October 2nd, 2012 3:00 ET
I "go" it now and again. So do a lot of you. For me, it usually involves parking attendants at underground lots in Washington, DC, or incomptence or extreme laziness witnessed in the workplace. For my husband, it often involves Maryland drivers and dance music and Belgians (especially if combined together). For one of my best friends, it involves the health care system and patronizing doctors. For another best friend, it involves attitudes he encounters far too often in his chosen profession.
For many conservatives online, it involves media bias, and alleged instances of it.
It appears that yesterday, when I was working and not paying terribly much attention to what was going on on Twitter or out in the blogosphere (yeah, yeah, I don't actually spend all my time tweeting, I'm just good at multitasking), I apparently missed a major round of certain conservatives going apeshit over something that strikes me as pretty "meh" and largely failing to notice something that to me was positively rage-inducing, both of which involved coverage of the presidential campaign by the media.
So what else is new... the liberal RINO in the corner didn't get pissed about something a bunch of online conservatives got pissed over, and got pissed about something else they didn't notice.
Well, this time, I think it actually matters because the specific topic is media bias at MSNBC and an MSNBC presenter actually did something pretty egregious on camera yesterday that should have been called out, big time, by both the left and the right in my opinion-- but it's possible some people failed to notice because they were still fuming about this.
Why yes, readers. That is a post by my fellow candy-ass RINO and friend Jazz Shaw over at Hot Air. Yes, in it he does say he doesn't think Morning Joe displayed rampant media bias aimed at re-electing President Obama by focusing time and attention on a rather uninteresting nothingburger of a story. And why yes, I am going to defend him a bit while I prep up for attacking an MSNBC host who in my view actually did something that warrants an on-air apology-- with no doubt about it.
Here's the deal. I first saw this clip when my mother sent it to me. I watched it. It struck me as pretty uninteresting. A crowd appeared to be a bit more excited about a Vice Presidential nominee-- who had just finished speaking-- than the Presidential nominee. That's pretty standard stuff.
Perhaps you have met this guy:
who was generally deemed more exciting to the base in attendance at campaign events than this guy:
Maybe you recall this guy:
who was also a lot more popular with conservative voters and likely to get them cheering than this guy:
Hey, maybe you remember this lady:
You do, right?
You remember that pretty much every time she and John McCain showed up anywhere, ever, everyone was like 300 times more excited about her and vocally so than they were McCain, yes?
So setting aside that Ryan had just finished speaking and that this was a fast-moving story being covered on morning TV by people who probably wake up at 3AM and may have been rolled into coverage when someone hadn't had their triple shot espresso, there are reasons to think Joe Scarborough and Co might not have edited the tape in an effort to re-elect Obama, right?
Right. But apparently, there are people who are jumping on this as true evidence of a mainstream media conspiracy while overlooking... Martin Bashir during his show yesterday basically straight up suggesting that Mitt Romney might not be capable of serving because he has a secret mental illness his campaign is hiding or something but which he's cottoned onto because Ann Romney expressed concern about the toll the campaign might be taking on her husband on camera.
No, seriously. This happened. (I'm not posting the video because a) it doesn't appear to be on MSNBC's site and b) I refuse to give bullshit like this any direct play).
You want to see what mainstream media not-so-subtly pushing a conspiracy theory looks like?
Well, maybe that's not what Martin was trying to do, but what he did sure looks a hell of a lot like exactly that.
And he did it at a normal time of day, when everyone has had their coffee and is ready to rock and roll.
Admittedly, Martin Bashir does not have the same media heavyweight profile that Joe Scarborough does, particularly within the political realm. But let's be candid here: Hinting around (deliberately or not) at a conspiracy to cover up a mental illness that could be disqualifying from public office is pretty nasty, heavy stuff, even for a guy best known for interviewing celebrities, not dabbling in political coverage. It's heavy and nasty enough that a lot of liberals I spoke to about this agreed it was bad form, at a minimum.
