Saturday, March 12, 2011

Meets Expectations

I read this brief blurb on Mitch Daniels' "doubling down" on the cultural war truce, and thought it was particularly shoddy piece of political prognostication. Whether or not Daniels is sufficiently socially conservative to win a GOP nomination, it's hardly the case that his dead-eyed focus on fiscal issues has no purchase in a GOP primary. But more broadly, the piece was written as a string of beltway cliches/conventional wisdom of dubious accuracy ("Much as Obama insists that international consensus trumps all other foreign policy concerns ..." Oh please.) written as if they were droplets of wisdom only a Seasoned Washington Post Reporter can tell you -- it just screamed hack.

And that was before I spotted the byline: Jennifer Rubin. I had thought it was just some smarmy WaPo analyst. Jennifer Rubin I already perceived as an idiot who wrote one of the more nakedly anti-Semitic hit pieces to appear in a mainstream publication in recent years. It's nicely validating that I still had this shudder of "I'm dealing with a moron" even before I saw it was written by someone I already detested.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Clearing the Box Roundup

Another day, another day I should have spent taking (or least studying for) finals.

* * *

Marc Lynch gives a good rundown of how the terrain has changed with respect to the Arab revolutions.

I meant to post this in the last roundup, but it slipped through -- Latoya Peterson on being the token Black woman in feminist circles.

Conservatives mock Keith Ellison for his heartfelt testimony about a Muslim first-responder who died on 9/11.

Most late-term abortions are the result either of late-appearing health problems, or lack of access to abortion services earlier during the pregnancy.

Jewish groups split on the Peter King Muslim radicalization hearings: The AJC lauded them, while they were subjected to harsh criticism by the ADL and the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism.

Dana Milbank calls the King hearings a "red scare".

Maryland Fails to do the Right Thing

In an apparent concession that they didn't have the necessary votes on the floor, the Maryland House of Delegates recommitted the bill which would legalize gay marriage, dashing hopes that this year we'd join civilized society in extended equal marriage rights to all couples.

Apparently, there is some murmers that this is merely a stalling action to try and rustle up more votes, but the majority consensus is that the bill is dead for the year. Governor Martin O'Malley (D), who had pledged to sign the bill into law, has expressed his disappointment.

Maryland Gay Marriage Vote Coming Up

They still don't quite have the votes, apparently. A possible "friendly amendment" which would broaden the religious exemption to the bill may swing the balance, but it would require sending the bill back to the State Senate.

Do the right thing, Maryland.

Just Don't

Black elementary school student forced to be a "slave" in a school slave auction (Via).
A history teacher at Chapelfield Elementary School apparently held a mock slave auction as a means of explaining the history of slavery to students. The class was divided into two sections: “Slaves” and “Masters”. There were only two African-American students in the classroom—one was assigned to be a “Master” and the other student, Nikko Burton, was told to be a “Slave”.

The 10 year-old was disciplined after he refused to participate in the re-enactment which involved pocking, prodding, and public humiliation.

I ended up being a slave,” Nikko told 10TVNews. “At first I didn’t care, but after people were bidding on people it kind of made me a little mad and stuff.”

The teacher told the students that they needed to touch the “Slaves” to see if they were worth being purchased.

“The masters go to touch people and do all sorts of stuff,” Nikko said. “They got to look in your mouth and feel your legs and stuff and see if you’re strong and stuff.”

Every once in awhile, I read a story like this (and by "like this", I mean literally a story where a Black student is forced to reenact being a slave) and I wonder -- how can a teacher be so dumb. And then it happens again.

Incidentally, I'm guessing that the Ohio state curricular requirements do require students to learn about slavery, but they don't require a mock auction.

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Not Finals Roundup

Jill's on vacation, and I'm not studying. Or blogging. Or doing anything remotely productive. I did walk to Chipotle.

* * *

Four soldiers who died while the media was drooling over Charlie Sheen.

