Dana Milbank on one way that this Congress is better than those that have come before.
I have here in my hand a list of six people who think Darrell Issa is a fellow traveler of Joseph McCarthy.Clearly, Milbank doesn't spend enough time watching them build statues to Issa on Fox News, or visit conservative blogs where the only complaint about Issa is that he's just not demagogy enough.
I compiled these names while watching Issa, chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, lead his panel’s proceedings Thursday to hold former IRS official Lois Lerner in contempt of Congress. Among the half-dozen Democrats who made the comparison:
“What we’re about today brings us right back to the McCarthy era,” Rep. Gerald Connolly (D-Va.) said.
Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) accused Issa of “stripping away the constitutional rights of an American” in a way that “has not been taken by Congress since the days of Senator McCarthy.”
The ranking Democrat on the panel, Elijah Cummings of Maryland, said Issa was attempting “something that even Joe McCarthy could not do in the 1950s.”
And Rep. John Tierney (D-Mass.) read aloud an opinion that “Issa’s investigations closely resemble Senator Joseph McCarthy’s 1950s red-baiting.”
“I have more, Mr. Chairman,” Tierney added.
Issa tapped his gavel and offered a sardonic reply: “And if you had more time, I’m sure you would use it.”
Sorry to interrupt this Red Scare rerun, but the Democrats are wrong. Darrell Issa is no Joe McCarthy.
It’s not for lack of trying. As I've noted, the California Republican, during his lamentable tenure running the committee, has been reckless, dishonest, vain and prone to making unsubstantiated accusations.
But Issa's McCarthyism is a faint echo of the real thing, for one very important reason. McCarthy was feared; Issa isn't taken seriously. This is a rare bit of good news about modern politics: It’s a bad time to be a demagogue.
There have been demagogues in all eras, but they gain traction only in times of fear, when would-be opponents are afraid to dissent. In McCarthy’s time, government and private-sector workers alike feared workplace loyalty tests, and lawmakers feared losing their jobs. “Even politicians who could see through McCarthy didn’t dare challenge him, because voters were voting people out who challenged McCarthy,” said Landon Storrs, a University of Iowa historian who wrote a book on the Red Scare.
There may be some who fear Issa, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) or other practitioners of neo-McCarthyism. But at least as many are unafraid to call these men dangerous or buffoons. This is largely because there is no enemy that poses the sort of threat the Soviet Union did. But there is also a felicitous side effect of the polarization of the two parties: Because there is no longer ideological overlap, as there was in the 1950s, Democrats are unafraid to challenge the likes of Issa.So there you go. A benefit to a Congress that never agrees on anything, is that at least no one is afraid to point out an idiot.
Let's see if anyone else has good news...
Ashley Parker breaks out the field guide to Republicans of North Carolina.
There is a Tea Party candidate who talks about the Constitution and has the backing of Senator Rand Paul. There is a Baptist pastor, endorsed by Mike Huckabee, who wears a “Jesus First” lapel pin and has led the fight against same-sex marriage. And there is a Republican state lawmaker — supported by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and $1 million from Karl Rove’s American Crossroads group — standing up for the party establishment.Just how is that tea-stained state house working out for North Carolina?
In the high-profile Republican primary for Senate here, the divisions that are gripping the party nationally are playing out powerfully, expensively and often very messily. And, after haunting losses in 2012 in which far-right Senate candidates prevailed in primaries only to collapse in the general election, the Republican establishment is determined to stifle the more radical challengers.
The Senate race comes at a time when the state’s political identity is in flux. North Carolina is an increasingly purple state — Barack Obama narrowly won it in 2008, and Mitt Romney carried it in 2012. The combination of Research Triangle Park, with its investments in biotechnology and medical research; a strong university system; and Charlotte’s banking and financial centers has attracted an influx of new residents. Yet at the same time, the Statehouse is trending conservative, with Republicans controlling the governor’s office and both houses of the legislature for the first time in more than a century.
