Gerry Canavan

the smartest kid on earth

Posts Tagged ‘pragmatism

Friday Links!

with one comment

* TNI CFPs we have believe in: “The Stars.”

How America’s Leading Science Fiction Authors Are Shaping Your Future.

Childhood, Emergency.

The child was too young to have a criminal record. Young enough, at 12, that to claim he was “no angel” would have been extraordinarily obscene. Yet it did not take long before media agencies began looking into his parents’ past. Around dinner tables across the country, some black uncle or aunt or mother or father or grandparent or brother or sister is asking why the parents weren’t there, didn’t or couldn’t do more to protect him. People will solemnly nod, but they will know the truth. For too many black childhood is a gestation period, an interlude between a period of less-than-innocent babyhood and maturation into full social pathology. Black children, but not just black children, are denied childhood. Instead, they come to be the stuff of nightmares, youths who are simply younger versions of the terror they will embody. “A hallucination of your worst fears.”

Police officer Darren Wilson is not a monster; he is the mundane and day-to-day face of white supremacy as experienced by people of color in the United States.

Who Killed Robert McCulloch’s Father?

Why Americans Call Turkey ‘Turkey.’

* BREAKING: Algorithms Can Ruin Lives.

* Kitty Queer. On the queer subtext of Chris Claremont’s long run on X-Men.

Hooray! 83 episodes of Mystery Science Theater 3000 are now available to download.

Can the NFL survive its concussion crisis?

* Great moments in not thinking of an elephant: “The only people with the right to object to immigration are Native Americans.” This has got to be the worst imaginable framing to argue on behalf of kindness or generosity towards immigrants.

* A theory of politics predicated on “how to convince your right-wing uncle to act on climate change” isn’t one. Unless “Uncle Richard” is Cheney, and not even then.

* Excerpts from Hillary Clinton’s contract rider.

The Mysterious Antikythera Mechanism Is More Ancient Than We Thought.

* The long-awaited final book in Adam Kotsko’s psychology trilogy, Creepiness, is now available for preorder.

* And maybe we should just try to figure out who’s cloning all these Hitlers.

20141127

Late Night Wednesday

leave a comment »

* Obama’s terrible offshore drilling announcement has inaugurated another round of opaque speculation about whether he is a inverterate weakling, a cynical pragmatist, or a master strategist. Maybe the pop-up book told him to do it.

* Relatedly, from James Lovelock: Humans are too stupid to prevent climate change.

* Benen and Kos separately debunk assertions that there is no racism in the Tea Party movement.

* Just ask Richard Burr: Health care will not be repealed.

* The University of Washington tried to organize a debate on whether the health-care reform bill is constitutional. But it couldn’t find a law professor to argue that it isn’t, reports the Seattle Times.

* And, in GQ, all about Shatner.

Health Care Reform Part 1,000,000

leave a comment »

Nate Silver wants to convince you that in spite of everything the health care bill really is a good idea.

A slightly longer version of the elevator pitch. So, we’ve talked a lot about what the bill is not. It’s not structural reform. What is it, then? At the end of the day, it’s a big bleeping social welfare program — the largest social welfare program to be implemented since the Great Society. And that’s really what it’s been all along: fundamental reform like single-payer or Wyden-Bennett was never really on the table. The bill comes very close, indeed, to establishing what might be thought of as a right to access to health care: once it’s been determined that people with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied health care coverage, and that working class people ought to receive assistance so that they can afford health care coverage, it will be very hard to remove those benefits. It’s the sort of opportunity that comes around rarely — and one that liberals will greatly regret if they turn down.

Written by gerrycanavan

December 16, 2009 at 8:40 pm

Health Care Watch (Vermont Is Angry and So Am I)

with 12 comments

Potentially seismic news tonight as Bernie Sanders (backing me up on reconciliation) now says he currently can’t support the health care bill. This comes amidst his fellow Vermonter, Howard Dean, continuing to argue that the bill in its current form is worse than nothing and Joe Lieberman, history’s most absurd villain, actually threatening to join the GOP.

Kevin Drum, Steve Benen, Scott Lemieux, Think Progress, and Nate Silver all say Dean is wrong, and on the policy merits he probably is—I don’t think the bill is actually worse than nothing and if I were in the Senate I’d have to swallow my rage and vote for it. But politically I just don’t know; continuing to be “responsible” and “realistic” when even our allies habitually betray us is starting to look like a mug’s game. (I think the official term for the progressive caucus is “useful idiots.”) Why shouldn’t Obama and Reid have to beg for Bernie’s support? Why should only centrist tantrums count?

Robert Gibbs says Howard Dean is being irrational, and Jane is absolutely right: he didn’t say anything like that about Holy Joe, even when it was actually true. Why not? Russ Feingold says it’s because the Liebermanized bill is what the White House has really wanted all along. If that’s so, they’re the only ones; without a public option support for health care tanks, with good reason to think (as Kos does) that the individual mandate (however necessary) will prove politically toxic without a public option on the table.

Chris Bowers says there are no more happy endings. Probably not.