The Islamic radicalization hearings that could have been held, if the committee was chaired by someone serious about Homeland Security, rather than a terrorist sympathizer looking to project.

T-Paw plays footsie with birthers. It's becoming a necessity in the GOP primary -- a majority of likely Republican primary voters don't believe Obama was born in the USA (and another 21% aren't sure).

T.A. Frank on Zuhdi Jasser.

That the New York Times won't call waterboarding torture -- at least, when the US is the one doing it -- is nothing more than cowardice in the face of ginned-up controversy.

Just Like Health Care

I thought I wrote a post making this point earlier, but now it looks like I never actually hit "publish" (here it is, in case you're interested). Anyway, I too share Matt Yglesias' point that there is something admirably savvy in the Wisconsin GOP slamming through its union busting bill without regard for procedural niceties or the growing political backlash they're facing. This is what I wrote in the other post:
I'd be interested to see if Democrats play the same game [as the GOP did on health care reform]. If you have momentum, don't let the GOP off the hook. Characterize everything as renewed union-busting, the kissing cousin of the radical Scott Walker proposals (how do we know they're extreme? Because real, heartland Americans are protesting them!). No compromises, no mercy -- just hammer it home, day after day: Republicans want to hurt teachers, police officers, and firemen. They want only the middle class to sacrifice while the fatcats get tax breaks. On and on -- a drum beat of progressive fury that does to the GOP what the Tea Party did to us.

Of course, there were many voices within the Democratic Party during the health care debate that understood precisely what was happening, and urged Democrats to actually take a maximalist position. After all, if you're going to get blamed for it anyway, you might as well get some of the sweet with the bitter -- a genuinely ambitious, single-payer health care system. And one wonders if Republicans are keen enough to adopt this strategy -- if they're going to get raked over the coals regardless, they might as well please their corporate clients and blow up the unions.

I think that's precisely the dynamic we're seeing, up to and including the GOP's relatively greater savvy in taking the sweet with the bitter.

Of course, now the action turns to the recall election, where Wisconsin Democrats are hyper-energized. I think this could be a turning point for liberal fortunes in America. But I also think that, from a GOP anti-union perspective, they were right to pass this law. It's tougher to pass legislation than it is to undo it, and the reason you want legislative majorities is to pass legislation. When you get an opportunity, take it.

UPDATE: That being said, and again like with health care, it would have been wiser for Republicans to do this right away, rather than dither around about it. If you're going to go maximalist, you might as well do it right away. If you're not willing to compromise, then there's no point in waiting and letting the public mood sour on you.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The GOPs Anti-Muslim Turn

A CNN article begins with a Muslim Republican wondering how his Party went from the one gaining a majority of Muslims votes to one falling over itself to attack Muslims of all stripes. Rep. Peter King (R-NY), ironically perhaps the only member of Congress to have openly declared his support for a terrorist organization, is leading a federal witch hunt of supposed domestic Islamic radicalization -- despite the fact that his core argument (that Muslims haven't been cooperating with American law enforcement) is disputed by, well, all major branches of American law enforcement. And Tennessee is considering a law that more or less criminalizes being Muslim (reading the bill text, incidentally, it is clear that it criminalizes both belief and conduct).

It's sickening. It's the sort of thing that humiliates me as an American.

Tuesday, March 08, 2011

The Green Peril

Obama celebrates St. Patrick's Day. Obama's got Irish roots: his great-great-great grandfather reportedly left Ireland for New York in 1850.

And Adam Serwer proceeds to knock it out of the park with a post entitled "Obama's Irish Anti-Colonialism":
I would love to know more. What I know is troubling enough. And one thing that I do know is his having grown up raised by his Irish-American mother, his view of the Brits, for example, is very different than the average American. When he gave the bust back to the Brits--the bust of Winston Churchill--it was a great insult to the British. But then if you think about it, his perspective as growing up in Dublin with an Irish mother and grandfather, their view of the Irish Republican Army is very different than ours because he probably grew up hearing that the British were a bunch of imperialists who persecuted his grandfather.

