I’m on the bus, and extremely busy to boot, but it’s worth attending to this story. Have a look at Glenn Greenwald’s report on the subject.
From Tyler Cowen:
More than two months after the earthquake that devastated Haiti, at least 30 survivors who were waved onto planes by Marines in the chaotic aftermath are prisoners of the United States immigration system, locked up since their arrival in detention centers in Florida.
The full and outrageous story is here. Their “crime,” by the way, is not having proper visas. Some were pulled from the rubble of the earthquake and none have criminal histories.
What I’ve come to realize over the past several months is that while I’m no libertarian, the issues that I feel most strongly about and the issues that I am most confident about are almost all libertarian causes–though often also liberal causes. More to come on that topic when I have time for a real post.
Update 1: The 30 Haitians mentioned in the article have been released from detention. It appears that they were released before I posted–one day after the NYTimes reported on their case.
Update 2: At least one friend suggests that this post reveals I’m not very good at introspection–she claims that my most cherished political ideas have been clear for quite a long time. I suspect people who know me outside of the internet will have more insight than blog readers on this subject.
So now that the Democrats can’t break a filibuster, we’ll see the Republicans pitting forth a healthcare plan followed by insightful nationwide debate and some sort of compromise will attract 70 Senators, right?
The Club also cites his record on spending, and Bennett has signed onto a bipartisan bill that would create a deficit-reduction commission, something fiscal conservatives don’t like. (Club for Growth Will Try to Boot Bennett)
Irony ain’t dead, but they’re sure trying to kill it.
I’ve previously said that I’m bad with local politics. Here’s how bad: I just found out that my representative in Pennsylvania’s 14th congressional district, Mike Doyle, was one of the 64 Democrats who voted for the Stupak amendment, which would prohibit insurance plans participating in the exchange from covering abortion (a.k.a. any bought with government subsidies, or those bought by small businesses). The only exceptions are in cases or rape, incest, or when a doctor would certify that the mother was at risk of death. Although I think the policy is misguided through and through, that last sentence is crucial: in cases where the mother’s health is in jeopardy, but there is no danger of death, an abortion would still be prohibited. Unless the plain language of the bill is misleading, neither is there any provision for severe fetal abnormalities, even if they meant that the fetus could never become viable.
I can’t say that Doyle is a uniformly terrible representative. A brief look at his record indicated some high points, including extremely good support for LGBT issues, and support for net neutrality. Still, I think the headline “Stupak Amendment Passes; 64 Dems Ask for Primary Opponents is roughly on target.
Nor is there any reason the 14th district should have a conservative Democrat as it’s representative. Obama won in the 14th congressional district by 70% to 29%. Doyle won in 1994 by ten points, has run unopposed in several subsequent races, including the 2008 election, where he only faced a challenge from the Green party. In 2010, there’s a Republican challenger, which potentially puts pressure on Doyle to continue behaving like a conservative Democrat. That’s all the more reason that he needs pressure from his left.
I doubt Doyle will receive a primary challenge, and I don’t know if that would be strategically sound. But I sure hope he sees a lot of pressure for this decision. Although it’s over a week late, I plan on giving his office a call to say that I’m disappointed, and that when the compromise bill comes up for a vote, Doyle needs to support it, whether or not the Stupak language has been preserved. Since Congress doesn’t have takebacks, that’s the closest we can get.
I may try and write about Rep. Bart Stupak’s amendment to the House health bill, which blocked insurance companies enrolled in the exchanges from offering abortion coverage, as it raises a few interesting questions. However, I don’t have the time right now, so I’ll leave you with a revealing comment from Ezra Klein, in his post The Stupak amendment: As much about class as about choice:
And it did not block the federal government from subsidizing abortion. All it did was block it from subsidizing abortion for poorer women.
Once again, I’ve completely ignored local politics, there’s an election in two days, and I’m spending one of those days with a stack of student papers in front of me.
If I find anything out about the mayoral race, I’ll post it. I’ve been itching to vote against our immature and possibly corrupt child mayor, Luke Ravenstahl, for awhile now. Several months ago, it looked like the race wouldn’t even be remotely competitive. Perversely, that would make it easier for me to vote, since I’d feel less compelled to do due diligence before casting a protest vote.
Anyway, let me know if y’all know anything at all.
For comic value, do try Pittsburgh, City of Embarrassment.
If Superfreakonomics wanted a calm and rational debate, this chapter would have been called something like: “Geoengineering: Issues in Relative Cost Estimation of SO2 Shielding”, and the book would have sold about five copies.
The title of the post is “Rules for Contrarians: 1. Don’t whine. That is all.” Another beautiful quotation follows it:
“In general, whatever “global cooling” meant, it was put on the cover in full knowledge of the impression it would give to a normal reader so once more, it is not legitimate to complain that this phrase was interpreted in the way in which it was intended to be interpreted.”
My personal take for most damning thing I read about Superfreakonomics is Ezra Klein’s claim that they used nearly meaningless statistics to make their argument that walking drunk is more dangerous than driving drunk. If true, it’s a “your license to play a professor in public has been revoked” kind of error.
