Recently, there's been some back and forth among Jonathan Chait, Ross Douthat and Timothy Carney over the film "12 Years a Slave" and the persistence of racism. All three posts are worth reading, with Douthat and Carney holding up the conservative high-end of a discussion that typically consists of two circular questions: Why do conservatives continue to abet racism in their ranks? And why do liberals insist on calling conservatives racist?
Perhaps the most eloquent response is found in Friday's Wall Street Journal, which seems to have inadvertently stumbled into the argument. Like a drunk walking home with a lantern, the paper's review of Timothy N. Thurber's new book, "Republicans and Race," is enlightening if you can follow the staggered trail of logic.Read more »
Yesterday, when news broke that Nelson Mandela had died, I was writing about the Jameis Winston case, and what happens when football takes over a college and a town.
It’s easy to be cynical about sports. We invest too much in our teams and athletes, and are invariably disappointed when they let us down, on the field and off. There are unseemly spectacles everywhere -- in the NFL’s insistence that its game is safe, in the NCAA’s exploitation of “student-athletes,” in Major League Baseball’s overzealous crusade to nail steroid users, in FIFA’s willingness to award the greatest tournament in sports to a repressive Middle Eastern regime that treats migrant workers like modern-day slaves. The more cynical we get, the easier it becomes to forget that sports can provide moments that are not only physically awe-inspiring but emotionally moving and culturally transcendent.Read more »
Is it better to be lucky or good?
The U.S. Men’s National Team will find out soon. The team was lucky last time, in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, when it was grouped with England, Slovenia and Algeria. It still took the U.S. until the 90th minute of its third game to advance -- on a rebound off the Algerian goalkeeper.Read more »
Whatever else you might say about Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren, she has never been reluctant to take on the rich, the powerful or those who've avoided being held accountable for their role in the financial crisis. The latest example: a letter she sent this week to the heads of the six major too-big-to-fail banks asking them to disclose how much they give to think tanks.
As you know, your institutions are free to express your views to lawmakers and regulators through your lobbying efforts and those of the trade associations that represent you. But the law requires that there be transparency around your direct efforts to influence policymaking through lobbying, with disclosure about your lobbying expenditures. Under current law, however, your institutions are permitted to make financial contributions to think tanks without similar public disclosure. This means you can make enormous contributions that threaten both the independence and public credibility of the work of think tanks out of public view.
This is all fine and dandy, though no one should have very high expectations that the banks will voluntarily offer a tally of the money they give to research organizations. That's why Warren should go all-out and press for rule changes so that think tanks disclose how for-profit companies use their checkbooks to influence public policy.
Elisabeth Rosenthal of the New York Times has been writing a fascinating series on why health care costs so much in the U.S. In a recent article, she asks: Why do trips to the emergency room cost thousands of dollars even for the most trivial and routine of emergencies?
“One of the simplest and oldest medical procedures — closing a wound with a needle and thread — typically leads to bills of at least $1,500 and often much more,” Rosenthal writes. Her explanation: “Hospitals are the most powerful players in a health care system that has little or no price regulation in the private market.”Read more »
Judging from the Manhattan prosecutors' case against 49 Russian diplomats who allegedly defrauded Medicaid for about $1.5 million, Republicans have some salient criticisms of the government-run health-care system. What better proof of laxity and poor administration than a bunch of middle-class Russian citizens receiving, year after year, tens of thousands of dollars meant for poor Americans?
At issue are Medicaid benefits to cover the cost of a child's birth. Prosecutors say the wives of Russian diplomats filed "Access NY Healthcare" applications to receive the benefits. FBI special agent Jeremy Robertson noted that "of the 63 births to Russian diplomats and their spouses in New York City between the years 2004 and 2013, 58 of those families, or 92 percent, were paid for by Medicaid benefits." None of the families was eligible for them: Only U.S. citizens are, and even the children of diplomats born on U.S. soil retain the citizenship of their home countries.Read more »
Each month, traders, investors, journalists and policy makers wait for the monthly jobs report for a clear indication of the trend. And each month, we're left wishing we had just a bit more information before declaring that the U.S. economy has catapulted to a higher growth plane.
Today's jobs report for November brought good news: a 203,000 increase in nonfarm payrolls; a 0.3 percentage point drop in the unemployment rate to a five-year low of 7 percent; and a partial bounce back in the labor-force participation rate from a 35-year low. Hourly earnings rose as well.Read more »
In the first two posts in this series, I explained how a sixth year added to the statute of limitations by the Dodd-Frank Act, along with a new prosecutorial zeal at the Justice Department, might result in reopening long-closed cases against senior bank executives, including Countrywide Financial Corp. founder Angelo Mozilo.
To bring such a case, it wouldn't be necessary to explain complex instruments such as collateralized debt obligations to a jury. No, all it would take is connecting the Countrywide underwriting practices a jury last month found fraudulent with what Mozilo knew at the time.Read more »
Talk about fighting fire with fire. In Amsterdam, a charity group is paying local alcoholics in beеr to clean up a public park. The men used to loiter in Oosterpark, located in a poor area where half the population is immigrant: Surinamese, Moroccan, Turkish. They drank, fought and made passes at women. Locals hated them.
Now residents smile at the cleaners wearing orange uniform jackets issued by the Rainbow Foundation. The former public nuisances start off the working day with two cans of beer each at 9 a.m. and walk out into the park and the adjoining streets with their garbage bags. They have another two beers at lunch and one more when they're done at 3:30 p.m. Apart from the beer, the day's wages amount to 10 euros ($13.69).Read more »
Last night, my wife and I attended the Washington opening of a terrific play, "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," a new adaptation of the famous movie.
It was an appropriate theme, reflecting on the death yesterday of Nelson Mandela, the most revered global statesman of the past half century.Read more »