Tag Archives: Congress

Idiot Nation, Idiot Press

The Daily Kos goes after Politico for the way that it handled Palin’s claim over the health care plan:

Seriously? Seriously?

Yes, seriously. It falls to Politico to take a story about a national figure making up wholesale a crooked and ridiculous story about how Democratic “Death Panels” are coming after her disabled child if we dare reform healthcare, and turn it into an absolutely straight news story.Well done, Politico. Absolutely masterful. I couldnt come up with a more embarrassing example of the national political media as lazy, stupid, worse-than-useless prop if I tried.

As the Daily Kos points out it should not be too much to ask for an institution like Politico to point out how blatantly ignorant and idiotic Palin’s statement is. Instead of doing so though they simply quote her and lend a ounce of credibility to her claim.

Life expectancy and the health care debate

Matthew Yglesias today rebuts this statistic about life expectancy in the Netherlands versus the United States:

At birth, someone living in the Netherlands can expect to live 2.35 years longer than someone born in the US, but at age 65, the difference is reversed, and someone living in the US can expect to live 0.4 years longer than someone living in the Netherlands. This difference can be explained by assuming that semi-socialized health care is better for young and worse for old people, or, at least as likely, different policies are not the main cause of the difference. [emphasis original]

Yglesias writes that:

But insofar as we want to examine the health care issue, both sides of this factoid support socialism. Dutch people of all ages enjoy a quasi-socialized system of health insurance provision (by European standards, there’s a lot of private sector involvement in Dutch health care). Americans under the age of 65 participate in an overwhelmingly private sector health insurance market. But Americans over the age of 65 participate in a Canadian-style national health insurance scheme known as Medicare. The data, if we want to take it seriously, indicates that the Dutch system is better than private sector medicine but worse than Medicare and tends to support a “Medicare for all” approach.

This reminds me of the interview that John Stewart did with Bill Kristol in which he gets Kristol to admit the supremacy of the government-run military health care system.

It just seems so blatantly hypocritical for people to extol the virtues of Medicare and military health insurance and yet condone a public option for health care. Despite this we’re still having to rely upon people like Yglesias and Stewart to point out this hypocrisy. This should be what the Democrats do if they really want this plan to pass.

Politics and rationality

Matthew Yglesias posted this the other day concerning the idea that Obama’s tax proposals were simply too rational. The reason for this in Yglesias’s eyes is that Congress if full of “Senate moderates” who he describes as “someone who takes his party’s proposals, objects to them, waters them down a bit, and then congratulates himself on a job well done. Which is great if his party’s proposals are unduly immoderate. But it’s big-time trouble if his party puts a reasonable, moderate agenda on the table.”

With this in mind the solution for Obama would have been to propose a ridiculous tax law, Yglesias gives the example of a top marginal tax increase of 43 percent, so that the “Senate moderates” then object and “negotiate” the proposal down to what Obama wanted to actually accomplish in the first place.

Seems to me a pretty fair characterization of how much of Congress works. Far too frequently do I hear Senators and Representatives raising objections over what are really quite rational proposals.

Sidenote: While reading Hanna Pitkin’s “The Concept of Representation” for a politics class on Democratic Theory I came across this line

Politics abounds with issues on which men are committed in a way that is not easily accessible to rational argument, that shapes the perception of arguments, that may be unchanged throughout a lifetime. It is a field where rationality is no guarantee of agreement.

Seems that this idea of irrational politics has had some traction for some time. I wonder why no one takes it into account when making policy.

A-Rod and Steroids

Doug Glanville has a post on the New York Times that is the best summation of the problem with focusing all of the blame and attention upon Alex Rodriguez for his recent admission of steroid use during his time with the Texas Rangers. In the article Glanville, who played with A-Rod in 2003, writes that:

In the end, it isn’t about Alex Rodriguez, though we are making it about him. He must be in quite a dark place, because he could always rely on the authenticity of his talent to overcome any criticism of his civilian self. Now that is gone, and I am sure the public will exact a price from him for years to come. Sure, all this has come about because of certain choices he made, but he was outed by forces beyond his control, in a way that was not honorable. That is not good for any of those 1,200 players who were tested. That is not good for anyone. And why focus on Alex Rodriquez and not the other 103? Why weren’t there leaks about everyone?

