Friday, August 29, 2008

Paul Krugman: Feeling No Pain

Paul Krugman in today's New York Times, via first reaction to Bill Clinton’s convention speech was sheer professional jealousy: nobody, but nobody, has his ability to translate economic wonkery into plain, forceful English. In effect, Mr. Clinton provided an executive summary of the new Census report on income, poverty and health insurance — but he did it so eloquently, so seamlessly, that there was no sense that he was giving his audience a lecture.My second reaction was that in Mr. Clinton’s speech — as in the speeches by Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden (this column was filed before Barack Obama spoke on Thursday night) — one heard the fundamental difference between the two parties. Democrats say and, as far as I can tell, really believe that working Americans are getting a raw deal; Republicans, despite occasional attempts to sound sympathetic, basically believe that people have nothing to complain about.As it happens, the numbers support the Democrats. That Census report gives a snapshot of the economic status of American families in 2007 — that is, before the financial crisis started dragging the economy down and the unemployment rate up. It’s a given that 2008 will look much worse, so last year was as good as it will get in the Bush years. Yet working-age Americans had significantly lower median income in 2007 than they did in 2000. (The elderly, whose income is supported by Social Security — the program the Bush administration tried to kill — saw modest gains.) Meanwhile, poverty was up, and health insurance — especially the employment-based insurance on which most middle-class Americans depend — was down.But Republicans, very much including John McCain and his advisers, don’t believe there’s a problem.Former Senator Phil Gramm made headlines, and stepped down as co-chairman of the McCain campaign, after he described America as a “nation of whiners.” But how different was that remark, really, from Mr. McCain’s own declaration that “there’s been great progress economically” — progress that’s mysteriously invisible in the actual data — during the Bush years? And Mr. Gramm, by all accounts, remains a key economic adviser to Mr. McCain.Last week John Goodman, an influential figure in Republican health care circles, explained that we shouldn’t worry about the growing number of Americans without health insurance, because there’s no such thing as being uninsured. After all, you can always get treatment at an emergency room. And Mr. Goodman — he’s the president of the National Center for Policy Analysis, an important conservative think tank, and is often described as the “father of health savings accounts,” a central feature of the Bush administration’s health policy — wants the next president to issue an executive order prohibiting the Census Bureau from classifying anyone as uninsured. “VoilĂ !” he says. “Problem solved.”The truth, of course, is that visiting the emergency room in a medical crisis is no substitute for regular care. Furthermore, while a hospital will treat you whether or not you can pay, it will also bill you — and the bill won’t be waived unless you’re destitute. As a result, uninsured working Americans avoid visiting emergency rooms if at all possible, because they’re terrified by the potential cost: medical expenses are one of the prime causes of personal bankruptcy.Mr. Goodman has in the past, including in an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal, described himself as an adviser to the McCain campaign on health policy. The campaign now claims that he is not, in fact, an adviser. But it’s a good bet that Mr. McCain’s inner circle shares Mr. Goodman’s views.You see, Mr. Goodman’s assertion that lack of health insurance is no problem precisely echoed what President Bush said a year ago: “I mean, people have access to health care in America. After all, you just go to an emergency room.” That’s because both men — like Mr. Gramm — were just saying in public what modern Republicans say when they talk to each other. Despite attempts to feign sympathy, the leaders of today’s G.O.P. fundamentally feel that Americans complaining about their economic and health care difficulties are, well, just a bunch of whiners.And that, ultimately, even more than their policy proposals, is what defines the difference between the parties.It’s true that elected Democrats are often too cautious — and too beholden to major donors — to be as progressive as the party’s activists would like. But even in the face of a Republican Congress, Mr. Clinton succeeded in pushing forward policies, like the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, that did a lot to help working families.And what one sees on the other side is a total lack of empathy for and understanding of the problems working Americans face. Mr. Clinton, famously, felt our pain. Republicans, manifestly, don’t. And it’s hard to fix a problem if you don’t even think it exists.

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Thursday, August 28, 2008

Cenk Uygur: Hillary's Best Line: Were You In It For Me?

By Cenk Uygur in the Huffington Post, via was a night with a lot of great lines. Even Bob Casey, Jr. who is not known as a rhetorical wiz had a couple of zingers. The four more months chant was terrific. And his line that McCain isn't a maverick, he's Bush sidekick was also really well done.I was expecting to be annoyed at how little Mark Warner went after Republicans, but instead I thought he laid out a good case for how Democrats offer every person a real shot at the American Dream. He showed that the Democratic Party wants you to succeed, wants you to be rich -- which is important and a message you hardly hear from Democrats (you often hear that they want you to do better, but aspiring for real wealth has not been a Democratic staple and it is in fact the real American Dream).Deval Patrick borrowed from Barney Frank effectively when he talked about government being an extension of the American people and how that is what we choose to do together. His line about having a stake in one another was great. It gave a sense of a community sticking together, which is what lies at the core of the Democratic Party.But despite all of this, Hillary Clinton stole the night. I have been a vocal critic of Hillary Clinton throughout the primaries and a skeptic of her intentions to unconditionally support the Democratic candidate. But she put all those doubts to rest tonight. She delivered. It was an A+ speech.The Twin Cities line about McCain and Bush being like twins was genuinely funny. And now every time they mention the Twin Cities during the Republican convention I'm going to think of Bush and McCain as twins.I am embarrassed to admit that the Harriet Tubman story actually gave me a chill down my spine (at least it wasn't up my leg). I loved it. I think everyone in the building loved it.But the best line in the speech was buried in the middle. Addressing her supporters, she said, "Were you in it for me?"What a great and poignant question. Did you really think this was all about me and not about the issues? Don't you remember that this was all about getting the people who need help the assistance that they desperately need? Did you forget that we started down this road because we wanted to provide Americans with a hope for a better future? That we wanted to make sure the rules weren't stacked against them? Did you think this was all about me?That is the winning line. That's the one that showed me that she genuinely did her best to actually convince her followers that they had to support Barack Obama. That's not a half-hearted effort. That's a line designed to win people over to her argument not over to her personally. Ironically, that's exactly what it did for me though. At the end of this long, contentious battle, Senator Clinton won me over when she was finally not trying to win me over.

