Black Shards Press – Electronic Gumbo is Our Specialty

Fox Should Not Censor Paul

31.12.2007 (6:21 pm) – Filed under: Politics ::

Josh Marshall:

As we get deeper into the campaign, I do not have a problem with excluding candidates who are not generating any substantial public support. Gravel, I think, was an example of that in the Democratic debates. But I think the Paulbots have a pretty good case for outrage with Ron Paul’s exclusion from the upcoming Republican debate in New Hampshire.

It was unclear to me until just now whether the real factor here was the NH GOP or Fox News, the sponsor of the debate. But the state party is now calling on Fox not to exclude viable candidates. So, it’s not them. Or if it was, it isn’t now.

So, it’s all about Fox News. Paul’s out because he’s not a Fox News Bush-clone. Say whatever you want about the guy, Fox News shouldn’t be able to silence him because they don’t like his views.

Exactly.  Fox is abusing its role as a purveyor of information and should be sharply rebuked for attempting to censor the political debate.

2008 Headline Predictions

31.12.2007 (5:06 pm) – Filed under: General News ::

The NY Times 2008 headline prediction quiz can be found here.

The questions and my answers are below.  I only matched answers with Mr. Safire on 2 of 19 questions.

 

1. The business headline of the year will be:

(a) Big Bounce to 15,000 Dow After Soft Landing

(b) Recession Has Brokers Selling Apples for Five Euros on Wall Street

(c) Subprime Mess Was Greatly Exaggerated

(d) China Buys Boeing

 

2. The Academy Award for Best Picture will go to:

(a) “There Will Be Blood”

(b) “Sweeney Todd”

(c) “American Gangster”

(d) “The Kite Runner”

(e) “Charlie Wilson’s War”

(But don’t expect winners to cross picket lines to pick up their Oscars.)

 

3. The Roberts Supreme Court will decide that:

(a) gun rights belong to the individual, but the Second Amendment’s key limitation is that gun possession should be “well-regulated”

(b) states can require voter ID to prevent fraud even if it reduces access

(c) lethal injection is not cruel or unusual punishment if it isn’t painful

(d) the “ancient right” of habeas corpus applies to Guantánamo detainees no matter what law Congress passes

 

4. The fiction sleeper best seller will be:

(a) “Missy,” a first novel by the British playwright Chris Hanna

(b) “Shadow and Light,” by Jonathan Rabb, set in prewar Germany

None – Neither

 

5. The nonfiction success will be:

(a) “American-Made: The Enduring Legacy of the W.P.A.,” by Nick Taylor

(b) “What Do We Do Now?” interregnum advice by Stephen Hess of the Brookings Institution

(c) “Counselor: A Life at the Edge of History” by Ted Sorensen, President Kennedy’s alter ego

(d) “Basic Brown,” a memoir by Willie Brown, former mayor of San Francisco

(e) “Human,” by the neuroscientist Michael Gazzaniga

(f) “Come to Think of It,” by Daniel Schorr

 

6. The media world will be rocked as:

(a) fizzling ratings for a China-dominated ’08 Olympics induce G.E. to sell NBC Universal to cable-departing Time Warner

(b) “pod push-back” by music customers threatens Apple’s dominance of digital music space

(c) Google challenges telecommunications giants by taking steps to provide both telephone and video on the Internet

 

7. In United States foreign policy debates:

(a) success in Iraq will embarrass cut-and-run Democrats

(b) failure in Iraq will sink stay-the-course Republicans

(c) Iraq muddling along won’t affect the American election

 

8. The de facto dictator truly leaving the political scene this year will be:

(a) Hugo Chávez

(b) Vladimir V. Putin (afflicted by the Time cover jinx)

(c) Robert Mugabe

(d) Fidel Castro

 

9. By year’s end, American diplomats will be negotiating openly with:

(a) Hamas

(b) the Taliban

(c) Iran

 

10. The two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli dispute appears when:

(a) a free election or civil strife in the West Bank and Gaza brings a unified, neighborly government to the Palestinians

(b) an Ehud Barak-Benjamin Netanyahu rematch results in a majoritarian, rightist coalition victory

(c) the Jerusalem division issue is resolved by expanding the official city limits to embrace two capitals

None – Won’t happen this year

 

11. Assuming the Iowa caucuses to be meaningless pollster-media hype, the January primary state with the biggest influence on the outcome of both parties’ nominations will be:

(a) New Hampshire

(b) Michigan

(c) South Carolina

(d) Florida

 

