Since I wrote a couple of pieces about the story of Mitt Romney possibly being a high-school bully, I've gotten some unsurprising responses. The first, perhaps predictable one, is from conservatives complaining that Barack Obama was never "vetted," and the fact that we've learned about Romney's youthful "hijinks" just shows the media's double-standard. Needless to say, this is just absurd; there were hundreds of articles written in 2008 (and since) about Obama's family and his youth, not to mention the fact that he wrote a pretty frank book about it himself before he ever ran for office. The second complaint?less silly, but related?is that this is all a distraction, and we ought to be talking about real issues.
I've already said most of what I have to say about what kind of meaning we should ascribe to the bullying story, assuming it's true. But even if I disagree with the conservatives who are saying that The Washington Post should never even have pursued the story or that it shows the media's liberal bias, it's perfectly fine to have a meta-discussion about whether we should be talking about the issue. This came to the fore in dramatic fashion (or dramatic-for-cable-news fashion, anyway) when MSNBC host Tamron Hall had a confrontation on the air with conservative columnist Tim Carney of the Washington Examiner. Here's the clip:
Frankly, I think Hall was being completely unfair to Carney there, going off on him in that way simply because she didn't like the way he answered her question. I'm sympathetic to Carney in part because this is a technique I've used many times when speaking on television or radio, particularly when confronted with a hostile interrogator. By saying "Why should we be talking about this?"?or going "meta-meta," as Carney said?you can seize control of the discussion and bring it to the ground you want to talk about, instead of the ground they want to talk about. If they say, "No, I refuse to have that conversation!" then they look defensive. Which is why hosts really don't like it when you reframe the topic of discussion in this way, and they really, really, don't like it when you question the coverage on their own network. And in this case, as it often is, "Why are we talking about this?" is a perfectly legitimate question. There's no reason why Tamron Hall shouldn't have been able to answer it. If you can't give a good reason why we ought to be talking about something, then maybe we shouldn't.
That isn't to say I believe we shouldn't talk about the bullying story. I don't think it's worth laboring over it for months, but it was certainly worth a couple of days of discussion. If I had been Hall, I would have said, "We're talking about it because Mitt Romney wants to be president of the United States, and we're going to find out everything we can about him before November. That includes his policy proposals and record as a governor, and it also includes the experiences that shaped him over the course of his life." Not too complicated.
Happy Mother's Day from all of us at C&L!
Open thread below...
All hail the arrival of the Toolitzer.
Over at Crooked Timber, Henry Farrell has announced a new writing award for book authors like Jonah Goldberg (who was just nailed for claiming he once part of that small, elite group of people who have been nominated for a Pulitzer prize ? two in his case, he said ? when, in fact, he was just one of thousands of applicants, and one can apply on his or her own). Farrell:
A few weeks ago, I got an email from a publicist at Penguin Books:I responded by saying that I was grateful for the offer, but that I?d rather slice my eyeballs open with a rusty can-opener. I also gave them permission to use this quote as a back-cover blurb if they liked. They never got back to me (I thought it was at least as good as Brad Thor?s ?In the P.C. prison yard of accepted political thought, Jonah Goldberg has just shivved progressivism,? but I?m probably just biased). Now, fate has given me (and Penguin Books) a second chance.
In 2008, columnist Jonah Goldberg triggered a firestorm of controversy with his first book, LIBERAL FASCISM, a #1 New York Times bestseller. Now, he?s about to unleash another bold, funny, and thoughtful argument in his new book, THE TYRANNY OF CLICHÉS: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas (Sentinel, May 1). ? Please let me know if you?d like a copy of THE TYRANNY OF CLICHÉS.