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The News is Broken

From via NewsJust once during this convention, could the TV pundits get out of the way of the show?Time after time last evening, I flipped from the wall-to-wall coverage on C-Span—which is viewed, I imagine, largely by shut-ins and political completists—to see how CNN or MSNBC or Fox News broadcast a speech or performance. Time and again, they weren't broadcasting it at all. Instead, talking heads were talking to other talking heads about Hillary's dead-enders, or some other overblown story, at self-parodying length. The resulting coverage had about as much connection to what happened onstage last night as NBC's Olympics coverage would have had if Bob Costas had spent two full weeks asking other sportscasters how they feel about the shot put.

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McCain’s Tax Cuts Benefit the Rich Even More Than Bush

From Think Progress, via McCain’s shifts on taxes today, the Wall Street Journal’s Martin Vaughan writes that “an apt description” for McCain’s tax proposals would be to say “that the wealthy would benefit most.” In fact, as the Cato Institute’s Chris Edwards points out, McCain’s proposals are aimed at the wealthy “even more so than Bush’s” ...

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Joe Biden To Show He's Not Afraid To Go After The GOP

From the Huffington Post, via DIgg:With the vice presidential nomination speech tonight by Joe Biden, Democrats will meet Barack Obama's bad cop -- an attacker who will not hesitate to go hard after the Republicans.

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Tuesday, August 26, 2008

English, or Something, as Official Language

This is hilarious! It's a compilation of images pulled together by kyledeb at Citizen Orange.
5 English Lessons From the Anti-Immigrant Movement

Any nativist will tell you that polls show 1,000% of 'Mericans support speaking only English in the United States of America. It doesn't matter if the U.S. can't even understand the languages of the countries it goes to war with (you don't need to understand people to shoot at them). If people can't speak English like they're supposed to, they're not real 'Mericans.

Using this iron-clad logic, I thought I'd compile a list of five English lessons for those that want to learn to how to be a real 'Merican and speak English.

1. Make English America's Offical Language

This is America and Our Only Lanaguage is English.

3. No Mas[!] Illegal Alliens 'R' Fugitives From Justice[!] Go Home[!]

4. We're Not Ra$cists, Your Are Illegal.

5. Get a Brain Morans[!]...Go USA[!]

In conclusion, English is America's Offical Lanaguage! Your 'R' Ra$cist Allien Morans!

Does Psystar have a legit argument in Apple countersuit?


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The crime that created Superman

On the night of June 2, 1932, the world's first superhero was born — not on the mythical planet of Krypton but from a little-known tragedy on the streets of Cleveland.

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Monday, August 25, 2008

Is this Question Somewhat Stupid, Stupid, Very Stupid...

From one of the online surveys with which I occasionally amuse myself:

Adding to the all-round dumbness of the question ("What is your favorite color, Green or Other?") is the annoying fact that (a) Hispanic and Latino are not universally regarded as the same thing*, and (b) neither Hispanic nor Latino is a race!

Other than that, though, a fine example of the art of the survey.

* This quoted at Wikipedia ("Hispanic and Latino Americans"):

Some authorities of American English maintain a distinction between the terms Hispanic and Latino:

"Though often used interchangeably in American English, Hispanic and Latino are not identical terms, and in certain contexts the choice between them can be significant. Hispanic, from the Latin word for "Spain," has the broader reference, potentially encompassing all Spanish-speaking peoples in both hemispheres and emphasizing the common denominator of language among communities that sometimes have little else in common. Latino—which in Spanish means "Latin" but which as an English word is probably a shortening of the Spanish word latinoamericano—refers more exclusively to persons or communities of Latin American origin. Of the two, only Hispanic can be used in referring to Spain and its history and culture; a native of Spain residing in the United States is a Hispanic, not a Latino, and one cannot substitute Latino in the phrase the Hispanic influence on native Mexican cultures without garbling the meaning. In practice, however, this distinction is of little significance when referring to residents of the United States, most of whom are of Latin American origin and can theoretically be called by either word."[17]

17 "American Heritage Dictionary". Retrieved on 2007-03-18.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Is the Earth Quarantined???

Why haven't we met aliens yet? And why aren't we sending rockets all over the solar system? There is only one plausible explanation. Earth is being quarantined! A combination of higher alien civilizations and our own Earth-based military forces are working together to keep the Earth contained and neutralized.

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