That's partially so, by the way, because if Ann was suggesting that Mitt might be a bit depressed about the polls, or a bit anxious while trying to win a hard-fought election, or getting a bit obsessive about campaign perfection or imperfection, that actually is not disqualifying and as a society, it'd be lovely if we could quit treating people who suffer from depression, anxiety disorders and/or obsessive/compulsive behavior (of any type) as incapable and untrustworthy. (I say that as someone who suffers from all three illnesses).
But it's actually because the takeaway for your average viewer is more nefarious than that.
The takeaway, worst case, from watching the Morning Joe tape is "hey, Republicans like Paul Ryan better than Mitt Romney, who they don't seem to like very much." (This is actually true, by the way). Or alternately "Oh man, that Mitt Romney is a total dork." (This is pretty much true, too, and by the way, while I love Paul Ryan, he's kind of a dork, too). Or, most sympathetically, "God I feel sorry for Mitt Romney." (I'm by no means your stereotypical Republican voter, but I have that feeling roughly once a day).
Whereas the takeaway from the Bashir segment was: "Not only is Romney dishonest and lying to you (remember those tax returns!), he's also *going to have a freaking nervous breakdown on the job and become catatonic in the Oval Office and go around peeing in jars, Aviator-style* *while having the ability to nuke the world. NUKE THE WORLD* *DO NOT VOTE FOR HIM*."
Look, I'm not a big believer in mainstream media bias. (I am a big believer in mainstream media laziness, and mainstream media pack-of-sheep behavior, however). But even I was like "holy shit, Martin Bashir, that's about as big a 'let me see how I can artificially, out of nothing, make David Axelrod's day today' moment that I can imagine."
So yeah, some vigilance about media bias appears to be deserved. So does some going apeshit. But let's not worry about Joe Scarborough. Let's worry about the guy who interprets normal spousal concern for a husband who's working really, really hard as a sign that Mitt Romney is about to go all "Falling Down" on us.
Let's go apeshit on that guy. ...
September 23rd, 2012 3:00 ET
What's that saying? Even a broken clock is right twice a day?
Brown on Saturday also signed a bill that allows registered nurses to dispense birth control, making it easier for women to get contraceptives.
"At a time when some seek to turn back the clock and restrict women's health choices, California is expanding access to birth control and reaffirming every woman's basic constitutional rights," Brown said.
The bill, authored by Assemblywoman Holly Mitchell, D-Los Angeles, allows nurse practitioners and nurse-midwives to dispense the pill, patches and rings.
"With his signature, the governor also took action to address provider shortages statewide by allowing RNs to work to the full extent of their scope and training," said Julie Rabinovitz, head of the California Family Health Council. "This is especially important in our changing health care landscape."
Before I go further, let me specify that unlike some of my fellow Republicans, I actually think Jerry Brown is right more often than once in a blue moon (he was right about the flat tax back in the day, for one thing).
But with that out of the way, let's take a serious look at this and the general direction California has taken in putting the law on the books. Consider a couple points.
1) Indications are that just as the number of people carrying health insurance (and therefore, one presumes to some degree anyway, the number of people with a greater ability, in principle, to access the health care system for non-emergency care) is going to expand with Obamacare coming into full effect, we're looking at an effective doctor shortage. That would, you would expect, mean prices of care by doctors going up and timely access to doctors for individual patients becoming trickier. That creates some special difficulties where prescriptions can only be written by... doctors.
2) Whether a patient is paying out-of-pocket, or via insurance, it's not as cheap as you might think going to see the doctor for an exam which most of them require every year in order to be willing to dispense a prescription for birth control. Add to that the fact that a lot of doctors look to sell patients extras like various tests while there (which may or may not be useful, depending on your perspective, medical or sexual history, ability to pay, etc.) and you're looking at a potentially higher cost than even just that. Plus, these visits often take time out of the day that many women simply don't have, so you're looking at non-monetary costs, too, and all to get a prescription that (in the case of the birth control pill) could easily and safely be dispensed with a blood pressure check and a warning not to smoke while taking it-- for which one does not, I would argue, need to have attended medical school.
