‘Not be bound by traditional, print-based conventions’ But, gosh darn it, they’ll be bound by traditional, print-based conventions when it comes to the lousy pay they offer. … Don’t you love this Brave New World of digital-age journalism? … Via Adam, who also links to this related job. ...
Update - 09.01.09 -- Dan et gang have some fun observations and comments. I'd wager that spikes in housing prices alone have wiped out any industry pay increases since I was a cub reporter.
¶ 11:41 AM
Joe and Vicki The two-newspaper town strikes again: Are all eyes on Joe or on Vicki? My hunch is Joe isn't sure he wants it. Vicki really wants it. But Joe gets the first Kennedy crack at it as a former local congressman. ... P.S. - They could both get it if the succession law is changed.
¶ 6:41 AM
Into retirement Sometimes you just conk out. Tedy Bruschi knows that. So he's retiring. ... He will and won't be missed. He'll be missed because he represented a Pats era we can all feel slipping away. But he'll be around for years to come as a Pats ambassador. Happy retirement, Tedy. ...
¶ 6:25 AM
'Ted Kennedy vs. Nixon …' Part II Even Paul Krugman misses Richard Nixon. ... Typically, he focuses on how much the Republicans have changed -- and they've indeed changed. But don't forget it was the Democrats who ultimately killed the '70s deal -- and, unfortunately, they haven't changed enough. They're still clinging to that single-payer dream, now in the guise of the public option. ... My earlier thoughts on Kennedy-Nixon here. ... Another call for a compromise plan, this time from Bill Bradley. I'm not sure about his tort-reform-for-universal-health-care formula. Most Republicans don't want to play ball at all. Most liberal Democrats are still living in the '70s.
¶ 6:05 AM
'Jared's legacy,' Part II Don't forget. Sunday night, 8 p.m.. WRKO radio. A tribute to Jared C. Monti, the posthumous winner of the Congressional Medal of Honor.
¶ 9:32 AM
'Ted Kennedy’s Irish Wake' -- and more Some random thoughts on Ted Kennedy and the Kennedy coverage:
-- Did you catch last night's service on TV? One of the better storytellers was none other than Deval Patrick, who spoke of the time Kennedy and Vicki were invited out to the Patrick's home in western Massachusetts for a Tanglewood concert and a pre- or post-concert dinner. Before the weekend, Kennedy kept calling to add dinner guests to the list. Vicki was mortified by her husband's "add ons." One of them was an uninvited symphony pianst who rang the door bell as dinner was served. He came in with his keyboard and Kennedy grandly announced he was there so they could sing songs after the meal. Kennedy was delighted. So were Patrick and Vicki -- after their initial shock.
-- Did you catch Greater Boston's 'Beat the Press' last night? Yet more stories from veteran reporters who used to cover Kennedy. I don't know about you, but I can't stand one more soaring speech or column about what Kennedy meant to America and the working man, etc., etc., etc. I want more stories about him. Stories, stories, stories. The funnier the better. They're the essence of Irish wakes and funerals.
-- Speaking of stories, I liked this one: "In recalling the courtship, Vicki Kennedy told Mr. Clymer that she had been aware of the senator’s low approval ratings, which he had mentioned over dinner one night. They had fallen into the mid-40s. “And I said, ‘Oh, wow, I’ve never gone out with anybody whose approval rating wasn’t at least 48.’” ... Kennedy proposed to her six months later. Smart move.
-- Have you ever frantically spiffed up the house before guests arrive? Have you ever rushed to a store to buy a new shirt or jacket before a funeral, wedding or other formal event? Now think of the spiffing up Mission Hill is now getting. Nothing wrong with a belated clean-up. It’s normal. Guests are arriving.
-- One of the uglier moments in Kennedy's career: The infamous Bork denunciation. OK, OK. It was bad. Real bad. But read on. ... OK, OK. I once accidently killed a kitten. Just clearing my conscience.
Update -- Someone inquired about the 'weird' kitten reference above. It's an inside joke with a regular Hub Blog reader. I'm waiting to see if he catches it.
¶ 9:05 AM
'If the Democrats are smart enough to seize it,' Part II Dan makes a good point about Krauthammer's health-care compromise: It'll take two parties to tango -- and he doesn't see the Republicans going along. I'm a little more optimistic about the prospects for compromise. So is Steve Pearlstein. But I'm not that optimistic. The Republican Party seems to be going through one of its periodic vitriolic convulsions. One of the big myths about modern politics is that today's nasty partisan politics can trace its roots to the 1960s. But David Halberstam, in his last great book, 'The Coldest Winter,' debunks that myth by debunking another generational myth dating back before the Korean War:
It was one of the enduring myths of American politics in the 1950s and 1960s that politics stopped at the water's edge, as if the foreign policy of the United States were some kind of sacrosanct area. ... Nothing was further from the truth. There had been considerable (if, on occasion, reluctant) bipartisanship during the WWII years, a bipartisanship that was in some ways involuntary, given the very considerable dangers posed by Germany and Japan, but it began to unravel almost as soon as the war ended. .... The Republican Party was badly split, caught in divisions that were deep, unhealable, and profoundly geographic. ... The Republican right had raged impotently. The more it lost (presidential elections), the angrier it became.