On the dust jacket of his new book, ?The Tyranny of Clichés: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas,? best-selling conservative author and commentator Jonah Goldberg is described as having ?twice been nominated for a Pulitzer Prize.? In fact, as Goldberg acknowledged on Tuesday, he has never been a Pulitzer nominee, but merely one of thousands of entrants. ? His publisher, Penguin Group (USA), said the error was unintentional and it would remove the Pulitzer word from his book jacket when it?s time for the first reprint, ?just like any other innocent mistake brought to our attention.?Henry Farrell, creator of the Toolitzer
If readers want to simply nominate books, they may do so by simply leaving a comment to this post, describing the book, and making a brief statement about its merits for the award. Books so nominated will have full and explicit permission to describe themselves as Toolitzer nominees in publicity materials, on the author?s website and so on, regardless of whether an actual award is made in the calendar year 2012.
If readers actually want an award to be made, they will need to both nominate a book and provide evidence of having made a minimum $500 donation in honor of the award to an organization which, in the opinion of the executive chairman, exemplifies the ideals of Liberal Fascism (examples might include The Baffler, Planned Parenthood, The American Prospect etc). Should readers so do, the sole judge will undertake to read the nominated book (as long as it is under 600 pages), and write a detailed blogpost evaluating its worthiness for the award (the sole judge quietly and selfishly hopes that no-one actually takes this second step, but will take his lumps if someone does).
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2005:
Looking at the front page today, you can see we have spent a bit of time on the GOP Smear of Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. The brouhaha is supposed to be about the FBI file of Bush judicial nominee Henry Saad.
The Thief is Manuel Miranda, who earned his exalted place in the GOP pantheon by stealing Democratic files while he was working for Bill "Nuclear Option" Frist. He now leads the Extreme Right's fight for Frist's Nuclear Option. A commitment to "ethics," the hallmark of the GOP.
The Hack is Charles Hurt, Moonie Times "reporter" and stenographer for the Thief, who seems to have forgotten he wrote about Saad's FBI file one year ago. Now which GOP Senator do you suppose was Hurt's source on that one?
The Shills are the usual suspects, the Right Wing blogs and the rest of the Republican Smear Machine. One fellow stands out though ? the foolish Byron York
A bit of the history of Mothers Day and a tribute to some of the Mother's who have been instrumental in furthering the cause.[...]
Read The Full Article:
Title: VariousArtist: Donald
Today is a sad day for anyone that ever touched a bass guitar. RIP 'Duck' Dunn.
The design of HARP 2.0 has artificially profited banks at the expense of homeowners. The banks, in a very strange and apparently coordinated manner, have unilaterally decided that they will only perform HARP refis for underwater borrowers on the loans[...]
Read The Full Article:
Not surprisingly, my posts last week on citizenship have raised a storm of reader interest and controversy. Perhaps controversy isn't the right word though since I think the vast majority of readers disagreed with me ... and in not a few cases in[...]
Read The Full Article:
Click here to view this media (h/t Heather at VideoCafe)
Generally, my husband and I watch the Sunday shows together. He's a good sounding board and will tell me if I'm getting too in the weeds with our clip selections. Generally speaking, he's more cynical than me about politics but less cynical about the media. This morning, he redlined on both when he heard Romney surrogate and Republican strategist Mary Matalin utter these laughable words:
The only way the Obama campaign can run against Romney is distort his position or the Republican position. There is no -- nor has there ever been -- any Republican position that's been no regulations. We are for regulations and always have been. What common sense means clear and uniform and predictably enforced.
Wuh-what? Apparently, the reason Republicans long so much for the mythical days of yore is because there will be no video or audio to contradict their lying lies. To wit:
The Blind Spot in Mitt Romney's Economic Plan: What Romney would do: Cut taxes and regulations, shrink government, undo pretty much the entire Obama agenda, and stick it to labor.
House GOP announces jobs plan focused on cutting regs and taxes, August 2011
GOP jobs plan: Cut regulations and debt, reform taxes, September 2011
GOP's 'Reform 2.0' package targets business regulations and property taxes, January 2012
GOP Targets Safety Net Programs, Financial Regulations To Avoid Defense Cuts, April 2012
Cut regulation, boost insurance market, GOP candidates say, May 2012
The entire GOP plank has been about letting the "free market" decide and getting "big government" out of the way. But we can look around and see the manifestations of the free market lies (looking at you, Goldman Sachs) and Americans aren't buying it any more. So now, the Republican mouthpieces like Matalin have no choice but to spin an obvious lie to weasel out from behind an economic point of view that has done nothing but bring disaster to the 99 percent.
