ObamaCare Repeal is a Terrible, Terrible Idea

It’s not often that I get to stand side by side with the Center for American Progress, but as an attentive student of Jon Gruber’s, my views on ObamaCare are almost perfectly in lockstep with those of the memo Gruber wrote for the CAP.

In short, the most repeal-able part of ObamaCare, the individual mandate, is absolutely crucial to having the whole reform work, and the failure mode is not a failsafe return to pre-ObamaCare, but instead a horrendously expensive, worse than where we started world.

This is also the reason why I shrug off most of the blather from Democratic strategists that most parts of ObamaCare are popular.  The individual mandate has never polled well, and it is needed to make the rest of the reform functional, so polls that show the popularity of the give-away sections of ObamaCare suffer from the same problem as polls that show lower taxes, higher spending, and reducing the deficit are all popular: you aren’t polling people’s choices between actual alternatives, you are asking them whether or not they would like some candy.

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America, Land of Equality

Ross Douthat points me to an excellent piece by Tyler Cowen in The American Interest.  Tyler’s piece is roughly two parts: the first a dissection of the alleged inequality that is growing in America (hint: it’s mostly due to natural demographic factors and harder working people getting justly rewarded), and the second a discussion of the financial sector, for which inequality serves as the jumping off point.  The second part is not so interesting (it seems to me a fairly run of the mill conservative critique of the incentives that exist in our financial system), but the first is an under-appreciated analysis of the causes of inequality.

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Mr. Assange is Probably Just Confused

Blake Hounshell at Foreign Policy picks the low hanging fruit on Julian Assange’s claim that he has a list of Arab leaders who are spying for the CIA:  the CIA does not use diplomatic cables.  Mr. Assange, with his imagination for conspiracies and limited understanding of diplomacy, international relations, and most of the world in general, has very likely confused diplomatic exchanges for something more sinister.

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Publication Rankings

Also, just in case anyone finds it interesting, here is what my Keith Pundit Ranker scores various opinion sources as.

Some of the outliers are less a statement about the publication than a few of its writers.  The American Interest only ranks so highly because I follow Walter Russell Mead and like his AfPak analyses, Mother Jones only avoids the fate of HuffPo because Kevin Drum is worth reading, etc.

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Enormously Pompous, Infuriatingly Self-Righteous, and Waging a War on America

Commentary Magazine’s Jonathan Foreman has perhaps the best profile of Julian Assange I’ve seen to-date.

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Debating “Death Panels”

Jeffrey Weiss at Politics Daily has a good piece up discussing end of life planning.  I’ve never understood the ‘death panel’ argument.  Every year we spend billions of dollars providing end of life care that is not of much benefit.  If that’s what a person demands, then so be it– no one is going to take away the freedom of a patient to make that decision.  But health care is a tricky field– there’s an agency problem, where patients and doctors have to work together to manage their care.  If there is a failure to communicate, you end up with a lot of unnecessary spending.  If the government, among the various things it has to determine rewards for, incentivizes doctors to communicate better with their patients, you get better, cheaper care.

Seems pretty straightforward to me.

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The Conservative Economic Mind

Greg Mankiw has a dead-on article in the New York Times explaining how conservatives think of economic policy.  The two main takeaways:

Long term economic growth is best promoted by lowering disincentives to work and save.

Redistribution of income does not have a moral justification; people earned that money fairly.  Equality of opportunity is more important than equality of outcome.

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Sunday Foreign Edition

Hey all.  Time for another Sunday roundup of international news and opinion.


Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s lawyer at the International Herald Tribune cries foul.  The Guardian is livid, as is Simon Tisdall.  Even WashPo gets in on the action.  Personally, my favorite article on the topic is Julia Ioffe’s at Foreign PolicyDavid Satter at Daily Beast is also high up there.

Vladimir Rhyzkov at the Moscow Times gives a rundown of the stats on Russia’s decline into a fractured, economically stagnant, Third World kleptocracy and forecasts an even grimmer prediction for the future.

