Wednesday, November 09, 2011 12:13 PM
Some of the best stuff from the Twitter feeds we follow...
Talking Points Memo (@TPM): Kyle Leighton weighs in on the rejection of far-right Republican ideas shown in last night’s referendum votes around the country:
[V]oters in some key states where Republicans had made gains rejected those ideas through statewide referendums, striking not only at the party but at the very reason for electing them — their ideas. If election day 2011 tells us anything, it’s not just that overreaching in this political environment is a bad move, but it’s a spectacularly bad one.
None of last night’s roundup of referendum votes were close…
Read all of “The Hangover: One Year After Electing GOP, Voters Reject Their Ideas”
Kickstarter’s (@kickstarter) Project of the Day:
The documentary “Tomorrow We Disappear”:
For hundreds of years roaming artists traveled the Indian countryside, creating the stories, the mythological backbone that would unite a country. Before radio, film, and television, these artists helped form what we now call the Web of India.
In the 1950s the artists ended their itinerant routes and moved into vacant land beside a jungle in West Delhi. They called their new home the Kathputli Colony. The colony is now a tinsel slum, providing home to some of the world's greatest street magicians, acrobats, and puppeteers. But last year the government sold the Kathputli land to real estate developers; the slum is to be bulldozed and cleared for development.
Our film, "Tomorrow We Disappear," will take you into the world of the Kathputli Colony, to experience the last remnants of its unique culture before it's too late.
Read more about “Tomorrow We Disappear”
): Derek Thompson, senior editor at The Atlantic, on how Steve Case and his firm, Revolution, are driving the sharing economy:
A luxury-home network. A car-sharing company. An explosive deal site. Maybe you see three random ideas. Case and his team saw three bets that paid off thanks to a new Web economy that promotes power in numbers and access over ownership. The so-called sharing economy has taken off in the Great Recession, as companies like Netflix and Zipcar have allowed the exchange of DVDs, cars, clothes, couches, and even kitchen utensils. The promise of a post-ownership society is that we can do more, own less, and rent the rest with Web-enabled companies. That's a huge break for cash-strapped families in a weak recovery. Whether it's good news for companies who rely on customers to buy new thing, rather than share old purchases, is much more complicated.
Read all of “How Steve Case and Revolution Are Driving the Sharing Economy”
Etsy’s (@Etsy) Online Lab: Get Unstuck with Noah Scalin:
Stuck in a rut? I hope you’ll join us on Friday, November 18 for an Online Lab with king of creativity, Noah Scalin. You might know his Skull-a-Day project or his last book,
365: A Daily Creativity Journal.
Well, he’s at it again with his newest book called
Unstuck: 52 Ways to Get (and Keep) Your Creativity Flowing at Home, at Work, and in Your Studio
.He’ll be joining us in the Online Labs to share tips for getting unstuck creatively. So, if you need a jolt of inspiration, tune in! You’re not going to want to miss out on this one.
Find out more about the Etsy Online Lab, “Get Unstuck with Noah Scalin”
Image from the documentary "Tomorrow We Disappear"
Tuesday, May 26, 2009 2:18 PM
This morning, Obama announced his nomination of Sonia Sotomayor to the Supreme Court. Here’s a quick look at the blogosphere’s reactions so far.
Tom Goldstein at SCOTUSblog has an informative, balanced, and calm overview of Sotomayor’s qualifications, as well as a helpful warning about the controversy that’s already stirring:
Because proponents’ and opponents’ claims about nominees are provided for public consumption through the mass media, they involve bumper sticker messages; there is not much nuance. Almost always, they collapse into assertions of ideological extremism, as when some on the left attempted to portray John Roberts as a (secret) ideologue and single-minded tool of the government and corporations against individuals.
SCOTUSblog has also assembled a very helpful series of posts (here, here, and here) summarizing Sotomayor’s opinions in civil cases.
