40 years of mob psychology

One day, about 40 years ago, I found myself in a group of people doing something that scared the crap out of me. As I look around me now, I feel the same way I felt then. I went to college at Penn State, a burgeoning mass of 30,000 students sequestered in the heart of the mountains … Continued

The Paul Ryan PowerPoint presentation about healthcare is excellent

Republicans attempting to repeal Obamacare and replace it with the American Health Care Act are taking a pummeling. Everyone from the American Medical Association and the AARP to the Tea Party Patriots have come down against it. House Speaker Paul Ryan took to PowerPoint to explain and defend the law, and his presentation technique was quite … Continued

Democratic response from Steve Beshear shows no audacity, no hope

Steve Beshear, a Democrat and former governor of Kentucky, presented the Democratic response to Trump’s speech to Congress. Where Trump delivered platitudes mixed with policy in front of Congress, Beshear gave us platitudes mixed with whining (in a diner). It probably didn’t help that Beshear doesn’t know who he is. Here’s his confused opener: I’m … Continued

The true meaning of the generalities in the Trump speech to Congress

Donald Trump’s first speech to a joint session of Congress was typical of such addresses. It was unusual for Trump in that it was clear, well-structured, and got most of the facts right — but like the average State of the Union, it was a mixed bag of gritty legislative proposals and pabulum. Let’s take a look at … Continued

Beware the thumb on the scale of government data

To make decisions, our politicians need data that only the government can collect. Political tampering with that data marks the beginning of the end for fact-based policy — and for a nation claiming to serve the needs of the people. Imaginary facts are bad enough. Cooked statistics are much worse. For me, the most disturbing headline in … Continued

The self-serving Michael Flynn resignation letter is mostly fluff

Michael Flynn resigned yesterday as Donald Trump’s national security advisor. Media reports stated that he’d lied to Vice President Mike Pence about the content of his pre-inauguration conversations with the Russian Ambassador. Resignation letters should take responsibility, apologize, and say nothing further — but Flynn’s is strangely full of fluffy praise for Trump. Flynn’s letter is … Continued

Lessons from the appeals court’s ruling against Trump’s immigration order

A federal appeals court ruled against President Trump, refusing to allow Trump’s executive order concerning immigration and travel to go back into effect. It’s a complicated case, and a complicated ruling. Let’s look at the clearest parts of the ruling, and what’s good and bad about legal language. First, the context. Trump’s executive order 12 days ago … Continued

The courage of nonpartisan analysis — an interview with Len Burman

We need nonpartisan institutions, dedicated to objective analysis. That’s what the Washington, D.C.-based Tax Policy Center does — they score and analyze tax proposals so we can figure out what they’ll mean for taxpayers. But it’s increasingly difficult for nonpartisan organizations to get heard. Unbiased analysis is a passion of mine. It’s also a passion of the respected … Continued