Miriam Elder at the Global Post reports that nationalism in Russia has become a destabilizing, centrifugal force.


Teng Baio at the Wall Street Journal gives a personal account of the Chinese police state.

Michael Richardson at the Japan Times ponders how China’s increasing reliance on imported fossil fuels will impact its foreign policy and concludes that rather than picking fights with its neighbors over resource claims in shared waters, China’s best strategy is to avoid conflict, so that multinational petroleum companies will feel safe enough to work with the PRC.  I am doubtful.


Madhu Kishwar at the Times of India reports that economic liberalization in his country needs work, particularly in the agricultural sector, and particularly in onion policy.


The New York Times tentatively reports that the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan is succeeding.  The Telegraph concurs, saying it looks like a corner has been turned.

The Diplomat has an interview with Haider Mullick discussing the U.S.-Pakistan relationship.

Reuel Marc Gerecht (KPR: +2.7) at The New Republic has a long, ramble-y piece on how the U.S. and the CIA needs to give Pakistan more time to change its wicked ways.


Michael Green at the Korea JoongAng Daily gives concrete detail on what a deterrence/rollback strategy against North Korea would look like.

The Center for New American Security, in the same vein, recently released a report on how to equip the South Korean military so that it can defeat and occupy North Korea (the report phrases things a little more delicately).

David Kang at The National Interest makes the case that long-term deterrence will be easy, and there is no need for regime change.

Peter Beck at Foreign Policy details a plan for peace on the peninsula that I think is 1) The Chinese game plan going forward, 2)  The first-best option, and 3) Probably not achievable.


Ray Takeyh at the International Herald Tribune says the Iranian regime is losing legitimacy among both elites and the populace.

Reuel Marc Gerecht (KPR +2.7) and Mark Dubowitz at the Weekly Standard make the case (in Gerecht’s typical, detail-laden circuitous fashion) that sanctions against Iran’s oil exports offer the best pathway to ending the Ayatollah’s nuclear weapons program, and that any deal allowing enrichment in Iran will be a defeat.


Jeffrey Goldberg at The Atlantic ponders whether Israel loves annexing territory from the West Bank more than it loves democracy.


Anne Applebaum (KPR +1.8) at the Washington Post opines on the threats to democracy in Hungary.

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The U.S. has Always Opposed a Persian Bomb

Great piece in Foreign Policy from the 29th by Abbas Milani.  He tackles the age-old myth that the U.S. supported Iran’s push for a nuclear bomb right up until the revolution came.  Must-read for folk who think the U.S. non-proliferation stance has been hypocritical.

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Anna Tang can return home for now

Anna L. Tang was today permitted to return to her home in Brighton, where she may remain under the same restrictions she was subject to prior to her trial, for the past three years.

When she was found not guilty by reason of insanity on Wednesday, Dec. 8, Judge Bruce R. Henry ordered her to undergo psychiatric evaluation at the Solomon Carter Fuller Mental Health Center. She had been charged with attempted murder, home invasion, and assault, all in connection with the Oct. 2007 stabbing of Wolfe B. Styke ’11 in his Next House dorm room. Tang has been confined to the Fuller since then, and arrived at the court today in handcuffs.

The prosecution today argued that Tang should be kept in confinement at the Fuller or incarcerated in a jail. The defense argued that because the written report from the Fuller concludes that Tang does not pose a danger to herself or to others, Tang should be released. But in a compromise move, the defense told the judge that Tang would be happy to accept the same conditions she was under previously — with the exception of $5,000 bail which had already been returned to Tang’s mother.

The judge granted the defense’s compromise request just before 1 p.m. today. Tang will once gain undergo GPS monitoring with an ankle bracelet, must not enter Cambridge or MIT or be near Wolfe Styke, and may leave home only for activities approved by the Court and her probation officer, which include exercise, visits with doctors (which are quite frequent), and attendance at church.

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