A thinking liberal spanks the Democrats

I don’t think I’ve ever heard anything that Fareed Zakaria ever said that I disagreed with, and I can’t think of another liberal journalist of whom I can say that. (Granted, I haven’t heard more than a fraction of what he’s said!)

At any rate, in his latest Washington Post piece he goes after the Democrats, including the mystifyingly popular Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for prizing emotions over facts and proposing programs that have no realistic chance of being enacted. It’s not that he opposes the sentiments underlying the proposals, for he agrees with them, as do I (universal healthcare, higher taxes, and so on); it’s just that he has more sensible alternatives.

One excerpt:

In their zeal to match the sweeping rhetoric of right-wing populism, Democrats are spinning out dramatic proposals in which facts are sometimes misrepresented, the numbers occasionally don’t add up, and emotional appeal tends to trump actual policy analysis.

. . .Universal health care is an important moral and political goal. But the U.S. system is insanely complex, and getting from here to single-payer would probably be so disruptive and expensive that it’s not going to happen. There is a path to universal coverage that is simpler: Switzerland has one of the best health-care systems in the world, and it’s essentially Obamacare with a real mandate. No one on the left is talking about such a model, likely because it feels too much like those incremental policies of the past.

Or consider the tax proposals being tossed around on the left, including a wealth tax championed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.). I understand the appeal of tapping into those vast accumulations of billionaire loot. But there is a reason nine of the 12 European countries that instituted similar taxes have repealed them in the last 25 years. They massively distort economic activity, often incentivizing people to hide assets, devalue them and create dummy corporations. Faced with a wealth tax, most rich people would likely value and transfer assets the questionable way that Fred Trump did in passing his fortune on to his children.

There are smarter, better ways to address inequality — raise the capital gains tax to the same level as income taxes; increase the estate tax; and get rid of the massive loopholes that make the U.S. tax code one of the most complex and corrupt in the world. But again, this is less stirring stuff than burning the billionaires.

Or, if you don’t want to read the piece, most of Zakaria’s statements are in the video below:

Here Ocasio-Cortez takes full credit for the “Green New Deal”, which is good in principle but suffers precisely from what Zakaria pinpoints above. She then proclaims that until someone else produces a better Green New Deal, “I’m the boss!” Sorry, but she works for the American people, though she doesn’t seem to have realized that. She is the very model of a modern Authoritarian Leftist.


  1. Posted February 25, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    I’ve got nothing but an amen, and a sub to get comments. However, A. Occasional Cortex does come to mind.

  2. Posted February 25, 2019 at 12:16 pm | Permalink

    Ho Ho. At first seeing the top line I wondered if a thinking liberal might be an oxymoron.

    Your thoughts on line and enjoyable listened to his tv yesterday and have been telling my “liberal” or “progressive friends” who know I am pushing for a better way to provide care for wellness, that the Medicare for all has too many details and we need to think together, from all ends, how to provide health care without profiteering

    • Jim Swetnam
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 12:51 pm | Permalink

      I always feel like I’ve entered an alternate universe whenever a conservative calls liberals stupid.

  3. Brian Jung
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 12:24 pm | Permalink

    I also like Fareed a lot, and I agree with a lot of what he’s saying and you’re underlining.

    But as for the “I’m the boss” comment, it’s a little much to rush to label it authoritarian. In fact, in context, she’s simply asking to see competing plans. I’d say calling for discussion and debate is pretty democratic.

    Sure she’s trolling the right–they are incredibly easy for her to troll–because they have no climate change plan and aren’t going to come up with one since they continue to promote denialism.

    So on climate change, AOC may not personally be the boss, but Dems are for sure.

    • Ken Kukec
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 2:35 pm | Permalink

      “Sure she’s trolling the right–they are incredibly easy for her to troll–because they have no climate change plan and aren’t going to come up with one since they continue to promote denialism.”

      The Right has no plan to combat climate change, just as it had no plan to replace Obamacare. The Republicans took 70 meaningless votes to repeal the ACA while Obama was in office. Despite this — and despite Trump’s repeated pledges on the campaign trail to replace Obamacare with something better and more affordable for all — when they finally had the chance, they came with zip, zero, zilch.

      It’s the same with climate change. Hell, they won’t even admit it exists. Here’s what Trump’s new UN ambassador designee, the Stepford wife of Kentucky coal billionaire and GOP megadonor Joe Craft, has had to say on the topic:

      REPORTER: Do you, yourself, believe in climate change?

      CRAFT: I believe there are sciences on both sides that are accurate.

      REPORTER: You believe there’s science that proves that man is not causing climate change?

      CRAFT: Well, I think that both sides have, you know they have, their own, umm … results from their studies. And I appreciate and I respect both sides of the science.

      With the Republicans it’s always the same old fuck-the-poor and despoil-the-environment routine as it ever was — except now it’s smothered under a seething ratatouille nicoise of Trump’s own resentments, fears, animosity, and bigotry.

