Saturday, August 14, 2010

Read Stuff, You Should

I think Michael Tomasky starts off this piece with a good insight about how Democratic and Republican pols act towards their core supporters.  But from there, I think it takes a couple of unfortunate turns.  First, while it's true that there are far more Americans who like to call themselves conservatives then there are those who like to call themselves liberals, in reality there's about the same number of each, and I don't really think that the self-identification thing really has many important effects.  Second, on the domestic policy side, I think it's just wrong to think that conservatives got mostly what they wanted during the last decade while Dems didn't even try to give liberals what they wanted in the last couple of years, at least as far as domestic issues are concerned.  I do think there's a story to be told here, but I don't think it's the one Tomasky is telling. 

On to the good stuff...but first, I don't think I've mentioned for a while, although you probably know this, that I don't necessarily agree with all of the pieces I link to in these.  In fact, I think I disagree with each of the suggestions made in the first piece below.   Just think they're worth reading, agree or not.

1.  Senate reform: Tim Fernholz has a truly outside-the-box  agenda.

2.  Remember that Top Secret America series in the WaPo?  Seems to have disappeared without a trace.  Shouldn't have.  Here's a reminder of some of what's at stake.

3.  Ezra Klein is exactly right on the politics of Elizabeth Warren.

4.  Jamelle Bouie on discrimination.  Adam Serwer on the crazy.  I'm always happy to laugh at Tom P. Baxter, Business Visionary.  Matt Yglesias on the context for the crazy.  And as long as I'm here, Brendan Nyhan on Yglesias's obsession, the Fed appointments.

5.  Don't think I ever linked to this excellent WaPo article on Obama's record on  gays & lesbians; now see David S. Bernstein on Obama's record on transgender issues.  Yes, elections really do matter.

6.  ...even if they leave the winners frustrated most of the time (see Tomasky above).  Jonathan Chait tries to explain it to them in a terrific post.

7.  Really, really enjoying Dylan Matthews's "Research Desk" posts over at Ezra Klein's place.  This one answers a question I've had for a while: how much stimulus has there been?  Other budget stuff: Stan Collender answers your deficit questions, and Yglesias on revenues.

8.  Kevin Drum on Google.

9.  Conor Friedersdorf on speed.

10.  And TPM's Eric Kleefeld reminds us of one of the real dangers pols sign up for.


  1. I'm five for five on Baxter's game. I won't spoil it, but most of the quotes have pretty clear tells. I guessed at one on stylistic grounds.

    I didn't do so well on 'Ann Coulter or Hitler?' I missed two (out of I forget how many, but I think it was ten). In that game style was more useful. Hitler just wrote longer, more elegant sentences. The two I missed were because of going with content over style.

  2. Isn't the more important "context for the crazy" the presence of a Democrat in the White House? Muslims have always been unpopular in the United States, and became only more so after 9/11. As far as I know, this sentiment (while widespread) is especially strong among conservatives and evangelical Christians.

    But George W. Bush avoided Islamophobic rhetoric, in large part because of his need as president not to alienate the world's billion Muslims. We also were occupying two overwhelmingly Muslim nations, where opposition to the dominant religion would be insane. It's also fair to say that George W. Bush seems to be a man genuinely without bigotry. (He appointed a Muslim as UN Ambassador, which now seems forgotten).

    This restrained GOP vitriol against Muslims, at least a little bit. But now there's no Republican in a responsible position to curb appeals to anti-Muslim sentiment, and Fox News, Newt Gingrich, etc., are free to engage in the crazy without worrying about the consequences.

    This reminds me of the fate of Joe McCarthy, only in reverse. As long as they were out of power, Republicans could benefit from indulging McCarthy's attacks on the State Department & sundry. But once Eisenhower was in the White House, and McCarthy refused to back off (and went after the military itself), he lost any use to the GOP, and especially a president who had to govern with the same foreign-policy bureaucracy that was under fire.

  3. The top secret America article was a bunch of nothing. No real analytical arguments were made, just sensationalism.

  4. Jonathan, thanks for an entertaining and thought-provoking post and series of links.

    I have one question sparked by Fernholz' Senate rules reform think piece. What is the history of the "hold"?

    I seem to recall somewhere in the Robert Byrd eulogies that Byrd at one time said that holds either did not exist, or were barely used when he first entered the Senate, and that it's only in recent decades that they've become common practice.

    If so, this seems to me a further argument for eliminating or severely limiting the custom of holds on nominations.

    (It's like the story of the newlywed who, when preparing a roast, cut off the end and placed that piece along the side of the roast before putting the roasting pan into the oven.

    When his wife asked why he did that, he said "Because that's how my mother always did it". When they asked his mother, she said, "That's how my mother always did it." When they asked his grandmother, she said, "I did it because my roasting pan wasn't long enough for a piece of meat big enough to feed the whole family."

    The moral of the story is: Some traditions were never meant to be traditions. Even if they were useful at one time, they no longer are today.)

  5. Massappeal,

    Here's the history:

  6. Thanks! (I knew I'd read it on a good blog....)


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