Etc., etc. And those are just snippets that don't include charges of 'treason' for 'losing' China and the 'un-American' nature of the New Deal. The left can be just as angry and ugly. Notice this sneering piece on Ted Kennedy by Alexander Cockburn. But parties and ideologues tend to be at their worst when their guys are out of power -- and right now that's the Republican Party and movement conservatives. Maybe a subhead should have been added to my earlier Krauthammer post: "If the Republicans are smart enough to seize it too."
¶ 7:50 AM
'If the Democrats are smart enough to seize it' Charles Krauthammer, of all people, lays out the path for health-care victory for Obama and Democrats. It's a powerful, persuasive piece from a seemingly unlikely source. Liberal Democrats: Read it. Now. You're so close to universal health-care -- and you don't even know it. ... Hub Blog last week was emphasizing roughly the same thing here and here. ...
Update -- I referred to Charles as a "seemingly unlikely source" because of his neo-conservative foreign policy views and the enmity many liberals have toward him. But he's a Harvard Medical School graduate, former Massachusetts General Hospital psychiatrist and he knows his medical stuff. He knows it's time for universal health care -- with tough choices coming later.
¶ 7:34 AM
Thursday, August 27, 2009
'Not even Massachusetts's greatest family' The Most Gracious Kennedy Remembrance Column By A Conservative Award goes to George Will. He also notes the recent death of Kennedy's sister, Eunice, whose passing away I should have noted earlier. I had a mentally retarded relative from the same generation as Rosemary Kennedy. One can't overestimate how much relatives of the mentally ill appreciate what Eunice Kennedy Shriver did for the 'intellectually disabled.' It's beyond depressing to think what Rosemary and others like her endured before Eunice helped launch what can only be called the 1960s' second civil rights movement, one on behalf of human beings who truly couldn't help themselves. ...
Shelly also has a nice column this morning. I fall into the same sentimental softy category. Though I disagreed with Kennedy on many major issues, I ended up liking and admiring Ted a lot, not least for his ability to overcome incredible family tragedies and to find happiness in his later years. He aged well. ... OK, a plug for Howie's non-sentimental-softy column. Like Adam R and others, I was also curious to see what Howie would say. That curiousity factor says something about Howie's staying power as an old-fashioned newspaper columnist in an age when there aren't many old-fashioned can't-ignore-'em newspaper columnists left. As it was, Howie was pretty restrained this morning (by Howie's standards). ... My disclosure, in case any self-appointed ethicist makes a federal case out of my complimenting the work of two colleagues in one post. ... P.S. -- Dan's piece touches on the issue of why a few at One Herald Square might still hold a grudge against Ted.
'Ted Kennedy vs Nixon: National Health Insurance Debate'
During the over-the-top Camelot coverage of Ted Kennedy’s death (I got sick of the coverage somewhere around 8 p.m. last night), I thought I heard how Ted Kennedy regretted not striking a deal with Richard Nixon on universal health care in the early ‘70s. I thought: Huh? So I looked it up. Here it is (and above). The exact same dividing line as today: private vs. public health-care. Here are some random thoughts on that long-ago debate:
1.) Notice in the clip, from network coverage back then, how far apart Nixon and Kennedy were at the start of the debate. Notice toward the end of the clip how close they came to a deal that would have created the foundation for a new universal system. Kennedy later reportedly regretted ‘quibbling’ over points that could have led to a compromise. But it was insistence on that old deal breaker itself, the ‘cradle to grave’ program, what is now called the ‘single-payer’ system, that killed the deal. Think about the decades since without universal health coverage – and how liberals allowed that to happen by not compromising enough 40 years ago. Is this something the left is supposed to be proud of? …
2.) Over at the Gaggle, there’s an interesting line of discussion (based on the same debate video that they found on their own) about the impact of Kennedy’s ailment on the current health-care debate. There are generally two lines of thought: 1.) That we’d be closer to a deal if Kennedy had been healthy and fully engaged in talks. 2.) That a healthy and fully engaged Kennedy might not have made a difference, considering he was involved in two prior failed attempts on the same issue (during the Nixon and Clinton years). But the Gaggle gals introduce a third intriguing scenario: 3.) That Kennedy, assuming he truly learned from the early ‘70s debate, might have brokered a compromise that only a ‘Liberal lion’ could have brokered, i.e., a sort a Nixon-going-to-China deal. It’s an interesting thought.
3.) There’s no Nixon on the Republican side of the debate today. Conservative Republicans think not playing ball with Dems on health-care will deal a crippling blow to the Obama administration. But sometimes compromises are not only a way to achieve something, they’re also a way to head off something. I fear Democrats will come up with a truly Frankenstein-like health-care bill on their own, similar to the wretched stimulus package, partly because Republicans refused to accept the non-purist reality that Dems may well pass a bill on their own. Republicans have the opportunity to cement in place a largely private-insurance universal system. They may end up allowing the demise of a largely private-insurance system.