We should step back and think about what we really want to gain from this situation. While I was playing professionally, it was disturbing to watch players cut corners through chemical means to get to that next contract. But I don’t see the good in selling our souls while claiming we want to chase the devil from our midst.

I hope we learn how to keep our word. If the tested players had known up front that the results were going to be made public (or that there was even a chance that they might be), not a single one would have agreed to cooperate, and it has very little to do with hiding anything. It has everything to do with privacy. Being A-Rod should not change that fact.

Amen. These players agree to anonymous testing so that Major League Baseball could see if it had a major drug problem. They complied with the testing, and when the results came out they agreed upon a harsher penalty for offenders. The players lived up to their end of that bargain and ultimately it is the sports reporters and Major League Baseball that didn’t live up to the agreement by publicizing (even through leaks) the results.

Aristotle on Democrats

I’m reading Aristotle’s “The Politics” right now for a class on Democratic Theory. In Book 3, Chapter 4 he writes something that I found to be quite applicable to current American politics and specifically to the Democratic reaction to Barack Obama’s victory in the elections. In this chapter Aristotle writes that:

Hence this too has been rightly said–that it is not possible to rule well without having been ruled. Virtue in [each of these] cases is different, but the good citizen should know and have the capacity both to be ruled and to rule, and this very thing is the virtue of a citizen–knowledge of rule over free persons from both [points of view].

This spoke to me in realtion to the estatic reaction among Democrats to Obama’s election. Suddenly a mass of people has decided that they need to be involved in politics, community service, and day to day political news. Certainly part of this is due to the ever-worsening economic situation, but it seems undeniable that part of it is also a result of Democrats now being the “rulers” to use Aristotle’s language. What I wonder is where was all of this political activism during the past 8 years? There were certainly just as important of decisions being made during this time, but instead of being involved in the process the mass of Democrats seemed to be largely apathetic to the daily actions of George Bush.

To me a disturbing number of Democrats, perhaps epitomized by some of those currently serving in Congress, are happy to extol the virtues of the American political system when they control the presidency and both houses of Congress, but once the other party gains control they revert right back to decrying how disastrous that party is for America and how broken the system is. This kind of hypocrisy just doesn’t sit well with me and is one of the main reasons why I largely abstained from voting for candidates in this past election: they’re all equally hypocritical and despicable.

Protecting Wild Utah

The New Republic’s Energy and Environment blog has an article today about Ken Salazar, the new interior secretary, and his effort to repeal one of the last-minute Bush administration laws. In the closing months of the Bush administration they passed a bill that would open up large tracts of Bureau of Land Management land in Utah. The problem is that Salazar has simply stalled the opening of these lands for drilling, which is currently a legal practice. From the article:

Unfortunately, there’s an underlying problem that still needs fixing. In offering the leases for sale in December, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) was simply acting in accordance with the new resource-management plans for its lands in Utah. These plans, which the Bush administration rushed to complete before the end of last October, leave about 80 percent of the BLM’s 11 million acres in Utah open to energy development. If the BLM continues to manage its Utah lands according to these guidelines, which are supposed to last for 20 years, then this week’s environmental victory will only be a temporary one. Conservation groups are challenging the management plans in court, and their lawsuits may well be successful. But the Obama administration needs to start drafting replacement plans that take into consideration the sensitive nature of Utah’s red-rock country by putting more of it off-limits to drilling.

I would love to see the Obama administration expand federal protection through not only Utah but much of the other semi-protected federal lands in other states. Traveling through Southern Utah during my Freshman year here at Whitman was simply amazing and truly created a new sense of environmentalism in me. I only wish that the lands stay pristine so that others can have the same experience that I was fortunate enough to have.

Link via Utah Drilling Stopped. But For How Long? – Environment and Energy .

Obama’s fired up

It’s good to see Obama pushing the Democrats again to think in a new way and to push for something other than the same solutions. At a Democratic caucus retreat he speaks of how “the scale and the scope of [his stimulus plan] is right.” It’s refreshing to see a President speak candidly and eloquently in front of cameras and microphones. No longer do we have a bumbling man behind the mic. Despite the grim economy it’s refreshing to see and hear Obama as our President.