Mark Halperin predicts an easy confirmation at Time’s blog:
Obama has chosen a mainstream progressive, rather than a wild-eyed liberal. And he has chosen a rags-to-riches Hispanic woman. Her life story is inspirational—a political consultant's dream. Since she is certain to be confirmed, there are plenty of smart conservatives who will, by midday Tuesday, have done the political cost-benefit analysis: at a time when Republicans are trying to demonstrate that their party can reach beyond rich white men, what mileage is there in doing anything but celebrating such a historic choice?
At Mother Jones, David Corn parses the potential for a conservative “cat-fight”:
By selecting Sotomayor, Obama is forcing Senate GOPers to choose between attacking a Hispanic appointee (and possibly alienating Hispanic voters) and ticking off social conservatives. At the moment, the GOPers' calculation seems obvious. But it could come at a cost of a cat-fight on the right.
We have some hints of what the battle over Sotomayor’s nomination might look like because, as Steve Benen notes at the Washington Monthly, “many leading far-right activists—including Limbaugh and Fox News personalities—started the offensive against her weeks ago.”
It’s worth noting that they did so with help from the so-called “respectable intellectual center,” in the form of Jeffrey Rosen’s May 4 piece for The New Republic, “The Case Against Sotomayor.” The article, which has been debated and debunked by several bloggers, used mostly anonymous sources to paint a pretty negative picture of Sotomayor’s intellect, temperament, and general preparedness for the Supreme Court. As Jason Linkins puts it at Huffington Post, Rosen essentially characterized Sotomayor as “a not-smart person who nevertheless went to Princeton, and a hotheaded Latina whose ethnic hotheadedness seemingly carried none of the accepted, value-added ethnic hotheadedness of Antonin Scalia.”
Rosen’s unsubstantiated characterizations of Sotomayor rapidly spread to mainstream media outlets. Brian Beutler at Talking Points Memo:
[T]he meme couldn't be contained. It resurfaced less than a week later in two Washington Post articles and has colored today's coverage of the nomination, and of all cable news coverage of the SCOTUS stakes for the past month.
It’s definitely showing up in the post-nomination right-wing blogs, too. “Conservatives rejoice,” writes Erick Erickson at RedState. “Of all the picks Obama could have picked, he picked the most intellectually shallow.” At National Review’s The Corner blog, Ramesh Ponnuru deems Sotomayor “Obama’s Harriet Miers.”
Adam Serwer dismantles this ridiculous comparison in an excellent post at The American Prospect:
Sotomayor's resume doesn't just look good compared to Harriet Miers. Sotomayor has more than 10 years on the appeals court—by contrast, the current chief justice of the Supreme Court, John Roberts, had two years as a judge on the D.C. Circuit before being nominated. As a white man, however, his credentials and intelligence are beyond reproach.
A case against Sotomayor based on her "credentials" or "intelligence" is false on its face—this is a kind of Southern Strategy all over again. By stoking white resentment over the rise of allegedly unqualified minorities getting prominent positions, the GOP is hoping to derail her nomination. It probably won't work, but it's another sign of how little the GOP learned from last year's election.
Sources: SCOTUSblog, Time, Mother Jones, Washington Monthly, The New Republic, Huffington Post, Talking Points Memo, RedState, National Review, The American Prospect
Tuesday, May 19, 2009 11:47 AM
Since the 2008 campaign, Barack Obama has been hailed as a pragmatist. As a candidate, he embraced off-shore oil drilling and clean coal and he spoke out in favor of gun rights. As President, his economic policies and his decision to block the release of prisoner abuse photos have similarly been touted as “pragmatic.”
“Being a pragmatist is a statement about means, not ends,” Robert Reich writes for Talking Points Memo. Pragmatism is not a virtue, in and of itself; virtue lies in the goals achieved through pragmatism. According to Reich, “to call his stance ‘pragmatic’ is to rob it of its moral authority.”
