Thursday, May 31, 2012

WOW and Komen

So there was this article in TPM this morning, about how the Race for the Cure is experiencing significant reductions in participants from last year's numbers.  This is largely attributed to what I can only call an incredibly misguided political move Komen made, then unmade, this year to defund its Planned Parenthood cancer screenings (primarily for lower-income and often uninsured women).

And I'm of two minds on the development.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Political Correctness Is a Racist, Sexist Pig?

Emily:  I feel like since we were kids there has been a shift, largely due to the concept of political correctness (which, btw, I do not buy as a liberal concept - free speech is the liberal concept), that has made it so that we rarely - as a culture - talk about race or gender in "mixed" or "polite" company.  When people do talk about it, it tends to be in code or euphemisms.  I guess in theory that leads to fewer times that we blatantly offend each other, but it means we lose a big opportunity to understand one another by speaking honestly and forthrightly about these issues.  And I think it fosters the kind of vitriol we see coming out of pressure-geysers like Rush Limbaugh.  So when questions come up that divide us, we are more likely to just sit and stay divided than to try to reach a common ground.  I was listening to the Political Gabfest yesterday, and David Plotz was positing theories about why Washington is so crappy right now.  One of them was on point to this topic - he said maybe we have so self-selected that we don't live near/interact with people who believe differently than we do on any large issue, and therefore we have become more polarized because we don't have to talk to people who disagree with us.

Do you think there is any value in political correctness to our very diverse culture?  Do you think we have self-selected away from useful political discourse?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Bubba Explains It All: Tea Party Edition

A cogent little summary from Bubba:  

“The Republican position that tends to prevail in these primaries as expressed by the gentleman who beat Sen. Lugar, who says, ‘I’m just against compromise, we need to stop it, it’s weak, it’s foolish, our views are irreconcilable, we have to force the American people to choose which one of us is right’ — if that prevails, we’re toast,” Clinton said. “We’ll look like a bush league country....   
“[Voters] go around telling everybody how sorry these politicians are but they voted for all of them,” Clinton said to laughter from the audience. “All they’re doing is what they’ve promised to do … it’s not like they didn’t tell everybody what they were going to do.”  
[Emphasis mine]

He excels at cogent little summaries of political situations.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

George HW Bush, Underrated?

Was President George H. W. Bush underrated?  

It's a question that has been kicking around my head for awhile.  In the wake of the Legacy of Reagan becoming all-encompassing for Rs, in the wake of Newt and DeLay turning Congress into their own personal playground, and you know... W, is what we really need a return to Republicans who are more like George H. W. Bush?

I'm going to talk about him in the past tense because he hasn't espoused many of these views for quite some time, and because he publicly supported his son's very conservative, Reaganesque presidency.  Bush the Elder may still privately be a moderate-to-liberal Republican in today's context, but it's hard to know.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

It's Not Your Imagination

Shut the front door.

Norm Ornstein, widely viewed as about the most scholarly, non-partisan expert on Congress (he's at AEI, for goodness sake - so if he has an institutional bias, it's a conservative one), is now saying that it's really bad in Congress - and that it's 80-20 Republicans' fault.  

Now the fact that Congress has been getting more partisan and less effective, that's not a surprise - anybody interested in politics who has been watching the trajectory since Newt's revolution in 1994 knows that.  But the fact that Ornstein is willing to come out and say that?  That's big.

Now I really have to go, but I had to post this first...

Think Globally, Act Locally?

Emily:  So Wednesdays are usually chaotic, but this week the Daddy is on a business trip, so it's a toothpicks-keeping-eyelids-open kind of morning.  This was exacerbated by the fact that my phone was dinging all night with new and - to me - silly emails from random people in my neighborhood list serve.

I've been obsessed with national politics since I was very young (maybe freakishly young), but local politics interest me far less.  I think one of the reasons is that I perceive - however unfairly - that local politics devolve into the small and petty pretty darn quickly and under little provocation.

