? Would we care if the rest of the world disagreed?

No, we would care about one thing, and one thing only: protecting American’s and doing the best we could to minimize innocent civilians deaths.

Sure; in the past the United States has punctuated mild tolerance for pinprick attacks launched by indigenous peoples with vicious campaigns of extermination.  Many Americans have come to regret this particular reaction; others have not.  I daresay, however, that if a substantial group of Americans was subjected to land confiscation and occupation on a scale similar to that imposed upon the Palestinians, they would valorize heroic resistance in the face of impossible odds, however pointless and illegal that resistance might seem to outsiders, and  that they would engage in terrorist activity in hopes of overturning the existing political and military order.

And with respect to “But but but Hamas is BAAAD!!”, I agree that this might matter if we were talking about justice.  What we’re talking about, however, is the politics and psychology of vengeance.

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Still with the Air Force Bit

[ 7 ] July 31, 2014 |

I have an op-ed at Aviation Week and Space Technology on abolishing the Air Force:

Institutionally speaking, we are living in 1947. We created military services in order to provide institutional voice to certain kinds of capabilities. Interwar airpower enthusiasts argued that aviators needed an independent service because land and sea commanders could not appreciate the transformative implications of military aviation. Innovation, industry and doctrine would suffer as the parochial interests of the Army and Navy prevented aviators from spreading their wings, so to speak.

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U.S. Responsibility for the Central American Child Immigrant Wave

[ 49 ] July 31, 2014 |

The reasons for the wave of child immigrants from Guatemala, Honduras, and El Salvador are complex, but as Óscar Martínez correctly states, many of them are related to the United States:

As thousands of children like Auner, Chele and Pitbull arrive at the US border, it is important to remember the role the United States has played in creating this mass migration. In the 1970s and ’80s, El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras were in the midst of either bloody civil wars or fierce government repression in which the United States played an iron-fisted role. Fearing the spread of communism in Latin America, the United States supported the autocratic military governments of these three countries, which in turn generated thousands of northbound migrants. Some of these migrants went on to join gangs in California. The 18th Street Gang and the Mara Salvatrucha were not formed in El Salvador, Honduras or Guatemala but in the United States. Some fifty years ago, the 18th Street Gang splintered off from Clanton 14 in Southern California. The Mara Salvatrucha formed in Los Angeles in the late 1970s. At the end of the ’80s and the start of the ’90s, the United States deported close to 4,000 gang members. When they arrived back in Central America, they found fertile conditions in which to increase their numbers: countries devastated by war and poverty, with thousands upon thousands of corruptible and abandoned children.

But it would be an oversimplification to say that the flight of children to the United States is the product of violence alone.

Rubén Zamora is currently the Salvadoran ambassador to the UN and, until a month ago, El Salvador’s ambassador to the United States. With his replacement awaiting confirmation by the Salvadoran Senate, Zamora has been left to address the international implications of the child migrant crisis. Zamora explains that there is no single cause of the surge in child migrants. In addition to gang activity, Zamora says that the improving economic conditions experienced by Salvadoran migrants to the United States have acted as a draw. “From sharing a single room with a group of people, now some migrants can pay $1,000 a month and rent a two-bedroom apartment for themselves in the suburbs,” he says. And that means “more people can pay to bring their children to the US.”

Thousands of migrants from Central America are ineligible for temporary protected status—not because they’ve violated any law but because they missed the cutoff dates. The United States offers a mere 5,000 visas for low-skilled workers every year. For many, the only chance for gaining legal status in the United States is the asylum process, and it’s a long shot. Over the last few decades, in part as a response to the wave of Central American migrants fleeing the civil wars, the United States has narrowed the definition of who qualifies for asylum. Because most of those fleeing Central America are not doing so because of their “race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social group, or political opinion,” they are ineligible.

I recently asked two immigration lawyers from California and North Carolina how many requests for asylum they file each week. “At least ten,” they said. They’ve lost track of how many migrants they’ve represented over the years. But the tally of those who have been successful is easy to remember: none.

“Parents don’t see any chance of bringing their children legally to the US,” Zamora says, “so what options are left for them?”

Martínez is also correct on the point that the kids are not going to stop coming. There really is nothing the U.S. can do to stop this wave. It can make lives worse for the children fleeing violence to be reunited with their parents. It can militarize the border to all get-out. It can have coyotes extradited to the U.S. The kids are still going to come until a) gang violence ends in Central America and b) there is no reason for Central Americans to migrate to the U.S. without documentation.

And it’s worth reiterating the long-term damage U.S. Cold War policy had in poor nations around the world. The actions of Dulles and Eisenhower and Reagan and North destabilized these nations, creating conditions that continue to blowback to the U.S. today.

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