Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Sorry for the slow blogging today around here. Part of that is that I have a new column over at TNR talking about the State of the Union speech, in which I say more or less what Ezra Klein said in Wonkbook this morning. And today's Plum Line post was about economic confidence and the 2012 election.  But after you get to those, more good stuff:

1. Speaking of the SOTU, Matt Glassman has a nice essay up about the importance of the ceremonial aspects of the address. Well worth reading. I've been lucky enough to have attended one Joint Session presidential address, and I agree with Glassman: rituals of democracy are important.

2. And Politico has an incredibly cool word-graph of SOTU history. Fun.

2. Noah Smith reviews the GOP's version of economic history.

3. Gaffes, from Brendan Nyhan. No, he didn't commit a gaffe. He's explaining about them.

4. Oh, how about some Newt-bashing for a change. Ta-Nehisi Coates on Newt and race; Sarah Posner on Newt and religion;  Ginger Gibson on Newt and the press; and an interview with Newt's old department chair on Newt as an academic. Common theme: Newt's a fraud! Ah, but you knew that, didn't you?

5. David Dayen has a smart piece in which he points out that a big part of why people are using SNAP (food stamps) is because of...what Newt and the Republicans did when he was Speaker.

6. Smart, too: Andrew Sprung on Obama's foreign policy.

7. Mark Schmidt is absolutely right that liberals would be foolish to focus on a Constitutional amendment to "fix" Citizens United. Of course, regular readers will know that I'm for lots of money in elections -- I'm for partial public financing plus disclosure, or floors, not ceilings. But either way, the Constitutional amendment path isn't going to do anyone any good.

8. Sarah Kliff has a highly useful update on ACA implementation.

9. What Americans get wrong about taxes, from David Leonhardt.

10. What political big shots make on the lecture circuit. Hey, bookers: I'm way cheaper!

11. And an awesome "It Gets Better," but also a sad day: the demise of Lookout Records. This ain't no Mecca, indeed.


  1. I can't agree with you about "rituals of democracy".

    The ideal set of rituals for democracy would be ones that tear the President and the Congress DOWN to the level of ordinary citizens, not constantly pump them up. "Hail to the Chief", standing when the President enters the room, announcing his entrance twice, are things that send the message that this guy is a king who is superior to the rest of us.

    A better ritual would be to have the President enter with the Congress and the public completely ignoring him, until he is ready to speak, and then shutting up and paying attention only then. The same way any ordinary committee witness would be treated before Congress.

    Similarly, a good ritual would be to make Obama take a body scan and a pat-down search every time he gets on Air Force One. The point is to try to subject politicians to as much of the indignity of being ordinary citizens as possible, both to let them know that they aren't important and also to ensure that they don't impose rules on the rest of us that they would never live by.

  2. Jonathan:

    Your pointer to the Politico word-graph piece is actually linking to Brendan's CJR article right now.

  3. That "It's Get Better" video (#11 on your list) is totally awesome. A great pick-me-up for a bad day.

  4. I have family obligations, but the Snyder article on why we silly idealists should just shut up and accept that our betters will provide some slight amelioration of the flood of truly disgusting ads (on all sides) without actually affecting the power of the corporate elite to buy airtime AND politicians, requires a serous reply with some research. Realistically, this may mean 3 weeks or more from now, on the forum of my namesake website, I'm not a spring chicken anymore and my 3 jobs & my family are very demanding.

    Those who actually desire serious political reform created by and for the 99% are recommended to follow the Move to Amend activist group and radio host Thom Hartmann, and to ignore Snyder and those (unfortunately including our host here) who try to scare us off a grassroots Constitutional Amendment campaign -- one of the few things in American history that has been proven to cause major shakeups of tired political establishments, though it may take twenty years or more to see the changes. (However some of us have been working on this one, corporate personhood, since the mid-90's, so really we could realistically look for success in five or seven years!)


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