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August 26, 2009

The American Way Of Torture

The key point:

If this is not torture, then torture does not exist. And if this is America, and there is no accountability for these war crimes, then core American values have ceased to exist as well.

The American Way Of Torture | The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan:

... The US followed other regimes in both diapering prisoners or, better still, forcing them to lie in their own excrement, as was discovered by horrified FBI agents at Gitmo. Other torture regimes capture piss and shit in bowls beneath the torture victims. Various forms of nude shackling, sleep deprivation and dietary manipulation (all barred under Geneva and the UN Convention) are then supplemented by constant bombardment with light, loud noise, water-dousing and walling. These techniques can be used in combination. Some more details:

An HVD may be walled one time to make a point or twenty to thirty times when an  interrogator requires a more significant response to a question. In an interrogation designed  to be intense, an HVD may be walled multiple times in one session...

Current OMS guidance on cramped confinement limits confinement in the large box to 8 hours at a time for no more than 18 hours a day and confinement in the small box to two hours...

Interrogators will often use one technique to support another. As an example, interrogators would tell an HVD in a stress position that he [HVD] is going back to the walling wall for walling if he fails to hold the stress position until told otherwise by the HVD. This places additional stress on the HVD who will typically try to hold the stress position for as long as possible to avoid the walling wall.

John McCain will remember these techniques and variants of them from his time in the Hanoi Hilton. If this is not torture, then torture does not exist. And if this is America, and there is no accountability for these war crimes, then core American values have ceased to exist as well.

August 24, 2009

How to Poll on the Public Option

Why the Quinnipiac poll gets the polling question right and the results of asking the question the right way:

62 percent of people support the public option in Quinnipiac's August 5th poll, versus 32 percent opposed.

FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: How to Poll on the Public Option:

1. Make clear that the 'public option' refers unambiguously to a type of health insurance, and not the actual provision of health care services by the government....
2. Make clear that by "public", you mean "government"....
3. Avoid using the term 'Medicare' when referring to the public option....
4. Make clear that the public option is, in fact, an option....
5. Ask in clear and unambiguous terms whether the respondent supports the public option -- not how important they think it is....

... almost all of the polls on the public option succumb to one or more of these sins. However, there is one exception. This is the Quinnipiac poll, which asks:

Do you support or oppose giving people the option of being covered by a government health insurance plan that would compete with private plans?

This is a perfect question. It makes clear that the public option is an insurance program, rather than a program to provide health care services. It uses the less ambiguous phrase "government" rather than the more ambiguous phrase "public". It makes clear that the public option is a choice. It avoids leading the respondent by comparing the public option to Medicare. And it asks in unambiguous terms whether the respondent supports or opposes the proposal.

62 percent of people support the public option in Quinnipiac's August 5th poll, versus 32 percent opposed.

I would strongly urge people to cite the Quinnipiac poll when making reference to public sentiment on the public option. The others run the gamut from slightly to deeply flawed.

August 19, 2009

The Madness of Anonin Scalia, Ctd.

Scalia's Catholic Betrayal -  Page 1 - The Daily Beast :

Let us be clear precisely what [this dissent by Justices Scalia and Thomas] means. If a defendant were convicted, after a constitutionally unflawed trial, of murdering his wife, and then came to the Supreme Court with his very much alive wife at his side, and sought a new trial based on newly discovered evidence (namely that his wife was alive), these two justices would tell him, in effect:  “Look, your wife may be alive as a matter of fact, but as a matter of constitutional law, she’s dead, and as for you, Mr. Innocent Defendant, you’re dead, too, since there is no constitutional right not to be executed merely because you’re innocent.”

The Madness of Anonin Scalia, Ctd :

First:

The Eighth Amendment prohibits the infliction of cruel and unusual punishment. The "liberal" argument goes as follows: it is both cruel and unusual to execute someone for a crime he did not actually commit.  Period.

Check.  Second:

The problem with Scalia's quote, and by extension your post regarding it, is that Troy Davis did not receive a full and fair trial if, in fact, several of the witnesses did not tell the truth during that trial.

And mate.

Are The Health Care Protests Working? And are Liberals Helping Them?

Now here was a great way to frame the debate.  But instead, some Dems dropped the end-of-life counseling payments plan like a hot potato.

FiveThirtyEight: Politics Done Right: Are The Health Care Protests Working?  And are Liberals Helping Them?:

But the real upside to the protests is that they perpetuate misinformation about the Democrats' bills. Forget the birthers -- I want to know how many Americans believe in the "death panels". (I also want to know whether Chuck Grassley, since he seems to be one of them, would accept the following trade: Democrats will drop the "death panels" if you'll drop your opposition to the public option.

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