Ezra Klein justly praises the excellent 2005 film Brick. But he also describes it as “the best hard-boiled noir ever set in a Southern California high school.”
I remember thinking when I saw Brick how strange it was that this film came out at the very same time when Veronica Mars was on television. Suddenly the world was full of Southern California high school noir. And then just like that, the genre vanished. At any rate, I think I liked VM slightly better than Brick, although arguably the TV show doesn’t qualify as “hard-boiled” so we could draw the distinction there.
UPDATE: Gunther thinks my critique of his piece goes too far. But then, he also thinks my critique of George Will goes too far. Anyway, read the piece, his comment, and my response. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
Apparently all federal efforts to develop clean technology should be banned — at least that’s what Reuters and the oddly named website “Greenbiz.com” seem to believe.
If they gave out awards to columnists for advice that would cause the most harm to the nation if anybody actually followed it,then Greenbiz.com, Reuters, and Fortune contributer Marc Gunther would be a serious contender with his astonishingly uninformed piece “Beware of Obama’s ‘Battery Gold Rush’.“ Let’s call this award the “Willie” named after George Will.
Last night, Vice President Cheney’s daughter Liz appeared on a mainstream American television news media outlet, this time on Campbell Brown’s CNN show. During a contentious “Great Debate” segment with Salon’s Joan Walsh, Liz Cheney was trying to argue that bringing Guantanamo Bay detainees to U.S. soil “makes us less safe” and that they should remain where they currently reside.
To make her argument, Cheney also continued her penchant for false claims. At one point in the debate, Walsh noted that military leaders want Gitmo closed and that even President Bush once said it should be closed and that some detainees should tried in the U.S. Cheney, however, disagreed:
WALSH: Liz, the top — the top military leaders of our country want Guantanamo closed. President Bush, in June 2009 [sic], gave a speech where he said he would close it, and he would bring people home and try them here.
CHENEY: No, I’m sorry.
WALSH: President Bush said that.
CHENEY: He did not say he would bring terrorists onto the homeland. Joan, no, he didn’t say that.
Walsh is right, Bush did say that. During a June 2006 press conference at a U.S.-EU summit, Bush called for Gitmo to be closed and to have some of the detainees tried in U.S. courts:
BUSH: I’d like to end Guantanamo. I’d like it to be over with. One of the things we will do is we’ll send people back to their home countries. [...] There are some who need to be tried in U.S. courts. They’re cold-blooded killers. They will murder somebody if they’re let out on the street. And yet, we believe there’s a — there ought to be a way forward in a court of law.
However, Cheney’s canards didn’t end there. She also offered the debunked claim that “14 percent” of Gitmo detainees have “returned to the battlefield,” a claim Walsh noted is “not true.” Indeed, last week the New York Times issued a correction to its story, saying that the number is closer to 5 percent.
Shortly after opening fire at the National Holocaust Museum today, James Wenneker von Brunn, the suspected shooter, was identified as a white supremacist with a “history of associations with prominent neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC). Brunn’s hateful rhetoric followed by today’s violent outburst chillingly echoes a controversial warning issued by the Department of Homeland Security concerning a rise in “rightwing extremist activity.”
Millions of low-IQ non-whites are encouraged to illegally invade the USA. They are provided sanctuary, jobs, health-care schooling, by those intent upon destroying Western Civilization.
SPLC’s Heidi Beirich spoke with Fox New’s Shep Smith this afternoon about the shooting and the warning signs it poses for the U.S.:
SMITH: There’s these crazies out there. And we know it’s absolutely — there is no truth whatsoever — zero to any of those ideas. Yet, they live within the computer and they fester within people’s minds.
BEIRICH: Shepard, you’re hitting the nail on the head. We’re extremely concerned about these kinds of crazed conspiracies, whether they’re about the President, or the fact — we’re hearing things like FEMA setting up camps to round up Americans and put them in. I’m getting bad sort of deja vu from the 1990s, when anti-government militias were on the rise, when Tim McVeigh committed that violence in Oklahoma City. I’m really hoping we’re not going through a repeat of that.
