What remains of health care reform
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What remains of health care reform

The Institute of Medicine’s methodology says 22,000 people died in 2006 because they didn’t have health-care coverage. A recent Harvard study found the number nearer to 45,000. Since we talk about the costs of health-care reform over a 10-year period, may as well talk about the lives saved that way, too. And we’re looking, easily, at more than a hundred thousand lives, to say nothing of the people who will be spared bankruptcy, chronic pain, unnecessary impairment, unnecessary caretaking, bereavement, loss of wages, painful surgeries, and so on.

A lot of progressives woke up this morning feeling like they lost. They didn’t. The public option and its compromised iterations were a battle that came to seem like a war. But they weren’t the war. The bill itself was. When liberals talked about the dream of universal health-care insurance 10, 20 and 30 years ago, they talked about the plight of the uninsured, not the necessity of a limited public option in competition with private insurers.

Ezra Klein on what remains in health care reform. Yes, it’s still worth passing the bill. In sports terminology, passing the bill that’s out there now constitutes “escaping with a win,” not losing.

Update: Please also read Why Progressives Are Batshit Crazy to Oppose the Senate Bill, by Nate Silver.

Update: Kevin Drum:

Ten years ago this bill would have seemed a godsend. The fact that it doesn’t now is a reflection of higher aspirations from the left, and that’s great.

Update: Here’s one proposal for how health care reform should have been handled, politically. It reads like a joke to me. How many Senators were against more substantial reform and letting Olympia Snowe, Susan Collins, Joe Lieberman, and Ben Nelson take the flack? I suspect that Rahm Emanuel and Harry Reid have a better count than I do, and that the number is far greater than zero. Yglesias names a few of them in his post.

The GOP and identity politics
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The GOP and identity politics

This assertion by Tom Schaller at fivethirtyeight.com strikes me as completely true:

In other words, although the end-of-life use of Medicare is a government problem that violates almost every philosophy they espouse about the proper role of government—public sector over private; easily exploited by, rather than protected from, trial lawyers; a moral hazard, consequence-free billing system as opposed to rational, need-based spending; a program with rising outlays as opposed to slow or zero growth outlays—Medicare is instead the very program they are rallying behind.

And why? For votes—specifically the votes of those angry, mostly-white seniors upon whom they are betting their electoral fortunes in 2010 and beyond. In short, the GOP has now become so wedded to its dying, white majority that it is willing to sacrifice not only good public policy and smart long-term budgeting, but its very own core principles. Their politically-motivated, 180-degree defense of Medicare and their inflammatory rhetoric about death panels proves that the GOP is now the party paralyzed by identity politics.

Links for September 7
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Links for September 7

  • John Gruber: Regarding WordPress and Security. I think the number of people who should be running and maintaining their own content management system keeps getting smaller. The hosted blog tools are really good, and keeping everything running properly really is a pain.
  • Nate Silver: A Trigger — With Teeth? A trigger clause for the public option could be a good idea if the trigger is likely to kick in without real changes on the part of private insurers and if the public option is robust.
  • Chris Dixon: Is now a good time to start a company? The economy is not great, but I still don’t see a lot of good programmers out looking for jobs.
Links for September 5
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Links for September 5

Matt Taibbi on health care reform
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Matt Taibbi on health care reform

Matt Taibbi has written what to me looks like the definitive account of the health care reform process thus far. I can’t find a thing in it to argue with. The most frustrating thing about it is that I have a hard time seeing how it could have gone any differently. It’s not as though anyone can point to any one bad decision that would have made things go more easily — this is how our government works.

The one thing that really does disappoint me is that when campaigning for President, Barack Obama said he would break through the gridlock in Washington by going directly to the people and getting them to put pressure on Congress to enact important reforms. I’m not sure whether he’s to blame for not harnessing the public effectively, or the public is responsible for not answering when he called. But we’re now stuck with the same dysfunctional lawmaking process that we’ve had for as long as I can remember.

Not only are we stuck with a government that is incapable of effectiveness, but we are stuck with a populace that is unwilling to demand effectiveness. The most energized portion of the electorate is operating in a fever dream of paranoia and stupidity so deep that they are indistinguishable from followers of Lyndon LaRouche.

Links for August 27
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Links for August 27

  • Simon St Laurent looks at reasons why there’s buzz around HTML again.
  • Mac OS X Automation explains Services in Snow Leopard (my copy arrives tomorrow). Via Daring Fireball.
  • A new poll reveals that people don’t actually even know what the public option is. The public option is a government-managed insurance plan that will compete with plans from private insurers in an exchange, available to individuals and small businesses that do not participate in group insurance. Here’s a longer explanation. In the meantime, the current Republican talking point seems to be that Medicare is a poorly run government program that we should preserve at all costs.
  • The MySQL Performance Blog looks at the Redis database. Redis is one of those schema-less databases people are all talking about these days.
  • Matt Raible takes a look at Java REST frameworks.
  • The UK is looking at plastic alternatives to traditional pub glasses. That wins my “stupidest thing I read today” award. Via Bruce Schneier.
Links for August 26
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Links for August 26

  • Nefarious idea of the day: requiring users to view and regurgitate an ad to prove that they’re human. (Microsoft has applied for a patent on this approach.)
  • Frank Bruni’s final column as the New York Times restaurant critic. I loved his advice for navigating a menu, which ends with, “Then scratch off anything that mentions truffle oil. Choose among the remaining dishes.”
  • By way of the Footnotes of Mad Men, a newsreel from the 1964 World’s Fair. Worth watching for the explanation of computers alone.
  • Andrew Sullivan on the American way of torture. I’m just going to keep linking to this stuff until I stop encountering people who believe that the way we have treated detainees does not constitute torture.
  • Hypocrisy watch: we send Bill Clinton to North Korea to retrieve US journalists who have been unjustly imprisoned, and we also imprison Iraqi journalists without charging them with any crimes.
  • Today’s compromise is tomorrow’s landmark legislation. Let’s pass a health care reform bill.
  • Ted Kennedy was the first member of Congress with an official Web site.
Links for August 25
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Links for August 25

  • Glenn Greenwald on what all Americans should know about the 2004 CIA Inspector General’s report that was released on Monday.
  • Alex Tabarrok (the more doctrinaire libertarian half of the team at Marginal Revolution) explains why you must have a public option if health care reform will include an individual mandate. Further proof that I was completely wrong in arguing that the public option is not necessary.
  • Spencer Ackerman explains the insidiousness of torture — once you’ve embarked on a program of torture, the logical response to not getting the information you expect is to order more torture.
  • If you’re trying to embed Google Maps in your Web site and want to start with a centered map of the United States, Lebanon, Kansas is the spot.
  • Today I was trying to come up with good ways to avoid mixing JavaScript code with PHP code. Here’s a Stack Overflow question on the topic. I almost wonder whether using AJAX is better than writing PHP that emits JavaScript.