More on Health Care and the Political Spectrum

with 2 comments

Starting off, I thought this insightful post from Matt Yglesias puts the central paradox in centrist/incrementalist approaches to health care reform very well:

The reason is that the way insurance companies make money is to segment the population based on risk. And the way centrist, moderate, or otherwise incrementalist approaches to reforming U.S. health care work is they attempt to regulate away insurance companies’ ability to do risk-segmentation effectively. But once you accept the premise that you don’t want insurance companies doing all this risk analysis, there’s basically nothing else for them to do. That’s just what an insurance company is.

Naturally I use that term “centrist” here quite advisedly, taking Shankar D’s point from the comments that it can sometimes obscure more than it reveals. But here again I think the term is meaningful and useful: “centrism” designates an approach to health care reform that leaves the current dominant coverage mechanism (for-profit insurance companies) basically intact and unchanged, in contrast to liberal or progressive approaches like (in order of radicality) co-operatives, public options, and single-payer, which are transformative in nature.

Ezra Klein takes up a more Shankarian style of analysis when he writes of the progressive blogosophere inappropriately making a fetish of the public option:

It might have been a necessary thing from an activism point of view, but convincing liberals that this bill was worthless in the absence of the public option was a terrible decision, wrong on the merits and unfair to the base. The achievement of this bill is $900 billion to help people purchase health-care coverage, a new market that begins to equalize the conditions of the unemployed and the employed, and a regulatory structure in which this country can build, for the first time, a universal health-care system. Thousands and thousands of lives will be saved by this bill. Bankruptcies will be averted. Rescission letters won’t be sent. Parents won’t have to fret because they can’t take their child, or themselves, to the emergency room. This bill will, without doubt, do more good than any single piece of legislation passed during my (admittedly brief) lifetime. If it passes, the party that fought for it for decades deserves to feel a sense of accomplishment.

Fair enough.

But this is also the same Ezra Klein who wrote, only a few days ago, that “This bill, when it’s finished, is not going to be very good. But it’s going to be a lot better than what we have, and almost more importantly, a lot easier to improve in the future.” And it is this argument—the expansionist argument—that I think remains the clearest justification for full-throated progressive support of this significantly imperfect bill. Obamacare is a base hit, not a home run. Recognizing it as such isn’t, and shouldn’t be confused with, rejecting it altogether.

Sunday Links

leave a comment »

Sunday links.

* If you’re still reading about health care, don’t miss the New York Times‘s hundred-year history of health care reform in America and (via the indomitable Steve Benen) a few links on what the bill actually accomplishes. It’s also worth checking in with Steve Benen’s reading of John Boehner’s December 2008 declaration “The Future is Cao,” which looks a whole lot different now.

* I’ve been thinking about the Paul Begala editorial from the summer, “Progress Over Perfection,” and I think some nay-saying progressives could use the reminder.

No self-respecting liberal today would support Franklin Roosevelt’s original Social Security Act. It excluded agricultural workers — a huge part of the economy in 1935, and one in which Latinos have traditionally worked. It excluded domestic workers, which included countless African Americans and immigrants. It did not cover the self-employed, or state and local government employees, or railroad employees, or federal employees or employees of nonprofits. It didn’t even cover the clergy. FDR’s Social Security Act did not have benefits for dependents or survivors. It did not have a cost-of-living increase. If you became disabled and couldn’t work, you got nothing from Social Security.

If that version of Social Security were introduced today, progressives like me would call it cramped, parsimonious, mean-spirited and even racist. Perhaps it was all those things. But it was also a start. And for 74 years we have built on that start. We added more people to the winner’s circle: farmworkers and domestic workers and government workers. We extended benefits to the children of working men and women who died. We granted benefits to the disabled. We mandated annual cost-of-living adjustments. And today Social Security is the bedrock of our progressive vision of the common good.

* Meanwhile, Ryan’s Twitter feed has this on the attention economy as “post-capitalism.”

The views I challenge include the notion that attention flows through the Internet chiefly to corporations, that attention only has significance if somehow monetized, that it is ultimately capitalists who exploit attention, and that money remains far more basic than attention.

Don’t worry, fellow citizens; capitalism is alive and well.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 8, 2009 at 4:08 pm

Atheism Wars in North Carolina

leave a comment »

Amanda Marcotte differs with PZ Meyers over whether or not Kay Hagan has Thrown Atheists Under the Bus™ in her response to the now-infamous “There is no god!” ad from Liddy Dole. While my initial reaction certainly had some affinity with Meyers’, my pragmatist-to-a-fault half agrees with Marcotte:

At the risk of having my cranky credentials revoked, I’ll admit that my reaction to Hagan’s “Ah hell no!” retort to Dole’s ads was sheer delight. Dole handed Hagan a loaded gun, and if Hagan didn’t fire it by out-Christianing her, she’d be a fool, and who wants a fool on your side? They live in North Carolina. The idea that a politician should take a public stand for atheists there is more outrageous than asking as politician to take a public stand for Satanists. Given the choice between token support in public and losing a genuine ally in Congress and having an ally who has to play by rules she didn’t write, I’ll take the latter.

Written by gerrycanavan

November 4, 2008 at 12:22 am

Posted in Uncategorized

Tagged with , , , , ,