Posts tagged opinion
Posts tagged opinion
Entertainment News - NYTimes.com
Walters may be the single most important TV personality of the last 50 years — just not for the reasons we’ve heard. More than any other journalist, she tore down the wall separating news from entertainment, the serious from the frivolous, the public figure from the celebrity. Ms. Walters was always more of an entertainer than a journalist, at least as traditionalists understand the latter term … [figures] wanted the media spotlight that Ms. Walters and Today provided, so that they might have the opportunity to humanize themselves away from political reporters. Ms. Walters was happy to oblige. They received the same treatment from Ms. Walters as the movie stars she interviewed.
Republicans Will Clobber Obamacare Until They Hug It
There are lessons here about the difficulty of implementing large programs, the dangers of extrapolating from a program’s first months to gauge its long-term success and what it means to be a loyal opposition. The Republican Party isn’t learning them.By the 2016 presidential election, it’s likely to be a law that Democrats brag about and Republicans scamper to get behind. And the final act of this depressing little political play will be Republicans embracing this policy that they did everything to destroy, and trying to build on it.
Three Cheers for the Internet Tax!
The Daily Beast
E-commerce retailers may have smaller footprints than big box rivals, but they impose plenty of costs and rely heavily on public investment. E-commerce is essentially a logistics operation. Companies ship goods via the U.S. Postal Service, a public agency that may have to be bailed out by taxpayers, or UPS and Federal Express, which rely on the publicly built network of airports, roads, and ports to function. All those delivery trucks rumbling around help cause congestion and create wear and tear that has to be fixed by public authorities. The e-retailers didn’t build the logistics systems and the infrastructure. The public did.
Gross’ rationale for an online sales tax is that online retailers rely on public infrastructure and logistics, so why wouldn’t we tax them for that? Tod Cohen, eBay exec, is against the online sales tax, and has this to say:
The Internet sales tax bill threatens small businesses by treating them the same as multibillion dollar retailers that have stores and warehouses around the country.
Cohen doesn’t want sellers to be treated like big-box stores like WalMart, or Amazon (who ironically support the sales tax). But online sales have been growing exponentially, it would be a missed opportunity to tap into the power of the Interwebs. Even Republicans are showing support for the Marketplace Fairness Act, according to Matt Yglesias from Slate:
"The natural allies of eBay and Overstock are anti-tax Republicans, but with many GOP governors and lots of local retailers stridently in favor, this is proving to be one tax hike many Republicans can swallow.
Should we have an online sales tax here in the United States?
Moderation in the Pursuit of Justice
In that brief period after 9/11, I came to appreciate what blacks and Hispanics often talk about, what many conservatives dismiss as hypersensitive aggrievement: what it’s like to be under subtle suspicion for no other reason than how I look, and how profoundly unfair, and un-American, that experience feels, … I harbor no illusions about the malevolent nature of radical Islam. … But when I hear certain politicians use the Boston bombings as a pretext for scotching immigration reform … I wince. … The FBI was already monitoring Tamerlan Tsarnaev, even bringing him in for questioning two years ago. If we can’t keep an eye on the people whose emails we’re already reading, how is putting the entire Muslim community under government surveillance going to do us any good?
The Conservative Paranoid Mind
The Daily Beast
"The common thread through all of this is the conservative need to instill and maintain a level of fear in the populace. … Conservatism, I fear (so to speak), can never be cleansed of this need to instill fear. … I don’t even think it’s always cynical and manipulative; conservatives often do see enemies under every bed. But that doesn’t mean they’re there, and it most definitely doesn’t mean the rest of us ought to make law and policy based on their nightmares.
If Dzhokhar Tsarnaev says he is affiliated with al-Qaeda, he can say goodbye to his rights, as anyone affiliated with a terrorist organization is tried as an enemy combatant of the US. But the biggest noise about this fact is coming from the conservative side of the aisle. Sen. Lindsay Graham had gone on the news talk shows saying that we need to apply the “public exception rule” towards Tsarnaev, but we know NOTHING right now. Even Con. King says that he’s sure it has to be al-Qaeda. Why? Because he says so.
