Friday, July 30, 2010

Other options for health care reform.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Universal health care in Switzerland.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Against some expectations, Russia failed to veto sanctions on Iran while simultaneously canceling the pending sale of advanced anti-aircraft systems. Welcome to the new multi-polar world:
Moscow's policies towards the Middle East are clearly very different from its Cold War stance, when it steadfastly supported Muslim nations against the US and its closest ally, Israel.

Today Russia is seriously distressed by the spread of Western influence and the expansion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato) into what it considers its legitimate sphere of "privileged interests": Ukraine, Georgia and other former Soviet republics...

[I]f Israel obediently agrees to stop the supply of modern weapons to Georgia - like it did in 2008 - Russia is ready to be forthcoming on Iran.

The threat of Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is also a factor, but hardly the main one. The Russian military do not consider a handful of primitive North Korean or Iranian nuclear weapons a serious threat. Of course, Moscow has genuine business and security interests in the larger Middle East: supplying arms and nuclear technologies to Arab nations and to Iran.

At the same time, Russia has an increasingly important military and security relationship with Israel. With Israel, Russia has been jointly producing billions of dollars worth of weapons for India. The Russian military have acquired a substantial batch of different types of Israeli-made spy drones or unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), the first official procurement of a major weapon system from a Western nation since 1945...

An additional factor that may further influence the decision-making in Moscow is Saudi Arabia's offer to buy more than $2bn worth of Russian weapons (helicopters, armour, anti-aircraft missiles) on condition that Russia does not sell Iran S-300 missiles, and stops supporting it in the UN.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Governmental causes of the five largest ongoing ecological disasters.

Friday, July 23, 2010

The reliability of domestic violence statistics.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

The Tennessee Dept of Health publishes Joint Annual Reports, which include detailed financial data of all state hospitals which include revenue broken out by method of payment. The documents include both the initial charges (similar to a sticker price, nobody pays these amounts) and the adjusted charges. By comparing the total operating costs of the hospital to total charges, we can deduce the rough point at which the adjusted charges must be at for the hospital to break even. Since the data includes both initial and adjusted charges, we can therefore calculate the rough profit margin by insurance type.

There are a few caveats to these numbers. I assume the break even point is the same for all charges and procedures, with is certainly not the case. I don't adjust for the variance of procedure type with the patient population in each payment group. I also ignore both capital deprecation and debt. The result is that these numbers should be taken as rough order of magnitude estimates, and are not exact numbers.

Vanderbilt Medical Center, a well known research university hospital, is compared with Centennial, a community hospital, and the publicly funded Nashville General all less than three miles from each other. Vanderbilt and Centennial earn more 95% of their funding from patient fees, while Nashville General receives slightly over 50% of its operating revenue from state and local government.

Profit MarginsNashville GeneralVanderbiltCentennial
Medicare Inpatient 5% 4% -0.4%
Medicare Outpatient -42% -31% -33%
Medicaid/TennCare IP -49% -43% -4.5%
Medicaid/TennCare OP -57% -22% -41%
Self Pay -95% -61% -73%
Private Insurance -10% 32% 63%

Applying Mickey Kaus's first rule of journalism, we can make some tentative statements. Across the board, Medicare inpatient reimbursement rates barely cover the cost of treatment. At hospitals without external funding, the cost of all other government-insured and non-insured patients are subsidized in their entirety by private insurance. The disparity in the profit margins for insured individuals between Nashville General and the other two indicates that there are insurance plans out there which don't cover the cost of care, and therefore are unlikely to be accepted for outpatient and non-critical treatment.

The health care reform act covers half of the uninsured by simply raising the threshold for Medicaid-- an insurance plan which covers barely half of the actual cost of care. By shifting these patients from uninsured to Medicaid, hospitals will lose slightly less money on them, but the question is how much will having insurance lead these patients to simply consume more? This also ignores the real question of the effectiveness of Medicaid in improving health outcomes. Shifting the costs of uninsured onto private insurers brings up the very real concern that business may simply drop coverage for their employees, exacerbating the cost spiral.

Full spreadsheet here with data and computations.
Green food:
So even though a meat-free world sounds good on paper, it is likely that a utopian future will still have some animal products in it. And we are talking meat, not just milk and eggs...

