Jamelle Bouie

Halftime

The Prospect ’s Clare Malone and I worked hard this weekend to bring you an idiot’s guide to the proceedings on Super Tuesday. Check it out . Seth Masket makes the scandalizing case that Revenge of the Sith is a better movie than Return of the Jedi. This gets a little to what I think was really wrong with the prequels. Lucas became too focused on the minutae of the universe—the technology, the aliens—and not enough on the classic elements that made the original movies timeless. Jedi is the weakest of the trilogy because you can see the beginnings of that, and Sith is the strongest of the prequels because, at moments, you can see a glimpse of the old magic. Like Jonathan Bernstein , this Republican primary strikes me as one where the party decided on Mitt Romney last year, and now, we’re watching to see if GOP voters ratify that choice. Not to self-promote too much, but you should really read my food blog . It’s pretty good. Wu-Tang Clan + Parks & Recreation = Awesome. Parks and...

It Doesn't Matter if "Both Sides Do It"

(AP File Photo)
Over at The Daily Beast , Kirsten Powers responds to liberal furor over Rush Limbaugh with a little strawmanning: Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, Bill Maher, Matt Taibbi, and Ed Schultz have been waging it for years with their misogynist outbursts. There have been boycotts by people on the left who are outraged that these guys still have jobs. Oh, wait. Sorry, that never happened. Boycotts are reserved for people on the right like Rush Limbaugh, who finally apologized Saturday for calling a 30-year-old Georgetown Law student, Sandra Fluke, a “slut” after she testified before congress about contraception. But if Limbaugh’s actions demand a boycott—and they do—then what about the army of swine on the left? None of Rush Limbaugh’s critics have argued that there isn’t any misogyny on the left, nor have they argued that it shouldn’t be confronted. But with the possible exception of Chris Matthews, none of the people cited by Powers have anywhere near the reach and influence of Limbaugh,...

How to Grow the Economy in One Easy Step

In his latest column for The New York Times , Paul Krugman provides an estimate of what the economy lost due to cutbacks on the state and local level: The federal government has been pursuing what amount to contractionary policies as the last vestiges of the Obama stimulus fade out, but the big cuts have come at the state and local level. These state and local cuts have led to a sharp fall in both government employment and government spending on goods and services, exerting a powerful drag on the economy as a whole. […] We’re talking big numbers here. If government employment under Mr. Obama had grown at Reagan-era rates, 1.3 million more Americans would be working as schoolteachers, firefighters, police officers, etc., than are currently employed in such jobs. [Emphasis mine] Two quick points. First, this is a definitive rebuttal to the Republican claim that government has grown dramatically during the Obama years. The fact is that the public sector has shed hundreds of thousands of...

Americans are "Depressed, Disappointed, and Underwhelmed" by the GOP Primary

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As much as some Republicans would like to believe otherwise, the fact is that this primary is dragging down the party. Unlike the 2008 Democratic primary—in which two formidable candidates fought hard, debated substance, and energized voters around the country—this year’s GOP primary has been defined by clownish vanity candidates, divisive bickering, and an unlikable front-runner who—so far—has “won” by not losing. None of this has done much to help the Republican Party. According to the latest survey by NBC News and the Wall Street Journal , 40 percent of adults say that “the GOP nominating process has given them a less favorable impression of the Republican Party,” compared with the 10 percent who have come away from the event satisfied. What’s more, when asked to describe the GOP primaries in a word or phrase, 70 percent (including 60 percent of independents and half of Republicans) reach for something negative: “Unenthusiastic,” “discouraged,” “lesser of two evils,” “painful,” “...

This Station is Non-Operational

I’m actually way more excited about Windows 8 than I am about anything Apple is doing right now. This interview with the female stars of Community is hilarious and adorable. Thomas Brand gives us an in-depth preview of the “new” Mac OS 9. This one is strictly for Apple nerds. Kevin Conroy, the greatest Batman, talks a bit about what it’s like to voice the Caped Crusader. More footage from The Hunger Games. Yes, this will be awesome.