In comparison to the last eight years, Obama’s lack of ideology feels to many like a breath of air for a nation under water. The Bush administration convinced many Americans, and especially Democrats, “that there is a correlation between idealism and incompetence. I have no quarrel with efficacy, but it is a contentless ideal,” The United States needs to be represented in the world by more than best practices.”
A solution to President Obama’s search for a non-dogmatic philosophy may lie in the actions of candidate Obama. As a candidate, Obama was able to explain controversies to the public in measured and intelligent terms. In his speech on race, Reich writes, “He took America to a higher place by explaining what we all knew and felt but giving it a larger and nobler frame. He educated us in the best sense of the word.”
President Obama has the chance to embrace the educational possibilities of the current crisis. He needs to “find a way to bring the public in, to let it feel a sense of participation and ownership,” Mark Schmitt writes for the American Prospect. Rather than evoking the state secrets privilege, or divorcing economic policies from the public at large, Obama should embrace the transparency he campaigned on. He can educate the American people on widening inequality at home and the dangers of foreign threats abroad. According to Schmitt, “Ideology, in a measured dosage, can help people understand where we're headed and why.”
To do so would both make good on his promises of transparency and strengthen his policies. Call it pragmatic ideology.
Talking Points Memo
the American Prospect
Wednesday, January 07, 2009 12:27 PM
The Democrats will soon control both Congress and the Presidency, but the real reason for progressives to be hopeful is the wealth of up-and-coming intellectuals of the left. Talking Points Memo’s deputy publisher Andrew Golis has compiled a good list of 10 progressive intellectuals that give him hope. The list includes the unflappable Van Jones, co-founder of the Ella Baker Center for Human Rights, and Rinku Sen, one of Utne Reader’s 50 visionaries who is changing the world.
Golis included a video of his favorite intellectuals, so I’m including one from Jay Smooth, included in the list for his hip hop video blogging:
Monday, December 29, 2008 5:42 PM
Take a break from guessing who’s going to snag an Oscar and check out who’s in the running to take home top honors for their political blunders this year. Josh Marshall of Talking Points Memo released the nominees for the second annual Golden Duke awards with fun categories like Sleaziest Campaign Ad and Best Scandal: Sex & Generalized Carnality. My favorite is Outstanding Achievement in Corruption-Based Chutzpah. Marshall says it’s difficult to judge because it’s so nuanced—not to mention “the difference between chutzpah and just being a complete f---ing moron sometimes is subtle.” Winners will be announced on Wednesday, so now is the perfect time to start an office pool for your personal favorites. You could also just bet on Sarah Palin—the repeat nominee is bound to nab at least one.
Monday, December 22, 2008 1:32 PM
One of the most unpopular administrations in U.S. history will leave office this January, passing the presidency on to Barack Obama, a man millions expect to be a transformative leader. Obama will take the reigns in the midst of a worldwide economic meltdown, with American troops fighting two wars abroad, the climate in crisis, and that’s just the beginning.
The time is ripe for political resolutions to ring in the New Year.
The coming year should be the time we “return to integrity and put pressure on our government and corporate leaders, our employers and colleagues, to do the same,” Courtney E. Martin writes for the American Prospect. It’s time to “hold one another accountable to our highest selves,” she argues.
Taking a global perspective, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon trumpeted a more concrete resolution at his last press conference of the year, the AFP reports: “2009 will be the year of climate change.” He continued, “We must reach a global climate change deal before the end of the year —one that is balanced, comprehensive and ratifiable by all nations.”
Obama is widely expected to heed the call to step-up American leadership on climate change. And he’s already made a slew of other promises for new direction, including pledges to “value science,” create millions of jobs, initiate health care reform in his first year in office, shutter Guantanamo Bay, and restore America’s stature on the world stage. Here’s hoping these New Year’s resolutions aren’t forgotten by March.
Have any political New Year's resolutions of your own? Share them in the Utne Salons, or in the comments section below.
