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Showing posts from 2012

Spike and the redefining of masculinity

Since the Newton shooting there has been some talk about masculinity. Much of it has been ridiculous; for instance, a gun add saying if you buy their gun you can have your "man card" back. Via Whedonesque, I came across this post trying to sort out what masculinity might mean. This reference to Buffy is why Whedonesque flagged it:

In the ’90s, “Buffy The Vampire Slayer” fans could look to the black trench-coated Spike as an example of a man who could follow a woman as a leader. (The character is hardly a role model in all aspects, but he does that part well.)
As they say, Spike is a terrible role model for the vast majority of the time he is in Buffy. But there are some redeeming qualities there, even before he starts to break good around season 5.

Certainly Spike isn't the best male role model. But maybe because he is so flawed he could serve as a decent one. If we so choose, we could look at Spike as a reflection of the tension between what traditional masculinity has …

The NRA and GOP mentality

Ta-Nehisi Coates provides us with a fascinating analogy between the NRA and the pro-slavery proponents of the 19th century written by Tony Horwitz:

Emboldened by success, and imbued with a fanatical and paranoid world-view, they see enemies everywhere and regard any hint of compromise as betrayal. As New York Tribune editor Horace Greeley wrote in 1854, slavery "loves aggression, for when it ceases to be aggressive it stagnates and decays. It is the leper of modern civilization, but a leper whom no cry of 'unclean' will keep from intrusion into uninfected company." Much the same applies to the NRA and its insatiable appetite for new territory to allow arms in, and new ways to allow those guns to be used--such as putting armed guards in our elementary schools, as the NRA today suggested.
The policy goals are different now, obviously. But the way in which the GOP and NRA think about the world is similar. Someone is always ready to take all their guns away. The same is t…

"Zero Dark Thirty" and democratic discourse

Most of the discussion about this film has been about how it depicts the effects of torture, and rightfully so based on many people's accounts who have seen the film. But I haven't. So I won't rehash what those people (Glenn Greenwald for example) have written. One thing that bugged me from the first time I heard about this film is the fact that they made a movie about the killing of bin Laden when we as the public have conflicting reports as to what happened. How the hell can they make what the filmmakers are calling a "journalistic" movie when there are conflicting accounts? Here's how:

The senators’ letter notes that “there has been significant media coverage of the CIA’s cooperation with the screenwriters.” It’s not bad that the filmmakers talked to the government; reporters do it all the time. What’s troubling is that the government hasn’t talked more. We are meant to understand that the filmmakers heard things we can’t, at a time when cases brought by to…

Tennessee legislature considering arming teachers

I'm not surprised in the least that someone from our crazy legislature is considering this:

School resource officers are paid jointly by the local sheriff’s department and the school district. Niceley’s bill would allow schools to pay for background checks and firearms training for teachers that woud allow them to be armed as well. Asked if the guns for the trained teachers would also be part of the taxpayer expense, Niceley laughed.

“Well, that’s a minor detail in Tennessee,” he said. “We hoped the teachers would have them already.”

The teachers that would be trained would be volunteers, he said, and would likely carry their own firearms to school.
This is a ridiculous overreaction to recent events. I understand wanting to keep kids safe. But all this really does is introduce more risk into the classroom. While terrible, events like Newton and Columbine are very rare. So what this policy would really do is subject people to an increased likelihood of an accident from teacher's…

How I Met Your Mother: The Final Page

Spoilers to follow for the episodes of December 17th.

I've been vocal about not being a fan of Robin and Barney together as a couple. These episodes finally addressed the big event they show us at the beginning of this season. But I'll get to that in a minute. First I want to discuss the other characters.

I predicted at the beginning of this season that it wouldn't go well, that the characters are all static and there just isn't much left to wring out of them. Thus far the season hasn't been that bad. I think that's mostly a testament to the outstanding cast and how well the handle anything they are given. One thing I thought I wouldn't like was Lilly and Marshall having a baby. That's been ok for the most part, but for a weird reason.

They barely ever show the baby. This kid must sleep 23 hours a day. That or Lilly's dad takes care of him 75% of the time. It's really weird. But I think that's why I haven't been disappointed with Lilly …

Gun norms

I won't spend much time talking about our gun culture. It's pretty clear that we are fanatical about guns, at least relative to the rest of the world. And in a way I understand it. I don't own any guns (except for a prop replica of Malcolm Reynolds' gun in Firefly/Serenity). But I get the appeal when looked at as kind of a toy or tool. I'm sure they can be fun. Though they are just too dangerous for me to embrace.