12. The American troop level in Iraq at year’s end will be:

(a) the present 152,000

(b) the pre-surge 130,000

(c) 100,000 and dropping steadily

 

13. The issue most affecting the vote on Election Day will be:

(a) immigration: absorb ’em or deport ’em

(b) taxation: soak the rich or lift all boats

(c) health plans: incentivize or socialize

(d) diplomacy: accommodating realism or extending freedom

 

14. The presidential election will hinge primarily on:

(a) a debate blooper

(b) success or failure in Iraq

(c) Hispanic backlash

(d) a personal scandal

(e) a terror attack on the United States

(f) racism/sexism

(g) the economy, stupid

 

15. The Democratic ticket will be:

(a) Hillary Clinton-Barack Obama

(b) Obama-Clinton

(c) Clinton-Bill Richardson

(d) Obama-Joseph Biden

(e) John Edwards-Dianne Feinstein

 

16. The Republican ticket will be:

(a) Rudolph Giuliani-Mike Huckabee

(b) Mitt Romney-Gen. David Petraeus

(c) John McCain-Michael Bloomberg

None – Guiliani-none of the above (McCain?)

 

17. The winning theme in November will be:

(a) time for a change

(b) don’t let them take it away

(c) experience counts

(d) nobody’s perfect

 

18. The election will be decided on:

(a) charisma

(b) experience

(c) character

(d) sex

(e) money

(f) issues

 

19. As 2009 dawns, Americans will face:

(a) a leftward march, with the Clintons in the White House and a Democratic Congress feeling no tax, entitlement or earmark restraint

(b) creative gridlock, as President McCain finds common ground with a centrist Democratic Congress

(c) a stunning G.O.P. conservative resurgence, with the equally long-shot Washington Redskins girding for the 2009 Super Bowl

 

h/t/ memeorandum

Pakistan and Merit

31.12.2007 (11:07 am) – Filed under: Pakistan ::

Tariq Ali says that Pakistan deserves more from its opposition – and its ruling government – in the aftermath of Benazir Bhutto’s assassination. 

A triumvirate consisting of her husband, Asif Zardari (one of the most venal and discredited politicians in the country and still facing corruption charges in three European courts) and two ciphers will run the party till Benazir’s 19-year-old son, Bilawal, comes of age. He will then become chairperson-for-life and, no doubt, pass it on to his children. The fact that this is now official does not make it any less grotesque. The Pakistan People’s Party is being treated as a family heirloom, a property to be disposed of at the will of its leader.

Dynastic politics is a sign of weakness, not strength. Benazir was fond of comparing her family to the Kennedys, but chose to ignore that the Democratic Party, despite an addiction to big money, was not the instrument of any one family.

He’s right – it is not a good idea to base a political party with aspirations of ruling a nation on a family name.  Ms. Bhutto’s son may prove to be a reasonable leader – in 20 years time – or he may not.  The nation, it seems to me, would be better served to let the Darwinian effects of a meritocracy decide the party’s leaders rather than following a simple lineage of marriage and DNA.

More:

The issue of democracy is enormously important in a country that has been governed by the military for over half of its life. Pakistan is not a “failed state” in the sense of the Congo or Rwanda. It is a dysfunctional state and has been in this situation for almost four decades.

At the heart of this dysfunctionality is the domination by the army and each period of military rule has made things worse. It is this that has prevented political stability and the emergence of stable institutions. Here the US bears direct responsibility, since it has always regarded the military as the only institution it can do business with and, unfortunately, still does so. This is the rock that has focused choppy waters into a headlong torrent.

The military’s weaknesses are well known and have been amply documented. But the politicians are not in a position to cast stones. After all, Mr Musharraf did not pioneer the assault on the judiciary so conveniently overlooked by the US Deputy Secretary of State, John Negroponte, and the Foreign Secretary, David Miliband. The first attack on the Supreme Court was mounted by Nawaz Sharif’s goons who physically assaulted judges because they were angered by a decision that ran counter to their master’s interests when he was prime minister.

The handling of Ms. Bhutto’s return, her failed protection, and the bungling of the aftermath of her murder all point against the legitimacy and maturity of the Pakistani government as represented by General Musharraf.

Other commentators such as Andrew McCarthy disagree with Ali’s sentiment that the Pakistani military is the central problem and see it as the only source of stability in Pakistan.

Appointing a mere boy as the leader of a major opposition party does nothing to dispel that idea. 

