Senator John McCain’s claim that Bill Clinton is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear test this week is dead wrong. He should know better.
One more time, here are the facts:
North Korea’s bombs are built with plutonium. They produce their plutonium in a reactor they built during the Reagan presidency, starting around 1984. They separated enough plutonium for perhaps two bombs during the first Bush presidency.
When they tried to make more plutonium under President Bill Clinton, he said he would go to war to stop them. He had plans prepared for the attack. The North Koreans backed down.
Bill Clinton froze the program in its tracks. North Korea did not separate a gram of plutonium while Bill Clinton was in office. He also stopped their missile tests.
George Bush walked away from the deal in his first months in office. In March 2001, Secretary of State Colin Powell said he wanted “to continue the process begun under Clinton.” Bush cut him down.
U.S. intelligence had detected signs near the end of the Clinton years that the North Koreans were trying to evade the freeze by beginning a uranium program. When confronted with the evidence in 2002, the North Koreans admitted it and offered to put that program on the table as part of a comprehensive deal. Bush used it as an excuse to walk away from negotiations. He thought he did not need to talk to the North Koreans. He thought he could overthrow the regime. Read more
Fans of the Decemberists will by no means be disappointed by their new offering The Crane Wife. Non-fans, on the other hand, probably won’t find anything to turn their views around. For my part, I’m a fan. It’s schtick, but it’s good schtick. Never one to miss a good political tune, I thought I might as well highlight this part of “When The War Came”
A terrible autonomy
Is grafted onto you and me
A trust put in the government
Is all their lies are heaven sent
‘Til the war came
‘Til the war came
Or, to put it more shrilly, Bush lied, thousands died.
“New York Yankees manager Joe Torre says the plane that crashed into a building in Manhattan is registered to team pitcher Cory Lidle,” CNN reports. The network is also reporting that Lidle was flying the plane.
today called on Congress to increase the minimum wage. The group recommended a $1 to $2.50 hourly increase and argued that “future boosts should be indexed to inflation to protect workers purchasing power from rising prices.” (Read full statement HERE.)
Homeland Security officials say that “all indications” are that the crash is an accident. CNN reports that NORAD has scrambled fighter jets to fly over several major U.S. cities until the accident is confirmed.
When we take a long view on improving health, we usually find reasons to celebrate. In the last century, for example, infant mortality dropped by 90 percent and maternal mortality decreased 99 percent. Yet today, despite scientific advances, we face the fact that we are not a healthy nation:
– Our children’s life expectancy may be shorter than our own.
– About 70 percent of deaths and health costs in the U.S. are now attributable to chronic diseases (e.g., cardiovascular disease, cancer) — many of which are preventable.
– More people die from obesity or tobacco than from homicide.
Our health care system has gravitated toward quick fixes rather than the persistent actions with lifetime rewards. Proven clinical and community preventive services go unused. Two out of three adults fail to get a flu vaccine or recommended colorectal screening. Millions of lives are lost needlessly. As a nation, we dedicate only three percent of our health dollars on health promotion — but over 20 percent of costs to the last year of life.
A new approach is needed. As part of its overall plan to fix the fundamentally flawed health system, the Center for American Progress proposes a Wellness Trust. The Wellness Trust would:
– Deliver prevention outside of the bounds of the health system by paying for services wherever they are delivered, in pharmacies or supermarkets, workplaces or senior centers.
– Use its pooled financing to create incentives for providers, employers, schools and individuals to prioritize prevention.
– Operate independently like Social Security, with expert Trustees.
The premise of the Wellness Trust is that disease prevention is more like homeland security than health insurance: everyone needs it, no one notices if it works, and it depends on persistent, strong leadership and systems. While change will come at a cost, this cost would be dwarfed by the lost lives, productivity, and public resources that will result from a failure to act.
For some reason, in today’s offering Tom Friedman decided to write a totally coherent argument and then just tack one of his signature baffling mixed metaphors on at the end, rather than weaving it through the whole story. Friedman’s main point is charmingly correct — a lot of the problems we’re grappling with would suddenly become much easier to solve if we were getting whole-hearted cooperation from China and Russia rather than extremely grudging semi-cooperation. Unfortunately, Friedman doesn’t provide much of a solution except for exhortation. He wants “China and Russia [to] get their act together and understand that [widespread nuclear proliferation] is a much bigger threat to their prosperity than a post-cold-war world in which U.S. power is pre-eminent” and for “Russia and China [to] get over their ambivalence about U.S. power.” Clearly, though, this isn’t going to happen merely from us asking them impolitely. After all, ambivalence about US power is a natural thing for Russia and China to feel.
We’re very powerful. And our basic story about why other countries shouldn’t worry that our massive power will imperil their interests is “trust us — we’re the good guys.” But the things we do don’t always seem good to other governments. And, indeed, “being good” is sometimes bad for other governments. If you were in charge of the Chinese Communist Party, you probably wouldn’t find talk about the United States spreading freedom and democracy around the world especially reassuring.
The upshot is that we’re bound to be more concerned about proliferation than the Russians or the Chinese are. For us, it’s an unambiguous bad. For them, it has its upsides and its downsides. But we could really use their cooperation. The question becomes what, in practice, would it take for us to get that cooperation and then are we willing to offer it? Importantly, it means we’re going to need to set priorities. How much do we care about Taiwan? How committed are we to keeping the door open to NATO membership for Ukraine and Georgia. If giving up on those kind of things could genuinely secure Sino-Russian cooperation on Iran, North Korea, and al-Qaeda is that a good deal, or a bad one?
“Some climate scientists say that even if steps are taken now to limit global warming, temperatures in New England will rise enough over the next half-century that the source of much of that rich fall color, the sugar maples, will disappear from most of the region.”