Pundit Wire

So What’s the Problem?

healthcare If the good news we’ve been hearing about American health costs in the past few months turns out to be the new norm – it’s too early to tell – then much of today’s political debate is wildly misguided. Consultants predict 2014 will see abnormally low inflation, again. Medicare spending per beneficiary is dropping more than previously anticipated. And new tools provided by Obamacare to constrain costs could accelerate these trends.

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The ironic ma nishtana

passover If you’ve been to a seder, you know that the Four Questions are about things like why do we eat matzah instead of bread, and what’s up with this biting into a horseradish; they also prompt the telling of the Exodus story, which is the purpose of the holiday: to pass the once-we-were-slaves-in-Egypt legacy to the next generation.

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In Search of a Message — Dems Have a Way to Go

Screen Shot 2014-04-06 at 11.34.18 PM If you were a recent college grad or drop out with no job or underemployed or selling your mind and body as an unpaid intern, do you give a (bleep) about the Koch brothers?

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Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Is West ‘Provoking’ Russia?

russiaFascinating question: if X responds badly to your action and cites your action as a reason for behaving badly, how far are you responsible for what X does?

Three scenarios…

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Gas Exports and Liberty

DSCF1077 On my last visit to Budapest about a year ago, I was treated to a dramatic illustration of the power that Vladimir Putin’s Russia exercises over its former satellites through their dependency on imports of Russian natural gas.

Near Hungary’s parliament building is a park called Liberty Square. The park was created to honor the Hungarian patriots who died in an unsuccessful rising against Habsburg rule in 1848-49. But the park also has two other monuments to Hungary’s liberators.

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This is how you’ll feel when the GOP wins the Senate

GOP It’s the morning after.

You stayed up late watching election results on TV.  By the time you went to bed, the Republicans had won five of the six Senate seats they needed to take control of both houses of Congress.  As the networks called each state for the GOP, it felt like a trap door had opened beneath your feet, like a Munch scream, like a nightmare – a nauseating, slow-motion wreck you were powerless to prevent.

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“Freedom for the thought that we hate”

westboro Nil nisi bonum de mortuis. “Speak only good of the dead.” Generally, that’s a sound maxim. But what if the dead person is the Reverend Fred Phelps, who died last week at the age of 85?

Never heard of Rev. Phelps? His Westboro Baptist Church has a website where you can read all about him.

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That’s blasphemy!

ingersol The United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, an agency charged by Congress with monitoring liberty of conscience around the world, has just issued a report on prosecutions for blasphemy in other countries.

Predictably, the leading offenders are Muslim countries, such as Egypt, Iran, Bangladesh, Sudan, Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. Pakistan is cited as “the most egregious example … where blasphemy charges are common and numerous individuals are in prison, with a high number sentenced to death or life terms.”

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