• We Need Some Captions

  • China and Us

    The Oil Drum gets it right : Simplistically there are two approaches a government can take to a crisis. They can do something about it, or they can do nothing. Back in the days of President Carter the nation tried the first approach when faced with an energy crisis, this time we are trying the second. For a detailed analysis of why that is, check Michael O'Hare's analysis of Bush's energy proposals. The basic problem is that Bush is abandoning energy reform to the free market, which really isn't going to do the trick. The idea that we can simply drill our way to safety is flat insane, and here's why: No expert believes ANWR, or anywhere else in America, will provide the sort of superwell capacity that'd free us from foreign oil. It just won't happen. That means we've got to discover more foreign oil, even though discoveries are falling, the size of the discovered wells are falling, and many of the sites we currently rely on are slowing their production. But let's bracket all that for...
  • Safety Nets, Not Welfare Programs

    I think Jon Henke misses a little something amidst his total confusion over Democratic distaste for Bush's attempts to turn Social Security into a welfare program. Democrats don't want everything to be a welfare program. In fact, we don't want anything save welfare to be a welfare program. We like safety nets. That's why we don't just want Medicaid, we want guaranteed health insurance for everyone. That's why we don't want Social Security for the poor, we want it for the population. There's no great appeal in separating the poor from the rich through government programs -- it both demeans the poor and implicitly argues that government's only use is to care for those unable to do it themselves. So if Democrats are dismissing ideas to turn a general safety net into an entitlement for the old and impoverished, don't act so surprised. Social Security, to us, is exactly what a government program should look like: a floor provided to and paid for by every American. Making it a welfare...
  • Bad WSJ! No Cookie!

    Go read Jon Chait's brutal takedown of the Wall Street Journal. Nice to see him using his LA Times op-ed to land some blows.
  • Stagflation

    This Times article on the economy's lower-than-expected growth raises the specter of stagflation. Since the S word has been popping up in a variety of places lately, I think it might be worth a quick definition, as I sure as hell didn't know what it meant a year ago. Stagflation occurs when the economy has high inflation combined with economic stagnation, unemployment, or recession. So the basic force at work is that prices, through inflation, are rising, but buying power isn't, either because folks don't have jobs, we're in a recession, or the economy's standing still. It's thought to occur when the economy suffers a nasty shock (i.e, a jump in the price of oil) that the central bank is unable to effectively counter. Often times, there really isn't an effective counter, as hiking interest rates (as the Fed is scheduled to do next week) in order to calm inflation slows down an already too-slow economy, while doing the opposite speeds economic growth but also accelerates inflation...
  • Iran and the Bomb

    Looks like the EU's talks with Iran are failing in a big way, with the Islamic Republic threatening to stalk off and restart uranium enrichment a bit later this week. The article's a bit vague on what's killing them -- likely as not, that information simply isn't known -- but my guess is that there's simply not a lot the EU can offer Iran that they're not already giving them. It's really a tough spot for those trying to stall Iran's weapon programs. Europe, theoretically, could apply serious sanctions and really pressure Iran into sitting at the table and hammering out a deal. But they won't. Worse, Iran's long-term trade prospects are brighter than their short-term ones, as their huge stores of natural gas (Iran and Russia have the most natural gas in the world, more than half the known total) are going to be in demand no matter how much of a pariah we judge them. China and India, frankly, don't much care how we feel towards Iran. As far as the options go, this may mean that, pace...
  • Press Conference

    I was playing video games, so I just got the James Joyner recap . What'd you guys think?
  • Newspapers Remain

    Derek Rose is right , by the way. Blogs will never replace newspapers*. Newspapers will never give up wood pulp for megabits. My girlfriend is in a serious relationship with a blogger**, reads a fair number of other sites, and gets the paper's headlines in her inbox every day. And despite all that, she'll never give up the paper version. Nor would I. Nor would anyone I know. Tangible reading materials have a comfort, convenience, and charm all their own, and the simple existence of an alternative won't change that. Will there be more integration between print and the web? Sure 'nuff. But the hysterical, off-the-cuff eulogies Jeff Jarvis is always providing for print media are nothing more than the ravings of a technoguru. Radio's still around, TV's hanging out, books are still printed, and the net's not gonna change all that. It may force some adaptation, but not change. * And none of this even addresses how dependent blogs are on newspapers. Without them we'd have nothing to report...
  • Parental Notification

    Great post by Matt on parental notification laws. Like Kevin Drum, who he's responding to, I had mixed feelings on the issue, but then my girlfriend unmixed them using almost exactly the same line of reasoning Matt utilizes here. So go get demixed .
  • Quiet Liberals

    I think Kevin Drum gets it mostly right on the Michael Walzer piece : To a large extent, despite the triumphalism of the right, liberalism has won most of the big debates in this country. Sure, we've only gotten 80% or 90% of what we set out to get half a century ago, but it's hard to bring a lot of passion to the fight for the final 10 or 20%. The reason liberalism seems lackluster these days is that with the exception of the radical left, which is mostly ignored, garden variety liberals don't have all that much to complain about. That's true, at least on an ideological level (I hasten to confine it to issues of ideology because, as the blogs prove, us garden variety liberals have found plenty to complain about). But I think we're dealing with a second dynamic here, which is that we're no longer allowed to complain, our real complaints aren't viable in political discourse. Increased government control and involvement in private life is, to a large degree, off-limits in the public...