Book of the Month

Michael Wolraich's picture

Bloomberg's Gun-Control Campaign: Right Idea, Wrong Guy

Former NYC mayor Michael Bloomberg has a bold plan. He hopes to single-handedly revive America's comatose gun-control movement with a $50 million cash infusion and a fresh political strategy. He has money, connections, and an astute appreciation for what it will take to counter the gun-rights mania that has hijacked national politics. Too bad he's not the guy to pull it off. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Your Top Ten Anti-Christian Acts of 2013

The title of this post comes from the subject line of an email that I received from Dr. Gary L. Cass, head of the "Christian Anti-Defamation Commission." If you read on, you'll notice that none of the "top ten anti-Christian acts of 2013" represent actual discrimination against Christians. Most of them are about Christians' "right" to discriminate against gays and lesbians. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Dear angry American who has to pay more for better health insurance,

Bummer. I know the premiums are steep. I've been there. I remember when I moved from Philadelphia to New York City, and my rate jumped from $200 to $800--without even changing my plan. I received a letter saying that my premium might rise. The next thing I knew, boom, $800 charged to my credit card.

At least you get better coverage out of the deal. I still had to pay for my ER visit because it fell under my $3000 deductible. But what could I do? This America. Private companies are supposed to wring people out like dirty washcloths. It's called a free market.

But this is different, isn't it? It's not the free market that's squeezing you dry. It's the government. Government isn't supposed to squeeze people. It's supposed to get out of the way and let the free market squeeze people. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Kamikaze Logic and the Republican Insurgency

The Republican effort to defund “Obamacare” is like playing chicken with a wall. The Senate Democrats will never vote against health care legislation they spent decades to pass. The voters will punish Republican legislators if they shut down the government or default on the debt. Whether the Republicans crash or swerve, this game has no positive outcome for them.

So why are they doing it? [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Russia Offers Asylum to Russian Dissidents

On Thursday, Russian officials announced that Russia had offered asylum to dissidents suffering persecution from the Russian government.

The group includes Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger sentenced to five years in a corrective labor colony; Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former Russian oligarch imprisoned since 2005; members of punk rock protest band Pussy Riot, imprisoned since 2012; Russia's gay population; and the Chechen Republic. Russia also offered posthumous asylum to Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent assassinated by Russian agents after receiving asylum in Britain. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Waiting for the GOP to Die

Demographics, we've heard, are pro-Democrat. In a few years, a wave of young Latinos will swamp those dastardly Republicans in their southern redoubts, and then the donkey will soar again. Huzzah!

But wait, it get's better. According to Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast, "even working-class white people" are preparing to join the glorious Democratic demographic revolution. He discovered a Brookings poll that proves, "White working-class millennials are fairly liberal!"

In short, all we have to do is wait a decade or two for the new golden age of Democratic hegemony to come roaring back to Washington, courtesy of the aging process.

I call this the Wait for the Old Farts to Die strategy. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Snowden, Prism, and Us - Food for Thought

"I don't want public attention because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing."

-- Edward Snowden, June 9, 2013

 

Media References, June 9-30, 2013 [Read more]

  Google Dagblog
  News articles Blog posts News links Comments
Prism 155,000 0 4 45
Edward Snowden 637,000,000 10 14 313
Michael Wolraich's picture

Better Gun Control

Last February, I wrote what columnists like to call a "think piece" about an alternative approach to gun control (with the implication that most punditry does not involve thinking).

My proposal was to tax gun manufacturers and retailers based on the lethality of their merchandise, as measured by crime statistics. The hope was to incentivize companies to create their own safeguards against misuse, in essence to financially discourage them from making weapons that appeal to criminals and from selling to customers who are likely to use the guns for crime.

 [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Iran's Last Chance

Hassan Rouhani, Iran's newly elected president, will serve for four years. By the end of his term, Iran and the U.S. will either reach an agreement, or they will go to war.

Last March, Obama told an Israeli television station that it would take "over a year or so" for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, the first time an American president stated a timeframe on the record. The dates coincide with a U.S. intelligence estimate during George W. Bush's administration: "sometime during the 2010-2015 time-frame." [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

I Don't Give a Damn About Privacy

Go ahead, collect my phone records, track my websurfing, analyze my email.  I don't give a damn.

I do not write this out of any loyalty to Obama or because I worry about the Terrorist Threat.  I simply do not care about my data privacy and never have.