Faster-Than-Light Travel Just Got That Much Harder

Of the theoretical means for achieving faster-than-light travel, the most plausible one is the “warp” drive, where a ship travels at superluminal speeds by creating a bubble of space behind it, while compressing the space in front of it. The ship would not move inside of the bubble, but would be carried along with it, like a wave. The upside of this is that it achieves FTL speeds while avoiding time dileation and other relativistic effects. In other words, you can travel across the galaxy and not worry that thousands of years have elapsed on Earth in your absence. However, as Jason Major details at io9, there is one important downside to warp travel. The energy built up during the voyage could incinerate everything around it: Space is not just an empty void between point A and point B… rather, it’s full of particles that have mass (as well as some that do not.) What the research team - led by Brendan McMonigal, Geraint Lewis, and Philip O’Byrne - has found is that these particles can...

Why Android is Important

Via Horace Dedieu (by way of Matthew Yglesias ) comes this chart showing the explosive growth of Google’s Android operating system over the last several years: In describing the chart, Yglesias makes an important point that’s worth repeating: The wide availability of a free, solid mobile operating system is a game changer for the developing world. Technology writers like to argue about Android’s influence in the United States and other developed nations, but it’s real impact will be felt in places like China, India, and the countries of Africa, where mobile connectivity is cheaper and more reliable than its wired counterpart. Android allows phone manufacturers to produce relatively advanced devices without worrying about software—this makes them cheaper and gets them into the hands of more people. While smartphones are ubiquitous in the United States and Europe, they amount to only 30 percent of all phones sold. This is obviously a huge topic, but it suffices to say that widespread...

Halftime

Scott Lemieux explains why the bully pulpit isn’t nearly as effective as everyone thinks. President Obama : “I recommend you watch the recent debates. I’m thinking about just running those as advertisements. Without commentary; here you go.” The real concern, for Democrats at least, isn’t that Latinos vote for Republicans , it’s that they don’t vote at all. I really wish this journal article weren’t behind a locked gate. Lex Luthor explains why he’s evil:

How Olympia Snowe's "Moderation" Hurt the Economy

(United States Congress/Wikipedia)
One of the big stories of this recession is the massive decline in public-sector employment. In order to weather the economic storm, states and localities have cut jobs for teachers, firefighters, police, and other public servants. As The New York Times reports , this has also trickled down to higher education, where public colleges have cut training for valuable jobs and professions: Technical, engineering and health care expertise are among the few skills in huge demand even in today’s lackluster job market. They are also, unfortunately, some of the most expensive subjects to teach. As a result, state colleges in Nebraska, Nevada, South Dakota, Colorado, Michigan, Florida and Texas have eliminated entire engineering and computer science departments. […] This squeeze is one result of the states’ 25-year withdrawal from higher education. During and immediately after the last few recessions, states slashed financing for colleges. Then when the economy recovered, most states never fully...

Slut-Shaming is Not a Winning Strategy

In Massachusetts, Elizabeth Warren has already hit Scott Brown for his vote on the execrable Blunt Amendment: Senator Brown took sides with Rick Santorum, Mitt Romney and the right wing of his party, against the people of Massachusetts, who in tough economic times rely on insurance to get the health care they need. To repeat a point from yesterday, the ultimate outcome of Mitch McConnell’s vaunted practice of securing party discipline is this: a group of vulnerable GOP senators with clear votes on deeply unpopular policies, from Paul Ryan’s budget to this plan to give employers a veto over the private lives of their employees. I’m amazed that Republicans are still on this road; as Amanda Marcotte points out , the initial compromise was an out for them. They could claim new ground as defenders of religious freedom, sow dissent among Democrats, and give the Obama administration a bad week of press. It was win-win for them. But like a novice chess player who confuses aggression with...

