How Millenial are you?

Pretty cool on-line quiz from Pew, based on a recent survey of theirs.  On a 0-100 Millenial scale, I score a 16.  Apparently I need to text message more and watch less TV.  Not to mention stop reading the newspaper.  And have more desire for a lucrative job. Anyway, the results of the survey which you can see your scores in relation to at the end of the quiz are quite interesting– definitely give it a try.  Oh, I need more piercings and tattoos, too.  You know what, I'm pretty happy not being very millenial.


Health Care Summit today

What amuses me about the Health Care summit today is the way in which so many media outlets are covering this as if it is something it totally is not.  This is entirely about political optics and using those optics to get dithering (and therefore stupid) Congressional Democrats fully on board.  I can't believe all the media types who talked about Republicans suggesting compromises, etc.  If you think there's anything Obama can do to get a single Republican vote on real (i.e., not the pretend proposals like the Republican credit-card approach) reform, I've got a bridge to sell you.  Obama knows this, Democrats know this, smart observers know this, yet somehow many journalists either don't or are pretending not to.  I'm not a big fan of journalists pretending.  Of course, these journalists also don't know what to do about the fact that they weeks ago convinced themselves that serious health care reform is dead, despite evidence to the contrary.  Oh, it may die alright, but there's very much a pulse.  The most important thing about this summit is thus changing the media narrative.  I don't plan on watching any of it (I'm sure Jon Stewart will have some good highlights making Republican ideas look stupid), what I care about is the headlines tomorrow.  Sort of like a presidential debate, actually.  

If you need more pre-summit analysis, you know what to do… Read Klein and Cohn.  


The unreliability of public opinion data

I love public opinion surveys– heck, I wouldn't have tenure without them, but part of loving them is knowing their limits, and when it comes to the health care debate, they are very limited.  The public simply lacks any coherence on the matter.  Ezra Klein brings to light some recent polling data:

I want to show you two graphs charting the popularity of health-care
reform. The first summarizes the Republican position. It's a chart from tallying surveys asking whether you support or oppose the
health-care reform bill.


Unpopular, right? The second chart summarizes the Democratic position on this question: It tallies recent responses to polls asking about the component pieces of the health-care bill:



Health-care reform is unpopular. But if you actually tell people
what's in the health-care reform bill, then it becomes quite popular. A
recent Newsweek poll
found the same thing: "The majority of Americans are opposed to
President Obama's health-care reform plan — until they learn the

Obviously, this disconnect is one of the more frustrating features about what's going on.  Clearly, it serves Republican interests to keep people from actually understanding what's in these bills.   Ezra continues:

You can spin this information in a lot of different directions: The GOP
has mounted a huge disinformation campaign. People are stupid. The
polls are biased in one direction or another. The media covers conflict
and ignores substance. Pick your favorite.

All true, as is his explanation, which you can click on over to read.  The take-away for me, though, is you really can hardly trust opinion polls on complicated political issues. Therefore, of course, politicians (that means you spineless Democrats in Congress afraid to vote for this) should not be so damn beholden to them. 

The public option

I'm a bit disappointed in the number of liberals who 1) just don't get that the current version of the public option is completely emasculated and wouldn't really make much difference, and;2) are totally unaware of the interest group politics involved, i.e., this is just as much about cutting profits for doctors and hospitals– who quite like their profits– as it is the insurance companies.  Sure, all else being equal it would be better to have it, making it much easier to improve upon later on.  Alas, this is not an all else being equal world.  Matt Yglesias explains all this quite nicely.  


The Treatment

Wanted to blog today, but way too busy.  We had our annual "American Values" speaker today, Jonathan Cohn.  He gave a great talk on health care this evening and we also had various other discussions before and after.  Really great guy and really smart on health care.  I also really enjoyed discussing political journalism with him. Anyway, if you have not before, you should check out his cool health care blog, The Treatment.  One thing I can definitely attest to, this man is plugged in on health care reform.  


Read this

Sorry I haven't been much of a blogger this week.  Blame the Olypics plus an unusually busy week.  In the meantime, read EJ Dionne's column today– spot on.


What to do about the torturers?

My new favorite blogger is Political Scientist Jonathan Bernstein.  He's got a really nice post here explaining why pardon plus a truth comission is the most sensible approach to dealing with the war crimes of the Bush administration.  He's got me convinced.