Democrats on the Senate Finance Committee voted Thursday to encourage limits on the compensation of insurance executives, responding to charges that expanding health insurance coverage would enrich insurance companies. (WSJ)
Granted, it’s more likely to end poorly with a series of stupid regulations than with a slide into a Soviet style gulag, but why should we think Congress has any idea how or authority to set such limits?
I just got a reminder of why I don’t truly like Andrew Sullivan’s commentary, even though I often find much of it worthwhile:
If any person has done more to advance some measure of calm, reason and peace in this troubled word lately, it’s president Obama. I think the Cairo speech and the Wright speech alone merited this both bridging ancient rifts even while they remain, of course, deep and intractable. He has already done more to heal the open wound between the West and Islam than anyone else on the planet.
I’d just add one caveat: the American people who elected him deserve part of the credit too. Now he needs partners to help him.
Andrew Sullivan buys into American exceptionalism to an embarrassing degree. He’s the perfect example of a foreign policy liberal in my typology (inspired by FDR): conservatives say “America is always right”, liberals say “this is a betrayal of America’s nature–we’re always right except this time”, leftists say “same old shit from America.”† I think Matt Welch is entirely on target:
Among many other things, this selection illustrates the United States’ way-too-oversized role in the world’s imagination.
I do think Obama’s remarks were almost perfect. Not a note in there that suggests he thinks he’s being awarded for special accomplishments he made. There was a lot of danger that he’d react awkwardly to an award this premature.
Update: James Fallows has a nice breakdown of Obama’s speech and why it was good.
† I admit that it makes the taxonomy look bad that I come out as a leftist. It’s even worse that it implies Daniel Larison doesn’t exist…maybe I should just give up.
“If you get sick, America, the Republican health care plan is this: Die quickly,” Grayson said, standing next to giant placards that emphasized his words. “That’s right. The Republicans want you to die quickly if you get sick.”
Perhaps the first half of what Grayson says is ok. It is obviously a case of hyperbole, and a bit impolite, but both those things are sometime defensible in politics. It’s not my taste–or at least not what I aim for, but I won’t complain so much.
But the second half of Grayson’s comment is ridiculous. There is no sense in which the Republicans want people to die. Nothing even approximately close. Republicans have their reasons for disagreeing with health care reform, many of which I think are bad (slavish devotion to an ideal of the free market, distorted ideas of what will happen). Many legislators have worse reasons (pandering, insurance industry donations). But the idea that they want people to die explains nothing. It’s not hyperbole, it’s pure rhetoric, and it doesn’t appeal to any rational consideration, but pure fear.
I hardly think there’s need for a resolution censuring him–Steve Benen very aptly notes that Republicans have said equally extreme things during the health care debate. It would be extreme hypocrisy for them to censure him. In any case, rhetoric is rarely reason for a censuring–Wilson’s outburst broke less subjective customs of congressional behavior.
I haven’t seen many people in the parts of the left I frequent defending Grayson (and to be clear, it’s early for this tempest in a teapot), and I hope that stays the case.
P.S. If you’re disagreeing, does it matter that Grayson called the current situation a holocaust?
I didn’t initially care that much about the G20, or think that it would be a big deal. Clearly, I was wrong.
What first made me angry was learning that several downtown universities would be closing for the three days surrounding the summit. At least one university is closing its residence halls, though it will deign to provide the students with alternate housing. To drive into downtown, you’ll need a driver’s license with a downtown address. No word what you do if you just moved.
Pitt is three or four miles from downtown and the convention center, but because of a dinner being held at the Phipps conservatory, Thursday evening, all classes after 4PM are being cancelled, and all classes in the Cathedral of Learning are being cancelled starting at Noon. I won’t pretend that having the afternoon off is a terrible burden.
What rankles is that this is all for a dinner. After all the disruption that’s being inflicted on people who live and work downtown, they’re taking the delegation to Oakland just because they fancied the dinner location.
I don’t mind the tremendous expense of security, and I don’t think that the meeting is a waste of time. I do wonder if there might have been a better city than Pittsburgh (isn’t this why we built DC?), but I have to admit that the visitors will probably bring enough money for it to be a net benefit. I don’t even mind that the White House is a very nice place, and we the people spend money on ensuring that the president’s bed is comfy.
But when we’re shutting down a university for the sake of a dinner, we’ve crossed a line into treating the heads of state as if they’re kings and we’re their subjects.
To those whose investment in politics focuses on the horse-race and questions of who’s winning or losing, Van Jones’s resignation may be an interesting issue. However, if your concerns are more about what’s right and what the aims of politics should be, there is not much of a story here.
Van Jones’s support for a 9/11 truth petition was outside of both intellectually serious opinion and mainstream American opinion. There is no principled reason for defending his stance, whether you are a milquetoast liberal like myself, progressive, green, Marxist or anarchist. The fact that many of his critics were themselves just as far from being respectable makes no difference. Case closed.
If there’s any serious ground for doubting the pressure on Van Jones, it would be doubts about the coherence of personality. That is, just because a man believed something crazy about one topic, do we really have reason to doubt their judgment in general? We’re surrounded by people who believe that 9/11 was an inside job, or that the earth in 6000 years old, or that colon cleansing is the key to health, yet they are not necessarily stupid or unreliable.
