Pema Levy

Pema Levy is an assistant editor at The American Prospect.

Recent Articles

Republicans Back Down Over Medicare Overhaul

Last night, congressional Republicans conceded that privatizing Medicare won't be part of a deal reached to raise the debt ceiling: Senior Republicans conceded Wednesday that a deal is unlikely on a contentious plan to overhaul Medicare and offered to open budget talks with the White House by focusing on areas where both parties can agree, such as cutting farm subsidies… At a breakfast for reporters hosted by Bloomberg News, Ryan echoed that view, saying, “We’re not going to get a grand-slam agreement . . . because of just the political parameters” set by Obama. But Ryan said his budget offers a “menu of options . . . that I think we could get that are not necessarily the global agreement on, say, Medicare or Social Security.” It's nice of them to give Obama so much credit, but in this case, Republicans are just being modest. Despite the president's April 13 speech excoriating the Ryan budget plan and its plan to voucherize Medicare, Obama has been playing his typical rope-a-dope the...

Fox News and bin Laden Denialism

Whether or not Obama wins reelection in 2012, the death of Osama bin Laden is a big success story of his presidency, and that puts conservatives in a tight spot. So far, conservatives like Jennifer Rubin at the Washington Post have been working hard to give Bush some of the credit; and as Patrick Caldwell pointed out, they are using the incident to tout the effectiveness of torture as well. Then there's a third tack: Deny bin Laden is dead. Here's Fox News promoting bin Laden-death denialism (via Media Matters): Basically, the right's success at engendering fear of government means they can literally run news items suggesting the President and the entire military establishment, as well as the national and foreign press, have pulled a giant hoax on the American people. And it's not just about bin Laden. Government – particularly when Democrats are in power – is supposed to be scary and untrustworthy. If you believe Democrats wants to haul grandma in front of a death panel, then it's...

Royal Weddings and Girly Culture

Amanda Hess has a great post about the backlash to the royal wedding, specifically this Dvorak column. The point being, society thinks it's great when men get together to watch football, but think it's silly when women gather to watch the Kate and William get married: This is bad, according to Dvorak, because smart girls don't like fashion and glamour and celebrity and dainty sandwiches and hats and tiaras and princesses and weddings and sleepover parties. Smart girls, according to Dvorak, play kickball and discuss U.S.-China policy. The truth is that the royal wedding is this year's Superbowl of girl culture, the media has bended over backwards to cover the highly feminine event, and that tends to inspire a gut negative reaction in people. Why? Because feminine silliness is degraded in our culture, while masculine silliness is vaulted. This is all true. For example, I personally like shopping, but I'm also writing a blog post about feminism this afternoon. I can do both because these...

Don't Forget to Blame the Media

When thinking about how the birth-certificate fiasco reached such fever-pitch, leading the President of the United States to take to a podium and prove his citizenship, we shouldn’t give racism and irresponsible politicians all the credit. Certainly, this racially-fueled conspiracy wouldn’t have gotten far with a white president; and conservative politicians have welcomed the birther conspiracy as a way to undermine his legitimacy. But the culprit who should really feel ashamed is the media. Rick Perlstein has a great piece in Mother Jones right now on why lies and conspiracies dominate our political culture today. Here's how it starts: It takes two things to make a political lie work: a powerful person or institution willing to utter it, and another set of powerful institutions to amplify it. The former has always been with us...So why does it seem as if we're living in a time of overwhelmingly brazen deception? What's changed? Today's marquee fibs almost always evolve the same way:...

Benching Minority Judges

The motion to vacate a gay judge's ruling in the Proposition 8 case isn't just homophobic. It could open minority judges up to challenges in all kinds of cases.

Chief District Judge Vaughn R. Walker, of the Northern District of California (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)
Earlier this month, Vaughn Walker -- the federal judge in California who ruled that Proposition 8, the state's same-sex-marriage ban, was unconstitutional -- confirmed rumors that he was gay and in a long-term relationship. Seizing on this revelation, those defending the ban filed a motion on Monday to vacate his landmark ruling, claiming he should have recused himself from the case. Outrage over the motion quickly dominated conversation about the case yesterday, when many on the left argued that Prop. 8 supporters had lowered themselves to homophobic, personal attacks against the judge to save a desperate campaign. Certainly, the entire effort to ban same-sex marriage is based on irrational, anti-gay sentiment, and this latest twist is no exception. But the legal situation is more complex, because it raises a question the judiciary has rarely, if ever, faced: What happens when the judge in a civil-rights case is also part of the minority group whose rights are at stake? The judicial...

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