The Supreme Court had ruled before that enemy combatants still have due process rights. And the focus on delaying the immigration reform the Gang of Eight are releasing because of this terrorist act is ridiculous since the brothers have been on American soil for the longest time. There would’ve been nothing to stop this seemingly spontaneous act of destruction. Yet we still want to crack down on immigrants as if they’re the scourge of the planet. Never mind the fact that we can’t even protect ourselves from those who’ve illegally acquired guns at gun shows and online sales - after all, the 2nd Amendment is irrefutable - how could you even question it?
Conservatives have characteristically tried to instill fear into the population. Fear that someone else can attack and kill our kin. It’s how the Iraq War started, how the Patriot Act was allowed to pass, hell, even how CISPA just passed the House. Let Tomasky finish his own thesis: “Conservatism, I fear (so to speak), can never be cleansed of this need to instill fear. Whether it’s of black people or of street thugs or of immigrants or of terrorists or of jackbooted government agents, it’s how the conservative mind works. I don’t even think it’s always cynical and manipulative; conservatives often do see enemies under every bed. But that doesn’t mean they’re there, and it most definitely doesn’t mean the rest of us ought to make law and policy based on their nightmares.”
The Wrong Kind of Caucasian
"Despite the Tsarnaevs’ American upbringing, the media has presented their lives through a Chechen lens,Political strife in the North Caucasus, ignored by the press for years, has become the default rationale for a domestic crime. … Knowing nothing of the Tsarnaevs’ motives, and little about Chechens, the American media tore into Wikipedia and came back with stereotypes. The Tsarnaevs were stripped of their 21st century American life and became symbols of a distant land, forever frozen in time.Ethnicity is often used to justify violent behaviour. But no ethnicity is inherently violent. Even if the Tsarnaevs aligned themselves with violent Chechen movements — and as of now, there is no evidence they did — treating Chechen ethnicity as the cause of the Boston violence is irresponsible."
Reminiscent of the way Poland was denigrated when Leon Czolgosz assassinated President McKinley in 1901, we are targeting all Chechens are terrorists. Not to even mention the current Islamophobia due to 9/11. But the connection between Czolgosz and the Tsarnaevs show that no matter if the terrorist/attacker was American, we look for that scapegoat. When it was shown that the Tsarnaev brothers were Caucasian, the scope of conversation turned to mental instability, government grudges, etc. No longer is there a discussion of what race these domestic terrorists were.
Too quickly have we turned to WikiPedia to superficially learn about Chechnya (or in other cases, mistakenly the Czech Republic) to find out how we can shit on others. Our self-revered journalists are also guilty of this, looking to judge every picture the Tsarnaevs were in, and whoever they were interacting with as well.
We’re all guilty of this type of denigration and stereotyping. Some might say it is even human nature to automatically distinguish a difference between ourselves and the “other”. However, this is not acceptable and responsible, and we only serve to make ourselves more paranoid of our neighbors. This is America, after all, “the melting pot”. Sarah Kendzior finishes very nicely by quipping, “Chechens and other Muslim immigrants from the former Soviet Union are human beings. They are not walking symbols of violent conflict. Do not look to a foreign country to explain a domestic crime. Look to the two men who did it - and judge them by what they have done, not from where their ancestors came.”
The Way Forward on Guns
E.J. Dionne Jr.
"The next steps are up to the supporters of gun sanity. They can keep organizing to build on the unprecedented effort that went into this fight — or they can give up. They can challenge the senators who voted ‘no,’ or they can leave them believing that the ‘safe’ vote is always with the NRA. They can bolster senators who cast particularly courageous ‘yes’ votes … or they can leave them hanging."
It’ll take a fall in order to get back up, and this was a fall that people who wanted sensible gun legislation had to have. The NRA proved that they’re still a formidable force to reckon with if one even wants to pass background checks. However, the ball is in the hands of pro-gun control groups.
It was disgusting to see that those senators that promised to vote for background checks, then turned around right in the face of those who’ve lost their children in Newtown. It wasn’t about serving constituents, it was about how fearful they were of getting no check from the NRA this legislative session. Some, like Senator Mark Begich, insisted that you shouldn’t vote on legislation after an emotional reaction to an event. Then what was the Patriot Act? Even those looking for any rational Republicans to have come out of this vote have seen that there is a no show for political courage.
