Cleveland: Keeping Christmas at Home
Ramona: The War on Happy Holidays
At least you get better coverage out of the deal. I still had to pay for my ER visit because it fell under my $3000 deductible. But what could I do? This America. Private companies are supposed to wring people out like dirty washcloths. It's called a free market.
But this is different, isn't it? It's not the free market that's squeezing you dry. It's the government. Government isn't supposed to squeeze people. It's supposed to get out of the way and let the free market squeeze people. [Read more]
The Republican effort to defund “Obamacare” is like playing chicken with a wall. The Senate Democrats will never vote against health care legislation they spent decades to pass. The voters will punish Republican legislators if they shut down the government or default on the debt. Whether the Republicans crash or swerve, this game has no positive outcome for them.
So why are they doing it? [Read more]
Hello folks. I'm sorry you haven't heard much from me lately. My nose is pressing hard against the proverbial grindstone as I race to finish my book by October. It has a new title, by the way...
In the meantime, I'd like to share a video from a journalism conference that I participated in last January at the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy at the University of Virginia. Historians have eagerly anticipated the release of this raw, unscripted Q/A session, which offers new insight into the mind of the Blogger Formerly Known As Genghis during the pivotal period before he achieved worldwide fame and fortune.
The subject of the panel discussion is "Journalism in the 21st Century: Blogs and Social Media." [Read more]
On Thursday, Russian officials announced that Russia had offered asylum to dissidents suffering persecution from the Russian government.
The group includes Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger sentenced to five years in a corrective labor colony; Mikhail Khodorkovsky, a former Russian oligarch imprisoned since 2005; members of punk rock protest band Pussy Riot, imprisoned since 2012; Russia's gay population; and the Chechen Republic. Russia also offered posthumous asylum to Alexander Litvinenko, a former KGB agent assassinated by Russian agents after receiving asylum in Britain. [Read more]
Demographics, we've heard, are pro-Democrat. In a few years, a wave of young Latinos will swamp those dastardly Republicans in their southern redoubts, and then the donkey will soar again. Huzzah!
But wait, it get's better. According to Michael Tomasky of the Daily Beast, "even working-class white people" are preparing to join the glorious Democratic demographic revolution. He discovered a Brookings poll that proves, "White working-class millennials are fairly liberal!"
In short, all we have to do is wait a decade or two for the new golden age of Democratic hegemony to come roaring back to Washington, courtesy of the aging process.
I call this the Wait for the Old Farts to Die strategy. [Read more]
"I don't want public attention because I don't want the story to be about me. I want it to be about what the US government is doing."
Media References, June 9-30, 2013 [Read more]
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Last February, I wrote what columnists like to call a "think piece" about an alternative approach to gun control (with the implication that most punditry does not involve thinking).
My proposal was to tax gun manufacturers and retailers based on the lethality of their merchandise, as measured by crime statistics. The hope was to incentivize companies to create their own safeguards against misuse, in essence to financially discourage them from making weapons that appeal to criminals and from selling to customers who are likely to use the guns for crime.
Hassan Rouhani, Iran's newly elected president, will serve for four years. By the end of his term, Iran and the U.S. will either reach an agreement, or they will go to war.
Last March, Obama told an Israeli television station that it would take "over a year or so" for Iran to develop a nuclear weapon, the first time an American president stated a timeframe on the record. The dates coincide with a U.S. intelligence estimate during George W. Bush's administration: "sometime during the 2010-2015 time-frame." [Read more]
Go ahead, collect my phone records, track my websurfing, analyze my email. I don't give a damn.
I do not write this out of any loyalty to Obama or because I worry about the Terrorist Threat. I simply do not care about my data privacy and never have.
Why should I? My buying habits are ordinary, my emails are pedestrian, my phone calls would bore any spy to tears, my political opinions are very public and published under my own name. As long as no one spams me or steals my identity, why should I care what they do with my data? [Read more]
At last! Republicans have been awaiting this moment for five long years, the day that Obama finally gets his gate. You see, every two-term president has a defining scandal that renders him permanently villainous and/or ridiculous. By hallowed convention, the scandal must end with word "gate."
Nixon started it with the gate to begin all gates, Watergate. Ronald Reagan followed up with Irangate. Bill Clinton enthralled us with Monicagate. George W. Bush gave us Plamegate.
And now Obama has got his own gate...or rather his own gates. Since no single scandal is big enough bring him down, Republicans and pundits are eagerly gathering them up in a big stinking pile of nefariousness: IRSBenghAPgate! [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]
You may not know it, but war is blazing away on the Internet. Perhaps you've experienced some streaming delays on Netflix or Youtube recently. You may have been caught in the crossfire.
One of the combatants is a Dutch web-hosting company called Cyberbunker. The company's home page cycles a picture of Julian Assange with the caption, "Freedom of speech...is in the eye of the beholder." But they're quick to assure potential clients that Cyberbunker is not some kind of idealistic anarchist commune. Like all good capitalists, Cyberbunker puts the customer first. [Read more]
Premise 1: Killer Knows Best
What makes one gun more lethal than another? Ever since Sandy Hook, the media has bombarded us with gun jargon. We've learned about flash suppressors and high-capacity magazines, threaded barrels and pistol grips. We've heard that these features are bad features, dangerous to children and other living things. The expired federal assault weapons law used to ban any gun with two or more of them. The new New York law bans them all.
