Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Brooks Again.

"Two things happened to Sandra Bullock this month. First, she won an Academy Award for best actress. Then came the news reports claiming that her husband is an adulterous jerk. So the philosophic question of the day is: Would you take that as a deal? Would you exchange a tremendous professional triumph for a severe personal blow? ..

Nonetheless, if you had to take more than three seconds to think about this question, you are absolutely crazy."

Correction, Mr. Brooks: if you have to even ask that question, out loud, you are absolutely crazy. If you believe that those two things happening to Sandra Bullock one after another makes them a "deal" and triggers the "philosophic question of the day" you are absolutely crazy. If you think it's a useful narrative device to pose a question with an obvious answer only to tell us how obvious the answer is, you are absolutely crazy. If you think that professional success is the same as income or wealth ("the relationship between happiness and income"), you are absolutely crazy. If you think that any of this in any way corroborates your point about what the government should or shouldn't do, you are absolutely crazy. And finally, if you think this makes for a good use of your op-ed real estate, you are absolutely crazy.


Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Originally uploaded by The White House
Obama's signature on the health reform bill .. I want this on a T shirt or a poster.

Thursday, March 18, 2010

These Nuns Are Bitchin'!

One of the crazier elements of the health care reform debate has been the discussion around abortion. The catholic bishops have opined that unless we specifically prohibit funding for abortions in the bill, they cannot support it. Never mind the help it would provide to millions of poor Americans. And besides - since when do catholic bishops write our legislation? Alas, they apparently do - and so the House healthcare bill included provisions that specifically prohibited abortion coverage on the newly created exchanges. The Senate bill didn't go quite so far; however, it made sure that anyone seeking abortion coverage had to pay out of their own pocket and couldn't get one paid for by Federal funds. This would ensure that the new exchanges abide by the Hyde amendment - which bars such federal funding. (Color me totally confused but doesn't the federal government subsidize abortions with a massive tax subsidy for healthcare coverage for employers, the vast majority of which include abortions in their health care plans?) Anyhow, it was encouraging on some many levels to read this letter from leaders of catholic nuns:
The health care bill that has been passed by the Senate and that will be voted on by the House will expand coverage to over 30 million uninsured Americans. While it is an imperfect measure, it is a crucial next step in realizing health care for all. It will invest in preventative care. It will bar insurers from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It will make crucial investments in community health centers that largely serve poor women and children. And despite false claims to the contrary, the Senate bill will not provide taxpayer funding for elective abortions. It will uphold longstanding conscience protections and it will make historic new investments – $250 million – in support of pregnant women. This is the REAL pro-life stance, and we as Catholics are all for it.

Friday, March 12, 2010


Seriously, the DEMs need to lose every election possible in the fall. Everyone is accusing them of maneuvers and tricks to get the HC bill passed and instead of infusing some discipline into their joke of a party and simply passing the fucking bill in the House how do they respond? By tagging on a totally unrelated piece of legislation. Unbelievable.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Catch 22 much?

"allowing an openly gay presence in ranks will be very difficult until we have committed leadership for it. I certainly had trouble figuring out how to provide such leadership in 1993. While I believed all people are created equal, I did not believe such equality extended to all ideas or all cultures. And since I didn’t know how to advocate the assimilation of this particular form of diversity, I saw no way to prevent it from undermining unit cohesion."

Ie, we can't have gays in the military until we have committed leadership for it. And we don't have leadership for it because people like me don't want to commit to it. Why? Like I said, because we can't have gays in the military until we have committed leadership for it. Get it?

"But it would be a serious mistake to imagine that personal performance is what matters in combat. Combat is not a contest between individuals, like poker or tennis; it is a team event whose success depends on group cooperation and morale. So the behavior that concerns us is not individual achievement but the social dynamics of relationships and groups. The issue is whether and how the presence of openly declared homosexuals in the ranks affects the solidarity of the unit.

We have already seen the fault lines form in the current debate: the individual service chiefs have expressed reservations about Admiral Mullen’s views. This lack of cohesion will likely make the Joint Chiefs less effective in the latest round of this debate.

Ie, just talking about this makes us less cohesive, and because cohesion is the end all be all in the military, it shouldn't happen, because it would make us less cohesive.

Seriously, enough bull shit. Sometimes I wonder, do these people realize that they are living on our buck? Really, you can't get behind ending DADT because you don't know how to embrace gays? Well you're a public servant and if we decide you should do something then you get in line and make it work.

That we should be obsessing so much about what the "military leaders" think about this is nauseating. Who the fuck are they? What the hell is all this crap about the military being different. Yea unit cohesion is very important in combat, sure. But so is cohesion everywhere else. In sports. In corporations. In schools. And you know what? People in every facet of life seemed to have figured out how to live around gays just fine.

Surely, in most situations we don't make life-or-death decisions .. but then if someone is willing to allow something random like sexual orientation to come between them and another soldier who is gay .. maybe the culprit is not the gay guy but rather the assholes who can't get over themselves. And instead of waiting around for these assholes to either die out or grow a brain, maybe we should just tell them to get with program or go home. I'm sure a lot of them would very quickly be just fine around gays.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Brooks' Feat.

In today's highly epic column, David Brooks not only gives us further evidence of just how terrible his writing is, but he also makes a rather poetic case for socialism.

PS, since when is the NYT op-ed page the journalistic equivalent of tenure?

Monday, March 1, 2010

Go Reform Yourself.

Health policy being the most interesting part of my job, I have for some time fantasized about the idea of studying health policy in grad school. Health care is so fascinating! So complex and rich with nuance! So, well, broken!

In the last 12 months as the debate around health reform unfolded in DC, the area has become a painful one. I cringe almost every time the topic comes up - the misrepresentations, the half-truths, the simplifications, the half-baked partisan talking points - so much of it is quite insufferable .. and yet, I rarely miss a chance to read another article, watch another hearing, listen to another pundit on TV opine on the topic. On the one hand I continue to be immensely drawn to the subject, on the other hand, the more I witness the current debate, the more quixotic my interest in health policy seems. Given the frustrating politics of health reform, what good will it do for another person to study health policy, other than to satisfy some intellectual urge?

I guess I gradually came to this conclusion internally, but reading this post by Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist at Princeton, today I am compelled to finally say it out loud: studying this area is a complete waste of time.