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Sunday, January 31, 2010

Ballance at the Washington Post meets

THE TAKE | There's reason for both parties to feel good about debate between Obama, House GOP.
Dan Balz

President Obama goes to GOP's house

This goes well beyond "Opinions on shape of Earth differ, both sides have a point." it is theoretically possible for both sides to have a point about the shape of the earth, but partisan politics in the USA is a zero sum game -- if Democrats win Republicans loose. Is Balz arguing that both Democrats and Republicans gained at the expense of the Connecticut for Lieberman party ?

There is no need for the headline to address the question of who won and who lost. Given the choice to score the Q&A it is simply unacceptable to adopt the rule that the score must be a tie no matter what happened.

This is pure Ballance.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

The Lazy Caucus

In contrast to the (alleged) crazy semi caucus (see below)

McJoan is making sense.

The post explains her arguments that we should be pressing senators as well as representatives. There are important things which 51 senators can and should do before the house passes the senate bill. Senate Democrats allegedly refuse to bother with health care any more.
A Crazy Caucus

Josh Marshall has an excellent article on the health care psychodrama. All his sources are anonymous (of course) but he makes a convincing case that roughly half of the Democratic caucus in the House of Representatives plan to make policy decisinos based on injured pride.

The alleged utter insanity is illustrated by the following undocumented claims

"Others said that more than half of rank-and-file members would rather sacrifice some of the elements of the bill they like by seeking another Senate Republican's support to pass a compromise bill, rather than swallow the Senate bill as is."

So the current Senate bill is too conservative and they want to get a new bill from the new Senate ! That is insane.

It is not possible that any rank and file members think they will get a better bill with one Republican's support. Note the alleged plan is to get cloture on the new bill. This only makes sense as an expression of injured pride -- they won't just say yes to the Senate, not because of the public interest, but because they want to prove that they have dicks as big as senators.

p.s. I was trying to avoid using that word and managed up until the last line.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

I remember back in 1975 reading the grafitto "Don't blame me. I'm from Massachusetts."

I do Not want to have to write "Blame me, I'm from Massachusetts" so vote.

I am registered in Massachusetts, but I will blame the Italian postal service which still hasn't delivered my ballot. They have 8 hours to get it to me and then post mark the return envelope (then 10 days to get it to Massachusetts). It's driving me nuts.

update: Blame Me. I'm from Massachusetts

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Clash Of The Titans

Krugman vs Glennzilla. I don't know whether to make popcorn or cry. They are debating the case of Jonathan Gruber who is a top health economist and comments publicly on health policy and also had a contract to do micro-simulations for HHS.
They are also two of my favorite bloggers and two of the people whose intellect and integrity I respect most.

Oddly there doesn't seem to be anything odd about their clash. Each is very opinionated, of course. The debate is one aspect of the split of the US leftmore 60% which was briefly united by Bush (has anyone done more for the world left in the past 3 decades ?). Now there is a split between those, like Krugman, who say let Nelson and Lieberman have their way if that's what it takes to get the huge advnantages of the Senate health care bill and those who say it is better to block this bill in hope of a better one (it is not clear if that means this month, this year or this decade).

The specific case is ambiguous. Gruber's contract is not like Armstrong William's contract as noted by Krugman. It is also not exactly like an NSF grant. It is a very good thing that Gruber has shared his expertise with HHS in the form of simulations which would make your eyes glaze over, and with the public in the form of commentary on the strengths and weaknesses of cost control measures in various bills and draft bills. I should say that back when I was a 4th year graduate student and he was a 3rd year graduate student Prof. Gruber helped me find data I needed for my dissertation. Oh and I gave $50 to the fund to pay Marcy Wheeler to blog (in this case denouncing the HHS contract). Oh and you know I mention that when I complain to Firedogs.

I think there are a number of reasons for the fierce disagreement.
1) Attitudes towards the Obama administration
2) Lawyers vs economists
3) Friends of Firedoglake vs friends of Jonathan Gruber
4) Attitudes towards compromise.

1) Greenwald mainly discusses civil liberties, defendants rights and habeus corpus. Krugman discusses economic policy. Krugman thinks the Obama administration has been too centrist and much too determined to try to compromise with Republicans. Greenwald thinks they are guilty of grossly violating human rights. In the field of dealing with detainees, the Obama administration has actively done things which Antonin Scalia never dreamed of. I personally share Krugman and Greenwald's views on both sets of issues and feel very differently about the two sets of issues. Different focus based on different expertise seems to have lead to a different general sense of whether to trust the Obama administration a little or not.

2) Krugman and Gruber are economists. They are used to obtaining NSF grants without feeling compromised. Wheeler and Greenwald are lawyers. They are used to dealing with cases in which the amount of money which can legitimately change hands is zero. I think that Krugman is confident that HHS paid Gruber because they felt they needed to know what he could tell them and not to influence his writing for the public. I'm sure he has the sense that Gruber's work is worky work unlike Krugman's own (or mine such as it is). Krugman sure wouldn't do it for the money, so he doesn't see the money as a bribe.

3) this is obvious. I think that Krugman stands up for fellow not rightwing loony economists. Greenwald has certainly made strange arguments in defence of Firedoglake's position on health care reform (see a post below).

4) Neither is a fan of compromise, but Greenwald is very focused on issues in which no compromise is possible. He explicitly states that the struggle against money in politics is fought on a slippery slope.

Here on issue is that Krugman's focus is on, among other things, policy less favorable to the very rich at the expense of everyone else and the public is ovwerwhelmingly on his side, while Greenwald wants the 4th through 8th amendments to be obeyed and a majority of the US public don't. So Krugman may have more of a general sense that an inch which was given can be taken back soon.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Skywalkers in Korea Cross Han Solo Headline guy part N

I have criticized him, her or them a lot, so I should say that I agree with Matt Yglesias that this is the best headline evar.

Friday, January 01, 2010

McClatchey Fail

So I was just telling my sister how much better McClatchey is than the NY Times or the Washington Post and Hannah Allam totally ruins it writing "no one seems to remember if any Icelandic forces ever made it to Iraq. "

Andy Cobb and Josh Funk remember