Under this scenario, the goal will have to be producing the most meat at the lowest environmental cost. That means fewer free-range cattle and sheep grazing in bucolic pastures and more animals, especially chickens, packed into feedlots or high-density enclosures. "If you're going to keep some livestock systems, I think the ones you'll want to keep are the intensive ones," says Walter Falcon, an agricultural economist at Stanford University in California.

That's because pasture grazing is inherently inefficient. Animals burn large amounts of energy roaming about the landscape feeding on relatively indigestible grasses. They grow more slowly than feedlot animals and, as a result, emit more methane over their lifetime. A beef cow in a US pasture, for example, emits 50 kilograms of methane per year, compared with just 26 kilograms in a feedlot, according to Livestock's Long Shadow.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

When discussing poverty in the United States, there are actually a couple of different measures, a relative measure commonly used for cross-country comparisons, and a slightly more complicated one that is detailed in a 2006 piece on poverty measurements in the New Yorker:
From 1945 to 1958, [Mollie Orshansky] worked in the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Human Nutrition and Home Economics, where she worked on a series of diets designed to provide poor American families with adequate nutrition at minimal cost. In painstaking detail, the food plans laid out the amount of meat, bread, potatoes, and other staples that families needed in order to eat healthily. These were “by no means subsistence diets,” Orshansky later wrote. “But they do assume that the housewife will be a careful shopper, a skillful cook, and a good manager who will prepare all the family’s meals at home.”

In 1958, Orshansky joined the research department of the Social Security Administration, and decided to try to estimate the incidence of child poverty. “Poor people are everywhere; yet they are invisible,” she told a reporter for the Dallas Morning News in 1999. “I wanted them to be seen clearly by those who make decisions about their lives.” Building on pioneering research on diet and poverty conducted in York at the turn of the twentieth century by Seebohm Rowntree, a British social reformer, Orshansky used her food plans to calculate a subsistence budget for families of various sizes. For a mother and father with two children, she estimated the expense of a “low cost” plan at $3.60 a day, and of an even more frugal “economy plan” at $2.80 a day. Rather than trying to calculate the price of other items in the family budget, such as rent, heat, and clothing, Orshansky relied on a survey by the Agriculture Department, which showed that the typical American family spent about a third of its income on food. Thus, to determine the minimum income a family needed in order to survive, she simply multiplied the annual cost of the food plans by three. Families on the low-cost plan needed to earn at least $3,955 a year; families on the economy plan needed to earn $3,165.

Orshansky compared these figures with the Census Bureau’s records on pre-tax family incomes and concluded that twenty-six per cent of families with children earned less than the upper poverty threshold and eighteen per cent earned less than the lower poverty threshold. In total, she estimated that between fifteen million and twenty-two million children were living in poverty, a disproportionate number of them in single-parent households and minority neighborhoods...

[I]n 1969 the White House adopted a slightly modified version of Orshansky’s lower threshold—the one based on the economy food plan—as the official poverty line.

The persistence of endemic poverty raises questions about how poverty is measured. In the past ten years or so, significant changes have been made in the way that inflation, gross domestic product, and other economic statistics are derived, but the poverty rate is still calculated using the technique that Orshansky invented. (Every twelve months, the Census Bureau raises the income cutoffs slightly to take inflation into account.)

This approach has some obvious shortcomings. To begin with, the poverty thresholds are based on pre-tax income, which means that they don’t take into account tax payments and income from anti-poverty programs, such as food stamps, housing subsidies, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Medicaid, which cost taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars a year. In addition, families’ financial burdens have changed considerably since Orshansky conducted her research. In the late fifties, most mothers didn’t have jobs outside the home, and they cooked their families’ meals. Now that most mothers work full time and pay people to help them take care of their kids, child care and commuting consume more of a typical family budget.

Another problem is that the poverty thresholds are set at the same level all across the country. Last year, the pre-tax-income cutoff for a couple with two children was $19,806. This might be enough to support a family of four in rural Arkansas or Tennessee, but not in San Francisco, Boston, or New York, where the real-estate boom has created a shortage of affordable housing. According to Jared Bernstein and Lawrence Mishel, economists at the liberal Economic Policy Institute, in Washington, D.C., the average rent in working-class neighborhoods of Boston is about a thousand dollars a month, which for a family of four with a poverty-level income leaves just six hundred and fifty dollars a month for food, clothing, heat, and everything else.