In light of my Twitter feed blowing up with news of a few terrible gun related killings (one here in Memphis and another in Newtown CT I think), the gun norms I want to talk about are the ones surrounding gun rights and the 2nd amendment. The anti-gun control crowd gets really defensive (and paranoid) really quick when we start to talk about regulating guns. But their opposition to any sort of gun control doesn't make sense in light of how we treat other rights.

Yes, as much as I don't think it's ideal, gun ownership is a right because of th…

Running into the "fiscal curb"

Noam Scheiber has me convinced that we should go over the so called "fiscal cliff":

That’s why going over the fiscal cliff is so critical this time. Here’s what happens if we head into 2013 without a deal: Taxes will rise on every American. Thanks to the PR offensive the administration has waged—month after month of accusing the GOP of holding middle-class tax cuts hostage to cuts for the wealthy—and to the president’s structural advantages during a showdown with Congress, the public will immediately and overwhelmingly blame the GOP. “If we go over the cliff,” Bill Kristol wrote Monday, “what Republicans will have done is to make Democrats the party of tax cuts and Obama a president fighting for economic growth.” (Polls currently show that Americans will blame Republicans by a 53 to 27 margin; it will surely get worse every hour of 2013 that the standoff lingers). Which is why, within a few days or weeks of January 1, the GOP will almost certainly throw in the towel—“Republic…

The Dark Knight Rises on BluRay

Politics is slow and boring right now. So I haven't had much to say. I'm also kind of back into my "depressing job search" mode in which I blog in spurts. So to get out of ruts I try to look beyond politics to find something to write about. And this was a big week for Batman fans like me. The Dark Knight Rises came out on BluRay. Obviously, I was ready to drop $40 on the special edition (picture here).

But the first two places I went informed me that none of their stores in the entire city had the special edition set. I was extremely annoyed that the first store didn't have it. I was on the brink of snapping and turning into the Joker when the second store didn't have it. Luckily, the third store had two left (in retrospect, I should have bought both). If they didn't have it I would have either fell to the floor weeping or snapped and destroyed the store. So, crisis averted. I had underestimated how few of these special editions they were making and how m…

Iran and nuclear deterrence

I've written a lot about this before. So I won't spend much time rehashing the same old arguments because they are, in fact, the same arguments because nothing has or probably will change. I just want to reiterate same points that Steve Walt makes (via Andrew Sullivan):

[B]oth theory and history teach us that getting a nuclear weapon has less impact on a country's power and influence than many believe, and the slow spread of nuclear weapons has only modest effects on global and regional politics. Nuclear weapons are good for deterring direct attacks on one's homeland, and they induce greater caution in the minds of national leaders of all kinds. What they don't do is turn weak states into great powers, they are useless as tools of blackmail, and they cost a lot of money. They also lead other states to worry more about one's intentions and to band together for self-protection. For these reasons, most potential nuclear states have concluded that getting the bomb …

Tax hype and the fiscal curb

Reading yet another post on the fiscal curb and the deficit "problem" got me thinking about what both sides want. This whole issue is ridiculous. It was created by Republicans in the House to make Obama look bad and to get lower taxes. Up until now I've agreed with Obama's preference to raise marginal tax rates on income at 250k and up. The problem in these fiscal curb negotiations is that Republicans really, really don't want that. If there is one thing they are consistent about, it's that they want to lower taxes on the rich. So how do we get a deal given these constraints?

Obama wants to raise taxes on the rich in order to help lower the deficit. But I don't care about the deficit right now. So even though I'd like to raise taxes on the rich in principle, I'm willing to give that up. I'm not sure if Obama is willing to give that up for things like extension of unemployment benefits or extension of a payroll tax holiday. But I would. If he d…

"Lincoln" and films about history

I saw Lincoln this past weekend and really enjoyed it. I'm not much of a Spielberg fan. But he was in top form here, as was the entire cast and crew. Daniel Day Lewis is as great as everyone has said. As a piece of entertainment I give it high marks. But in reading a lot of critiques of the movie from a history perspective, it seems either incomplete or out of focus, perhaps both.

