The New York Times looks at how these midterm elections are resolving into a determined fight by a fraction of the 1% to wrest control of the nation from the other 99%.
Only a few weeks into this midterm election year, the right-wing political zeppelin is fully inflated with secret cash and is firing malicious falsehoods at supporters of health care reform.Make no mistake. This election isn't a contest between Democrats and Republicans. It's not even a tussle among conservatives and liberals.
As Carl Hulse of The Times reported recently, Democrats have been staggered by a $20 million advertising blitz produced by Americans for Prosperity, the conservative advocacy group organized and financed by the Koch brothers, billionaire industrialists. The ads take aim at House and Senate candidates for re-election who have supported the health law, and blame them for the hyped-up problems with the law’s rollout that now seem to be the sole plank in this year’s Republican platform.
Democrats intend to counter this campaign with the facts, but few of the candidates have the money to do so now...
it is unlikely that they will be able to match the resources or the cunning of the Kochs, who are using vast pools of money earned through corporate revenues to build a network unrivaled in complexity and secrecy. This weekend, they are bringing together some of the biggest Republican bank accounts at a resort in Palm Springs, Calif., to collect money and plan this year’s strategy...
In 2012, as The Washington Post reported, the Koch network raised $407 million, which was secreted among 17 groups with cryptic names and purposes that were designed to make it impossible to figure out the names of donors the Kochs worked with. As one tax expert told The Post, “it’s designed to make it opaque as to where the money is coming from and where the money is going.”
The most frightening thing about the Obama administration to men like the Kochs isn't the health care plan or any other signature legislation, it's not the president's barely left of Bush position on taxes, and it's not his skin color. What really scares the Kochs & Co. is how the president got there: the efficient raising of small contributions from a broad base of supporters. If politicians can roll their campaigns on $5 here and $10 there, then... how are they to be kept licking at the billionaire's custom boots?
Goliath may have a serious wound to the head, but he's not dead yet.
Come inside, let's talk...
Ross Douthat on what's truly behind statistics showing a decline in marriage.
Honesty from conservatives would begin by acknowledging that policies championed on the right — mass incarceration in response to the post-1960s crime wave, Bain Capital-style “creative destruction” in response to Carter-era stagnation — have often made it harder for low-income men to find steady work and stay out of prison, and made women understandably wary of marrying them.And... you know he's not going to stop there.
Then this honesty would continue with a concession that certain kinds of redistribution — especially if tied to wage-earning — might help make men more marriageable, families more stable, and touch off a virtuous interaction between the financial and the personal.
A more significant concession would be to acknowledge the ways in which liberalism itself has undercut the two-parent family — through the liberal-dominated culture industry’s permissive, reductive attitudes toward sex, and through the 1970s-era revolution in divorce and abortion law.So, Republicans are directly responsible for destroying marriages of poor and middle class Americans through policies that tear families apart, but hey, liberals show a lot of sex on TV, and that's the real problem.
In the first case, liberals tend to feign agnosticism about pop culture’s impact on morals (even though a link is common-sensical and well supported), or to blame corporate capitalism for the entertainment industry’s exploitative tendencies (as though the overwhelmingly liberal people making programming decisions had no agency of their own).
Kathleen Parker slapeth with one hand and defendeth with the other.
Democrats point mainly to new state laws that have limited access to abortion, not to mention the unforgettable observations of a few Republican men about “legitimate” rape and so on.Get that? Being pro-rape is only a war on women so long as there's one woman willing to fight on your side. Carry on, Professor Quisling.
Whatever one’s own position, Republicans could be characterized as waging a war on women only if no women agreed with the premises mentioned above. Protecting the rights of the unborn and fighting for freedom of conscience are not concerns only of men nor should reproduction be the purview only of women.
