Friday, December 14, 2012

Vaccine conspiracists

New poll finds vaccine conspiracism slightly more common among those who identify as Republican than those who identify as Democrats.

The different parts of the fiscal slope

EPI, from September, explains which parts of the fiscal slope are most significant in terms of immediate economic drag. This shows how looking at the total dollar numbers -- where the quantity of the expiring tax cuts is far larger than the quantity of cuts under the sequester -- leads our thinking a bit astray, I think (or at least it was leading mine astray).

NYT on torture

Michael Calderone looks at how the NYT is more willing to call waterboarding and other torture torture now that the Bush Administration is over.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Administration's horrible record on judges, part 214

Robert Kuttner's look at the sad history of the Obama administration's record on judicial appointments is perhaps even more depressing than these articles usually are. The White House incompetence is impressive.

I think the judicial nominations is one episode of the bigger story of  is the Obama administration doing what it thinks it needs to do right now, and neglecting the future. It's not good. I wrote about this last year in the context of the White House adopting right-wing economic messaging. They thought that's what the needed to do for the short term (I think that was incorrect), but the bigger problem was the long term damage they do to the case for progressive governance. I'd feel at least a bit better about the trade-off if it were clear that it is in fact a trade-off.

The judicial appointments problem, which is mostly a problem in the longer term (screw over future generations), is also one in the shorter term. That is, the Administration's failure to move the DC circuit somewhat left, for example, will likely hurt some of the Administration's own accomplishments, when the conservative judges at the court block agency rules. Not good.

The Public Editor

It bears noting that in Margaret Sullivan, we have a NYT public editor who on a range of issues just seems to get it. Her work on false balance persists, and she recently scored a huge victory by shaming the paper into sending a report to cover the Bradley Manning pre-trial hearing, leading to a front-page story. The possibility for progress here is immense.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Roger Cohen busted

Turns out Roger Cohen's unfortunate column the other day about how social media is for dweebs has another problem: he lifted the offending examples of oversharing that had supposedly so offended him and driven him to write the column from an old website, not from his real life.

(h/t Sam L).

Friday, December 07, 2012

Checking in on Mann / Orenstein

Dan Froomkin talks to Thomas Mann and Norm Orenstein, who used to get quoted constantly as right-ish thinkers, but now get less media attention after they dared say that the lies of the right far exceed the lies of the left. Also, they like to swear.

Wednesday, December 05, 2012


Kim Severson goes with "gifted me with" in today's NYT. Now "gifting" as opposed to "giving" is hardly new. And we may be losing that battle. But the "gifted me with" seems particularly icky to me. A quick search shows that "gifted me" has shown in the NYT a ton, while "gifted me with" has so far popped up just a few times.

But is the term particularly new? Search the internet and you find a lot. This person did some number crunching on it going back to the 90s. And "gifting me with" is not at all new. But it is icky.

Sunday, December 02, 2012

Political strategy lessons from people who get it done

Julia Preston's front pager on Saturday about the "Dreamers" who have played a huge part in changing the politics on immigration in the last few years is an inspiring read. I particularly like the moment when the White House freaks out because Marco Rubio is going to do better than them.

United We Dream pushes for what it wants, and seems to have little interest in an inside game. One bit from the article:
In a Washington church (since illegal immigrants could not enter the White House), Valerie Jarrett, the president’s senior adviser, and Cecilia Muñoz, the domestic policy adviser, insisted that Mr. Obama had no legal authority to issue an order granting deportation protection.

“With all due respect,” Ms. Praeli replied, “I disagree.”
So, the White House doesn't usually like it when people go tell the New York Times what was said in a conversation that they wanted to be private. Especially in cases where it makes the White House look not good, like this one.

The White House will be rather unhappy about this part of the article, among others. But when you're not playing an access game in the first place, that doesn't necessarily matter. In fact, in this case, it's almost certainly a plus.