Updates from Doug Henwood RSS
11:25:58 pm on January 27, 2010 |
Turning to Fox for the reviews. Charles Krauthammer says he didn’t pivot towards the center. I love living under a radical leftist regime. It’s what I’ve dreamt of all my life!
Where’s Brit Hume? It’s just not the same without his scowl.
Juan Williams is concerned that the pres “intimidated” the Supreme Court. What’s wrong with that? To steal a phrase from an old grad school prof of mine, they’re a hotbed of inertia.
11:21:15 pm on January 27, 2010 |
We do love to be told how decent and wonderful we are, don’t we? “USA! USA!” You’d never know we occupied Haiti for 20 years and left them nothing but an oppressive army as our parting gift. Or that we overthrew an elected government? Or are now giving priority to security over rescue? Of course not, because we are so wonderfully wonderful.
11:16:54 pm on January 27, 2010 |
He’s going to end with the now-required “God bless you.” Ever since Reagan, every president now has to end the SOTU that way. Carter, an actual born-again Christian, never did that. Nor did Roosevelt, Truman, or Eisenhower. When will we shed all these empty pieties and get serious?
11:06:55 pm on January 27, 2010 |
Would someone in a position of power please define “victory” in Afghanistan?
“Combat troops” out of Iraq. How many does that leave?
10:58:34 pm on January 27, 2010 |
“Let’s try common sense.” While it may be common it’s rarely sensible. It’s usually just the unexamined cliches we grow up with.
As my wife, LIza Featherstone, just pointed out, it’s hilarious that Congress is applauding the anti-lobbyist rhetoric. Without lobbyists, who’d pay for their campaigns or buy them lunch?
Nice, though, to see him hammer the Supreme Court. What a collection of ghouls.
10:51:06 pm on January 27, 2010 |
Finally a few sensible words about the source of the deficit—tax cuts, war, deep recession. What took so long?
But then he pivots, as the pundits like to say, toward deficit reduction. Ronnie’s spectre is quick to re-assert itself.
I’ve done the math. Cut the military by a third—which would take it back to 2000 levels, relative to GDP—and sprinkle, not soak, the rich, and the deficit will go away. But we can’t say that, much less do it.
10:44:13 pm on January 27, 2010 |
A $10,000 tax credit for tuition? No more than 10% of one’s income on servicing education debt?
You could eliminate all student debt in the U.S. by expropriating the wealth of the 5 richest people in New York City (starting with our mayor). Just saying.
Tax credits to encourage saving? People can’t save because they don’t have the money.
Promoting higher house prices? Didn’t we just get hurt by a housing bubble? Why is a good thing when one of life’s essentials, shelter, rises in price? We should be promoting housing affordability, not another bubble.
Oh and now he’s going on about health care. By defending a proposal about which an industry lobbyist said, “We win!” Please.
10:37:31 pm on January 27, 2010 |
What’s he going to do to revamp the economy? It would take big money to do the things he’s fantasizing about. But he wants to freeze domestic discretionary spending, which is where all that money would come from. Is that the way to get serious?
“I’m not interested in punishing banks.” Why not? How can you prevent a rerun without punishing these maniacs?
“Encourage American innovation.” Actually the worthless cash-for-clunkers program was financed by raiding the funds for alternative energy research—a budget that was too small in the first place. Omigod, a new generation of nuclear power plants. Yeah, that’s just what we need. More oil & gas, biofuels, and clean coal. We’ll choke on more oil and gas. Biofuels are an enormous boondoggle. There is no such thing as clean coal—producing coal is filthy and burning it emit CO2. We could generate energy by boiling water with sunlight. But you can’t make much money off that, can you?
And the yahoos are booing climate change. I suspect there are frathouses with higher collective IQs than Congress.
10:27:59 pm on January 27, 2010 |
No, small business is not the engine of job growth. This is pure mythmaking with no basis in fact. It feels good to say it though, doesn’t it? It’s a nice way to legitimate the rule of private capital.
And community banks aren’t so great at lending to small businesses, either (someone tell Arianna Huffington!). They lend to bigger banks and buy securities with a lot of their assets—there just aren’t enough opportunities in their backyards to lend profitably.
Could we stop making policy on fantasy? Of course not, what a silly question I just asked.
High-speed rail and green jobs and all that will take much bigger public funding and much more headcracking and armtwisting by the state than Obama is interested in or Congress would ever approve. More phantasmic policymaking.
10:21:59 pm on January 27, 2010 |
Will anyone ever acknowledge in public that all the old verities, all the notions of our wondrous character and exceptionalism in the world, just aren’t up to the task anymore?
“We all hated the bank bailout.” Yeah, and without some sort of bailout we’d be wearing barrels today. But almost nothing has been demanded in return. The crackdown on prop trading—banks speculating on their own account rather than on behalf of their customers—comes fitted with loopholes that are already lawyer-ready.
Tax cuts, yay! Like I said the last time I did this for IPA, Ronald Reagan still controls the discourse. Until that discursive mastery is challenged, we’re stuck in the mud.
