Why I don’t watch cable news

Jon Stewart captures and mocks Michigan primary coverage perfectly:

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Call of the wild

So, in our nightly reading these days, Evan and I have been reading a nice book all about mammals (he’s so over Dr. Seuss).  Anyway, last night was apes and we talked a bit about the Gibbon.  Reminded me of the coolest zoo experience I’ve ever had.  Took my family for a visit to the Columbus Zoo back in the Ohio State days and while we were near the gibbons, they carried on for several minutes with their famous long call.  Thanks to the internet I was able to pull up a youtube video so that Evan could hear what I was talking about:

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Photo of the day (Lytro)

Okay, not a particularly cool photo in and of itself, but if you go the original link, you can actually play with the point of focus of the photo.  It’s from a super cool new camera called a Lytro which actually lets you

manipulate the area of focus after you have taken the picture.


I’ve got the answer

To the Post.com headline from last night, that is:

Ummm, how about: not much.  Chances are quite high that even if Obama is re-elected the House stays in GOP hands and he certainly has nowhere near 60 votes in the Senate.  The result of any “big second-term agenda” then?  Surely nor much.  Given the current level of polarization and the nature of our political institutions (separate institutions sharing power, not separation of powers) it is genuinely hard to see Obama having much policy success at all in a 2nd term.  I’d love to be proven wrong, but it strikes me as quite unlikely.

Historical analog of the day

MSNBC First Read catalogs just how bad the Republican primaries have been for their potential nominee:

Four in 10 of all adults say the GOP nominating process has given them a less favorable impression of the Republican Party, versus just slightly more than one in 10 with a more favorable opinion.

Additionally, when asked to describe the GOP nominating battle in a word or phrase, nearly 70 percent of respondents – including six in 10 independents and even more than half of Republicans – answered with a negative comment…

“The word you’d have to use at this stage is: ‘Corrosive,’” McInturff adds.

But fear not, Republicans, because we get this analogy:

And it’s been damaging for Romney, too. In January’s NBC/WSJ poll, Romney’s favorable/unfavorable rating stood at 31 percent to 36 percent among all respondents (and 22/42 percent among independents).

But in this latest survey, it’s now 28 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable (and 22/38 percent among independents).

In fact, Romney’s image right now is worse than almost all other recent candidates who went on to win their party’s presidential nomination: Obama’s favorable/unfavorable ratio was 51/28 percent and John McCain’s was 47/27, in the March 2008 NBC/WSJ poll; John Kerry was at 42/30 at this point in 2004; George W. Bush was 43/32 in 2000; and Bob Dole was 35/39 in March 1996.

The one exception: Bill Clinton, in April 1992, was at 32/43 percent.  [emphasis mine]

Of course, it’s better to have good numbers now than not, but Bill Clinton’s example certainly shows the danger of reading too much into these kind of numbers so far out from a general election.

The price of health care

This cool graphic of relative health care expenses has been making all the usual rounds.  Kevin Drum takes the step of highlighting Switzerland so that we can see that the country that takes the most market-based approach– after the US, of course– consistently has the 2nd highest prices:

Of course, don’t let that distract you from the US dots in red.  Damn are we getting ripped off.  Anyway, this reminded me of a graphic I recently used in my health care policy lecture:

As you can see, Switzerland and it’s 2nd highest prices comes closest to the US by far in the portion of its health expenditures that are private (i.e.,, free markets) rather than public.  Now, of course, this is just correlations and not causation, but a more comprehensive study of the issue pretty clearly indicates that this is no coincidence.  Markets are great when and where they work, but until people do price comparisons when they have a broken arm of failing kidneys, health care is just not the place where they prove to be effective for doing anything except getting providers quite rich.



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