4.) In the same linked video, Kennedy talks of a government "cradle to grave" system (the phrase itself is a blast from the past, when you think about it). Kennedy didn’t just think up the concept out of the blue. I’ll repeat: The left’s obsession with a single-payer system pre-dates the ‘70s and the current "cost cutting" arguments. I’d trace the concept’s history to about the 1920s or 1930s. There’s an almost Anglo heritage to (and fixation with) a nationalized health-care system. I vaguely recall, reaching back to my old college history classes, Britain’s Ramsay MacDonald pounding away for years for a national system in the U.K. Britain’s Labor Party finally got what it long wanted after WWII, in the late 1940s, when there was still food and commodities rationing in the U.K. Some Americans, who famously so often ape whatever our former mother country says and does, are obsessed with the same non-cost-cutting dream of a national system.. (I can almost guarantee you Ramsay MacDonald never promised to "bend the cost curve.")
'Seriously. Memo to Theo: ...' Part III Bert writes in to defend Theo:
Theo’s best free agent signing: Tito.
World Series titles: Scheueholz: 2 Epstein: 2
No, I’m not ready to say Epstein has had a better career, but give him time. He’s working the prospects the way Schuerholz did. And that fruit is starting to grow.
Look at the two World Series rosters and tell me Theo doesn’t build a roster well enough. Were there 5 holdovers? And weren’t those all guys Theo brought in? Look at the farm system’s improvement. They are nowhere near as dependent on signing big money “sure thing” free agents. Taking a gamble on injured guys is not a bad way to keep a roster spot warm or add another veteran to the clubhouse. It’s always a short term commitment and it’s usually low money.
Sure we can dissect every move Theo makes--especially when we don’t judge them relative to all the moves made by other GMs.
Since Theo's been GM for six full seasons, let's break things down. From 91-96, the team averaged 82 wins and made the playoffs once. (94 and 95 record adjusted to 162 games to compensate for strike) In the six years prior to Theo taking over (97-02), the Sox averaged 87 wins and made the playoffs twice. The following six years (03-08) they averaged 94 wins a year, made the playoffs four times and won two world series.
It’s funny the demand is something so close to perfection in a sport where the famous saying is that you’re an all time great if you fail in 7 of 10 trips to the plate. Two World Series titles, four trips to the ALCS and currently holding the fifth best record in ALL of baseball. But yeah, he really blew it taking a chance singing that future Hall of Famer to fill the #5 slot in the rotation for the middle third of the season!
PS—Whether Theo did the deal or not, no way I’d reverse the Hanely Ramirez deal, much less call it a disaster. Beckett and Lowell were significant players on a World Series winner.
Ted Kennedy, RIP The sad day finally arrived. ... My condolences to the Kennedy family. It was a long year. But, like Patrick Kennedy said, it was a poignant year that allowed loved ones to reflect and say farewell, something the families and close friends of Joseph, John and Robert Kennedy were denied before they passed away. There's a sense of completion to Ted Kennedy's life today. The youngest brother lived for 77 long and productive years, growing old and exploring stages of life that some of his siblings never saw. He found balance and happiness later in life. For that reason, there's a speck of joy within today's genuine sorrow.
¶ 6:19 AM
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
'Seriously. Memo to Theo: ...' Part II Reader A sent in a great email, so I'm breaking it out into its own post:
Theo is a very good GM when it comes to thinking about what the team really needs, and making the deal he has to in order to get it. He's willing to make an apparently one-sided trade (e.g., in '04, giving up the star AND the prospect AND cash) if it helps the Sox win. In fact, I'm not sure he's made any trade that he's "won" in terms of stats. He's also been good about not trading away young players who turned out well. (He didn't make the disastrous H. Ramirez trade, remember.) He's a young GM with old GM skills.
But every now and then he tries to show us how smart he is -- by doing something that doesn't work. For a while, it was Rule 5 pickups; now it's injured pitchers. These are not moves appropriate to a big-market contender -- they're what you do if you don't have the resources to compete straight up. And the showing off has a cost. In '05 the Sox would have won with Youkilis instead of Stern; this year Buchholz looks a lot better than Smoltz (who stank in Pawtucket, and clearly would not have been at the top of the rotation in Portland). All he's accomplished is to demonstrate that he's not, after all, as smart as John Schuerholz.
Update -- Jon writes in, seconding some of Reader A's sentiments:
I liked what Reader A said, and it is reminiscent of Dan Duquette (hello, Ramon Martinez, Pete Schourek, Brett Saberhagen). Seems to be more of a Sox tradition than anything else.
Let me go a step further. Theo has made some impressive trades (the Nomar trade, referenced by Reader A, being the best but not only example). He makes, almost without exception, lousy free agent signings. Seriously. When is the last time he made a GOOD free agent signing? JD Drew? Dice-K? Edgar Renteria? Julio Lugo? After 2003, the pickings are pretty slim. Okajima certainly qualifies as good but I don't know that he overshadows the four guys mentioned above.