...Thom Tillis, the speaker of the North Carolina House... has attracted the most money from the Republican donor and business class. ...So, North Carolina Republicans, Vote Tillis... if, you know, you can vote after the legislature has worked so hard to stop nasty old democracy.
While Mr. Tillis is viewed as the favorite of mainstream Republicans, he is far from moderate: Under his leadership, the legislature passed broad restrictions on voting, rejected the Medicaid expansion provided under President Obama’s health care law and passed an amendment to ban same-sex marriage, among other measures.
Maureen Dowd takes a week off from her mean girl shtick to praise the future king of late night.
I don't remember much about being on Stephen Colbert’s show.Maureen also recognizes what we're giving up in this exchange.
It all passed in a blur of fear.
I remember him coming into the makeup room to remind me that he was going to be in character as a jerk.
I remember that he held up my book about gender and asked if it was “soft-core porn.”
I remember he asked me if I wanted to hold his Peabody and I told him I did, so he jumped up to grab the TV award from the mantel.
The experience reminded me of a 1937 musical called “A Damsel in Distress,” where Fred Astaire guided Joan Fontaine, clearly not a dancer, around a lawn, soaring for both of them.
Colbert was as quicksilver with his wit as Fred was with his feet. And like Astaire’s more talented partner Ginger Rogers, who had to dance backward and in heels, Colbert was doing two things at once that were very hard. He was dazzling as a satirist and improv comedian while mimicking a buffoonish right-wing broadcaster.
Jon Stewart once described the level of difficulty to me this way: “It’s as though you’re doing your show in Portuguese.”
The reason “The Colbert Report” worked, Stewart said, when I interviewed the two comics for Rolling Stone in 2006, was that Colbert could act like an obnoxious egoist, but his “basic decency can’t be hidden.”
Colbert is witty and a good interrogator without being twisted, as Johnny Carson was.
And it’s a sad double blow, after all. It’s not only Letterman who’s retiring, but the blowhard doppelgänger of Colbert.Much as we will all miss Stephen Colbert, I can't wait to meet this other guy... Stephen Colbert.
Carson was the Walter Lippmann of comedy, wielding enormous influence over the reputations of politicians he mocked. Stewart and Colbert took it a step further. They became Murrow and Cronkite for a generation of young viewers.
And hey, if someone else could be James Bond once Sean Connery moved on, why can't someone else step into the Brooks Brother's suit of that other Stephen Colbert? I nominate our own KagroX... he already has the glasses and he's been playing that David Waldman character for years.
Ross Douthat demonstrates that for Republicans, the word "elite" remains a synonym of "educated."
What the [Brendan Eich and Ayaan Hirsi Ali] cases illustrate, with their fuzzy rhetoric masking ideological pressure, is a serious moral defect at the heart of elite culture in America.Look, Ross, let's ignore for the moment that you've lumped together an essay by an undergrad at one college, a dispute over an honorary degree at another, and the actions of a private company in your desire to prove a grand conspiracy. Let's ignore the idea that money and power have nothing to do with being a member of the "elite" but being a college sophomore solidly locks you into that rarefied strata. Let's ignore all the Jell-o on which you constructed your arguments. The truth is, what you're asking for is just... stupid.
The defect, crucially, is not this culture’s bias against social conservatives, or its discomfort with stinging attacks on non-Western religions. Rather, it’s the refusal to admit — to others, and to itself — that these biases fundamentally trump the commitment to “free expression” or “diversity” affirmed in mission statements and news releases.
This refusal, this self-deception, means that we have far too many powerful communities (corporate, academic, journalistic) that are simultaneously dogmatic and dishonest about it — that promise diversity but only as the left defines it, that fill their ranks with ideologues and then claim to stand athwart bias and misinformation, that speak the language of pluralism while presiding over communities that resemble the beau ideal of Sandra Y. L. Korn.
