There is no longer any need to get bogged down in this phony debate, which itself constitutes an abuse of the fair-mindedness of the rest of the media. One glance at Fox's Web site or five minutes randomly viewing the channel at any hour of the day demonstrates its all-pervasive political slant. [...] What's most distinctive about the American press is not its freedom but its tradition of independence—that it serves the public interest rather than those of parties, persuasions, or pressure groups. Media independence is a 20th-century innovation that has never fully taken root in Europe or many other countries that do have free press. The Australian-British-continental model of politicized media that Murdoch has implemented at Fox is un-American, so much so that he has little choice but go on denying what he's doing as he does it. For Murdoch, Ailes, and company, "fair and balanced" is a necessary lie. To admit that their coverage is slanted by design would violate the American understanding of the media's role in democracy and our idea of what constitutes journalistic fair play. But it's a demonstrable deceit that no longer deserves equal time.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Thursday, October 15, 2009
Among Democrats and liberals, there is a belief that Republican opposition to the various Democratic proposals represents a kind of "nihilism," and that because Baucuscare resembles proposals offered by liberal and moderate Republicans in the 1990s, today's opposition is obviously unprincipled if not insane. My sense is that we've learned a great deal about health reform over the intervening period, and that, as Christensen, Grossman, and Hwang have argued, it is disruptive competition that promises substantial improvement in the cost and quality of medical services over time. I'm increasingly convinced that the only way to move in this direction is to create a system of universal catastrophic coverage and universal health savings accounts, as proposed by Martin Feldstein and a number of others. The emerging consensus among congressional Democrats moves us in a very different direction, towards a highly centralized, highly regulated system that will give entrepreneurs very little room to dramatically improve care. With that in mind, I don't think opposition is "nihlistic"; rather, I think it's responsible.
If you are preoccupied with moral hazard, then you want people to pay for care with their own money, and, when you do that, the sick inevitably end up paying more than the healthy [...] "The main effect of putting more of it on the consumer is to reduce the social redistributive element of insurance," the Stanford economist Victor Fuchs says. Health Savings Accounts are not a variant of universal health care. In their governing assumptions, they are the antithesis of universal health care.
Saturday, October 10, 2009
"Mr. Crowley et al.: You are all completely nuts. You can refuse a Nobel Prize if you want to express contempt for those who award it, or those who have received it, but to do so for the kind of cockeyed political reasons mentioned above is just totally self-defeating. And I think he has accomplished more internationally, Afghanistan aside, than a lot of people want to realize. The speech to the Arab world, his work with G20 and at the U.N., the decision on the nuclear shield, and maybe even the Iran negotiations have all made an impression on the world if not on TNR bloggers.""All of these hideous attacks on this great honor to our President are the pinnacle of self indulgent, preening, arm chair nobody-ism. To a person, the attacks have made me sick, there's not a single decent point in any of them. If anyone deserves a Nobel, it is our brave President."
America became a feared and despised state under the rule of the Bush Administration. The brazen disregard for global opinion, the trampling of international law, and the overt environmental destruction were hallmarks of a Presidency determined to project American power at all costs. With one election, the world forgave, and almost forgot the tragic Bush years as a young black President who spoke of hope rather than hatred, and cooperation rather than force swept into power.
This monumental shift cannot and must not be underestimated.
...the Nobel Committee's decision to make Obama the only sitting U.S. president since Woodrow Wilson to receive the Nobel Peace Prize shows the committee's clear-headed assessment that Obama's "unclenched fist" approach to dealing with the world's most thuggish leaders has had a constructive, systemic impact on the world's expectations of itself. [...] What is brilliant about Obama and why he deserves the Nobel Peace Prize is that he is a global leader who clearly saw the gains that could be made in changing "the optics" of the global order, upgrading the level of respect between the United States and other nations, making a point of listening to other leaders.
Obama saw that before the world could move to a more stable and better global equilibrium, it had to believe it could -- and this is what Obama has done in ways that no other leader has in memory.
But the unmistakable message of the award is one of the consequences of a period in which the most powerful country in the world, the 'hyper-power' as the French have it, became the focus of destabilization and in real if limited ways lawlessness. A harsh judgment, yes. But a dark period. And Obama has begun, if fitfully and very imperfectly to many of his supporters, to steer the ship of state in a different direction. If that seems like a meager accomplishment to many of the usual Washington types it's a profound reflection of their own enablement of the Bush era and how compromised they are by it, how much they perpetuated the belief that it was 'normal history' rather than dark aberration.
Sometimes I feel like I'm living in a parallel dimension where everything is inverted. Accepting the Nobel Prize makes you look bad? It's narcissistic to accept prizes from other people?
I am gobsmacked that some Democrats want the president to turn down the prize for his own good. What message would that send to the rest of the world? Something along the lines of 'Thanks, guys, but I'm really all about war'?
Of course the Republicans are going to freak out. Our guy wins a Nobel Peace Prize after 9 months in office, primarily for tinkering with the worst excesses of the wars their guy started. That's humiliating. Humiliated Republicans lash out, news at eleven.
But turning it down would be a slap in the face to an international community that is showing, in the most generous way possible, that it wants the U.S. back as a leading component of the global order. The issue is not Barack Obama. It’s what the president represents internationally: a symbol of an America that is willing, once again, to drive the international system forward, together, toward the humane positive-sum goals of peace and disarmament. The fact that Obama hasn’t gotten the planet there misses the point entirely. It’s that he’s beginning, slowly, to take the world again down the path.
I thought he won because he blew up the moon and ended the wicked tides that plague the planet, but I notice this morning the moon is still there, so one more massive failure.
Friday, October 9, 2009
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
Dan Dennett talked about interviews with active priests and ministers who are atheists, and also mounted a hilarious attack on theologians like Karen Armstrong, who mouth pious nonsense like, “God is the God behind God.” Dennett calls this kind of language a “deepity”: a statement that has two meanings, one of which is true but superficial, the other which sounds profound but is meaningless. His exemplar of a deepity is the statement “Love is just a word.” True, it’s a word like “cheeseburger,” but the supposed deeper sense is wrong: love is an emotion, a feeling, a condition, and not just a word in the dictionary. He gave several examples of other deepities from academic theologians; when you see these things laid out — ripped from their texts — in a Powerpoint slide, they make you realize how truly fatuous are the lucubrations of people like Armstrong, Eagleton, and Haught. Sarcasm will be the best weapon against this stuff.