• And why is that?

    (Uh oh, channeling Stoller...)

  • A CBO study from 2004 suggested that the savings would be small.

    But - it doesn't show its workings (not saying I could understand them personally, but...) and expresses its conclusion in a disturbingly offhand fashion.

  • Wouldn't dream of suggesting a misspelling - nor even a mispelling... ;)

    Mr Google records 2,500 or so step into the breech -fairly respectable-looking sources, a lot of them - for 70,000 with breach.

    I suspect a lot of the writers thought breech was right - most of these allusions in these sayings are both ancient and obscure, so - perhaps this one was about a guy and a cannon; perhaps something a bit ickier...

  • comment on a post More Confusion From Clinton On Iraq over 6 years ago

    If, by some miracle, a joint res repealing the IWR passed Congress, Bush would veto it.

    The only value such a res could possibly have is political.

    And the Times piece says:

    her advisers say, a vote to withdraw authorization would make plain to antiwar and liberal Democrats that she was repudiating her 2002 vote. The hope among her aides was that demands by antiwar voters for her to apologize for her vote would be rendered moot.

    Now, that at least rises to the level of plausible.

  • comment on a post Since the Storm: Between Here and Rebuilding over 6 years ago

    A nice bit of serendipity that I should read your piece just after doing a little mooching round Wikipedia.

    So, that when I read,

    stepped into the breech

    I could instantly identify it as an eggcorn.

    (It quotes among others butt naked and nip it in the butt.)

    The term was only coined in 2003, apparently - which, given that the phenomenon must have existed since forever, I find slightly odd.

    (Mondegreen, a similar sort of scalpel term of popular linguistics, was invented in 1954. I only heard of it last year, again thanks to Mr Wikipedia.)

  • comment on a post FDR as Howard Dean: The Past is Prologue over 6 years ago

    I've done no work on the history of party organization, so I can't speak to the details of that.

    I am, though, a tad reticent about the use of historical analogy in present politics - taking warning from the obsession with Munich that infected post-war pols, not to mention the cakewalk crew that cheerled the Iraq war.

    And - you lose me with

    A lot can change in eight years.

    The indispensable prelude to the New Deal - in particular, the crescendo of Dem victories in the 32-36 Federal elections - was the fact that the Great Depression started in 1929.

    Now, whatever you say about the current regime, they won't have delivered three years of a depression by Nov 08. (More through luck than judgement, natch!)

    Also - there's no necessary connection with ideology and electoral effectiveness:

    You mention as backers of FDR's plan to reform the Dem party organization

    Davis, Cox, Hull, and Daniels

    I don't recognize any of them as liberals.

    Al Smith's problem in 24 was being wet and (most importantly) Catholic; even if this wasn't the acme of Klan influence in politics (in both parties), he wouldn't have stood a chance. (Think of JFK's need to deflect the Catholic question 36 years later.)

    The takeaway, I think, is that the DLC made progress in the 80s and 90s because they were prepared to organize; and then they rested on their laurels.

    Now, lefties are geared up to revive the organization, and, no doubt, they'll make progress.

    To the organizers, the spoils.

  • comment on a post the fallacy of implied constraint over 6 years ago

    I've been taking a breather from Iraq for the last few days, pending the veto.

    But - the basic choice that the Dems have is the same choice they've had since the start of the 110th: whether to confront the prez or not.

    Up till now, they've not pulled the trigger. And a gradual escalation is eminently understandable as a way of showing to voters statesmanship and slowness to resort to confrontation.

    Fine. But, assuming HR 1591 is vetoed, the choice to confront or back down arises.

    I'm inclined to agree with BTD that the chances of litigating any sort of germane question is as next to nil as makes no difference.

    (I'm no lawyer; and it's not as if there isn't a shedload of past cases in which something of the sort has been tried before. Had he suggested that there was a chance, I'd have felt duty bound to research it! But his view coincides with mine - so I won't. Yet.)

    I find it troubling that Pelosi should bring up the point; either she doesn't understand, or she's counting on her audience being suckered.

    So - the only way to confront is, indeed, the power of the purse.

    The power that both SASC chairman Levin and (if I remember correctly, Uncle Harry himself) have said there's no question of using.

    (I can't see those Blue Dogs being too keen, either.)

    When you say

    Speaker Pelosi, in using language counting on "the courts," really is implying the court of public opinion.

    I suspect you're being too generous to her.

    But if that had been what she meant, I'd agree.

    Trouble is, I don't think there's any way to bluff Bush: if she and Harry want to confront him, they have to deny funds.

    (A two month bill only puts off the evil day by - two months. Unless he decides to veto that as unprecedented and an insult to the executive branch!)

    They put in their whole stack - or they whistle Dixie.

  • n/t

  • Thanks for the tip!

  • on a comment on Left-Wing Hierarchies over 6 years ago

    What I was suggesting, perhaps a little obscurely, was that the CBC was unique (apart from the CHC) in being organized on the basis of ethnicity rather than ideology.

    The element that led to the CBC being created - race - is now much less salient in Congressional politics than in the late 60s.