Yet the military’s artificial enforcement of stability cannot last.  Countervailing forces will only build – as they’ve done under Musharraf’s rule – until they cannot be restrained.  The resulting explosion could easily – and may yet – be worse than the effects of having allowed events to take their natural course.

This is why Pakistani executives’ regular undermining of the Supreme Court is so damaging:  There is no rule of law to fall back on in times of trouble, nothing that can and must be defended when the principles of government are ever-changing.

Where is the leader who will recognize that principle?  Where are the political groups that realize that ability, character, and ideas matter more than bloodlines and military force?  The latter, it seems, would lead to the former, assuming the absence of a fundamentalist revolution, a major assumption.

Obama’s Real Muslim Issue

31.12.2007 (9:26 am) – Filed under: Islam,Politics ::

The question of whether Barack Obama was a Muslim as a boy is still lurking around in some people’s minds, as demonstrated by Daniel Pipes’ Christmas Eve questions about Obama’s potential apostasy and Ben Smith’s reply calling the article a smear tactic.

In a country of John Smiths, Barack Obama’s name carries with it an inherent liability, one that is not necessarily deserved but does raise questions – including some legitimate ones – in the minds of Christian voters. 

Smith says that this paragraph penned by Pipes is a xenophobic smear based solely on Obama’s name:

“If I were a Muslim I would let you know,” Barack Obama has said, and I believe him.  In fact, he is a practicing Christian, a member of the Trinity United Church of Christ. He is not now a Muslim.

It sounds like an accurate, matter-of-fact statement to me.  It is also the basis for Pipes’ article and a very interesting question, namely whether Obama might be categorized as an apostate and marked for death by radical Muslim terrorists.

Pipes’ summary of Obama’s youth:

Summarized, available evidence suggests Obama was born a Muslim to a non-practicing Muslim father and for some years had a reasonably Muslim upbringing under the auspices of his Indonesian step-father. At some point, he converted to Christianity. It appears false to state, as Obama does, “I’ve always been a Christian” and “I’ve never practiced Islam.” The campaign appears to be either ignorant or fabricating when it states that “Obama never prayed in a mosque.”

This has the feel of truth about it.  As far as justifying ultra-Christian fears about Obama being a Muslim mole, Pipes’ interpretation of the evidence does nothing.  Much as I went to Christian churches and went through the motions as a boy without being a Christian (then), Obama did the same in the places he was raised in.  I think he’s right to say that it gives him a certain insight into the character of Islam, though it is necessarily the insight of a child and of questionable value.

So I don’t see Pipes’ comments as a smear, merely as a lead-in to the bigger question:  Would Obama be assassinated by Muslims if elected president?

Pipes wonders:

More importantly, how would more mainstream Muslims respond to him, would they be angry at what they would consider his apostasy? That reaction is a real possibility, one that could undermine his initiatives toward the Muslim world.

While this is a possibility, I believe that it’s irrelevant.  Consider the level of discourse that would take place if Rudy Guiliani were to be elected president.  Could the Muslim reaction to Obama be any less civil?  I think not.

The more interesting aspect to the issue is this:

On the positive side, were Obama prominently charged with apostasy, that would uniquely raise the issue of a Muslim’s right to change religion, taking a topic on the perpetual back-burner and placing it front and center, perhaps to the great future benefit of those Muslims who seek to declare themselves atheists or to convert to another religion.

Pipes does not examine this thread further, unfortunately.  But if a President Barack Obama were to stand tall on the American stage, acknowledge his childhood relationship with Islam, and declare that, like him, all people of all faiths have the inalienable right to choose their own religion or renounce the same, what would the outcome be?

Such an act could very well bring the wrath of Islam down on Obama.  It could also set a billion people free.

Bhutto Dynasty to Continue

30.12.2007 (11:43 pm) – Filed under: Pakistan ::

bhutto-son

The NY Times writes that Bilawal Bhutto Zardari has been selected to be the future leader of the Pakistan Peoples Party, replacing his slain mother.

The moves by Ms. Bhutto’s opposition party, the Pakistan Peoples Party, were clearly aimed at marshaling an outpouring of grief and anger to electoral advantage in the Jan. 8 parliamentary election. 

His father, Asif Ali Zardari, said he would manage the chairmanship on his son’s behalf until he finished his university degree, for a minimum of three years.

At the news conference, the elder Mr. Zardari said he would not run in the election and therefore would not be the party’s prime ministerial candidate.

That job, he said, would probably go to the party vice president, the veteran party leader Makhdoom Amin Fahim, but that was a decision, he added, that would have to be made by party leaders.