While these examples cut one way (that the poverty rate may be under-estimated), it may cut the other. A lot of measured poverty is in rural areas, where cost of living is lower. Similarly, considering the the poverty rate is largely defined by the cost of food in 1969 and adjusted for inflation, the inflation rate doesn't actually measure the cost of food. In fact, the cost of food has been increasing at a slower rate than the overall level of inflation. The New Yorker continues:
Such considerations suggest that the official measures understate the extent of poverty, but the opposite argument can also be made. The poverty figures fail to distinguish between temporary spells of hardship, like those caused by a job loss or a divorce, and long-term deprivation. Surveys show that as many as forty per cent of people who qualify as poor in any given year no longer do so the following year. Middle-class families that suffer a temporary loss of income can spend their savings, or take out a loan, to maintain their living standard, and they don’t belong in the same category as the chronically impoverished. One way to remedy this problem is to consider how much households spend, rather than how much they earn. If in the course of a year a household spends less than some designated amount, it is classified as poor. Daniel T. Slesnick, an economist at the University of Texas, has tested this approach using figures that he obtained from the Department of Labor’s Consumer Expenditure Survey, which tracks the buying habits of thousands of American families. Slesnick calculated that the “consumption poverty rate” for 1995—that is, the percentage of families whose spending was less than the povertyincome threshold—was 9.5 per cent, which is 4.3 per cent less than the official poverty rate. Subsequent studies have confirmed Slesnick’s findings.

In 1995, a panel of experts assembled by the National Academy of Science concluded that the Census Bureau measure “no longer provides an accurate picture of the differences in the extent of economic poverty among population groups or geographic areas of the country, nor an accurate picture of trends over time.”

h/t: Steve Krause via MR

Monday, July 19, 2010

So, why do we have such weird poverty data in the US? An 2005 op-ed in the New York Times calls it a Broken Yardstick:
According to the latest poverty rate estimates - released by the Census Bureau on Aug. 30 - the total percentage of Americans living in poverty was higher in 2004 (12.7 percent) than in 1974 (11.2 percent). According to that same report, poverty rates for American families and children were likewise higher last year than three decades earlier...

But even the most basic facts bearing on poverty alleviation confute the proposition that material circumstances in America are harsher for the vulnerable today than three decades ago. Per capita income adjusted for inflation is over 60 percent higher today than in 1974. The unemployment rate is lower, and the percentage of adults with paying jobs is distinctly higher. Thirty years ago, the proportion of adults without a high school diploma was more than twice as high as today (39 percent versus 16 percent). And antipoverty spending is vastly higher today than in 1974, even after inflation adjustments...

All strata of America - including the disadvantaged - are markedly healthier today than three decades ago. Though the officially calculated poverty rate for children was higher in 2004 than 1974 (17.8 percent versus 15.4 percent), the infant mortality rate - that most telling measure of wellbeing - fell by almost three-fifths over those same years, to 6.7 per 1,000 births from 16.7 per 1,000.

There's a couple of possible explanations. Marginal Revolution quotes Lane Kenworthy:
Poverty comparisons across affluent nations typically use a “relative” measure of poverty. For each country the poverty line — the amount of income below which a household is defined as poor — is set at 50% (sometimes 60%) of that country’s median income. In a country with a high median, such as the United States, the poverty line thus will be comparatively high, making a high poverty rate more likely...

Using a relative measure, the U.S. poverty rate is higher than Romania’s and only slightly lower than Mexico’s (see here). Similarly, Mississippi’s relative poverty rate is the same as Connecticut’s.

Tyler Cowen follows this up with:
It's also worth noting that poverty rate numbers do not take into account food stamps, housing subsidies, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and Medicaid, among other benefits. Not to mention black market income and underreported income (often for EITC reasons); yes it is worth referring back to consumption data which show that the poor do quite a bit better than income data alone would indicate.

Tyler follows up they NYT article pointing to the fact that we should be looking at consumption, not income data:
Consumption data, even if sometimes misused by zealous libertarians, are not a means of dismissing the poverty problem, but they do put that problem in another light.