We also have broken supermajority rules in the Senate that need to change. The filibuster is allowed to run rampant, and it obstructs anything from getting done. The fact that polls showed that 90% of Americans supported background checks, and then later were spit in the face, shows that we have a serious corruption problem within our political system. It is up to the newly crafted pro-gun control groups to now undermine organizations like the NRA. As Dionne Jr. says, “The story of reform in America is that it often takes defeats to inspire a movement to build up the strength required for victory. Which way this story goes is up to us.”
Judith Grossman: A Mother, a Feminist, Aghast
The Wall Street Journal
"Until a month ago, I would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX,Title IX, that so-called guarantor of equality between the sexes on college campuses … has obliterated the presumption of innocence that is so foundational to our traditions of justice. On today’s college campuses, neither ‘beyond a reasonable doubt,’ nor even the lesser ‘by clear and convincing evidence’ standard of proof is required to establish guilt of sexual misconduct. These safeguards of due process have, by order of the federal government, been replaced by what is known as ‘a preponderance of the evidence.’ … All my son’s accuser needed to establish before a campus tribunal is that the allegations were "more likely than not" to have occurred by a margin of proof that can be as slim as 50.1% to 49.9%. There are very real and horrifying …. offenses [that] should be investigated and prosecuted … What does remain a question is how we can make the process fair for everyone."
Judith Grossman, self-professed feminist, “would have expressed unqualified support for Title IX”. That is, before her son was accused of rape by an ex-girlfriend. He was charged straight away, not even given a preliminary hearing, and this was all possible because of a directive lobbed by the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights. With a margin of proof of 49.9-50.1%, Ms. Grossman’s son is able to be charged due to “a preponderance of the evidence”.
"Who knew that American college students are required to surrender the Bill of Rights at the campus gates?"
After receiving a letter explaining to her son what the charges were, in the vaguest words possible, Mr. Grossman had to go through a 2-hour hearing without counsel in front of the school committee. His documentation was shunted, and he wasn’t told of the witnesses that were going to testify against him. Luckily, Ms. Grossman is a lawyer, and was able to help her son out. She used the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education for research.
On FIRE’s website, you can check to see if your college has a favorable Speech Code Rating. I just found out that apparently my school’s Speech Code Rating is Red. Shit.
Economists: Sorry About That Mass Unemployment
Jonathan Chait, New York Magazine
"The political debate has been dominated by an imaginary fear,As a result, we’ve endured mass unemployment, a phenomenon with enormous and very long-term consequences."
A paper by Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff that stated our economy slowed down once our debt reached 90% of GDP has been recently shown to be wrong. It makes people wonder, how is it possible that a study that has had such important implications for policy creation been allowed to be so misconstrued? I mean, the Bowles-Simpson report was based on this paper. Who else relied on this paper for their reports? The editorial board of the Washington Post, news stories (such as this one), Thomas Friedman, Joe Scarborough, and according to Chait, “pretty much everybody in Congress.”
With that now in mind, it’s time we stop focusing on a fake enemy, and focus on the real adversary of our economy: unemployment. As long as the (correct) studies show that someone will not get hired if they have been out of work for 6+ months, we will not be on a fast track to recovery.
"[Paul’s speech] clipped-tail history lesson praising the civil rights record of the pre-Southern Strategy Republican Party, while slamming the concurrent record of the Democrats [and] completely ignored the past generation of egregious and willful acts of insensitivity by the G.O.P. toward the African-American community, … The Republican Party has a tarnished brand in the eyes of the African-American community, largely because of its own actions and rhetoric. That can’t be glossed over by painting the present party with the laurels of the distant past."
Rand Paul went to Howard University to deliver a speech about how Republicans lost the black vote. During the speech, he went over instances in American history when Republicans were apparently not racist and segregationist, thumping points that were presented during a CPAC panel. Here’s what Paul had to say about why Republicans lost the black vote in the 60s:
I think what happened during the Great Depression was that African Americans understood that Republicans championed citizenship and voting rights but they became impatient for economic emancipation.
African Americans languished below white Americans in every measure of economic success and the Depression was especially harsh for those at the lowest rung of poverty.
The Democrats promised equalizing outcomes through unlimited federal assistance while Republicans offered something that seemed less tangible-the promise of equalizing opportunity through free markets.
Paul’s assertions go straight in contention with the actual reasons why Democrats started getting the black vote.
