Category Archives: Democrats

Which is which?

There’s been plenty of fun made on the intertubes of the GOP relaunch of their site. Marc Ambinder gave us 10 reasons why the site was ‘fizzlin’;’ Greg Saunders at The Talent Show rounded up all the banner images, which gives us some insight into the demographics the party is going after; Sam Stein at the HuffPo picked apart the GOP’s insistence that Jackie Robinson is a Republican hero; Christopher Orr at The New Republic notes the silliness of the updated “future leaders” page; and a few laughs were had over Michael Steele’s inaugural post on his (renamed) blog in which he informed us that the internet ‘has been around for a while, now.”

Today I showed a (quite conservative) web geek coworker the new GOP site. After he recovered from seeing the insanely bright red, he took screen caps of both GOP.com and Democrats.org, desaturated them, deleted all identifying info, and put them next to one another.

screengrab-196

screengrab-197

The aesthetic similarities are unsurprising. I don’t think it’s just a case of the RNC ripping off the DNC (which itself ripped off BarackObama.com). Pale stars and suggestions of stripes are just the trendy Web 2.0 way of saying “USA.” What is surprising, sorta, is the fact that when the identifying information is removed from each site, I really couldn’t tell the difference between the two.

In the words of my coworker: “Two parties, no color, no self-identification, just rhetoric.”

Your Monday* Random-Ass Roundup: Heard ‘Em Say

Believe it or not, I’ve been known to be a jackass. Ask anyone who had the misfortune of knowing me in college. Or a couple years ago. I really hope President Obama isn’t asked about it anytime soon:


Anyway, lots of things have happened since our last Monday roundup. Here’s a few of them, a week and almost a full day later than usual. Sorry. I blame it on death panels and creeping socialism:

1. As you all probably know, President Obama called Kanye West a “jackass” for his behavior at the VMAs. But that moment was supposed to be off-the-record, and so Terry Moran, the ABC reporter who tweeted the comment, took it down. ABC has apologized. (G.D.)

2. Alyssa agrees: maybe Kanye really does need a break. (Blackink)

3. One picture tells a million – or two million – lies. Politifact gets to the truth about the latest “tea party” in D.C. (Blackink)

4. A new poll says that 73% of doctors want a public option. (G.D.)

5. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich attempts to bring some sanity – and facts – to talk about the public option. (Blackink)

6. But even if there is a public option, Obama has plans to go beyond language in a House bill to make sure no public money goes to pay for abortions under health care reform. Why? (Blackink)

7. Speaking of health care reform, file this under everything is always good for Wal-Mart. (Blackink)

8. The FDA just approved a new vaccine against the H1N1 virus that causes swine flu. (Blackink)

9. Despite evidence to the contrary, many people, especially Southerners, think crime is on the rise. (Quadmoniker)

10. 50 Things being killed by the Internet. (Belleisa)

11. In eight states and D.C., being a victim of domestic violence is a pre-existing condition. No, really. (Blackink)

12. As if South Carolina tourism officials didn’t have a hard enough sell, a number of people have indicated they’ll be staying away from the Palmetto State following GOP Rep. Joe Wilson’s outburst at President Barack Obama. (Blackink)

13. From Jonathan Chait’s fantastic review of a new biography about Ayn Rand: “‘She wrote of one of the protagonists of her stories that “he does not understand, because he has no organ for understanding, the necessity, meaning, or importance of other people’; and she meant this as praise.” Well, that explains a lot. (Blackink)

14. This is rich: President Bush thought Sarah Palin was underqualified to serve on the national level. Well, he would know best. Also, he thinks Hillary Clinton has a “fat keister.” Classy. (Blackink)

15. Wow. A study in England found that when heroin was given to addicts in supervised clinics, drug use and street crime dropped dramatically. (Blackink)

16. Sort of related: Newly released FBI numbers show that we’re nearing epic fail in the “War on Drugs.” (Blackink)

17. Call it “The Chinese Dream“: a number of Africans are migrating to China in search of economic opportunity. In fact, a 10 square kilometer area in Guangzhou has been dubbed “Chocolate City.” (Blackink)

18. After years of being the envy of the nation, California’s higher education system- if not the state itself – could face a bleak future if it follows through on a plan for a large fee increases. (Blackink)

19. Reports of sexual misconduct of federal inmates by prison staff members have doubled over the past eight years, according to The Washington Post. In many places, as Matt points out, being sentenced to prison is a form of abuse itself.

