It's been a tough week for elite gay-baiting. First Howie Kurtz, hack journalist extraordinaire, lost his job at the Daily Beast because he badly botched an attempt to smear NBA center Jason Collins. Part of what Kurtz botched was the facts, claiming that Collins had concealed the fact that he had once been engaged to a woman when Collins had "concealed" that fact by explicitly stating it in his Sports Illustrated coming-out article. ("When I was younger I dated women. I even got engaged," is pretty straightforward.) Kurtz, to his credit, has made a full apology.
Then, Harvard history professor Niall Ferguson (also a columnist for the Daily Beast) was also forced to apologize after publicly gay-baiting landmark economist John Maynard Keynes. Ferguson decided to tell an audience that Keynes wasn't interested in long-term policy effects (itself a gross distortion of Keynes's position) because Keynes was a homosexual in a childless marriage. Yes, really. That's the standard of logic and evidence to which Ferguson holds himself. [Read more]
An Oxford University economist and a Stanford University epidemiologist have combined their considerable breadth and knowledge to conclude the Great Recession and accompanying austerity have caused 10,000 suicides and a million diagnoses of depression in the U.S. and Europe. If you find that hard to stomach, here's something more concrete -- AIDS is once again a full blown epidemic in Greece where budgets have been cut from HIV-prevention programs. [Read more]
So one day somebody at Northwest Rankin High School in Flowood, Mississippi came up with the idea to hold a series of mandatory Christian assemblies, where students would be required to watch a Christian video and listen to ministers (and fellow students) from the Pinelake Baptist Church preach to them about the importance of being a Christian.
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]
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.
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]
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.
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]
I've written about the Chained CPI here at Dag, oh... a lot of times. I also wrote about it when I had my column for The Daily and, as I've done a lot of research, I consider myself an informed Chained CPI dissenter as a matter of political and economic fairness. In short, I believe that its use of "the substitution effect," where consumers respond to the rising prices of some goods by buying others, can be used to mask changes in standards of living. [Read more]
The Supreme Court spent Holy Week (or, as Jesus would call it, Passover) debating gay marriage, which Chief Justice John Roberts clearly opposes. Religious opponents of gay marriage like to argue that the purpose of marriage is to beget children, so that only heterosexual marriages are "real," because only biological fertility makes a marriage "real." By this standard John Roberts's own marriage is not real, and neither is mine. I do not believe that, and neither should he.
The "values" wing of the Republican party decided, against the advice of their more libertarian brethren, to wage a social war against same sex marriage and, whatever the Supreme Court decides in its two big marriage cases, the "values" bloc has clearly lost the fight. Though your experience may vary by region, the country has evolved to at best a pro-same sex marriage consensus and at least a healthy "live and let live," attitude about it. [Read more]
It could be that with all that's going on in the world you might have missed what's happening closer to home, in the sovereign state of Michigan. In just over two years, since businessman and venture capitalist Rick Snyder became governor, bringing along with him a Republican majority in the legislature and in most courts (including the Supreme one), with a push from the Tea Party, the Koch Brothers and the Mackinac Center for Public Policy, our beautiful state has suffered under the country's first duly elected dictatorship.
The decision to bring "democracy" to Iraq displayed a deep and obvious contempt for democracy itself. George W. Bush considered the decision to begin a war his personal prerogative, and both the political establishment and the media establishment treated it that way. The war was inevitable; the decision had already been made. Not supporting the war was treated as foolish (because futile) and unpatriotic (because patriotism was defined as supporting the President's decisions). [Read more]
One of the things that most irks me about Thomas Friedman, aside from the fact that he's a terrible writer who has somehow won a huge audience, is that he is so willing to blame Americans for their own problems. This morning, for example, he cites Adam Garfinkle:
“We’re the most self-indulgent generation in American history,” argues Garfinkle, always demanding more services than we’re ready to pay for. “Too many of us want to be unbound by broader social obligations, but the network of those obligations creates the moral ballast that makes good governance possible.” [Read more]
On Thursday, the American Association of University Professors, a national faculty union, released its report on last summer's debacle at the University of Virginia, where, if you recall, the Board of Visitors fired the UVa's President, Teresa A. Sullivan, only two years into Sullivan's term, without even holding a meeting about the firing first. [Read more]
Every year around this time Republicans get to let their hair down and show the world that no matter what we've heard otherwise, they do have a silly side.
Doom and gloom and global warming is our problem, not theirs. Enough about the poor, the pregnant, and the pressures put on them by the peons. Get those party hats on! [Read more]