Why should I? My buying habits are ordinary, my emails are pedestrian, my phone calls would bore any spy to tears, my political opinions are very public and published under my own name. As long as no one spams me or steals my identity, why should I care what they do with my data? [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Obama Scandals: The Quest for the Perfect "Gate"

At last! Republicans have been awaiting this moment for five long years, the day that Obama finally gets his gate. You see, every two-term president has a defining scandal that renders him permanently villainous and/or ridiculous. By hallowed convention, the scandal must end with word "gate."

Nixon started it with the gate to begin all gates, Watergate. Ronald Reagan followed up with Irangate. Bill Clinton enthralled us with Monicagate. George W. Bush gave us Plamegate.

And now Obama has got his own gate...or rather his own gates. Since no single scandal is big enough bring him down, Republicans and pundits are eagerly gathering them up in a big stinking pile of nefariousness: IRSBenghAPgate! [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Don't Cry For Background Checks

Supporters of gun control lost yesterday. It was not a terrible bill. Expanded background checks would have stopped some future killers from buying guns. It should have passed. But it would have done little to reduce gun violence in America.

"Fighting" Bob La Follette, a progressive senator from Wisconsin, once wrote, "In legislation no bread is often better than half a loaf. I believe it is usually better to be beaten and come right back at the next session and make a fight for a thoroughgoing law than to have written on the books a weak and indefinite statute."

La Follette became famous for championing "radical" legislation that had no chance of passing--corporate regulations, labor rights, lobbyist restrictions, and popular election of U.S. senators. He took up his colleagues' time with "pointless" filibusters. He ran three times for president and never even came close to winning. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

A Real Death Tax: Let the Killers Choose, Let the Profiteers Pay

Premise 1: Killer Knows Best

What makes one gun more lethal than another? Ever since Sandy Hook, the media has bombarded us with gun jargon. We've learned about flash suppressors and high-capacity magazines, threaded barrels and pistol grips. We've heard that these features are bad features, dangerous to children and other living things. The expired federal assault weapons law used to ban any gun with two or more of them. The new New York law bans them all.

But we've also heard that gunmakers find ways to skirt these constraints. For instance, some manufacturers evaded California's quick-reload restriction with a "bullet button" that allows shooters to release a magazine with a bullet tip instead of a fingertip. It's hard for plodding legislatures to keep up with eager manufacturers, who have every incentive to invent the most lethal legal weapon possible.

So if not the legislators, who should determine which guns are too deadly? Who in America most appreciates a gun's killing potential? [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Evaluating the Teachers

Unlike New York City teachers, most Americans have no say in how their employers evaluate their job performance. The process, if there is a "process," usually emerges from an obscure H.R. task force that bases its guidelines on whatever trendy corporate gobbledygook some associate vice president read in the latest issue of Human Resources Executive.

Once the process reaches its lofty conclusion, the employee has to live with the consequences. A glowing evaluation may mean a raise and promotion. A scathing report may trigger demotion or even termination. The processes are not necessarily fair. Bosses often use them to justify whatever they wanted to do all along. Good bosses treat their people fairly. Bad bosses exploit their power for petty politics. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

The Republican Suicide Strategy

A suicide bomber walks into a bar. He shouts at the bartender, "Gimme the money, or I blow this place to bits!" The worried bartender hands him a wad of cash, and the bomber departs.

The next day, the suicide bomber returns to the same bar. He shouts at the bartender, "Gimme the money, or I blow this place to bits!"

"Are you nuts?" answers the bartender. "If I give you money every day, I'll go out of business. Plus, you're scaring away the customers."

"I tell you what," replies the bomber, "Gimme the money, and I won't come back until the day after tomorrow."

Welcome to the art of negotiation, Republican style. Since the election of 2010, the United States has narrowly averted three Republican-built suicide bombs: one government shutdown, one debt default and one fiscal cliff. We have two more scheduled for February: across-the-board spending cuts and another debt ceiling expiration.

Read the full article at CNN.com [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Boehner's Terrible, Horrible, No Good Very Bad New Year

John Boehner has a situation. A week ago, he failed to reach a deal with President Barack Obama to avert the dreaded Fiscal Cliff. To save face, he then attempted to pass his own compromise bill, which he called Plan B, ignoring the inconvenient fact that the Democrats were not party to the one-sided "compromise." As it turned out, the Republicans weren't party to it either. When Boehner's conservative colleagues refused to vote for Plan B, he had to humbly retract his evidently no-sided compromise. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

What Should We Do to Stop Massacres?

 

Maybe Wayne LaPierre is onto something. So suggests DF in his latest blog, What Can We Do to Stop Massacres? Isn't it at least worth considering, he asks, LaPierre's proposal to station armed "responders" at our schools?

