Matt Welch:

You're a true patriot, Tom Ridge. When faced with senior administration officials deliberately trying to scare the crap out of the American people to win an election–a tar-and-featherable offense, at minimum–not only did you decide to eventually quit some day, you rushed out and told citizens about their duplicitous leaders in just five short years! For profit!

A banal point to remember, but foundational: Government is materially incentivized to frighten you, about everything. Power–surprise!–corrupts, no matter which set of angels happens to be exercising it this year. Which is why some of us don't gladly give the stuff over to Washington, D.C.


"life here, began out there"

Well, maybe.

But scientists have confirmed that there are amino acids on comets. Which is pretty cool, and suggests that other organic materials found in meteorites may very well have originated off-planet (i.e., they weren't merely contaminated when they slammed into the earth.)


angry neighbors with paintball guns

(image via Bull City Rising)

I saw this sign (or rather, one exactly like it) on my commute this morning, and it made me smile like few things can on a Monday morning. The one I saw was near the corner of Roxboro and Knox, a corner where pedestrian right-of-way laws and the laws of physics have a nasty tendency to face off with some frequency, no thanks to those charged with enforcing the former.

For the record, I have nothing to do with this, but I do wish I'd thought of it. God, I love Durham.

Kevin and Barry have more.

UPDATE--Based on the comments on the two news outlets who've picked up on this so far (WDTV and WRAL) I can't wait to see the crazy come out over at the N&O...


(you are here)

This is pretty freaking awesome:

Pretty amazing how vast the universe is, what with it only being about 6000 years old and all...

(he's just a nihilist...nothing to worry about...)

The more I read and hear about the various issues of health care reform, the more I am convinced of really only one thing: that this is an issue sufficiently complex as to allow room for everyone to be completely wrong about it. And everybody probably is.


health care, ctd

Last week I wrote:

"I think universal health care is a perfectly laudable goal... That said, I have absolutely no faith in the American political system to create and run a Canadian or French-style single-payer system (setting aside for the moment whether I would actually want it to or not). There are too many stakeholders in the status quo...we'd have to have public (only) campaign financing first."

Yesterday, Robert Reich pointed out a perfect example of why I think this is the case:

It's bad enough when industry lobbyists extract concessions from members of Congress, which happens all the time. But when an industry gets secret concessions out of the White House in return for a promise to lend the industry's support to a key piece of legislation, we're in big trouble. That's called extortion: An industry is using its capacity to threaten or prevent legislation as a means of altering that legislation for its own benefit. And it's doing so at the highest reaches of our government, in the office of the President.

When the industry support comes with an industry-sponsored ad campaign in favor of that legislation, the threat to democracy is even greater. Citizens end up paying for advertisements designed to persuade them that the legislation is in their interest [emphasis added]. In this case, those payments come in the form of drug prices that will be higher than otherwise, stretching years into the future.

It should be said that this is coming from an unabashed liberal whose support for universal insurance is much less qualified than my own.

A blind spot too many libertarians and most conservatives have is the danger posed by collusion between the private sector and the government. It isn't free enterprise when businesses game the government to their competitive advantage. I have no idea what Mr. Obama (or perhaps more accurately, his team) are thinking here, whether this is a necessary compromise on the path to universal insurance or is actually the way they want to proceed. In either case, they seem to be taking a page from some of the worst economic policy of the Republicans.

All of which goes to reinforce the fundamental silliness of the Team Red/Team Blue mentality...Republicans aren't opposing Obama's health care reforms because they think it's bad policy (it is) but because it's Obama's. More to the point, it isn't difficult to envision an alternate reality in which a Republican president would have struck the exact same deal, with full support from the party. Democrats/liberals/progressives that are supporting reform (it should be said that there is no shortage of liberal disappointment in the general half-assedness of the Obama "plan"), I can only presume, are supporting it primarily because...it's Obama's.


great sentences

"Not so long ago she'd have dismissed such mysticism; but after last night she was obliged to be more open-minded. The world of mysteries she'd made light of in her spook and spaceship screenplays was not to be so easily mocked. It had come looking for her, found her, and pitched her--cynicism and all--among its heavens and hells...

She no longer had to keep her cynicism polished; no longer had to divide her imaginings from moment too moment into the real (solid, sensible) and the fanciful (vaporous, valueless). If (when) she got back to her typewriter she'd begin these tongue-in-cheek screenplays over from the top, telling them with faith to the tale, not because every fantasy was absolutely true but because no reality ever was."

--Clive Barker, The Great and Secret Show


first, we take manhattan...

Not to brag, but...I'm totally going to brag.

Who has two thumbs and has already scored tickets to see Leonard Cohen play in Durham?

Yeah, that's right...



So what do you think Bill Clinton said to Kim Jong Il?


(more) disjointed thoughts about health care reform

1) It isn't that I am eager for the changes Mr. Obama has proposed (what are they again? Does anyone know? Does he?) so much as it is that there is very little about the current health care system that I find defensible. I understand that the Republicans do not want government-run health care (except, you know, when they do) but I am equally perplexed as to exactly what it is that Republicans are defending as I am about what the administration is proposing.

2) I think universal health care is a perfectly laudable goal. There really is no reason we couldn't do it (from a financial standpoint) if we weren't so keen on running a global empire. That said, I have absolutely no faith in the American political system to create and run a Canadian or French-style single-payer system (setting aside for the moment whether I would actually want it to or not). There are too many stakeholders in the status quo...we'd have to have public (only) campaign financing first. And that isn't going to happen.

3) That said, if the goal is actually universal care, then I don't understand why the discussion isn't focused on a substantial (and universally available, if not universally utilized) safety net-type system, built from the ground-up in addition to everything that already exists. (And no, I have no idea how to do this.)

This "public option" which is apparently meant to compete with private insurance and drive their prices down while (simultaneously!) not in any way affecting their ability to do business with the millions of people perfectly happy with their current coverage (like, for example, me)--all while the federal government is going to prohibit private insurers from denying anyone coverage for much of anything--is a bunch of incoherent nonsense. Might as well promise a pony to every little girl in America, while we're at it. (It'd be cheaper.)

4) I do worry about the effect of any reform--including the ones I am very vaguely proposing--on health care innovation in the long run. And you should, too, even if you find the notion of charging people money for life-saving care morally reprehensible.

5) If you think Americans spend a lot more on end-of-life care than the rest of the world now, just wait until the Boomers really start dying off. And if you think that they are going to be the ones to change this, I have an ocean-view condo to sell you. It's in Detroit.