Ezra Klein

Losing Esteem for Self-Esteem

Remember all the times your teacher told you how special you were? Remember all the ego strokes delivered by well-meaning adults, certain enough compliments and praise would keep you from using crack, having kids and needing condoms? Eh, turns out it did no good . No wonder you're such a fuck up.

Politics Makes Me Sad

You know, it makes a sort of cosmic sense that Orwell is dead, because I don't think he could exist on the same planet as Frank Luntz. You've really got to listen to this Air America clip , it's just...I mean wow. It's the first time I can confidently call Orwellian an understatement. And, sadly, the private accounts-personal accounts switch is happening in full sight of, and with total cooperation from, the media . Keith Olbermann or some enterprising program should air a special on the manipulation of political language with this Administration's verbal contortions on Social Security being the backbone. That'd be Must-See TV, not too mention a service to their viewers. But, be honest, can you really see such an informative piece airing outside Jon Stewart's studio? Yeah, me neither.

Words? Meet Actions.

I know Bush doesn't read the papers, but can't someone in his office monitor them ? Because post-inauguration speech, this story seems worth some attention. A prominent Iranian artist and pro-Democracy activist fled to Australia, was detained for the last five years, and has now been denied a humanitarian visa, which means deportation. When the news came down, he attempted to overdose on sleeping pills which, all in all, was a logical move as he's expected to be tortured and executed upon arrival in Iran. Seems like the perfect moment for America to intercede on his behalf, highlighting the brutality of the Iranian regime and proving our commitment to freedom expands beyond rhetoric and can be sought without warheads. Be a nice moment to think outside the box and do some good. Particularly for a President so quick to argue that "actions speak louder than words". So c'mon Mr. Bush -- if you're going to salivate over freedom in your inauguration, might as well give its peaceful...

Welcome!

I'm going to keep this atop the page for the day, or at least the morning. New posts will appear under it. If you've read the welcome message already, just scroll on down for fresh blogging goodness. If not, click "More" and have at it.

Tech Supported

Is the "Read More" feature working now, or are people still being deposited betwixt my name and photo? And someone mark down my 20 points for correctly using "betwixt" in a sentence. Update : All signs point to yes. Greg, who figured it out, is just as talented as he claims .

Senate Dems Rub Eyes, Grab Toothbrush, Wake Up

Good post by Kos on the changes Reid has wrought. The Senate Dems really have transformed from a yipping, useless caucus to a united opposition force. And it's as much in what they do -- The 10 Leadership bills, Schumer retiring the DSCC's debt in record time -- as in what they feel freed to do, with the recent, finally contentious hearings being a perfect example. It almost makes losing those three seats worth it. Almost. Also : His post on Barbara Boxer being Wellstone's heir-apparent is a good one. But her reinforced backbone didn't pop out of thin air, not only did she get more votes nationwide than anyone not named "Bush" or Kerry", but, in California, she got more votes period. She beat Kerry by 200,000, Bush by quite a few more, and absolutely demolished the Arnold-approved Bill Jones. With that achieved, she's got six clear years and a true mandate backing her, so expect big things. Also : Kos is right . No on Gonzales. That whole vote for him or Hispanics will hate you thing...

Tech Support

I'm getting complaints that clicking on "Read More..." vaults you to the top of the page. This isn't happening for me, but it's widespread enough that I should try and fix it anyway. So all you html geniuses out in the audience -- any idea what's going on? if it helps, something weird happens when you click "All Done!" and it only shows a couple posts down the page. I don't know if that's connected, but there it is. Also -- the picture. Some seem to love it, others seem to hate it. So I'm putting it to vote. Should it stay? Should it be replaced with another, less suggestive, photo? Or will opening-day concerns over my buttoning habits evaporate amid the flood of good posts I'm planning to write? The power is yours. Also , it got a bit buried today, so if you missed it, I think this Goldwater factoid is interesting.