20. A video of Quentin Tarantino’s best movie picks since 1992. And “Friday” made the list. (Belleisa)

21. Racewire calls Michael Moore’s latest film, “Capitalism, A Love Story,” his best work yet. (Blackink)

22. This post, from Booker Rising, is disgusting. And not even close to funny. There will be more on this later. (Blackink)

23. From Jacket Copy, the LA Times book blog, a site called Slaughter House 90210 which mixes pop culture images with literary captions. (Belleisa)

24. Is anyone really surprised that Jay Leno’s new show was not that funny? (Blackink)

25. The Face of Foreclosure: a Planet Money listener offers up aLink series of photographs outside the foreclosed home of Minneapolis woman Rosemary Williams. (Blackink)

26. South African runner and unfortunate international curiosity Caster Semenya has now been placed on suicide watch. I strongly agree with Pam: “She deserved — and deserves — so much better from the collective us than what she’s received.” (Blackink)

27. Michael Jordan will never let us forget that he was better than everyone else. Not even as he’s being inducted into the Hall of Fame. (Blackink)

28. And give it up, New York. LeBron ain’t playing for the Knicks. Unless, of course, he somehow tires of playing on a winning team. (Blackink)

Told you I was a jackass.

* It’s actually Tuesday.

Partisanship! It’s Good for Winning!

via Wikimedia Commons

via Wikimedia Commons

(cross-posted at the League of Ordinary Gentlemen and U.S. of J.)

Generally, I’m loath to give the Bush administration credit for much of anything, but if there is one thing they got right, it’s in their approach to passing legislation.  President Bush and his advisers realized, correctly, that the partisan make-up of any given vote matters far less than what Beltway insiders normally think.  It doesn’t particularly matter if X piece of legislation has bipartisan support so much as it matters that X piece of legislation is popular.  The Washington Post’s Eugene Robinson seems to get this, and makes a strong case for passing partisan legislation:

The rule among politicians in Washington used to be that when the provincials become restless, as they are now, the safest thing to do is run to the center. But as this sour and unsettled summer ends, the political center looks like the white line running down the middle of a busy street — a foolish place to stand and an excellent place to get run over. […]

It is a core belief of Washington’s political culture that policymaking by compromise — “meeting in the middle” — is the way to gain and keep the support of the vast, moderate, essentially reasonable group of voters who constitute a coherent political center. My problem with this analysis is that so many of the big decisions that have to be made are binary: yes or no. The terrain in the middle consists only of “maybe” or “kind of,” and I see no evidence that the country is in a “maybe” or “kind of” mood.

Of course, the obvious response is that Bush’s method of passing legislation resulted in Republicans losing both houses of Congress and the presidency.  But I’m not sure if that’s actually the case; Republican losses last year and in 2006 had far more to do with the party’s failedpolicies and its obstinate refusal to change course on Iraq than it did with institutional minutiae and partisan composition of floor votes.  One could easily imagine a scenario in which various pieces of conservative legislation were wildly successful, and voters rewarded the Republicans with continued control of Congress, even if that legislation was completely partisan.

Plainly put, the “center” does not lead the political conversation, the “poles” do.  It’s simply a fact that during the past twenty-plus years of conservative dominance, the “center” reflected the strength of the conservative movement.  Accordingly, if Democrats want to gain and keep the support “of the vast, moderate, essentially reasonable group of voters who constitute a coherent political center,” the answer isn’t to propose mealy-mouthed “centrist” policies and hope that voters understand the underlying differences between that and a more liberal proposal, instead, it’s to move full-on with the most effective legislation possible, which in health care at least, happens to be the most liberal form of the legislation.  After all, Democrats won’t be punished for partisanship, they’ll be punished for failure.

Your Monday Random-Ass Roundup: Acting Stupidly

Because of technical difficulties and an unusually busy work day, this almost became Your Tuesday Random-Ass Roundup. Sorry I’m late again.

DougJ at Balloon Juice: “We’re a country where a uniform and a badge entitles you to arrest people for speaking loudly on their porches.”

DougJ at Balloon Juice: “We’re a country where a uniform and a badge entitles you to arrest people for speaking loudly on their porches.”