3) The ongoing debate about contraception is supposed to be about access, but access has been redefined by the national Democratic Party and groups like Planned Parenthood in the course of its "war on women" (IMO BS) rhetorical assault to mean "mandates." But as the saying goes, there are different ways to skin a cat, and this is true with regard to the contraception access debate, too.
4) Contraception access, while a touchy subject for some, actually does matter and there's a simple reason why: Proper use of contraception by those who want it means fewer unwanted pregnancies and-- surprise!-- fewer abortions. Now, I'm pro-choice, but I'm also of the firm belief that too many abortions take place in America every year, and that abortion (much like adoption, or carrying an unwanted pregnancy to term and keeping the baby) usually involves a combination of emotional and physical pain that is best avoided by diminishing the number of unwanted pregnanices in the first place: It's the humane and right thing to do, from both a pro-life and a pro-woman standpoint.
I think what Brown has done in signing this is smart, and the GOP across the country should take note.
As much as we may wish it, Obamacare is very unlikely to be repealed (it will, of course, be tinkered with, but many of the fundamental challenges with it will remain).
Health care is overregulated, and that contributes to cost and access issues.
Access is, however, important and the basic recognition of that, together with the redefinition of "access" to mean "mandates" by the Left is a reason why some of this "war on women" stuff has stuck (and for the record, it happens to be hurting the Romney-Ryan ticket in places like Virginia).
To the extent that access-- or perhaps more accurately, cheaper access without the subsidy of groups like Planned Parenthood who perform a lot of abortions every year being involved-- is less robust than it should be, that means that we're running the risk of many very, very, very easily avoided abortions taking place every year. That's not something that the more pro-life of the two parties should support, and what Brown has done here hints at an easy, more free-market (but not Rand Paul free market, which let's be honest, a lot of Republicans couldn't get on board with) solution to something that, I would argue, is both a substantive, real-life problem for many women (and their partners) and a political problem for the GOP.
Republicans would be smart to take a look at this, get behind implementation of similar deregulatory laws where nurses are currently barred from prescribing, and also look to go even further.
Why not allow over-the-counter sales where a blood pressure test is performed and where a pharmacist warns the patient not to smoke? Those are essentially the only services directly relevant to the contraception itself that doctors provide, yet the cost associated with them doing so, the need to go into the doctor's office and spend what can be too significant an amount of time there, is too high.
My suspicion is that the AMA wouldn't like this, but you know what? I bet many pharmaceutical companies would and hell, millions of American women (and their partners) would. So would insurance companies, I imagine.
It would be great for the GOP to be in a position where it can be better characterized as pursuing positive health care reforms that improve access, reduce cost, and expand freedom and flexibility, without undercutting the GOP's claim to be the more pro-life of the two parties. This is a worthwhile path to consider, and I hope individual Republicans will.
If they can agree with Brown on the flat tax, they can agree with him on other sensible policy moves like this one. ...
August 30th, 2012 3:00 ET
This morning, in the wake of what I gather was a very solid convention speech by vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan (full disclosure: I missed it, due to an early night in advance of hubby sitting a professional exam at stupid o'clock this morning), liberals (and some non-liberals, including my friend Dave Weigel) are highlighting Ryan "hypocrisy" or "fibbing" (or "misleading," or whatever you want to call it) in his remarks.
I'll watch the full speech later, but based on the excerpts I've read, I have to say that I tend to agree with most of Avik Roy's conclusions on the matter, most of which weigh in Ryan's favor and against his critics. ...
August 16th, 2012 3:00 ET
Yesterday's shooting at the Family Research Council (FRC) has grabbed a lot of attention, and rightfully so. The shooter's actions were (obviously) abhorrent, and not something that we can or should accept, dismiss, overlook or pooh-pooh. I have had plenty of policy disagreements with the FRC throughout the years, and no doubt I will continue to have them, but the bottom line is that we live in a... >> more
July 26th, 2012 3:00 ET
July 21st, 2012 3:00 ET
A man reported to have the world's largest penis was flagged for additional screening as a potential security threat by Transportation Security Administration (TSA) officials in the San Francisco International Airport earlier this month.
