Ten Miles Square

September 2013 Archives

September 30, 2013 8:38 PM This Is Not Just About Polarization

We are now just hours from a possible government shutdown and just days from a possible debt crisis. James Fallows has a nice piece up explaining that these situations...

By Seth Masket

September 30, 2013 9:07 AM Why Politicians Who Lose a Primary Can't Win a General Election

In 2006, Senator Joe Lieberman, who had represented Connecticut's Democrats in the Senate since 1989, lost his re-nomination bid. Activists in his party had grown tired of his alliances with...

By Seth Masket

September 29, 2013 9:01 AM How Justice Department Sentencing Reforms Could Make Racial Disparities Worse

Attorney General Eric Holder’s new policy on the application of mandatory minimum sentences in drug cases reserves tough sentences for offenders who work within larger organizations rather than being independent...

By Keith Humphreys

September 27, 2013 12:01 PM Five Reasons Not to Trust Iran on Nukes

Iranian President Hassan Rohani -- who this week is attempting to charm the pants off the United Nations, President Barack Obama, world Jewry and Charlie Rose -- may succeed in...

By Jeffrey Goldberg

September 27, 2013 11:44 AM The Danger of Painkiller Pill Mills

Imagine you were a manufacturer of powerful opioid painkillers and your sales representatives discover suspicious activities at the offices of some physicians who prescribed your product. These activities include patients...

By Keith Humphreys

September 27, 2013 9:34 AM The Truth About Inflation

I don't recall ever seeing this one; it doesn't surprise me, but, you know, this is just crazy talk: Over the next twelve months, do you expect that the cost...

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 27, 2013 9:00 AM The Real Meaning of American Exceptionalism

In recent years, the term “American exceptionalism” has sometimes been an empty applause line, a fancy way of shouting “USA! USA!” Vladimir Putin recently went so far as to proclaim...

By Cass Sunstein

September 27, 2013 8:50 AM How John Boehner Might Avoid a Government Shutdown

Information is starting to emerge about what the House is going to try to do in the next few weeks. Nothing is certain, especially the details, but the broad outline...

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 27, 2013 8:07 AM The 2016 Campaign Is On -- But Stop Gaming Out Iowa

Yes, the 2016 nomination battles are on, and reporting on them is a great idea. That said: let's not get ahead of ourselves. It's too early to game out Iowa,...

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 27, 2013 8:00 AM Ted Cruz Republicans Listen Only to Themselves

The theme of Ted Cruz’s filibuster this week was “Make D.C. Listen.” But Cruz himself doesn’t listen; he talks. And talks. And talks. It’s no wonder the Texas senator can’t...

By Ezra Klein

September 26, 2013 8:00 AM What's Slowing Health Costs?

A new set of projections released last week by Medicare’s actuaries has drawn much attention, in part because it suggests the deceleration in the growth of health costs we’ve seen...

By Peter Orszag

September 25, 2013 8:45 AM Purity vs. Potency: An Important Distinction in Drug Policy

How many times have you read scary stories in the press about addictive drugs of unprecedented purity? How often in movies has the villain been the one to cook up...

By Keith Humphreys

September 24, 2013 11:15 AM Judd Gregg and the Trouble with 'Moderate' Republicans

Want a good measure of how far Republicans are from being a healthy party? Check out Judd Gregg's "to-be-sure" paragraph in a recent piece he wrote for The Hill. Gregg...

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 24, 2013 11:13 AM Here's How a Bill Can Be Divisive Without Being Partisan

Derek Thompson has a new piece up at the Atlantic claiming that the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (the Obama stimulus) are the "most...

By Seth Masket

September 24, 2013 11:07 AM Can Technology Reduce Alcohol-related Crimes?

States have adopted different approaches to reducing recidivism by intoxicated drivers. Some employ ignition interlocks that prevent an offender’s car from starting if the person in the driver’s seat fails...

By Keith Humphreys

September 24, 2013 8:31 AM America the Bystander - Or Not?

Vladimir Putin’s proposal for mitigating the bloodshed in Syria has revived the allegation of declining American influence. Across the globe, but perhaps most intensely in the United States itself,...

By Ali Wyne

September 23, 2013 12:08 PM Revisiting Democratic Mistakes: Debt Limit

You know what the "Gephardt rule" was? Majority House Democrats back in the 1970s automatically linked the debt limit to the deficit that Congress passed, so that there didn't need...

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 23, 2013 11:53 AM U.S. Workers Pay a High Price for Free Trade

China's rise as an export juggernaut has coincided with a big drop in labor's share of U.S. national income. Photographer: Kiyoshi Ota/Bloomberg When I was in business school, way...

