Previous Best Reads (and Daily Jail Bookings)
Why businesses should cheer health care reform: “In 1974, President Richard Nixon’s health-care plan proposed forcing employers to pay 75 percent of the cost of basic health insurance for their employees, though there would be some assistance for smaller businesses. In 1994, President Bill Clinton proposed forcing employers to pay 80 percent of the cost of basic heath insurance for their employees, though a somewhat confusing series of caps meant that smaller businesses would end up paying much less. In other words, both Democratic and Republican presidents used to think the proper role for business in the American health-care system was to pay most of the cost of their employee’s health-care insurance. Under the Affordable Care Act, the principle is different, and much less onerous: Employers don’t need to offer health care, and they don’t need to pay for most of the cost of their employee’s health care, but if their employees are taking advantage of public subsidies, then the employer should have to pay a penalty equal to about 1/8th the cost of the average employer-provided health-insurance plan. Some employers are still unhappy, and understandably so. The Affordable Care Act will impose new costs on them. Papa John’s, which doesn’t provide most of its employees with health insurance, is warning that it might have to raise prices on its pizza by 11 to 14 cents per pie to offset the penalties. […] Still, Papa John’s can comfort itself with the knowledge that it is not being asked to do nearly as much as Presidents Clinton or Nixon wanted it to do. It doesn’t have to give its employees health care or pay them well. It just has to pay a small fraction of the cost that the public will pay to insure its employees. It’s not as good of a deal as the status quo, but it’s a better deal than it could have expected, or than it probably deserved.” From Ezra Klein in the Washington Post.
Marco Rubio’s creationist craziness: “In an interview with GQ magazine, Rubio suggested that the age of the Earth was “a dispute among theologians” and that there is no way to know the truth about the age of the Earth. GQ: How old do you think the Earth is? RUBIO: I’m not a scientist, man. I can tell you what recorded history says, I can tell you what the Bible says, but I think that’s a dispute amongst theologians and I think it has nothing to do with the gross domestic product or economic growth of the United States. I think the age of the universe has zero to do with how our economy is going to grow. I’m not a scientist. I don’t think I’m qualified to answer a question like that. At the end of the day, I think there are multiple theories out there on how the universe was created and I think this is a country where people should have the opportunity to teach them all. I think parents should be able to teach their kids what their faith says, what science says. Whether the Earth was created in 7 days, or 7 actual eras, I’m not sure we’ll ever be able to answer that. It’s one of the great mysteries.” Rubio, of course, is wrong: the age of the Earth is not a theory, and any elementary age student could answer the question authoritatively, having learned the basics of scientific knowledge on the matter. “To suggest we can’t know how old the Earth is, then, is to deny the validity of these scientific methods altogether — a maneuver familiar to Rubio, who also denies the reality of anthropogenic climate change.” From Think Progress.
Boys, too, are obsessed with their body image. “Pediatricians are starting to sound alarm bells about boys who take unhealthy measures to try to achieve Charles Atlas bodies that only genetics can truly confer. Whether it is long hours in the gym, allowances blown on expensive supplements or even risky experiments with illegal steroids, the price American boys are willing to pay for the perfect body appears to be on the rise. In a study to be published on Monday in the journal Pediatrics, more than 40 percent of boys in middle school and high school said they regularly exercised with the goal of increasing muscle mass. Thirty-eight percent said they used protein supplements, and nearly 6 percent said they had experimented with steroids. Over all, 90 percent of the 1,307 boys in the survey — who lived in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area, but typify what doctors say is a national phenomenon — said they exercised at least occasionally to add muscle. […] Just as girls who count every calorie in an effort to be thin may do themselves more harm than good, boys who chase an illusory image of manhood may end up stunting their development, doctors say, particularly when they turn to supplements — or, worse, steroids — to supercharge their results.” From The Times.
Fired for refusing to report on a politician’s refusal to stand for the Pledge of Allegiance: John Friedman is an alderman, or a city councilman, in a small New York State town. He doesn’t always stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. “Sometimes I don’t stand because I have too much work on my desk. Sometimes I don’t stand because I don’t like the government telling me when to stand and when not to. It’s an exercise of my rights; it doesn’t mean anything else,” he tells a local newspaper. “It’s not a protest, no more than with anyone who watches the ball game at home and doesn’t stand for the national anthem,” Friedman said. “To a lesser degree, the recitation of anything diminishes it.” Yet here’s what happened to Tom Casey, an ex-reporter for the Register Star, as Chris Churchill described it in the Advocate: “to date, Friedman’s decision hasn’t been an issue in Hudson, a quirky little city with a live-and-let-live sensibility. So Tom Casey, the reporter who covered city politics for the Register-Star, concluded that Friedman’s seated stand wasn’t exactly breaking news. Casey’s bosses at the paper disagreed — and the difference of opinion came to a head earlier this month, when Casey wrote about a council budget meeting without mentioning that Friedman had once again refused to pledge his allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands. Casey filed his story and went home. Shortly after, Casey was ordered to return to the office and add a paragraph or two about Friedman’s decision. Casey did as he was told, but asked that his byline be removed from the story. The next day, he was fired. […] And that caused two reporters — Adam Shanks and Billy Shannon — and City Editor Francesca Olsen to resign. (The Register-Star and an associated weekly had five news reporters.)” The full story.
A postscript on waterboarding: In his very last book, Mortality, an unfinished work he wrote while dying of cancer, Christopher Hitchens revisits the time when he agreed to be waterboarded, in an assignment for Vanity Fair, and write about it. Hitchens was a supporter of the Iraq and Afghan war, but an opponent of torture, and any rationalizations that waterboarding was somehow not torture. He wrote: “What happens, you may have been told, is a “simulation” of the sensation of drowning. Wrong. What happens is that you are slowly but inexorably drowned. And if at any point you manage to evade the deadly drip of water, your torturer will know. He or she will then make a minute but effective adjustment. When I interviewed my torturers later I was particularly interested in this aspect of matters. Oh yes, they said with mild bragging, we have lots of little moves and shakes and twists that will get the job done and not leave a mark. Again, you note this pride in technique and its almost humanist tone of professional expression. The language of torturers…”
Andrew Sullivan referred to that same “language of torturers,” but in reference to the Washington Post’s defense of the barbaric method. Writing in the Atlantic in August 2009: “”In the latest release from those in the Bush administration and CIA who authorized and supported America’s torture of prisoners of war, we get the following story today in the Washington Post. It details that Khaled Sheikh Mohammed gave up a wealth of information in the period after he was tortured by Cheney and Bush via the CIA. It does not and cannot prove that his information could not have been procured by legal or ethical interrogation methods. But what is interesting to me is the Washington Post’s editorial and institutional position in favor of not calling waterboarding and sleep deprivation what they have always been called in every court of law and every society including the US in recent times: torture. They refuse to use the word “torture” for an act that is memorialized in Cambodia’s museum of torture. That’s how deeply the Washington Post is enmeshed in the pro-torture forces in Washington. The refusal to use this word is a clear, political act by the Post in defense of the Bush administration’s torture and abuse policies. It places the Washington Post as an adjunct to the Bush-Cheney policy of torturing thousands of prisoners across every theater of war and across the globe.”
Watch Hitchens being tortured:
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