    We know CBC members are to be found at all parts of the ideological spectrum covered by the Dem House party as a whole.

    It would be natural that, as race has become less salient (and as black reps have become a lot more numerous), the incentive to stifle differences in the cause of racial solidarity would have lessened.

    This is bound to be a gradual process; and the continuing presence in Congress of CBCers from the early days of the organization might well be a factor in maintaining cohesion.

    The dispute on the Fox debate that you highlight looks like an illustration of the tensions I'm pondering.

  • on a comment on Budget Bribery and Medical Costs over 6 years ago

    This is progress - and I'm not being sarcastic here. (Well, not too much, anyway...)

    If advocates of radical health reform - obviously not pols who have to get reelected, and must self-censor accordingly - were prepared to agree that they're relying on Medicare going bust (or something of like magnitude) for radical reform to stand a decent chance of getting enacted, I'd be happy to agree.

    Of course - I say, of course, but it's only just occurred to me - as healthcare inflation pushes the current system towards the cliff, the interests that will suffer from radical reform, notably the health insurers who (Deo volente) will be annihilated in the process, will exert themselves ever more strenuously to stop it falling over the edge.

    All sorts of jiggery-pokery, Enron accounting and chicanery will be employed.

    And pols who fear the loss of the gravy train more sharply than the revenge of voters who finally realize the extent of the fubar will prefer to put off the evil day as long as they can.

    I read a fair bit about healthcare reform in the lefty sphere; almost none of it is concerned with dealing with - or even acknowledging - these types of structural barriers to such reform.

    The way to start to tackle these barriers is to discuss them.

    My problem with foreseeable future probably arises from the fact that I don't foresee that discussion happening any time soon.

    But - I'm eager to be proved wrong on that count!

  • on a comment on Budget Bribery and Medical Costs over 6 years ago

    You yourself adduce yet further evidence of the institutional corruption with which the current system is riven.

    An intertwined system of interests which, if they couldn't leech on the nation's revenues, would, many of them, shrivel up and die.

    And a good many of the nation's legislators are willing to trade these immense benefits for the messes of pottage that you mention. Chickenfeed compared to what the businesses concerned get out of it.

    I point to the history of health care reform in the US, which, over 70 years, has been almost uniformly unsuccessful - the big success, Medicare, is the exception that proves the rule.

    That works two ways: it proves how difficult reform is (and was, even when the AMA was the only bad guy); and it explains, in part, the extreme reluctance of pols to take on the challenge.

    And all of that comes before any serious vote-counting.

    (I note that HR 676, the single-payer bill Conyers reintroduced this Congress, has accumulated 67 cosponsors, leaving 2/3rds of House Dems unwilling to make a show of support even for a bill they know they won't have to follow through with.)

    Now, the recent trustees report said (from memory) that Medicare is due to go bust in 2019. The way the gouging is going, I suspect the date will creep forward over the next few years.

    The best hope for radical reform is that, especially given the current rate of medical inflation, the cost will break the Medicare bank.

    All that is based on the evidence that I have.

    I'd love to be shown evidence that proves me to be wrong.

    But - not every problem has a solution. And my best judgement is that, in the short and medium term, healthcare reform is one of those problems.

  • on a comment on Budget Bribery and Medical Costs over 6 years ago

    I'd love to believe that the planet-sized weight of evidence against the current healthcare 'system' would bear on the political process so as to process a decent, efficient, cost-controlled alternative, without insurance company parasites and providers left to chisel unmolested.

    What I have yet to see is evidence of corresponding weight - or any weight at all - that this is likely to happen in the foreseeable future.

  • comment on a post Budget Bribery and Medical Costs over 6 years ago

    I didn't know about the dialysis bill - and forewarned is forearmed. (Especially when someone else has done the research!)

    But - how could this be used to advance the cause of universal health care?

    My sense would be that, even if the scam got missing white girl-level media coverage for a fortnight, it wouldn't leave the public any hotter under the collar about healthcare than they are now.

    Plus - those directly responsible for introducing UHC (the pols) are gunshy on a galactic scale: from FDR's social security bill, through Wagner-Murray-Dingell, the Nixon plan and Hillarycare, large-scale health reform has been an unhappy experience for pols concerned.

    (And Medicare was going nowhere before Oswald took aim.)

    The healthcare racket will continue largely unmolested, I'm afraid.

  • comment on a post Left-Wing Hierarchies over 6 years ago

    Where are the Irish, Italian, German, Polish, Jewish caucuses in the House?

    There aren't any (that I've heard of) because the political interests of those ethnic groups are not (sufficiently) correlated with ethnicity.

    The overwhelming dimension in politics is the left-right spectrum (the DW-NOMINATE 1st dimension), and that marmalizes ethnic factors.

    We know why the CBC happened. And its continued existence has been buttressed by such elements as VRA gerrymanders, the end of the Solid South and the overwhelming attachment of blacks to the Dem party.

    An organization that has experienced the sort of growth that the CBC has in the last 20 years has had no difficulty sustaining itself.

    But - it's fighting that 1st dimension all the time; and, as the civil rights era passes deeper into history, the 1st dimension will press ever harder on its cohesion.

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