There was a time not long ago when liberals looked at their conservative counterparts with envy. The right was so disciplined, so unified, so well-coordinated, so good at devising and sticking to its talking points, while getting three liberals to agree on anything, much less act in concert, seemed all but impossible. It's amazing, though, how a couple of presidential election losses can rend a movement asunder. These days, the Republican party and the larger conservative movement is tearing itself apart over immigration reform, which, depending on which conservative you ask, is either the last best hope for the GOP to save itself from a slide into irrelevance, or a terrifying threat to America's territorial, legal, and spiritual integrity.
Yesterday, Fox News host Bill O'Reilly, who has a long history of fear-mongering on immigration (he has favored the technique of finding a crime some immigrant committed, then giving it repeated coverage to give the impression of an immigrant crime wave) came out in favor of comprehensive immigration reform. He said he now supports it because of the latest Republican proposal for super-extra-mega-tough border security, but in doing so O'Reilly risks the ire of the angry old white men who make up his audience. On the other hand, what else are they going to do at 9 p.m. every night? Watch Piers Morgan? Read a book? Please.
This came just a day after Tea Partiers gathered at the Capitol to denounce Marco Rubio, and the reform he supports. "Rubio Lies, Americans Die" read a sign in the crowd. "Primary Rubio!" someone shouted. It sure didn't take long for Rubio to go from Tea Party darling to traitor to the cause.
One might conclude that there's no way out for Republicans: scuttle reform, and they'll harm themselves (yet again) with the Latino voters they need so desperately, but pass reform, and their base will revolt. But maybe the shouters and sign-wavers aren't as potent a force as they seem. After all, a recent Gallup poll showed that 86 percent of Republicans favor a path to citizenship as part of immigration reform. So a smart Republican politician might say, "I may get flack, but standing up to that noisy part of our base is the smart move." Only trouble is, it's hard to remember the last time a Republican politician said anything of the sort.
SO THEY SAY
I've enjoyed dueling you, Norm, over the years. You've been consistently wrong on almost everything. I've always wondered, you know, who eats lunch with you over here.
—Senator Mitch McConnell, anticipating a question from well-noted centrist and American Enterprise Institute scholar Norm Ornstein
DAILY MEME: HELP FUND ME, BRO!
- Any publicity is good publicity, but most it's been bad for Kickstarter these days.
- An L.A. actress considers giving money through Kickstarter "the art-world equivalent of paying protection money to the mob."
- That comes from an article titled "The Trouble with Kickstarter."
- This week, the company didn't remove a project to produce a "seduction guide" until after it was funded.
- Pandemonium ensued.
- The man behind that guide once penned lines such as "Be dominant" and "Force her to rebuff your advances."
- The author's advice sometimes sounded "a lot more like advocacy of assault and harassment than sex tips," Think Progress reported.
- Kickstarter announced today it's exiting the "seduction guide-funding" business.
- In Kickstarter's defense, the offensive writing was not on the actual page.
- The company only reviews material that will appear on its own site.
- Materials such as Zach Braff's $3.1 million sequel to Garden State.
- Or $5.7 million for the new Veronica Mars flick.
- How about the $120,000 scam caught at the last second last week? (It involved Kobe beef jerky.)
- It's not all bad. "Asteroid mining company" Planetary Resources just reached its $1 million goal to create "the first publicly accessible space telescope."
- A variety of documentaries, artwork, albums, and service projects were funded last year. Even more await.
- The site's even created jobs: the niche industry of "crowdfunding consultants."
- Still, nobody wants to feel obligated to fund yet another album titled "Sounds of the Cerulean Warbler."
- Welcome to the reailty of supporting fine arts in the digital age.
WHAT WE'RE WRITING
- Three young undocumented activists risked their lives to show what happens when immigrants are detained, and, as Michael May writes, invented a new form of protest along the way. The radio version of this story will be featured on the weekend edition of This American Life.
- The leader of the country’s largest ex-gay organization has announced that it’s closing down, and that he’s sorry. Gabriel Arana explores whether or not to accept his apology.
WHAT WE'RE READING
- Paperbacks may soon go the way of the dinosaur, or at least the vinyl record.
- The New Republic's Judith Shulevitz sees cleansing as a purity ritual grounded in theology.
- "Work-life balance" is a term to describe the conflict between family and money—a battle money's winning.
- Privacy advocates always emerge after the damage of new technology's been done,writes Jill Lepore of The New Yorker.
- Reports of HPV-caused throat cancer call for a serious look at improving oral contraception.
- The failure of a once easily-approved piece of legislation—the Farm Bill—does notbode well for immigration reform.
- According to Syrian rebels and U.S. officials, the CIA and U.S. Special Ops havesecretly trained Syrian rebels since late last year.
- Taliban negotiations could hinge on Guantanamo detainees.
- Why George Zimmerman’s all-female jury matters.
POLL OF THE DAY
A growing number of adults, especially those between the ages of 30-64, care for another adult or a child who has significant health problems, according to a poll recently released by the Pew Research Center. This is an issue for 39 percent of Americans, up from 30 percent in 2010.