Like many evangelicals in Iowa, Steve Deace, an influential conservative radio host, is wrestling with the possibility that Newt Gingrich may be the most viable standard bearer for family-values voters in the next election. It’s a conundrum, he says, that many others are also grappling with. “Maybe the guy in the race that would make the best president is on his third marriage,” he says. “How do we reconcile that?”
“Under normal circumstances, Gingrich would have some real problems with the social-conservative community,” says Tony Perkins, head of the Family Research Council. “But these aren’t normal circumstances.” Continue reading Newt Gingrich has “family values?” WTF?!?
Not that this should come as any surprise, but we now have confirmation that the Bush administration refused to award Harry Potter author JK Rowling the Presidential Medal of Freedom because the books “encouraged witchcraft.”
For a second, let’s set aside any arguments over whether or not Rowling’s work merits such a lofty honor and do something that we simply don’t do enough these days. Let’s dig beneath the surface silliness and examine the deeper implications of what this revelation really means.
Put simply, would you be worried about “encouraging” something you didn’t think was possible? It’s one thing to want to discourage, say, meth use or binge drinking or texting while driving or unprotected sex. Those things are real and they have real, observable consequences. Continue reading Did President Bush believe that Harry Potter was real? It sure sounds that way.
Part 2 of a series; Previously: What Bell Labs and French Intellectuals Can Tell Us About Cronkite and Couric
The Signal-to-Noise Journey of American Media
The 20th Century represented a Golden Age of Institutional Journalism. The Yellow Journalism wars of the late 19th Century gave way to a more responsible mode of reporting built on ethical and professional codes that encouraged fairness and “objectivity.” (Granted, these concepts, like their bastard cousin “balance,” are not wholly unproblematic. Still, they represented a far better way of conducting journalism than we had seen before.) It’s probably not idealizing too much to assert that reporting in the Cronkite Era, for instance, was characterized by a commitment to rise above partisanship and manipulation. The journalist was expected to hold him/herself to a higher standard and to serve the public interest. These professionals – and I have met a few who are more than worthy of the title – believed they had a duty to search for the facts and to present them in a fashion that was as free of bias as possible.
In other words, their careers, like that of Claude Shannon, were devoted to maximizing the signal in the system – the system here being the “marketplace of ideas.” Continue reading Why American media has such a signal-to-noise problem, pt. 2
Let’s begin with a brief Q&A with America.
Q: Let’s say you’re sick with a potentially deadly disease. Who do you want for a doctor?
A: The smartest, most experienced and highly qualified expert in the field.
Q: You’re looking to invest your life savings. Who do you trust to handle your money?
A: The brightest, most agile financial mind I can find.
Q: You’ve been selected to participate in a “private citizens in space” program. Who do you want in charge of building the rocket? Continue reading America and its presidents: what the fuck is wrong with you people?
SOMETHING MUST BE DONE TO STOP AMERICA’S DANGEROUS RUSH INTO THE ARMS OF SOCIALISM!!!! If Obama isn’t stopped immediately he’ll tax us all to death just like his SOCIALIST predecessors, Eisenhower and Nixon and Reagan and … errr, wait a minute….
Dear Mr. Buffet, Mr. Gates, Mr. Turner, Mr. Soros, Ms. Winfrey, and any other hyper-rich types with progressive political leanings:
If this essay has, against all odds, somehow made its way to your desk, please, bear with me. It’s longish, but it winds eventually toward an exceedingly important conclusion. If you’ll give me a few minutes, I’ll do my best to reward your patience.
In the 2008 election, Barack Obama won a landmark political victory on a couple of prominent themes: “hope” and “change.” He has since been afforded ample opportunity to talk about these ideas, having inherited the nastiest economic quagmire in living memory and a Republican minority in Congress that has interpreted November’s results as a mandate to obstruct the public interest even more rabidly than it was doing before. Reactions among those of us who supported Obama have been predictably mixed, but even those who have been critical of his efforts to date are generally united in their hope that his win signaled the end of “movement conservatism” in the US. Continue reading An open letter to America’s progressive billionaires
I come before you this morning with a morality play, a modern-day American fable. I’d call the following, which made its way to me a few days ago, a true story, but since I wasn’t actually present I suppose I can’t swear to its accuracy. I will say that the source is someone I have come to respect and trust, and I believe that what I am about to relate is, in fact, true, even if the facts are off an inch or two in places. So I’ll change the names to protect myself from malevolent whores litigious types and leave you to decide if it all seems plausible.
Meet Danielle Jones
My source is a woman we’ll call Anne. Continue reading I’ll let you work for me for free: a fable for our times
In an NPR piece the other day on the return of Newt Gingrich, reporter Lynn Neary noted that some Republicans are attempting to lure the former House speaker back into the party leadership as the head of the Republican National Committee. Newt says the chances of that happening are pretty much zero, as he’s focusing all his time and energy on two things: the Center for Health Transformation and American Solutions.
The latter group is the one that brought you the “drill here, drill now, pay less” canard. They’re also pushing for a repeal of Sarbanes-Oxley (the corporate accountability law passed in the wake of the Enron, WorldCom, Qwest, Adelphia, and Tyco debacles) and are agitating for a zero capital gains tax rate and a “12% corporate income tax rate strategy for economic growth.” Continue reading Back to the Newture
Trusting is one thing I don’t know
When it comes to the campaigning men
But I’ll meet you at the election
When I vote for the hope of this land
– Sean Kelly
You may have noticed, if you’ve been paying attention, that the music industry has gone to hell of late. It isn’t that nobody is making good music anymore – on the contrary, there are legions of fantastic bands and artists out there. It’s just that the best ones rarely get played on the radio; the recording industry cranks out nothing but imitation, prefabricated product – the musical equivalent of Cheez-Whiz (Now With Zero Intellectual Calories!); the RIAA – the body that’s allegedly working on behalf of artists – never misses a chance to kneecap young, developing musicians; and if an artist is making a living, it’s probably at a day job and not with his or her music. Continue reading ElecTunesDay: ending the War on Music
Hey, America: are your politicians stupid or do they just think you are? Check this new analysis of Thursday night’s “debate”:
An analysis carried out by a language monitoring service said Friday that Gov. Sarah Palin spoke at a more than ninth-grade level and Sen. Joseph Biden spoke at a nearly eighth-grade level in Thursday night’s debate between the vice presidential candidates.
Which proves my initial take right, I guess. Continue reading Study proves Biden won debate by more than a full grade level