Wolraich: Obama at the Gates of... Gates
Dr. C: In Praise of Writing Binges
Maiello: Gatsby Doesn't Grate
This afternoon, Reuters published an Op-Ed from me about the online investigations into the Boston bomb attack. I am very concerned about the "if you see something, say something culture," and how it has mixed with technology to create something of a society full of amateur detectives and complainers.
Civil libertarians are most concerned about government surveilance power and that, of course, bothers me too. But in a practical sense, a nosy neighbor is probably more of an imposition on my life than the government will ever choose to be. These days, your nosy neighbor could be a stranger living thousands of miles away. [Read more]
As I was leaving my place today, Andrea Mitchell on her MSNBC show asks her guest "...so what is the process of radicalization." I don't know what kind of answer her guest gave since I then closed my front door, but the reporting on this event has had me more than once pondering the term "radicalization" in the current discourse.
Of course, this question is posed in the context of the Boston Marathon bombing and its aftermath. The term radicalization in this context it is understood has a more narrowed definition than the general term 'radicalization.'
Looking back over my days of youth and the circles in which I ran in, there was some touching upon this process. [Read more]
Stories. They've been around for a long time, and sometimes they help us figure out trends and events that seem mysterious.
In the days after Sandy Hook, I thought a lot about the story of the Pied Piper, in which citizens thought they had found a permanent solution to their rat problem, only to discover that the price of that solution was...their kids. (Uh-oh, it turns out that preparing our children for some sort of theoretical disaster by teaching them to ride and shoot and hate America might have its drawbacks.)
Now, thinking of two 19-year olds (so impossibly, foolishly young) whose lives have been effectively sacrificed on twin altars of extreme thinking, I keep coming around to the last scene of Romeo and Juliet, with the two kids from families who had a lot in common but chose to hate each other, laid out on funeral biers and the prince (a dull guy but you know, he was right) trying to connect the dots for them. [Read more]
NEW YORK — The writing style of satire was blown up in a suicide attack at its home in the upper West side of Manhattan. Snark and Snide Disregard were also injured in the attack and are currently in intensive care.
Satire, which gained prominence via writers like Jonathan Swift and Voltaire, has struggled to find its footing recently in the Internet-driven world, as more and more satire is associated with mindless attacks, sophomoric humor and the oft-imitated “Breaking” news story. Satire reached a low point recently when the magazine “The New Yorker” hired Andy Borowitz, who then proceeded to write the exact same story 175 consecutive times. [Read more]
This morning, Thomas Friedman writes that it is unfair for lefties to criticize Obama's Chained CPI Proposal. In his words:
"It was good to see President Obama put out a budget proposal that addressed all three needs. The attacks on him from the left are unfair because, ultimately, we will need to do all three even more. As Bloomberg News reported on Monday: 'Typical wage-earners retiring in 2010 will receive at least $3 for every $1 they contributed to the Medicare health-insurance program, according to an Urban Institute study.'"
Oh my! A three to one return! Unsustainable! [Read more]
In the aftermath of the capture of the second suspect Boston Marathon bombings, one of the questions being asked in a number of circles is how did these two brothers become radicalized. Part of the motivation behind the question is just the quest to understand why they did what they did. Clarity around the motivation may facilitate for some of the victims and others traumatized by the event to a greater sense of closure. For some this questioning into the 'reasons why' may be driven by what may be simply called academic curiosity.
Another purpose of this question, however, is posed with the intent to gain some insight into how we in a developed country can help prevent other young adults like these two from becoming radicalized in the future. [Read more]
"Those are Chechen names," said my wife, upon first seeing the Tsarnaev brothers identified in print. "Interesting that Putin offered his assistance to Boston."
Then, we were off. After all, how else could a pair of brothers hold off the entire Boston area police apparatus for so long? Generally speaking, civilians don't survive shootouts with the police. Even before modern technology, even in the old west, the police would usually win. They bring superior numbers. They bring basically infinite resources. You might hold out for awhile but the police eventually overwhelm you. The police never give up and have institutional support to keep up the fight forever. [Read more]
Supporters of gun control lost yesterday. It was not a terrible bill. Expanded background checks would have stopped some future killers from buying guns. It should have passed. But it would have done little to reduce gun violence in America.
"Fighting" Bob La Follette, a progressive senator from Wisconsin, once wrote, "In legislation no bread is often better than half a loaf. I believe it is usually better to be beaten and come right back at the next session and make a fight for a thoroughgoing law than to have written on the books a weak and indefinite statute."
