Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Unamiguously True

McEstimate: Any figure given by the Business and Economics editor of the Atlantic or an equally reliable source (Bill Kristol, Sarah Palin, Joe the Plumber, an anonymous tea party organizer, your dog, your neighbor’s toddler, your own personal peyote-induced vision that you had while vomiting tequila and bile through your nose onto yourself at sunrise at Burning Man) in which it is just generally acknowledged that the actual number most probably is either higher or lower by a factor of ten.

For example, I might state: “The last time I had my IQ checked, it was 1300, but that is just a McEstimate.”

See also:

Within an order of megantude—close enough to be published.

Ezra Klein:
Paul Ryan's plan would end Medicare as we know it
"The Democrats' political machine has attacked my contribution to this debate," wrote Paul Ryan, "making the false claim that the only solution put forward to save Medicare would 'end Medicare as we know it.'"

This is a baffling line of argument. There's nothing false about the claim that Ryan's plan would end Medicare as we know it. In fact, it's unambiguously true. Currently, Medicare is a government-run insurer that pays the health-care costs of all senior citizens. Under Ryan's plan, senior citizens would be given vouchers that they could use toward private insurance. Poor seniors would get more-generous vouchers, and rich seniors would get less-generous vouchers. The way Ryan saves money is by holding the growth of the vouchers beneath the growth of health-care costs, so as care costs more and more, the vouchers cover less and less.

This might be a good reform or it might be a bad reform, but it's undoubtedly a wholesale transformation of Medicare. Ryan should argue that this is a good thing, rather than try to obscure what he's attempting to do.

Tapper: President Obama on Senate Republicans: 'Obstruct More? Is That Even Possible?'

ABC News' David Kerley and Karen Travers report:

President Obama kicked off a three-day, five state campaign fundraising swing in Milwaukee this afternoon, stumping for Wisconsin Democratic gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett.

While he did the usual cheerleading of the local candidate, Obama once again turned his attention to Republicans in Washington.

Republicans driving the car into the ditch, wrong economic policies for the nation, need to move forward not backward – all of that was included in the president’s remarks but he also had some fresh material courtesy of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

In an interview with the New York Times McConnell said charges that he blocked the president’s agenda are okay by him because of the results.

“I am amused with their comments about obstructionism,” McConnell said to the Times. “I wish we had been able to obstruct more. They were able to get the health care bill through. They were able to get the stimulus through. They were able to get the financial reform through. These were all major pieces of legislation, and if I would have had enough votes to stop them, I would have.”

Today Obama used McConnell’s comment to paint the Republican Party in general as the party of “no.”

“Obstruct more? Is that even possible?,” he said.

Obama said the Republicans have a twist on his campaign slogan, “Yes We Can.”

“These guys slogan is ‘No we can’t,’” the president said. “Clean energy? No we can’t. Health care? No we can’t. Wall Street reform? no we can’t.”

The event raised around $325,000 for Barrett’s campaign and the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.

Obama now heads to Los Angeles for a fundraiser at the home of John Wells, the executive producer of "E.R." and "The West Wing.”

The event is expected to bring in around $1 million and feature some Hollywood star power like Jeffrey Jacob "J. J." Abrams, co-creator of "Lost" is expected, as is producer/screenwriter Judd Apatow and director James L. Brooks.

-David Kerley and Karen Travers

John Cole: Peter Beinart Is Shrill

And right:

Remember when George W. Bush and his neoconservative allies used to say that the “war on terror” was a struggle on behalf of Muslims, decent folks who wanted nothing more than to live free like you and me? Remember when Karen Hughes paid millions to produce glitzy videos of Muslim Americans testifying about how free they were to practice their religion in the USA? Remember Bush’s second inaugural, when he said “America’s ideal of freedom” is “sustained in our national life by the truths of Sinai, the Sermon on the Mount, the words of the Koran?”

Once upon a time, Republicans were so confident that the vast majority of Muslims preferred freedom to jihad that they believed the U.S. could install democracy in Iraq within months. Now, confronted with a group of Muslim Americans who want to build a cultural center that includes Jews and Christians on the board (how many churches and synagogues do that?), GOP leaders call them terrorists because they don’t share Benjamin Netanyahu’s view of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Once upon a time, the “war on terror” was supposed to bring American values to Saudi Arabia. Now Newt Gingrich says we shouldn’t build a mosque in Lower Manhattan until the Saudis build churches and synagogues in Mecca—which is to say, we’re bringing Saudi values to the United States. I wonder how David Petraeus feels about all this. There he is, slogging away in the Hindu Kush, desperately trying to be culturally sensitive, watching GIs get killed because Afghans believe the U.S. is waging a war on Islam, and back home, the super-patriots on Fox News have… declared war on Islam.