Black voters may have lost it when, for example, Mitt Romney said Obama’s win of the black demographic was based on “gifts”. They might have lost it when, for example, Rick Santorum said he didn’t want to make "black people’s lives better", and then later say that he meant “blah”. Paul continued to say that there was no real difference between the Republican Party of Abraham Lincoln and the Party of Reagan:
"The argument that I’m trying to make is that we haven’t changed. We don’t talk about it… There are some of us who haven’t changed, who are part of that party that you liked, who truly believe that Reagan was still part of that. Who don’t see an abrupt difference."
All of this, despite Reagan’s “welfare queen” statement. Despite Gingrich’s crackdown on “rap music” in the 90s. Despite Ron Paul’s racist newsletters. Despite an apology by former RNC chairman Mehlman about the Southern Strategy. Despite former Supreme Court Justice Rehnquist saying he thinks Plessy v. Ferguson should be reinstated. Despite Bush’s horrible handling of Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. Despite Herman Cain’s claim he had left the “Democratic plantation”. Despite Dr. Carson saying liberals are against black people “[coming] off the plantation”.
It’s time the Republican Party ceases feigning racism.
"Nobody outside the hard-right bubble cares about these non-stories, still less will they change anyone’s vote or affect the course of any legislation. This is the fight Malkin and so many others like her have chosen: a withdrawal from concrete policy goals into a battlefield of manufactured outrage and endless, tiny, wholly meaningless victories. Meanwhile … Republicans keep losing elections and Democrats are left to run the country."
Doran talks about Twitchy, a conservative Twitter aggregator. He talks about “malkanization” in particular, being inspired by author Brooks Bayne’s tweet (who tweeted LOL at the Holocaust). “Malkanization” refers to the victimology Doran sees on Michelle Malkin’s Twitter feed, and has roots in “Balkanization”, when countries break off into smaller, in-fighting regions.
I have to say that this isn’t new when it comes to conservative media. Even since the 2012 presidential race, it has been shown that conservatives have their own facts, irrespective of actual numbers and other stats. For example, when conservatives and Republicans tried to label Obama an “apologizer” when he toured the Middle East, there was no actual instance of him saying sorry to anything. Also, Scalia’s rebuttal of a sociological consensus on the effect gay marriage has on children (Hint: The kids are OK) despite the actual statement of consensus.
"When I was a high school freshman, my basketball coach shoved me, pushed me, mocked me, and chucked basketballs at me. He compared me in unfavorable ways (and remarkably foul language) to girls and senior citizens, … If my kids endured what I did, I would be in the principal’s office demanding heads. Yet I’m a hypocrite, because I’m certain that the abuse I would abhor today made me a better basketball player and a better teammate, and possibly even made me a better person."
I don’t agree with Plotz here at all. He says that he can’t help feeling bad for Coach Rice, the former Rutgers basketball coach now known for calling his team “faggots” and throwing basketballs at them as his own form of discipline. Plotx recalls his own time on his high school basketball team, where his own coach applied methods similar to what Rice did. “And, though I can’t remember a specific moment, he undoubtedly called me a faggot, since just about everyone at an all-boys private school in 1985 called everyone else faggot, and since he was alwayscalling us one name or another.”
This is disgusting, and it doesn’t justify anything of the sort of discipline that we saw coaches like Rice and Plotz’s old basketball coach use. In high school, I was on the wrestling team. I will argue any day, any hour, that wrestling is the sport that teaches anyone discipline. It took me a lot to finally break into the routine of the sport, but throughout the entire process, I was taught a lot of self-realizing lessons. My coach was brutal, tough, but he never DARED call anyone “faggots” because he had self-decency, and respected his team. He is the role model that any high school athlete should look up to, because he will discipline you based on your skill, character, and sportsmanship, not for your appearance or what his attitude is towards certain groups of people.
There is no justification for what Rice did, and not for your old high school coach either, David.
"The idea that a shift in Republican positions on an issue like [gay marriage] signals a major underlying transformation of the party … confuses the alleviation of a symptom with the treatment of a cause, … [Issues such as immigration reform and reproductive rights] are all essentially reactive. That is, they aren’t so much about achieving specific policy goals as about expressing a certain attitude toward developments in modern culture. They reflect broader fears and anxieties over the pace and nature of social change.”
I agree with Stewart that the Republican response for many policies and the social sphere is more of a “reaction” and “response”. Thus, what we see is a xenophobic answer to governance, and this is why people are bemused with the current GOP.