• Mad as Hell, etc.

    Duncan's got a plan : If I were running CNN, once I fired most of the people that worked there and replaced them with decent TV journalists, I'd get rid of their little daily blog show and replace it with the "Fox News Fuckup of the day." They could just steal it from Media Matters. Then I'd add a "crazy shit people are hearing on talk radio which aren't true" segment. I don't know how his blog ads are doing, but I figure it'll be awhile before he can steal "America's Most Trusted Name in News". His idea, however, should be stolen from him. Again. Because Fox took it once already. That, after all, is what "fair and balanced" was. It's not aimed at simply providing ready fodder for Fox-haters looking for easy jokes. It's aimed at the rest of the media. "Fair and balanced", as a tagline, is a jab at what the others aren't. The others are liberal. America-hating. Soft. Unbalanced, unfair. Not patriotic enough. So Fox carved out a new definition of fair -- a conservative, nationalistic...
  • Penny With Our Thoughts

    Instinctively, I agree with Suzanne Nossel -- America should be pushing hard on Mugabe to make Zimbabwe's next elections actually fee and fair, rather than the brutal mockeries they currently are. For that matter, we should be leaning on Thabo Mbeki -- and I mean leaning hard -- until he withdraws his support and legitimation from anything less than a true step forward. But how popular are we in Zimbabwe? How about South Africa? Will American pressure be a publicly justifiable reason for Mugabe to consolidate his power? Will it allow Mbeki to fall into mindless pan-Africanism? Seems, if not certain, pretty possible. In Africa, like many other places, American history has essentially shredded the moral authority we think ourselves to have. It's the Iran-effect -- what we did half-a-century ago, though forgotten by us, still scars those we did it too. So mounting our soapbox and calling for reform only occasionally has the intended impact, oftentimes it simply allows the target to turn...
  • Bush vs. Workers

    The Bush administration is renewing, or at least redoubling, its assault on labor. Now organized unions will face more audits, tougher scrutiny, and a host of other small obstacles and shackles meant to distract them from representing their workers. This, of course, comes on the heels of the NLRB's decision to focus on card checks -- the universally accepted way to form a union -- and the Bush administration's intervention against a California law barring employers from using taxpayer funds to run antiunion campaign. Sirota's got the story .
  • No Ideas (That We'll Tell You About)

    Brownstein's got a nice piece today walking readers through the traps and pitfalls of a Republican dominated government. He does not -- thank God -- fall on the old and idiotic claim that Democrats lack ideas, instead claiming, correctly, that our ideas are remaining bottled: The Democrats' biggest problem is that they don't have a viable means to spotlight or forge a party consensus behind these ideas. Unless they can recruit Republican defectors, Democrats can't force the serious legislative debate on their initiatives that would attract news coverage and public attention. Democrats simply have failed to woo enough Republicans to create such opportunities. That's meant congressional Democrats have been able to express their beliefs almost solely by blocking Bush proposals. As a party, they have had few opportunities to explain what they are for, only what they are against. Which is all entirely true, as is his next point, that our inability to grab press for our ideas has left the...
  • Thanks

    Thanks, as always, to our rocking contributors, Michael and Heather at Here's What's Left . Go say hi if you get a moment.
  • See ya

    Thanks for reading everyone. It's been fun. If you've enjoyed our rantings or ravings this weekend, please feel free to come visit us over at HWL . -- Michael and Heather
  • Can we have a real discussion about liberal academics?

    Over at our place , we've been pretty preoccupied with the "liberal academy" topic for about a week now...I'm not satisfied with the single-phrase explanations for liberal faculties ("We're more open-minded" or "Conservatives like money more"), though perhaps many of these ideas contain bits of truth. But we need to start working on a more comprehensive explanation. This stuff is important because when you add up all the pieces of this debate—the nature of the political makeup of faculty, the question of hiring biases, the question of whether liberals are “smarter” or whether they think they’re smarter, the “academic freedom” movement, the growth of organizations that help oppressed students stand up to their tyrannical profs when they receive a shitty grade on a shitty essay—what this is all about is the general discrediting of higher learning. And that, boys and girls, is not good. Today I bring you a little gem courtesy of my favorite academic crusader and yours, David Horowitz,...
  • More thoughts on the nuclear option

    You might have seen that various conservatives are trying to rename the "nuclear option" the "constitutional option." It's dumb frame, and it should be ceaselessly ridiculed. Indeed, the term "constitutional option" is so vague as to be meaningless. Apparently, the cons who are propogating the term relying on Article 1, Section 5, Clause 2 of the US Constitution : Each House may determine the Rules of its Proceedings[...] (For an interesting take on how exactly this applies and when, see these two excellent posts by Kagro X at The Next Hurrah ). Sure, the constitution says that the Senate can change its rules, but it can also keep the ones that it has. So keeping the current rules is just as "constitutional" an option as changing them is. In fact, anything the Senate does, as long as it falls under the purview of their constitutional duties, is, a priori , a "constitutional option." It's a transparently dumb frame. They might as well have called it the "American option" or the "...
  • A few thoughts on the nuclear option

    I think the national Dems have been doing pretty well in the coming debate over the "nuclear option" on judicial nominations. Let me offer a few humble thoughts. In a debate like this, in which the issues at stake are reasonably removed from what most voters think about every day, Lakoff-inspired framing is of unusual importance. Language is, as someone important once said, a key mechanism of control. To that end, here are a few excerpts from George Mitchell's Democratic radio address that are worth examing (I can't find the complete transcript; lemme know if you can): "They call it their 'nuclear option.' It's an apt name because it will destroy any hope of bipartisanship and permanently change the Senate for the worse." Yes, the "nuclear option" (I can't decide if it would piss people off to call it the "nucular option") remains a great frame, and the GOP hates it. It makes it sound like the GOP is attacking the Democratic party, and is using quasi-violent and extreme measures that...
  • I'm Weird

    So I just did my first ever set of taxes. And enjoyed it. Not sure why, but I thought it kinda fun. By the time I was done, almost everything I was paying was destined for Social Security's coffers, and I felt pretty good about that, too. So taxes? Not as hellish as I've been led to believe.