Archive

  • Campaigns

    You know that they really don't have anything to say when they start talking like this. MR. RUSSERT: Don't you have to cut benefits in order to deal with solvency? SEN. McCONNELL: Can I start first with the fact that you were playing a Democratic ad run by the Democratic National Committee. My recollection is we just had an election about five months ago. Can we ever quit campaigning? There is not going to be another election until November of '06. What we ought to do is quit running ads and sit down and start figuring out how to solve this problem. Yeah, really, can't we ever quit campaigning? Why, just the other day I was reading that someone else is campaigning these days too. I can't remember who , but I know it was someone important. Any help ? -- Michael
  • Careful what you presuppose

    Yesterday we brought you how apparently confused poor Rich Lowry's brain is, trying to read a judicial opinion. Today, our friends colleagues over at Powerline point us to another astonishing display of hackery on the ten commandments cases over at the Weekly Standard . Feel free to read the whole thing if you want; a lot of it is the same sort of "oh, save us from this confusion" alarmism that Rich was doing. But the Weekly Standard goes Rich one better: The Court could usefully set aside its many tests and instead consider what various majorities have affirmed on no fewer than five occasions since 1952, to wit: "We are a religious people whose institutions presuppose a Supreme Being." Whoa whoa whoa! Hold on there guys. I didn't know that. All this time, I've been trusting the implication of that pesky old Constitution , the (pre-amendment) body of which doesn't mention religion at all except to say this: The Senators and Representatives before mentioned, and the Members of the...
  • Propaganda

    Digby : And here is one liberal who doesn't believe that everything that comes out of the unregulated free market is good culturally. For instance, I think that right wing talk radio is the biggest cultural pollutant in our society. I can't conceive of anything more pernicious than hours and hours of eliminationist rhetoric, lies and propaganda being pumped into people's cars, offices and homes throughout the country. Somehow, I just can't get as worked up about fictional cable television shows that feature nudity and profanity when real live Americans spend the day listening to people talk about me in ways that sound an awful lot like they'd like to kill me. That reminds me of something I've been meaning to talk about, namely, the effects of under-the-radar propaganda. Limbaugh's fans do not consider him the representation of the Republican party. In fact, every single one of my friends who listen to Rush are quick to tell me how non-doctrinaire, how willing to criticize the right,...
  • Decency

    I'm no legal scholar, but there are certain things that I don't understand about the some right-wing critiques of the so-called "evolving standard of decency." The critiques have reared their head again in the wake of the Supreme Court decision outlawing execution of juveniles. Just two things for now, both said by Jeff Jacoby : The United States has not reached anything like a settled view on this subject, but that no longer matters. Five justices have declared that the Eighth Amendment's ban on ''cruel and unusual punishment" forbids the execution of murderers who were juveniles when they killed. And that, under our system, is that. A good thing? Not when it comes to an issue on which public opinion is as fluid as capital punishment. The Roper majority purported to ground its ruling in the nation's ''evolving standards of decency," which it says have led to a ''national consensus" against the execution of juvenile murderers. Even if there were such a consensus -- and there clearly...
  • Who is it that's not making sense, Rich?

    Rich Lowry must be having a hard time thinking of new ways to be a partisan hack. His latest column on the oral arguments that the Supreme Court heard last week on ten commandments displays would be a masterpiece of obfuscation if it weren't for the fact that, try as he might, he can't really obfuscate anything. The column is titled: Thou Shalt Make No Sense: Commandments and confused jurisprudence . Rich says: T he Supreme Court has just heard oral arguments in two cases — one in Kentucky, the other in Texas — involving the display of the Ten Commandments, thus opening another act in the long-running absurdist drama known as "Supreme Court Establishment Clause Jurisprudence." The First Amendment says that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion." Throughout most of American history that has been taken to mean — oddly enough — that government can't establish a religion. It is the Supreme Court in recent decades that has taken this straightforward admonition...
  • I'll go ahead and make sure you get another copy of that memo