What Huckabee was saying was that women are not just packages of reproductive parts whose lives are circumscribed by access to birth control. This is the thinking he ascribes to Democrats. Instead, he said, Republicans are fighting a war for women “to be empowered to be something other than victims of their gender.”Time for more of those "how to talk to women" classes. And this time, maybe Republicans shouldn't pick their instructors from the ads they find in the back of Playboy... or Fox News.
Not bad so far, but then . . . uh-oh.
“And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of the government, then so be it, let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be.” ...
Paging Dr. Freud . . .
As Republicans can’t seem to learn, it’s all in how you say things. Even if Huckabee was only describing how he believes Democrats think of women, he may have parted the curtain on his own unconscious processes. Who, really, is worried about women’s libidos?
Maureen Dowd in the mountains.
The blooming pot industry here is still more seedy than glossy. Yet the budding bud growers are eager to help Denver elude the stigma of Rocky Mountain Low, a shadowy place overrun by “The Dude Abides” hippies and Jeff Spicoli stoners.It's a good, straightforward article from Dowd that captures the experimental nature of what's happening in Colorado... and the way we're all watching for the results.
“People are learning not to be ashamed,” the 45-year-old Dyke said. “No more talking in whispers. We’re moving away from the image of dumb stoner teenagers to older successful businesspeople who can admit they’re stoners.”
...they are thrilled to be part of the huge social experiment transforming Colorado as jittery politicians press on the gas and brake at the same time, state government builds a regulatory system from scratch, entrepreneurs deal in “Breaking Bad” cash, and towns decide if they will allow retail pot stores (Aspen) or not (Vail).
Nicholas Kristof looks at how eager the right is to provide certain medical procedures to the public.
IF you think that protests about overzealous law enforcement are over the top, listen to what unfolded when the police suspected that David Eckert, 54, was hiding drugs in his rectum.Lesson from the right: socialist medicine, bad. Fascist medicine, good.
... No drugs or weapons were found on Eckert or in his truck, but a police dog showed interest in the vehicle and an officer wrote that Eckert’s posture was “erect and he kept his legs together.”
That led the police to speculate that he might be hiding drugs internally, so they took him in handcuffs to a nearby hospital emergency room and asked the doctor, Adam Ash, to conduct a forcible search of his rectum. Dr. Ash refused, saying it would be unethical.
“I was pretty sure it was the wrong thing to do,” Dr. Ash told me. “It was not medically indicated.”
Eckert, protesting all the while, says he asked to make a phone call but was told that he had no right to do so because he hadn’t actually been arrested. The police then drove Eckert 50 miles to the emergency room of the Gila Regional Medical Center, where doctors took X-rays of Eckert’s abdomen and performed a rectal examination. No drugs were found, so doctors performed a second rectal exam, again unavailing.
Doctors then gave Eckert an enema and forced him to have a bowel movement in the presence of a nurse and policeman, according to a lawsuit that Eckert filed. When no narcotics were found, a second enema was administered. Then a third.
The New York Times editorial board hands out a "good job" to the president... and Biden, too.
It’s rare to hear politicians at the national level discuss sexual violence. It’s even rarer to hear them discuss it with real sensitivity. Yet President Obama and Vice President Joseph Biden Jr. managed exactly that last Wednesday, when they announced a task force on campus rape — an area of particular concern. A 2007 study found that one in five women had been sexually assaulted in college. ...Dana Milbank has your non-pology right here, buddy.
“Our daughters, our sisters, our wives, our mothers, our grandmothers have every single right to expect to be free from violence and sexual abuse,” Mr. Biden said. “No matter what she’s wearing, no matter whether she’s in a bar, in a dormitory, in the back seat of a car, on a street, drunk or sober — no man has a right to go beyond the word ‘no.’ And if she can’t consent, it also means no.”
He added: “Men have to step up to the bar here. Men have to take more responsibility. Men have to intervene.”
Mr. Obama also emphasized male accountability: “We’ve got to keep teaching young men in particular to show women the respect they deserve and to recognize sexual violence and be outraged by it, and to do their part to stop it from happening in the first place.”
