Links, 1/18/10

  • Megan McArdle, “Would a Brown Win Derail Healthcare Reform?” – things I like hearing, from the article: The problem with Brown’s election is not just that it would the Democrats of a seat in the Senate.  It’s that it would send a chill down the spine of every Democrat who is not sitting in an ultra-safe, ultra-liberal seat.
  • Jay Cost, “The Political Blunders of the Obama White House” – from the article: 2009 was not a good year to focus the government so intently on health care reform. The public wanted a greater focus on the recession, but it didn’t really get one. All it got was a hastily constructed, wasteful stimulus bill that was built on the assumption that unemployment would top out at 8%. As unemployment skyrocketed and the recession dragged on, watching the Senate Finance Committee debate insurance co-operatives and Cadillac taxes made it appear that the government was out of touch. Additionally, the pursuit of health care reform was difficult to square with a public that has become increasingly deficit conscious. Very few people believe that these reforms will be “deficit neutral,” and for good reason. This is a massive new entitlement program the Democrats are proposing, and our existing entitlements cost way more than initial projections, and more than we can today afford. One need not be a policy wonk to suspect that the Democrats’ math is more than a little “fuzzy.” This would likely not be a concern if the government were running a surplus or just a small deficit. But the 2009 deficit topped out in the trillions. That is bound to make voters wary of new, expensive entitlement programs.
  • William Zinsser, “Writing English as a Second Language” (h/t aldaily.com) – yeah I have to work on my writing, I know. From the article:  Thoreau’s writing moves with simple strength because he uses one active verb after another to push his meaning along. At every point in his sentences you know what you need to know. Here’s a famous sentence from Walden: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of nature, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” Look at all those wonderful short, active verbs: went, wished, front, see, learn, die, discover. We understand exactly what Thoreau is saying. We also know a lot about him—about his curiosity and his vitality. How alive Thoreau is in that sentence! It’s an autobiography in 44 words—39 of which are words of one syllable. Think about that: only five words in that long, elegant sentence have more than one syllable. Short is always better than long.
  • LGF, “Iran Threatens: The ‘Era of Mercy’ is Over” – just like with the pictures from Haiti now, the ones from Iran during the “era of mercy” made me sick to my stomach.

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