Torture time

I haven't written much on torture lately, but is is still 1) evil and 2) stupid policy.  Kevin Drum's recent post in response to the latest revelations sums up my views quite well.  It's short, read the whole thing.  If not, I love the bottom line:

We managed to get through WWI, WWII, the Korean War, the Vietnam War,
the Gulf War, and a dozen smaller engagements without making the
torture of prisoners into official government policy.  We can get
through this one without selling our souls too.

The hidden costs of health care (your wages)

Great column (as pretty much always) by Dave Leonhardt today. Employers are actually the one's doing most of the shopping for health insurance policies, so why do they do such a poor job?

The bottom line: The cost of insurance comes mostly out of
employees’ paychecks. If insurance costs more, employees are generally
paid less. If insurance costs less, employees are paid more. The cost of insurance does not have a big effect on employers’ overall compensation costs.

That’s why no one should be surprised that employers don’t make for
good consumers of insurance. And it’s why insurers are not operating in
a very competitive marketplace.

And Ezra Klein hits the political impact:

Employees, in other words, don't worry too much about the cost of their
health insurance because they think their employer is picking up the
tab. Employers don't worry too much about the cost of health insurance
because they know employees are picking up the tab. And so there's no
real constituency for cost control. If either group were actually
experiencing the full cost of health insurance, the constituency for
reform would be a whole lot larger than it already is.


How Republicans get you a good night’s sleep


I love this cartoon:


Help, Franz Ferdinand has taken over my computer!

It what is surely the most annoying on-line ever, some new Franz Ferdindand/McDonald's ad starts playing a song every time your mouse gets anywhere near it on any Washingtpost webpage (and for that matter.  The Post keeps that up and I'll surely be getting all my news from the New York Times.  Damn it, though, do they have to have it on Ezra Klein's blog page– I can't live without that.  


Ted Kennedy, R.I.P.

I really don't have anything to add about Ted Kennedy that you're not going to see somewhere else.  I did want to mention that it strikes me as somewhat crazy and absurd that the ability of health care to get the 60 votes it will need in the Senate is suddenly in much more jeopardy because Kennedy has died.  Apparently, it will be 5 months before Massachusettes has a replacement.  Would Republicans really want to win this battle just because Kennedy died?  Absolutely.  Ezra Klein (and matt Yglesias) last week:

But this could be the difference between the 60 votes that could pass health-care reform and the 59 that can't.

That said, this is also the place where the rubber hits the road on
all that talk about Senate civility and courtliness and respect. If the
Massachusetts political order doesn't move to preserve Kennedy's voice,
surely there is some Republican who will agree to trade his vote for
cloture with Ted Kennedy. That is to say, where Kennedy's great friend
Orrin Hatch would have voted to uphold a filibuster, now he will vote
to shut it down, as that's how the vote would have gone if Ted Kennedy
were still alive, and it is neither decent nor small-d democratic to
doom health care because the bill's greatest advocate contracted
incurable brain cancer.

Such a trade would not only be a grand show of respect for Kennedy's
life work, but it would uphold the outcome that Americans chose when
they voted 60 Democrats into office in 2008. Conversely, if not one
Republican can be found who feels enough loyalty to Kennedy to make
sure that his death doesn't kill the work of his life, then what are
all those personal relationships and all that gentility really worth?

Update: Matt Yglesias notes
that Hatch has actually addressed Kennedy's situation directly and
chose to take the opportunity to argue that "a single-payer system that
basically is going to cost an arm and a leg and won’t do the job
anyway." So much for that longtime relationship.




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