I'm a bit torn as to whether that's just a minor inconvenience (likely a result of the nature of the medium) or a big flaw that detracts from almost undeniably effective things the movie does well. On the one hand, if you set out to make a movie about history and the people that helped shape that history, you have some sort of obligation to make it accurate (unless you're making something like Inglorious Basterds). On the other hand, you aren't making a documentary, which I think bears a higher standard for accuracy and scope (something like Ken Burns' Civil War documentary). In the …

Deciding policy with religion

Ta-Nehisi Coates discusses abortion in this post and it got me thinking about where anti-abortion advocates draw their reasoning from:

I would submit that if you believe abortion to be murder, you don't decide at all. There is a chilling intellectual consistency in the behavior of Halappanavar's doctors, and pro-life activists who we dismiss as "extremists." Either abortion is murder, or it isn't. If you believe the former then Halappanavar's doctors were quite correct -- they refused to murder a baby to save its mother.

Walsh was lying in his refusal to admit that women actually do die during the work of pregnancy. But his position -- "without exceptions" -- strikes me as the honest one. The problem here isn't packaging. There is no way to honestly modify its import. Either you believe that women who have sex should run the risk of being remanded to potentially lethal labor, or you don't. No exceptions.
A lot of people strongly disagree wit…

Economic heuristics

Kevin Drum wonders why people tend to listen to CEOs when they talk about the economy:

I'm a cynic, so I suppose you should take my views on the business community with a shaker of salt. Nonetheless, here's what I think we should conclude from this: Fortune 500 CEOs should never be taken seriously on macroeconomic issues. Their job is to dole out high-grade BS in public, and politics and macroeconomics are just grist for their mill. Every word out of their mouths is special pleading, and that's how the business press ought to treat it. I really have no idea why anyone ever takes them seriously on this stuff.
When people hear "CEO" the heuristic (mental shortcut that easily allows someone to identify something without too much mental work) they conjure up is someone who is important, has authority and expertise in the area, and thus should be trusted with their opinion. It's more difficult to explain why this heuristic exists.

I think part of it is that it'…

Tax subsidies for churches

A while back I said I don't think we should let religious institutions not pay property taxes on their churches:

I don't see any reason a church/religion should get special exemption. I would be willing to keep the status quo if I thought that the exemption and threat of having it removed kept churches from advocating politics. I strongly suspect it doesn't. So I think a fair thing to do would be to officially let churches say what they want and force them to pay taxes like the rest of us.

The biggest deal here is the tax exemption, which allows churches to own huge pieces of lang at low prices while driving up prices for everyone else. The free speech issue here is really more a matter of theory because in practice this restriction isn't much of a burden. As a preacher or whatever, you can practically walk outside your church and onto the sidewalk and advocate whatever/whomever you want and their tax exemption would be fine.
Matt Yglesias confirms my suspicion that it…

Dolphins vs Seahawks: playcalling by down

For most of this season I've been complaining about how the Dolphins have called plays. My eyeball test was telling me that they were running the ball way too much on 1st down, which was having the effect of not gaining many yards (even good running teams gain less per rush than bad passing teams gain per pass), thus making it harder to make a first down on 2nd and 3rd down. Not wanting to rely just on my eyeballs, I kept track of the playcalling vs Seattle. Here is the rundown:

1st down: 18 runs 10 passes

2nd down: 6 runs 11 passes

3rd down: 3 runs 7 passes
You can see the big disparity on 1st down, which obviously has a direct effect on what you do on the next two downs. We ran the ball better against Seattle than we have since the first week or two of the season. But even then, we are in the bottom half of the league in yards gained per rush. So on average, when we run the ball on 1st down we are leaving Tannehill with about 7 yards to gain on the next two downs.

I don't ha…

Intellectually honesty and epistemic closure

Bruce Bartlett gives a detailed account of his own battle with intellectual honesty and how it made him an outcast within the Republican party and conservatism as a whole:

After careful research along these lines, I came to the annoying conclusion that Keynes had been 100 percent right in the 1930s. Previously, I had thought the opposite. But facts were facts and there was no denying my conclusion. It didn’t affect the argument in my book, which was only about the rise and fall of ideas. The fact that Keynesian ideas were correct as well as popular simply made my thesis stronger.

