For the Bush administration, torture was a delicate business. The aim was to injure but not incapacitate -- to inflict precisely enough pain and terror to break a subject's will, but no more. To calibrate the proper degree of abuse, the torturer needed an accurate sense of how much agony the subject's mind and body can tolerate.
In the administration's program of "enhanced interrogation," this expertise was provided by doctors and psychologists -- professionals who are supposed to heal and comfort. A new report by Physicians for Human Rights assembles the evidence and reaches a sickening but inescapable conclusion: "Health professionals played central roles in developing, implementing and providing justification for torture."
Dwell on that for a moment, especially if you believe that the Bush administration's decision to submit terrorism suspects to medieval interrogation practices was somehow justifiable -- or even if you believe that torture was wrong, but that now we should "look forward" and pretend it never happened. This is how torture warps a society and distorts its values.
So right, Gene. This is not justifiable.
Obama insiders know the double-down speech is more about reasserting the President's authority than a desperate bid to revive health care reform from life support.
In fact, inside the Beltway, even die-hard Republican opponents recognize a bill of some kind is all but certain to pass Congress this fall. Though it will likely be less than Obama wants, he'll reap some credit. What it won't do is cure all that ails Obama.
If I were magically given an hour to help Barack Obama prepare for his health care speech next week, the first thing I’d do is ask him to read David Goldhill’s essay, "How American Health Care Killed My Father," in the current issue of The Atlantic. That essay would lift Obama out of the distracting sideshows about this public plan or that cooperative option. It would remind him why he got into this issue in the first place.
The best perspective is the full term, and with time marked by elections rather than months. The chart below provides this for all presidents since FDR's 3rd term. The scales are exactly comparable across presidents so your eye can show you differences in trends. And the vertical blue lines mark off mid-term and presidential election dates. Those are the moments that matter. A low approval on November 2, 2010 will push Democratic losses in the House well above 20 seats. But a rebounding approval (driven by a better economy) can hold those losses below the historic average. That is the future still in Obama's hands to write. And that is basically what David Brooks [link] was saying to the White House.
Speaking of Prof. Franklin, at Netroots Nation he was part of a polling panel with Nate Silver, Charlie Cook and Mark Blumenthal. If you couldn't be there, the entire panel, along with slides, are here (Daily Kos diary here):
It was probably only a matter of time, but the oil lobby has taken a page from the anti-health-care-reform manual in an effort to drum up opposition to climate change legislation in Congress. Behind the overall effort — billed, naturally, as a grass-roots citizen movement — lie the string-pullers at the American Petroleum Institute, the industry’s main trade organization and a wily, well-funded veteran of the legislative wars.
Greenpeace, the advocacy group, uncovered a letter last month from the A.P.I. president, Jack Gerard, to industry C.E.O.’s revealing that the campaign’s central objective is to "put a human face on the impacts of unsound energy policy," specifically the Waxman-Markey bill recently passed by the House.
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