And no, re-signing your own players doesn't count.
'Seriously. Memo to Theo: ...' The Soxaholix ask the question: "What exactly is Theo's obsession with wanting to sign coming-off-injury National League pitchers on the wrong side of their career arc?" ... Wagner update here. Wagner obsession here.
¶ 7:33 AM
'The calmer, more reasoned voices' Bob and Susan Collier are conservatives. They know from first-hand experience that the health-care system needs fixing. They know they're one pink slip away from financial disaster. They're open to reform. But they're not buying into the magic-wand public option and they're not 'inane.' ... A terrific article, respectful and simply executed.
P.S. -- I disagree with Bob Collier on universal coverage. I'm for it. He's against it (though not 'inanely' so). ... The take-home political messages I get from this article: A.) Republicans are doing a disservice to people like the Colliers by not offering up any reform alternatives. B.) Democrats are doing a disservice to people like the Colliers by dogmatically sticking to a public option that's not even needed to achieve reforms and universal coverage.
¶ 6:21 AM
Railing against Reaganomics -- still Guess who’s railing away. Hints: A.) He relies on the beyond-tired Hoover-vs.-FDR analogy (not to be confused with the beyond-tired Munich analogy). B.) He supported Hillary over Obama in ’08. C.) He’s angry. … OK, I gave away too much. It’s Paul!!
Actually, he inadvertently confirms why non-politicians like yours truly, who, I assure you, isn't getting campaign donations from evil insurance firms, oppose the public-option plan, to wit: it too is an offshoot of a “zombie doctrine,” using Paul’s own words, dating back, arguably, to the New Deal that Paul himself constantly harks back to. The left’s own “zombie doctrine’’ is, of course, the single-payer system that supporters, in an almost religious-like fashion, have long believed is the only way to implement health-care reforms – and to implement most other social policies via the federal government. …
One last point: Krugman says anti-public-option types are “opponents of greater choice.” But even Paul’s own column last week notes that a “significant faction” within the Democratic party has long “rejected anything short of true single-payer, Medicare-for-all reform.” I.e., No choice. One option. Government-run health care. The public option was a bone thrown to the far left, who viewed it initially, and views it now, as a means to kill off private insurance and to later impose a no-choice single-payer system. Krugman concedes this was the intent of the public option. So who’s fooling whom? Who’s really against “greater choice”?
¶ 11:15 AM
Sunday, August 23, 2009
'I am overly supsicious there is some deal,' Part II Joan is right and Margery is wrong. There. That’s settled. … Speaking of Democratic efforts to shore-up support for health-care reform, Reader No. 1 sends in this 'extremely useful visual representation of the split opened up in the Democratic party.' Reader No. 1 also points to the JustOneMinute post on the Whole Foods boycott. His favorite graf:
My guess - the goal is a substitution of "feel-good" moments: instead of feeling virtuous for being a Whole Foods shopper, progressives can feel virtuous by being a Whole Foods boycotter. Of course, that notion fails for people who believe that the Whole Foods products really are a healthier alternative, but it works well for people who shop at Whole Foods because that is where the "right people" shop.
Mr. President: Keep It Simple Stupid, Part II Michael Tomasky flags Jonathan Alter's post on the left's near obsession with the public option and, ultimately, with the single-payer system. Tomasky summing up his and Alter's (and my) views:
The liberal-left hang-up about the public option ... is misguided, because the public option is secondary to the main moral reason to reform American healthcare.
Tomasky himself gets bogged down in jargon, pushing for 'nondiscrimination' clauses. The president should just come out and say he wants coverage for every American, i.e. universal health. He shouldn't be emphasizing the means of how to get there. Of course, as I've said before, the far left generally sees the means and end as one and the same -- and that's what is tripping up the president.
¶ 6:55 AM
Friday, August 21, 2009
Mr. President: Keep It Simple Stupid Coming at the health-care debate from different angles, Peggy Noonan and Paul Krugman agree on one point: The president has not developed a simple, pithy, attractive message. Mickey Kaus has been pounding away at this for weeks. The president would have been much better off emphasizing the importance of universal coverage for all Americans and the security that brings to them. The majority of Americans appear ready for universal health care. But the debate is now over the means – and that’s where the president has allowed himself to get bogged down. Krugman thinks the president has made a big mistake by abandoning the public-option plan. I'd argue just the opposite: the public-option plan and its components are the source of the complexity and controversy – and most economists (even Krugman) concede it’s not even needed to achieve universal coverage.
¶ 5:30 PM
'The next Olympic sport' From Armchair Gen. Savin Hill: "The next Olympic sport: Synchronized bicycle riding. Let's hope this doesn't make it to the Olympics, but I would not be surprised." ... My long-term prediction for a new Olympic sport: Nordicwalking.
