Mass Appeal

Polls show that Americans are confused about what health care reform means. And, if you listen to members of Congress on television, you get the impression that some of them aren’t certain, either. But figuring out what health care reform entails isn’t hard. All you have to do is look at Massachusetts. Almost three years ago, the state introduced an ambitious initiative designed to make sure nearly all residents have health insurance. Under this scheme, the state requires employers to contribute toward the cost of covering workers, while requiring individuals to get insurance.


Writing and Velocity

Sorry I’ve been silent (again) for so long. In addition to teaching two writing seminars at Penn, I’ve been busy with book revisions. Those are now done, so I should be back (again) to more regular blogging. Given the glacial pace of my contributions to TNR in recent months, perhaps it makes sense that I’d return with a post about . . . the pace of writing.


Short Cuts

Robert Altman: The Oral Biography By Mitchell Zuckoff (Knopf, 592 pp., $35) Here is your exam question: who is the last American movie director who made thirty-nine films but never won the Oscar for best director? Name the film by that director that cost the most money, and name the film of his that earned the most. Clue: The Departed, which must have been around Martin Scorsese’s thirtieth picture, and did win the directing Oscar, cost $90 million (four times as much as any of this man’s films cost)--so don’t go that way.


Net Cemetery

Network neutrality--that’s now the official policy of the Obama administration, announced last month by the new chairman of the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Julius Genachowski. It’s a development that could be more significant to the future of free speech than any milestone since the Supreme Court’s decision in New York Times v. Sullivan in 1964. The essence of net neutrality seems simple: Internet service providers should be required to treat all data equally and avoid blocking or delaying any sites or applications.


The Devil's Advocate

The sleazy lobbyist who might save the world.


Help, Madeleine Albright is a money manager. Where the hell is the SEC? Albright Capital Management, of which former secretary of state Madeleine Albright is chair, is an investment adviser, and it has now partnered with PGGM to invest $329 million of the latter's money in "long-term, multi-asset class, investment in emerging markets." PGGM is a Dutch pension fund for workers in the healthcare and social work sector. Phew, it's not an American pension fund. So the retirement of American workers is not endangered by Mrs. Albright. But Holland is an old ally. It deserves better from us.