It is worth considering. An armed officer presents a defense and a deterrent. It seems indisputable that LaPierre's proposal would help protect our schools against violent attacks.

But would it stop massacres? Not unless we placed multiple armed responders at every park, playground, pool, day camp, playing field, Sunday school, daycare center, shopping mall, or any other place where children gather. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Susan Rice, America's "See No Evil" Ambassador

Forget about Benghazi. The whole imbroglio was little more than an election gambit gone sour. Republican leaders, frustrated that their charges failed to wound Obama in November, have vented their fury on his choice for Secretary of State.

But Susan Rice's record as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. raises other more serious concerns. The New York Times published two articles today, a news story and an op-ed, which question Rice's judgment concerning several African dictators. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

China's Corruption Conundrum

"We must be vigilant," proclaimed Xi Jinping, China's new paramount leader. In his inaugural speech to the 25-person Politburo, he warned that rampant graft and corruption would "doom the party and the state" if it continued unchecked.

He has a point. From petty graft in far-flung villages to the regime-shaking Bo Xilai scandal, rampant corruption has fueled the social unrest that the long-toothed oligarchs fear so much. Payoffs have bumped China's vaunted high-speed trains off their shoddy tracks. Graft has nibbled away the roots of its famously fertile economy. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

The Change We Weren't Waiting For After All

The pundits are pondering. They mention mandates and movements, margins and maneuvers and meetings in the middle. They wax wisely on who won and why they won and which way the wind will waft on Wednesday.

We love to mock them, these prattling experts and prognosticators. And yet we listen, we read, we react. We can't help ourselves. We want to know what it all means and what will happen next. We are determined to squeeze great meaning from great events. We are all pundits.

But the truth is that the great election of November 7, 2012, was all but meaningless. It represents neither a pivot point nor a portent. A poor candidate lost to a strong candidate, as as he was expected to do. A diverse majority of Democrats in the Senate will continue to play a weak hand weakly. A militant majority of Republicans in the House will continue to obstruct, ignoring calls for moderation as they have done for two decades. The federal government will hobble feebly along. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Live-Blogging the Debate! Gloves Off! Pants Off! OK, Pants Back On! Just the Gloves!

Gentlemen, your objectives are clear.

Obama: Get those nuts on the table or the pedestal or whatever it is you're using. Wait, it's Town Hall style. Just thrust out your pelvis then. You're big! You're bad! You're mad as hell and you're not going to take it any more! (It's OK, it's just pretend.)

Romney: No apologies! Keep on rolling out those double-speak plans and fake studies. Americans suck at math! They do not care if man means what he says so long as he says what he means. You know that I mean.

Crowley: You are the master of your domain. I want to see some alpha males asses get kicking!

Uncommitted voters: Try not to look dumb, you're on national television. (Seriously, you're still uncommitted?) [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Pretty Little Liars

I wanted to believe Lance Armstrong, even after he wrote, "Enough is enough."

I thought it was strange that he declined to contest the allegations of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency, but I couldn't help empathizing with this man, so confident and earnest, a sports legend and a survivor. [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

BREAKING: Bain Capital Acquires Romney Campaign

Romney for President, Inc., today announced that Bain Capital, LLC, a leading global private investment firm, has completed its purchase of the organization. The total value of the transaction is $53 million.

Romney for President is a leading Boston-based provider of political strategy, public relations, and fundraising services. It was founded in 2011 by Mitt Romney, former Governor of Massachusetts and an original founder of Bain Capital, with the goal of electing Romney President of the United States.

"The completion of the sale is a significant milestone in our campaign's history," said Stuart Stevens, Romney for President's Chief Campaign Strategist. "We enter this new phase of our growth and development with a new name – Mittata Intelligence – and a renewed commitment to excellence, innovation, and federal budget reduction." [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Who Believe They Are Entitled...

All right, there are 47 percent...who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it.

Mitt Romney, 2012 [Read more]

Michael Wolraich's picture

Islam and Intolerance

There is a touch of hypocrisy in Mitt Romney's strident defense of free speech. It is hard to imagine that "freedom of speech" would be the first words out of his mouth if Jesus Christ were the target of ridicule instead of Muhammad.

Still, though Romney and his supporters would surely bristle at an offensive caricature of Jesus, the ambassadors of Muslim nations have nothing to fear from mobs of Christian fanatics. The United States has its fair share of religious zealots, but they are not prone to rioting and violence when their sacred symbols are profaned.

Why is that? Why are the Middle East and Indian subcontinent so much more more susceptible to religious explosions of mob violence than Western countries? [Read more]

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