¶ 5:16 AM
'I am overly suspicious there is some deal' I'm suspicious too. But it's good to see some Democrats are also balking at Ted Kennedy's latest request for a change to the state's U.S. Senate succession law. ... Note how John Kerry and Kennedy's advisers were the ones pushing for the law change months ago. I'm sure they had the best interests of the commonwealth in mind too. ... Riiiight. ... Howie counts the multiple positions Kennedy has had on the succession issue since Senator Coatholder first warmed his seat in the early '60s. ... I don't begrudge what Kennedy's trying to do per se. It's politics. It's a partisan power play. It's not terribly shocking. But I'm tired of this one-party state's legislative antics with election laws -- and I'm even more tired of how those antics are draped in god-awful flowery sanctimony. Just hold the elections.
¶ 5:15 AM
'Before Hitler There Was Harvard' A Hub Blog reader fondly recalls another local LaRouche groupie:
Do you remember Michael Gelber, who ran for mayor in the 1980s? He had the greatest political slogan of all time -- impenetrable yet remarkably offensive: "Before Hitler There Was Harvard -- Vote Gelber!"
No surprise the LaRouchies have gotten involved. Sadly, less and less of a surprise that mainstream Republicans embrace them, and that the media won't call them out on it.
One of the candidates Flynn defeated also made an appearance outside the K- School Michael Gelber, a beam weapon advocate and disciple of presidential candidate Lyndon H. LaRouche Jr. remained outside the forum, charging "They have seven prostitutes lecturing on gonorrhea, and they're not letting the doctor [LaRouche] speak."
'Barney Frank Uncut,' Part II Turns out the loony looking chipmunk lady at Frank's Dartmouth meeting may have been a LaRouchie. Conor says the "relevance of this fact eludes me." Doesn't elude me. She looks like a LaRouchie -- that same vacant, distant stare that practically shouts we'll never grasp their earth-shaking theories about Queen Elizabeth's role in the subprime-mortgage fiasco. ... Hub Blog got to cover LaRouchies up close and personal during their high-water mark in '86. The elections were hilarious to follow. Only in Illinois.
¶ 8:49 AM
'It's typical of Ted Kennedy ...' Whether you support or oppose a change in the state's U.S. Senate succession law, this is profoundly sad. ... To know of anyone slowly dying of cancer is profoundly sad. It's so difficult for everyone concerned to say good-bye. The Kennedy family is handling this with a lot of dignity.
'Jared’s legacy' Here's an unabashed plug for a truly worthy cause: The Jared C. Monti Scholarship Fund. It's great to see Kev and the folks at BMG working together on this. Keven writes in to add:
On August 30 at 8pm on WRKO’s Pundit Review Radio, Jared Monti’s father Paul, along with two high school friends and David from BMG, will be in studio with me to talk about Jared and the scholarship that bears his name.
Tune in. To make a PayPal contribution, click on the link above or send a donation via snail mail at:
JARED C. MONTI SCHOLARSHIP FUND
MAILING ADDRESS: Jared C. Monti Scholarship Fund c/o Bristol County Savings Bank 108 N. Main Street Raynham, MA 02767
¶ 5:40 AM
‘Barney Frank Uncut’ Peter Porcupine points out he’s compiled his own ‘Barney Frank Uncut’ video collection:
This isn't just the sound bites, but what was said on a variety of topics.
One major quibble with Frank’s suggestion that the Obama administration hasn’t raised a tax yet: Obama has indeed raised a tax. I pay it every day as a ‘down payment’ on universal health care. … Don’t you just love how ‘universal’ health care isn’t supported via ‘universal’ tax sacrifices? Sanctimonious supporters get to beat their chests about how noble they are for pushing ‘universal’ health – while forcing others to pick up the tab, i.e. smokers, the ‘rich’, business owners, etc. …
As for Barney’s now-famous smack down of the loony looking chipmunk lady at the Dartmouth meeting the other night, good for him. The righty wingnuts are indeed hypocrites. But this is all political theater. It’s political theater when the left does it (the Nation now demands we pay homage on the 40th anniversary of the ‘iconic’ Harvard student ‘strike’) and it’s political theater when the right does it (Fox wants us to believe that the meeting protesters are just ordinary folk, you know). … Poor chipmunk lady. Her 15 minutes of fame, down in humiliating flames.
¶ 5:11 AM
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
The magic wand loses its magic, Part II A Reader says I've got it all wrong. I disagree. But here's his counter blast:
Your thinking on the public option is just 180 degrees backwards. It's messed up. Wrong. Upside-down. I'm sorry, but it is. Even by your own stated standards.
The CBO scored a strong public option as *money-saving* -- $150 billion over 10 years. Haven't you been all about the CBO scores?
The public option -- if it's a strong one, with big-time bargaining power -- is not the expensive part of health care. The expensive part is going to be the subsidies for folks up to 300% or 400% of poverty level -- and how far up the income ladder Congress decides to subsidize. I'm a liberal, and think those people should be covered, so I'm OK with spending that money, and finding it by taxing the rich or -- even more hopefully, finding the savings within the insane inefficiency now in the health care system. YMMV.
But please, if you're going to deride big spending ... you should emphatically be on board with the public option.