But we've also heard that gunmakers find ways to skirt these constraints. For instance, some manufacturers evaded California's quick-reload restriction with a "bullet button" that allows shooters to release a magazine with a bullet tip instead of a fingertip. It's hard for plodding legislatures to keep up with eager manufacturers, who have every incentive to invent the most lethal legal weapon possible.
So if not the legislators, who should determine which guns are too deadly? Who in America most appreciates a gun's killing potential? [Read more]
This article continues from The Information Jacuzzi - Part I.
The Middle Ages was not a great era for budding writers. In those days, there was only one large publisher in all of Western Europe: the Catholic Church. Nearly every scribe on the continent worked in one of its affiliated monasteries or theological universities. Any writer who hoped to have his work duplicated and distributed had to win the sanction of Church leaders, and they were not known for permissive editing. Even writers who published outside the Church suffered from its monopoly on information, as the Pope routinely ordered heretical works banned and burned—usually along with the author.
That’s why the printing press, invented in the 1440s, was so significant. It bypassed Church scribes and produced books so quickly and cheaply that anyone with a little money or a wealthy patron could spread their ideas across the continent. Seventy years after its invention, Martin Luther published his famous 95 Theses criticizing Church practices. His ideas were not entirely new, but they spread far further than those of his predecessors, who lived before the printing press. As with previous heretics, the Pope excommunicated Luther and banned his writings, but his tracts had already flooded every corner of Europe. Thousands of people read and reacted to his ideas. The Protestant Reformation was born. [Read more]
Back in 1996, when mobile phones looked like giant calculators, and a social network was a just group of friends, comedian Dave Barry published a book called Dave Barry in Cyberspace. He devoted a chapter to the newly popular “World Wide Web,” which he titled, “The Internet: transforming society and shaping the future through chat.”
Sometimes truth is stranger than comedy. Internet chat and its heirs—blogs and social networks—are in fact transforming society and shaping the future in ways that no one imagined in 1996. [Read more]
Unlike New York City teachers, most Americans have no say in how their employers evaluate their job performance. The process, if there is a "process," usually emerges from an obscure H.R. task force that bases its guidelines on whatever trendy corporate gobbledygook some associate vice president read in the latest issue of Human Resources Executive.
Once the process reaches its lofty conclusion, the employee has to live with the consequences. A glowing evaluation may mean a raise and promotion. A scathing report may trigger demotion or even termination. The processes are not necessarily fair. Bosses often use them to justify whatever they wanted to do all along. Good bosses treat their people fairly. Bad bosses exploit their power for petty politics. [Read more]
A suicide bomber walks into a bar. He shouts at the bartender, "Gimme the money, or I blow this place to bits!" The worried bartender hands him a wad of cash, and the bomber departs.
The next day, the suicide bomber returns to the same bar. He shouts at the bartender, "Gimme the money, or I blow this place to bits!"
"Are you nuts?" answers the bartender. "If I give you money every day, I'll go out of business. Plus, you're scaring away the customers."
"I tell you what," replies the bomber, "Gimme the money, and I won't come back until the day after tomorrow."
Welcome to the art of negotiation, Republican style. Since the election of 2010, the United States has narrowly averted three Republican-built suicide bombs: one government shutdown, one debt default and one fiscal cliff. We have two more scheduled for February: across-the-board spending cuts and another debt ceiling expiration.
John Boehner has a situation. A week ago, he failed to reach a deal with President Barack Obama to avert the dreaded Fiscal Cliff. To save face, he then attempted to pass his own compromise bill, which he called Plan B, ignoring the inconvenient fact that the Democrats were not party to the one-sided "compromise." As it turned out, the Republicans weren't party to it either. When Boehner's conservative colleagues refused to vote for Plan B, he had to humbly retract his evidently no-sided compromise. [Read more]
Maybe Wayne LaPierre is onto something. So suggests DF in his latest blog, What Can We Do to Stop Massacres? Isn't it at least worth considering, he asks, LaPierre's proposal to station armed "responders" at our schools?
It is worth considering. An armed officer presents a defense and a deterrent. It seems indisputable that LaPierre's proposal would help protect our schools against violent attacks.
But would it stop massacres? Not unless we placed multiple armed responders at every park, playground, pool, day camp, playing field, Sunday school, daycare center, shopping mall, or any other place where children gather. [Read more]
Forget about Benghazi. The whole imbroglio was little more than an election gambit gone sour. Republican leaders, frustrated that their charges failed to wound Obama in November, have vented their fury on his choice for Secretary of State.
But Susan Rice's record as U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. raises other more serious concerns. The New York Times published two articles today, a news story and an op-ed, which question Rice's judgment concerning several African dictators. [Read more]