September 12, 2009

Obama anger an ‘affectation’

While I warmed to see Obama’s indignation Wednesday night, upon reflection, I think NYTimes columnist Charles Blow is right, sadly:
The president wears outrage like another man’s suit. It doesn’t quite fit. … (But) the political environment in which he must operate requires a fighter. (And) I’m not sure that that’s this president.

Blow traces it back to young “Barry’s” days to avoid looking the “angry black man” part, but part of it may be older than that.

In any case, per Blow, it does mean Obama may not be the best president to lead a Democratic Party that should be doing more than it is.
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Obama anger an ‘affectation’

While I warmed to see Obama’s indignation Wednesday night, upon reflection, I think NYTimes columnist Charles Blow is right, sadly:
The president wears outrage like another man’s suit. It doesn’t quite fit. … (But) the political environment in which he must operate requires a fighter. (And) I’m not sure that that’s this president.

Blow traces it back to young “Barry’s” days to avoid looking the “angry black man” part, but part of it may be older than that.

In any case, per Blow, it does mean Obama may not be the best president to lead a Democratic Party that should be doing more than it is.
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Online science has old science ethics

At least in medicine. The percentage of ghostwriting is as bad in Public Library of Science, held up as a model of open, collaborative online science publishing, as it is in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Obama to push regulatory reform

Speaking in New York is good symbolically, but, if he really wanted to call a spade a spade, when he speaks there Monday to push for regulatory reform, President Barack Obama would play off Friday’s anniversary, and call last year’s meltdown a self-inflicted 9/11. He would then prescribe a path of diligence even more serious against the “enemy within” than that against al Qaeda.

In fact, the NYTimes notes that, on the rough one-year anniversary of that meltdown, little has changed on Wall Street. There’s been little restructuring, little unemployment, etc.

In fact, per the story, Simon Johnson, a professor at the Sloan School of Management at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and former chief economist of the International Monetary Fund, said that the seeds of another collapse had already sprouted.

He’s not alone. “Black Swan” author Nassim Nicholas Taleb estimates financial institutions’ risk has actually increased since a year ago.

And, part of the push needs to include more accounting transparency.

Of course, much of what really needs to be done is nondesireable to both Republicans and Democrats.
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September 11, 2009

Thatcher opposed German reunification

Well, the “Iron Lady” of the Falklands War, and the PM who famously told Poppy Bush not to go wobbly on Iraq, will have to surrender about half of her foreign affairs cred.

British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher reportedly told Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev in 1989 that she opposed German reunification, opposed the implosion of the Warsaw Pact, etc.

Wow. Sounds like Maggie got a bit wobbly herself.

Bobo Brooks on Obamacare may be right

Far be it from me to agree much with David Brooks, but I think he’s right on this one. Behind Obama’s genuine anger in his speech to Congress, the pragmatic neoliberal wonk is still lurking.
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Joe Wilson escapes Pelosi bead, more

Well, to be more accurate, NoDoze-imbibing South Carolina Rep. Joe Wilson apparently isn’t in Pelosi’s bead in the first place. I guess we’re back to Passive Pelosi™ and another symbol of why Democrats are still more pushovers than GOPers.

Heck, a lot of members of Wilson’s own military-heavy, GOP-stalwart district didn’t like his “you lie” outburst at the president, but, I guess Ms. Nancy doesn’t know how to run with this football.


Next, Maureen Dowd says we need “less Spocky and more Rocky” out of President Obama. We’ll see what tonight’s speech shows.

Wilson also was one of just seven South Carolina state legislators who supported the state keeping its old, Rebel-themed state flag.

Paging Ms. Nancy …

September 10, 2009

Big Ag ‘vs’ Big Insurance and healthcare

Michael Pollan has some good thoughts on how lowering healthcare costs will ultimately involve changing America’s eating habits, and therefore changing how Washington subsidizes Big Ag.

Here’s the nut graf:
We’re spending $147 billion to treat obesity, $116 billion to treat diabetes, and hundreds of billions more to treat cardiovascular disease and the many types of cancer that have been linked to the so-called Western diet. One recent study estimated that 30 percent of the increase in health care spending over the past 20 years could be attributed to the soaring rate of obesity, a condition that now accounts for nearly a tenth of all spending on health care.

If we can cut one-third of that cost through dietary changes and farm subsidy cuts and/or changes, we’ve paid for the nominal costs of national healthcare right there.