Yesterday, Kent Conrad floated the idea that instead of having a robust public option in health care “exchanges,” we could instead implement rules designed to spur the creation of non-profit “co-ops” that would provide an alternative to private companies without government control. Or, of course, government’s ability to piggyback on Medicare and achieve cost controls. I’ll recommend Igor Volsky’s analysis of the problems facing health co-ops that legislation would have to overcome.
I’ll say that I think this is a pretty good idea, but it stands on its own merits completely apart from the merits of a public plan. In other words, there’s no reason we shouldn’t have co-ops and private plans and a real public plan. Medicine has always been a mix of state, non-profit, and for-profit actors and I think it’s worth broadening the mix of insurance options available to ordinary people.
That said, as an alternative to a public plan this simply doesn’t meet what I see as the main objective of a public plan. But beyond this, I think the larger issue is that you sort of can’t “compromise” around the core political issues here. Insurance companies object to the idea of a public plan because they don’t want to lose business. Anything you dream up that would cause insurance companies to lose business, they’ll object to. After all, what else are they going to do? But anything you dream up that doesn’t cause insurance companies to lose any business isn’t going to accomplish anything meaningful. Insofar as what’s really going on in the halls of congress is that members are trying to balance progressive pressure for a public plan with industry opposition to it, you’re going to keep banging your head against the reality that you can’t split the difference between “incumbents face a new strong competitor” and “incumbents don’t face a new strong competitor.” And incumbents really don’t want to face a new strong competitor—incumbents hate competitors!
Complaining about the Senate’s plans to consider the nomination of Judge Sonia Sotomayor before the August recess, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell told Fox News that obstructing Sotomayor’s confirmation is necessary to prevent a situation like Guantanamo Bay:
“We don’t want to have a situation like they did with Guantanamo where they didn’t even have a game plan,” McConnell, R-Ky., said, referring to the Obama’s administration’s lack of details on closing the detention facility, which compelled senators last month to strip $80 million of funding for the plan from a war spending bill.
“It’s an arbitrary date and it strikes me as a ticket to disaster,” he said.
It’s unclear how the timely confirmation of a Supreme Court Justice resembles the task of closing down an unconstitutional internment camp.
McConnell must not have been paying very close attention during the last eight years. The Guantanamo prison is a quagmire not because of President Obama’s lack of planning, but because of President Bush’s incompetent management of the facility. Because “most physical evidence” documenting why individual detainees were brought to Gitmo “either disappeared or had been stored in locations that no one with any tenure at, or institutional knowledge of, the Commissions could identify with any degree of specificity or certainty,” the Bush Administration made it nearly-impossible to perform the constitutionally required task of determining which detainees must be released.
The truth is this: Judge Sotomayor’s hearings will begin 48 days after her nomination was announced. Chief Justice Roberts, whose record was more difficult to investigate because it was necessary to track down thousands of pages of documents Roberts produced while he worked in the Reagan and Bush I Administrations, received a hearing after only 51 days. The Chief Justice was confirmed 72 days after his nomination, even though Senators were distracted from reviewing Roberts’ record after Hurricane Katrina devastated the Gulf Coast. The 72nd day after Sotomayor’s nomination will be August 6, the day before the August recess is supposed to begin. By confirming Sotomayor according to the Senate’s intended schedule, President Obama’s nominee will receive exactly the same treatment afforded to President Bush’s nominee.
In the end, Senator McConnell’s disingenuous attempts to obstruct Judge Sotomayor have nothing to do with allowing sufficient time to investigate her record. He’s just hoping to buy more time to drag Sotomayor through the mud.
Douglas Holtz-Eakin, the former policy director for Senator John McCain’s presidential campaign, recently told Congressional Quarterly that conservatives needed a “‘Center for American Progress’ for the right.” His most recent research doesn’t bode well for his think-tank ambitions.