First, they show that income and wealth data overstate poverty and inequality problems. Second, a focus on income data leads one to conclude that the elderly require most of the assistance. A focus on consumption data lead one to conclude that helping parents with children is, in many cases, more important. That sounds right to me.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

According to 2005 data from the Dept of Energy, 63.8 % of all households below the poverty line in the US have cable television. From a 2004 report from the Heritage Foundation:
  • 46 % of all poor households actually own their own homes. The average home owned by persons classified as poor by the Census Bureau is a threebedroom house with oneandahalf baths, a garage, and a porch or patio.
  • 76% of poor households have air conditioning. By contrast, 30 years ago, only 36 percent of the entire U.S. population enjoyed air conditioning.
  • Only 6 percent of poor households are overcrowded. More than two-thirds have more than two rooms per person.
  • The average poor American has more living space than the average individual living in Paris, London, Vienna, Athens, and other cities throughout Europe. (These comparisons are to the average citizens in foreign countries, not to those classified as poor.)
  • Nearly three-quarters of poor households own a car; 30 percent own two or more cars.
  • 97 % of poor households have a color television; over half own two or more color televisions.
  • 78 % have a VCR or DVD player; 62 percent have cable or satellite TV reception.
  • 73 % own microwave ovens, more than half have a stereo, and a third have an automatic dishwasher.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Walter Russell Mead on Obama and Westphalia:
This relative indifference to realist concerns does not make President Obama indifferent to global affairs. Far from it. As laid out in the 2010 National Security Strategy and as President Obama has made clear on many occasions, the United States has a president with a vision for the kind of world he wants to build, and as he made plain in his Oslo Nobel speech, there are things for which he is willing to fight. As columnist Phillip Stevens writes in that excellent newspaper the Financial Times, Strobe Talbott recently gave a speech in the UK that described President Obama’s Wilsonian vision very well...

The consequences of the Iranian nuclear drive for the President’s Wilsonian project are deadly; the Iranian nuclear program can fairly be called an existential threat to the Wilsonian ideal. In particular a nuclear Iran will kill the two dreams at the heart of President Obama’s foreign policy and indeed of his view of the world: the dream that the genie of nuclear weapons can be forced back into the bottle and the dream that the nations of the world can build a post-Westphalian international order in which the world’s governments are bound by deepening networks of laws.

This is something I'm a little less convinced about:
[If Iran gets the bomb,] nobody will pay attention to UN sanctions and other huffings and puffings of an equally vain kind. The birds will have figured out that the scarecrow can’t move; they will perch on its broomstick and poop on its head.

It gets worse. The collapse of nonproliferation will mark the definitive death of the post-World War Two legal regime, just as the League of Nation’s failure to protect Ethiopia from Italy brought an end to the interwar fling with a law-based world...

If Iran gets the bomb, the world will change in ways that are deeply destructive of everything President Obama cares about.

The question is, will it truly change Obama? Or will he shift to a far more realist stance, which is the conventional wisdom? Will the international left just indulge in a round of communal cognitive dissonance, setting up treaties believing that the right thinking people will follow them, and just ignoring the consequences of the rest? If the world is bound for a true clash of civilizations, between East and West, which I don't want to believe it is, this latter course of action is a frightening thought.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Gen Mattis gets it:
Mattis was a big proponent of decentralization and disaggregation of authority to the lowest echelons. “High performing small units are now a national imperative, capable of operating independently at increasingly lower echelons,” Mattis said in a speech at CSIS last year.

The “advise and assist” capability of ground forces will be key, requiring that regular forces achieve a “seamless” integration with special operations forces. Those small teams, he said, must partner with foreign militaries, live and work among the local people, and operate with a minimal logistics footprint.

“These wars will be fought among the people… we’re going to have to deal on human levels with human beings and not think that technology or tactics by targetry will solve war,” he said.

This is exactly right. There is much confusion among the press about what exactly counter-insurgency is, that it is merely a "softer" approach, it is more than a focus on avoiding casualties, it is still war. But successful counter-inssurgency is ground-up, not top down. Indeed, many policies, such as McCrystal's much vaunted policy of avoiding collateral damage from airstrikes, can do more harm to a counter-insurgency strategy than they help-- they handicap local commanders in classic Big Army top-down decision making. Only Afghans can build Afghanistan, and building effect indigenous police and army units can only come from field commanders and corporals working with, observing and learning from Collation units engaging in the full spectrum of governance, both civil and violent. The critical decisions of combat, when to engage in force and when not to, is the key lesson that can avoid corruption and build stable societies.

