Thursday, August 23, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Aaron Douglas, 41. I don't know whether I currently think that BSG had the best-ever cast performance in a TV show...I sometimes think it's Claudius. BSG's edge? How deep the great performances go. Douglas is a big part of that. Terrific performance.

Eye doctor this morning, so I'm not sure what kind of blogging pace I'll have, but there's plenty of good stuff:

1. Today's must-read: conservative columnist Philip Klein tells the truth about Todd Akin and the Republican Party -- and hopes that the blanket condemnation of Akin is the beginning of something new.

2. Today's other must-read: the great Ta-Nehisi Coates on race and Obama.

3. CJR's Jay Jones updates on the latest in fact-checking: fairness, not facts.

4. Matt Yglesias does a good job of explaining the ACA Medicare cuts. Really, the Romney position here is to be pro-waste, isn't it? I mean, there's a reason both Ryan and the Democrats wanted these cuts.

5. Ed Kilgore on welfare reform. Oh, and lazy mendacity: there's a link provided by the Republicans that he follows and finds that it undermines the case they're trying to make.

6. And this piece on tracking swearing around the US doesn't really deliver all that much, but is still well worth a look. From Megan Garber. While you're at it, see Alyssa Rosenberg on who (and where) is watching gay-inclusive television.


  1. I don't think Romney's position on Medicare reflects a pro-waste tendency so much as a pro-pandering tendency.

    Of course, that goes along with a tendency to distort. I just caught a clip of Romney going on about how Europe has to endure austerity now because years of spending beyond its means had put the continent into its current crisis. That's true of Greece, but that's about it. He focused on Spain's unemployment rate of about 25%, but the fact is that Spain's budget was in surplus until the crisis hit. So was Ireland's. Their crisis was brought on by a real-estate bubble and unregulated banks, just like ours, not by deficit spending. By the way, the countries with the most developed welfare states aren't Greece and Spain, they're countries like Germany and the Netherlands, which are still faring better than the others.

    1. I don't think Romney's position on Medicare reflects a pro-waste tendency so much as a pro-pandering tendency.

      Yeah, I think it actually gives Romney too much credit to call him "pro-waste." I doubt if he's wasted five seconds of his life thinking about what the outcome of all these Medicare proposals might be. He's going to talk about Medicare in whatever terms he needs to in order to increase his chances of being elected.

      And I would bet you ten bucks that if Romney does become president, anything he said about Medicare during the campaign will be completely forgotten, both by his own governing team and by his supporters.

  2. That's a great piece by Coates, and everyone should read it, but if I can nitpick one thing he says " [Jesse]Jackson’s [1988 Presidential] campaign moved the Democratic nominating process toward proportional allocation of delegates..." This is a bit of an oversimplification. Feel free to jump in if you guys are aware of any significant changes in delegate rules between 1989 and 1992, but I don't think there were many, if any. And don't forget the other aspects of the 1988 nomination cycle that probably influenced this, if it did in fact occur, namely Al Gore's wining of seven states to Jackson's nine plus DC and the small but not insignificant showing of Dick Gephardt's three states and Paul Simmon's one. The point is a whole bunch of candidates got a lot of votes and that shouldn't be forgotten, it might have become the Duke vs Jackson in the end, but in the beginning it was very different. What "moved the Democratic nominating process towards proportional allocation" was the George McGovern chaired reform committee between 1969 and 1972 and the introduction of these new rules in the 1972 cycle, although the system in 1972 was still a hybrid between winner takes all in some states and PR based schemes in others. As well as the 1984 nomination cycle that produced a close split between Walter Mondale and Garry Hart with Jackson winning two states and DC as well.

  3. Kilgore misses the key point on requiring work for welfare, which is that requiring welfare mothers to take minimum wage, unpleasant jobs rather than collect checks reduces the incentive for young women from poor backgrounds to have babies as teenagers, and has been accompanied by a sharp decline in the teenage birth rate. If you allow people on welfare to get a community college or college diploma paid for by the taxpayers while receiving welfare, something not given to low income citizens who don't go on welfare, you encourage more people to get on welfare to obtain such benefits. The genius of welfare reform as passed by Congressional Republicans in 1996 was in insisting on tough work requirements as an inducement for people to avoid becoming welfare cases.

  4. Sorry, but I don't buy Philip Klein's argument, it would be lovely if true, but I doubt it.

    Otoh, I am in the middle of TNC's must read, and I can only say that it is truly the only "must read" that is such a thing. As a white man who lived in the black community for my last 10 years in the U.S. I can only say that it makes me miss sitting on my friend Bernard's porch talking about life because Bernard understood things that most white people never even consider, even those in my new country, Sweden.

  5. Hey Jonathan,
    I appreciate link round-ups like these as much as the next reader, but did you know you could also post full articles in some cases (free)? check it out at
    Anyway, keep up the good work. Looking forward to more thoughts as we go into election 2012.

  6. I'd go with Deadwood or The Wire as the shows with the deepest casts.

  7. Coates' piece is a bit rambly, but forgivably so; I also recommend it as a must read. Been thinking a bit about race relations as racial terror intensifies in the runup to Obama's re-election bid.

    Thinking that race relations in a country like the US, particularly black-white relations (with all the baggage therein), is bound to "overpromise and underdeliver", because people of goodwill pin such high hopes on flashes of progress. The sixties are a great illustration of this.

    Reduce the Civil Rights revolution to two figures: MLK and Malcolm X. MLK was conciliatory, religious, "articulate". Malcolm X was from the mean streets and confrontational. As a result, people of goodwill placed their hopes in MLK, who was happy to oblige their aspirations. Malcolm X more or less remained on the fringe.

    People don't often say it, but surely a part of MLK's appeal came from whites not of goodwill, who saw King as a glorified house negro, marching on Washington cause Congress said it was okay. For those not of goodwill, King's iconic "I Have a Dream" speech probably sounded like "Why can't we all get along?" and "okay, maybe in the Jim Crow south the black man was mean to whitey too". Malcolm X was incredibly threatening to those same whites not of goodwill, with Malcolm's message of "we're here, we're asserting our rights, if you don't like it, go f*** yourself".

    Threatening or not, what's more quintessentially American than the Malcolm X approach? Its worth considering how things might have been different, how the disappointments Coates catalogs might have been lessened, had integration followed a more Malcolm X-approach, as opposed to an MLK-approach.

    The deadenders would have resisted the Malcolm X approach, sure. But resist is all deadenders can do. History is written by overcoming such resistance.


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