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Saturday, October 06, 2007

What We Missed This Week

(Scroll Down for Debate Information)
I've been so busy with the upcoming Democratic Presidential Debate at Drexel that I haven't blogged about anything else this week.

Click "There's More..." for a brief recap with links to fuller discussions of the issues. Also, if you haven't already, go sign up to volunteer to help out at the debate.

  • While America fights for "freedom and democracy" in Iraq, tens if not hundreds of thousands of citizens, led by monks, rallied against the military rulers in Burma. The protests were met with a violent reaction by the military government. This is an issue that I'm embarrassingly ignorant of, and if anyone would like to enlighten me, please do in the comments.

  • President Bush vetoed a bill passed by congress that would have expanded coverage of SCHIP (State Childrens Health Insurance Program). SCHIP provides federal money to states to provide health insurance to children whose families earn too much to be eligible for medicaid, but too little to be able to afford private insurance.

    This was a pretty unconscionable move by Bush, because he so transparently choose to support private health insurance companies rather than poor children without health insurance. From Wikipedia:

    In 2007, researchers from Brigham Young University and Arizona State found that children who drop out of SCHIP cost states more money because they shift away from routine care to more frequent emergency care situations.[5] The conclusion of the study is that an attempt to cut the costs of a state program could create a false savings because other government organizations pick up the tab for the children who leave SCHIP and later need care. In a 2007 analysis by the Congessional Budget Office, researchers determined that "for every 100 children who gain coverage as a result of SCHIP, there is a corresponding reduction in private coverage of between 25 and 50 children." The CBO speculates this is because the state programs offer better benefits and lower cost than the private alternatives.[6] A Cato Institute briefing paper estimated the "crowding out" of private insurers by the public program could be as much as 60%.[7] The program cost $40 billion federal dollars over 10 years.
    $40 billion dollars over ten years? Thats 5 months of the Iraq war. To summarize, Bush doesnt want to insure poor kids, because 25-50 percent of those poor kids would drop their private insurance that their families could barely afford, and that would cost insurance companies money. Compassionate conservatism? What an asshole.

  • Sen. Clinton came out strongly against the politicization of science, something that has been a tremendous problem during the Bush presidency. As a student of science myself, this is good to see, although it's certainly not the first time she has said this, and she is also not alone amongst democratic contenders in doing so. Still, its always good to see, and she should be applauded for it.

    She also came out in defense of evolution, earning her gruding praise from a certain net-famous sci-blogger.

  • Americans learned this week that back in 2005, after the Bush administration was all like "dudez, we totally promise 2 not torture people n e more!" Gonzalez and the DOJ issued secret legal opinions intended to provide legal cover for, well, torture.

    Try to watch this video without having your head explode.

  • Finally, Rudy Giuliani got shafted by the religious right big-wigs. Despite promising them that he'd do whatever they want, they went public saying that they would back a third party challenger if Rudy gets the republican nomination.

    The interesting thing is that for once this kind of split might actually happen. People have been hypothesizing a rift between the GOP and the religious right for a long time, but it was never in the interest of either of them, so it didn't happen. This time, however, is different. Republicans are widely expected to lose big in 2008 anyway, and if the religious right withdraws their support, they can point to the 2008 loss and use it to leverage more power within the GOP after 2008.

    If the religious right sticks with Rudy, however, he will probably still lose, and they lose both the support of their base (for backing a somewhat-pro-choicer) and they lose clout within the party because they couldn't deliver. Their choice seems pretty clear. Chris Bowers has an interesting view of institutional politics that I think explains precisely the dynamics involved here. It's worth a read.
Don't forget to volunteer for the debate at Drexel!