Daily Archives: February 28, 2004

Saturday Blog-Browsing

***Phaedrus at No Fear of Freedom links to a Juan Cole post on the agreement between the US and GB’s electronic spooks to spy on each others’ citizens without bothering about pesky annoyances like warrants.

What bothers me about these kinds of revelations is the reaction of the public. It seems like it’s, “Eh. Well. Doesn’t surprise me. Ain’t no BFD.” I got a feelin’ that if we found out there’re little cameras and microphones hidden in our TVs, the reaction would be the same. No BFD. I got a nasty suspection that most people know we don’t live in a democracy and that, too, ain’t no BFD ta them.We’re living in Orwell’s 1984 and nobody cares!

***Benedict Spinoza at Benedict@Large links to an interesting–and po’d–Progressive piece calling for Alan Greenspan’s resignation.

On Medicare, Greenspan at least recognizes a real problem with costs skyrocketing, but his paymaster Bush refuses to let anybody do anything to lower costs. In fact, Bush’s Medicare “reform” plan prohibits the federal government from bargaining with the drug companies to lower costs, and it prohibits people or states from importing drugs from Canada. If Greenspan were truly concerned about Medicare’s costs, he would have opposed this inflationary gift to the drug companies.By contrast, on Social Security, Greenspan continues to hype a threat that is almost nonexistent. Like many economists, journalists, and pundits (Tim Russert high among them), Greenspan claims that the baby boom generation is going to bankrupt Social Security.

Not true.

The Social Security Trust Fund’s own report says it will be able to meet all its obligations through the year 2042, as Mark Weisbrot, co-director of the Center for Economic and Policy Research has noted. “Most of the baby boomers will be dead by then,” he says.

I know I will. I would be 94 in 2042 and my prospects aren’t that good.

***Matt Yglesias tries to understand Bush’s “approach to social security reform”: “[It] appears to involve equal parts dishonesty and ineptitude. It’s a bit hard to tell, though, even reading the memos, what this is all about.” He’s catching on.

***Ruy Teixeira at Donkey Rising writes an excellent post warning Democrats not to make the mistake of thinking that opposition to the No Child Left Behind Act means they should throw it out. The problem, he says, is not with the concept but with the BA’s refusal to provide the funds necessary to implement it successfully.

In light of this reception, which has been duplicated in numerous states around the country, Democrats may be tempted to run hard against NCLB and say, implicitly or explicitly, that it needs to be gotten rid of. A review of public opinion data on NCLB suggests they should resist that temptation.Public opinion on public education has consistently shown that the public has a two point program for education reform: more accountability and more resources.


[T]here is little evidence that the public rejects the law itself or wants to do away with it. General descriptions of the law, particularly its goals and broad emphasis on accountability, continue to elicit strong public support. But it seems fair to say that the public would be supportive of changes that would make NCLB more flexible and better-funded. That’s the sweet spot for Democrats in criticizing NCLB–not opposing the act, but seeking to reform it in line with the public’s twin commitments to effective accountability and more funding.

***Eric Brunner at Wampum notes that a series he wrote on the Iranian elections could get him thrown in jail for “trading with the enemy” according to new rulings from the Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control.

It is simply amazing to think about, for those of us who came up on Soviet mathematical and scientific publications and Soviet and Chinese military and political publications, collected, translated, summarized, digested, glossed, … that the manuscript for a volumn of 17th century Persian poetry in Farsi, with an American English translation, can not be lawfully edited for publication within the confines of the United States.

***Finally, for those of you with marginally metaphysical leanings, George Popham over at a relatively new blog called Skookumchuck Notebook writes an interesting half-serious/half-not criticism of Buddhism.

Most people think of Buddhism in a partly digested way: be nice, sit quietly, look picturesque, and be very very cool…But, Buddhism can be just as contradictory and bizarre as any other tradition east or west. I have been following a sub-thread of Buddhist studies in my grad work, and in the course of slogging through some of the high Indian and Tibetan logical debates over Buddhist doctrine I’ve found a lot of the same absurdities you find every other religion. It seems that no matter how good the original insights are, there is always some joker who comes along and turns the whole thing into something else, misses the point completely and charges ahead with some other program.

I think we all know how that feels.