I have substantial sympathy for this idea, which you might see as an “intellectual situationism” or some relative thereof. Nonetheless, this is a radical idea. Not ideologically radical, but radical in how it would destabilize our opinions about politics. If a person’s views and actions lack coherence in this way, then are we prohibited from thinking that Bush was lazy and careless, and McCain was a hothead, while Obama was cautious and cerebral?
I’m still wrestling with the proper way to think about character, both intellectual and ethical. My interest was initially philosophical, and I’ve only subsequently started to notice how often the topic is relevant to politics. My point here is not to prejudge that issue, but to stress the substantial commitments you’re taking on if you’re disinclined to take a scandal like Van Jones’ seriously.
I’ve never been a fan of everything Will Wilkinson has written, but I’ve always thought he added something to the political debates being carried out online. So, I’m amazed by his most recent and absolutely shameful post. It begins:
Here is a good debate proposition: It ought to be less embarrassing to have been influenced by Ayn Rand than by Karl Marx.
The most powerful way to argue the affirmative is to compare the number of human beings murdered by the devotees of each. That line of attack ought to be decisive…
I won’t say that no one I know and respect would think of such a comparison. But no one I know and respect would make such a comparison without quickly realizing and admitting that there might be a complicating factor or two, that perhaps the line between Marx’s ideas and all those deaths was not so direct. And I’m not going to bother spelling them out, because when Will wakes up tomorrow, I doubt what he’s going to say is “what I wrote yesterday was really the way we ought to judge Marx and Rand. I have no qualms about this argument.”
Btw, I carry no water for Marx–I’ve only ever read the Communist Manifesto, and that at too young an age to trust my judgment–which was that I’d wasted my time (true enough, it wasn’t really where Marx laid out his ideas). My weakly held opinion that Marx belongs on my long list of things to eventually read is primarily based on the testimony of philosophers who have acknowledged his influence upon them–hardly a fervent endorsement.
Reading John Quiggin’s most recent book blogging post, I was reminded of how atypical my age cohort’s experience is. Counting the current (possibly ended) recession, we’ve lived through three recessions, two of which were quite mild. Depending on our exact age, we were only paying attention for only one of those. I knew about a ‘recession’ in 1990-1991, but I was six and what did I understand? But before our generation:
Whatever the defintion, in the years before 1981 (the end of the Volcker recession) recessions in the US were relatively frequent, with the intervening expansions averaging a little over four years. The NBER Committee defined nine recessions between 1945 and 1981, two of which (those of the early 1970s and the double-dip recession of 1980-81, were both long and severe).
I was quite struck by this difference, which has to have a huge effect on how people our age perceive the financial crisis and uncertainty about the future. You can imagine the effect going either way. Perhaps we assume there has to be a return to “normality” and sustained growth, or you can imagine the sheer idea of a recession being so unfamiliar and paralyzing that we turn towards an apocalyptic mindset.
Of course if Quiggin is right in thinking that The Great Moderation was a mirage, the next quarter of our lives will nothing like what we’ve experienced so far.
Popular mechanics has posted a nice article summarizing doubts about the current state of forensic science. The short of it is that it would be nice if there were actual science involved. The current state of forensic science ranges from DNA tests which are known to be quite reliable to techniques like bite mark analysis that may simply be useless. Unfortunately, there is little connection between admissibility in court and rigorous tests that demonstrate reliability.
If you often read about forensic science, there won’t be much that’s new in the Popular Science article. If it’s a topic you’re interested in, The Agitator is probably the place to go. August 2nd: He just posted about the article, and linked to a few more resources.
Leave it to the National Review to be the publication that lets me know that when Barack Obama was born, two separate Hawaiian newspapers did announcements.
“The other side has said they will not move forward with an initiative until they are sure they can win,” said Frank Schubert, a spokesman for ProtectMarriage.com, the leading group behind Proposition 8. “That day is not going to come.” (NYT article about whether to challenge proposition 8 in 2010 or 2012)
The level of denial here is amazing. Perhaps California will maintain proposition 8 for a few years. But I have no doubt that if my children are gay, there will be at most a handful of states that prohibit their marriages in 2036. Perhaps none. Nor do I think this is a judgment driven by optimism–I’m hedging my bets by putting it off until 2036. And we may well have a federal right to marry by that point.
I think the article is definitely worth reading, although none of the factual information is surprising. When proposition 8 first passed, I just assumed it would be overturned as soon as possible, that its passage depended on complacency by its opponents and sheer dumb luck. I can’t imagine how hard it has to be to say “no, we can’t fight this for another two years.”
Just a quick note, in case you haven’t properly maintained your belief that Rush Limbaugh is crazy. He’s a birther. That is, he’s one of the people who believes that Barack Obama has not satisfactorily demonstrated that he was born in the United States, and that there’s a serious threat that he is therefore ineligible to have become President.
I guess this actually counts as pretty tame stuff, compared to saying that Hilary Clinton had Vince Foster murdered, a theory that Rush was still name checking during the 2008 primaries.