      • JezGrove
        Posted February 25, 2019 at 3:37 pm | Permalink

        Very nicely put.

      • BJ
        Posted February 25, 2019 at 4:31 pm | Permalink

        ” Hell, they won’t even admit it exists. ”

        You always do this. You always say, “they” (referring to Republicans) and then you present one example. And there are quite a few examples, to be sure. But most Republican Representatives and Senators I’ve seen in the past few years now answer in the affirmative when asked if they believe climate change exists.

        • Posted February 25, 2019 at 4:35 pm | Permalink

          Unless they have reason to believe Trump is listening.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 25, 2019 at 5:33 pm | Permalink

          According to a Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll conducted just two months ago, a clear majority of Republicans — 56% — continue to deny climate change. Do Republicans (who for two years had control of all three branches of the federal government) have some legislative master plan for addressing the climate-change crisis? ‘Cause I haven’t heard one. By their words and deeds shall we know them.

          (Plus, you know me, Beej; bitchin’ about the rightwing is what I do. Helps me blow off steam and maintain my sunny, equanimous disposition.

          You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry.)

          • Posted February 25, 2019 at 6:06 pm | Permalink

            With that kind of percentage, it seems clear that their climate change “opinion” is ideologically driven rather than by careful consideration of scientific reporting. This is also true of the Dems, of course, but at least they are on the side of virtually all scientists. Still, it is sad to think that, as a nation, we are pretty much voting on climate change down party lines.

  4. Mark R.
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    But if you want to get votes, you need to appeal to emotion not logic. I understand and agree with Zakara’s points, but that isn’t how politics works (at least in America). I wish it did, but it simply doesn’t.

    • Posted February 25, 2019 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

      I agree emotional or dazzle is more important than logic or reason. And lots of Americans love AOC. What percentage of the middle would she grab. I think the discussion of how the people will or may vote makes it unlikely.
      But, there may be sufficient young and middle, and a few old folks like me, who will be swayed by need for green and health
      Be fun to watch.

  5. Posted February 25, 2019 at 12:29 pm | Permalink

    AOC is nothing if not a creation of the media, and not just from the left, as Republicans are *so* apoplectic over her, they are fueling her rise to stardom.

    Ocasio-Cortez is Expected to debut in May as a comic book hero, from independent press Devil’s Due Comics, “–which is quick to point out that Ocasio-Cortez has not endorsed the project.”

    : https://i.guim.co.uk/img/media/fab8e8e1c18b94434368a4d013adcd96a92f8962/0_216_963_790/master/963.jpg?width=620&quality=45&auto=format&fit=max&dpr=2&s=5eb0409df6f0178e24b07983bbdb41fe

  6. Posted February 25, 2019 at 12:35 pm | Permalink

    I like AOC for her energy. She’s certainly correct in saying that making proposals is better than not making them but that’s a pretty shallow point. What worries me most about her is her apparent lack of intellectual integrity.

    First, she’s said that being on the right moral side of things is more important than being factually correct. Arguments are worthless if you are going to lie, or even detrimental to your cause. We’ve had enough of that with the current administration.

    In the video above, she uses one of the most childish responses in the book to respond to criticism. Essentially, “If you have a better plan, let’s hear it.” Just vacuous. She needs to be taken down a notch and soon. She’s starting to hurt the party. I certainly don’t want her to give in to the trolling coming from the Right but she’s in way over her head and not adjusting properly, at least so far.

    • rickflick
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

      “If you have a better plan, let’s hear it.”

      That may be the trigger that leads to great things. It’s not vacuous if it gets attention to a problem and lends it urgency. It may sound childish, but I give her credit for pushing an agenda that leans in the correct direction. I’m waiting to see how this plays out.

      • Posted February 25, 2019 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

        “If you have a better plan, let’s hear it.”

        When an interviewer asks AOC how she intends to fund her plan, this is NOT a reasonable response. It simply evades the perfectly reasonable question. Besides, the interviewer is certainly not in a position to present their own plan. This is what I mean by lack of intellectual integrity.

        • rickflick
          Posted February 25, 2019 at 8:20 pm | Permalink

          The Green New Deal has started a conversation. Let’s hope it leads to realistic legislation down the road. I think Cortez is not quite ready for prime time.

    • Curtis
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      “making proposals is better than not making them.”
      A stupid but emotionally appealing proposal can often be harmful.
      1) If you make a stupid, pie-in-the-sky proposal that keeps anything from being enacted, you have caused harm.
      2) If you make a stupid proposal that gets enacted that is worse than the status quo, you have caused harm.
      3) If you get a proposal enacted that is better than the status quo but worse than a less emotionally attractive proposal, you probably have caused harm.

      I will vote for a third party candidate over anyone who advocates for the new green deal. I am a both a never-Trump and never-Idiot.