So please, no more talk about those idealistic neoconservatives who are willing to expend blood and treasure so Afghans and Iraqis can live free. People in Basra and Kandahar had better hope that America’s counterinsurgency warriors create a society in which they can practice their religion free of intimidation and insult. Because it’s now clear they can’t do so on the lower tip of the island of Manhattan.

Not sure how the president is furiously backtracking, as Beinart asserts, but that is a minor quibble over an excellent and deserved rant.

McMorris-Santoro (TPM): Tea Partiers Say Net Neutrality Hurts Freedom

The tea party, a movement whose success on the grassroots level is in many ways attributable to the power of free and open Internet communications, is joining the growing conservative crusade against the FCC's plan to enforce net neutrality on internet service providers. According to one tea partier involved in the effort, the movement is opposing net neutrality because "it's an affront to free speech and free markets."

The push toward an Internet regulated by corporations rather than government seems to be a new part of the tea party agenda, with fears mounting that the Obama administration's push for net neutrality is, essentially, the next cap-and-trade, government health care takeover or any of the myriad other socialist plots of the past year and a half.

As The Hill's Sara Jerome reports, "35 Tea Party groups" across the country have joined a coalition of conservative groups calling on the FCC "not to boost its authority over broadband providers through a controversial process known as reclassification." The coalition recently sent a letter to the FCC calling on the government agency to keep its hand off the Internet.

One of the groups who signed the letter was the Fountain Hills Tea Party in Arizona. Like many, many grassroots tea party groups across the country, Fountain Hills has a Ning social networking site, as well as a more traditional homepage, both key to communicating with members. Supporters of net neutrality often suggest that it's smaller sites like these that would suffer the most under the tiered Internet plan ISPs are expected to establish if no government rules require them to treat all Internet traffic equally.

Much like the Netroots movement, the tea party's communication and information dissemination is fueled by online tools. In addition to Ning, tea partiers are avid tweeters, skypers, YouTubers and Facebookers. Yet their seeming embrace of an Internet divvied up and defined by corporate deals puts them at odds with their Internet-savvy colleagues on the left, who have clamored for net neutrality for years.

Peter Bordow, a leader of the Fountain Hills Tea Party, told me that he's not completely ready to make a firm judgment on net neutrality yet, but he leans toward opposing it. He has some experience with the issue, having provided Internet services to customers in the past. (The letter to the FCC is signed by Jeff Cohen, another leader of Fountain Hills. But Bordow told me that his group "did not, as an organization, sign any position or opinion letter of any kind regarding net neutrality.")

"To be completely honest, I have seen and heard fairly compelling arguments on both sides of this issue," he said Friday. "As a former ISP owner, and strong believer in the free market, I tend to oppose legislation that gives appointed bureaucrats the power to tell (and enforce) how companies design and deliver their services to their customers."

In an email, Bordow broke down his concerns as a web-friendly tea partier when it comes to net neutrality:

It is possible (and may in fact even be predictable) that this ability to selectively throttle traffic could be used to "unfairly" limit certain traffic (Internet destinations) to users. I just don't think it is the Government's responsibility (or within their enumerated powers) to legislate powers to appointed bureaucrats to decide "what is fair".

History shows us again and again that whenever the power to decide "what is fair" is given to Government officials and/or appointed bureaucrats, there is far more propensity and opportunity for abuse of this power. It is only when free citizens and the free market are able to flex their collective purchasing muscle that we can be sure that this power is not abused.

So there you have it: on balance, tea partiers would rather leave companies in charge of the Internet because, as Bordow says, that's safer than another government bureaucracy. Indeed, Jamie Radtke, a leader of the Virginia Tea Party Patriot Federation and another signatory on the letter, told The Hill's Jerome that the Obama administration push for net neutrality was the same kind of government encroachment the tea party movement opposes on fronts like health care and direct intervention in the economy. Radtke said to expect the tea party to become a vocal part of the opposition to net neutrality rules as the debate continues to heat up.

"I think the clearest thing is it's an affront to free speech and free markets," Radtke told the paper. "There are so many assaults on individual liberties -- the EPA, net neutrality, cap-and-trade, card-check; the list goes on -- that sometimes the Tea Party doesn't know where to start its battles."

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