The Curse of the Cubic Zirconia

A mostly political Weblog.
Dec. 20 2004 3:09 AM

The Curse of the Cubic Zirconia

Baubles and Bangle too.

(Continued from Page 3)

Even if you favor making gay marriage a central, non-negotiable Democratic plank, the fact remains that this greatly complicates any Democrat-led struggle against Islamic extremists (because, as my emailer notes, it alienates even Islamic moderates).  That's another reality Beinart doesn't seem to want to confront. (Better to talk about 1947!) How exactly would a Dem president who declares gay marriage a "morally momentous" principle convince civilized, non-terrorist, observant Muslims that their religion and culture is compatible with Western-style economics and democracy? 

Maybe Democrats will ultimately have no choice other than dissembling or declaring a clash of civilizations. But why race to that point? At the moment, I don't see why we can't have a Democratic party that openly a) refrains from force-feeding gay marriage to the public b) has room in it for patriotic Iraq War skeptics and c) as a consequence of a) and b) is better positioned to wage an effective military and ideological battle against Islamic terrorism.  12:31 P.M.

Wednesday, December 15, 2004

How dumb are academics? Part XXIII: Today's N.Y. Post reports on a Harvard School of Public Health Study that found "men tend to do less exercise and put on weight" after they remarry, even though they eat healthier diets. The explanation, offered by Dr. Patricia Mona Eng:

Time demands of a new spousal role may preclude routine exercise.

Alternative non-Harvard-approved explanation for why they exercised more before they remarried: They wanted to get laid.... On second thought, that theory may be crude and inappropriate. Sex isn't a big factor in male motivation. We all know that. Stick with the "time demands of a spousal role" business. Yes, that's the ticket. ... 4:37 P.M.

"Bring back the nest!"  I guess the N.Y. Post just doesn't want to let go of that Kerik-Regan story. ... 4:23 P.M.

Kinsley's Query: Andrew Sullivan and TPMpublish a long question about Social Security privatization from Michael Kinsley.  ... I assume the answer to Kinsley's conundrum is that defenders of privatization think switching from a pay-as-you-go system (in which each generation pays for its elders' retirement) to a pay-for-yourself system (in which each generation sets aside money to pay for its own retirement) will boost the national savings rate and result in greater economic growth. Why might this happen? Because Social Security's current pay-as-you-go benefits--though merely transfer payments and not a return on actual savings--eliminate some of the need to save for retirement. Why set aside money for your golden years when the government will supply that money later by taxing younger workers and sending you checks? According to this argument, Social Security's faux-savings have depressed the national savings rate--an effect that will presumably be reversed if today's young workers are required to set aside cash in personal accounts to pay for their own benefits. This increased savings will mean increased investment which should translate into higher economic growth. I seem to recall studies by Martin Feldstein that purport to show such an effect. ... P.S.: ABC's esteemed-but-so-revealingly-wrong-about-Kerry Note  keeps emphasizing that cuts in minimum guaranteed benefits are the hidden key to making privatization plans work. But the real key would seem to be this savings-enhancing effect. If it exists. 

Update: Reader G.F. emails: "[Y]our recent discussion of partial privatization seem to be against it one day, and for it another. (And you complained about Kerry's tendency to do that.)" Ouch. I'm not for the Bush plan, to the extent we know what it is (though I suppose I could buy a compromise that combined a) means-testing the current system with b) add-on Clinton style private accounts, and that c) wasn't financed by increasing the deficit).  What I'm saying in this item is I think the proponents have an answer to Kinsley's claim that privatization "can't possibly work, even in theory." 1:26 A.M.

Missed Cocoon-Busting Opportunity? Like so   many others I got to hear pro-invasion Iraq The Model bloggers Omar and Mohammed recently. They are instantly likable, mainly because they're not obvious salesmen. They gave some credibility-boosting answers that Bush-backers might not approve (e.g. the violence will continue after the coming elections) and others that were merely ungratifying, if true (that winning the war against the insurgents will at best be a long, ecological process in which more people trust the government enough to turn insurgents in, which makes the government stronger, which encourages others to come forward, etc.). I don't have the best BS-detector in the world, but I saw no indicia of insincerity. ... P.S.: I went with an open-minded Westside L.A. Democrat who noted that in the meetings she attends you never hear from anyone who supports the war or thinks it a non-debacle--which is why I think the ITM bloggers' backers made a mistake in not aggressively exposing them to the left rather than to the naturally sympathetic right.  Perhaps there were security concerns. ... P.P.S.: Juan Cole asks in defensive, cocoon-like fashion "whether [the Iraq the Model bloggers] are getting some extra support from certain quarters." But if the CIA or some other agency had decided to finance propaganda spokesmen I think they'd be much slicker. In any case there seems no reason to doubt that they're exactly who they say the are.*** More: Jeff Jarvis  reams Cole here. Cole disingenuously distances himself from his earlier innuendo about the bloggers here, after more convincingly defending his claim that they do not represent the mainstream of Iraqi opinion. ... P.P.P.S.: Why not stage a debate between Juan Cole and Omar and Mohammed? That would get some attention on the left. ... 

***: I've called Andrew Sullivan "excitable," but Cole makes Sullivan look like Brian Lamb. 12:48 A.M.

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