California voters could shape the nation.In California, the 2012 election cycle will be one of the most watched, hyped and over-analyzed ever, but not for the usual reasons.
Compared to the 2010 election cycle, California would not appear to figure prominently in terms of national interest: After all, there will be no hotly contested presidential primary, and Sen. Dianne Feinstein is so invulnerable that the best known Republican who dared to file against her is Orly Taitz. Even so, many eyes will be on California this June?not only because California could be the key to a Democratic takeover of the House of Representatives, but also because how California voters respond to recent changes in election law could be the factor for whether such attempts at reform succeed or fail in other states.
Two recent major changes to California's elections have shaken up the way the state's politicians and candidates usually do business. Traditionally, the Democratic-controlled legislature had the power to draw new decennial legislative and congressional boundaries after every census. This process ensured that Democratic incumbents would, for the most part, have safe districts to run in, with the districts that were drawn to be Republican ending up competitive once in a blue moon, depending on demographic shifts and voter attitudes. In 2008, however, voters passed Proposition 11 by less than two percentage points. This measure took the power to draw legislative districts out of the hands of the legislature, and put it in the hands of an independent redistricting commission (a later measure expanded the mandate of this commission to redraw congressional district lines as well). In drawing its final maps, the commissioners are not allowed to consider party affiliation or the residence locations of individual legislators.
For a variety of reasons, the new configurations promise better results for Democrats overall, especially in races for Congress and the state Senate: Even though the partisan advantages are not as strong, there are more seats that Democrats should win. The wrinkle, however, comes in the fact that unlike redistricting jobs done by the legislature, the redistricting commission designed maps that did not take incumbents' residency into consideration. In some cases, more than one incumbent was drawn into the same district, forcing some to either scramble for new districts, or run against each other.
But that's not the only wrinkle. In 2010, the state's voters also passed Proposition 14, which abolished partisan primaries in favor of a so-called "top two" primary in which all candidates from all parties appear on the primary ballot and declare their party preference, or no preference at all. The only reason Proposition 14 made it onto the ballot at all was because of our former state Sen. and Lt. Gov. Abel Maldonado. During his time in the state Senate, Mr. Maldonado, who realized that he would likely never win a Republican primary in the state because of Republican racism, was the one Republican vote Democrats were targeting in order to meet the requisite two-thirds vote to pass a budget. In exchange for his "aye" vote, a deal was struck to put Proposition 14 on the ballot.
The theory behind Proposition 14 was that since candidates are now required to appeal to all voters in the primary as opposed to merely the ones in their own party, moderates and centrists will do better. But the most tangible effect could be very negative for Democrats. Because the top two candidates advance to the general election regardless of party, hotly contested Democratic districts could face a situation where two popular Democrats advance to the general election and are forced to fight through November what in normal circumstances would have been resolved in June.
Combine the first go-around with the top-two primary and all-new districts, and it adds up to a very unpredictable election. With that in mind, here are some races to watch on June 5th, as well as some potential implications.
Further to the northwest, Republican Congressman Elton Gallegly's 24th District, centered around coastal Ventura County, was redrawn to lean Democratic. This prompted Gallegly to retire, leaving the seat (numbered the 26th) open. Unlike the 41st, however, the dynamics of this race are more complicated. The leading Democrat is progressive Assemblymember Julia Brownley, who will be opposed by conservative Republican state Sen. Tony Strickland. The wild card in the race, however, is Ventura County Supervisor Linda Parks. Formerly a moderate Republican who received bitter challenges for her seat from Tony's wife Audra, Parks recently left the Republican Party and is running for Congress under the banner of "no party preference" (while making the weirdest ad so far this cycle). This is exactly the situation proponents of Proposition 14 had in mind: Will the avowedly centrist and non-partisan campaign of Linda Parks propel her into the top two, or will Brownley and Strickland face off against each other in a more traditional matchup?
