Monday, September 28, 2009

Criticism Matters - Especially when its your one party!

Over at Submitted to a Candid World, my good friend (!) Ames has some criticism of the Left - from the Left. Its not something we do as much, or as openly as we should on our side of the aisle, but its worth a read. Afterall, how can anyone claim any moral high ground if we're all acting like jerks?

Friday, September 25, 2009

Climate Denial Redux - how other countries see the issue

Over at The Intersection, Chris is making interesting points about the much lower instance of climate denial in Aultralia and Canada. Unfortunately, his thread is starting to get hijacked by those who want to turn this into "more evidence" of the need for the U.S. to reject religion. I piped up, and it will be interesting to see how the debate unfolds.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Tell Obama: We're counting on YOU!

As many of you politically savy readers know, President Obama will give a major speech next week laying out what he thinks needs to be in the health care bill. This is a critical crossroads. The president needs to hear that Americans are counting on him to stand up to the status quo and fight for real reform with a strong public health insurance option.I just signed a petition telling President Obama I'm counting on him to fight hard for a bold health care reform bill. TO that end, I've signed's petition, and trying to lend my voice here to this debate.

Can you join me at the link below?

H/T to Stephanie Z (posted at Quiche Moraine not Almost Diamonds).

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

What loosing the Aral Sea tells me about Climate Change

There are LOTS of folks running around these days denying that humans can impact Earth’s climate. Some of them are corporate shills – oil company publicists and George Will leap to mind. Others are just not scientifically literate – which is not surprising given how undereducated we all really are.

Yet good science marches on, and continues to document the ways in which we are intent on destroying our world. We divert whole rivers (for instance) to grow crops in places that we shouldn’t. Doing so impacts water quality and availability, as well as driving sweeping regional climate changes.

“Humans have been doing that for millennia” the deniers will respond “so why worry?” Well, as these images from NASA shows us, the Aral Sea – if you hit play you get a run through of the dry-up from the last decade – is now all but gone. Dried up by diversion for irrigation. By humans. In 50 years. I'm 38, so this has happened basically in my life-time. This means that a once robust in-land sea, which supported trade, fisheries, and provided for things like views, and a place to stop and set a spell, is now gone. Even if the water were all put back tomorrow (and it won’t be), there is little hope the sea could be rebuilt.

So the next time you hear someone on Fox News, or in the Washington Post, deny that climate change is the result of human action, stop and ask yourself this – if humans can deliberately dry up a sea to grow crops, why can’t we destroy the earth’s climate? The science says we can, and are. I just hope we stop before more of the Earth looks like this, or it will be way too late.

H/T Chris Rowan @ Highly Allochthonous

A REAL proposal to fix healthcare

If you want to know how to fix the healthcare system - in a way that both Democrats and Republicans SHOULD support - read Stats Guy's latest guest post at the Base Line Scenario. Seriously, GO READ IT. Then come back here and tell me why he's wrong. I dare you.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Defending Torture - Richard Cohen, Volume Two

Richard Cohen is at it again – trying to defend torture while running around claiming its indefensible. At least he’s being consistent. I’m not the only one who sees his doublespeak – and calls him out for what he’s saying. Early in the Article he writes:

This business of what constitutes torture is a complicated matter. It is further complicated by questions about its efficacy: Does it sometimes work? Does it never work? Is it always immoral? What about torture that saves lives? What if it saves many lives? What if one of those lives is your child's?

It’s a nice fiction, but it doesn’t wash. Despite the increasingly desperate claims of the most recent former Vice President, there is not yet one single shred of evidence that any of the information about America’s torture regime has saved a single life. Leaving that issue aside, how can a country that adopted the U.N. Convention on Torture as its highest law (as I detail here) even be thinking about discussing the morality of torture? We’ve long ago declared it illegal, so the morality play part of all this is really moot.

Cohen further writes:

No one can possibly believe that America is now safer because of the new restrictions on enhanced interrogation and the subsequent appointment of a special prosecutor. The captured terrorist of my fertile imagination, assuming he had access to an Internet cafe, knows about the special prosecutor. He knows his interrogator is under scrutiny. What person under those circumstances is going to spill his beans?

Having lived overseas as a kid, I can’t believe that anyone would think that torture of foreigners would make us safer. The Muslim world, in particular, already has along list of perceived and real grievances against the U.S. – why give them one more? For that matter, if we do torture, have we not already begun to dismantle the free-state that is so abhorrent to al Quaeda in the first place?

After wrestling for a paragraph with his supposedly simultaneous desires for absolute security and abhorrence of torture, Cohen closes with this:

The questions of what constitutes torture and what to do with those who, maybe innocently, applied what we now define as torture have to be removed from the political sphere. They cannot be the subject of an ideological tug of war, both sides taking extreme and illogical positions -- torture never works, torture
always works, torture is always immoral, torture is moral if it saves lives. Torture always is ugly. So, though, is the hole in the ground where the World Trade Center once stood.

As with so much else in the torture apologists’ playbook, Cohen overlooks the facts. The United States, by ratifying the U.N. convention on Torture has had a definition of action which constitutes torture since 1994. Hardly “what we now define as torture.” And, given that all the other apologists are indeed sucking both the victims of torture and the torturers into the ideological battle for our nation’s soul, Cohen’s professed concern for the whole thing is far too little, far too late. If he wants to ask a serious question, here’s one – what does the U.S. have to gain by being a nation that tortures anyone in clear contravention of our highest law and Constitution?