      • Posted February 25, 2019 at 3:45 pm | Permalink

        I agree with your disdain for a purely emotionally appealing plan, but I think you are premature on your judgement with respect to a potential New Green Deal. At this point it is merely a name and a rallying cry. I would be right behind you if it was summer 2020 and the Dems still hadn’t fleshed out their New Green Deal in a pragmatic way.

        +1 on never-Trump and never-Idiot.

  7. randallschenck
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 12:53 pm | Permalink

    I saw his piece on Sunday on his show. He is correct and at some point the Demos have to land on a plan that all will go with and stop just throwing out ideas to see what sticks. The old guy Bernie does the same thing. Everyone should get free college, full health care, good jobs, on and on. But no financial backing to get there. It is okay to talk about these things as good but to say this is the platform come hell or high water just doesn’t make it. I did not think it would be a good idea for Biden to jump in as there are already 10 running but maybe he should. The idea here is for the Demos to beat Trump or whoever is on the other side. Promising everything is like running for class president in grade school. Vote for me and we will eat candy everyday.

    • Posted February 25, 2019 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

      I think the Dems are torn between two strategies: (a) pure anti-Trump and (b) having a compelling vision of their own. The first seems safe and may be enough this time around. The second is riskier as the electorate may not like the vision but, arguably, Hillary lost on lack of vision. It’s a tough call. I guess I come down on the side of having a compelling vision.

      The vision can’t be too pie-in-the-sky but, on the other hand, it needs to be bold. It is reasonable at this stage of the campaigns to start with bold and not worry too much about paying for it or other such practicalities. By the time we get to a single nominee, I expect the vision will be scaled back and the practicalities addressed.

      • randallschenck
        Posted February 25, 2019 at 1:34 pm | Permalink

        Maybe but don’t forget last time. Bernie came on strong with lots of big promises during the campaign. He got a big following with all his promises and when he didn’t get the nomination lots of people pulled out and did not vote or voted for Trump. The problem I think with the democrats is that they never land on anything together. My advice to all those running right now is spend time going after Trump and less time promising the moon.

      • Posted February 25, 2019 at 6:07 pm | Permalink

        You’re right as usual. Another thing is that the Democrats need to stop negotiating with themselves before negotiating with the Republicans. Obama did that with his stimulus plan and wound up with a considerably longer Great Recession than we might have had.

        • Posted February 25, 2019 at 6:21 pm | Permalink

          Thanks for the kind words.

          I agree with you. The Dems need to agree on their approach to all these issues. I hope they are meeting on their platform behind closed doors but I get the feeling they aren’t. Their party leadership is just not strong enough to go up against the likes of AOC, Bernie, and the rest. Not counting Pelosi, of course, who has her hands full running the House. Of course, the many Dem candidates are seeking to differentiate themselves from each other so perhaps it is too early to hope for much coherence.

  8. merilee
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 1:06 pm | Permalink

    Fareed’s terrific. I tape his Sunday morning GPS every week and usually watch it that evening. Excellent comments on the Dems.

  9. Jim Swetnam
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 1:24 pm | Permalink

    I think the personal criticisms of AOC rather miss the point. Like it or not populism is a potent force in politics, both for good as well as ill. The will of the people. AOC has a voice that many of us have been hungering for, sharp, loud, fucking impertinent. I, personally am damned tired of puffed up pundits kissing neo-liberal ass. I can’t forget that Zakaria initially supported the Iraq invasion. That should be the litmus test for any pundit’s credibility. I mean, really, how may of you really believed ever that that was a good idea? Yup, AOC’s is as green as grass abd she doesn’t always get her facts straight. Time will tell. An even better outcome would be if the ossified Democrats in the DNC caught some of her fire.

    • DrBrydon
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

      For all those reason I am neither impressed by her or Trump, whose supporters often say similar things about his in-your-face attitude. We need less of this, not more.

      • Jim Swetnam
        Posted February 25, 2019 at 2:29 pm | Permalink

        Admirable attitude. Politics now have become much messier , sadly. In-your-face? Well, yeah, tit for tar tat. And I do think it will get votes.

      • Jim Swetnam
        Posted February 25, 2019 at 2:39 pm | Permalink

        Admirable attitude. You sound like a very sensible person. However this is a lukewarm position, like so many held by the “sensible people.” In normal times I would agree, but we face existential challenges (no hyperbole) coming from an energized base of ignorance and insanity. I want some one yelling about this.

    • Posted February 25, 2019 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

      I agree, mostly, but AOC is not just getting her facts wrong occasionally. She is hinting that having a plan and the right attitude is more important than getting facts straight. We’ve had enough of that, thanks. We have to convince her that maintaining truth is the only way to go.

      • Jenny Haniver
        Posted February 25, 2019 at 4:56 pm | Permalink


      • Posted February 25, 2019 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

        She lives in an alternate reality, and her approach is identical to another delusional tyro & radical who suddenly gained power, Mussolini.

