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Everything Wrong With Contemporary Journalism

Monday, August 31, 2009
Why is it that if someone condemns torture and the violation of privacy rights, he is criticized by Washington journalists for not praising the military? Is that messed up or what? What the hell does the one have to do with the other? I'm beginning to think that the reason the beltway crowd is so ready to shred the Constitution in order to reduce the risk of a terrorist attack by .0001% is that, because they live in D.C., they're terrified of being the victims of an attack. What a goob.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 4:16 PM

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On Health Care Reform

Tuesday, August 25, 2009
With few exceptions, the U.S. political system has been incapable of implementing a significant domestic policy reform since the 1970's - by which I mean the Clean Air Acts (passed because Nixon wanted to steal the issue from Muskie for the '72 race). Since then, we've had health care, trade, environmental, and energy crises that have only grown worse with time, and nothing ever happens. About once a decade or so the Democrats win power and try to address these problems, but every time a sufficient number of moderate/conservative Democrats join with the Republicans to block the reform. In fact, one could extend the period of time to the Great Depression. Since 1938 and the formation of the Conservative Coalition, it has been customary for a bunch of Democrats to ally with Republicans against Democratic Presidents' initiatives.

There are those exceptions I mentioned earlier, however. Those are policies that benefit elite economic interests, by which I mean defense contractors (wars), wall street (deregulation and bank bailouts), insurance and pharmaceutical companies (Medicare Part D), and the top 10% of the population (tax cuts and 'free trade'). Republicans and far, far too many Democrats are willing to support those groups' interests, and somehow magically the filibuster never seems to be a problem when reforms of that stripe are on the agenda.

And this is what brings me to health care reform. Right now we are balanced on a very delicate knife, in which one of three things could happen. The first is that Obama can break the legislative logjam and overawe "moderate" Senate Democrats and push through a balanced health reform program, becoming the modern equivalent LBJ in 1965. The second is that he fails to do so and can't get anything, becoming the equivalent of Clinton. Or the third and most likely scenario is that, desperate to avoid an outright political defeat, Obama agrees to a package that Ben Nelson and Kent Conrad will agree to - with weak regulation of insurance companies, a limited health insurance exchange, minimal subsidies to middle income people, a personal mandate, and no public option - in which this bill just becomes a big giveaway to the insurance industry. No cost controls, minimal expansion of coverage, and what amounts to regressive tax on the American people. In other words, Obama can be George W. Bush with respect to Medicare Part D, only worse - he can prostitute six decades of fighting for health care reform in order to try to win re-election by selling the party out to some of the worst industries in country.

And if it does turn out to be scenario 3, let's just say that the chances that I will support Obama's re-election in 2012 will be about as good as the odds that I'll suddenly start watching Fox News.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 1:03 PM

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Hello There!

Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Wow, this place is really dusty! How long has it been, anyway? Nearly two weeks? Seriously? I remember when I posted every day! Well, I'd better get my dustrag and get to work.

The reason for my absence? Not that I haven't been creeping back into reading blogs, which I have a little - although not a lot. And I've even had a few things I felt like writing about. But let's just say that my August has been a wee bit busy. My boss keeps tossing these gigantic projects on short deadlines in my direction, and on many days I've been waking up, working, going home, working, and going to bed. Frankly I'm exhausted, but so far there's no end in sight. I might not be sorry irritable if half of the things I'm spending time on are because other people I work with are screw-ups. Oh well, this can't possibly last forever. Can it?

And although I'm sure that it will ever be useful, if I'm ever running for President I will place reforming the procedures of the Senate a major policy priority. Seriously, why is it that six people from states with a population that fit into my living room get to block anything they want? Ridiculous. And those people carrying guns to Obama events and yelling and screaming at town halls, and their political representatives that defend them? America, I introduce you to your Republican Party. What a bunch of freak shows. There are some silly people on the left (I'm talking to you, 9/11 conspiracy theorists!), but you never see them threatening people.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 6:26 AM

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My Birthday

Thursday, August 06, 2009
Today I am 35. The only thing noteworthy about this age* is that I am now constitutionally eligible to run for President. Of course, unless Nancy Pelosi were to resign, the House were going to elect me Speaker**, and Joe Biden and Obama were to resign in succession, I don't see how this is going to effect my life very much. Now if all Republican officeholders (including Supreme Court justices) would resign en masse, that would make a nice birthday present. In the meantime I'm going to receive a fancy pen and have a nice dinner out.

*Other than the fact that it ends in "5", which for some reason places me in a different check-box

**No, the constitution does not mandate that one be a member of the House to be Speaker. It also doesn't require Supreme Court justices to be human beings. This is what you get when you draft important documents in un-air-conditioned, unventilated rooms in Philadelphia in the summer. And that, people, is why filibusters are used more today than in the old days, and why the South has so much political power - air conditioners. Weird.
Posted by Arbitrista @ 2:48 PM

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