Pulpit Bulls

Policy, Politics, and What's In Between

Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Conservatives Criticize Kennedy Health Care Plan For Being A Health Care Plan

Posted by Eric on June 8, 2009

I recently stumbled on Keith Hennessey’s blog. He’s a conservative policy wonk and was an economic policy coordinator in the Bush White House. Today he wrote up a summary of Ted Kennedy’s health care bill, which is a pretty straight forward overview and commentary from the Republican side of things. His post gives me the opportunity to address this point, which we are sure to hear more about soon:

Health insurance plans could not charge higher premiums for risky behaviors:  “Such rate shall not vary by health status-related factors, … or any other factor not described in paragraph (1).”  Smokers, drinkers, drug users, and those in terrible physical shape would all have their premiums subsidized by the healthy.

In the coming months conservatives are sure to raise hell over healthy people subsidizing sick people’s health care. But this isn’t some malevolent consequence of a universal health insurance system — this is a consequence of health insurance! That’s what a risk pool is — the healthy pay into the pool, subsidizing the sick, with the knowledge that eventually when they need care, it too will be subsidized by those who are healthy. That’s how Hennessey’s health care worked when it was bankrolled by the government while he worked in the White House. That’s how his care works now that he is (presumably) insured on the private market. When Hennessey retires, that’s how his Medicare will work too.

Anyway, if you are interested you can download the draft of Kennedy’s legislation here.

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A New Member of the Nuclear Family

Posted by gregoryholmes on June 2, 2009

There has been quite a bit of chatter this week about North Korea’s second nuclear test and what the United States should do about it.

First of all, even though North Korea is testing a nuclear device on par with Fat Man and Little Boy, I believe that this development ultimately changes little in terms of the balance of power in East Asia for the same reason that North Korea is allowed to develop nuclear technology.  To illustrate my point, look at what happened to Iraq in 1981 and Syria in 2007.  In both cases, these countries were attempting to develop nuclear technology but in both cases their programs were taken out by precision air strikes because neither country had any credible capability to execute a serious reprisal, whereas North Korea has the military capability to instantly strike against Seoul and inflict thousands of casualties.

As long as there are 23 million South Koreans living within instantaneous reprisal distance of missiles and artillery aimed at them from right across the demiliterized zone, North Korea has a credible threat hostage and can continue its nuclear program.  We can tighten sanctions, but sanctions are already about as tight as they can go.  We can attempt a military strike but, without the ability to instantly suppress the entirety of the North Korean military, (a task that would require something as powerful as a nuclear weapon) we would have to be prepared with immediate war on the Korean penisula and thousands of South Korean casualties.

The reality of the situation is that there is no way to put pressure on a self-sufficient military dictatorship without putting millions of South Koreans at risk.  North Korea is the most isolated nation in the world and trade sanctions are only likely to hurt the civilians, not encourage them to revolt.

Without the ability to instantly take out both the North Korean program and suppress the military response to such a strike, North Korea has free reign to continue its research.  The good news is that, while it has the bomb, it is not nearly as close to developing the requisite technology to build accurate mid to long range missiles.  ICBMs are some of the most advanced technology that mankind has developed, and their development was the byproduct of an arms race between two superpowers.  North Korea is not a superpower and its development is not going to continue as such.  Moreover, North Korea knows that any use of such technology would result in their ultimate destruction.

At the end of the day, the North Korean nuclear technology does not change the balance of power on the peninsula.  It does make North Korea more of a threat but only to South Korea, which is nothing new.

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The Original Queen of Comedy

Posted by Eric on June 1, 2009

Writing on Sotomayor and the now infamous Ricci v. DeStefano ruling, Ann Coulter drops some hilarity:

If only successfully applying a condom were relevant to firefighting, public school graduates raised in single-parent homes would crush the home-learners!

I know Coulter rubs some folks the wrong way, but truly she is a comic genius. No question. She invented the “Stephen Colbert.” She was impersonating rightwingers when Colbert was still doing Strangers With Candy. She was doing the Colbert when Stephen still pronounced his name Col-BURT.

And the woman never breaks character!  She even tricked conservatives into inviting her to CPAC where she satirically called John Edwards a “faggot” and actually got the attending Republicans to laugh!

Seriously, someone give this lady a medal.

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The Hip Hop Makeover Continues

Posted by Eric on May 30, 2009

Via Smooth Like Remy, we get this music video from Young Cons, two white rapping Republicans:

If I was you, I would just imagine what such a video would consist of and not actually watch the thing. Take that as a warning.

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Politics and Performance Parking

Posted by Eric on May 29, 2009

Matt Yglesias writes up a nice post about performance parking. The basic argument  is that parking spaces in cities are under priced. Cheap parking is a product of irrational worries by business owners and city policymakers that if parking gets more expensive, people won’t be willing to go to their shops. But of course the two choices aren’t between overly cheap parking that results in parking spots that are always occupied and expensive parking where spots are always empty. Parking prices can be adjusted to a point where they are still as in-demand as they are now, while generating increased revenue for a city. In fact, you would probably make shoppers less likely to dawdle after a meal or stop to chat on their cellphone, allowing more people to use a parking spot in a single day, and thus actually creating a greater influx of daily commerce. Upon performance parking’s political feasibility, Yglesias writes:

But politically speaking, the best way to make change appealing is probably to earmark the revenue specifically for use in the area getting the performance parking. That way instead of just having the argument about the correct pricing of space on the street, you can sell it to the neighborhood by saying “performance parking is going to repair the sidewalk, refurbish the bus shelter, spruce up this park, and then provide ongoing revenues necessary to keep everything spic and span going forward.”

Sure, it would be great at first, until some enterprising politician comes along and defeats his opponents on the grounds that we should cut “parking taxes” to help consumers and businesses alike, while promising no cuts in services. Soon, you’re back to cheap parking, plus paying for extra street repairs and park maitenance that you can’t afford. Ah, democracy! Gotta love it.

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Doonesbury Gets Meta

Posted by Eric on May 27, 2009

Doonesbury

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Stock and Awe (Yuk, Yuk)

Posted by Eric on May 21, 2009

The New York Times points to Northeastern University’s College of Business Administration study on Jim Cramer’s stock picks from 2005 – 2007. Somewhat surprisingly, it appears as if Cramer beat major stock market indexes, sometimes by a considerable amount. The researchers note, however, that when adjusted for exposure to various “risk factors” the results were more mixed:

Over all, the study concludes, “while Cramer may be entertaining and mesmerizing to many of his viewers, his aggregate or average stock recommendations are neither extraordinarily good nor unusually bad.”

Make of that what you will. But really, this has just been an excuse to post this camp-tastic-blaxploitation-spoof:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

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The first one is always better than the sequel

Posted by Eric on May 20, 2009

Welcome to PulPit Bulls. This is the very first post! Not only do we have a clever title for our little blog, we also are a clan of clever bloggers. Please stay and read the clever things that we will undoubtedly write. We are still working out the kinks, so expect aesthetic changes and what not. Be sure to leave lots of comments, link back to us, and send us money (not really the last one, unless you really want to).

Enjoy.

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