Image by Waldo Jaquith, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, November 07, 2008 3:02 PM
For months the election has dominated the media landscape and much of people’s free time. Conversation topics haven’t been a problem: Whenever you needed something to talk about, the election was always there. News outlets have known this day was coming for some time, as Cally Carswell wrote in this post. Now that the campaigns is over, however, many are still scrambling to reposition themselves for the post-election world.
The Huffington Post, for example, is trying to capitalize on more local content. The site recently launched a page specifically for Chicago and plans one dedicated to San Francisco, according Russell Adams and Shira Ovide of the Wall Street Journal. The site is also trying to move more toward more non-political, lifestyle content, Adams and Ovide report. Huffington Post representatives offered free massages and facials at the Democratic National Convention in an attempt to brand their new, post-election identity.
Even with the new efforts, some on the Huffington Post site are already waxing nostalgic over the past few years. The website’s comedy-based companion 236.com recently belied the rebranding in an item headlined, “We Can't Quit W. Countdown- 50 Reasons We're Sorry to See President Bush Go.” Reason #1, “We'll never be able to get 250,000 Google search results by typing in the words ‘Obama drunk at a wedding.’”
Some websites, including FiveThirtyEight.com and Talking Points Memo, aren't turning away from their political bread and butter. Josh Marshall, founder of Talking Points Memo recently wrote that the website’s evolution has "always been bound up with my stance as a voice of opposition to the Bush administration.” With the Bush’s tenure quickly ending, Talking Points Memo is doubling down, hiring two new reporter-bloggers to cover the Democratic Congress and White House.
The problem, Adams and Ovide write, is that “news outlets that benefit significantly from an election suffer about the same amount when it's over, so the Web sites will expand now at their peril.” Talking Points Memo seems to be an exception to that rule, considering that the site began during the 2000 recount and expanded after the 2004 and 2006 elections.
Even without the election coverage, there’s still plenty of inane and amusing content to be found on the web,
Conversation topics, however, are more difficult. The Onion satirically reported that the election has left Obama supporters with “the cold realization that they have nothing to fill their pathetically empty lives.” You can watch a video of that below.
Obama Win Causes Obsessive Supporters To Realize How Empty Their Lives Are
, licensed under
Thursday, October 30, 2008 11:13 AM
The field of institutions and public figures endorsing Barack Obama is getting really crowded, and it’s a motley assortment. Some fairly unlikely personalities are in the tank, including Christopher Buckley, Christopher Hitchens and Colin Powell, as well as conservative publications like the Record.
Spend a few minutes perusing the Wikipedia page listing Obama’s endorsements, and you might visualize a rowdy cocktail party whose guest list includes editors from nearly every major U.S. newspaper (including the Chicago Tribune, marking its first endorsement of a Democratic presidential candidate in its 161-year history); hundreds of current and former governors, mayors, and legislators; CEOs, actors, rock stars, and authors; and even the plumbers’ union (presumably Joe the Plumber was not consulted since, well, he’s not a plumber).
The New Yorker provided a characteristically thorough endorsement of Obama. The New York Times argues for the relevance of newspaper endorsements. And there’s a nifty map illustrating the distribution of this year’s newspaper endorsements and comparing it with 2004’s.
Several cast members of HBO's The Wire are stumping for Obama. (Gbenga Akinnagbe, if he’s half as terrifying as the drug lieutenant he played on the series, will make a very compelling canvasser). An absolutely fabulous coterie of fashion designers has pledged allegiance. And ostensibly apolitical publications have weighed in, most recently the science magazine Seed.
Leading the ironic-endorsement pack is onetime McCain campaign advisor Charles Fried, whose decision to back Obama is partially due to McCain’s “choice of Sarah Palin at a time of deep national crisis” (via Talking Points Memo).
All of which begs the question: Who’s in poor old John McCain’s corner? The list of newspapers endorsing him is considerably shorter than Obama’s. There’s Steve Forbes, of course. And then there’s the small faction of Hollywood conservatives (say it ain’t so, Gary Sinise!).
