The Kings and I
March 17, 2010

Like a lot of writers, I have a Facebook page where I post articles that I’ve published. Over the past year or two, I’ve accumulated a few hundred followers--that is, Facebook friends--and, based upon the comments they leave, they tend to see the world the same way that I do. They’re left of center, by and large, and they believe fervently in health care reform. If they have something negative to say, it’s typically that President Obama and his allies in Congress aren’t being ambitious enough.

Nancy Pelosi’s Theory of Change
March 16, 2010

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi is a longtime advocate for universal health care. She’s also demonstrated that she has a good feel for the politics of her chamber and her party, simply by passing so many major pieces of legislation this year.

The Politician of the Future Will Resemble ... Ross Perot?
March 15, 2010

Two analyses released late last week underscore the rising importance of debt, both private and public, to average Americans. On Thursday, the Fed reported that after nearly doubling to $13.7 trillion between 2000 and 2008, household debt fell in 2009 for the first time since record-keeping began in 1945. Because household debt rose so much faster than disposable income during that period, debt soared from 90 percent of disposable income to a stunning 130.6 percent before falling back to 122.5 percent at the end of 2009.

Toward a New Alexandria
March 12, 2010

Imagine a new Library of Alexandria. Imagine an archive that contains all the natural and social sciences of the West—our source-critical, referenced, peer-reviewed data—as well as the cultural and literary heritage of the world's civilizations, and many of the world’s most significant archives and specialist collections. Imagine that this library is electronic and in the public domain: sustainable, stable, linked, and searchable through universal semantic catalogue standards.

Unready for His Close-Up?
March 11, 2010

Allow me to posit a case study: Two high-ranking government officials are the subject of multiple newspaper and magazine profiles in the span of a few weeks. The first official resists the attention. He isn’t so much as quoted in any of the pieces, whose authors glumly note his lack of enthusiasm for their projects. By contrast, the second official goes out of his way to cooperate with the profile-writers. He submits to numerous, on-the-record interviews and mounts a detailed defense of his actions.

Are Insurance Companies the Problem?
March 09, 2010

The insurance industry is striking back. Attacked by the Democrats, harangued by activists, and reviled by the public, insurers have launched a major public relations campaign designed to make one simple point: It’s not their fault that American health care is so dysfunctional. The proof, according to the industry, is in the numbers: Their profits account for less than 1 percent of what America spends on health care in a given year. And you know what?

The Greatest Virtue of the Republican Budget Plan
March 09, 2010

This past Friday, without much fanfare, CBO submitted its analysis of President Obama’s proposed FY 2011 budget. The bottom line is worse than we thought. Despite sustained economic recovery, the budget deficit under the president’s proposal never falls below 4 percent of GDP over the next decade and rises to 5.6 percent by 2020. The aggregate deficit during that period is $9.761 trillion—close to $1 trillion each year on average. Not surprisingly, debt held by the public rises steadily and reaches 90 percent of GDP by 2020.

Your Iraqi Election Cheat Sheet
March 06, 2010

Sunday is election day in Iraq—the second national parliamentary vote since the American-led invasion in 2003. U.S. officials maintained this week that Obama’s plan to withdraw all American combat troops by September 1st is still on track, but that’s almost certainly untrue if the elections don’t go smoothly.

The FT’s Devastating Critique Of Itself
March 03, 2010

Yes, I’ve been harping on the FT’s coverage of Israel. Perhaps, you haven’t agreed with my complaints. Well, read what the paper has to say about the subject this morning. The column is by the historian Andrew Roberts, and it’s a must read. Keep up with TNR on Facebook and Twitter.

The Identities Of Wall Streeters Can Be Changed By Their Patterns Of Pay
March 01, 2010

An interesting op-ed, “It is time to treat Wall Street like Main Street,” appeared in Thursday’s Financial Times. Written by George Akerlof, a professor of economics at Berkeley and a Nobelist in 2001, and Rachel Kranton, a professor of economics at Duke, this little (but challenging) piece follows from their recent book Identity Economics, which I have not read and probably could not understand. The book itself follows from an essay, “Economics and Identity,” published by the Quarterly Journal of Economics in 2000. I think I understand it. In any case, A. and K. are literate and funny.