The magic wand loses its magic Steven Pearlstein on the magic wand of the health-care debate, i.e. the "public-health option":
The public option is nothing more than a political litmus test imposed on the debate by left-wing politicians and pundits who don't want to be bothered with the real-life dynamics of the health-care market. It is the Maginot Line of health-care policy, and just like those stubborn French generals, liberal Democrats have vowed to defend it even if it means losing the war.
Hub Blog stands by my earlier contention that, in general, the public option was never really about cost cutting. I mean, can you really see Rachel Maddow getting all bummed out because some new social program didn't have an adequate auditing and cost-control component? Can you envision liberal activists marching in Fourth of July parades in favor of tighter eligibility and accounting rules for public-pension funds? I don't think so. As I wrote a few weeks ago:
At the risk of sounding like a raging right-wing lunatic, I think it's extremely fair and safe to say that, in general, the left has long viewed and favored top-down federdal programs as the most practical and principled way to implement important social policies -- and not just health-care policies. Their rationale: Only the federal government can implement and run a fair and nationwide program that doesn't leave some individuals and states in the dust. Thus the means and the end are one. The debate over universal health becomes a debate over a single-payer system precisely because they're one and the same to many liberals.
The public option is and was the left's magic wand of health care.
¶ 7:06 AM
Tuesday, August 18, 2009
Robert Novak, RIP Robert Novak has died. I enjoyed this quote from his wife: "He was someone who loved being a journalist." ... I was someone who belatedly became a Novak fan, after I started writing a column at the BBJ and learned how hard it is to churn out regular op-ed pieces. The amazing thing about the old Evans & Novak column is how much the duo relied on original reporting. They were wired into Washington in a way that's hard to comprehend today. In his best-selling 'Prince of Darkness,' Novak tells a great story about how JFK, after a bruising primary contest in 1960, drove Novak home from the airport in a convertible, racing along Washington streets and around corners, Kennedy mischievously glancing over at Novak to see how he was reacting. Novak was terrified. Kennedy was delighted. I remembered that story when Novak first revealed last summer he had brain cancer. I'm glad he and the Kennedys got the chance to renew their old friendship.
¶ 11:17 AM
'Trying to rewrite history,' Part II More from the Gang That Couldn't Shoot Straight. ... Extra bonus: They're dipping into WWII history. (Is it a Munich-appeasement analogy? I love Munich-appeasement analogies.-ed. Close, but no cigar.)
¶ 9:06 AM
'When will heads start to roll?' Part II Heads aren't rolling, but the public-health option is now on the chopping block. Chop away, I say. ... A Reader writes in about the Paglia link in the post below:
Paglia translation: "How did Obama manage to make health care so damn complicated?"
If colorful adjectives were the measure of good ideas, Paglia would be a genius. As it is, it's a pretty incoherent, post-hoc rant.
'When will heads start to roll?' Reader No. 1 recommends articles by Camille Paglia and Mort Kondracke on health-care reform. Believe it or not, Republicans do have alternative plans, but they're too busy taking their attack-dog cues from Rush, Glenn and Sean, etc.
¶ 1:22 PM
Thursday, August 13, 2009
'Some very, very smart people think that President Obama is ...' John has some smart observations and advice for President Obama. ...
¶ 12:16 PM
'In the midst of a salacious scandal' Hub Blog is on a top-secret colonization mission in Rhode Island and has picked up the following intelligence tidbits over the past week:
-- The Rick Pitino affair is getting big coverage here. The locals are still in shock that their Mel Gibson of the NCAA divorced the Friars in the '80s. ... Is it even remotely possible for a NCAA men's basketball coach to break a 'moral depravity and dishonesty' clause in a contract? I say no.
-- They've raised the toll on the Pell-Newport Bridge from $2 to $4 for out-of-staters. The print editions I scanned didn't mention the out-of-state angle until the fourth or fifth paragraphs. ... I think I'm going to be using I95/Route 4 a bit more in the future.
Update II -- Adam, of course, has lots more links on the issue.
¶ 11:30 AM
'SMUG' Hub Blog's Manhattan WMD Spy reports in:
I have not been in NY lately but can report on the attitude of one ten year old yankee fan in my presence. SMUG. The combination of David Ortiz being caught using drug supplements and the Yankees sweeping the Red Sox has righted the Yankee's psychological ship. 2004 and 2007 were just drug induced nightmares. The Yankees are again sweeping the Red Sox in August and everything is back to normal. SMUG - WMD
'I've been through Fenway in a hearse with no name ...' Now Marty's getting into singing about the Sox. ... I wonder what Hub Blog's Manhattan WMD Spy has been up to lately. He's had an easy time since '04 -- until this season.