In Ohio, the Underlying Facts Look Great for Santorum

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The first post-Michigan poll of Ohio Republicans is out, and Mitt Romney has closed the gap. According to Quinnipiac University, Rick Santorum has 35 percent of likely primary voters to Romney, who takes 31 percent. Because of the poll’s margin of error, ±4.3 percentage points, Quinnipiac presents this as too close to call. But the survey shows native advantages for Santorum that could propel him to victory, as long as he avoids another weekend of national controversy. Santorum leads Romney 36–27 among voters without a college degree, as well as voters with an annual income below $100,000. As Quinnipiac notes, “he leads Romney 34–28 percent among men and 37–33 percent among women, 40–27 percent among self-described conservatives and 42–25 percent among Tea Party members. Romney leads Santorum 46–26 percent among self-described moderates.” This wouldn’t matter much if these voters were a small percentage of the electorate, but if the 2008 Republican primary is any indication, these are...

This Station is Non-Operational

Jared Bernstein takes down the myth that we’re somehow “broke.” Joe Biden says that the administration “ screwed up ” the contraception mandate. If by “screwed up” he means “painted the GOP as the enemy of birth control and sex,” then sure, I guess they made a mistake. In case you forgot, Rush Limbaugh is a terrible person . I’m actually not sure if it’s a good or bad sign that Suzanne Collins loves the movie adaptation of The Hunger Games. Herman Cain’s new advertisement is, as usual, amazing:

You Can Eat Whatever You Want, Cont.

A reader offers some additional context on whether restricting food stamp purchases is necessary to ensure healthy eating on part of recipients: On food spending among food stamp participants: there is evidence that food stamp receipt does alter how households spend their money on food. Journal article here and ungated report here . In short, food stamp participants spend more on at-home food and less on food away from home than comparable non-participant households with the same income. This implies food stamps can not only increase food security but also shift household food spending towards types of food that are subsidized (at-home food, under current rules) AND away from foods that are not subsidized–without making any restrictions on how households spend their own money. I understand the impulse that drives people to demand restrictions on how food stamp recipients use their assistance, but the simple fact is that it’s both wrong and unnecessary.

GOP Senators Opt to Support Another Piece of Unpopular Legislation

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Despite the defection of Bob Casey, Joe Manchin, and Ben Nelson, Senate Democrats (with the aid of Olympia Snowe) were able to block a Republican-sponsored measure that would give employers the right to reject any health care coverage for any reason. Sahil Kapur gives a rundown of the fight at Talking Points Memo : The close Senate vote reflects a strong GOP effort to contain the political consequences of pushing the controversial amendment before the public had a chance to weigh in. After a concerted whip effort, only one Republican — Sen. Olympia Snowe (ME) — defected. All other waffling GOPers, including Scott Brown (MA), Susan Collins (ME), and Dean Heller (NV) fell into line. Indeed more Democrats (three in total) crossed the aisle to vote for the Blunt amendment than vice versa. But there’s a good reason Dem leaders pushed anyway: on issues like contraception, they’re confident they’ll win the broader battle for public perception. I remain amazed by Mitch McConnell’s ability to...

Partisanship and Moderation Can Coexist

(Canopener Sally/Flickr)
Has the political center disappeared? The Wall Street Journal thinks so, and cites the retirements of Nebraska Senator Ben Nelson and Maine Senator Olympia Snowe as further evidence that moderation has died in American politics: Ms. Snowe is one of an increasingly rare breed of senator willing to back legislation crafted by the other side. After President Barack Obama came to office, she supplied a crucial vote for his stimulus plan and supported his health law in committee, though she later opposed it on the floor. She also backed the New Start arms-reduction treaty at the end of last year. If Ms. Snowe is one of the Senate’s least orthodox Republicans, Mr. Nelson is one of its least reliable Democrats. Former Sen. Bob Kerrey (D., Neb.) said Wednesday that he is reversing an earlier decision and will seek Mr. Nelson’s seat. Mr. Kerrey has a profile as something of a maverick. It isn’t clear whether he will depart from the Democratic line as frequently as Mr. Nelson. One of the things...

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