No matter how you might wish it, academia is not going to accept climate change denials on the same level as climate scientists who point out the danger. They're not going to accept creationism as equivalent to evolution. They're not going to buy into fantasies that paint every Muslim as a violent terrorist. They're not going to accept that homosexuals are inherently evil or inherently deserving of fewer rights than heterosexuals. That's not because academia has a secret code of liberalism. It's because academia has a very open and public adherence to evidence. to facts, to reality. So long as conservative means "in denial of the basic facts about the world" you can bet it will find little purchase at serious universities.
Diversity does not mean that falsehoods are given the same weight as facts. And if in your mind "elite" means "stubbornly clings to facts," I can live with that.
Frank Bruni has a problem with the pay gap, and with how it's presented.
Decades into the discussion about how to ensure women’s equality, we have a culture that still places a different set of expectations and burdens on women and that still nudges or even shames them into certain roles.But wait. That doesn't mean the gap is imaginary.
There was too little recognition of that last week at the White House, where President Obama practiced the timeless political art of oversimplification, reducing a messy reality into a tidy figure and saying that working women make only 77 cents for every dollar that working men earn. He left the impression that this was principally the consequence of direct discrimination in the form of unequal pay for the same job.
Some of it is, and that’s flatly unacceptable.
But most of it isn’t. And the misuse of the 77-cent statistic could actually hurt the important cause of giving women a fair shake, because it allows people who don’t value that goal a way to discredit those of us who do, and because it gives short shrift to dynamics that must be a part of any meaningful, truthful, constructive discussion.
The 77-cent figure speaks to the earnings of all women and all men classified as full-time workers. But it doesn’t adjust for the longer hours that such men generally work. It doesn’t factor in the paychecks of the many men and women who are employed part time.
When all of that comes into play and hourly income is calculated, women make 84 cents for every dollar that men do, according to the Pew Research Center. Even that 16-cent difference, though, isn’t entirely about women earning less money for the same work. It’s influenced by many factors, including the greater percentage of women who slow down their careers because of child-rearing responsibilities and fall behind.
To wit: Among younger women, many of whom have yet to hit that pause button, the hourly “wage gap” is 93 cents on the dollar, according to Pew’s number crunching. Other analyses reach similar conclusions.
In the White House, women made 88 cents for every dollar that men did last year, according to a review by the conservative American Enterprise Institute, and salaries there are determined by hierarchical rank, not managerial discretion. What created the gap wasn't unequal pay for equal work; it was a concentration of women in lower positions. Jay Carney, the White House press secretary, explained this as if it were some sort of exoneration, when it merely raises other, bigger questions. At 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue and elsewhere, why are so many women at the bottom?Okay, I withdraw my nomination. Maybe Lizz Winstead or Katie Halpar could play the next Colbert. Or maybe Negin Farsad. She's already worked with Jon Stewart... and she has the glasses.
Patriarchies, like old habits, die hard. In many arenas, we’re simply accustomed to being led by men. It’s our default, our fallback. With Stephen Colbert’s appointment last week to replace David Letterman, we've continued a period of intense shuffling of the late-night chairs, and each one that belonged to a man went to another man. Chelsea Handler is ending her own show; the days when Joan Rivers was a guest host for Johnny Carson are long gone; and on the major networks around midnight, it’s a boys’ club. Women get to tuck in the children, but not the national television audience.
The New York Times warns that for many who "failed to start" up the economic ladder during the Great Recession, recovery is just a word.
The Federal Reserve, increasingly optimistic about the economy, is dialing back its stimulus efforts. The International Monetary Fund has raised its forecast for growth in the United States. Congress has long since reduced aid to the economy, with many lawmakers, mostly Republicans, adamant that the economy is better off with less government involvement.My son, who has collected a trio of degrees while chasing anything that looks like a steady job, is squarely in the middle of this age range... and still chasing anything that looks like a steady job.
The official line is clear: The worst is over, and recovery has given way to expansion.
But that’s not the whole story. Economic gains so far have mostly benefited those at the top of the income and wealth ladder. Worse, future growth is likely to be lopsided, because the foundation for broad prosperity is arguably the weakest it has been since World War II.
