President Barack Obama speaks in the Rose Garden of the White House. (AP Photo/Charles Dharapak)
Every presidency has its ups and downs. But this is one seriously rough period not only for the current inhabitant of the Oval Office but for the people who put him there. The economy continues to struggle along, with millions unemployed. There seems no way out of the mire of Afghanistan. The Gulf of Mexico is befouled and will be for years to come. Republican senators -- with the cooperation of a couple of Democrats who know no pleasure greater than screwing up their party's agenda -- have taken advantage of the chamber's legislative rules to make action all but impossible. And it looks like they will take back the House.
I recently interviewedJeffrey Blitz, the director of the award-winning documentary Spellbound, among other films, about his new documentary. The new film, called "Lucky," debuts tonight on HBO. It's about the lottery and what happens to people when they win. Here's an excerpt from the interview:
You have one subject who had his siblings put a hit out on him (unsuccessful, I should note). Were there any other depths of human depravity this subject exposed that surprised you?
Just what is a newspaper ombudsman for? This is a question raised by Sunday's column by Washington Post ombudsman Andrew Alexander -- not because he raises it, but because the column is so misguided it's actually quite instructive.
The column is about the manufactured "scandal" of the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case. Alexander notes that the Post did a story about it, and writes, "The story succinctly summarized the issues but left many readers with a question: What took you so long?"
One of the things I tell college and grad students studying social science whenever I have the chance is that the most important class you can take is the one in research methods. It's usually taught by someone who doesn't really want to teach it, and it's usually pretty boring, but what you learn there gives you some vital skills. Among other things, it teaches you which questions are important to ask, and how to go about answering them.
You've probably heard about the New Black Panther Party "scandal," in which a guy stood outside a polling place in a heavily black precinct holding a billy club (Adam has been talking about this extensively; see here). Well it's starting to break through to the mainstream media, as these things always do; see, for instance, this Washington Postarticle in which the passive voice is used extensively. It "has become a political controversy for the Obama administration," yes indeed.