But that’s only a starter:
To put it more bluntly, the government is putting itself in the uncomfortable position of subsidizing both the costs of treating Type 2 diabetes and the consumption of high-fructose corn syrup. … Why the disconnect? Probably because reforming the food system is politically even more difficult than reforming the health care system. … Cheap food is going to be popular as long as the social and environmental costs of that food are charged to the future. There’s lots of money to be made selling fast food and then treating the diseases that fast food causes. … As things stand, the health care industry finds it more profitable to treat chronic diseases than to prevent them.

What about insurers? Well, they don’t get off lightly, either:
As for the insurers, you would think preventing chronic diseases would be good business, but, at least under the current rules, it’s much better business simply to keep patients at risk for chronic disease out of your pool of customers, whether through lifetime caps on coverage or rules against pre-existing conditions or by figuring out ways to toss patients overboard when they become ill.

That’s all just from the first webpage of Pollan’s column. Read the full thing. Pollan is hopeful this will change, but I think he underestimates the power of the Senate Agriculture Committee and ADM.
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Should war reporters get ‘automatic rescue’?

In the case of Stephen Farrell and his Taliban captors, I think not. Especially given that Farrell had been warned multiple times it was unsafe, AND that he had been kidnapped five years ago in Iraq in somewhat similar circumstances.

I honestly wonder if he’s suffering from the war addiction syndrome that Chris Hedges wrote about a few years ago. And, judging by the Telegraph story, I wonder also if his higher-ups at the New York Times aren’t a bit tone-deaf to all this. At the least, I think the paper needs to pull Farrell back stateside.

Meanwhile, hostage negotiators said they were surprised at the raid, claiming they were close to getting Farrell’s peaceful release.

And, will this drive support for the war in Britain even lowe/
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OPEC – don’t dump climate change on us

That message, not any major changes in output, was the big news from Wednesday’s OPEC meeting.

Rather, I would think that climate change initiatives would benefit OPEC members. They’ll get a steady, longer-term oil price, which may bring technology to squeeze a few more barrels out of aging fields while also given them more time to diversify their economies.

Farming for peace in Japan

I think some Japanese farmers might have some lessons for us in America — take over an airbase — albeit incrementally.

God did NOT say ‘hijack the plane’

Yes, Bolivia’s Jose Flores probably is mentally ill. Yes, his family is clueless to this, at the least, for blindly believing his prophecy claim a year ago.

That said, until I read that he had claimed it, I hadn’t even thought of anybody saying 9-9-09 was an upside-down 666.

Post-Obama speech wrap-up

Boy, whether he actually had been worried about stereotypes of the angry black man or not, it was good to see President Barack Obama show some righteous indignation tonight, especially when he called out people like Sen. Charles Grassley, Sarah Palin and other promoters of the myth of “death panels” as being “cynical … liars.”

Beyond that, Adam Nagourney is right — this speech was about more than health care — it was about Obama as leader. And, though one speech can’t change every impression, maybe his brand of true conciliation has more hallmarks of Abraham Lincoln and fewer of Jimmy Carter, after all.

And while Obama’s public disapproval on healthcare had crossed 50 percent, perhaps his double-digit spike will be more than temporary.

September 09, 2009

Get frosted over beer prices?

You have plenty of reasons - higher CEO pay and higher prices, especially on the low-end beers more popular in tight times.

More pre-Obama speech healthcare

Chuck Todd has a good preview on Obama's three audiences for tonight. Sarah Palin, who continues to babble about death panels, obviously is in none of the three.

Pre-Obama speech healthcare roundup

First, Tom Friedman moans our “one-party democracy on both national healthcare and global warming, to the point that this GOP Congress rejects ideas it has publicly supported in the past, all to try to make points at Obama Administration expense.

Second, playwright Anna Deveaure Smith has a number of takes from the heartland on healthcare concerns. That said, the gamut of commenters includes anti-“socialist” nuts and alt-med nuts

Next, Maureen Dowd says we need “less Spocky and more Rocky” out of President Obama. We’ll see what tonight’s speech shows.

Next, showing just how neoliberal the Slickster’s administration was, former Clinton apparatchik Matt Miller says junk the public option. He raises some good points, but overlooks that both the Netherlands and Switzerland are small countries with tight national regulatory systems. Short of robust regulation of insurers here on the federal level, some type of public option is needed to that end.

But, Paul Krugman sharply refutes the likes of him and even Ezra Klein. He lists yet more reasons, but along the lines of my own refuting of Miller, why we need the public option.
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Pelosi, Reid claim to have healthcare votes

And Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid says it will even have a public option “or something like that,” whatever the hell that means.