An Agenda

During an overly busy Monday, an important post got away from me. Yesterday morning, the Senate Democratic Leadership unveiled the 10 bills comprising the year's Democratic agenda. And they're good. Max has the policy papers up for download , Steve Soto has more in the way of summaries and I've put the Leadership's rundown after the jump. Anything I would add to those three would be redundant, but it's worth cautioning what these are not -- they are not a Contract With America, there's no bullet point list of policies we want implemented. It's not an agenda targeted at Republican weaknesses. Instead, the Senate Leadership has created a policy package on every issue so no Republican proposal ever lacks a progressive counterpoint, so no critic can ever charge that Democrats lack alternatives and so no Democratic flack will step on a Sunday show without an affirmative counterproposal backing his criticisms. Props to Reid, it's an important first step that shows he's getting our house (or...

This Word, It Does Not Mean What You Think It Means

PZ Myers is right : if evolution is a religion, religion is no longer a word with a recognizable meaning. That's what's so confusing to me about that rebuttal; do creationists really want to argue that religion is nothing more than a way of explaining certain portions and conditions of reality? I would think they'd want something in there about spirituality or the divine, but in the rush to counter science they seem to be quickly devaluing their own beliefs. Although it is pretty funny to see such absolutists turn to ardent relativists in moments of need...

Papercuts Are Good For You

In the land of the cool, Random House discovered a genius author working in their mailroom and, after getting a five-figure, two-book deal, he's still toiling among the envelopes. Oh, and his book might become a movie. It doesn't get much sweeter than that. Via The Elegant Variation .

Choose Progress

I want to engage something Ed Kilgore says in a much-larger post on Southern politics: While there may be exceptions in states like Louisiana and the border-state Missouri where there are extraordinarily high concentrations of both fundamentalists and Catholics, I don't believe there is a popular majority in any southern state for overturning basic abortion rights. But there are almost certainly big majorities supporting the contrived agenda of anti-abortion incrementalism: bans on "partial-birth" abortion, parental notification, restrictions on sex education in public schools, etc., etc. But in most cases, this stuff has majority support all over the country. So the smart pro-choice, not to mention Democratic, position in the South isn't that different from what we should be doing nationally: relentlessly, endlessly, redundantly focusing on the basic right to choose, and refusing wherever possible to be drawn into fights that label 70% of voters "pro-life" when they aren't in any...

Goldwater Lives!

With Republicans sweatily gripping all the levers of government, it's worth taking a moment to see how the worm has turned. MoJo blog had a great post showing that Bush's speech wasn't so much penned by Michael Gerson, as lifted from an acceptance address 50 years ago:

Cry Freedom

Fafblog! 1/20/05 : Can you doubt the freedom-spreadery of Giblets? Giblets has decreed Iraq to be free and now it is! Oh sure, not in the petty "liberal democracy with equal protection under the law" sense. But in the "infested with terrorists" sense it's as free as they come! Once Iraqis were tortured and killed by an evil dictator. Now they are tortured and killed by freedom! Their genitals are shocked with the electrodes of liberty. They are mowed down by the machine guns of independence! ... There are good countries and there are bad countries. Good countries are free, like Pakistan and Russia and Afghanistan! Bad countries hate freedom and want to destroy it. Giblets is for turning anti-freedom countries into powerful new Freeocracies bursting with color and vitamins! Stand with Giblets and freedom shall annihilate its enemies! Fafblog! 1/22/05 : So the other day Giblets said a buncha stuff about "spreading freedom" and "liberty" and "opposing tyranny." Well it looks like some...

Time to Work on Labor

With little-to-no expertise in labor issues, and no memory of a time when unions were strong, it's hard for me to enter the debate between Nathan Newman and Chris Bowers . So I won't. Suffice to say that Chris castigates elected Democrats for abandoning labor and Newman replies that our politicians are quite favorable to labor, it's the liberal opinion-makers and base that can't be bothered on the issue. What I will say is that labor suffers from a massive PR problem, one partly their fault and partly the Party's. The intransigence of a few bad apples in the broader movement led labor to consistently enter the media in moments of weakness, with this or that public official trying to get the Teacher's Union to support school reform and one or another corporation blaming them for outsourcing. At which point, the "moderate" elements of the Democratic Party took the ball and ran with it, quickly scoring a touchdown for the wrong team. They began using Labor as a prime example of the...

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