To say the Wikipedia link above is sketchy would be overstating its completeness.  So what do we know about Fahim?

Not much.  Allegedly the job of prime minister was his for the taking in 2002.  All Fahim had to do was disavow Benazir Bhutto to step into the position and he refused.  Loyalty clearly counts for something,  But what, exactly?

The selection of a college student as their nominal leader shows that the PPP is in trouble.  Will Fahim be a capable leader and steward of the Bhutto legacy?  Will he embrace the anti-terrorist positions that, in large part, cost Benazir Bhutto her life?  And will he cede leadership of the party to her son when the time comes?  All questions without answers. 

Personally I find the idea of a 3rd generation Bhutto dynasty somewhat uninspiring.  Is there no more capable leader for the party of democratic reform in all of Pakistan than a 19-year-old boy?  Yes, he has the right name.  But at present that, plus some vaguely defined tutelage at the hands of his murdered mother, is all he has.  I understand that emotions are running high right now and that Ms. Bhutto, were she still among us, would want the PPP to use everything it has to win the upcoming elections should they be held as scheduled.  Yet in the long run relying on the namesake of a royal line is a poor substitute for selecting leaders based on merit.

These reservations aside, I’m glad to see that the PPP is not giving up without a fight.  The Pakistani people, like people everywhere, deserve to choose their own leaders as they see fit, to replace them using the ballot box if they disappoint, and to hold political criminals accountable to the rule to law.

It had been clear for some time that the PPP was the only major party capable of delivering these principles to the people.  Whether that’s still possible remains to be seen.

Fox News Vetoes Paul

29.12.2007 (10:39 pm) – Filed under: Media,Politics ::

Don Surber says that Fox is in the right for not allowing Ron Paul’s participation in the final pre-primary debate in New Hampshire.  His justification?  The fact that Paul’s fans “stuff every online poll on the Internet”.

Whoop-ti-doo.  First, polls are a joke anyway, particularly in a close election cycle like this one.  Nothing is more irritating than the constant navel-gazing that dominates memeorandum and other aggregation sites on slow news days.  Who cares?  Poll reporting is merely an opportunity for writers to attempt to influence the debate.

The relevant facts are that Ron Paul is on the primary ballot in New Hampshire, he significant support in the state, and he has something that the American people deserve the opportunity to hear.

It is particularly galling that Fox could not even be bothered to define an objective criteria for Paul’s exclusion.  No news organization has any business whatever deciding who is allowed to speak at a public election forum.

The purpose of our news media is primarily to report facts and, when such is clearly defined, editorialize.  News organizations, however, certainly should not be allowed to interfere in the democratic process.  The people at Fox seem to have forgotten the limits that exist on their mandates.

Torture, a

29.12.2007 (10:12 pm) – Filed under: Justice,National Security,Philosophy ::

At Pharyngula, PZ Meyers lets off a blast of anti-torture steam that must have been building up for some time:

Here is all that torture is good for: inspiring fear in a population.

When the US government announces it’s support for torture, they aren’t talking about intelligence gathering: they are simply saying “Fear us.” They are taking the first step on the road to tyranny.

The real problem is that fear isn’t a good tool to use in a democratic society. We are supposed to be shareholders in our government; when a process of oppression is endorsed by our legislators and president, we should recognize that they are trying to set themselves apart from the ordinary citizenry, and it’s time to rebel…before the goon squads come to your neighborhood. Anyone who supports torture is a traitor to the democratic form of government, and should be voted out of office, if not impeached.

Not so. A more accurate way to summarize the torture debate is to say that it’s imperative that the U.S. indicate that it will match terrorists at every level of the fight. So yes, on one level it is about inspiring fear, but the fear that’s necessary is that which must be impressed on the hearts of ruthless enemies who terrorize the innocent and prey on the tolerance of better societies than their own.

As such the use of torture is a tool that, while repugnant and often ill-advised, is a necessary evil that may have to be wielded in defense of democracy.

I know that some are going to crawl out of the woodwork and say that this merely serves to lower our nation and its citizens to the level of the terrorists.

Such statements are not true. Individuals and nations alike are entitled to defend themselves against attack. While value judgments about the appropriate intensity of that response can be amusing when penned by a deft, clever hand, one thing should remain clear throughout the discussion: All that is necessary for terrorists to avoid a potentially devastating response of this nation’s security apparatus to their lawless behavior is to lay down their arms, pick up their Koran, and make a proper separation of right and wrong based on their own interpretation of the book rather than relying on the mob-rousing clerics who incite them to the heinous acts they perform.