Jonah Falcon, the subject of an HBO feature on his distinctive anatomy, apparently triggered concern after passing through a body scanner machine and metal detector.
The TSA reportedly asked Falcon whether he had anything in his pockets, or if he had a growth of some sort.
More here. ...
May 23rd, 2012 3:00 ET
Love the feel of rubber glove-covered hands of Transporation Security Administration (TSA) personnel running over your thighs and threatening to invade your underwear when you're rushing to make a flight and have little time for state-mandated groping?
Miss those days when, if you are a relatively attractive young woman, you could count on continually being treated as a major security threat on a par with Mohammed Atta and made to pass through the "auto-porn" machine by predominantly male TSA staff before every flight? And being subjected to TSA petting after the "auto-porn" photo shoot anyway?
Well, get ready, because Senate Democrats might just have a new surprise in store for you. That's right: Not only do they want the TSA to continue to be paid to interfere with your body; Senate Democrats want to interfere yet more with the contents of your wallet to cover the cost of said privacy-invasion...
More here. ...
May 18th, 2012 3:00 ET
So yesterday, I posted this item noting how the Commerce Department was instituting new tariffs (bad in themselves) that would discourage purchase and installation of a key green technology that the administration supposedly wants people to use (doubly bad).
Today, comes the news that these new tariffs are-- you guessed it-- generating significant worry that we're kicking off a trade war with China over green technology. From Politico's Morning Tech:
SOLAR FLARE: TRADE TENSIONS WITH CHINA HEAT UP - Pro Energy's Alex Guillén reports: "Thursday's Commerce Department announcement of major tariffs on Chinese solar products has stoked fears of an all-out clean tech trade war. Trade tensions had cooled in March when Commerce had announced lower-than-expected tariffs in the first of its two investigations into Chinese solar products, leading officials to suggest the incident might become a speed bump rather than a sinkhole for solar industries on both sides of the Pacific. But on Thursday, Commerce announced tariffs for most companies at 31.18 percent, with some as high as 250 percent." More for Pros: http://politico.pro/KsYmNL
Trade wars and discouraging US consumers from buying and installing green technology they might otherwise be interested in using? Man, that is some change I can't believe in.
Note: Before the liberal readers of this blog even go there, yes, I do believe Mitt Romney has in the course of this presidential campaign advocated policy that would spur a trade war with China. This story plus that reality is just another reason why I am super-excited about the candidates that will feature on the general election ballot in November. ...
May 17th, 2012 3:00 ET
So, longtime readers of this blog/Twitter followers of mine will know that I'm a little bit crunchy and green compared to your average Republican. I'm pretty rabid about recycling. I drive a clean diesel car that gets 50 mpg on road trips. I buy a lot of organic. I buy our bath and many of our personal hygiene products at the Body Shop because I worry about animal testing. I like taking the DC metro and Amtrak, instead of driving or flying, respectively (well, except for when there are massive delays).
But I am also a rabid free-trader, having grown up in a state that is very dependent on overseas trade, especially with Asia, and being a believer that free trade enables Americans to have access to widely marketed goods that are cheaper than they otherwise would be, and promotes investment that ultimately raises standards of living elsewhere (which has a whole range of knock-on benefits I won't even begin to get into here; you can read about them on your own time).
So, consider me someone who's not particularly impressed on two counts when I read this in today's Politico Morning Tech:
NEW TARIFFS ON SOLAR TECH -- The Commerce Department is set to unveil new tariffs on solar technology imported from China this afternoon in a case that has the industry on tenterhooks. The anti-dumping duties will be the second Commerce has imposed on solar tech from China; the first tariffs, countervailing duties announced in March, were lower than expected and eased tensions slightly between the U.S. and Chinese industries. While domestic manufacturers are hoping the tariffs will help their panels compete with cheaper Chinese tech, solar developers and installers - the majority of U.S. solar jobs - fear increased prices will hurt the solar industry overall.
