Food on the Attack

August 24, 2009

There has been a steady increase in concern with the way food is created in this country, perhaps peaking with then Presidential Candidate Obama mentioning this article by Michael Pollan (and then recanting after there was a backlash).  Michelle Obama white house garden was actually proposed in that article, though most of the other advice (like an end to food subsidies) will probably be ignored.  It has become undeniable and even uncontroversial that Americans don’t eat well, and that the problem stems from too much grain and grain fed meat.  However, what is much less well known is the role of factory farming in MRSA, the antibiotic resistant bacteria that kills more people than AIDs every year in this country. Read the rest of this entry »


Welcome to the Club

August 11, 2009

In discussing Carr’s excellent post with friends, I ended up noting how overrated the nuclear peace theory is.  The theory is that nuclear weapons actually leads to a more stable international system by raising the stakes beyond where rational actors will escalate a crisis to.  This is the realist version of democratic peace theory, but I think it suffers from ignoring the other variables that have produced international peace since the creation of the bomb and ultimately, from being far too risky in practice to justify its limited benefits.
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Palestine, A Penny Saved…

August 5, 2009

I realized that I was a little light on actual policy suggestions in my post yesterday (what you didn’t create peace in the Middle East in 500 words?), so I thought I would follow up today with some constructive criticisms.

First, Obama needs to do a better job of selling this to Israelis and Arabs, because so far he has failed miserably at convincing anyone that progress is occurring.  Read the rest of this entry »

Pennywise Israel

August 4, 2009

Israel and Obama have had a troubled relationship since before he even took office, as Israel invaded Gaza two and half weeks before his inauguration and then withdrew all troops out just before he became President. It was a clear attempt to get in the last punch before the rules changed, Read the rest of this entry »

A Plan, not the Plan

July 31, 2009

After my histrionic post Wednesday about the importance of health care reform, I thought a more academic post was needed to balance the equation.  It is premature to discuss the plan coming out of Congress, because there are about fifteen of them, but I thought I could point some of the best ideas (many of which have no chance of happening). Read the rest of this entry »

Health Care Reform, D.O.A.

July 29, 2009

Matt Taibbi isn’t one to mince words, if you haven’t read his epic takedown of Goldman Sachs do so immediately, so when he gives his opinion on health care reform he takes no prisoners:

This whole business, it was a litmus test for whether or not we even have a functioning government. Here we had a political majority in congress and a popular president armed with oodles of political capital and backed by the overwhelming sentiment of perhaps 150 million Americans, and this government could not bring itself to offend ten thousand insurance men in order to pass a bill that addresses an urgent emergency. What’s left? Third-party politics?

It is hard to agree with that, because I am one of those 150 million Americans. I campaigned for Obama, I was swept up in the possibility of change and it was and is exciting to have adults running things again.

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Can We Win in Afghanistan?

July 21, 2009

President Obama’s campaign focus on Afghanistan as the just war we must win has had results. Not necessarily in Afghanistan, where things seem worse than ever, but in the press, where Afghanistan is the focus of increased scrutiny. Policy proscriptions are mixed, The Economist forcefully argued for staying the course:

The cost to NATO countries is immediately apparent: tens of billions of dollars and the lives of more than 1,200 soldiers. The cost of leaving is harder to measure but is probably larger: the return of the Taliban to power; an Afghan civil war; the utter destabilisation of nuclear-armed Pakistan; the restoration of al-Qaeda’s Afghan haven; the emboldening of every jihadist in the world; and the weakening of the West’s friends.

Our investment of blood and treasure would seem worth it to prevent that grim dystopian future, however, it is easy to combat straw men. We do not have to choose between abject failure and our huge present commitment, indeed I haven’t read anyone who is advocating abandoning Afghanistan. Rather, many reasonable people are starting to wonder if a larger military presence is the the best way to achieve our goals and what exactly are the priorities of the mission.
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