I finished the book just as the economy was collapsing in the fall of 2008. This created another intellectual crisis for me. Having just finished a careful study of the 1930s, it was immediately obvious to me that the economy was suffering from the very same problem, a lack of aggregate demand. We needed Keynesian policies again, which completely ruined my nice rise-and-fall thesis. Keynesian ideas had arisen …

Tax hype

With the "fiscal curb" (it's not a cliff) being the big topic in DC we are talking a lot about taxes. We always talk a lot about taxes, at least Republicans do. They are important. But they are overhyped, especially if you are talking about economic growth. Matt Yglesias explains:

The case against returning to the kind of 90 percent marginal income tax rates that we had in the 1950s seems pretty ironclad to me—the 1950s tax code raised way less money than the 1990s tax code (90 percent tax rates are a great stimulus to tax avoidance strategies) so what would the point be? But there's no doubt that tax rates that high were compatible with robust economic growth. This is a somewhat embarassing fact for people who put a lot of emphasis on low marginal tax rates as a key to growth.
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The argument here, which certainly makes sense, is that the postwar US economy grew fast not because of high tax rates but despite them. But Lindsey locates the true cause of the rapid grow…

Ron Swanson quotes

One of my favorite sites, pajiba.com, has a bunch of Ron Swanson quotes here. I love Parks and Recreation and think Ron is really funny. But when you lay all of his quotes out in one place you realize that he's kind of nuts. His delivery and love of bacon often mask how crazy his ideology is on the merits. Hopefully his character moves slightly away from the crazy while keeping the love of bacon and most meats. Anyway, here are some of my favorite quotes:

“The less I know about other people’s affairs, the happier I am. I’m not interested in caring about people. I once worked with a guy for three years and never learned his name. Best friend I ever had. We still never talk sometimes.”“You may have thought you heard me say I wanted a lot of bacon and eggs, but what I said was: Give me all the bacon and eggs you have.”Never half ass two things, whole ass one thing.“The whole thing is a scam. Birthdays were invented by Hallmark to sell cards.”

Bill O'Reilly and conservative reaction to the election

I don't usually take to criticizing pundits directly. For the most part I think it gives them more credibility than they're worth (which is none) by addressing them. But I'm making an exception for Bill O'Reilly for a few reasons. First off, I used to like Bill when I was a young conservative. When he isn't being an asshole, he has a certain charm to him. And he's effective at what he does, which is argue in a very controlled environment. He's good at giving a quick and concise argument that takes more time than he gives you to refute.

Another reason is that Bill isn't always blind to reality. Sometimes he is able to see through the made up reality that many conservatives live in and give decent analyses. But it appears he is living in that made up reality:

If you look at the exit polling, you’ll see that a coalition of voters put the President back into the oval office. That coalition was non-tradition, which means it veered away from things like tradi…

Seinfeld's "The Contest" and feminism

Craig Hlavaty points out that today is the 20th anniversary of the famous Seinfeld episode.

On November 18, 1992, the creators and writers of Seinfeld posed a serious question to Americans, just weeks after they elected Bill Clinton as their new president.
"How long can a modern human go without masturbating?" they asked, without even using the dreaded M-word, with more than 22 minutes of side-stepping stuttering hilarity.
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But with "The Contest" the Seinfeld tapped into uncharted territory for television. The phrase "master of my domain" would become code for taming your lustful onanistic urges.

Today if a current sitcom tackled this same subject it wouldn't be a big deal. Censors in 1992 were still scared of the m-word. We were all still two years away from the Jocelyn Elders debacle too.

And with porn so prevalent on smart phones now, the novelty of jacking it to a copy of Glamour is sweetly-innocent.

Even the concept of a woman masturbating -- …

Cabrera vs Trout for MVP

Nate Silver and I would be pretty good friends. We both enjoy politics and sports. Here he is weighing in on the American League MVP debate, which apparently Cabrera won today:

The argument on Trout’s behalf isn’t all that complicated: he provided the greater overall contribution to his team. Trout was a much better defensive player than Cabrera, and a much better base runner. And if Cabrera was the superior hitter, it wasn’t by nearly as much as the triple crown statistics might suggest.
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Trout, with his speed, aggressiveness and good judgment on the bases, was also able to help the Angels in other ways, such as by scoring more often from second base when one of his teammates got a base hit. With the more detailed data available on everything that happens on the field, it is now possible to quantify these contributions as well.