La Follette became famous for championing "radical" legislation that had no chance of passing--corporate regulations, labor rights, lobbyist restrictions, and popular election of U.S. senators. He took up his colleagues' time with "pointless" filibusters. He ran three times for president and never even came close to winning. [Read more]
Yesterday 46 members of the Senate voted down a proposal that would have been a logical first step to gun control--universal background checks. They were able to vote it down, even though 54 members voted for it because they rigged the way the votes count now. Voting it down for no good reason is bad enough but they did it through cowardice, lies and cheats. The whole process was despicable, made even more so by the fact that it happened in the chambers where expectations of fairness and fidelity used to run quite high.
Let's recap the things that did not happen on the sorry day that the Boston Marathon was bombed:
Five unexploded bombs were not discovered nearby. No unexploded bombs were discovered nearby.
The government did not shut down cell-phone service as a precaution to prevent more detonations. The cell phone system around Copley Square simply became massively overloaded, so that calls could not get through (but texts, which take much less bandwidth, could).
The police did not arrest anyone or identify any suspects.
Twelve victims did not die.
Neither of the bombs exploded inside the Copley Fairmont Hotel.
BENEATH THE SPIN • ERIC L. WATTREE
Headlines are generally written by editors, not writers, so maybe I can cut Friedman some slack for today's, "Bring on the Next Marathon," with its obvious reference to George W. Bush inviting Iraq's insurgents to "bring it on." Iraq's insurgents did, in fact, bring it on. By the time Bush said that, it had already been broughten. [Read more]
His name is Carlos Arredondo, and he lost two sons in the war in Iraq. He came to the US as an 'illegal' in the early 80's. He has since gained citizenship.
Boston is my home, my beloved city, although I have not lived there for many years. And Patriot's Day, the Monday of the Boston Marathon, is the proudest day in a proud city's year. We open our city to all, and hold one of the world's greatest sporting events, the oldest annual marathon on the globe. We hold that race in public streets and fill the sidewalks to cheer. It is Boston's day to celebrate the many things that make it Boston.
Over in North Korea, Kim Jong-Un has spent the better part of the month threatening to vaporize South Korea, the United States, and anyone else who wants a little vaporization. Now, generally, when a leader of a nation with nuclear capabilities makes wild, outlandish threats, the rest of the world pays attention, for reasons of vaporization avoidance. [Read more]
Let me just say right off that when it comes to Homeland and border security, I'm all for it.
When it comes to appreciating how essential shipping is to the Great Lakes, I'm right at the head of the line.
When it comes to being in awe of the engineering feat that is the Soo Locks I am so in awe I can't stand it.
This is a no-brainer. What's hard to fathom is that people are even debating whether the Masters should have disqualified Tiger Woods for an illegal drop or for signing an incorrect scorecard. On the 15th hole Friday, Tiger hit a beautiful approach shot that unfortunately (for him) bounced off the flagstick and directly into a nearby pond. Here's what happened next , according to Woods (per the New York Times): [Read more]
I’ve been following the story of Colin Small, a young Republican who was seen throwing out completed voter registration forms in Harrisonburg, VA, and got arrested for it. Turns out Small was employed by the oft-renamed firm sometimes and formerly known as Strategic Allied Consultants, sometimes and formerly run by disgraced Republican consultant Nathan Sproul.
Allegations have been made, predictably, that Small’s act was part of a larger Strategic Allied conspiracy, but no solid proof has emerged. Small’s bosses fired him and offered the usual “bad apple” explanation.
In addition, a rather weak explanation for Small’s behavior was offered up by an “unnamed source close to the story” who said Small panicked because he couldn't file the forms by the deadline, and solved his problem by ditching them. [Read more]
Hello my liberal friends. I hope you will forgive me and not think me arrogant if I suggest that I know a bit more about negotiating than your hero, President Obama. As you probably know, Obama has offered a budget that seeks to find "smarter cuts" in spending than the sequester, "close tax loopholes" to generate very minor amounts of additional revenue, and (of great interest) use the chained CPI to adjust spending on social security benefits over time.
The first point that I would make, and have made many times, is that you don't begin giving away your position before negotiations even start. The President should have suggested a budget with huge tax increases and very large spending increases tied to his major constituencies. In other words, exaggerate your position and then work back towards your realistic expectations through the negotiating process. Right now, all the Republicans need do is to wait until he offers up more and more compromise. [Read more]
I think Charles Pierce is very persuasive on this point. We Obama supporters generally take solace in the idea that when Obama is up to something we don't like that he doesn't really mean it. Chaining Social Security benefit increases and tax brackets to a lower measure of inflation (which means cutting benefits and raising taxes without having to say either explicitly) gets to be "no his ideal budget." Health care without a public option? We all know he'd have preferred a public option, right? Or course he wanted a bigger stimulus and of course he wanted to hold the bankers responsible for the financial crisis and of course he wanted to save people& [Read more]