Witness the furor over dogs-on-leashes in my neighborhood.  It's a friggin war out there, people.  People who like to let their dogs off their leads versus people who will take your picture and report you to the proper authorities if you do so.  Now, I'm sure there are good reasons for both positions, and I definitely do not want un-leashed dogs roaming my neighborhood.  But I gotta tell you, I don't understand the vitriol and the amount of time my neighbors are devoting to this.

I also know that national politics can get petty.  But I still am way more interested in national, and think that that's where more decisions should be made, partially because of local pettiness.

That's about all the time I have right now, but what do you think - are local politics more petty/personal than national?

Mandi:   Well the saying does go, "  all politics are local" for a reason.  I think in national politics the stakes are definitely higher, but people can be just as petty about national politics as they can be about local.  Witness the rumor that the reason Iraq War Part II was started was because W wanted revenge on Saddam for attempting to assassinate his father.  Or the sheer amounts of horsetrading that go on for pork spending in return for votes on key issues.  Local and national politcs are not too far apart on pettiness, just on scale.

Emily:  It is an exercise in futility for me to try to retroactively find examples of local politics being crazy-petty, as I've discovered this morning.  It's like in an argument when your spouse asks you for examples of X behavior.  It tends to take me too long to dredge those examples up to be effective (largely because I need the mental space that cataloguing and remembering such examples would take up to keep all the 80's song lyrics in my head).  So instead, every time I hear something that reminds me of this thread, I'll come back here and link to it :-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Dog Whistle: Birther Edition

1. Birtherism - the belief that President Obama was not really born in Hawaii, and that the State of Hawaii is somehow lying or covering for him - is illogical.  Sometimes people - especially politicians - lie.  But in this case, there is no logical reason to believe President Obama was lying about the place of his birth, because the people we trust to verify these things (state health officials) all say that President Obama was born in Hawaii.  I'm not going to go through the entire case, because has done that.  But even if we believe that the State officials are lying (and why would it be logical to believe that?), the release of his long-form birth certificate should take care of any concerns that any remotely reasonable person may have.

So even if any of the Birther nonsense was ever driven by any real, logical concerns, at this point anybody who believes that President Obama was not born in America is driven by delusion.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Casting Game

Emily:  Obama and Romney, what action movie characters would they be?

Mandi:  I don't know if either are really action movie guy material.  Romney is clearly a Hans Gruber type villian or the smarmy captain that the action hero has to rebel against.  Obama lurches between awkwardness and a feline grace, but he's so skinny, I don't see who he could be-Blade maybe?  But no one immediately springs to mind.

Emily:  It's true, very few of our presidents (or candidates for the office) seem action-hero-y.  That said, if forced I'd say Romney is more Terminator (no emotions, stilted), and Obama more like a Michael Keaton-era Bruce Wayne (Michael Keaton wasn't huge, he was more cerebral).  But Romney is the rich one, and he's certainly not from the future.  Teddy Roosevelt, FWIW, was kind of Die Hard-y: pithy, big-talking, resourceful.

P.S. Apparently Will Smith wants to answer this question...

P.P.S. John McClane would like to register that Romney is NOT his sort of dude.

Friday, May 18, 2012

A Short History of Political Ads

A (hopefully) fun little history of political ads for your Friday.

The Scary:  The most famous of these is the 1964 LBJ Ad titled "Daisy" that ran one time.  It was basically a bald statement that electing Goldwater would lead to nuclear war.  But scary ads have proliferated, largely because they seem to be a very effective way of getting people to think about opponents.

1964: LBJ "Daisy" Ad (anti-Goldwater):

Thursday, May 17, 2012

A Romney Says What?: Gay Rights Edition

I'm starting what I imagine will be a recurring theme, as I try to keep track of what exactly Mitt Romney believes on a given issue after the wildly divergent things he has said over his career in politics.