Your PostBourgie-approved weekend reading material:

First things first, Stacia, one of our co-bloggers, is writing a novel and posting a chapter a day at her personal blog. What is this space for, if not for a show of pride in our blog fam?

Neither Senators John Cornyn of Texas, Orrin Hatch of Utah, or Jeff Sessions of Alabama will join their Republican colleague Lindsey Graham in voting for Sonia Sotomayor’s SCOTUS confirmation. Senators Charles Grassley of Iowa and Tom Coburn of Oklahoma, the other two Republicans on the judiciary committee, haven’t said what they plan to do yet. (GD)

Also, Sessions outlined his opposition to the Sotomayor nomination in a USA Today column. “I don’t believe that Judge Sotomayor has the deep-rooted convictions necessary to resist the siren call of judicial activism. She has evoked its mantra too often. As someone who cares deeply about our great heritage of law, I must withhold my consent.” Of course. It’s always about heritage with these guys. (Bi)

Harvard professor Henry Louis Gates is also the man behind The Root, which saw an uptick in racist commenters in the aftermath of his run-in with Cambridge police two weeks ago. Also, some must-reads on the Gates mess: Rich Ford’s typically smart macro take, as well as TNR’s John McWhorter and the NYT’s Charles Blow wrestling with being black men on the receiving end of touchy encounters with the police. (GD)

Ezra Klein on why President Obama should review the playbook from Clinton’s health-care reform efforts in the early ’90s. “Clinton got the politics of reform wrong, but in important ways, he got the policy right. He just got it right too soon.” I also had no idea that before the ’90s, most people had something other than managed care. (Bi)

Nate Silver offers thoughtful analysis about the “healthcare timeout” to keep everyone from taking a dive off the cliff. In short, don’t read too much into breathless media reports about momentum or a lack thereof: “I don’t think the media has a liberal bias or a conservative bias so much as it has a bias toward overreacting to short-term trends and a tendency toward groupthink. The fact is that there have been some pretty decent signals on health care.” (Bi)

After writing a feature story about MTV’s “16 and Pregnant,” Amy Benfer pondered the difficulties involved in telling the stories of the many, many pregnant teenagers who choose to have abortions. (GD)

Jamison Foser at Media Matters raises an interesting question: why is it a given that abortions should not be covered under any health insurance reform? “The idea that taxpayers shouldn’t pay for insurance that covers medical services they don’t support is fundamentally incompatible with the very concept of insurance. If every interest group wields veto power over the medical care insurance can cover, insurance simply can’t work.” Yes. Though I might quibble a bit with Foser’s implication that Chris Matthews is a reporter of any sort. He’s not. He’s a commentator. (Bi)

Russ Feingold and John Conyers have introduced a bill that would, among other things, restore felons’ right to vote in federal elections. (GD)

On Friday, the federal minimum wage went up 70 cents to $7.25 an hour. It still isn’t nearly enough to climb over the poverty line. (Bi)

The White House and lawmakers on the Hill from both parties are moving toward ending the disparity in sentencing for crimes involving crack and powdered cocaine, which disproportionately punish black people. (Does anyone, anywhere, still support those guidelines?) (GD)

Poor people in the U.S. are living live in a virtual “law-free zone,” according to a new report from the Center for Law and Social Policy. The study finds that the legal needs of the U.S. poor are unmet more than 80 percent of the time. Ian Millhiser at The Wonk Room: “As the report explains, the United States invests far less in legal services for the poor than other Western industrialized nations. At the low end, Germany and Finland spent three times as much of their gross domestic product as we do on civil legal services for the poor. At the high end, England outspends the United States twelve times.” (Bi)

More mundane Republican racism. Stay classy, guys. (GD)

Few places in the world are as dangerous for women as South Africa, where 1 in 4 men say they have committed rape. (Bi)

Can the legalization and taxation of marijuana save California from its unparalleled budget woes? (Bi)

It’s easy to forget how far the Internet has come in a relatively short amount of time. A photo gallery from The Daily Beast takes us back through those dark, unappealing pioneer days on the Web. (Bi)

Before she was a famous chef, Julia Childs was a spy. (GD)

In case you missed it last month, Toure visited Martha’s Vineyard to learn about vacation, the Obamas and the peculiar racial dynamics of Oak Bluffs – “one of the most demographically unusual towns in America.” (Bi)