The stimulus worked

It's somewhat depressing that I even have to explain to a good (though not particularly well-informed) Liberal Democrat like my wife, that, indeed, the stimulus worked.  Of course, as her small business, like many others, goes through really tough times, it's hard to see that.  I'm pretty sure I blogged about this a while ago, but today's buzz in the liberal blogosphere would seem to suggest that Dave Leonhardt has written the ultimate stimulus defense.  Here's the catchy beginning:

Imagine if, one year ago, Congress had passed a stimulus bill that really worked.

say this bill had started spending money within a matter of weeks and
had rapidly helped the economy. Let’s also imagine it was large enough
to have had a huge impact on jobs — employing something like two
million people who would otherwise be unemployed right now.

If that had happened, what would the economy look like today?

it would look almost exactly as it does now. Because those nice
descriptions of the stimulus that I just gave aren’t hypothetical. They
are descriptions of the actual bill.

Of course it doesn't help that Republicans keep claiming it didn't work despite all evidence to the contrary and the media just repeats their claims as if they have some validity. 

Quick Hits (Chait Edition)

1) The big Republican talking point on health care reform is that you should be able to purchase it across state lines.  This is, of course, utter folly, but it sounds good.  We'd quickly end up with something similar to the consumer disaster that is the credit card industry.  Jon Chait does the best job of spinning out the policy logic that I've seen on this issue.  You should read it to rebut those GOP claims.  [Update: Ezra Klein takes this and runs with it, spinning out the logic even more.]

2) Harold Ford is an idiot, who's really not worth my time to blog about.  I'll just say, man, I hope I never get on Chait's bad side.  His takedown of Ford is much like a great critic reviewing a bad movie.  


Interesting McClatchy story describes the lack of resistance to DADT among actual troops.

Indeed, since Mullen appeared on Capitol Hill earlier this month and
told a stunned Congress that in his personal view, gays and lesbians
should be allowed to serve, the response among members of the military
has been little more than a shrug.

This actually jibes what I've been hearing from my students in the military (I teach a Distance Ed class which typically has active duty service members in the class, or at least several who have very recently served).  I suspect there is still plenty of resistance among front-line infantry units, but the truth is that is just a tiny portion of the overall military.  The Airman working in an air traffic control center or refueling jets has very little reason to care whether the person next to him is gay or not.  When all is said and done, I think people will be surprised how little difference a change in policy will make (except, of course, to gay soldiers who would've otherwise been booted out).


Bye Bayh

I don't really have a lot to say about Evan Bayh's announcement that he is not seeking re-election.  There is no doubt that the man is a dim bulb who has done his best to undermine the Democratic agenda on the simple-minded principle that half-way between what Democrats and Republicans want must be a good thing.  On the other hand, he votes Democratic most of the time, most importantly for majority leader– that's important and will be missed as Indiana will likely go Republican.  Nonetheless, Bayh is my least favorite type of Senator, a preening centrist, always drawing attention to how reasonable and moderate he is regardless of the actual incoherence of his positions.  Okay, enough on Bayh, but I'll end with a quote from Chait:

 This was just a completely unremarkable man who, had he not been the
hansome son of a famous politician, would never in a million years have
been a Senator.

[Okay, wait, I'll almost end there.  I really enjoyed this column blasting Bayh by Katrina vanden Heuvel]


Childhood bipolar disorder

Let's stick with the mental health theme… Really interesting story on NPR last week about how the diagnosis of "childhood bipolar" disorder is going to be eliminated from the new DSM-V.  I've been intrigued by this diagnosis since I read a really interesting New Yorker story a few years back about the raging over-diagnosis of this condition.  Anyway, this NPR story, which you can read or listen to, quite nicely explained what's fundamentally wrong with this diagnosis.  Short version: adult bipolar is episodic whereas childhood bipolar seems not to be.  Also, there seems to be very little relation to children diagnosed bipolar and adults diagnosed this way.  Thus, psychiatrists have created a new, and seemingly more appropriate diagnosis: temper dysregulation disorder.  Ultimately, it will be most interesting to see how the medical treatment (bipolar disorder is treated with powerful drugs that raises many concerns when used in children) may change with this new condition.


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