By Megan McArdle

September 23, 2013 9:18 AM How Democrats Lost the Colorado Recalls

Much ink has been spilled in the past week concerning the long-term implications of the successful recall of two Democratic State Senators in Colorado, which centered on gun control...

By Stefan Hankin

September 23, 2013 8:11 AM Why Third-Party Predictions Can Be So Weirdly Optimistic

Doug Mataconis is impressed that third-party candidate Robert Sarvis is polling as high as 10% in the Virginia Governor’s race.Color me skeptical, not because of anything specific to Sarvis but...

By Keith Humphreys

September 20, 2013 10:19 AM House Republicans Are Polarized, not Partisan

On Wednesday Ezra Klein posted a really smart take on the GOP’s budget strategy: they face a collective-action problem in that the position that is politically beneficial to most House Republicans...

By Gregory Koger

September 20, 2013 10:05 AM Those Obamacare Rape Ads Are a Scam on Conservatives

I suppose I have to talk about the creepy anti-Obamacare ads that everyone, or at least all the liberal bloggers, are talking about today. Look, folks: this is a very...

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 20, 2013 7:12 AM Is this the End of the Dutch Welfare State?

Recently in the Financial Times. The Netherlands’ newly inaugurated King Willem-Alexander has made his first annual appearance before parliament one to remember, with a speech effectively announcing the end of...

By Henry Farrell

September 19, 2013 11:00 AM Here's a Practical Way to Fight Childhood Obesity

Although childhood obesity in the U.S. is a stubbornly difficult problem, some progress is being made. And the new organizations fighting obesity offer larger lessons for national policy. This month...

By Peter Orszag

September 19, 2013 10:25 AM Barack Obama: 'Unmerciful Drug Warrior'?

Jacob Sullum has penned a bizarre indictment of President Obama as “an unmerciful drug warrior” because Obama has pardoned or commuted the sentences of a historically small number of individuals...

By Keith Humphreys

September 19, 2013 8:30 AM Attracting and Retaining the Skilled

UC Berkeley’s Enrico Moretti has published an excellent piece in the Wall Street Journal. “Since 1980, data show that the economic success of a city has been increasingly defined by...

By Matthew Kahn

September 19, 2013 7:19 AM Summers Battle Was Front in War Over Wall Street

Larry Summers’s campaign to replace Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke wasn’t doomed by any of the typical doubts about a potential Fed chief. Senate Democrats weren’t worried that Summers was...

By Ezra Klein

September 18, 2013 9:00 AM How Poverty Takes Over the Mind

Suppose you got no sleep last night and you have to take an intelligence test today. If you’re like most people, you’re not going to do so well on that...

By Cass Sunstein

September 18, 2013 8:49 AM Government Shutdowns: The Big Difference Between 1995 and Now

There's one important point to make about Speaker Boehner and the Republicans as we approach a possible shutdown: this is very different than 1995-1996. Newt Gingrich, unlike Boehner now, really...

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 18, 2013 8:30 AM Single-family Housing: A Smart Growth Strategy

Sunday’s New York Times features a story by Shaila Dewan asking, “Is Suburban Sprawl on the Way Back?” Answer: not really, although highly compact urban development is hardly going to...

By Jonathan Zasloff

September 17, 2013 10:20 AM We're All Asking the Wrong Question about the Lehman Brothers Collapse

On the 5th anniversary of the start of the 2008 financial crisis, Andrew Ross Sorkin is one of many people wondering “What if the U.S. had rescued Lehman?“. People keep...

By Keith Humphreys

September 17, 2013 9:30 AM Why No One Watches the America's Cup Races

Hey, the famous America’s Cup Yacht Races are happening right now in San Francisco Bay! Hey, really, is that exciting or what; you can watch this immortal series, cheer for...

By Michael O'Hare

September 17, 2013 8:00 AM What to Make of Putin's Op-Ed

Two quick notes on two interested parties in the rolling Syria situation. First, what to make of Russia's intentions? I've been deeply skeptical, for the obvious reason that Russia...

By Jeffrey Goldberg

September 17, 2013 7:15 AM Congress Is Poised to Bury "Tough-on-Crime.”

Obama should hang back and let them work.

By David Dagan and Steven M. Teles

September 16, 2013 8:43 AM So Yeah, the Heritage Foundation Has a 'Jesse Helms' Lecture Series...

Senator Cruz got in trouble for praising Jesse Helms the other day. In particular, Cruz is quoted as saying: “We need 100 more like Jesse Helms in the U.S. Senate.”...

By Harold Pollack

September 16, 2013 8:29 AM What Rich People Would Pay for Wendy's Coffee Doesn't Matter

Labor protests were recently held in front of more than 1,000 fast food restaurants around the country. As a result of our job-killing recession and subsequent job-lite recovery, the fast...

