Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Going to the emergency room while black

From the here's-the-data-to-verify-what-we-always-assumed department:

"Emergency room doctors are prescribing strong narcotics more often to patients who complain of pain, but minorities are less likely to get them than whites, a new study finds."

The study came out earlier this month. Here's the AP article.

Monday, January 21, 2008

Supreme Court math

I haven't seen much talk yet of Supreme Court nominations as an issue in the presidential campaign. But it ought to be an issue, at least in the general election.

It will be a very different situation for the two parties.

Stevens, at age 87, is by far the oldest of the justices; Ginsberg is 74; Kennedy and Scalia 71; Breyer 69 and Souter 68 (I'll spare you the ages of Thomas, Alito and Roberts; let's just say we're stuck with them for a good while).

It's not unreasonable to assume that Stevens - by retirement or by death - will be the first to go. A Democratic president could replace Stevens with another liberal, and Kennedy would still be the swing vote. Status quo. If there's a Republican president, he could replace Stevens with a conservative, and then there'd be 5 conservatives on the court. I don't know if there'd even be someone to label a 'swing vote' at that point. Really, it's sort of scary.

So it's the Dems who could have a lot to lose. In the general election, they ought to make a big issue of this to turn out voters. The Republicans, meanwhile, can make the case to the conservative base that they have the chance to make a huge rightward shift in the court if their candidate wins.

I don't know the social psych research on this, but from what I see in politics, it's more popular to try to get people to vote based on fear of a bad outcome than getting them to vote for the possibility of a good outcome. If that's the case, the Supreme Court issue would be an advantage for the Dems, who can rally the base on the need to not let the court move even further rightward.

William Kristol, for one, seems to subscribe to the theory of scaring people about the possibility of a bad outcome. In his first column in the NYT earlier this month, he said that he wants a Republican president over a Democratic president because, among other reasons, "we don't want to undo the good done by the appointments of John Roberts and Samuel Alito..."

That's absurd; there's no danger for conservatives that the court could move to the left any time soon. Yet there he goes.

In the general election, I wonder if we'll see more of this, or if the Republicans will motivate their base with the truth on the court -- that a Democratic president could not shift the court to the left one bit, but that a Republican president could shift it far to the right.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

something fishy

What's good even though it's fishy?

A fish.

I made this very easy mahi-mahi recipe, and it was pretty good. I served it with brown rice and red chard with garilc and raisins:

In retrospect, the teriyaki/sweetness of the fish (I also poured some of the au jus over the rice) was a bit of an odd combo with the somewhat bitter greens, but whatever.

If you make the recipe, I suggest making the marinade in a medium pot; that way, toward the end of the recipe, you can start cooking the extra marinade down for the glaze while the fish is still cooking in the pan.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Obama and Reagan

Here's the video that came out Wednesday of Obama, in a meeting with the Reno Gazette-Journal, talking about Reagan:

There's really no excuse for this.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Krugman's Obama thing

By my count, Krugman's column Monday marked the 7th strike on Obama in a two month period. Some of theem have just featured a couple sentences chiding Obama, while others have been largely devoted to criticizing him.

A quick review:

Nov 30 - Obama's health care plan inferior to Edwards and Clinton plans because it lacks mandate
Dec 7 - Obama's health care plan inferior to Edwards and Clinton plans because it lacks mandate
Dec 17 - a Democratic presidents needs to fight big business (Edwards), not sit down at the table to compromise with it (Obama)
Dec 24 - Obama wrong to criticize pro-Edwards 527s as "special interests" with "too much influence in Washington"
Jan 4 - column on China, with this tidbit: "But among at least some of Barack Obama’s supporters there seems to be a belief that if their candidate is elected, the world’s problems will melt away in the face of his multicultural charisma."
Jan 7 - column on economic woes, with a tidbit suggesting Obama is too sunny in outlook to address it adequately
Jan 14 - Edwards, and later Clinton, have good plans to address a potential recession; Obama's plan is late and isn't as good

Krugman has also criticized Obama on his blog, such as on social security back in early November.

I'm not one of those Krugman-is-God people, but I do tend to take what he writes seriously (with semi-exceptions for trade issues and others). I don't know much about healthcare, but I'm inclined to believe he's at least generally right on those. The Dec 17 column was powerful, though I could still be convinced of essentially the opposite -- that if you look at the record, Obama is plenty progressive, and he's just stealthy (see Matthew Yglesias' argument here, and more discussion both ways here).

I thought the Jan 4 and Jan 7 columns were sort of cheap shots. The Dec 24 and Jan 14 columns, though, were pretty convincing. These were Obama doing bad things, and for no good reason.

I may well end up voting for Obama, but it would be despite Edwards' better positions on economic issues. As The Nation wrote of Edwards in their we-aren't-endorsing-anyone editorial, "His policy proposals are not always perfect, but they are uncommonly detailed and crafted in conjunction with progressive organizations."

No more ant problem

We once had an ant problem at Fountain Ave. They were all over the counter by the sink. Beth mixed up some non-chemical fix (I think) and did what what had to be done. And then made an epic video. Turn on the sound and have a look:

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Republican candidate supports direct action

You gotta hand it to the guy: Duncan Hunter walks right in to a live MSNBC show on Monday:

Atlantic Yards - where we stand

Here's a useful compilation of what happened in 2007 on Brooklyn's biggest mess.

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Those undecided voters

From the days of the 2004 general election: Christopher Hayes spent weeks in Wisconsin speaking to undecided voters, and dissects what exactly makes them tick. Brilliant.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

he really said slavery was good

The New Jersey state assembly is considering a measure to apologize for slavery, the AP reports today. NJ could become the fifth state to do so.

There are some arguments on both sides of this, but leave it to Michael Patrick Carroll, an assemblyman from Morris, to really pull out the big-picture thinking:

"But, on a current note, if slavery was the price that a modern American's ancestors had to pay in order to make one an American, one should get down on one's knees every single day and thank the Lord that such price was paid," Carroll said.

He said his ancestors came from Ireland around the 1850s, fleeing the potato famine he said was worsened by British indifference.

"Far from holding it against the modern British, I delight in the cruelty of their forebearers. Without same, I might be hanging around in Inisfree," Carroll said, referencing an Irish island.