        • Mark R.
          Posted February 25, 2019 at 9:35 pm | Permalink

          Comparing AOC to Mussolini? Why flaunt this stupid comparison? Man, you must really hate that woman.

          • Posted February 26, 2019 at 10:47 am | Permalink

            What do you know of Mussolini’s early history and sudden rise to power?

            • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:04 am | Permalink

              I suspect you know more of Mussolini’s early career than we do. What are the parallels with AOC? You owe us that much.

              • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:30 am | Permalink

                * Outspoken member of a radical fringe party with little practical work, and no political, experience (Mussolini was a ne’er-do-well who published the small newspaper of a fringe party; AOC was a barmaid and member of SDA);

                * Purveyor of grand, sweeping, but vague ‘solutions’ to the nation’s ills, concocted in an echo chamber of like-minded ideologues divorced from the real world;

                * As a perceived remedy to political stalemate and ineptitude, thrust into a national leadership position to ‘shake things up’ with ‘fresh ideas’ and personal energy (Mussolini by the king; AOC by the media and left);

                * Belief in the power of will, both of themselves and of the nation, over pragmatic concerns (“The Leader” Mussolini’s call to the spirit of Roman Empire; “The Boss” AOC believing she’s the first person to propose plans, and prioritizing being “morally right” over being “semantically correct”).

              • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:33 am | Permalink

                By that analysis practically every young politician is a budding Mussolini. I wonder what event pushes them over into fascism? Any clues?

                BTW, you are really tough on barmaids.

              • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:45 am | Permalink

                No, most politicians make a career then enter politics. They then work their way up the ladder, gradually gaining experience and forming alliances. The public is always eager for a political messiah, however.

                Mere brass tacks separate the authoritarian Left from the Authoritarian Right. Both seek to forcibly impose radical solutions. Mussolini bounced around various political ideologies, and the fascists began with many socialist elements. AOC is already an authoritarian radical; she doesn’t need to be pushed over the edge.

              • Posted February 26, 2019 at 12:06 pm | Permalink

                The fact that AOC is so young and inexperienced does explain a lot. I think most of us here would prefer she be a little quieter and learn on the job. She probably should have run for local office and moved up the ladder gradually. Still, that’s a long way from calling her Mussolini.

                AOC is not forcing anyone to do anything that I can see. She’s signed up to represent her district in Congress where they vote on legislation. You are just afraid her arguments will sway people and enact legislation with which you don’t agree. Too bad. Take solace in that all three branches of government have to agree before it becomes law.

              • Posted February 26, 2019 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

                Huh? I want comprehensive and aggressive legislation to combat climate change. I just don’t want a delusional airhead screwing it up.

              • Posted February 27, 2019 at 11:19 am | Permalink

                She’s a freshman representative. No way does she have the power to “screw it up”. You’re starting to sound like Fox News. They have a blatant, over-the-top campaign to call AOC the leader of the Democrats and then trash her. Evidently they’ve decided she’s an easier target than Nancy Pelosi.

              • Posted February 27, 2019 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

                Ha, don’t blame Fox: all the media are obsessed with AOC. No way should a freshmen rep who isn’t even a true Dem be allowed to drive the agenda like this. The NGD is an unworkable pipe dream that makes the Dems look foolish, yet several senior Dem congress members have signed on. Now the debate is whether to do the NGD or nothing.

                If the Dem leadership thought AOC would just fade away after while, they need to rethink that and shut this brat down now.

              • Posted February 26, 2019 at 12:03 pm | Permalink

                P.S. I like barmaids. It’s just, the overlap between the skillset for being a good barmaid, and that for being a national political leader tackling our biggest problems, is virtually non-existant.

              • Posted February 26, 2019 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

                I had a paper delivery route when I was a kid but I try not to let it define me.

              • Posted February 26, 2019 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

                I don’t know Matt – I think that a skilled barmaid might be able to get Trump to do anything she wants!

              • rickflick
                Posted February 26, 2019 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

                Jesus and Mo’s barmaid makes up for all the bad ones. Maybe she should make a run.

              • Posted February 26, 2019 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

                Yes, barmaid might be a good preparation for a life in politics now that I think about it.

              • rustybrown
                Posted February 26, 2019 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

                Ya know who else was a barmaid? Hitler.

        • Posted February 25, 2019 at 11:14 pm | Permalink

          Yes, AOC is the next Mussolini. I sure didn’t see that one coming.

          • rickflick
            Posted February 25, 2019 at 11:27 pm | Permalink

            Why not Hitler?

    • Rita Prangle
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 4:13 pm | Permalink


  10. cottontail
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 1:30 pm | Permalink

    Fareed didn’t seem quite so terrific when
    interviewing Sam Harris about Islamic terrorism.

    • Jim Swetnam
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 2:56 pm | Permalink

      Thanks for sharing this.

