Archive: Conclusions

Signing Off

I intended to write this weeks ago. At the time, I couldn't figure out how to say it. Even now, the words still elude me -- but as with just about every pressing assignment throughout high school and college, it's way past due. I must bid you farewell, whether I can find the words or not. I've started a new job with Washington Post Radio. It's a totally new area for me, requiring all my time and attention. And so I am putting The Debate to bed. A nice, long nap sounds pretty good to me, too, actually. The Debate was always just a fraction of my job; most of my time was spent coordinating the hundreds of op-ed submissions sent to The Post each week, leaving only late night hours for the intensive research necessary in order to have an informed discussion the next day. I've been exhausted since...

By Emily Messner | July 24, 2006; 08:31 AM ET | Comments (23) | TrackBack (0)

Asterisks in the Record Books?

Major League Baseball used to be Debater Alex Ham's favorite sport, but that feeling has faded over the past few years of steroid scandals. "It's disgusting and an insult to greats like Mickey Mantle, Babe Ruth, and Roger Maris," Ham writes, arguing that offenders' records should be wiped off the books. Perhaps that's too drastic. Maybe they should be marked with an asterisk to indicate that the means used to break those records weren't necessarily legit, as advocated by Debater gord. I'd like to support that idea, but if Jose Canseco is correct in his statement that steroids were readily accepted in the 1980s and early '90s in baseball, how will we ever know which records need asterisks? Which game-winning home runs were made possible by performance-enhancing drugs? Which decisive World Series runs were batted in by steroid-pumped players? Is there any way to fairly differentiate the rule breakers from...

By Emily Messner | March 17, 2006; 04:50 PM ET | Comments (23)

Reprioritizing the Federal Budget

In the ongoing effort to find something we can all agree on, I offer this: Our federal budget needs some reprioritizing. The transportation bill, just to offer one example, is so full of pork it sizzles. In most cases, the number of earmarks for a given state went up in conference. Consider Oklahoma -- how did it go from 25 earmarks worth $84 million in the House bill to 66 earmarks worth more than half a billion dollars in the final conference agreement? Then there's Montana, which went from two earmarks in the House bill to 40 in the final version. And what's up with Florida's 232 earmarks, most of which are for very localized road improvements? Does Florida not have its own Department of Transportation? Do they really need $5.8 million of the taxpayers' money to design and reconstruct "the segment of Church Street from Terry Avenue to Westmoreland...

By Emily Messner | December 23, 2005; 10:44 AM ET | Comments (4)

Answering The War's Big Questions

Time to revisit the questions we asked at the start of this debate: 1. Did the administration know more than it chose to reveal? Little of the intelligence supporting the decision to go to war was definitive, and much of it was open to challenge from other, more reliable intelligence. The administration failed to reveal those important qualifications to the case it was making. In a speech in March of 2004, Sen. Kent Conrad of North Dakota noted, "All the evidence we have now shows the administration knew at the time the statements were made that its own intelligence undercut the statements it was making." That might not technically qualify as lying, but omitting those key facts and findings that cast great doubt on the case for war at least counts as dishonest. Richard Cohen writes that none of those pesky facts "mattered to Vice President Cheney, who warned of...

By Emily Messner | December 9, 2005; 11:11 AM ET | Comments (91)

Prisoner Abuse: What We've Learned

The administration's once quiet sanctioning of torture has turned into a full-blown defense of the practice -- even as the president insists, "We do not torture." I wish that statement didn't ring so hollow. It remains unclear exactly where the line is between abuse and acceptable coercion, but when John McCain, an overwhelming majority of his fellow senators and dozens of military leaders say the use of torture is more harmful than helpful, I'm inclined to believe them. Put simply, we should not need to sacrifice our morality to fight the War on Terror. So what have we learned this week? Torture -- yes, even of non-citizens, and yes, even of terrorism suspects -- goes against fundamental American principles, and may make the fight against terrorism more difficult. "Prohibiting torture of those captured by the U.S. in the war on terror is not only the right thing to do, but...

By Emily Messner | November 18, 2005; 12:15 PM ET | Comments (169)


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