This time I'm curious about the difference between what I've heard from various news sources that Romney said about how he would be to the left of Ted Kennedy on gay rights back when he was running against Kennedy for Senator of Massachusetts, and what he said this weekend - as presumptive Republican Presidential Nominee - at a speech at Liberty University, which was founded by the late, very conservative Jerry Falwell.  

Side Note: the Liberty University sports mascot?  The Flames.  This is funny in so many ways.

Hee hee.

Okay, back to the main topic.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Michigan Has Gone Cra-Cra

Okay, so generally I'm not for using only one source on anything.  But Rachel Maddow has been covering what has been going on in Michigan in a very thorough, useful way, and almost nobody else in the national press is covering this series of stories (here's Ezra Klein from the Washington Post referencing Maddow's work, here's the AP on the lawsuit over the Emergency Manager law).  So I'm putting up a few clips, the ones I think best summarize the situation in Michigan.  More people should know about this.

Clip #1 - March 2, 2012 - On the Emergency Manager Law, generally, and about how it undermines local democracy in Michigan - particularly in African American communities; and on the beginning of a citizens' repeal:

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Obama's Big Fat Gay Wedding Strategery

Mandi:  Ok, so I know that it is crass to ask this question, when we are all celebrating freedom, love, tolerance and whatnot, but from a purely political perspective, what has Obama gained by coming out so firmly in favor of gay marriage?  I can’t help but think of LBJ, pushing through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, after which he is said to have remarked, “We [Democrats] have lost the South for a generation.”  Did Obama gain any voters that he would not have already had?  I think he may have lost a tiny number of votes from the anti-gay crowd that he may have gotten otherwise, but not enough to make much of a difference.

I know by taking this “courageous” stand, Obama now looks decisive, and he can employ the weak flip-flopper meme against Romney to greater effect, as that is one charge which seems to have stuck against Romney.  The questions from reporters on this subject before the President spoke about it were unusually harsh, and they seemed to be building up to labeling Obama as the flip-flopper.  So he neatly evades that, and thanks to the Romney bully story, also manages to make Romney look like a raging homophobe loon to boot, as a bonus.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Romney: A Personality Study

Hey, both Mandi and I are sort of not in the mood to expound.  So we thought about discussing whether it matters at all that Elizabeth Warren (Democrat, consumer protection advocate, running for Senate in Massachusetts) says she's part Native American/Indian (some tribes like one term, some the other, I don't know which the Cherokee are) because she is 1/32 Cherokee - which is exactly the same amount of Cherokee as the principal chief of the Cherokee (so maybe you can tell I at least think the whole kerfuffle is silly).  But Mandi is tired of talking about that (and I can't blame her).

So instead we turn to the new story about Mitt Romney's personality, featured this morning in the Washington Post.

We've heard a lot about Romney's personality.  As far as I can tell the main things the press has deduced about Romney are that:

He's Rich.

Thursday, May 10, 2012


Note: Mandi and Emily started this conversation before President Obama came out in support of marriage equality, but after North Carolina voted to enact a State Constitutional Amendment that not only bars gay marriage, but also civil unions.  The President had made his statement by the time Emily replied to Mandi's first post.

Emily:  Do you think the anti-gay marriage (and anti-gay civil union) amendment passed in NC so handily because some black churches are fervently anti-gay?

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Class Warfare

I can't tell you how sick I am of Rs accusing Ds of waging class warfare.  It's untrue to the point of obscenity.

So let's go for it, let's unpack who is waging class warfare on whom.

Republicans in Congress and Republican Presidential Candidates have called for:

Monday, May 7, 2012

More White Babies!

When we were talking over the weekend, you mused about the connections between white supremacists groups and anti-choice groups. Such a linkage is real, and has been extensively documented:

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Dog Whistle?

Background:  Karl Rove's super PAC, American Crossroads, has come out with a video that has been getting a lot of coverage this week.  Here it is -

Emily:  I call racist.  Thoughts?