  11. Historian
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 2:06 pm | Permalink

    All these proposals that have been criticized as impractical do not bother me in the least. It is a waste of time burrowing into the details, although it provides topics for pundits to opine on. The important thing is that issues that have been largely ignored, such as the need for universal healthcare and the reversal of wealth and income inequality, are now getting a public airing. If and when these issues become the subject of serious legislation, their provisions will be practical and payable, and probably not as extreme from what you hear from candidates on the election stump. Just recall that the same arguments were used against Obamacare, i.e, it wouldn’t work or couldn’t be paid. Obamacare is still going strong despite Republicans being obsessed with destroying it, although I view it as a steppingstone to an ultimate more universal system. The same criticisms were made of social security when FDR pushed it as part of the New Deal. Ditto for Medicare during the Great Society. Liberals fall into a right-wing trap when they nitpick the details. The acceptance of the principles of these proposals is what is critical. Ultimately, workable programs will emerge, always subject to refinement and revision.

    • Jim Swetnam
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 3:02 pm | Permalink

      Beautiful reply.

    • Posted February 25, 2019 at 3:25 pm | Permalink

      I partly agree. Dems need bold plans and should not listen to those in the opposition that simply put up roadblocks. Taking healthcare as an example, they can expect pushback from the GOP and from the health and insurance industries. That pushback they can ignore because their motivations are suspect. However, they should not ignore input from their side. Typically, successful big legislation comes from leaders who present vision and policy experts that deal with the practicalities. I get the feeling AOC is going with a pure vision play. She may be dealing with experts behind the scenes but I doubt it based on her rhetoric so far.

    • BJ
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 4:38 pm | Permalink

      ” The important thing is that issues that have been largely ignored, such as the need for universal healthcare and the reversal of wealth and income inequality, are now getting a public airing.”

      It’s not as if we weren’t talking about these issues until Warren and AOC finally came along and opened our eyes with their brilliance. We’ve been talking about them for years. And nothing will make people tune out faster than people who are either making promises even the average person knows aren’t possible, and/or lying while they talk about them, and/or showing a lack of knowledge and experience.

      AOC is a kid trying to one-up the adults, and it’s only making the Dems look worse. Most people I know have never voted for anyonebut a Democrat in their entire lives, and every one of them thinks AOC needs to stop talking.

      • Historian
        Posted February 25, 2019 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

        “And nothing will make people tune out faster than people who are either making promises even the average person knows aren’t possible, and/or lying while they talk about them, and/or showing a lack of knowledge and experience.”

        Really? Mr. Trump will disagree with you.

      • Historian
        Posted February 25, 2019 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

        “It’s not as if we weren’t talking about these issues until Warren and AOC finally came along and opened our eyes with their brilliance. We’ve been talking about them for years.”

        Yes, these issues, like just about all issues, have been talked about for years. The difference is that for the first time in this election cycle universal healthcare and reducing income inequality have been embraced by mainstream Democrats running for president, as opposed to just those on the left wing of the party, such as Bernie Sanders. A variety of plans to address these problems, varying widely in their details, have been brought forth. The ultimate plans, those that are legislated into law, are years away from being enacted, if at all. Assuredly, they will not be the same as those offered today. They will probably be an amalgam of many of the ideas currently floated. I doubt that they will resemble anything close to what AOC is advocating. However, she is doing a service by talking about these issues, although there is a cost to the Democratic Party in that the right wing is working full time to dupe people into believing that she is the embodiment of it.

        • Jim Swetnam
          Posted February 25, 2019 at 10:40 pm | Permalink

          Again, well stated. I find it a little amusing how threatened by AOC many of the commentors here seem to feel. Come on! She’s a freshman congress person, not a rising Mussolini. I agree she may not be “ready for prime time” but her positions, broad strokes that they are, have resonated with a large portion of the electorate. The party needs to recognize this and reconnect with its true base. As Historian says, any ultimate legislatio will have been hammered into somethng workable. It’s just imperative that the Dems find their fighting heart again.

          • rickflick
            Posted February 25, 2019 at 11:26 pm | Permalink

            Agreed. Trump is an easy target, but give us an ambitious, alternative agenda with whipped cream and a cherry.

  12. Keith
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 3:00 pm | Permalink

    I agree with Zakaria that U.S. healthcare is insanely complex, but disagree that single payer is an unrealistic goal. Huge progress could be made stepwise over several years by incrementally lowering the age at which people could buy into Medicare. Private or employer sponsored plans need not go away. Indeed, premiums would likely decline in the private sector as the 50+ participants opt into Medicare. Although many practitioners complain about Medicare reimbursement rates, this too could be solved with political will.

    Instead, we are subjected to conservative sabotage of Medicare, Obamacare, and any other public health legislation that actually expands coverage.

  13. Patrick Foley
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 3:05 pm | Permalink

    Zacharia supported the invasion of Iraq. Most people now consider that a disastrous and immoral policy. Now, Jerry, you may have a point of disagreement with him. Carefully read his work and you will have others.

