Showing posts from January, 2010

is there a "right" to health care?

In the debate over health care, and the associated debate over illegal immigration, I've often heard the argument that "health care isn't one of the rights defined in the Constitution." This argument seems to me to deny the very concept of human rights itself. Let's make no mistake - the present era is 100% different from the world just 60 years ago. The passage of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Geneva Conventions mark a major turning point in the entire history of humanity and civilization. That is the world we live in now and that world is better in every respect than the previous one. The Constitution of the United States was written in that old world - but what makes it such a brilliant document is that it anticipated the new world, even though at its draftin it was still saddled with language that was a compromise to the old (in particular, the slaves are 3/5ths of a human being clause, the silence on slavery, etc.) No, health care is not a

Massachusetts Senate Race post-mortem: a progressive failure

Congratulations to Senator-elect Brown - in the end, he was a better candidate and ran a better campaign against the hapless Martha Coakley, who thought she could coast on Kennedy-Obama coat-tails into office. A single statistic explains all - @marcambinder notes that "Coakley had 19 events after the primary through Sunday; Scott Brown had 66." And more than anything else, the election outcome last night was not because of governing philosophes or political ideologies, but simply the economy, stupid. The political blogsphere is of course consumed with the significance of MA-SEN as pertains to Obama's anniversary in office, and the conventional wisdom is gelling across the usual lines. The GOP in full concern-troll mode says that Obama has governed as a leftist and thus must seek bipartisanship; of course it's precisely because of Republican ideological obstructionism, filibustering every bill in the Senate and negotiating over health care in bad faith , that the De

Is the Massachusetts Senate race a referendum on Obama's first year?

Today, Massachusetts votes for a Senator to replace Ted Kennedy in a special election scheduled on the eve of President Obama's first anniversary in office. The expectation is, to put it bluntly, that Republican challenger Scott Brown will probably defeat incumbent Martha Coakley (who was appointed to fill the empty seat after Sen. Kennedy's passing last winter). The immediate impact of a Coakley loss would be to reduce the Democratic coalition by one, from a filibuster-proof 60 to merely 59. The thinking goes that this imperils President Obama's entire governing agenda, kills health care reform, and is a preview of further losses this November (where the Dems are already expected to lose seats in both the House and the Senate). The spin from the right is that a Coakley defeat is a victory for the oppressed masses who reject Obama's socialist agenda and vindication of the Tea Party movement. But a Brown victory is more likely to come from depressed Democratic turnout,

Devil's advocate: Pat Robertson and Haiti's curse

There's really no better term for Pat Robertson than "Christian extremist" - there's not much point in going over his long history of public outbursts of intolerance, racism, and hatred, except in noting that ordinary Christians (and evangelicals in particular) bear as much responsibility for his ravings as ordinary muslims do for the sermons of Anwar al-Awlaki. That is to say, none. But Robertson's recent comments about Haiti were particularly cruel and (if I may offer my opinion) un-Christian, even by his standards. During his televised 700 Club program, he said, "Something happened a long time ago in Haiti and people might not want to talk about. They were under the heel of the French, you know Napoleon the third and whatever. And they got together and swore a pact to the devil. They said 'We will serve you if you will get us free from the prince.' True story. And so the devil said, 'Ok it's a deal.' And they kicked the French out. The

Rotten in the state of Denmark: Chindia at Copenhagen

I've been meaning to comment on the Copenhagen conference, since the perspective from the Indian press is probably quite different from that in the US media. According to the papers here, Obama forced his way into a private meeting between Chinese premier Wen Jibao and Indian PM Manmohan Singh because he didn't want them "negotiating in private". China and India resisted all attempts by the US to make the Copenhagen draft legally binding, and fought monitoring and transparency tooth and nail. This plays well here as a strike against US/Western imperialistic moralizing, on behalf of the developing nations, whose champions are now... China and India? really? I am frankly disgusted. India and China - both nuclear powers and members of the UN Security Council - can no longer by any stretch of the imagination be considered "developing nations" and they are cynically using their endemic poverty as bargaining chips to benefit their industrial and economic elites. I