Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
...played out in the wrestling ring, years ago.
When Irwin R. Schyster (always announced as "I...R...S!")
Fought the red, white and blue blooded (but orange-skinned) Patriot!
That's all that needs to be said about this latest scandal, right?
Fitzgerald’s novel, The Great Gatsby, is a fable. It is not a fable now, years after it was written. Fitzgerald structured it as a fable and intended it to be read as such. Its original title was Trimalchio in West Egg. Gatsby is based on a party-thrower created by the Greek satirist Petronius. So, when I hear people talking about Gatsby almost as if it’s reportage on Jazz Age America, I think that they are reading the wrong book. Fitzgerald is not Tom Wolfe or Theodore Dreiser. In creating Gatsby, he worked in the manner of Shakespeare, taking his inspiration from ancient and timeless source material. [Read more]
I worry when I write about the Middle East because I have no confidence that I know what I'm talking about and probably less interest in the differences and similarities between a Shiite and an Alawite than I do in whether or not I think that Richard Foreman's latest play at New York's Public Theater was any good (it was not.) I sometimes confuse Wahabi with the condiment for sushi. Heck, I don't even feel bad about this -- if the sectarian issues of the Islamic world didn't intrude into my own, uninvited, I'd be fine with that. [Read more]
At Esquire, Charles Pearce flags a National Review article wherein some person named Dennis Prager complains that free breakfasts for public school children in Los Angeles will damage the character of the city's young, who will grow up thinking that life is nothing but a bunch of government hand-outs. Oh, and, he says, it encourages lazy parents not to feed their kids before school.
Nobody, he says, is too poor to give their child breakfast because they can go on WebMD right now and find "five breakfast ideas for $1." I can't waste any more time with that Prager person. Terrible. [Read more]
An Oxford University economist and a Stanford University epidemiologist have combined their considerable breadth and knowledge to conclude the Great Recession and accompanying austerity have caused 10,000 suicides and a million diagnoses of depression in the U.S. and Europe. If you find that hard to stomach, here's something more concrete -- AIDS is once again a full blown epidemic in Greece where budgets have been cut from HIV-prevention programs. [Read more]
This afternoon, Reuters published an Op-Ed from me about the online investigations into the Boston bomb attack. I am very concerned about the "if you see something, say something culture," and how it has mixed with technology to create something of a society full of amateur detectives and complainers.
Civil libertarians are most concerned about government surveilance power and that, of course, bothers me too. But in a practical sense, a nosy neighbor is probably more of an imposition on my life than the government will ever choose to be. These days, your nosy neighbor could be a stranger living thousands of miles away. [Read more]
This morning, Thomas Friedman writes that it is unfair for lefties to criticize Obama's Chained CPI Proposal. In his words:
"It was good to see President Obama put out a budget proposal that addressed all three needs. The attacks on him from the left are unfair because, ultimately, we will need to do all three even more. As Bloomberg News reported on Monday: 'Typical wage-earners retiring in 2010 will receive at least $3 for every $1 they contributed to the Medicare health-insurance program, according to an Urban Institute study.'"
Oh my! A three to one return! Unsustainable! [Read more]
Headlines are generally written by editors, not writers, so maybe I can cut Friedman some slack for today's, "Bring on the Next Marathon," with its obvious reference to George W. Bush inviting Iraq's insurgents to "bring it on." Iraq's insurgents did, in fact, bring it on. By the time Bush said that, it had already been broughten. [Read more]
I think Charles Pierce is very persuasive on this point. We Obama supporters generally take solace in the idea that when Obama is up to something we don't like that he doesn't really mean it. Chaining Social Security benefit increases and tax brackets to a lower measure of inflation (which means cutting benefits and raising taxes without having to say either explicitly) gets to be "no his ideal budget." Health care without a public option? We all know he'd have preferred a public option, right? Or course he wanted a bigger stimulus and of course he wanted to hold the bankers responsible for the financial crisis and of course he wanted to save people& [Read more]
I've written about the Chained CPI here at Dag, oh... a lot of times. I also wrote about it when I had my column for The Daily and, as I've done a lot of research, I consider myself an informed Chained CPI dissenter as a matter of political and economic fairness. In short, I believe that its use of "the substitution effect," where consumers respond to the rising prices of some goods by buying others, can be used to mask changes in standards of living. [Read more]
The "values" wing of the Republican party decided, against the advice of their more libertarian brethren, to wage a social war against same sex marriage and, whatever the Supreme Court decides in its two big marriage cases, the "values" bloc has clearly lost the fight. Though your experience may vary by region, the country has evolved to at best a pro-same sex marriage consensus and at least a healthy "live and let live," attitude about it. [Read more]
One of the things that most irks me about Thomas Friedman, aside from the fact that he's a terrible writer who has somehow won a huge audience, is that he is so willing to blame Americans for their own problems. This morning, for example, he cites Adam Garfinkle:
“We’re the most self-indulgent generation in American history,” argues Garfinkle, always demanding more services than we’re ready to pay for. “Too many of us want to be unbound by broader social obligations, but the network of those obligations creates the moral ballast that makes good governance possible.” [Read more]
Libertarians tend to be very interested in the government's monopoly on legitimate violence. It's true. It's a major issue. I think I get where Rand Paul was coming from last week and I even support it. The government can take your life, your property and your freedom.