It goes without saying, of course, that Meyers’ article in opposition to a government tactic would be his death sentence in virtually every one of the nations that spawn Islamic terrorism.

A better use of freedom would be to defend its continued existence at home rather than arguing for the non-existent rights of an implacable, murderous foe whose core values demand the complete extermination of the freedoms that allow articles such as ours to be written free of fear.

Immigration Answers

29.12.2007 (8:40 pm) – Filed under: Immigration,Politics ::

In the NY Times, Julia Preston writes that the immigration problem is defying politicians’ attempts to answer it easily.

Coinciding with the mood of apprehension following the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the new immigration has provoked more than the traditional suspicion that foreigners are taking jobs from American workers. For many voters in the primary races, immigration has become an urgent national security concern and a challenge to the American identity.

The new immigration also sharpened the rift between the federal government and the states. Across party lines, frustrated voters accuse the Bush administration of failing to secure the southern border against intruders, of being lax on employers hiring illegal immigrants and of preaching assimilation without providing resources for local schools where Spanish-speaking students are enrolled.

While our leaders have failed to lead on this issue, I don’t agree that it’s because the illegal immigration problem is overly complex.  The minefield that is public relations makes it a treacherous issue to take a stand on, what with pro-immigration groups being so vocal and a liberal media and court system ready and willing to shoot down any and all attempts to restrict the rights of illegal immigrants.  The issue itself, however, is relatively straightforward.

America’s borders should be secured and admittance to the country controlled simply as a matter of principle.  That or open the borders and do away with the concept of illegal immigration altogether.  I’d rather pay for the former.

Future immigrants should be vetted and admittance granted on the criteria of maximum benefit to the U.S.  Preference should be given to the educated, the able, and those willing to assimilate into our culture, with scientists, researchers, and engineers at the top of the list. 

Existing illegals should be given a path to citizenship.  Our inept management of our borders and policing invited these people here and they have become our responsibility.  Provisions should be attached which allow for deportation of criminals during the interim period.

Any illegals who do come here in the future should be denied access to public resources of all kinds, including health care, education, welfare, transportation, etc.  This is the single biggest disincentive we can create to discourage their arrival.  Though difficult, it must be done to stem the flow. 

In addition, deportation should be administered at all levels of law enforcement and fines against employers who use illegal laborers should be prohibitively expensive.

Now, try to get elected with that approach.  That’s the trick.

Texans Against Nukes

29.12.2007 (2:30 pm) – Filed under: Energy,Texas ::

nuke

The Houston Chronicle says:

Texas anti-nuclear activists are rallying their forces to challenge the so-called nuclear renaissance that could see the state become home to the country’s first new nuclear power plant project in nearly 30 years. 

Austin-based officials with the Sierra Club, Public Citizen and the Sustainable Energy and Economic Development Coalition said they don’t yet know if they will intervene in the [the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s] review separately or under one name. But they don’t plan on sitting on their hands.

“We need to draw a line in the sand here in Texas and create a new nuclear resistance movement to say no to the nuclear regurgitation,” said Karen Hadden, director of SEED.

Experts disagree.

NRG spokesman David Knox said building new nuclear plants like the one his company is planning will be major steps toward battling global warming.

“Nuclear is clean, safe and secure and will be critical to help meet rising electrical demand without contributing to global climate change,” Knox said.

NRG would be a major stakeholder in the new plant, so Knox’s words are to be expected.  Yet the nuclear power industry’s record has been good in the U.S. and our power needs must be satisfied, whether the Sierra Club likes it or not.

Clearly they do not:

In Texas organizers spent a lot of time and effort in the past two years fighting TXU’s plans to build nearly a dozen new coal-fired power plants.

While environmentalists’ impact was probably negligible, central Texas was recently passed over as the site of a near-zero emissions coal-fired power plant.  No doubt the local Sierra Club undoubtedly regards that as a victory.

If so it’s a Pyrrhic one; Greens will be no less in the dark than the rest of us should the power grid be compromised because we failed to invest properly in our infrastructure.

Nuclear power can and should be an important part of that infrastructure.  It is more viable as a long-term energy source than ethanol, cleaner than coal, and more available than hydrogen. 

Rather than give in to the Sierra Club, et al, we should embrace nuclear energy as a practical alternative to foreign oil and as the base of a hydrogen-based economy of the future.

That may take proponents of nuclear power to become activists themselves.

