What others are thinking

Here are the guys at Media Matters on Charles Krauthammer:

Mr. Krauthammer is, of course, free to voice any political point of view he likes, and he should never draw criticism simply for his professed conservative beliefs. But like so many conservative critics, Krauthammer's work is characterized by sloppy thinking, factually-challenged analysis, and partisan hyperbolae that undermines his credibility as an analyst and pundit.

I find it odd to talk about a pundit's "credibility," but alas.


He’s an Arab

Among the various fallacies of irrelevance is the "ignoratio elenchi."  This often has the very unhelpful and imprecise role of being a catch-all category for any relevance problem not covered by another more precise description (It's other more usual role covers arguments whose extreme conclusions are unwarranted by the evidence).  Along these lines, Ross Douthat considers the following evidence:

This ideal has had a tough 10 months. It’s been tarnished by Palin herself, obviously. With her missteps, scandals, dreadful interviews and self-pitying monologues, she’s botched an essential democratic role — the ordinary citizen who takes on the elites, the up-by-your-bootstraps role embodied by politicians from Andrew Jackson down to Harry Truman.  

And concludes:

But Sarah Palin represents the democratic ideal — that anyone can grow up to be a great success story without graduating from Columbia and Harvard.

What's the success story now?  Sheleft Wasilia in financial ruin, lost in a national election, and quit the governorship of Alaska after 30 months for reasons no one can decipher.

But here's another round of complete nincompoopery from the author of this piece:

Here are lessons of the Sarah Palin experience, for any aspiring politician who shares her background and her sex. Your children will go through the tabloid wringer. Your religion will be mocked and misrepresented. Your political record will be distorted, to better parody your family and your faith. (And no, gentle reader, Palin did not insist on abstinence-only sex education, slash funds for special-needs children or inject creationism into public schools.)

This was also not the lesson of the Obama experience?  Only Obama's political record (and by obvious implication his citizenship, patriotism, political record, etc.) was gleefully distorted by Palin.

Happy Fourth of July

I've posted some things here about the arguments for torture.  I find them unpersuasive.  Many, like certain former American VP, his pundit defenders, and the current members of the Iranian government, do not:

The government has made it a practice to publicize confessions from political prisoners held without charge or legal representation, often subjected to pressure tactics like sleep deprivation, solitary confinement and torture, according to human rights groups and former political prisoners. Human rights groups estimate that hundreds of people have been detained.

Oh well.

Too stupid to notice

Here's a fun item in the Wall Street Journal.  It's fun because it's an intellectual disaster.  Here, just for entertainment, is one glaring and obvious problem:

"The cost of treating the 45 million uninsured is shifted to the rest of us."

So on Monday, Wednesday and Friday we are harangued about the 45 million people lacking medical care, and on Tuesday and Thursday we are told we already pay for that care. Left-wing reformers think that if they split the two arguments we are too stupid to notice the contradiction. Furthermore, if cost shifting is bad, wait for the Mother of all Cost Shifting when suppliers have to overcharge the private plans to compensate for the depressed prices forced on them by the public plan.

This is is not a contradiction, as the clueless author of this dismal piece suggests.  Besides, 45 million people lack health insurance (of any variety) but many more lack meaningful health insurance.  For the consequences of that, read this article in the New York Times.  Because it is printed in that paper, it is indisputably true.  Anyway, back to the point, people who lack health insurance, the good argument goes, still will seek life-saving medical care (after having put off routine care).  Someone will pay for that.  The cost will be much higher than it would have been had these people been insured like the rest of us. 

The rest of the piece reads like a series of examples from a textbook on informal fallacies.  More on that later, maybe.  But let me close with this tidbit from the Times' article mentioned above:

At St. David’s Medical Center in Austin, where he went for two separate heart procedures last year, the hospital’s admitting office looked at Mr. Yurdin’s coverage and talked to Aetna. St. David’s estimated that his share of the payments would be only a few thousand dollars per procedure.

He and the hospital say they were surprised to eventually learn that the $150,000 hospital coverage in the Aetna policy was mainly for room and board. Coverage was capped at $10,000 for “other hospital services,” which turned out to include nearly all routine hospital care — the expenses incurred in the operating room, for example, and the cost of any medication he received.

In other words, Aetna would have paid for Mr. Yurdin to stay in the hospital for more than five months — as long as he did not need an operation or any lab tests or drugs while he was there.

Aetna contends that it repeatedly informed Mr. Yurdin and the hospital of the restrictions in policy, which is known in the industry as a limited-benefit plan.

Hurray for private insurance!