UPDATE: Gen Petraeus moves decisively to implement exactly this.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A federal judge strikes down the Defense of Marriage Act. Is this a win for conservatives?
Judge Tauro uses the Tenth Amendment-- much beloved by conservatives-- to strike down another law much beloved by conservatives--DOMA. There is a kind of clever, "gotcha" element to this logic. It is as if he's saying: "You want the Tenth Amendment? I'll give you the Tenth Amendment!"...

He wants to say that marriage is a distinctly state law function with which the federal government may not interfere. But the federal government has been involved in the regulation of family life and family formation since at least Reconstruction, and especially so since the New Deal. Much of the modern welfare state and tax code defines families, regulates family formation and gives incentives (some good and some bad) with respect to marriages and families.

In both opinions, Judge Tauro takes us through a list of federal programs for which same sex couples are denied benefits. But he does not see that even as he does so, he is also reciting the history of federal involvement in family formation and family structure. His Tenth Amendment argument therefore collapses of its own weight. If the federal government cannot interfere with state prerogatives in these areas, why was it able to pass all of these statutes, which clearly affect how state family law operates in practice and clearly give incentives that could further, undermine, or even in some cases preempt state policies? ...

Judge Tauro's attempt to limit federal power through the Tenth Amendment so that it does not interfere with state prerogatives might delight members of the contemporary Tea Party movement (at least if it wasn't aimed at DOMA), but it should give most Americans pause. The modern state depends heavily on the federal government's taxing and spending powers for many of the benefits that citizens hold dear, including Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and the newly passed provisions of the Affordable Care Act. These programs have regulatory effects on state family policies just as much as DOMA does. If DOMA's direct interference with state prerogatives is beyond federal power, then perhaps any or all of these programs are vulnerable-- and unconstitutional-- to the extent they interfere with state policies regarding family formation as well. Put differently, Judge Tauro has offered a road map to attack a wide range of federal welfare programs, including health care reform. No matter how much they might like the result in this particular case, this is not a road that liberals want to travel.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Megan McArdle on CEO pay:
I myself believed for a long time that board capture--wherein CEO's appoint their own pay committees--mean that CEOs are not held accountable for performance, and grotesquely overpaid.

I was disabused of this view by Ed Carr, a brilliant business editor at the Economist who wrote a survey on the topic in 2007. Most convincing piece of evidence: public company CEOs are not paid more than their private counterparts. I just can't square this with a "board capture" account where CEOs don't matter much, but manage to manipulate the boards into paying them a lot of money anyway. If they aren't worth that much on the open market, I'm pretty sure they couldn't sweet talk the mercenary sharks who run private equity shops into overpaying them. Everyone I know in private equity thinks that CEOs matter a lot--largely because they've watched so many run their companies into the ground.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The New Republic has an interesting set of articles on climate change. Jim Manzi kicks it off by noting that in general, the cure is worse than the disease:
[A]ccording to the IPCC the expected economic costs of global warming under the plausible scenarios for future economic growth are likely to be about 3 percent of GDP more than 100 years from now...

Resources for the Future, a moderately left-of-center, well-respected environmental organization, collated a set of widely-cited projections for the costs of such emission mitigation schemes for the world as a whole. Its list of “least cost” estimates... average a little over 6 percent of global GDP by 2100 (with a very wide range of estimates). That is, we would start paying a cost today that would rise to about 6 percent of world output by 2100 in order to only partially avoid a problem that would have expected costs of about 3 percent of world output sometime later than 2100.

Manzi then addresses the most common response to this argument-- namely that it is not the most likely outcome that we need to worry about, but instead that we need insurance against the far more unlikely, but catastrophic possibilities:
Competent analysts don’t assume only the most likely case, but build probability distributions for levels of warming and associated economic impacts (e.g., there is a 5 percent chance of 4.5 °C warming, a 10 percent chance of 4.0 °C warming, and so on). The economic calculations that comprise, for example, the analysis by William Nordhaus that I referenced earlier are executed in just this manner...

In very short form, Weitzman’s central claim is that the probability distribution of potential losses from global warming is “fat-tailed,” or includes high enough odds of very large amounts of warming (20°C or more) to justify taking expensive action now to avoid these low probability/high severity risks. The big problem with his argument, of course, is that the IPCC has already developed probability distributions for potential warming that include no measurable probability for warming anywhere near this level for any considered scenario.

