Doctor Cleveland's picture

    The Marathon, Democracy

    It's Marathon Monday in Boston, the second Marathon since the bombing. A Massachusetts jury is currently deciding whether the surviving bomber should serve life in prison or be executed, but that jury  will not meet today, because it is a holiday. Today is Patriot's Day.

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    Hal Ginsberg's picture

    Botched Rollout

    For married-with-children New York suburbanites in the 1970s and 80s, nothing spelled success like a Mercedes S-Class Sedan in the driveway.  After the big promotion, hot shot investment bankers, law firm partners, and ad agency execs headed over to Mercedes-Benz of Greenwich.  There they handed Hans a fat check and the keys to the family's now superfluous Gran Torino before cruising back to Scarsdale or Darien in 450 SEL splendor.

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    Ramona's picture

    As Long as There is a Constitution, The GOP Can't Win

    It's been a while, but here I am.  Illnesses and the vagaries of the gypsy life have taken a toll, frazzled my brain, and, if you can believe it, have led me to thinking about things other than the state of the nation.  During my enforced R&R I read a few novels, watched a few movies, spent time with friends, marveled at scenery, and all-around de-fragged.  I hung around on the edges of the political debates, but found myself thinking the unthinkable:  "Who cares?"

    Now I'm back.

    So. . .

    What the devil has gotten into those Republicans?  Are there no grownups left in that party? It's as if, this past January, they all just got out of juvie, where they were plotting their mischief, and now's the time to put their malicious but childishly goofy plans into action.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Another Thing About the 47%

    You heard, during the last campaign, that 47% of Americans "don't pay taxes," by which we mean Federal Income taxes (they pay many others at all levels of government).  It has somehow been difficult to convince people that 47% of the population does not actually make enough money that they can be taxed in any meaningful way but at a median income of $50,000 a year and long-term, inflation-adjusted wage stagnation, I've always suspected it's true.  From The Big Picture, some further evidence:

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    The Myth of the Militant Homosexual

    Indiana Governor Mike Pence is shocked—shocked—that people see anything objectionable in Indiana’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act. “Was I expecting this kind of backlash?” he exclaimed, “Heavens no.”

    After all, who could object to religious freedom?

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Religion Is Not A Counterculture

    I spend too much time on Ross Douthat and his sensei, David Brooks. Today, Douthat wrote a piece casting America’s practicing religious communities as a counterculture.  He then calls for the same tolerance that most countercultures, from beats to hippies to punks to vegans to gays have asked for but rarely received.

    Douthat says:

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Tolerance Doesn't Cut It

    This week, Ross Douthat and his mentor David Brooks both wrote pieces cautioning the “victors” of the battle for civil rights for gay people to be “gracious” in their ascendance.  Both have made this argument before.  First, they say, that the civil rights proponents could very easily go too far in an essentially conservative culture and second, they say, they owe a nod to tolerance of dissent by the religious.

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    Hal Ginsberg's picture

    Maybe Divestment is the answer

    Princeton University president emeritus William G. Bowen argues in Sunday's Washington Post against those calling for colleges and universities to divest their holdings in fossil fuel companies.  I have done the same here and here.  But after reading Bowen's unconvincing justification for continued investment in the corporations responsible for our planet's ever-worsening climate crisis, I am seriously reconsidering my position.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Ted Cruz and the Quest for the GOP Obama

    Ted Cruz's declaration that he's running for President doesn't make a lot of sense from the normal perspective. No one has ever given him any reason to suspect that he could become President. No poll has showed him with even ten percent support.  It only makes sense when you realize who Ted Cruz is modeling himself after: Barack Obama. Of course, he's not like Barack Obama in almost any way. But Ted Cruz doesn't know that. He doesn't see the real Barack Obama. He sees the conservative caricature of Barack Obama, and that's what he's trying to mimic.

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    Ramona's picture

    Christian Guy talks up rape and murder of Atheist Wives and Daughters at Prayer Breakfast. More Coffee, Anyone?

