We've had something of a dearth of memorable public service announcements in recent years here in America. When was the last time something stuck with you or became part of our cultural memory like "This is your brain on drugs"? But in the UK, they try really hard to shock the hell out of you with PSAs, perhaps because they sometimes don't seem to get the difference between "memorable" and "effective." Take a look at this, which made the rounds yesterday. I'll talk in a moment about whether stuff like this actually works, but before you watch it, a warning: although it has only a bit of gore, you probably don't want to be raising a mug of hot coffee to your lips as it plays:
As Sen. Rand Paul delivered his keynote speech on immigration reform at yesterday's gathering of the Latino Partnership for Conservative Principles, anxieties about the GOP’s identity crisis rippled through the room. The likely 2016 presidential hopeful spoke briefly in Spanish before discussing his Christian faith and opposition to abortion. He assured his audience he got them: “Man’s humanity to man is how we will be judged,” he said.
Republicans learned a number of lessons from the 2012 elections. They learned they need to reach out to Latinos. They learned that younger Americans aren't too fond of them. And they learned a lesson that was summed up in three words: "No more Akins." That would be Todd Akin, the Missouri Senate candidate whose bid was torpedoed when he shared with the voters his colorful views on the likelihood of rape resulting in pregnancy (almost non-existent, he said, if in fact it's a "legitimate rape," because "the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down").
Is President Obama planning to reverse course on deficit reduction? You will recall that the president joined the deficit-hawk crowd in calling for more than $4 trillion of deficit reduction over the next decade; that he has offered to cut Social Security and Medicare as part of a grand bargain (that the Republicans mercifully rejected); that it was Obama who appointed the Bowles-Simpson Commission; and that his own budget for FY 2014 includes substantial spending cuts.
Yesterday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo unveiled his own proposal for public financing of campaigns. The governor’s proposal adds to several others currently under consideration to get money out of the electoral system in the state. After a year of high-profile corruption scandals and arrests, it’s clear that something must be done.
That's what you say, but how can we be sure? (Flickr/sunnyUK)
You can make a reasonable argument for why Edward Snowden was wrong to release the information he did to the Guardian and the Washington Post (for instance, here's Jeffrey Toobin and here's Josh Marshall making that argument). But if you're going to really turn Snowden into a villain, you'd have to show that the leaks did some kind of demonstrable harm to American national security. Even if you don't find Snowden's action heroic, it's quite possible that leaking this classified information was illegal and wrong, but nevertheless didn't do much damage or make us less safe than we otherwise were.
So what is that harm? What the government has been saying so far isn't all that persuasive.
Although one can argue that the American culture war dates all the way back to the days before we were even our own country, these days we can trace most of our hot-button issues to the 1960s, when the hippies and the squares faced off. Eventually, most of the particular issues about which people argued were resolved, and in the liberals' favor. The occasional dissenter not withstanding, there's a broad agreement that the South was wrong about civil rights, the Vietnam War was a bad idea, and women deserve the same rights as men.
You can attribute some of the success of the current immigration bill to President Obama’s absence from the debate. A large number of Republicans are simply unable or unwilling to support a proposal that has Obama’s name attached. By stepping away from the process and leaving it to Democratic and Republican lawmakers in the Senate, Obama set the stage for cooperation and allowed a chance for success—a permission structure, as it were.
I don't know about you, but I don't feel like I'll truly understand the citizen's relationship to government in an age of sweeping electronic surveillance until I read Edward Snowdon's girlfriend's blog. And this morning, Fox & Friends answered the question everyone in America was surely asking: Does Lou Ferrigno think Snowdon is a traitor? (For the record, Ferrigno's response was nuanced, but leaned toward "yes.") But let's say you're glad you found out what The Hulk thinks, but you're still asking yourself, "Has Rob Schneider weighed in on this yet?" Politico has you covered.
We all know that the news runs on personalities; a "story" without protagonists and antagonists isn't a story at all, it's just an "issue," and that's dullsville. But I'm sure the White House couldn't be happier that the NSA story is quickly becoming dominated by a discussion of Edward Snowdon himself, which naturally crowds out discussion of the substance of his leak and whether we want to make adjustments to the policies and programs he revealed.