Neil Carman, director of the clean air program for the Sierra Club in Texas, said the state’s environmental community hasn’t addressed nuclear energy for many years.

“But it’s been quite amazing to see a lot of people coming out of the woodwork and wanting to work on this,” Carman said. “I think you will see a very strong anti-nuclear movement in Texas.”

Rise, silent majority, and let your voices be heard.

John Edwards’ 4 Steps

28.12.2007 (10:54 am) – Filed under: Health,Liberalism,Politics ::

Edwards, running a reasonable 3rd in the Democratic primary polls, today published a 4 step program to a healthier America in the Boston Globe.  But would following his recipe really make America a better place to live?

The first thing we need to do is create more jobs and make sure those jobs pay enough for people to get ahead. As president, I will end the failed NAFTA trade model and pursue a trade policy that ends tax loopholes for companies that send American jobs overseas. I will also invest in renewable sources of energy to create new industries and good-paying jobs. I will make sure work pays by raising the minimum wage to $9.50 an hour, and I will build career ladders to help low-wage workers move into better jobs. I will put the government back on the side of working people by strengthening organized labor. And finally, I will reform our tax code to make sure that the people who need tax breaks – our middle-class families – are the ones getting them.

So Edwards is in favor of protecting American jobs by creating barriers to free trade…  That’s denying the reality of the world – the pressure to trade with countries who operate on a lower cost basis is a natural phenomenon; attempts to artificially stop this trade will inevitably fail.

As for the minimum wage, it’s bad enough the way it is, let alone raising it more than 40%.  Employers don’t pay a given wage to shaft workers, they pay it because $X/hr is a close approximation of candidates’ willingness to work and the value they provide in return.  Skills are the answer to low wages, not federal mandates, and it’s easy to get them in this country – if one wants to.

The second thing we need to do is give families the tools to build a secure financial future. In today’s economy, people cannot rely on their employers for their long-term retirement security, so as president I will create Universal Retirement Accounts that can be taken from job to job. To respond to the mortgage crisis, I will pass a tough new national law to prevent predatory lending abuses, and I will rein in credit card and other abusive lending practices by creating a new consumer watchdog agency.

Is Edwards saying he’d like to have a privatized supplement to Social Security?  If so, then I’m all for what he’s planning.  If not then it’s just more hot air.  Most Americans already have access to 401k plans and IRAs that can transcend employment and we have little need of another government program to do the same thing.

The third thing we need to do is remove the burdens that weigh families down. We need to help people balance their work and home lives by making sure that workplace policies keep up with changes in the economy. As president, I will expand early-education programs, provide paid leave and sick leave to all workers, and expand job protection under the Family and Medical Leave Act. I will also expand opportunities to attend college through my “College for Everyone” program.

“I will expand” pretty much says it all.  Every one of these expansions has to be paid for by tax dollars, so it seems obvious that Edwards is a proponent of higher taxes.  He claims that the middle class will benefit from his tax policies and no Democrat can dare approach a “less progressive” tax structure with a 10 foot pole.  Clearly he’s for soaking the rich, a popular but ultimately self-defeating tactic.

The fourth thing we need to do is create universal healthcare in America. Not only are healthcare costs putting a huge strain on American families and our competitiveness in the global economy, but our broken healthcare system that leaves 47 million Americans without healthcare is also a moral disgrace. I have proposed a healthcare plan that calls for shared responsibility among people, businesses, and the government, and will ensure that every man, woman, and child in America has access to affordable, quality coverage.

Likewise, no details on how this would be paid for.  Costs, it’s safe to assume, are not about to go down in any time soon; therefore, any expansion of coverage to people unable to pay for their own care must require distribution of those costs to the rest of us.

At some level this is a good thing.  Edwards is right in saying that every American ought to have easy access to quality basic medical care.

Taken to a higher level, American health care is often about denying reality, which is that everyone has to die eventually.  There have to be limits what a public health care system can cover. 

For instance, how would Edwards’ proposed system handle a case like that of Nataline Sarkisyan?  In perfect world Nataline would have never been ill; in a better one than this she would have received the medical care her family wanted.

But would it have made a difference?  And who should be responsible for the enormous cost burden?  And whose lives would be adversely impacted by directing such a large amount of health care dollars her way?

These questions should be asked of any candidate who is campaigning with the universal care plank in his or her platform for, if done wrong, the entitlements generated by such a plan – indeed, all of the plans Edwards discussed today – could adversely impact the economy as a whole.