  14. Roger Lambert
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    X = where we want to be <= <= <= <= Overton Window.

  15. randallschenck
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 4:34 pm | Permalink

    We must get to universal health care in this country and single payer is the only reasonable way. If it is some form of medicare then we should know how to do it. It does not eliminate the need for private health insurance. I have medicare but still have a supplemental because medicare does not cover but approximately 80 percent. Also medicare does not cover most of your prescriptions. Medicare is also not free. You pay into it all the time you work, just like social security, and when you go on it as well. So, Medicare does not work for the poor as it stands. It is too expensive.

    Therefore, those who think Medicare is the answer better look again. If you want medicare to cover everything it will cost much more than it does now. Right now there is medicaid for the poor in most states but that is another story all together.

    • infiniteimprobabilit
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 6:15 pm | Permalink

      I think your fundamental problem is a legal one – the risk of being sued. It seems to be the automatic American response – if anything happens, sue somebody. Which means medical practitioners, drug companies, hospitals are paranoid and have to take every possible measure, whether indicated or not, in case someone later tries to claim they are guilty of omission.

      And I think that arises from a fundamental deficiency in your legal system – as I understand it, in the US (unlike I think, almost every other developed country) the loser does NOT generally have to pay the winner’s costs. Which means ambulance-chasing lawyers can launch meritless suits against anyone with enough assets to make them a target, without risking anything more than loss of their own time.


      • XCellKen
        Posted February 25, 2019 at 11:13 pm | Permalink

        Right Wing myth. The reason US doctors test so much, is because they make so much $$$ from testing. They just like to blame it all on the lawyers

        • Posted February 26, 2019 at 12:00 pm | Permalink

          I believe it is the hospitals and not the docs that make bank on testing.

  16. Martin X
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 5:03 pm | Permalink

    AOC is doing great at getting some things talked about that no one else is. In response to the GND, other folks have come up with more sensible plans. E.g.,


    This is the way things work. People with ideas very often need to be paired with more practical people who can get things done.

    • Posted February 25, 2019 at 7:34 pm | Permalink

      Oh please. Informed people, with a grasp of the problems of climate change, and with their sanity intact, do not need some bug-eyed naif living in cloud cuckoo land to give pep talks.

  17. Peter Welch
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 6:37 pm | Permalink

    So tired of the author of this particular post an other past blog posts on this science site pretending to be opposed to Republican attempts to end civilization through climate change but never attacking them directly, saving his venom for the very people who are trying to preserve our ability to continue to have a civilization.

    The misrepresentation of the clear meaning of AOCs remark is just one of many FOX News type misrepresentations that the author has made about liberalism in order, I assume, to bask in his desired feelings of superiority while covertly pushing the evils of no nothing conservatism. Really sad.

    • Posted February 25, 2019 at 7:29 pm | Permalink

      Please explain how providing basic income to people “unwilling to work” will do one goddamn thing to stop climate change.

      • rickflick
        Posted February 25, 2019 at 9:19 pm | Permalink

        Ummm…just for the record, I think that was an early draft, not the final document. The ultra-radical wing are having to be pruned away, I’d say.

        • Ken Kukec
          Posted February 25, 2019 at 10:36 pm | Permalink

          It wasn’t even a “draft”; it was part of a FAQ put out by staff and almost immediately disavowed. It was never a part of the actual green new deal proposal.

          • rickflick
            Posted February 25, 2019 at 11:23 pm | Permalink

            It’s clear that there is a fumbling strategy unfolding. I have hope that it will end in a positive contribution, but one never knows until the fat lady sings (can I say that here?).

            • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:59 am | Permalink

              Until the generously proportioned diva performs the finale.

              • rickflick
                Posted February 26, 2019 at 12:22 pm | Permalink

                Well put. I can see you work to stay out of trouble.

        • Posted February 26, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink

          It should never have even made it into the draft. 1) A basic income has nothing to do with green energy; 2) subsidizing “those unwilling to work” is crazy talk.

          • rickflick
            Posted February 26, 2019 at 12:12 pm | Permalink

            Crazy talk is why it was removed. Keep your eye on the ball.

            • Posted February 26, 2019 at 8:42 pm | Permalink

              That still means crazy people wrote the damn thing.

              • rickflick
                Posted February 26, 2019 at 9:36 pm | Permalink

                The ball just ricocheted off the wall and fell into the legislative meat grinder.

  18. Posted February 25, 2019 at 6:42 pm | Permalink

    “But there is a reason nine of the 12 European countries that instituted similar taxes have repealed them in the last 25 years.”

    Yeah, I suspect it’s the same reason Trump’s massive tax cut for the wealthy passed in the US. It’s the Golden Rule: he who has the gold, makes the rules.

