July 16, 2008
Let's begin with the basic premise that our health care financing system should ensure that everyone receives the health care that they need without having to face a financial hardship. Everyone agrees that we have a very expensive system that falls far short of this goal, so it needs to be reformed. The enthusiasm for the model of reform described by Jacob Hacker and endorsed by the Health Care for America Now (HCAN) coalition, which Jonathan Cohn wrote about in his recent New Republic piece “Single-Minded,” is understandable.
July 15, 2008
Mission Not Accomplished
WASHINGTON--For years, supporters of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez have touted his social programs known as "missions" as a model of social justice. But this narrative is a myth, according to a comprehensive study by the Latin American Institute of Social Research. The authors, Yolanda D'Elia and Luis Francisco Cabezas, are not ideological adversaries of Chavez's government. They don't even question the need for government-funded social programs. They simply trace the history of the missions and measure the results against the stated objectives.
The Dreyfus Affair 2.0
On May 21, 2008, a French court of appeals in Paris came to a remarkable verdict. Reversing an earlier decision by the (in)famous “Chambre 17,” which specializes in defamation, the judges exonerated Philippe Karsenty, an online media critic, of libeling the public television France2 and its star Middle East correspondent, Charles Enderlin. There was no question that Karsenty’s accusations did indeed strike at the “honor and reputation” of France2 (the charge).
The Audacity Of Courts
So the prosecutor for the International Criminal Court has formally requested an arrest warrant for Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir on charges of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes in Darfur. To no one’s surprise, the Sudanese government has rejected the charges as baseless, but one criticism that’s also coming from some members of the international community is that the ICC’s actions will jeopardize the fragile humanitarian relief effort and security environment in the country.
As a former director of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources, Senator Ken Salazar probably knows more about the subject of oil-shale development than any other member of Congress. So it's worth reading his op-ed in the Washington Post today for a balanced, realistic take on the prospect for commercial-scale shale development in the West. The bottom line is that while shale might hold some promise in the future, the technology for extracting oil from it needs a lot of work, as do environmental-mitigation strategies, and then there's the thorny ultimate question of carbon emissions.
The WaPo has a front-pager today about the eerily even divide among the electorate on the issue of Iraq that is chock full of all sorts of fun polling numbers: 50% of Americans support a timetable for withdrawl, 49% don't; 48% think Obama would be an effective commmander of the armed forces, 48% don't; 47% trust McCain more to deal with Iraq, 45% prefer Obama. Some number are more depressing.
July 14, 2008
Waltzing With Beirut
The Jerusalem theater lights came on, and no man between the ages of 25 and 35 moved. We had just watched Waltz With Bashir, Israeli filmmaker Ari Folman's animated documentary about Israel's 1982 invasion of Lebanon and the subsequent Sabra and Chatila massacre. The film deals with Folman's struggle with the surreal trauma that many veterans of that conflict retain.
To the Editor: Avi Beker's article focusing on that aspect of Muslim theology that denigrates Judaism -- as if it were the major cause of friction today -- ignores the long history of relatively peaceful and respectful relationships between Islam and Judaism, and downplays the relationship between contemporary Muslim appeals to ancient denigration of the Jews, and contemporary struggles with the State of Israel. He cites one oral tradition quoting Muhammad denigrating the Jews without citing others praising them, and acts as if hostility to the State of Israel is rooted in ancient anti-Jewis
Harare, ZimbabweEvery night at around 9 p.m., in the weeks leading up to last month’s presidential election, Simon heard the sound of drums coming from the woods surrounding his paprika farm. The dull thuds percolated in a four-four beat. "B-boom," "B-boom," "B-boom"; then silence. A cry would go up. "Shall we kill the whites?" came the chorus of two-dozen "war vets"--the euphemism for veterans of Zimbabwe's independence struggle who now serve as a personal militia for the country's ruler, Robert Mugabe. "Let's ask Mugabe!" Then the drums began again.
The New Dominion
RUTHER GLEN, Va.--If the 2008 election is destined to break up a frozen electoral map, Virginia is one of the most likely venues for the great political thaw. The state has not voted for a Democratic presidential candidate in 44 years, yet the trends are decidedly in the party's favor. Demographic change, often a driver of realignment, is occurring at a furious clip. The Old Dominion is now the New Dominion, particularly in the suburban and exurban counties north of the Rappahannock River. Barack Obama could not have carried Virginia as it once was.