    Ezra's already mentioned the Beinart, Tomasky, vanden Heuvel roundtable , and I thought Ezra's idea about how make lemonade out of lemons is interesting, and possibly the only good thing one can do with that kind of epidemic of mistatement. But while several people have pointed out that Beinart repeats that incorrect republican talking point about Bob Casey, my problem with Beinart overall is that everything he says seems designed to reinforce republican talking points of one sort or another. Not that I think he's ill-intentioned necessarily, but to those of us who are either fully or partially Lakoffian in our strategic thinking, this kind of thing is very disappointing: Liberals need to look at how they grew estranged from large numbers of Americans in the post-Vietnam period. And I think another estrangement has occurred since 9/11. Many Americans have questions about the degree to which liberals are willing to defend the country. You can just hear Sean Hannity saying "see, even...
  • The Curse of "Freedom"

    In a radio address today, President Bush said : [T]he trend is clear: In the Middle East and throughout the world, freedom is on the march… The women of Iraq might beg to differ (hat tip Green Knight ): The women at Nasar's beauty salon were Christian and Muslim, Sunni and Shiite, but they spoke with one voice on an issue that worries them all. "I'm sure they will form an Islamic government and our freedom will be gone," Suzan Sarkon, 30, said as she settled in to get her long black hair trimmed. "We've never lived freely in Iraq, and now I think we never will." Such a comment makes my blood boil. That the administration seeks to declare a victory of democracy in a country whose women are fearful that will never live freely is indicative of a sexism that knows no shame. Freedom means everyone. It is notable that in the same address, the president also stated, “ Freedom is the birthright and deep desire of every human soul.” Every human soul. That means women, too, dammit. As Iraq...
  • Sticking it to the working man, Santorum-style

    As if the Senate's proposed bankruptcy legislation isn't awful enough, compassionate conservative Rick Santorum is looking to attach a tasty amendment to the bill. His proposal is a response to the amendment submitted by Sen. Kennedy, which would raise the minimum wage from $5.15 to $7.25 over the course of two years...a nice idea considering the minimum wage hasn't changed since 1997. 1997 . Think about how long ago that was. In 1997 , Clinton was starting his second term, O.J. was still being tried in civil court, and that godawful song "MMMBop" was on the radio every 15-20 minutes. That was a long time ago. Santorum proposes a $1.10 hike in the minimum wage over a period of 18 months. Better than nothing? Well...there are a few catches. A report issued by the Economic Policy Institute offers a few highlights: WEAKENING FLSA COVERAGE: Employees of businesses with revenues of more than $500,000 and all workers who engage in interstate commerce now have important protections under the...
  • Don't Blink

    Tonight I'm heading out to hear Malcolm Gladwell (yes, he of the hair ) read from his new book Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking. The book tries to prove that your instant, gut reactions are actually more intelligent than your considered analyses. The problem, however, is that my instant, gut reaction is that the thesis is clever bullshit, which means that actually reading the book would be a wholehearted repudiation of its argument. We'll see if he can prove himself wrong and convince me to ignore my quicker instincts tonight. -- Ezra
  • Lies for Truth

    Reacting to the recent liberal magazine editor roundtable (which I'll be saying more about later), Digby and Atrios are nailing Beinart for bringing up the "snubbing" of Bob Casey, the anti-choice governor of Pennsylvania who was denied a speaking slot at the 1992 convention. Now, Casey lost his spot because he didn't endorse the ticket, not, as the story goes, because he was anti-choice. But while Beinart is repeating a canard, he's repeating one that has crystallized into truth for many, many voters, and so long as the tale enjoys that kind of belief, simply ignoring it and condemning those who mention it does us no good. The reason the story has stuck -- a politically active and progressive friend repeated it to me mere days ago, and I'd be entirely unsurprised if Beinart actually thinks it's true -- is because there's a very real perception of the Democratic party as entirely intolerant to anti-choice views. And until that perception dies, the story will continue to live. It...

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