Archive for September 3rd, 2009

Healthcare Logic Fail

Ezra’s overview may be correct, but he’s wrong on the specifics:

Matt Yglesias, explaining the tactical thinking of liberals who want to draw a line in the sand over the public option, writes, “If you become known as the guys who are always willing to be reasonable and fold while the Blue Dogs are the guys who are happy to let the world burn unless someone kisses your ring, then in the short-term your reasonableness will let some things get done but over the long-term you’ll get squeezed out.”

This seems a bit like a firefighter attempting to out-arson an arsonist. The reason the Blue Dogs have a reputation for being happy to let the world burn is that they really, really, really are willing to let the world burn, let health care fail, let cap-and-trade die, let Iraq grind on. The reason liberals have a reputation for not wanting to let the world burn is that all the anti-burn initiatives under discussion are, in fact, items from their agenda. They really, really, really don’t want the world to burn.

Well, I don’t know that the Blue Dogs actually want the world to burn, but they certainly have very little interest in voting for any kind of progressive initiatives, especially ones that might inconvenience their corporate donors in any way.

But the problem with the “Progressives have to cave in because they don’t want the world to burn” argument in this context is that it presumes that the bill the progressives want to obstruct is better than nothing, and it’s not.  A mandate without a public option is an economic loser because it gives the insurance industry even less incentive to reduce costs than they have now, and a political loser because everyone will absolutely hate it.

Yes, progressives don’t want the world to burn, but that’s only a relevant argument when you’re urging them to throw on water, not gasoline.

2 comments September 3rd, 2009 at 08:31pm Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Democrats,Healthcare,Politics

Final Netroots Nation Photoblogging

Okay, this is finally it for the Netroots Nation photos: Darcy Burner’s closing keynote address. For those of you who want to relive the whole thing, my complete NN09 gallery is here.

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September 3rd, 2009 at 11:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Netroots Nation,People,Photoblogging,Rabid Lambs

Wanker Of The Month

Shorter Broderella: Rule of law is too partisan.

First, let me stipulate that I agree on the importance of accountability for illegal acts and for serious breaches of trust by government officials — even at the highest levels. I had no problem with the impeachment proceedings against Richard Nixon, and I called for Bill Clinton to resign when he lied to his Cabinet colleagues and to the country during the Monica Lewinsky scandal.


I am not persuaded by former vice president Dick Cheney’s argument that this is simply political revenge by the now-dominant Democrats against their Republican predecessors. For all the previously stated reasons, there is ample justification for seeking answers apart from any partisan motive.

Nonetheless, I think it is a matter of regret that Holder asked prosecutor John H. Durham to review the cases of the agents accused of abusive tactics toward some captives.

I realize this is a preliminary investigation, not a decision to prosecute anyone. And if it were to stop at that point, no great harm would have been done. But it is the first step on a legal trail that could lead to trials — and that is what gives me pause.

Cheney is not wrong when he asserts that it is a dangerous precedent when a change in power in Washington leads a successor government not just to change the policies of its predecessors but to invoke the criminal justice system against them.

Not investigating or prosecuting war crimes is kind of a dangerous precedent, too…

Looming beyond the publicized cases of these relatively low-level operatives is the fundamental accountability question: What about those who approved of their actions? If accountability is the standard, then it should apply to the policymakers and not just to the underlings. Ultimately, do we want to see Cheney, who backed these actions and still does, standing in the dock?

Well yes.

In times like these, the understandable desire to enforce individual accountability must be weighed against the consequences. This country is facing so many huge challenges at home and abroad that the president cannot afford to be drawn into what would undoubtedly be a major, bitter partisan battle over prosecution of Bush-era officials. The cost to the country would simply be too great.

Accountability is just too hard and it’ll make the Republicans upset, so why bother.  Now, a witch hunt against a Democratic president for getting a blow job, that’s okay.

When President Ford pardoned Nixon in 1974, I wrote one of the few columns endorsing his decision, which was made on the basis that it was more important for America to focus on the task of changing the way it would be governed and addressing the current problems. It took a full generation for the decision to be recognized by the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation and others as the act of courage that it had been.

Awesome.  Can you imagine what kind of mess this country would be in if Nixon had been held accountable instead of getting off scot free and allowed to rehabilitate his image as a statesman?  Why, it might even have discredited anyone who worked in his administration, and I don’t know if our country could afford such a terrible loss.

September 3rd, 2009 at 07:21am Posted by Eli

Entry Filed under: Bush,Cheney,Constitution,Media,Republicans,Torture,Wankers

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