Image courtesy of Philip (Flip) Kromer, licensed under Creative Commons.
Friday, October 17, 2008 10:29 AM
Barack Obama may have a leg up on John McCain when it comes to TV advertising and video games embeds, but McCain has the advantage when it comes to robocalling, reports Wired. Shaun Dakin, who Wired describes as an “anti-robocall activist,” collected data showing that the McCain campaign ran 12 automated political telemarketing efforts in the past month and a half, compared to Obama’s four.
Recipients of the calls are greeted with automated messages like this one, sent to Talking Points Memo by a voter in North Carolina:
I'm calling on behalf of John McCain and the RNC because you need to know that Barack Obama and his Democrat allies in the Illinois Senate opposed a bill requiring doctors to care for babies born alive after surviving attempted abortions—a position at odds even with John Kerry and Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama and his liberal Democrats are too extreme for America. Please vote—vote for the candidates who share our values. This call was paid for by McCain-Palin 2008 and the Republican National Committee at 202 863 8500.
Will McCain’s army of tele-bots march him into the White House? Probably not. Wired cites a Pew Research Center survey that found that almost half of the voters in Iowa and New Hampshire who received robocalls hung up on the calls. According to Ben Smith of Politico, “Robocalls are a relatively inexpensive way to deliver a negative message, and used to be seen as an under-the-radar way to do it, though that's no longer really true.” Indeed, scripts and audio of McCain’s robocalls are popping up all over the Internet, though there's scant mention of what the Obama campaign's calls contain. And unfortunately for McCain, coverage of robocalling isn't translating into positive press.
Image by Joe Wu, licensed under Creative Commons.
Wednesday, October 08, 2008 1:55 PM
Was it a “game-changer”? Did McCain “take the gloves off”? Did “Main Street” rule over “Wall Street”? Is there another hackneyed expression we could judge this debate by? Here’s some cliché-free post-debate analysis rounded up from the blogosphere.
First, here are the numbers on who "won" from CNN and CBS News. Now, let’s move onto actual policy matters.
’s Matt Welch is not pleased with McCain’s new and rather vague mortgage buy-up plan:
"I would order the Secretary of the Treasury to immediately buy up the bad home loan mortgages in America and renegotiate at the new value of those homes, at the diminished value of those homes and let people make those, be able to make those payments and stay in their homes," McCain said. "Is it expensive? Yes."
Is it yet another McCain Hail Mary pass in a campaign that will soon be remembered for nothing but? Also, yes. And it was the latest indication in a grim season for free marketeers that there is no corner of American life that leading politicians aren't eagerly lining up to nationalize.
The plan has been latched onto by pundits as the freshest policy proposal from last night’s debate, but as Rooflines notes, FactCheck.org explains why it’s actually pretty stale (as in Obama and the bailout have both been there already):
McCain proposed to write down the amount owed by over-mortgaged homeowners and claimed the idea as his own: “It’s my proposal, it's not Sen. Obama's proposal, it's not President Bush's proposal.” But the idea isn’t new. Obama had endorsed something similar two weeks earlier, and authority for the treasury secretary to grant such relief was included in the recently passed $700 billion financial rescue package.
Meanwhile, Earl Ofari Hutchinson, writing over at New America Media, wonders if we’ll ever get to hear from the candidates about some other issues:
Okay, we now know for the umpteenth time that Senator Barack Obama and Senator John McCain will cut taxes, provide affordable health care to everyone, drill for more oil, expand nuclear power use, end global warming, rein in the Wall Street fast buck artists, take out Osama Bin Laden, and end the war in Iraq either by withdrawal or victory. And yes we know that both have had a tough family upbringing, and therefore they know what working people have to go through.