  19. Posted February 25, 2019 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    A narcissist, a marxist, and an airhead walk into a bar. The bartender says, ‘Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez! Long time, no see!’

    • Mark R.
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 9:26 pm | Permalink

      “Airhead?” Please stop with the ad hominems.

      From reading your posts over the years, I can’t think of one positive thing you’ve ever said about a female politician- it’s always snark. I guess the ‘woke’ would say: check your misogyny. Are they wrong?

      • Posted February 26, 2019 at 10:49 am | Permalink

        Retract your accusation of misogyny immediately.

      • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:06 am | Permalink

        However, she may qualify. She may have some academic and political successes, but anyone who often has a loose grip on facts demonstrates some cranial dead space.

  20. rustybrown
    Posted February 25, 2019 at 10:08 pm | Permalink

    AOC has undeniable political skills. It remains to be seen if she can utilize them for a long run. My thinking is no. I don’t think she’s smart enough to get where she wants to be. Thank goodness.

    • Jim Swetnam
      Posted February 25, 2019 at 11:44 pm | Permalink

      Cum laude in International Relations and Economics from Boston University. Second place in the in the International Science and Engineering Fair. Not too smart? Smarter than the average congress member I’d wager.

      • rustybrown
        Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:01 am | Permalink

        She came in second place in a High School science fair and managed to get a college degree with good grades? Wow.

        • infiniteimprobabilit
          Posted February 27, 2019 at 3:59 pm | Permalink

          Did you?


      • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:14 am | Permalink

        From the genius who complains “there’s a lot of people more concerned about being precisely, factually, and semantically correct than about being morally right”:

        * $21 trillion of Pentagon expenditures “could not be traced, documented, or explained”, which could pay for 2/3 of Medicare’s annual $32 trillion cost. (The entire Federal budget for 2018 was $4.1 trillion);

        * “a vast majority of the country doesn’t make a living wage”;

        * “Walmart and Amazon [pay] people less than a minimum wage”;

        * Unemployment is down “only because most people are working two jobs”;

        * The three branches of government are the House, the Senate and the presidency;

        * “When this country started … we did not operate on a capitalist economy”;

        * The US didn’t have free public education “until the 1950’s or 1960’s.”

  21. Posted February 25, 2019 at 11:31 pm | Permalink

    Seems to me that if you agree with this, Klobachar (sp?) may be your candidate. She’s apparently been asked about things like free college for all and politely said, no that won’t work. She also seems to be the candidate for the centrist Democrat. All this probably means she’s doomed in the primaries. Unfortunately, the crazies come out to vote in disproportionate numbers in primaries (e.g. AOC’s win, Cantor’s loss, and so on).

    Of course she is getting quite a reputation as an undesirable boss as well at this point. That may hurt her.

    • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:09 am | Permalink

      Hickenlooper and Bennet are better than most of the Dem crowd but don’t have a snowball’s chance since they actually talk sense, compromise and solutions that work.

  22. Kirbmarc
    Posted February 26, 2019 at 3:14 am | Permalink

    As someone who lives in Switzerland, I want to point out that an important part of Swiss healthcare is that insurance companies cannot set any condition relating to age, sex or state of health for basic healthcare insurance, although they can differ in prices depending on which canton they’re based in (you can pick an insurance company from wherever you want).

    Premiums for basic, compulsory healthcare are fixed. Complementary insurance (which isn’t compulsory) is risk-based, but the baseline is NOT negotiable by insurances.

    If the fixed healthcare insurance premium is more than 8% of your income, you get cash subsidies from the government to pay for it.

    As long as you are insured you can go to any doctor or clinic in Switzerland, public or private.

    With that said, it’s only been this way since 1994, and it IS a pretty expensive system if you’re not getting subsidies.

    The compulsory insurance covers the majority of the bills you might get (especially for serious or life threatening conditions), and the quality of care is good, but paying up to 8% of your income more often than not means paying EXACTLY 8% of your income, unless you go for the very cheapest insurance options, which have more than a few snags.

    You’re also USUALLY billed quarterly for your medical expenses, which depending on how often you use the system can rack up a pretty steep bill, and sometimes (depending on which services you use) this might mean having to pay something out of pocket, especially if you have picked the cheapest insurance options. That’s not good.

    My tip: if you ever stay in Switzerland for more than three months and have to use the Swiss system, ask to be billed immediately, and if you can can, pay more than minimum, especially if you have a chronic but not life threatening medical condition.

    All in all it’s an efficient system, with short waits, and it provides you with good healthcare, but it’s expensive and you have to be VERY careful about your choices.

    I think that the system works better than in the US for a variety of reasons (universal access for all kinds of coverage, good quality of the baseline coverage, no “pre-existing conditions” chokepoints) but it is still an expensive system that requires you to do quite a bit of financial planning.

    Compare and contrast healthcare in a country like Denmark, where you pay for expenses through local taxation systems which cover roughly 84% of the expenses, and where coverage is also efficient.

