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Dec. 28 2009 — 12:28 pm | 55 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Time to repeal Godwin’s Law

Official portrait of Senator {{w|Sheldon White...

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Last weekend, amidst the passage of historic health care legislation and an equally historic blizzard–historic because both represented new Washington precedents–Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, Democrat of Rhode Island, took to the floor to denounce today’s Republican Party in starkly moralistic terms. You can, and you should, read the whole speech here, but for now, consider this excerpt:

Far from appealing to the better angels of our nature, too many colleagues are embarked on a desperate, no-holds-barred mission of propaganda, falsehood, obstruction and fear.

History cautions us of the excesses to which these malignant, vindictive passions can ultimately lead. Tumbrels have rolled through taunting crowds. Broken glass has sparkled in darkened streets. Strange fruit has hung from Southern trees. Even this great institution of government that we share has cowered before a tail-gunner waving secret lists. Those malignant movements rightly earned what Lord Acton called “the undying penalty which history has the power to inflict upon wrong.”

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Dec. 15 2009 — 3:39 pm | 7 views | 0 recommendations | 1 comment

Obama’s responsibility for the Lieberman disaster

WASHINGTON - OCTOBER 27:  Sen. Joe Lieberman (...

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Joe Lieberman is a disgrace–really, a wretched human being who is, as Ezra Klein perceptively noted, willing to allow people to die in order to demonstrate his personal pique against liberals.  I know of no moral calculus that allows for that kind of decision-making.

Yet progressives should still support this bill. As Paul Starr, a progressive health care expert if there ever was one, has explained, getting this bill done will mean moving the ball forward significantly, to the benefit of many low-income Americans. And: “…If Democrats succeed in getting a bill through Congress in the next several weeks, they can return to some of the issues in the reconciliation process next year. And at that point they won’t necessarily need to have Lieberman on board.”

OK. Better than nothing. But I am more than exasperated. And I know I’m not alone.

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Dec. 10 2009 — 2:19 pm | 49 views | 1 recommendations | 0 comments

That Old College Lie

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This month, hundreds of thousands of American high school seniors are anxiously putting the finishing touches on their college applications, hoping to join the ranks of The Many, The Proud…The College-Educated. There can be little doubt that the incredible expansion in access to higher education over the past six decades, since the end of World War II, has been a good thing. Yet does our system of undergraduate education today serve our students well? It seems not.

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Dec. 2 2009 — 11:07 am | 7 views | 0 recommendations | 19 comments

Can we have an honest Afghanistan debate? Please?

WEST POINT, NY - DECEMBER 01:  Cadets in the a...

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My God. Until last night, I wasn’t aware of how many military experts there are in this country! After Obama’s West Point speech, it’s as if everyone has an opinion on the precise troop levels required for success in Afghanistan. “He should have inserted 40,000 troops, not 30! Only then could we win!” Or: “We’d be fine with far fewer troops; the prez is a putz.”

Of course, many people now making such proclamations have little actual expertise about these subjects. Instead, they’re responding to the constraints of our war debate, which has become overtaken by the technocratic experts, who choose to believe that everything can be reduced to a number: troop levels, benchmarks, etc. These are important things, surely. Yet such expertise can only tell us so much in a debate about a subject as complicated and consequential as Afghanistan. What we need is a robust, honest debate about long-term American strategy, grounded in values–a debate in which troop levels and military theory can play a role, but not dominate, or get even close.

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Nov. 23 2009 — 5:15 pm | 98 views | 0 recommendations | 6 comments

SNL: Occasionally humorous right-wing propaganda organ

NEW YORK - MAY 18:  Saturday Night Live Founde...

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I’ll be honest: I didn’t watch Saturday Night Live this past weekend. But it doesn’t seem like I missed too much. Since Obama’s campaign took his off, and certainly since his presidency began, SNL has been a reliable source of right-wing, anti-Obama talking points. This weekend’s opening skit was no exception, lambasting Obama’s stimulus program, his deficit-spending, his deference to world leaders, etc. Most imaginatively, the skit seemed to blame America’s debt to China on Obama himself, which is a laughable proposition–unlike the rest of the skit, which you can see here.

SNL’s anti-Obama tidings have been visible for some time. Perhaps they started during the primaries, when the show attacked the media for being favorable to Obama at the expense of Hillary; certainly the show’s general outlook toward the president were clear when Fred Armisen, the guy the show pays to play Obama in blackface, announced in character that the president had accomplished “nothing.” (Tell that to those who think the guy has brought socialism to the United States.)

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    About Me

    I live in Washington, D.C., a few blocks away from the White House--hence the title of this blog. In my day job, I'm the associate editor of Democracy: A Journal of Ideas (www.democracyjournal.org). I've written for The Nation, Politico, The New Republic, Mother Jones, and the NY Daily News, among other places. This blog will be about politics and the Red Sox.

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    Contributor Since: May 2009
    Location:The Capitol

    What I'm Up To

    • Jared Bernstein profile

      I’ve written a piece for Mother Jones about Jared Bernstein, Obama’s top progressive economic advisor. Is he a token, or does his role signal something broader about the administration’s intentions? Check out the piece here.

    • Obama’s first draft

      Barack Obama’s success last fall was unlikely, but did not come out nowhere–he owes a lot to the pioneering work of Cesar Chavez, farm worker organizer of the 1960’s and ’70s. Or so I argue in the latest issue of In These Times. Check it out here.

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