I am sorry.Hey now, Republicans are the party of personal responsibility. They just need a little time to work out which person (lower level, non-important) is truly responsible.
I am sorry that so many people have been making insincere apologies. I hasten to add that I am not to blame for these terrible apologies, but I regret them deeply, all the same.
Chris Christie is terribly sorry that his staff lied to him about things they did without his knowledge, and he feels remorse that the partisan media are targeting him with a witch hunt.
Bob McDonnell is really sorry that an overzealous federal prosecutor is going after him for doing perfectly legal things.
And Glenn Beck feels just awful that people were so “fragile” that they allowed his rhetoric to tear the country apart.
Listening to the non-apologies and finger-pointing brings to mind George W. Bush’s long-ago vow to change a culture that says “if it feels good, do it; if you’ve got a problem, blame somebody else.”
Steven Rattner dashes cold water on the fires of our new industrial comeback.
WITH metronomic regularity, gauzy accounts extol the return of manufacturing jobs to the United States.Plenty of painful statistics follow.
One day, it’s Master Lock bringing combination lock fabrication back to Milwaukee from China. Another, it’s Element Electronics commencing assembly of television sets — a function long gone from the United States — in a factory near Detroit.
Breathless headlines in recent months about a “new industrial revolution” and “the promise of a ‘Made in America’ era” suggest it’s a renaissance. This week, when President Obama gives his State of the Union address, he will most likely yet again stress his plans to strengthen our manufacturing base.
But we need to get real about the so-called renaissance, which has in reality been a trickle of jobs, often dependent on huge public subsidies. Most important, in order to compete with China and other low-wage countries, these new jobs offer less in health care, pension and benefits than industrial workers historically received.
Leonard Pitts has a dream that pundits might know more than two sentences that came from the mouth of Martin Luther King, jr.
They can’t quote what he said about injustice: “America has given the Negro people a bad check, a check which has come back marked, ‘insufficient funds.’ ”Not true! White people are allowed to lecture black people on reverse racism any time they want. Read the rules.
But they always quote the “content of character” passage from King’s “I Have A Dream” speech. They see it as supportive of their ideal of a so-called “colorblind” society wherein race — and racial problems — are acknowledged never.
Sarah Palin is the latest. Last week on the King holiday, she quoted that passage on Facebook and added: “Mr. President, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. and all who commit to ending any racial divide, no more playing the race card.”
You will hear President Obama talk about race only slightly more frequently than you will hear Mitch McConnell say, “Get down, with your bad self!” so there was a moment of disconnect in trying to figure out what she was talking about. Apparently, the reference was to a piece in last week’s New Yorker where Obama acknowledged that there are “some folks who really dislike me because they don’t like the idea of a black president.” He also said some people probably cut him slack for the same attribute.
By now, most thoughtful people would take both observations as self-evident. And you have to wonder: If this mild remark is “playing the race card” what, then, may we permissibly say about race in Palin’s ideal world? Apparently, nothing.
Chris Lee talks about what's really worrying physicists... that they might have it right.
I'm very glad that I'm not a particle physicist. In the excitement of the LHC starting up, breaking, starting up again, performing beautifully, and finding the Higgs Boson, we seem to forget that particle physics is in a really odd situation. In any other field of science, getting experimental results to agree with theory is considered a champagne moment. ... Yet in particle physics, smiles turn upside down and presenters shuffle about uncomfortably as they say, "As you can see, the Standard Model accounts for all our data over umpteen gazillion orders of magnitude." That is a magnificent achievement and should be celebrated. Instead, it is being treated like ashes in the mouth.The problem is that the Standard Model, which is a messy, lumpy, completely unlovely, unsatisfying, and fails to meet any concept of "that seems right" keeps turning out to be... right. Which kind of limits the magic solutions to be dug from particle physics in the future. Darn it.