I have said many times, publicly, that I do think Obama has a different worldview and I think it is, in part, molded out of a very different experience. Most of us grew up going to Boy Scout meetings and, you know, our communities were filled with Rotary Clubs, not pubs serving cream stout. Again, I am not saying he's not a citizen, I've never said that, I've said the opposite. I've never said he's a Catholic. I wish people would ask, though, does this president have a different worldview than any other president in the history of the United States?

Ta-Nehisi Coates has a good post up where he was taken to task by his readers for being insufficiently harsh on Governor Huckabee. As absurd as the whole "Kenyan anti-Colonialism" meme is even on its face, it only gets more so when one digs in. Aside from the basic point that America was founded on anti-British anti-colonialism, the folks involved in the Mau Mau rebellion were of a different (and rival) tribe to that belonged to by Obama's grandfather. It's difficult to figure out how Obama -- raised by his White mother in (mostly) Hawaii, was supposed to have inherited a worldview from the African father he barely met on a conflict his family was never involved in on a continent he had scarcely even seen except via some uncritical lumping together of all things dark.

And Serwer's parody is so brilliant precisely because it lays the racial qualities of this whole discourse out so starkly. In modern America (in admittedly some shift from the 1960 election), it is patently absurd to think that just because someone is of Irish descent, they have some radical anti-colonial worldview. And, to the extent we think about Ireland's struggles throwing off anti-colonialism, we're generally positive towards it, whereas when Kenyans do it it's symbolic of the collapse of civilization as we know it.

Not a Typo

If I had to pick the perfect name for a Republican agricultural commissioner, it would obviously be "Richie Farmer" (R-KY). But potential GOP KY attorney general nominee Todd P'Pool? How is that not a typographical error?

Monday, March 07, 2011

Dreams of Palin

I had a dream a few weeks ago, where Sarah Palin won the Republican presidential nomination, then proceeded to get trounced by Obama in the general. Obama won all fifty states, then broke out snickering in the section of his victory speech where he tried to congratulate his opponent "on a well-fought campaign."

Obviously, that's not going to happen -- even if the GOP does nominate Palin, Obama won't run the table. But how well will he do? Palin consistnetly underperforms the rest of the GOP field in head-to-head matchups against the President. A recent batch of polls has Obama up 4 against "generic Republican" in Pennsylvania, and up 7 against Mitt Romney, but thrashing Palin by 28. In Wisconsin, it's a similar story: Mike Huckabee is the closest GOP contender (down 7), while Palin trails by 19.

It makes me wonder what the floor really is. Obviously we have the 27% crazification factor, but seriously -- what states are in play in a hypothetical Palin campaign? It makes me want to see polls of Idaho, Utah, and Alabama -- just for my own sense of curiosity.

Meanwhile, I'm also genuinely curious as to whether Palin will run or not. I actually think she has no shot at a GOP nomination -- it seems it is beginning to penetrate even amongst the base that she's toxic. And Palin doesn't exactly strike me as the sort to handle defeat magnanimously -- I can definitely see her as the type who would prefer not to even contest the nomination rather than face the stigma of being humiliated in crushing defeat. On the other hand, she's not exactly self-aware, so maybe she doesn't realize just how precarious her standing is? I don't know.

Sunday, March 06, 2011


You can sanction litigants for making frivolous legal claims. I wonder: Assuming Tennessee passes its patently unconstitutional proposed ban on Shariah law, would that extend to any state defense of the law in court?

I mean, talk about your slam-dunks under the First Amendment. This baby not only is sect-discriminatory (a major constitutional no-no), but it directly criminalizes religious belief. You couldn't come up with an easier case if you tried. Indeed, you couldn't have a Free Exercise clause that didn't strike down this law.