10:16:13 pm on January 27, 2010 |
A year ago he took office amidst two wars, a financial crisis, and a deep recession. Actually not all that much has changed. He’s escalating one war and continuing another, and we’ve learned nothing from the financial crisis really. So far, his policy has been all about using massive government subsidies to restore the status quo ante bustum. Freezing domestic discretionary spending, even if it’s just a symbolic gesture, is likely to do more harm than good.
What’s with this continuing evocation of post-partisanship? It’s idiotic. There are real differences of class, region, and temperament. These calls to unity are utterly bogus.
10:11:41 pm on January 27, 2010 |
So the president is making his “hard pivot,” as the pundits say, towards jobs. Judging from the leaks, though, it’s incredibly weak tea. Capital gains tax breaks for small business will create almost no jobs. Businesses hire when they have the cash and think that sales will increase. That doesn’t describe the present, and a stupid tax break won’t change that.
But clearly Obama is embracing the Dick Morris/Bill Clinton strategy of micro-initiatives. Some movie whose name escapes me featured an initiative to address global poverty with a program to provide pencils for schoolkids in Mexico. That’s exactly what this sort of thing is.
10:08:11 pm on January 27, 2010 |
I remember a running gag in Esquire back in the early 1970s – a picture of Richard Nixon, with the caption, “Why is this man smiling?” Not that Obama is at all like Nixon.
A friend who’s a comedy writer suggested that Obama’s surprise announcement tonight will be that he’s going to become a Republican. Of course, they wouldn’t accept him—it would never be enough.
09:12:54 pm on September 9, 2009 |
Fox is running ads from PatientsUnitedNow.com which is spreading lies about the Canadian system. Boustany says Obama’s pushing government run health care. It’d be so much easier to do politics by telling sensational lies!
09:06:44 pm on September 9, 2009 |
Another sign of the enduring discursive grasp of Ronald Reagan: ending the speech with “God bless America.”
Now I can’t wait to hear what Brit Hume thought of it.
09:01:24 pm on September 9, 2009 |
No wonder health insurance stocks were up almost 2% today….
08:58:58 pm on September 9, 2009 |
“Our rugged individualism”? Is that why we can’t contemplate any kind of serious reform? Isn’t that just cowardice and conformity masquerading as a virtue?
08:48:52 pm on September 9, 2009 |
“I want to speak to seniors”: Medicare is pretty great, isn’t it? But we can’t let the rest of the population have it, because that would be Canadian or something.
08:47:29 pm on September 9, 2009 |
The “waste fraud and abuse” line is a venerable load of crap. They’re not going to find it if the inscos are still running the show, since profits of the medical-industrial complex come from waste, fraud, and abuse. So that means that they’re going to squeeze Medicare, doesn’t it?
08:45:04 pm on September 9, 2009 |
This public option he’s talking about sounds absolutely ineffectual. Which seems to be one of its selling points in Obama’s market-friendly, post-ideological worldview.
You’ve got to hand it to the right. They have a firm set of principles – which are often extremely nutty, yes – and fight tirelessly for them. Admirable in some way, really.
08:37:06 pm on September 9, 2009 |
I don’t get where the cost control will come from? Just market competition?
08:35:03 pm on September 9, 2009 |
“The public option is only a means to that end – and we should remain open to other ideas that accomplish our ultimate goal.” In other words, ciao public option, which wasn’t all that much to begin with. Will the members of the “Progressive” caucus go for this? I’m guessing they will.
We’re still in the Reaganesque universe of the “magic of the marketplace.” The problem with our current system, says the apostle of change, isn’t that it’s too market-driven, but that it’s not marketized enough. If anything, this new exchange arrangement – in four years! – will probably add a new layer of costs to what already exists.
By the same logic, shouldn’t we privatize Social Security? Or is that a project for the second term?
08:28:15 pm on September 9, 2009 |
“On the right, there are those who argue that we should end the employer-based system and leave individuals to buy health insurance on their own. I have to say that there are arguments to be made for both approaches.”
How debased. What in god’s name is he talking about?
08:22:49 pm on September 9, 2009 |
So he’s delivering a bill of indictment against the inscos – but what’s he going to do about it? Force us all to become their customers!
08:06:53 pm on September 9, 2009 |
What’s with this lateness? It’s not the way to take command of the debate!
06:29:51 pm on September 9, 2009 |
A friend pointed out to me earlier today that the market capitalization—the value of all the outstanding stock—of the publicly traded health insurers is about $150 billion. Add a little premium to sweeten the pot and you could nationalize the lot of them for about $200 billion. The total administrative costs of the U.S. healthcare system, which are greatly inflated by all the paperwork and second-guessing of docs’ decisions generated by the insurance industry, are about $400 billion a year. Those administrative costs are about three times what a Canadian-style single payer system would cost. So that means we’d save about $250 billion a year by eliminating the waste caused by our private insurance system.
In other words, the nationalization could pay for itself in well under a year.
Will Obama propose anything like that? Of course not. Instead, he’s going to propose that Americans be required to buy insurance, probably with some government subsidies. So instead of euthanizing the private insurance industry, Obama & the Dems are going to provide them with tens of millions of new customers—compelled to by their product by law, and with some degree of public subsidy. That’s lunacy.