  23. Posted February 26, 2019 at 3:21 am | Permalink

    If Americans REALLY want to do something about healthcare, start by preventing to industrial food producers from dumping vast quantities of sugar & salt into the diet…

  24. Westi
    Posted February 26, 2019 at 4:04 am | Permalink

    Can anyone link me some discussion why for example free collage would be impossible for US? Tuition fees clearly has air in them, considering they have gone up well over 150% in two decades. Why is US education so expensive?

    • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:03 am | Permalink

      Tuition for public universities is already heavily subsidized. I don’t have the numbers, but fully subsidizing it should be feasible.

      Private tuition is insanely high and steadily increasing. It’s a seller’s market, with purchasing the right diploma considered an investment to unlock high lifetime earnings.

      The free tuition advocates are extremely vague on the scope of their proposals.

      FTR, comrade Alexandria attended Boston University, a private school with an annual tuition c. $50K, or twice the national average.

      • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:15 am | Permalink

        Not sure which public institutions you are talking about re tuition being heavily subsidized, but if the University of Colorado is representative, this simply is not true. The proportion of the educational and general budget that is provided by tuition is 80% with the state providing less than 10%.

        • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:29 am | Permalink

          You don’t consider the federal student loan program a type of subsidy?

          • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:32 am | Permalink

            I consider it a loan that has to be paid back.

            • Posted February 26, 2019 at 12:48 pm | Permalink

              Right, and that is exactly how I used to think about student loans. They’re being paid back (with interest), so not a true subsidy even though the initial cash transfer is from the government to the school.

              But I no longer think that; I do consider them a form of subsidy. The reason is that if the federal loan program would go away tomorrow, the following would most likely happen:

              – The credit risk associated with student loans, as they are currently doled out, would make many of them unprofitable for lending institutions and the colleges themselves, at least at current interest rates. The source of student loan receipts currently supplied by the government would NOT be replaced 1:1 by banks and schools.

              – If forced to assume the risk of default, schools would be far more selective as to who they admit and what they major in (as the student will need to demonstrate an ability to pay back the loan).

              – With the pool of revenues shrinking, many colleges will have to (drastically) cut costs or even close down.

              – The net result is that we will have a much smaller percentage of the population being able (financially and academically) to attend college.

              My essential claim is that far more student loans are being issued, and at lower interest rates, than would be the case if there was no government involvement. I simply cannot see your local bank or the college itself financing student loans at the near the level that the government now maintains.

              That means that taxpayers must be picking up the slack somewhere, and therefore this is by definition a subsidy.

        • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:39 am | Permalink

          Here in California, a little over half of students in the CCC, CSU, & UC systems attend tuition-free. Community college and CSU tuitions are in any case quite low.

          I’m open to exploring a federal tuition assistance program, but the problem is largely non-existent. Parents could simply stop sending their kids to places like Sarah Lawrence and instead avail themselves of state schools. There’s also this: not everyone needs to go to college. No surprise, though, that most of the demagoguery comes from graduates of private schools who dominate the Left.

          • Posted February 26, 2019 at 11:58 am | Permalink

            Interesting. I would like to see where the tuition money comes from for those attending tuition-free. In many institutions, the list-price tuition is discounted via sundry scholarships, endowment income, grant programs including using indirect cost recovery funds, and state funding.

            I agree with your second paragraph. I know an awful lot of non-college grads who are making much better wages than their college grad contemporaries.

  25. Posted February 26, 2019 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    First, Mussolini started out as a leftist. It isn’t surprising that he morphed into an authoritarian and then a fascist. Second, Zakaria does indeed overlook Islamic terrorism (he is hardly alone; the entire left does the same). Third, an easy solution to the medical insurance problem: pass a law that limits individual health care premiums to no more than 3$ of total gross annual income and make it free for those below the poverty line. Those with GROSS annual gross income can subsidize the poor, i.e. those with more than $1 million gross income per year. Simplicity itself. Everyone has free choice and full access, no questions asked. Why haven’t the Democrats considered this?
    As for the Green New Deal, it isn’t green. It is a thinly disguised social welfare program focused on economic growth called infrastructure. It threw in the social justice parts to mollify the left, which normally doesn’t care much about the environment but saw a chance to piggyback on a pseudo-environmental program, a program with no hint of the real sacrifices and compromises that consumers will have to make under any plan, i.e. cutting back energy use, paying more for energy, etc. By putting all these things in one proposal they are creating a no-win situation in which social justice programs will directly compete with environmental ones. If you want to see a heated battle, that will surely bring it on.
    The left knows a purely social justice plan would be easily identified as a leftist socialist plan so they call the whole thing green, write stuff about energy and infrastructure, and then sit back and wait to get medals for things they refused to do for decades. The only REAL GREEN deal is one that excludes social justice proposals; they should be prepared, debated and enacted on their own merits, not as bait for liberals to support the plan.

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