¶ 12:20 PM
'I hope you get doored' Outraged Liberal says it's about time someone writes about how cyclists need to extend a little more respect toward others. ... Yesterday, I saw a middle-aged cyclist walking his bike on a Chinatown sidewalk, blowing a whistle for people to get out of his way. He then walked up to a lamp post, locked up his bike and then ducked into a nearby store. He looked a little nutty. But it did bring out the inner I-hope-you-get-doored spite in me. ... Reader No. 1 also liked the Globe article:
A long-overdue and welcome piece on the growing menace, the latest category of Bostonians who think the rules apply to everyone but themselves - and hey, why not: “A lot of the behavior you see is people who believe what they’re doing is safer for them."
Or, as another citizen puts it: “I always run red lights, too,’’ he said. “The cops don’t care.’’ This story has everything distinctive about our local political culture: deteroriated respect for authority and community, advocacy groups, and little evident civil authority. Why do I suspect the "solution" will require spending hundreds of millions of dollars on "infrastructure"?
‘The Mob,’ Part II Sadly, Paul Krugman gets down in the gutter with the Birthers, extreme health-care-reform opponents, etc., by throwing around the ‘r’ word, i.e. racisim. Thank goodness he didn’t call them ‘fascists,’ for it might have prompted a counter-fascist salvo from the sophomoric Jonah Goldberg. … I mean, really. I admire Krugman – when he writes about economics. (He played no small part in convincing me that a neo-Keynesian response to the current economic crisis was needed. So did Harvard economist Martin Feldstein.) But when Krugman angrily veers off from economics, he’s really quite nasty.
As it is, I just finished reading David Halberstam’s excellent The Coldest Winter. One of the lessons he stresses toward the end is how bitter politics can lead to tragic mistakes. Some solace: Today’s politics are not nearly as bitter as the politics of the late ‘40s. I hadn’t quite appreciated that until I read Halberstam’s book.
¶ 7:40 AM
Thursday, August 06, 2009
Defining success, Part III Even Larry Kudlow likes Cash for Clunkers:
In virtually no time, the clunker program has become a national pastime. It has captured the public's imagination in a way that no other federal stimulus has. Everyone is talking about it. And I truly believe that consumer spirits have been buoyed by the prospect of going out and buying a new car -- even with federal assistance, and even under the duress of federal mileage standards.
Defining success, Part II Let's face it, Timothy Eagan is right about the cash-for-clunkers critics:
They hate it, many of these Republicans, because it’s a huge hit. It’s working as planned, and this cannot stand.
Harvard's Martin Feldstein, a conservative economist, last January specifically pushed for a stimulus package that promoted durable-goods spending, albeit in the form of tax credits:
Why not a temporary refundable tax credit to households that purchase cars or other major consumer durables, analogous to the investment tax credit for businesses? Or a temporary tax credit for home improvements? In that way, the same total tax reduction could produce much more spending and employment.
Democrats largely ignored him. They instead sunk hundreds of billions of dollars into social programs. That's what Republicans should be criticizing. Not the one program that's turned out to be spectacularly popular and effective.
¶ 7:14 AM
'The Mob' I can’t believe I’m going to say this, but Michelle Malkin is 100 percent correct: When it comes to ‘mobs’ disrupting public events, right-wing protesters historically don’t hold a candle to left-wing protesters, many of whom view staged arrests and shout-downs as ritualistic events worthy of Protest Merit Badges. Of course encouraging similar disruptions now makes righty wingnuts blatant hypocrites. …
¶ 5:52 AM
Wednesday, August 05, 2009
Defining success I got a kick out of Jon Stewart's criticism of critics of the Cash for Clunkers program. I had heard an earlier variation of one of his jokes: "I used Old Spice to make myself more attractive to women. I was later stalked by five supermodels. Old Spice didn't tell me about that. What a failure.'' ... Jon's joke and delivery are much better. ...
What was the Rumsfeld quote about the speed of victory creating its own problems? ... Did you hear about the bar owner whose tavern was unexpectedly jammed with hundreds of paying customers? He was so busy, he ran out of Buds, wine and whiskey. The day was a complete failure.
Update -- There are good arguments against the Cash for Clunkers program. But A.) Conservatives aren't making those arguments B.) I like Cash for Clunkers for its simplicity. I wish more of the stimulus programs were like it. ... BTW: I checked to see if the HubBlog Mobile qualified. Missed by 2 MPG. Damn. ...
¶ 6:27 AM
'If we're doing it, it must be capitalism' From Eric: "I thought of an adjusted name for your (Anything We Do Is Good For Capitalism) feature: 'If we're doing it, it must be capitalism.'" ... I'll give it some thought. ... Eric also sends in a link to the running battles between Wayne Jett and Larry Kudlow. BTW: The SEC is finally starting a crackdown on 'flash orders,' defined as allowing traders with high-speed computers to "peek" at other transactions before they're sent to everyone else. Get a load of this quote from an anonymous trader in reaction to the SEC move:
"We move faster, smarter and understand risks better than other investors. ... As long as everyone is subject to the same rules, I’m not concerned. Profits have always flowed to whoever dominates the marketplace, and we have a technological advantage that it costs millions to match.”
Profits have always flowed to whoever dominates the marketplace. That's how they think. It's not about efficient allocation of capital to companies supplying services and products to consumers.