    Phil Robertson, the Duck Dynasty actor and self- professed loyal follower of Jesus Christ, Son of God--the same guy who's been in trouble before for saying bad stuff he heard straight from God's mouth--had this to say at a prayer breakfast the other day:

    "I’ll make a bet with you. Two guys break into an atheist’s home. He has a little atheist wife and two little atheist daughters. Two guys break into his home and tie him up in a chair and gag him. And then they take his two daughters in front of him and rape both of them and then shoot them and they take his wife and then decapitate her head off in front of him. And then they can look at him and say, ‘Isn’t it great that I don’t have to worry about being judged? Isn’t it great that there’s nothing wrong with this? There’s no right or wrong, now is it dude?’ "
    Michael Maiello's picture

    Cane-Do Lee Kuan Yew

    In the Times this morning, Roger Cohen eulogizes Lee Kuan Yew, the "Father of Singapore" and a man who has benefited greatly, alongside monarchs throughout the Middle East, from the absurd notion of the "benevolent dictator."

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    Why Fraternities Are Out of Control

    College fraternities have been in the news for the last two weeks, and not in a good way. First, the SAE chapter at the University of Oklahoma got videotaped singing a cheerful little fraternity song about keeping blacks out of the frat and hanging them from trees.

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    Hal Ginsberg's picture

    Hillary Clinton's no Henry IV

    In a mean-spirited op-ed that's apparently part of an on-going twenty-year jihad against the Clintons, Maureen Dowd likens Hillary Clinton to an "annoyed queen".  While I have been first very critical, then somewhat less critical, of Hillary's response to reve

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    I Sorted Hillary’s Email

    When Hillary Clinton released emails from her personal account last week, many assumed that her attorneys had personally reviewed the messages before sending them to the State Department, but that’s not what happened. As detailed in her press statement, the review team used keyword searches to automatically filter over 60,000 messages, flagging about half as work related.

    “I have absolute confidence that everything that could be in any way connected to work is now in the possession of the State Department,” Clinton declared.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Morality Tale Economics

    David Brooks and Ross Douthat are both singing the same tune about Robert Putnam's work on income inequality -- They believe that the tribulations of poorer Americans are caused as much by a breakdown in the culture as by a lack of money.  On the face of it, this is a bit like treating somebody with hypothermia by delivering a cold weather safety lecture while not sharing your coat.

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    Doctor Cleveland's picture

    How Obama Talks About Terrorism and Racism

    Let's keep this simple. The way Barack Obama talks about Islamic terrorism is exactly the way he talks about white racism. Exactly. The only difference lies not in what Obama actually says, but in how his critics respond.

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    Ramona's picture

    Not "The Onion": GOP Senators Tell Iran Obama's Not The Boss, They Are

    In a stunning open letter to the leaders of Iran, 47 Republican senators let it be known that while Barack Obama might occupy the White House and temporarily hold the title of President and Commander-in-chief of these United States, it is Congress--most especially the Republican Congress--that holds the cards when it comes to any kind of nuclear deal.

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    Michael Maiello's picture

    Olds and Scolds

    Well, I just can't let this one go.  David Brooks looks at the struggles of poor families in America (through the eyes of Robert Putnam) and determines that the biggest problem with growing up poor in America isn't all the poverty but a glut of moral relativism.

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    MW on the TV

    Just in case anyone wants to see how I look like on the small screen...

    Obama & Teddy Roosevelt: Similar Legislative Strategies?

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    Michael Wolraich's picture

    American Democracy - Not Dead Yet

    Thanks to Michael M. for highlighting Matthew Yglesias's Cassandra prophesy at Vox: "American Democracy is Doomed." In the piece, Yglesias warns that political polarization will sooner or later trigger "a collapse of the legal and political order" in the United States. "If we're lucky," he adds gloomily, "it won't be violent."

    You don't have to be a seer to see that the federal government is in crisis. We have been reading about congressional paralysis for five years straight. The immediate cause is no mystery--the American checks-and-balances system does not handle polarization well. The founding fathers, in their zeal to prevent totalitarianism, designed a system that empowers its various branches to sabotage one another for political gain.

    If Yglesias had limited his conclusions to these observations, the result would have been an interesting if prosaic political commentary. But where's the fun in that? Headline-grabbing doom prophesies trend much better than humdrum political commentary. Fortunately for the health of American democracy, they are invariably specious, and this one is no exception.

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