Take, for example, Americans age 25 to 34, the leading edge of the so-called millennials, the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s. They are worse off than Gen Xers (born from the mid-1960s to the late-1970s) were at that age and the baby boomers before them by nearly every economic measure — employment, income, student loan indebtedness, mobility, homeownership and other hallmarks of “household formation,” like moving out on their own, getting married and having children.
Katlheen Parker doesn't quite follow the Limbaugh Line in declaring war on CBS.
In selecting Stephen Colbert to replace David Letterman as host of its “Late Show,” CBS has waged war on America’s heartland — or so proclaims that Palm Beach font of heartland mirth, Rush Limbaugh.Wait. If we had Bill O'Reilly replace say... maybe that guy who sells knives at 2AM, would he also drop his "shtick to present an exaggerated impression of a conservative talk show host?" I'd kind of like to see that.
But wait, there’s more. CBS also must be waging war on Asian Americans since a Twitter activist who calls herself Angry Asian Woman called for an end to “The Colbert Report” late last month following a joke she didn’t like.
Apparently, Colbert, in his pretend role as a loudmouthed, conservative blowhard (keep guessing), made a crack about the “Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever” in response to the new Washington Redskins Original American Foundation created by team owner Dan Snyder, who refuses to change the Redskins name. It was satire, folks.
If you have to explain a joke . . . you may be living in post-humor America. ...
Here’s the thing, and I say this with all due respect: Colbert is a comedian whose shtick is to present an exaggerated impression of a conservative talk show host. He’s a character! Sort of like, spoiler alert, Bill O’Reilly.
To put it plainly, the fellow who will be sitting in the “Late Show” chair is nothing like the character on the “Repor(t),” which is both a delightful and grievous prospect. Many will mourn the exit of Comedy Central’s Colbert, but millions more will celebrate his new role. Having met the real-life Colbert, the lad who grew up in Charleston, S.C., I’m confident viewers will find him every bit the Everyman as was all-time favorite Johnny Carson.
Leonard Pitts begs for relief from CNN.
Dear CNN:Has CNN covered the theory that CNN took the plane in order to give CNN something to talk about? It's a lot more credible than black holes, alien abduction, and supernatural hoodoo. So, CNN, take a look behind those holographic doodads and see if there's a plane hiding back there.
Please, for the love of Cronkite: Give us a break from the missing plane. Yes, we all wonder what happened to it. Yes, our hearts go out to the families seeking resolution. But really, CNN . . . enough. Put your hands up and step away from the story.
I’m in the doctor’s office the other day, right? I’m waiting for my missus and the TV is on and I’m half watching, half reading and you’re covering the plane. And time passes. And you’re covering the plane. And commercials intervene and you come back and you’re covering the plane. And my wife comes out and it’s time to go and it’s been a solid hour and you’re still covering the plane. Nothing but the plane.
I’m on your website maybe six times a day, CNN, grazing for news. Have you had another lead story in the last month? Has nothing else of importance happened to any of 7.1 billion people on this planet?
ScienceDaily covers a small, distant discovery...
Titan, Europa, Io and Phobos are just a few members of our solar system's pantheon of moons. Are there are other moons out there, orbiting planets beyond our sun?Well, we might get another chance if NASA makes some progress on that warp drive. But really, the idea of exomoons shouldn't be surprising. In just the last decade we've discovered that planets are far more common than we once suspects, and that planetary systems come in varieties we never predicted when using the Solar System as our only example. No doubt moons are equally plentiful, and equally exotic.
NASA-funded researchers have spotted the first signs of an "exomoon," and though they say it's impossible to confirm its presence, the finding is a tantalizing first step toward locating others. The discovery was made by watching a chance encounter of objects in our galaxy, which can be witnessed only once.
"We won't have a chance to observe the exomoon candidate again," said David Bennett of the University of Notre Dame, Ind., lead author of a new paper on the findings appearing in the Astrophysical Journal. "But we can expect more unexpected finds like this."
Meanwhile, Ross Douthat is steamed that NASA hasn't hired anyone to express the theory that stars are just pinholes in the divine firmament.