But, you know, it usually doesn't. You are unlikely, my friends, to ever find yourself in combat with government agents. That's a good thing. The government will largely not restrict your freedoms. The government largely doesn't care. [Read more]
I was baptized Catholic though, at that point in my life, I was too young to have much say in the matter. As I grew older (not much older, it turns out) and more into a wise ass, I found myself in frequent conflict with my catechism teachers over the issues of where babies come from (I did not, in fact, have any real idea though I was pretty sure that Jesus was not magic). [Read more]
Okay, Rand Paul is basically unloved around here.
But I like that he's using the talking filibuster to make his point about Obama's drone policies. That, rather than procedural games, requires some physical, mental and emotional sacrifice. It i in keeping with the spirit of passionate argument and debate, rather than parliamentary trickery.
Also, his demand: that Obama clarify whether or not a weaponized drone can be used against an American and for what purpose, sounds totally reasonable to me. [Read more]
One of the things that's always bothered me about the debt ceiling and about the sequester is that they've been touted as some sophisticated form of "game theory" that can somehow force Congress to make responsible decisions. It's just not so.
Today in Esquire I was given some space on Charles Pierce's blog to make that very point. We'll find out, over the next month or so, just how important the Sequester is, or isn't. I think that it's a sideshow and that the real issue is the debt ceiling, which should be repealed immediately. [Read more]
Back during the debates about the Affordable Care Act, I complained quite loudly and often that the legislation did not do enough good for people who already have health insurance, particularly through their employers.
I argued, quite strenuously, my belief that middle class tax payers are getting fleeced on premiums and not getting enough effective medical treatment for what they pay. I don't recall many people around here disputing it, but I do remember Teresa McCarthy's frequent retort which, borrowing from Carly Simon, went something like, "You're so vain, you probably think this legislation's about you." [Read more]
For Reuters today, I've decided to argue that the whole question about whether or not a bank is solvent, or what it's worth, is something that we'd all be better off without. And, in a world where you can get the daily net asset value of more than $13 trillion in mutual funds and $2 trillion in exchange traded funds, there's really no excuse for not forcing banks to become more radically transparent.
You can read my argument over at Reuters. But if you want to tell me why I'm wrong here, I'm always listening.
The Manhattan Institute is a conservative, somewhat libertarian think tank here in New York, probably best known for pushing the "broken windows policing," that has defined law enforcement in the city since the Giuliani era. They are generally free marketers and pro-law enforcement conservatives. They very often, like the contributors to Reason magazine or CATO classic, come up with some novel ideas and are worth checking in with every now and then, even by lefties. [Read more]
As a citizen of the United States of America and employer of Barack Obama, I must protest that I have not yet once been invited to the White House, not even for a beer in the Rose Garden even though I a) like beer and b) am not allergic to roses.
Clearly, President Obama is afraid that I might ask a tough or unpredictable question or simply level him with some sort of criticism that will leave him wondering, "do I really even want to finish this second term?"
In fact, it seem that I am not the only American with this problem. Oh, sure, the President will stop to make fun of Donald Trump for a second, but he largely hasn't even addressed most of us directly. [Read more]