• Torturing Straw Men

    So I'm back for another episode as Ezra's recurring werewolf guest. Thanks, Ezra! The first thing I want to do is point out the way that people on the right are confusing the torture debate. They pick up on random things happening at Guantanamo that aren't instances of torture by themselves, and claim that no torture is going on because, hey, feeding people chicken isn't torture! John Kass , the problem isn't that we sometimes played Christina Aguilera in prisoners' cells instead of, say, Sleater-Kinney. Darleen, the problem isn't that we exposed the prisoners to heat over 100 degrees. Captain Ed , you aren't even responding to anybody when you say: If that means they get cold, or hot, or have little accidents on the floor, then so be it. That isn't torture or even abuse. This FBI agent , however, was witnessing torture: On a couple of occasions, I entered interview rooms to find a detainee chained hand and foot in a fetal position to the floor, with no chair, food or water. Most...
  • Moving Day

    Light posting today as I change residences. Things'll perk back up over the weekend, as Neil Sinhababu (The Ethical Werewolf) and I will tag-team the site. And next week...hoo-boy you lucky blog readers, big doings next week.
  • Looking Back to Lenin

    Now for the promised "more". Matt replied to Jon Cohn, saying much of what I said below (single payer not going to happen all at once, do it sneakily, etc). But he also made a point that bears some examination: I agree with various folks around here and around the web who don't think arguing about the details of a reform plan is the most productive thing in the world. The class of things that count as "better than what we've got" is very big, and everyone in the history of American health care who's ever rejected an improvement on the theory that something even better is right around the corner has been proving wrong. I'll take what I can get, and I hope everyone who's thinking seriously about this issue feels the same way. My main concern is that people not reject single-payer in favor of a "more feasible" compromise plan in advance . Now this is, on one level, very true. The problem is, on another level, it's not very true at all. Matt and others have eloquently argued for the need...
  • Sneaky Single-Payer

    Jon Cohn's post telling single-payer advocates to take transition seriously -- i.e, don't underestimate the level of disruption it'd entail for our economy to break down the old system and create a new one while still providing health care -- is a good one, and folks should give it some thought. But how good? I mean, it's smart to think hard about how a transition would work, but if we're putting aside the political to look at the policy, as Jon says, then I've got to push this one back. After all -- we're considering a top-to-bottom reorganization of health care, a little disruption for a sounder long-term system strikes me as a much smarter way to go than a less sustainable system that entails less disruption. Further, I'm not sure how bad the disruption would need to be. After all, we're starting single-payer -- it's not as if the doctors won't know who to bill. But policy fantasies aside, single-payer is not going to spring full born from Ted Kennedy's head and find itself...
  • If GM Goes

    Rare as it may be, Tom Friedman's got it right today. If GM does go down the toilet, and if Toyota does step forward with the plunger, it'd be a good thing for us all. Pushing Toyota's hybrid technology into all manner of GM vehicles, arming all the GM brands with fuel-efficient engines, the end result would be wonderful for our dependence of oil. On the other hand, it'd be reallty bad for universal health care as GM is the most powerful and important company begging for relief, and if they leave the scene, so will a lot of the business support. So in that way, GM sets liberal priorities at war. But as Kevin notes, guaranteeing business support is pretty tricky, so we'd probably be better off not worrying about it.
  • Cut and Run

    I'm enormously disturbed to hear that the GOP is looking for an exit strategy on Social Security. This sort of abandonment of Social Security could let it fall to AARP. Indeed, a reverse domino effect could take place, as liberal pressure groups sense weakness, judge the administration a paper tiger unwilling to take electoral casualties, and begin pushing for a massive expansion of the welfare state. First Social Security, tomorrow the minimum wage, Monday universal day care, and next month, single-payer. The thought makes me shudder. Moreover, this essential willingness to abandon our nation's pension programs to those who seek to perpetuate our way of life proves the essential lack of seriousness conservatives bring to domestic policy. All of us who understand that Social Security is, as President Bush said, the foremost threat to our national economy realize that his absence of leadership on the issue betrays a willingness to abandon the country's best interest in pursuit of...
  • I Am Done With Finals

    And that's a fact. Ask me about Rawls! Go on, ask me!* * Questions will not be answered.
  • The Reality-Based War on Terror

    This post of Kathryn-Jean Lopez's has been nagging at me for the last few days. It's a response to a New York Times op-ed by Peter Bergen, which argues, in short, that the widespread worry over madrassas is really misplaced -- those who've attacked us haven't been poorly educated automatons with no skills save massive Qur'anic recall, rather, we've been hit by a succession of college graduates, of engineers, of highly educated Arab men with job prospects and the background to "know better". Thus, concludes Bergen, this isn't a question of funding literacy, it's a question of stopping those with the desire and, crucially, the ability to do us harm. Lopez dismisses this with 20 catty words of snark. Why? Why is she fixated on the hate that madrassas may or may not breed? She's certainly not concerned with the resentment the French might harbor towards us. No, it's just Arab anger that bugs her. This seems to represent a fundamental break in how liberals and conservatives view terrorism...
  • Me and Osama, United Against Global Warming

    Ricky West is usually one of the good guys. Republican, but one of the good guys. So what's he talking about here? “I don’t hate America, I hate what the right-wing/Bush has done to America” – two words: Shut. Up. If you hate what your political opponents have done to America, then that means that there are things about America that you hate, which opens up the floodgates for the item above. And no mamby-pamby stuff like saying that because of the Bush tax-cut there would be an increase in “poverty” or “homelessness” qualify…we’re all against bad things. If you hate the policies of the United States, then I suggest that you discuss the issues with your intellectual brothers in arms, Al Qaeda. Huh? I hate that our government tried to interfere in the Schiavo case because a bunch of religious extremists pull their strings, I hate that we're trying to change the constitution to ensure gays can't codify their relationships the same way everyone else can, I hate that we're picking our...
  • Death to the Editorial!

    I agree with just about every word in Tim Noah's argument to end the editorial page. Take the damn thing out back and shoot it, it's utterly useless. As a rhetorical form, editorials are dull, cautious, plodding, poorly-written, and choking on their own perceived authority. They rarely add anything to the paper, instead stealing space that could be used for riskier, more vibrant op-eds. If Kinsley really wants to go interactive, having an editorial wiki isn't the way to do it. Opening the page up for reader submitted op-eds -- like letters to the editor, but longer and focused on issues of importance to the community -- would be a much better and more engaging move. The left side of the op-ed page, then, could be on local issues and by local authors and the right side can continue opining on matters of national and international import. It'd be much more interesting