Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Bayh to Fox News--Hoocoodanode?

What a surprise--Evan Bayh is headed to Fox News. As John Cole at Balloon Juice likes to say, hoocoodanode? Well, Icoodanode. Back in June, I predicted that both Lieberman and Bayh would end up at Fox News.

So far so good. Good because I get to gloat, and good because this will end Bayh's chance of ever being a Democratic presidential candidate. I hope he switches parties and tries to run as a moderate Republican. A humiliating primary defeat might be just the thing to wipe that perma-smug look from his face.

My only worry is that one of the crazies will use him as their vice presidential pick to demonstrate their centrism, just like Fox will use him to demonstrate that they are fair and balanced.

Monday, March 14, 2011


Nearly a year ago, I criticized Ezra Klein for his silence and Matthew Yglesias for his late condemnation of Obama's claim of the right to assassinate an American citizen, but at least they are both stepping up with regard to Bradley Manning's detention (here, here, & here). This sort of behavior was not acceptable when Bush did it, and it's not acceptable when Obama is doing it.

Imagine if a foreign country was holding an American soldier in solitary confinement for nearly a year, without charges, and subjecting him to sleep deprivation and forced nudity. Americans would be outraged. The government would be appealing to the UN, imposing sanctions, and threatening military retaliation. In this case, it's not a foreign government. It is our government.

I guess it's a positive sign that more people are speaking out with regard to Manning, but it's sad that it took the detention of a white non-Muslim American soldier to get people fired up. Brown Muslim foreigners have been subjected to far worse for nearly a decade. Still, baby steps.

Another Ounce of Prevention

As if on cue, Ezra Klein illustrates my point about the lack of focus on diet and exercise in the health care discussion. He was invited to give the keynote address at the annual convention of the American Medical Student Association. Laying out his vision of the future, he says one or more of the following things will happen:
  1. Doctors will be paid on outcomes, with the curve constructed such that most doctors are making less but the best doctors are making more
  2. doctors will not be the only ones doing doctorlike things
  3. some disruptive innovation, such as IBM’s Watson, will have made various classes of doctors less necessary
  4. we’ll have moved to an all-payer or single-payer system where we’ve cut doctor payments dramatically
  5. more people are flying their jet packs to India for surgeries
  6. we’ll have dramatically cut health-care subsidies such that fewer people are able to afford health care
  7. something I haven’t thought of
That's from Ezra Klein--noted health care expert--the kind of person who gets invited by the American Medical Student Association to give a keynote address. His list of future possibilities includes people flying their jet packs to India for surgery. His list does not include the possibility that Americans will start eating better and exercising. Perhaps that should have been number 7.

Friday, March 4, 2011

War on the Middle Class

I declare war on the middle class. And the lower class. And the upper class. Not with the people, but the terms. When people making $20k to $200k all claim they are middle class, the term is obviously meaningless, at least with regard to finances. What seems to be going on is that people don't want to associate themselves with the uncouth lower class or the snooty upper class. So, we're all middle class. And we're all above average.

The problem here is the word class. The media and policiticans should be replacing class with income: lower income, middle income, and upper income. These terms better represent what we're talking about. They also disassociate income from class, an association clearly disproven everytime some multi-millionaire calls for the "shared sacrifice" of cutting social security benefits, while simultaneously supporting permanent tax cuts for the rich.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

An Ounce of Prevention

Paul Krugman pointed out that we don't have a socialsecuritymedicareandmedicaid problem. His point is that social security and medicare/medicaid are very different programs with different funding and different problems. Very true. Ezra Klein followed up saying we don't even have a medicare/medicaid problem--we have a health care problem. Also very true. Medicare and Medicaid must keep pace with the skyrocketing costs in the private market or doctors will drop out, so the problem is not just government healthcare. I would extend this a little further by saying we don't have a health care problem--we have a health problem.

I hear a lot about projected obesity and diabetes rates, but always as foregone conclusions, not as things that could be avoided. I feel like I've been following the health care debate closely, yet I don't hear much about diet and exercise. Michelle Obama seems to be making an effort, only to be rebutted by fitness fanatic and Runner's World covergirl, Sarah Palin. Is there anyone out else out there, politician or pundit, that is proposing a public education campaign on the importance of diet and exercise?

How about Arnold Schwarzenegger? He shouldn't be busy. How about prominent blogger Matthew Yglesias? He quietly dropped 70 pounds this past year. I read his blog almost daily, and I don't think he even mentioned trying to lose weight until it was a done deal. I think he had previously given up smoking too. That's great. Maybe in addition to arguing for taller buildings, deregulation of hair care, and elimination of public parking lots--all worthwhile projects--he could promote policies that encourage more people to adopt healthy lifestyles--a much more worthwhile project.