Author Archive

At the NRA convention in Nashville, working guns are prohibited in the exhibit hall, but it’s OK to bring your properly permitted shootin’ irons to speeches by Jeb Bush and other likely GOP presidential candidates. Not that anyone will be checking those permits. (Scroll to timestamp 11:40)

Categories : Gun Control, National
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Apr
08

Bringing back the nightmares

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Matthew Yglesias yesterday reminded us of how just a dozen short years ago Donald Rumsfeld took time out from overseeing Moe, Larry, and Curly in Baghdad to send this memo to Undersecretary of Defense Doug Feith. Rummy had a few extra things he needed Doug to clean up for him:

Rummy

The first time I recall seeing Feith’s name was in a Salon expose a year later on the Pentagon’s Office of Special Plans. Feith, described as “a case study in how not to run a large organization,” and OSP stovepiped raw intelligence to Vice President Dick Cheney’s office for use in building a public case for the Iraq invasion. Gen. Tommy Franks was less kind in his assessment of Feith.

Where are they now? Still waiting for the “sweets and flowers,” are they?

(Cross-posted from Hullabaloo.)

Categories : History, National
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Apr
07

The Goldilocks question

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The phrase “big government” scrolled across the screen again the other day and got me thinking about how effectively the right has been in programming Americans to believe that any government at all is the ever-execrable big government of the GOP’s daily rantings. A little over a year ago, Gallup reported that 72 percent of Americans believe big government is a greater threat than big business or big labor.

Yet, writing at the Daily Beast, Matt Lewis warned fellow conservatives that big businesses that put profit margins ahead of principle are at best strange bedfellows for the right. He warns, it’s best not to trust anyone who’s trying to sell you something:

I think it’s time that social conservatives also realize that big business isn’t their friend, either. My theory is that there are essentially two groups of people you have to be wary of: big government and big business. Conservatives have typically obsessed over the former, while attempting to co-opt the latter.

When Ronald Reagan declared that government is the problem he might as well have delivered the message on stone tablets from Mount Sinai. Those who beatified Saint Ronnie use the phrase big government as if there is no other kind. Thus, when conservatives control the reins of power, they begin obsessively dismantling the America built by those who came before them. So obsessively, in fact, that it is fair to ask how they will know when they are done. When is it time to put down the sledge hammers?

I like to pose the Goldilocks question:

How much government is too big, how much government is too small, and how much government is just right?

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Apr
06

That voodoo that you do so well

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Haitian Vodou altar
(by Calvin Hennick, for WBUR Boston, via Wikimedia Commons.)

It was voodoo economics then. It’s voodoo economics now. Conservative governors are finding out that George H.W. Bush was right about trickle-down economics as early as the 1980 Republican primaries. That hasn’t stopped generations of Republican lawmakers from pursuing the policy over and over, trying to make it work. (There’s an old saw about that, as I recall.) Plus, there’s got to be a pony in there somewhere.

The Century Foundation’s Amy Dean, writing for Aljazeera, describes the hangover Republican governors have from drinking all that tea. Those tax cuts for the wealthy haven’t performed as advertised:

In Kansas, Brownback lowered tax rates for top earners by 26 percent. Now the state faces a $334 million budget deficit. Kansas’ public services are so emaciated that the State Supreme Court ruled the funding of the school system unconstitutional. Economic growth has stalled and the state’s employment growth currently ranks 34th in the nation.

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Apr
05

Mislearning the Civil Rights era

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Sculpture commemorating James Meredith’s admission to Ole Miss.
Photo by Allspamme via Wikmedia Commons.

Racially fraught incidents at colleges around the country highlight what PBS describes as “a failed lesson in colorblindness.” Good intentions gone awry.

This week, a white female at the University of South Carolina was suspended over a photo showing her writing a racial slur on a whiteboard. The comment blamed blacks for the poor wifi reception on campus. The incident followed the expulsion of three students at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania over racial comments broadcast on college radio:

…one of the students used the N-word, a second said “black people should be dead” and the third said “lynch ‘em.”

A student at Duke University is under investigation after hanging a noose from a tree on campus. A former University of Mississippi student faces federal civil rights charges for placing a noose on the statue of James Meredith, the first student to integrate the Ole Miss campus in 1962. Then there was the infamous video of University of Oklahoma fraternity members’ racist chant. And others.