Over all, Trout contributed about 12 additional runs on the basepaths when compared with an average runner. The bulky Cabrera, by contrast, cost the Tigers …

Sore losers talk secession

Erica Grieder analyzes the secession talk:

All of these figures, incidentally, strike me as implausibly high, and if they were palpably true it would be troubling. Secession is illegal, however, and even if it weren't, every state is clearly better off as part of the United States than it would be on its own. I therefore understand secessionist rhetoric--in Texas and elsewhere--as a euphemism for more general frustration, rather than a serious suggestion. In fact, I would argue that it's precisely because secession is such a preposterous suggestion that it's safe to clown on about; that's why some people in Austin have started up their own petition to secede from Texas if Texas secedes from America.
I'm kind of interested in the question of whether a state should have the right to secede. If states are supposed to be sovereign entities than I would think they should have the right. But since we don't have to deal in strict terms all the time, we can easily say …

Differences of degree

I've talked about this before here. In that post I was discussing the individual mandate and the conservative rhetoric in opposition to it. Here's what I said:

The gov't forces everyone to do all sorts of things. The ones he mentions is one of the more important ones. A few other off the top of my head are; you also have to send your kids to school, you have to drive at certain speeds, not kill or harm other people, pay even 1% of taxes, and any number of things that no one really complains about.

So when people say they oppose the mandate because the gov't can't force them to do something they are just factually wrong. What they mean to say is that the gov't can't force them to do this specific thing because it crosses some sort of line. And once you acknowledge that we are just arguing over differences in degree. We aren't arguing over the difference between freedom and tyranny. I get that people use inflamed rhetoric in order to try and make their po…

Chris Christie and rational choice

Daniel Larison on Republican spin regarding the election and Christie:

It’s a reminder that it was never Christie that these activists liked. What these activists liked was the reliable partisanship that he seemed to practice. When he didn’t act the part of the angry partisan that they were used to seeing, and instead acted as a self-interested politician and responsible state official would, they no longer had any use for him. The fact that he had been considered an effective surrogate for Romney over the last several months is quickly forgotten, and all that remains is the idea that Christie "betrayed" the cause by doing something that any other official in his position would have done.
First of all, I highly, highly doubt the hurricane or Christie's actions had any significant effect on the election. What I thought was interesting in reading Larison was what motivated Christie to act the way he did.

Being a reliable partisan is often a good way to act rationally. When…

A gif to brighten up your day

It's been busy at work. So I haven't had much time to post. Plus with the hurricane and the dumb horse race coverage of the election there haven't been many things to post on. But I wanted to post this gif of one of my favorite people, Alison Brie, because she always brightens up my day.





Polling on god's will

In light of Richard Mourdock's comments, Robert Jones over that The Monkey Cage tells us what the polling says regarding people's beliefs about god's will:

If we start with Mourdock’s basic affirmation that all events, even terrible ones, are part of God’s will, Mourdock has considerable company, both historically and among white evangelical Protestants. This conundrum has vexed Christian theologians enough that the debate has a name: “theodicy” describes various strategies for reconciling the belief in an all-knowing, all-powerful, loving God with the undeniable existence of evil in the world. And today, most Americans affirm the basic premise of an omnipotent God. According to a survey conducted by Public Religion Research Institute last year, most Americans (56%) agree that “God is in control of everything in the world,” while 34% disagree and 8% say they do not believe in God. Among white evangelical Protestants, this number rises to 84%, with only 15% in disagreement.

Amazon threatens corporate America

Matt Yglesias explains:

But what makes Amazon not just amazing but downright dangerous is that as a financial matter it has something even better than profits—the boundless faith of the investment community. You can think of a company's stock price as jointly determined by its profits ("earnings") and by Wall Street's level of optimism about the future, expressed as a price-to-earnings ratio.

In any line of business where you're earning healthy profits you always need to worry that a competitor will undercut you on price. But normally you can also have some confidence that they'll be restrained in their price cutting by the need to maintain profits of their own. Amazon is totally off the leash in this regard. Wall Street treats it like a brand new startup that just needs to think about growth and can find a viable business model later. Which means that if they come after you, you have no recourse. Your profits are going to shrink, and your investors are going …

The horror in Syria

Andrew Sullivan has the details, which are absolutely horrible. Seriously, don't watch the video in the link if you don't want to be appalled and depressed.

[M]ost activists have made a difficult transition: No longer demonstrators, they now risk their lives as relief volunteers amid a worsening humanitarian crisis in a conflict that has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives. An estimated 1.2 million Syrians have been displaced, and an additional 1 million are in urgent need of assistance because they have run out of money for food and other necessities, according to the United Nations.
Usually I have an opinion as to what our policy should be. I don't have a firm idea on this issue. I want to be able to intervene in some way to help save these people that are being killed. But I just don't know how effective our military could be. We've seen how our best intentions and powerful military just aren't enough to prevent more death; examples being Iraq, Afghanistan, Li…

Richard Mourdock's rape comment

You've probably heard about this asshole's comment that even a child conceived of a rape is a gift from god. Kevin Drum points out that this should be pretty common religious thought:

Mourdock is getting beat up pretty bad for this, and I think that's just fine. At the same time, can't we all acknowledge that this is just conventional Christian theology? Theodicy is the study of why an omnipotent God permits the existence of evil, and while the term is of fairly recent vintage, Christians and Jews have struggled with the question itself pretty much since the time they decided God was omnipotent.
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What I find occasionally odd is that so many conventional bits of theology like this are so controversial if someone actually mentions them in public. God permits evil. My faith is the only true one. People of other faiths are doomed to spend eternity in Hell. Etc. There's a lot of stuff like this which is either explicit or implied in sects of all kinds, and at an abstr…

Romney's religion

I'm not a fan of religions in general. And there were so many other ridiculous/horrible things to focus on that I never gave Romney's a second thought. But Andrew Sullivan makes a good point. I'm going to quote a lot of it since it's so well written:

I raise this because it is a fact that Mitt Romney belonged to a white supremacist church for 31 years of his life, went on a mission to convert Christians and Jews and others to this church, which retained white supremacy as a doctrine until 1978 - decades after Brown vs Board of Education, and a decade after the end of the anti-miscegenation laws.

Once upon a time, when journalists were actually asking politicians tough questions, rather than begging for a get for ratings, this question was actually asked of Mitt Romney by Tim Russert. It's a fascinating exchange for many reasons:
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There's nothing in Romney's answer that violates the old Mormon doctrine - still there in the Book of Mormon - that for some r…

Tomorrow's foreign policy debate

I mentioned on Twitter earlier today that I'm dreading the presidential debate on foreign policy. I'm on record as hating most debates. But aside from the general format, I'm expecting the subject to make me agitated just as much. The foreign policy discourse in the US is too narrowly tailored to the middle east and terrorism. And within that discourse it's narrowly tailored to just a few point of views.

I fully expect both Obama and Romney to basically have a cockfight instead of an open debate. That's because both parties assume that you have to run foreign policy like the fiction Ronald Reagan that Republicans have created over the past 30 years. Since Reagan's term they have interpreted the end of the cold war with the style in which he conducted his foreign policy, which could often be bombastic and filled with indulgent hubris.

For Republicans since then, you either conduct foreign policy like John Wayne or Clint Eastwood or you are appeasing the enemy …

Issue enthusiasm

As I mentioned in my previous post about jobs, most people care a lot about the state of the economy. More people care more about it when it's in bad shape, as it has been for the past 4-5 years. Kate Sheppard explains why this has led to less attention being paid to climate change:

There was, for a brief period then, a sort of optimism about what the United States could accomplish on climate change. President George W. Bush, already on his way out the door in April 2008, affirmed that human activity was causing global warming and vowed that the "ingenuity and enterprise of the American people" would help us overcome it. Barack Obama won the White House later that year with the promise that the next four years would be remembered as the time "when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal" (a pledge that became a punch line for his Republican challenger this time around).

Since then, the United States has failed to do anything significant…

The conservative narrative on jobs

Andrew Sullivan points out the duality of how conservatives talk about the relationship between the gov't and job creation:

"As president, I will create 12 million new jobs," - Mitt Romney, October 16.

"The government doesn't create jobs," - Mitt Romney, October 16.
The latter quote is the one that is bullshit, in theory I mean. I doubt that 12 million number is much more than pulled out of thin air or derived from a "study" not much more thorough than this blog. But I think it's pretty clear that the gov't can create jobs, and that Romney believes so.

As political narratives go, this one is pretty straightforward. Romney and conservatives don't like to acknowledge that except on the campaign trail and in certain contexts because it goes against their supposed belief that gov't is largely useless and just gets in the way of businesses and people's interests. But they obviously have to give the appearance to the public that they…

The narrative on entitlements

I've been meaning to do a lot more posts on how things in politics (or anything) are framed and how that framing shapes discourses, opinions and policy. With the election in the headlines and debates going on, framing and the narrative the framing creates are more apparent and in full effect. I only watched a minute or so of the VP debate. But the one question I heard was a great example of framing and the narrative that creates around a policy. Glenn Greenwald has the details:

"Let's talk about Medicare and entitlements. Both Medicare and Social Security are going broke and taking a larger share of the budget in the process.

"Will benefits for Americans under these programs have to change for the programs to survive?"

That social security is "going broke" – a core premise of her question – is, to put it as generously as possible, a claim that is dubious in the extreme. "Factually false" is more apt. This claim lies at the heart of the right-w…