Why is every other post in the lefty blogosphere about gay marriage or torture?

I understand that everyone’s got to keep the pressure on so the administration will follow through on promises made for every pet issue.

But let’s have a little perspective: Healthcare reform is the central issue of this administration.  It touches all of us every day, not just a small percentage (gay rights), and not narrowly (detainee policies).

We like to goad about the GOP being rudderless and leaderless but hey, we’re not doing a very good job following our own.

C’mon people, focus: Healthcare, healthcare healthcare!

P.S. Really, whatever your favorite advocacy organization (here’s one), please send them a few bucks this week.  The insurance industry will be spending 100 million in the next weeks to fight off reform (more specifically, to get 50 million new customers, on the taxpayers’ dime, without changing their ways).  So how many ads can the good guys afford?  It’s up to you and me.

Cheney is pushing too far.  As public opinion continues to move towards repairing the Bush wrongs and looking back with cooler heads, this statement will be remembered as the epitome of condecension and dubious morality.

What to do about torture?  I’m torn.

Yes, we must get to the bottom of it and penalize the culprits to make sure it doesn’t happen again.  We have a moral obligation, and as a practical matter it is needed to regain our standing in the world, and the moral high ground if we are ever to criticize China on Darfur, etc.

But at what cost?

David Brooks thinks Obama is trying to build a 60% majority, and all the recriminating would kill that by turning off many independents.

Lincoln Mitchell is afraid that “Opponents of the president will see these prosecutions as license to prosecute members of President Obama’s administration when they leave office”.

They may be right, but I’m more afraid about losing our focus and giving up healthcare, energy and education reform, just for starters.  Did we forget how the stimulus package was starting to look troubled before Obama’s P.R. blitz?  Part of his success has been in driving the message and cutting through the media chatter to speak directly to people in plain terms.  But what if everyone stops listening?

Case in point:  How many people know a climate bill was being deliberated over the last week?  There was nary a word about it amid the waterboarding and impeach Bybee stories.  Today Waxman delayed further action until next week.

If we do go ahead, it should definitely be a bipartisan independent commission, and I like Andrew’s terms: “Give it two years to report, to allow emotions and tempers to cool. Then and only then make a decision on prosecution, so that there is no scintilla of haste or heat.”

Dishonoring Reagan

April 27, 2009

The most damning argument yet against Bush torture apologists:

The UN Convention on Torture, which Ronald Reagan signed and championed, is very clear and its definition of what torture is obviously broad and inclusive. There’s actually a good discussion of it at Hot Air, which reproduces the legal definition thus:

Article 1.
1. For the purposes of this Convention, torture means any act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes as obtaining from him or a third person information or a confession, punishing him for an act he or a third person has committed or is suspected of having committed, or intimidating or coercing him or a third person, or for any reason based on discrimination of any kind, when such pain or suffering is inflicted by or at the instigation of or with the consent or acquiescence of a public official or other person acting in an official capacity. It does not include pain or suffering arising only from, inherent in or incidental to lawful sanctions.
2. This article is without prejudice to any international instrument or national legislation which does or may contain provisions of wider application.

Article 2.
1. Each State Party shall take effective legislative, administrative, judicial or other measures to prevent acts of torture in any territory under its jurisdiction.
2. No exceptional circumstances whatsoever, whether a state of war or a threat or war, internal political instability or any other public emergency, may be invoked as a justification of torture.
3. An order from a superior officer or a public authority may not be invoked as a justification of torture.