Friday, March 29, 2013

TAL on disability

Haven't listened to it myself. But the left is pushing back hard on This American Life's piece on disability insurance.

Update: much more here.

NYC paid sick leave

This is a big deal. The NYT front-pager today explains the compromise deal, and recounts some of the history of Christine Quinn blocking the legislation, but eventually suffering under the costs of huge pressure and a tremendous campaign for it, and deciding to bargain.

I don't have a sense as to how good or not this compromise is on the scale of things. It sounds like there may be lessons to be learned here about sticking with a campaign and the possibilities for pressuring someone who is seeking office.

Monday, March 25, 2013

What politicians say matters, drones edition

Glenn Greenwald has written previously about how President Obama has taken extreme civil liberties violations, ones that received widespread criticism by liberals under Bush's presidency, and effectively mainstreamed them. What so much of the public once claimed to abhor the public now largely embraces, and this was largely the work of the Obama Administration. There are nuances, yes, but I think Greenwald is basically right about this.

Now David Weigel points out new polling on drones. It turns out that public opinion on has soured somewhat on them, and this coincided, Weigel argues, with Rand Paul bringing negative attention to the subject. (On this one, it seems harder to know exactly what part of it Paul caused, but I do think it's at least a significant part).

The point is this: what politicians say matters. Yes, it can be overstated, and the effects vary from issues to issue. On some things, like perhaps abortion, most people are fairly entrenched, so a President or member of congress isn't going to move things that much, presumably. With many other issues, such as drones, the public has less of an entrenched position.

And so maybe this is all an argument in favor of political grandstanding (which there is already lots of, obviously, but hardly in all of the ways I would like). And when a President or member of congress says "I can't move public opinion just by what I say!" remember that sometimes they can.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

NYT moves Iran-Contra into muddy territory

Peter Hart catches the NYT saying:
In the 1980s, Democrats harshly criticized President Ronald Reagan's attempts to arm Nicaraguan rebels.
The key word being "attempts" -- because back in reality, Reagan actually did arm the Contras.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Boston Phoenix

The Boston Phoenix announced today that it is ceasing publication.

While the alt weeklies in the bigger cities around the country are not what they once were, I think to this day many of them break a ton of stories and do news and commentary in a way that no one else does. And The Phoenix has certainly been part of that.

Call me skeptical that anyone is going to fill that gap in anywhere near the same way.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Mary Jo White

I said the other week that I was surprised Gretchen Morgenson seemed so optimistic about Mary Jo White, the SEC nominee. Looking back at it, maybe I was over-reading (misreading, I guess) her column, though.

And now in Sunday's paper, in looking at White's past, Morgenson is kind of unimpressed.

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Organizing for Action backs down

Kind of a big deal. After getting tons of criticism, the Obama Administration's advocacy group for Whatever The President Is For announces they won't be taking corporate donations.

Doesn't make the group great all of a sudden, and there's still room for influence by people with a lot of money. But, progress. And progress that wouldn't have happened without the backlash.

New WaPo ombud

The Washington Post is ending their ombudsman position. The Washington City Paper says: alright, then we are the new ombudsman.

Monday, March 04, 2013


Bill Keller continues his downhill trend, now claiming that Obama campaigned "on poll-tested tax hikes alone." Republican message, yes. What actually happened, no.