¶ 5:12 AM
The preppies did it, Part II Reader A punches some big holes in my still-evolving The Preppies Did It theory:
Post-WASP, yes. Finance used to be full of mostly-not-very-bright WASPs, and (over at Goldman Sachs, say) non-WASPS whose acculturation strategy led them to emulate the dominant group. What went "wrong" was that financial firms began hiring much smarter and more aggressive people, and the overall tone shifted from staid, conservative wealth management to something very different. This unfolded over a long time - John Brooks's classic The Go-Go Years is about Wall Street in the 'sixties.
The preppies may be to blame (though the Handbook's "preppies" are country day/fancy suburban public types) but they really didn't do it -- that was the Bronx Science grads.
All good points – and I’d add the MIT Science grads. But there’s still something deeply WASP-wannabe about all this – the nautical belts, the homes in the Hamptons and Islands, the TV ads touting a dream-come-true certain type of lifestyle if you invest with them (and thus become like them), etc. Don’t forget that the classic ‘Where Are the Customers’ Yachts?’ was written in the late ‘40s when Wall Street was dominated by those mostly-not-very bright WASPS whose careers and lifestyles, in their own dowdy way, still serve as an obvious inspiration for many of today’s finance types. ‘Where Are the Customers’ Yachts?’ is still relevant and attracting attention all these years later. …
P.S. - I'm trying to not-so-brilliantly explain how "careers in finance become so culturally acceptable and glamorized over the years," not who got it "wrong" last fall. I think the current WS crop (or hordes) were and are imbued with a sense of class and economic superiority. Whereever that attitude culturally sprang from, I hope it's discredited before it's too late.
¶ 11:27 AM
Hub Blog is working on a theory. I know full well that globalization, technology, deregulation and other factors have led to the spectacular growth of the financial industry over recent decades. But I keep asking myself: How did careers in finance become so culturally acceptable and glamorized over the years? I'd partly tie it to the post-WASP era's yearning for a new-WASP era. My theory is sort of a follow-up to the classic Official Preppy Handbook. I'd call it "We're All Preppies Now." We really aren't. But we all know about the lifestyle. I remember when I was attending college many moons ago and started hanging out, for the first time, with real live preppies. We'd inevitably get into conversations about our future careers and the preppies would almost invariably mention this mysterious thing called "finance." It seemed to be the ultimate gentleman's career course. The world has since changed (my preppy friends were among the last generation of the truly ethnic WASP preppies), but the aspirations haven't changed. One need only look at financial firms' advertisements during golf tournaments to see they're really advertising to themselves (and only to the dreams of the rest of us) about spending retirement on yachts, wearing perfect navy-blue sweaters, dockers, khaki pants and ... you get the picture. My theory isn't all that original. David Brooks touched on roughly the same thing in his own mini-classic Bobos In Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There. No matter how we and they got "there," there's been an undeniable overglamorization of the finance profession (and it's mirror-image gentleman's nonprofit career tangents) and its role in capitalism. They tout their Anything We Do Is Good For Capitalism arguments, but they really aren't good for capitalism. It's more about them lining their pockets with the least amount of effort so they can live a gentlman's lifestyle ...
¶ 6:44 AM
Sunday, August 02, 2009
'That little nag on the conscience' I initially thought I'd hate these point-counterpoint articles by a Sox fan and a Yanks fan (there's talk of the 'Curse,' misery, etc.). But they both reach the same general conclusion: people ought to chill out a bit over the Papi-PED revelation, even while feeling sad and disappointed. Extra bonus point: the Yank fan admits to a "little nag of the conscience" about how the Yankees have bought their World Series in the past. Sox fans now know that nagging-conscience feeling, he notes (with admitted glee). ... Still no word from Marty Silverstein. ...
¶ 6:36 AM
‘Gubernatorial hopeful won’t rule out hack hires’ No surprise. The Weld people really believe they mastered the State House. They didn’t. The ‘legislative sponsor’ system ultimately ruled them. No wonder Therese Murray is saying nice things about Charlie. … This interview is going to come back to haunt Baker. This article also partly suggests what went wrong with the Patrick administration. He also bought into the ‘legislative sponsor’ system with his disastrous (perception wise) appointments of Aloisi and Walsh. Now no one believes him, or gives him credit, when he talks of reform.
One last point: The same article delivers a wonderful thumbnail sketch of Weld's schizoid attitude toward patronage. He ran against it. He later adapted to it. He even claimed he was ‘unaware’ of it -- all the while letting Paul Cellucci, a product of the legislative-sponsor system, run his administration’s patronage system. So my question to the Baker boys is: What ‘back to the future’ stage of the Weld-Cellucci years are we going to go back to? The early glory ’91-94 years or the post-reelection wink-wink-wink years?... To repeat: No true reform is possible until the one-party Legislature is overthrown. Republican and Democratic governors have come and gone. But the decades-old ‘legislative sponsor’ system has always endured.
¶ 7:25 AM
You have found the center of the universe -- a blog about Boston, Hub of the Universe.