By Keith Humphreys

September 13, 2013 12:00 AM What's Wrong with the Washington Arrows?

Peter King, the most eminent NFL writer in America, has let it be known that he will no longer use the nickname of Washington’s football team in his column. (I...

By Jamie Malanowski

September 12, 2013 12:50 PM Does Classified Research Corrupt an Academic Institution?

This week Johns Hopkins University received quite a bit of bad press for asking one of their faculty members, Matthew D. Green, to take down a blog post he wrote...

By Rachel Cohen

September 12, 2013 12:00 PM How Smaller Stuff is Better. And Worse Too.

No one can master the substance of every single public policy area, but it is possible to learn analytic rules that can be applied to almost any issue. I will...

By Keith Humphreys

September 12, 2013 11:56 AM Clean Those Coffee-Mugs with Zest and Aplomb!

Advice on succeeding as a policy intern in Washington DC. Doubtless, this is entirely well meant. Very likely, it is good advice. But precisely to the extent it is good...

By Henry Farrell

September 12, 2013 11:02 AM Does Colorado Predict More Recall Elections?

In a state first, two Colorado senators, Democrats John Morse (Colorado Springs) and Angela Giron (Pueblo), were recalled yesterday, largely owing to their votes in support of gun control regulations...

By Seth Masket

September 12, 2013 10:50 AM The GOP's Budget Problem

Brian Beutler has a smart item up about how GOP obsession with Obamacare hurts them in the upcoming government funding showdown. I agree with the general point. However, I think...

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 11, 2013 11:18 AM Did They Ever Figure Out Who Did That Whole Anthrax Attack Thing?

As we get ready to commemorate another passage around the sun since 9/11, the day that is said to have changed everything, it is customary, amidst the pontificating and rending...

By Luke O'Neil

September 11, 2013 10:00 AM The Other 9/11

Four decades after Chile's brutal coup, it's time for the U.S. to acknowledge its role.

By Christopher Moraff

September 11, 2013 9:33 AM We Shouldn't Go to War Based on Gut Feeling Alone

In an interview with NBC last night, President Obama urged the nation to watch YouTube videos from Syria showing disturbing images of dead men, women and children, as well...

By Rachel Cohen

September 11, 2013 8:46 AM Care About Presidential Power? Stay Out of Quagmires.

It was posted ages (a day) ago, but amidst all the double-bank-shot, speculative gaming of the political situation regarding Syria, I think this simple, strong insight (from Jonathan Bernstein) is...

By Andrew Sabl

September 11, 2013 8:41 AM Yes, Of Course It's OK to Speculate About Syria and 2016.

This again? I'm hearing all sorts of complaints about people speculating about how the Syria matter will affect the 2016 elections. If we're talking general election -- I'm with you....

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 10, 2013 4:46 PM What Should the Government Do About State-Legal Cannabis?

Mark Kleiman's statement to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

By Mark Kleiman

September 10, 2013 12:12 PM A New Moment for National Service?

In 1966, in the midst of a war that was demanding the ultimate sacrifice from many young people and nothing from far more, Defense Secretary Robert McNamara called for “every...

By Melissa Bass

September 10, 2013 11:51 AM Are American Political Parties Getting Weaker?

Alexander Burns and John F. Harris tell us that the Syria matter has exposed the "weakness" of several institutions...I'll only pay attention to the one I know best: the parties....

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 10, 2013 11:50 AM Arguments for Intervening in Syria, With Rebuttals

The original rationale for the Iraq War was that the U.S. wasn’t safe so long as Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. It quickly became clear that wasn’t enough...

By Ezra Klein

September 10, 2013 9:56 AM Christian History, and Other Oxymorons

The fundamentalists who have appropriated the previously-respectable word “Christian” for their brand of right-wing-politics-plus-sexual-purity-cult claim to respect the Bible. Presumably that includes Lev. 19:11, “Ye shall not steal, neither deal...

By Mark Kleiman

September 10, 2013 8:41 AM Why the New Syria Plan Won't Work Either

Yesterday, Secretary of State John Kerry suggested that the U.S. might postpone a military strike on Syria if the regime put its chemical weapons under international supervision -- an offer...

By Jeffrey Goldberg

September 09, 2013 2:18 PM This Is What Net Neutrality Is Really About

I have to admit that net neutrality, the principle that Internet service providers and governments should treat all data on the Internet equally and not discriminate or charging differently by...

By Daniel Luzer

September 09, 2013 11:39 AM Do Political Reporters Rely on Social Media Too Much?

CNN political report Peter Hamby has an interesting paper out analyzing changes in political journalism, specifically focusing on coverage of the 2012 presidential election. Hamby thinks current coverage is seriously...