The Christian Science Monitor quotes a PBS op-ed by Mychal Denzel Smith:

“As children of the multi-cultural 1980s and 90s, Millennials are fluent in colorblindness and diversity, while remaining illiterate in the language of anti-racism,” Mychal Denzel Smith, a journalist and social commentator, wrote in an op-ed for PBS.

Smith writes:

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Categories : National, Race, Strategy
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Apr
05

Sunday Morning Music

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Apr
04

Curiouser and curiouser

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IS fighters in Anbar, Iraq.
(Public domain via Wikipedia.)

Sen. Ted Cruz is enough to grok before the second cup of coffee, but this may take some espresso:

A Philadelphia woman was arrested Friday on charges she tried to join the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) group, a day after two women in New York City were charged with plotting to build a bomb and use it for a Boston Marathon-type attack.

Keonna Thomas, 30, was preparing to travel overseas to fight with the armed group and hoped to make it to Syria, authorities said. Instead, she was arrested at her home, which has three small U.S. flags adorning the porch. If convicted, she could face 15 years in prison.

This woman’s arrest comes on the heels of the two New York women arrested Thursday:

“The defendants allegedly plotted to wreak terror by creating explosive devices and even researching the pressure cooker bombs used during the Boston Marathon bombing,” said Assistant Director in Charge Diego Rodriguez, of the FBI’s New York Field Office.

The justice department said the two women have plotted to build an explosive device since at least August of last year and studied chemistry and electricity.

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Categories : International, News
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For those growing up in the 1960s, Eddie Haskell from the sitcom “Leave It to Beaver” was our archetype for the conniving, two-faced schemer. Superficially polite — over-polite — when parents were present, he dropped the facade and became his true, devious self whenever the adults left the room. IIRC, at the end of one episode, Eddie gets his comeuppance. As he is led away, he is still working his Mr. Innocent routine, mystified that it seems not to be sparing him punishment. Wally Cleaver turns to his little brother and observes, “Everybody’s wise to Eddie except Eddie.”

It’s not a new observation that conservative politics often exhibits the same public/private, two-faced quality. This week’s sideshow in Indiana over its Religious Freedom Restoration Act bought Eddie to mind again. Protestations that the bill meant to protect religious practice rather than license discrimination were just as transparent.

In the sitcom, Ward and June Cleaver always play along with Eddie’s innocent act, never confronting him about being a fraud, and tacitly encouraging him to keep lying. In real life, don’t our Wards and Junes of the press do the same?

A radio newscast last night reported that RFRA supporters in Indiana complained that the changes made to the law yesterday under national pressure had stripped the law of its religious protections. That is, the right of business owners to use their religious belief to discriminate against customers.

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Apr
03

Friday Open Thead

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Hope it’s a Good Friday for you. Floor’s open.

Categories : Open Thread
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Apr
02

The 6-percenters

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An animated map of the progression of the historic 2012–2014 California drought, spanning from December 31, 2013, to July 29, 2014. The map highlights the rapid spread of Extreme and Exceptional Drought conditions across over 75% of California during 2014. This drought is officially the worst drought California has experienced in 1,200 years.
(Public domain via Wikimedia Commons.)

Hearing yesterday morning that the snowpack in the Sierras is six percent of average nearly drew a gasp. Records have been shattered:

The Sierra Nevada snowpack, which typically supplies nearly a third of California’s water, is showing the lowest water content on record: 6 percent of the long-term average for April 1. That doesn’t just set a new record, it shatters the old low-water mark of 25 percent, which happens to have been last year’s reading (tied with 1977).

Things are so bad that Governor Jerry Brown decided to slog into the field for the manual snow survey on Wednesday morning. He didn’t need snowshoes but he did bring along a first-ever executive order mandating statewide water reductions.

“We’re in a historic drought and that demands unprecedented action,” he told reporters who made it to the Sierra survey site off of Highway 50.

In the Central Valley, farmers would drill wells if they could stand the two-year wait, the half-million dollar cost, and if there was any point. California celebrates its gold rush history in the appellation, the 49ers. I’m wondering if the 6-Percenters might have a future in California lore.

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