Angela at ProperTalks takes issue with that commercial for KGBKGB commercial with the black women in a hair salon discussing the origins of their hair weaves. “White people giving two black women who’ve presumably gotten weaves before information about the process is a bit condescending. What if the answer-givers had been black as well? I think that would have made the commercial easier to stomach. …Why’d homegirl have to do the neckroll and the finger wave at the end?? And all of a sudden her English is broken, with the “bet not be putting no yak up in my weave” retort. Her eyes bulged out a little too.” (GD)

For a YA novel called Liar about a short-haired black girl, Bloomsbury chose a cover with a white woman’s face because “black covers don’t sell.” (GD)

President Obama might not have been looking at any ass overseas. But that doesn’t mean Joe Biden wasn’t. (Bi)

More and more atheists are going through a sort of mock ceremony known as “de-baptism” in an effort to renounce their childhood faith. (Bi)

What if robots took over the world? (GD)

A cool – but sad – Google map showing the cluster of foreclosures around the country. (Bi)

The college freshman that lives inside of me just rolled off my futon in excitement: Method Man, Ghostface and Raekwon are planning a joint album. Now if only they invite along Inspectah Deck and the GZA. (Bi)

“…a casualty of abnormal normality.” Vernon Forrest, a former welterweight champion who did a lot of charity work around Atlanta, was gunned down during an attempted robbery. He was 38. His hometown newspaper also offers a fitting, final tribute. Also, SI has more about Forrest here and here.

In the future, we’ll all be using HGH and hitting 40 homers a season. Or maybe we should. Don’t worry about that bacne. (Bi)

Wilt Chamberlain, George Clooney and Frank Sinatra all wear Tim Tebow pajamas. (Bi)

Back when Mark Madsen was a benchwarming Laker, Shaq used his clout to get him a deal on a car and bought him a grip of clothes to welcome him to the team. “After that he drove us up to Beverly Hills and we went to a Big and Tall clothing store. I found a pair of jeans that fit and Shaq said to the store worker, ‘He’ll take eight of each color!’ I said, ‘All I need is one of each color.’ When Shaq kept piling on Italian sweaters, I told him I didn’t need all the stuff, but he told me it was a welcome gift and to relax while he paid the $2,500 bill.” (GD)

And finally, the Huffington Post asks: Is this the stupidest person in the world? Judge for yourself.

Also, I meant to ask this question a couple weeks ago: Did anyone here ever go see “Bruno”?

Deuces.

The Presidency Will Not Be Weakened.

Ned:

One of the biggest reasons I voted for Obama was because I thought he was more likely than McCain to accept the Constitutional limitations on his presidency. One of the 800 or so crises we’re currently facing is a serious weakening of the rule of law thanks to the Bush administration’s adoption of the neo-monarchist theory of the unitary presidency. Unless the Obama administration is willing to back the fuck off of policies like indefinite detention and dismissing entire court cases by shrieking about state secrets, then they’re assisting the Bush administration in causing permanent damage to the rule of law.

At the risk of sounding a little snarky, I’m not exactly surprised that the Obama administration isn’t too keen on completely rejecting Bush’s expansions of executive power.  I’ve argued before that structural incentives will push Obama towards either increasing or consolidating the power of the executive branch.  It’s inevitable; presidents want to implement their agendas in full despite the fact that the American system is designed to restrain the executive’s actions.  The only way to get around that is to either A) circumvent those structures using existing presidential powers or B) eliminate those structures using any means possible.  While I’m reasonably certain that Obama won’t take the latter route, he almost certainly will take steps to preserve many of the powers George W. Bush bequeathed to him.

Really, at this point, Congress is the only entity that can restrain executive power.  The problem, of course, is that either party isn’t much interested in constraining executive power; Democrats are in power (and want to implement their agenda), and Republicans have basically adopted unlimited presidential power as a critical part of their project. Honestly, I don’t see executive power returning to its pre-Bush status quo anytime soon, if ever.

Could 60 Still Happen?

us_senate_session_chamber

Ezra thinks so.

Out in Alaska, Mark Begich has taken the lead from Ted Stevens, and as Dave Weigel notes, he looks likely to keep it. If Begich and Franken both win their late races, that brings Democrats to 59 in the Senate, including Joe Lieberman. And then there’s the Martin/Chambliss run-off, which could bring them to 60.