By Seth Masket

September 09, 2013 11:29 AM Republicans' Immigration Bind, as Explained by Aristotle

It is tempting to believe that a political party will act in accordance with its self-interest, which is to win elections. Democrats may be wrong, and Republicans may be wrong,...

By Cass Sunstein

September 09, 2013 10:54 AM Let's Not Panic Over E-Cigarettes

The FDA, the CDC, and five Senate Democrats, cheered on by anti-tobacco advocacy groups, are viewing-with-alarm new statistics about the use of e-cigarettes. It may turn out that concern is...

By Mark Kleiman

September 09, 2013 10:20 AM Could a Fed Under Larry Summers Worsen America’s Investment Drought?

The question of who will replace outgoing Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke is important, not simply because the Fed plays a central role in monetary policy and banking system oversight,...

By Rob Atkinson

September 09, 2013 9:26 AM White House Now Seeks Bush-Era Endorsements on Syria

For the first time in the unfolding Syria crisis (okay, maybe for the third time), I feel as if we’ve definitively slipped down the rabbit hole. Last night, Susan Rice,...

By Jeffrey Goldberg

September 09, 2013 8:34 AM Are Republicans Coming Around on Drug Policy?

First Pat Robertson... … now John McCain. Or that’s what I thought when I saw the HuffPo headline:John McCain On Marijuana: ‘Maybe We Should Legalize’ Actually, that’s not quite right....

By Mark Kleiman

September 06, 2013 9:16 AM The Greatest Threat to U.K. Economic Growth is the U.S. House of Representatives

After some tough times, the U.K. is experiencing some much-needed economic growth. Because the rate of growth in the U.K. is about comparable to that of the U.S. despite radically...

By Keith Humphreys

September 06, 2013 8:40 AM The Post-Boehner House?

Rumors are circulating, apparently, that John Boehner will retire after the current election cycle. Ryan Grim and Jon Ward report. Are they true? I certainly have no idea. I do...

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 06, 2013 8:30 AM Why Do We Even Care About Syria’s Chemical Weapons?

The United Nations estimates that more than 100,000 Syrians have died since the country’s civil war began in March 2011. More die every day. But the U.S. is not considering...

By Ezra Klein

September 06, 2013 8:00 AM All of the Financial Advice You're Ever Going to Need

Faithful readers may remember my comment in an earlier conversation with Helaine Olen regarding the financial industry’s basic dilemma: The best advice fits on an index card, which is available...

By Harold Pollack

September 05, 2013 8:49 AM Syria Isn't Obama's Litmus Test on Iran

Over the past two days or so, the Syria interventionists (a group that includes yours truly, at least some of the time) have argued with great fervor that President Barack...

By Jeffrey Goldberg

September 05, 2013 8:00 AM How Do We Judge Defendants Who Defy Stereotypes?

New research by Blake McKimmie and colleagues (abstract here, full article paywalled) suggests that evidence matters more in criminal cases when the person accused of the crime fits the stereotype...

By Keith Humphreys

September 04, 2013 9:28 AM Nonprofits Are Growing. What Is It They Do?

The U.S. nonprofit sector has survived surprisingly well since the 2008 financial crisis. Even during the depths of the downturn, its revenue rose steadily. Today, nonprofit sales of goods and...

By Peter Orszag

September 04, 2013 8:30 AM How Do You Want Your Children to Get Health Insurance in 20 Years?

How do you want your children to get health insurance in 20 years?This was the first slide, and the last slide that I showed the Wake Forest, North Carolina Chamber...

By Don Taylor

September 04, 2013 8:00 AM Deaths Are Declining in Afghanistan

As war talk continues about Syria, it's still the case that the US is at war in Afghanistan -- remember that one? And odds are that the US will still...

By Jonathan Bernstein

September 03, 2013 10:31 AM 'The Butler' and Ronald Reagan's Race Problem

Steven F. Hayward, Paul Kengor, Craig Shirley and Kiron K. Skinner wrote a strange Washington Post op-ed yesterday decrying the inspiro-pic “The Butler,” for its allegedly unkind portrayal of Ronald...

By Harold Pollack

September 03, 2013 10:00 AM What the New 'Nimble Economy' Really Needs

I am in Singapore working at NUS but I continue to read the New York Times. David Autor and David Dorn have written an important piece about the role that...

By Matthew Kahn

September 01, 2013 9:27 PM Heroes and Soldiers of the Supreme Court

As the Supreme Court prepares to begin its new term, observers have been discussing the familiar divisions among the justices. Judicial activism is opposed to judicial restraint, liberalism is opposed...

By Cass Sunstein

September 01, 2013 6:32 PM How to Fix Voting Rights

Progressives were outraged and disappointed earlier this summer when the Supreme Court struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act, all but gutting that vital piece of civil rights...

By Katelyn Fossett

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