These themes have been rehashed and reworked so many times that we can recite them in our sleep. But what we don’t know and certainly haven’t heard in the debates is what Obama and McCain will do about failing urban public schools, the HIV-AIDS pandemic, their view of the death penalty, the drug crisis, how they’ll combat hate crimes, shore up crumbling and deteriorating urban transportation systems, and what type of judges they will appoint to the federal judiciary and to the Supreme Court....
The result is that the only thing the 50 to 60 million viewers who have tuned into the two debates know about these equally vital public policy concerns can only be gleaned from canned snippets from their speeches on the campaign trail, or more likely by going to their campaign Web sites. For most, that’s not going to happen.
Indeed, probably not. But why bother with such matters when there’s the “that one” hubbub to delve into. I think a commenter on Ta-Nehisi Coates’ live blog captures the appropriate response rather succinctly:
Oh, no he didn't == "That one"????
Ezra Klein at the American Prospect parses it a wee bit further:
I didn't think the moment came off as racist. Rather, it was tone deaf. It was Grandpa Simpson. It was cranky. Which fits it into a narrative connecting the first two debates. In both, McCain's most memorable tics were exhibitions of contempt for Barack Obama. in the first encounter, he couldn't bear to look at Obama, and he used "What Senator Obama doesn't understand" the way other people use "um." In the second, he dismissed him in the language a busy mother uses for her third child, as if he couldn't be bothered to recall the youngster's name. But the youngster is the leading candidate for President of the United States. And McCain is doing himself no favors by acting unable to treat his opponent with respect. It's bad form in general, but it's particularly unhelpful for McCain, who has put a lot of energy and political capital into developing a reputation as respectful towards his political competitors.
And speaking of Homer’s elder, Andrew Sullivan had some good advice via his live blog of the debate:
Memo to McCain: don't talk about Herbert Hoover. The Abraham Simpson problem.
I’d add a few more off-limits geezer flags to that list: his need for hair transplants or arcane terminology like “tillers.” I’m not taking shots at the guy for being old, but I am saying that any undecideds out there who are a wee bit wary of Sarah Palin ruling the country don’t want to be reminded of the fact that McCain is getting on in years—a fact driven home most glaringly last night by the visual of McCain pacing aimlessly about the floor during some of Obama’s answers.
To wrap things up, Josh Marshall captured my debate mood best on his live blog when, half-an-hour in, he noted:
This debate's so boring I don't even know what to tell the staff to upload to youtube.
Even if I weren’t an Obama supporter, I would be thanking the man for shunning McCain’s proposal to do ten townhall debates. I can’t imagine anyone sitting through one, let alone ten, reruns of last night. Thank heavens there’s just one more debate to go.
Tuesday, September 16, 2008 5:49 PM
Jews in Pennsylvania and Florida have been receiving deceptive political phone calls asking: Would it affect your voting choice to learn that “Barack Obama called for holding a summit of Muslim nations excluding Israel if elected president?” What if you learned that “the leader of Hamas, Ahmed Yousef, expressed support for Obama and his hope for Obama's victory?”
Jonathan Cohn of the New Republic received one of these misleading calls and tried to dig up who was behind the smear. The supervisor gave the name Central Marketing Research Inc., but would give little information beyond that. Ben Smith of the Politico got reports that the phone calls came from "Research Strategies" and were directed at people in the traditionally Jewish Squirrel Hill neighborhood of Pittsburg, Pennsylvania, and in Key West, Florida.
The phone calls have been called “push polling” by a number of news organizations. Some have pointed out the similarities between the phone calls against Obama and the smears that hurt John McCain campaign in the 2000 election. David Kurtz, writing for Talking Points Memo, points out that the polls seem to be part of a real opinion poll “testing the effect of fear-mongering about Obama on Jewish voters,” rather than a traditional push poll. In either case, the smear seems to indicate that as distasteful as things have gotten in this election, they’re probably going to get worse.
UPDATE (9/17): The Politico’s Ben Smith reports that the Republican Jewish Coalition, a group behind other Obama attack ads, has taken responsibility for the poll.
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