So, the Obama administration has recently been trying to cultivate a more pro-free-trade image with Obama signing into law free trade deals and such.
And God knows they've been promoting the heck out of green energy and urging us all (and our utilities) to use it more-- which, you know, kind of depends on the affordability of it since installing solar panels isn't an investment like buying a new fridge for most people or businesses (both in terms of the fridge being perceived as being cheaper, and because people think more about the freshness of their milk than they do saving the environment, as a general rule).
So what do they do? Institute new tariffs that will discourage purchase and installation of a key green technology that the administration supposedly wants people to use.
April 23rd, 2012 3:00 ET
For the past couple of years, I've been banging on a bit about how changes in women's role in society potentially have impacted, and stand to impact, our economy, culture, and so on (and the impact they're having on the relevance of certain political debates involving what we have traditionally come to refer to as "women's issues"-- something that, by the way, increasingly strikes me as a rather outdated, outmoded and not particularly meaningful term).
In this Atlantic piece, some of these changes are discussed rather extensively, pushing the question alluded to in the title-- are we facing the "end of men" in some or any respect(s), or will we be?
This piece from the WSJ last week is a must-read, and similarly begs some questions about what our society-- and gender roles-- might look like in 20 years.
Young women, who have already passed young men in education, are now more career-driven as well, according to a survey released Thursday.Young women, who have already passed young men in education, are now more career-driven as well, according to a survey released Thursday.
About two-thirds of women between ages 18 and 34 cited a high-paying career among their top life priorities, compared with just 59% of young men, the Pew Research Center in Washington said. That was a reversal from 1997, when 56% of women rated a high-paying career high on their list of priorities, less than the 58% of men surveyed back then, according to Pew. The research is based on phone surveys of 1,181 women and 1,308 men.
The Pew survey suggests women's growing economic power is upending long-standing perceptions of work, marriage and family—though not at the expense of raising children. Indeed, while young women now put a higher value than men on their career, roughly six in 10 women ages 18 to 34 said being a good parent was one of the most important things in their life. That was up 17 percentage points from 1997.
Women "are not saying they want career success at the expense of these other things," said Kim Parker, associate director of Pew Social and Demographic Trends.
Women may also be responding to the reality that in many cases they will be bigger contributors to their family income than their mothers were. Though men still make more than women, their median earnings have been stagnant since the 1970s, adjusted for inflation, putting an increasing share of families' financial burden on women.
Women have long been accumulating economic heft, accounting for 47% of the nation's overall labor force, up from about a third in 1960. Young women first eclipsed men in college attainment in the early 1990s, and the gap has grown wider. About 44% of women 18 to 24 were enrolled in college or a graduate program in October 2010, compared with 38% of men the same age.
According to the Pew survey, a much smaller share of women between ages 35 and 64 say having a prosperous career is among the most important things to them.
I don't have a particular conclusion to reach here except to say that goodness, things certainly have changed over the past 30 years, and this trend is probably another reason why, when in a political context I discuss so-called "women's issues" with my mother and others of her generation, I feel like we're operating distinctly not on the same wavelength. It is also one thing that likely explains why I continue to be deeply uncomfortable with political discourse that focuses on fixing our economy or our society or our culture (or insert another appropriate ill here) by resuscitating policies that worked 20 or 30 or 40 years ago. Not only are policies like that likely to already be rather outdated, how much more outdated could they appear to be in five or ten years' time? I fear the inevitable answer there is "quite a bit."
It would be nice to believe that the economic challenges we've been facing over the past few years are purely cyclical (we have ideas that have been tested for dealing with those). But I suspect they are in many cases structural, and I think changes like those that we're seeing where gender roles and characteristics-- like relative levels of ambition, educational pursuits, and entrepreneurship levels-- are concerned add an extra layer of complexity when we're thinking about the nature of the problem(s) we face and how (or perhaps even whether) we attempt to fix (all of) them.
No real conclusions; just a bit of food for thought, and a general note that the times they are a'changin... ...