In a second article, Bradford Plumer responds, primarily by moving the goalposts:
I see a couple problems with this argument. The first is that Manzi is clinging way too tightly to the IPCC report. Yes, the IPCC puts out the best summary of scientific knowledge about our climate system. I rely on it all the time. But the 2007 report is also dated. Climate science is a rapidly moving field, and more recent research has suggested that things may be bleaker than was projected three years ago.

This is simply intellectually dishonest, as Mr Plumer was openly scornful of the argument back in 2007, when the IPCC report was state of the art.
Second, it's a bit too simplistic to use a single global GDP figure when talking about the effects of climate change. True, a 3 percent drop in global GDP may not sound so bad. We'll all be much richer in 2100, we can take a hit. But that top-line figure can obscure some serious distributional issues. Climate change, after all, is expected to hit developing countries much harder than wealthier ones. And as Nate Silver once noted, you could completely wipe out the poorest 81 nations in the world, with a total population of 2.8 billion, and the blow to global GDP would "only" be about 5 percent

Point taken. But, while poor countries will be disproportionally hit, they won't be taking the entirety of the cost. Even still, we could still take Bjorn Lomborg's advice, and simply give these the poor countries the money they lost, and we'd still be ahead.

But to me, none of this is the most interesting part of this exchange. Plumer concludes his article with the almost parenthetical comment "But even so, there's nothing inherently expensive about climate policy. In the end, a carbon tax is just a tax. We tax lots of things in this day and age, and all of those taxes put some amount of drag on the economy." Contrast that attitude on taxes and regulation to the original article, back to Manzi:
In the real world of domestic politics and geostrategic competition, it is not realistic to expect that we would ever have an optimally designed, implemented, and enforced global system, and the side deals made to put in place even an imperfect system would likely have costs that would dwarf 0.2 percent of global economic consumption. Look at what was required to not pass the Waxman-Markey cap-and-trade program, in a wealthy and reasonably democratic country, to get some idea of the kind of deals that would have to be cut. And then you’d have to enforce it throughout developing economies for literally centuries.

Here is where the real action is. Neither side really differs by very much on the science-- instead there is an implicit argument about the effectiveness of tax regulation. Plumer sidesteps the question of if a global carbon tax scheme is even possible, much less enforceable. He claims that environmental regulations are often cheaper then expected, conveniently ignoring the cases where it isn't, and oblivious to the cases where regulations meant to reduce emissions actually increase them:
“It’s an absolute government boondoggle,” Sutton said. “These companies were not using fossil fuels. They only started because they needed it for the tax credit to work. So there’s a negative to the environment, not a positive.”

And so, ultimately, the debate falls onto familiar ideological lines. It is not a debate of what the science says. Instead, it is another instance of conservatives fretting endlessly about the Law of Unintended Consequences while progressives put on their rose-colored glasses when it comes to the effectiveness of government intervention.
Anti-semitism in the British media.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Mother Jones:
The CIA probably doesn't want you to know this, but unmasking its covert operatives isn't as hard as you'd think. Just ask John Sifton. During a six-year stint at Human Rights Watch, the attorney and investigator was hot on the trail of the CIA and some of its most sensitive Bush-era counterterrorism programs, including extraordinary rendition, secret Eastern European detention sites, and the legally dubious and brutal methods used to extract information from detainees. "Even deep-cover CIA officers are real people, with mortgages and credit reports," Sifton once told CQ Politics. For researchers with a trained eye for the hallmarks of a CIA alias, there are obvious giveaways: "A brand new Social Security number, a single P.O. box in Reston, Virginia. You disregard those and focus on the real persons who lie behind, and you can find them."

Sifton's talent for uncovering the CIA's secrets may have served him well—but now, it also has set off a firestorm in the human rights community, prompted a backlash from congressional Republicans, and helped trigger a federal investigation headed by none other than Patrick Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the Valerie Plame affair...

With the CIA pressing the Justice Department to act, Attorney General Eric Holder added Fitzgerald to the investigation. It was a painful blow: Some human rights activists had hoped the administration would appoint Fitzgerald to run a wide-ranging investigation of the Bush-era torture practices. Instead, he'd been chosen to investigate the torture critics.

Friday, July 2, 2010

Economics 101
Copyright © Swing Right Rudie
A notebook to myself