That's not a headline I ever thought I'd write. But political controversy, it seems, is the mother of invention. You'll recall that in exchange for his vote on health-care reform, Sen. Ben Nelson obtained from Harry Reid a provision under which the federal government would pick up the full cost of the bill's expansion of Medicaid – in Nebraska, but not in other states. Lots of people squawked: Why should Nebraska get special treatment, they asked. Of course, states and districts with powerful members (or those whose votes are particularly valuable at a given moment) get special treatment all the time. But that doesn't mean it wasn't a legitimate criticism.
The social theorist Eric Hoffer once wrote, in a quote that seems to have been punched up in the repeating, something to the effect that every political movement starts out as a cause, turns into a business, and eventually devolves into a racket. It seems that the tea party movement is headed that way with remarkable alacrity. David Weigel of the Washington Independenttells us:
Back in the 1960s, Canadian media scholar Marshall McLuhan told the world that “the medium is the message,” by which he meant that content was far less meaningful than the form in which that content was delivered. If you’re reading, McLuhan felt, your brain is operating in a specific way, regardless of whether you’re reading Ulysses or the latest Penthouse Forum. If you're watching moving images on your television, your brain is operating in a fundamentally different way. There are profound implications for what you’ll retain and how your mind will work in the future.