Holtz-Eakin has published a paper claiming that eliminating the estate tax would create 1.5 million jobs. He concluded:
“Eliminating the estate tax would raise the probability of hiring by 8.6 percent, increase payrolls by 2.6 percent and expand investment by 3 percent…If small business payrolls were to rise by as much as 2.6 percent strictly through additional hiring, this translates to roughly 1.5 million additional small business jobs.“
This conclusion is very, very unlikely, relies on sensitive assumptions, leaps of logic, and dubious calculations. Here’s where the study goes wrong:
It severely overestimates the incidence of the estate tax on small businesses: Holtz-Eakin asserts that eliminating the estate tax would raise the wealth reported on estates by over $1.6 trillion. He describes this as an “increase in small business capital,” despite the fact that only 1.3 percent of the .24 percent of all estates who pay estate taxes are small businesses. In 2009, according to the Center on Budget and Policy priorities, only 80 (yes, eight-zero) businesses or farms nationwide will owe any estate tax at all. The average rate the heirs to these estates will pay will be 14% of their multi-million dollar inheritances. Read more
The Republican proposal, drafted by a group led by Representative Mike Pence of Indiana, leans heavily on nuclear power, setting a goal of building 100 reactors over the next 20 years.
The GOP energy proposal, the American Energy Act (AEA), is nothing more than a good old-fashioned energy tax on consumers. The House energy and climate bill, on the other hand could save $3,900 per household by 2030, thanks to its strong emphasis on energy efficiency, which is utterly absent from the GOP plan.
Now we know that if you even start building a nuclear power plant, electricity bills go up a decade before any customer sees a single electron (see “What do you get when you buy a nuke? You get a lot of delays and rate increases”¦.“ For customers of Progress Energy in Florida, which is trying to build twin nukes,bills jumped 25 percent in January “to cover early costs for the new reactors as well as increases in the cost of fuel Progress purchases to generate power.”
By spreading 100 nukes around the country and with no strategy to stop fuel prices for power generation from rising, the GOP plan would be the equivalent of a 25% tax on every American’s electricity bill.
But that’s not all.
The Atomic Energy Agency American Energy Act is “Identical To President Bush’s Failed Plan” as Media Matters demonstrates with a side-by-side comparison between AEA and the Cheney plan. In April, the Center for American Progress (CAP) released a detailed analysis showing the main result of the Bush-Cheney plan was that energy costs rose more than $1,100 for the average American household:
There’s a new advertising campaign under way in Metro taking aim at the routine use of antibiotics in commercial poultry- and livestock-raising enterprises:
Photo by Eric Goldman
For all the same reasons that antibiotics can be helpful to sick people they can also be helpful to sick animals. Or, in the minds of America’s industrial farmers, they can be given out routinely as a prophylactic measure so as to make it possible to raise animals in unhealthy and unsanitary environments, while also feeding them cheap corn that makes them ill. Unfortunately, as Eric Goldman emphasizes, this helps breed antibiotic resistant bacteria with dire health consequences for people.
The specific talking point that this increases health care costs is a cute way of piggybacking on the current political debate. In reality, I doubt that the actual contribution to health care inflation is especially large as the biggest costs are associated with chronic conditions or end-of-life situations. On the other hand, it is true that this is an important public health issue. Antibiotic resistant bacteria is, at the moment, a somewhat problematic situation. But the really scary thing is the prospect that it could become much worse. We’ve invented a lot of new antibiotics over the years, but there isn’t any guarantee that an infinite range of antibiotics are out there just waiting to be invented. In principle, we could wind up backing ourselves into some extremely problematic situations in the future, and making chicken slightly cheaper isn’t a good reason to be doing it.
Following up on the assassination of George Tiller, we appear to have a new outbreak of right-wing domestic terrorism as white supremacist James Von Brunn goes on a shooting spree at the U.S. Holocaust Museum.
Not a great deal more to say about this right now, but I hope that everyone who mau-maued the Department of Homeland Security for expressing concern about this kind of thing feels appropriately ashamed of themselves.