Michael Maiello's picture

    Are We Selfish Or Misled?

    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:

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Violence Is Not The Only Authority

    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.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Of Papacies and Powerpoints

    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).

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Filibuster Open Thread! *Updated*

    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.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Sequester Is Making Us Stupid

    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.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Romney Has Learned Nothing

    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.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    What's Your Bank Worth?

    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.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Best Argument Against The Keystone Pipeline Comes From: The Manhattan Institute?

    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.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    President Obama Has Been Ducking Me On Serious Issues

    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?"

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Selfish American?

    This morning, David Brooks gives us what's been a truism about American life since I was born -- that we are a bunch of selfish short-termers, unwilling to make sacrifices for future generations in the manner of the nobler Americans who came before us.  This criticism has been lobbed at every generation since the Baby Boomers came of age.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Atrios Is Right! Social Security Benefits Should Be Higher!

    I whole-heartedly agree with Atrios.  The left needs to change the Social Security discussion by pointing out the obvious, loudly and often: Social Security, as currently constituted, is not adequate for the needs of most of America's citizens and that benefits should be increased.  Atrios suggests an across the board 20% hike.  If done for present recipients who get an average $1,100 a month, that's only a $220 a month increase.  But that would certainly help a lot of people who lost retirement savings,

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Beyonce Concert Open Thread!

    How many outfits will Lady Bey wear?

    How many numbers will Destiny's Child perform?

    Will Jay-Z make a cameo?

    Let's discuss America's most important cultural moment of 2013.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Civilization and Its Armed Discontents

    Josh Marshall flagged this Walter Kirn article already, so my guess is that some of you have read it.  I'm a big Kirn fan, and have been ever since he published the interesting and underappreciated novel, The Unbinding, in Slate.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    State Power!

    Oh, the states.

    Those of us educated in one of them have learned since childhood that Federal law is "the law of the land."  When federal law contradicts state law, federal law wins.  State law is rock.  Federal law is paper.  The practical challenges of living together, though, are scissors.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Social Security's Haters (or, Payas Gonna Hate).

    Jay Ackyroyd at Eschaton flagged this interesting Matt Yglesias piece about the rationale of Social Security haters.  It's worth a read.  Here's the money bit, as Ackyroyd quoted:

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    No Gimmicks

    I've always been skeptical of the two alternatives floated that Obama could use to avoid a debt ceiling standoff, but I've also liked them both and I continue to like them both far more than the option of the U.S. voluntarily defaulting on its debt, which is a silly thing considering that the U.S. controls its currency supply.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Still Can't Quit Brooks

    But I'll be quick about it.

    "The average Medicare couple pays $109,000 into the program and gets $343,000 in benefits out, according to the Urban Institute. This is $234,000 in free money."

    No! No! No! No!  It is not free money.  It is paid, as a tax, over the course of a working life.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    A Constitutional Project

    Just based on conversations I've had over the years, one of the assumed best things about the enduring democracy of the United States is that we've had one Constitution, amended infrequently, for a very long time.  Other countries, we're told, go through constitutions quite frequently and others don't have them at all.  Today, Louis Michael Seidman writes in The Times that we should give up on the Constitution all together.  It has become, he argues, an impediment to smart decision-making and an appeal to a long departed gentry who would not understand the problems we face today.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    The Overstated Importance Of Philanthrocapitalism

    Apparently casting about for ideas for an Op-ed column this week, Nicholas Kristof has gone back to the "philanthrocapitalism" well with a column titled "How Giving Became Cool."  He credits Ted Turner's decision to funnel $1 billion for charitable causes through the United Nations a few years back, and then his agitating for more generosity from Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, who have since championed "The Giving Pledge,

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