Meanwhile, Maine Rep. Senator Olympia Snowe may be key to how this plays out, not just in the Senate, but the inevitable Senate-House conference committee.

And, as Mod Max Baucus finally reports something out of Senate Finance, it becomes ever more clear how not only GOP Sens. Charles Grassley and Mike Enzi had the “zero option” on negotiations, so did everybody else in the GOP, including Orrin Hatch, contra his BS claim about Ted Kennedy.
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National healthcare, 'socialism,' veterans

If national healthcare is "socialistic," then why do we provide "socialism" for America's veterans via the VA? Post this on your status if you care!

September 08, 2009

Latest GOP healthcare red herring

John Shadegg and Pete Hoekstra promote the idea that health insurance faces no competition in marketing to individuals, all we need to do is fix that.

First, as health costs continue to rise, insurers DO have to fight for business contracts. Second, the Congressional duo has no explanation for how to fund coverage for the uninsured beyond the present coverage of “walk into the ER,” which they KNOW actually costs the system more.

What lying liars.
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Las Vegas exemplifies Ed Abbey

One of Cactus Ed’s most famous statements was, “Growth for growth’s sake is the theology of the cancer cell,” and Vegas’ recent overbuilding shows how true that is, whether they are actually that supportive of the Taliban or not.

Looking for friends in Odessa-Midland

Yes, yes, I know it's normally Midland-Odessa, but since I live on the Odessa side of Texas' twin towns, I'm listing it that way.

Anyway, bloggers, people wanting to talk, wanting support for various issues, etc., in this area, let me know.

September 06, 2009

Yet more reasons to leave Afghanistan

First, Nicholas Kristof notes we’re continuing to inflame the country’s Pashtuns, whether they are actually that supportive of the Taliban or not.

Yet, that’s not his conclusion; Kristof says we should stay, but with a lighter military footprint. What? Fewer troops with less power projection? That means more potshotting at them.

Meanwhile, Mr. Flatliner, Tom Friedman, admits he feels “regulating top financiers’ pay” ambivalence about the idea of doubling down. But, also wants to stay.

That’s close to Einstein’s “insanity” comments.
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Krugman – why many of my peers are idiots

Especially in lambasting the discredited, absolutist Chicago School (which largely still refuses to accept its self-immolation), Paul Krugman has a great in-depth explainer on just how wrong supply-side economics is.

Not just wrong, but WILLFULLY wrong, perversely, sickeningly wrong:
Chicago’s Casey Mulligan suggests that unemployment is so high because many workers are choosing not to take jobs: “Employees face financial incentives that encourage them not to work . . . decreased employment is explained more by reductions in the supply of labor (the willingness of people to work) and less by the demand for labor (the number of workers that employers need to hire).” Mulligan has suggested, in particular, that workers are choosing to remain unemployed because that improves their odds of receiving mortgage relief. And Cochrane declares that high unemployment is actually good: “We should have a recession. People who spend their lives pounding nails in Nevada need something else to do.”

Yep, my newspaper company closed two months ago because we all wanted to take time off for nothing, wanted government handouts, and wanted to do something different.

This isn’t even “voodoo economics.”

Rather, it’s “voodoo political science,” or “voodoo sociology,” disguised as “voodoo economics.”

That said, Krugman hasn’t read the Iranian philosopher Idries Shah, with his famous observation about there never being just two sides to an issue.

The third side here, beyond (neo)-Keynesianism and neo-classicism, is behavioral economics, which actually has a foothold at Chicago, of all places. Krugman does mention behavioral economics on the last page of the story, but only to try to subsume it into a Keynesian world.

Rather, behavioral economics trumps BOTH the other sides by being scientific in a way neither of them are, mainly through gathering scientific, empirical data through sociological research, on the one hand, and incorporating the findings of cognitive science and neuroscience, on the other.
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Obama will suck up to GOP again Wed

Reportedly, President Barack Obama will once again try to sing the Kumbaya chorus on national healthcare in his prime-time address this Wednesday.

I soooo cannot wait to avoid the rush and vote Green again in 2012.

Meanwhile, Politico still drinks some Obama Kool-Aid:
The high-stake speech makes sense because Obama is such a gifted orator.

Really? Since when?

That said, Prez Kumbaya is, supposedly, going to actually stake himself to some specific positions. Only a few months too late, but hey …
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