Among challenges to incumbents, perhaps the top race will be in the 7th District, where Dr. Ami Bera will be issuing his third straight solid challenge to Republican Dan Lungren?but this time, on more favorable turf.
Meanwhile, in the 44th Congressional District in South Los Angeles, freshman Congresswoman Janice Hahn, who first won a seat in the special election to replace Jane Harman after her retirement from the 36th District, will face off against Congresswoman Laura Richardson. There are unavoidable racial dynamics in this district: It is a majority African-American district, but Janice Hahn, who is white, used to represent a substantial part of it on the Los Angeles City Council and remains popular here. Hahn won the overwhelming endorsement of the California Democratic Party over Richardson, who has been under a constant cloud of ethics violations for some time. This one could get ugly: Richardson has shown that she is not above using identity politics to win a seat. Whether that will work against Janice Hahn remains to be seen.
There's an outside chance that Democrats could achieve a two-thirds threshold in the state Assembly as well, but everything would have to go right. The main priority for Democrats is in the newly created 66th District, which encompasses the so-called South Bay in the greater Los Angeles area. This is a very swingy district with a marginal Democratic registration advantage. The leading Democrat in this race, Al Muratsuchi, is being opposed by two tea party Republicans, including Craig Huey. For those unfamiliar with Craig Huey, he ran unsuccessfully against now-Congresswoman Janice Hahn in the aforementioned special election, and his allies are responsible for what could be considered the most racist, sexist and generally reprehensible campaign ad of all time.
But the Assembly race that many locals are observing more than any other is a Democratic dogfight in Assembly District 50. This deep blue seat in West Los Angeles and Malibu is expected to be a battle royale between current Assemblymember Betsy Butler and longtime progressive activist Torie Osborn. Butler represents much of the turf that is now in the aforementioned district 66; however, her residence was redistricted into a third district that already contained a sitting Assemblymember who represented a much larger portion of their mutual district. Rather than face a more difficult fight in the 66th, Butler chose to move to the new 50th District, even though she only represents about one percent of it currently. Problem? Torie Osborn, who is a legend in the LGBT and social justice movements, had been running for whichever seat emerged for that region for a long time, and had already garnered a broad fundraising base and important local endorsements. What has followed is a classic "activists versus institutions" slugfest that is straining friendships and dividing traditional allies. While Butler has the official support of the California Democratic Party, Osborn has gained the support of nearly every single local Democratic club in the district. Local progressives are hoping to propel Osborn to victory to have a progressive activist who is unafraid to challenge the orthodoxy, while Butler has raised a large portion of her money from fellow politicians in Sacramento. There is a third Democrat running who is going to gain some support, as well as one Republican. While the ideal outcome of this race in June from a generic Democratic perspective would be to have the three Democrats split the vote in such a way that the lone Republican advances to the runoff in this deep blue seat, the likelihood is that Butler and Osborn will advance to the general election and slug this out through November. Who wins this could have significant ramifications on future candidacies in redistricting years: If Osborn is able to take this seat despite the full power of Sacramento supporting Butler, it might provide impetus for other challengers to buck the system in redistricting years. But if Butler is able to move into a district she doesn't represent and have Sacramento money and endorsements carry her to victory over a powerful candidate like Osborn, it might similarly dissuade others from making such challenges in the future. Therefore, while most other people might be wondering what the big deal is, the results of this race will resonate deeply within the halls of power here in California.
These are just some of the things to watch for as the California returns come in on June 5th. How will it end up? Stay tuned. On June 10th, I'll analyze the carnage?live from Netroots Nation in Providence, Rhode Island.
DISCLOSURE: I have endorsed both Brad Sherman and Janice Hahn. In addition to endorsing Torie Osborn, I have also volunteered extensively for her campaign.
So my horse tells me he wants to be a person and I have to explain why this would be a bad deal. What? You are bored? I shell out at least $300 bucks a month, I clean up your crap, give you your shots and fix your feet then you wimp out[...]
Read The Full Article: