But first, strike up the steel guitar as we yodel three verses of the Saga of Cliven Bundy and the Case of Conservative Contradictions.
Dana Milbank plucks the common thread between those wrongly called militia and those rightly called racists.
Nevada cattle rancher Cliven Bundy knows how to start a stampede.Why should Rand be offended? There are plenty of worse statements in poppa Ron Paul's newsletters. In fact, Bundy and Paul really seem cut from the same cloth.
After Bundy, who became a right-wing hero for his refusal to acknowledge the authority of the federal government, wondered aloud about whether “Negro” people were “better off as slaves,” conservative figures who had celebrated his cause rushed to distance themselves from him.
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who had condemned the federal government’s attempt to enforce court orders against Bundy: “Offensive.”
Bundy boosters are right to be appalled, but they should not be shocked.States rights is the dog-whistle that racists have been tooting ever since the Civil War. All Bundy did was sing the words instead of just humming the tune.
The anti-government strain of thought that Bundy advanced has been intertwined with racist and anti-Semitic views over several decades. Not all people who resist the authority of the federal government are motivated by race, of course, and not all racists are anti-government. But there is a long symbiosis between the two. ...
In general terms, Bundy’s notion of state supremacy — “I don’t recognize the United States government as even existing” — is a variant of states’-rights claims that go back to the Civil War and were revived in the segregationists’ opposition to civil rights laws. Because the federal government has been the protector of minority rights, states’ rights have long been used to justify discrimination.
Maureen Dowd also goes out on the range with Republicans for Bundy.
When a cranky anarchist in a cowboy hat starts a sentence saying “I want to tell you one more thing I know about the Negro,” you can be dang sure it’s going downhill from there.Once again, see the years of silence that followed publications of Ron Paul's racist newsletters. Only when he was putting his face on signs with the word "for president" did other Republicans deign to notice that Ron Paul was cracking jokes about Black riots only being quelled by welfare checks.
The unsettling thing about Nevada rancher Cliven Bundy’s ugly rant on the Virgin River on Saturday, The Times’s Adam Nagourney told me, was that there was no negative reaction from the semicircle of gun-toting and conspiracy-minded supporters who had gathered round to hear it. The oblivious 67-year-old Bundy, who has refused for 20 years to pay for his cattle to graze on our land, offered a nostalgic ode to slavery.
And hey, see the entire Ronald Wilson Reagan campaign, much of which was predicated on building disdain for blacks.
The man hailed as a “savior” and “folk hero” by Fox News doubled down Thursday, declaring: “Cliven Bundy’s a-wondering” if the black community was happier during slave days when “they was in the South in front of their homes with their chickens and their gardens and their children around them and their men having something to do.” ...Republicans believe in segregation... of past from present. Reminding them of anything said before the latest press conference is a violation of their right to pretend they've always been consistent.
Conservatives saw no hypocrisy in rallying around Bundy for breaking the law, refusing to pay between $1 and $2 a month per cow to graze on federal land, while they refuse to consider amnesty for illegal immigrants committing Acts of Love.
Kathleen Parker pulls out cleaning supplies for the rest of the GOP.
...One day, Bundy was the new face for conservative opposition to federal expansionism, 2014’s Joe the Plumber, a human metaphor for the last man armed and standing for freedom against the superior forces of federal agents.Thinking? Errr... since when is that a requirement? Bring it home for your fellow Republicans, Kathleen.
Then, cue funeral dirge, Bundy wandered off-script and spoke his fevered mind. The tall, Stetson-topped Bundy wondered whether African Americans weren’t better off as slaves picking cotton than living on the plantation of government subsidy. The hook, the hook! Where’s that dadgum hook?! ...
Obviously, there was no defending Bundy’s remarks. Pundits and politicians, including most notably Sean Hannity, Sen. Rand Paul and Texas Gov. Rick Perry, quickly distanced themselves from the Bundy comments, though not, curiously, from his objections to the government’s authority over grazing lands.
Well, of course they would disavow racist remarks. But they also never should have aligned themselves with someone who not only flouts the law but also has armed himself against government agents, indicating his willingness to protest through violence.
Unfortunately for Bundy’s defenders, Bundy wasn’t Ben Cartwright and his boys defending the Ponderosa. He was the nameless half-wit who staggers out of the saloon, shooting up stars to stop the railroaders long after the train has left the station. ...
What were these conservative defenders thinking?
The GOP does not deserve to be indicted along with Bundy, but for too long the party has sown the wind by tolerating some of its less ennobled colleagues.Come on in. Let's see what else is up this morning.
Cliven Bundy is their whirlwind.
The New York Times looks into the Koch brothers war on sunshine.
At long last, the Koch brothers and their conservative allies in state government have found a new tax they can support. Naturally it’s a tax on something the country needs: solar energy panels.But wait, conservatives have maintained that taxes are super-evil. What could possibly make this tax acceptable?
For the last few months, the Kochs and other big polluters have been spending heavily to fight incentives for renewable energy, which have been adopted by most states. They particularly dislike state laws that allow homeowners with solar panels to sell power they don’t need back to electric utilities. So they’ve been pushing legislatures to impose a surtax on this increasingly popular practice, hoping to make installing solar panels on houses less attractive.
The coal producers’ motivation is clear: They see solar and wind energy as a long-term threat to their businesses. That might seem distant at the moment, when nearly 40 percent of the nation’s electricity is still generated by coal, and when less than 1 percent of power customers have solar arrays. (It is slightly higher in California and Hawaii.) But given new regulations on power-plant emissions of mercury and other pollutants, and the urgent need to reduce global warming emissions, the future clearly lies with renewable energy. In 2013, 29 percent of newly installed generation capacity came from solar, compared with 10 percent in 2012.Ah, I see. The tax is okay because it supports the central tenant of the modern conservative movement: hypocrisy is good.
Ross Douthat wants to send the Pope to Catholic school.
...there may be trouble ahead.So, the Pope... Just to be clear here, that would be the Pope, gave a woman married to a divorced man permission to take communion. Sounds like a nice move. But in Douthat land, it's another example of the Pope being insufficiently Catholic. Douthat examines several possibilities, and determines that in the worst case... the Pope might forgive even more people!
... an alleged papal phone call, reported on somewhat confusedly last week, to an Argentine woman who was seeking permission to take communion despite being married to a divorced man, a situation the church considers adultery unless the man’s original marriage were annulled.
According to the husband, who wrote about the phone call on Facebook, Pope Francis gave permission for the woman to do so.
There is also a third perilous scenario, even if my own assumptions about the nature of the church tend to rule it out. Francis could actually be considering a truly major shift on remarriage and communion, in which the annulment requirement is dispensed with and (perhaps) a temporary penance is substituted.Explicit words that, like the Pope's, were spoken to a single woman — a woman who was herself divorced and remarried multiple times under a system that no longer exists. These days, with nearly half of marriages ending in divorce (and many fewer people getting married in the first place) it might seem like time to reexamine a policy that distances millions from the church. But hey, Douthat always seems ready to lead the charge of People Against Forgiveness. Just don't be surprised if it's a very small charge.
Such a shift wouldn’t just provoke conservative grumbling; it would threaten outright schism. The church has famous martyrs to the indissolubility of Christian marriage, and its teaching on divorce and adultery is grounded not just in tradition or natural law, but in the explicit words of Jesus of Nazareth.
David Leonhardt looks why fewer fat envelopes from the Ivy League are landing in kid's mailboxes this spring.
Ask just about any high school senior or junior — or their parents — and they’ll tell you that getting into a selective college is harder than it used to be. They’re right about that. But the reasons for the new found difficulty are not well understood.So, they're going overseas and bringing in disadvantaged kids? Ehhh... not so much.
Population growth plays a role, but the number of teenagers is not too much higher than it was 30 years ago, when the youngest baby boomers were still applying to college. And while many more Americans attend college than in the past, most of the growth has occurred at colleges with relatively few resources and high dropout rates, which bear little resemblance to the elites.
So what else is going on? One overlooked factor is that top colleges are admitting fewer American students than they did a generation ago. Colleges have globalized over that time, deliberately increasing the share of their student bodies that come from overseas and leaving fewer slots for applicants from the United States.
For American teenagers, it really is harder to get into Harvard — or Yale, Stanford, Brown, Boston College or many other elite colleges — than it was when today’s 40-year-olds or 50-year-olds were applying.
...the rise in foreign students has complicated the colleges’ stated efforts to make their classes more economically diverse. Foreign students often receive scant financial aid and tend to be from well-off families. For another thing, the country’s most selective colleges have effectively shrunk as far as American students are concerned, during the same span that many students and their parents are spending more time obsessing over getting into one.Well, so long as the legacy students still get in, no one is complaining. No one who counts.
Liza Mundy looks into the media, and finds it still an old boys club.
They were, to a man, men. All were white; all in their 40s or thereabouts... It was the mid-1990s, and I was interviewing at The Washington Post for the job of managing editor of the Sunday magazine. A morning of intimidating meetings with newsroom officials had given way to lunch with the magazine’s editors and elite staff writers.That last is a fairly astounding statistic. It shows not just how men outnumber women in the media, but how much more likely they are to receive big assignments.
... It’s been 20 years, but things haven’t changed as much as we might expect. A new report by the Women’s Media Center found that male reporters still accounted for 63 percent of bylines in the nation’s top 10 papers and about the same proportion of newsroom staff. All but one of the individual winners of Pulitzer Prizes in journalism this year were male.
Men’s dominance in the field tends to be highest in prestige or “hard” topics like politics, crime, business, technology and world affairs; women put up better numbers in “soft” subjects like education, lifestyle, culture and health. Male opinion columnists outnumber women by more than two to one at The Wall Street Journal, more than three to one at The Washington Post, and five to one at The New York Times.That's another jaw-droppingly awful fact. Sure, I complain about Maureen Dowd. How about we fix that by adding another female writer on the NYT opinion page. Hell, go crazy. Make it two.
ScienceDaily has one of those stories I always like to read.
New research published in Diabetologia (the journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes) shows that increasing coffee consumption by on average one and half cups per day (approx 360ml) over a four-year period reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes by 11%. The research is led by Dr Frank Hu and Dr Shilpa Bhupathiraju, Department of Nutrition, Harvard School of Public Health, Harvard University, Boston, MA, USA, and colleagues.My possibly biased view of diet research over the last five years: meat bad, wheat bad, milk bad... dark chocolate and coffee good.
But this study may not be as good as it sounds on the surface. As it turns out, it's the change in coffee consumption that seems to make a difference. Increasing it helps... but cutting back on coffee increases the risk. Coffee: once you've started, you don't dare stop.