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Showing posts from August, 2012

Thinking about racism, Ta-Nehisi Coates, and Jamelle Bouie

My conservative friends and I argue, from time to time, about the existence of racism in our politics. These conversations are always the most bruising, and they usually come down to the same calculus: I see racism in areas of our public and political life where they don't, and they resent being tarred as racists--or seeing others tarred as racists--for comments and actions that aren't necessarily racist. It's a conversation that happened again today in the aftermath of Mitt Romney's birth certificate joke, and my own cranky reaction to it.
It just so happens that Ta-Nehisi Coates has an essay at The Atlantic called "Fear of a Black President," and the title alone, I think, is guaranteed to irritate and offend my conservative friends. "There liberals go again, blaming the backlash to President Obama on race instead of the real reasons for the intense opposition!" And yes, it comes from a liberal viewpoint. But I still hope it gets a good reading.

B…

Romney goes for the racist dogwhistle

So this happened:


This is Romney having his cake and eating it too, because—let's be honest here—birtherism is racism. And while Romney doesn't out and out endorse birtherism with this comment (leaving himself the wiggle room of plausible deniability) while still letting folks know that birtherism is somehow legitimate.

And hey, here's the thing Goveror Romney: Barack Obama has shown his birth certificate. Even if there were questions, they've been answered. When are you showing us your tax returns?


A quick series of rules for spotting political hoaxes

This afternoon, a friend posted to Facebook a startling story: Mitt Romney had told a crowd of supporters that he had received deferments from military service in Vietnam, because, well...
My father did not want me serving, and he convinced me that yes, I was too important to go to Vietnam. I had a greater purpose in life. It was, of course, bullshit.

Here are my rules for sniffing out a political hoax. They're not failsafe, because nothing is, but they've served me well and kept me from blogging stupid, stupid stuff many times. The rules?

Use your common sense. Did the candidate's statement sound like surefire political suicide? Well, as dumb as most politicians can be, they usually have a strong sense of self-preservation. If it sounds like a candidate tossed that caution to the wind, you'll want to double-check your sources before posting something to Facebook or your blog.

Google it, and check for mainstream media sources. Yeah, yeah, the MSM is biased and dyin…

How relevant are Paul Ryan's abortion views?

Not very, says Alana Goodman:
There’s only so much mud the Democrats can sling at Paul Ryan’s deficit plan before the public starts to catch on that the Democratic Party has no plan for tackling the problem whatsoever. So they’re still going to have to continue to make this election about small issues — hence the completely irrelevant attack on Ryan’s views on abortion. Completely irrelevant? I don't think so. 2010 was a big year for Republicans, who swept into office on voter anger about the economy and President Obama's perceived failure in handling it. And those economically oriented Republicans then set about in Congress and in the states to attack Planned Parenthood and tighten abortion restrictions wherever they could. (I call this move the "Reverse Thomas Frank.") Paul Ryan doesn't want to talk about abortion? Fine. That doesn't mean abortion isn't an issue.

Not that it's a terribly complicated. If you're pro-life, vote Republican. If you…

Somebody that you used to know.

Via Andrew Sullivan: Gotye re-mixes all his YouTube admirers:



Since my surgeries last year, I'm a little more prone to weepiness at unusual moments. I held my fire on this one, but ... I think the living room might've been a little dusty. Ahem.

Oh, hell. I find this stuff inspiring. People took a piece of art that they enjoyed and created something new with it. And in turn, the original artist took their work ... and made something new out of that. There's something profound and maybe even a little sacred about that process. And yeah, I'm moved by it.

I know there are still a few people out there who deny that remix and mashup culture create real art. They're wrong. All remixes and mashups do is make explicit the age-old transaction of art, and do it something much closer to real time. It's a joyous, beautiful, wonderful thing.

In any case, this stuff gets to me all the time. Here's a Radiohead piece that (yes) made me sob when I was deep into my Percocet l…

The death penalty and vengeance: A reply to William Voegeli

I woke up this morning to discover William Voegeli talking about me at National Review:
After Jonah Goldberg applied the case for capital punishment to the Aurora shootings, the liberal blogger Joel Mathis argued that executing James Holmes would serve no purpose other than retribution. Mathis implied that 1) deterrence can’t be part of the death-penalty debate in a case like the movie-theater atrocity, since people wicked or unhinged enough to contemplate perpetrating an unprovoked massacre of random strangers are unlikely to work through any cost-benefit analysis; and 2) there are people who think retribution is “justification enough” for capital punishment, but Mathis isn’t one of them and has a low opinion of those who are. I think Voegeli inferred just a bit too much here: After all, he's clearly in favor of retributive capital punishment and I think highly enough of him—even if we disagree about many, many things. And more precisely, I wasn't arguing that you couldn'…

Lies, damned lies, and Harry Reid

Almost none of my liberal friends liked my Monday column for The Philly Post, in which I took Harry Reid to task for his apparent lies about Mitt Romney's taxes. The best response came from a friend via email:
Eh, you're not making the sale with me on this one.  I think you're too enamored with "civility" in general.   The Republicans' and Rove's treatment of Clinton, Kerry and Obama just isn't in even the same moral universe as alleging that (someone said that) Romney didn't pay taxes.  And what these Republicans stand for--in terms of policy--is just morally wrong, so I don't much care how we oppose it, as long as it's legal and it gets the job done. Here, he quotes from my column: "But if we’re now at a point where we openly and knowingly root for our side to do a better job of lying to and misleading the public better than the other guys can, well, then, the game is over. Governance will have little relationship to the truth, and t…

Letter to a Christian friend: Gays, and gay marriage, and (yes) Chick-fil-A

A good friend of mine from my Christian days emails me with some heavy queries:  What would you say are the most important values everyone, regardless of belief, should pass on to their children? What would you want a Christian parent to teach their children that would be in line with Biblical teaching of Jesus Christ?   What do you believe the appropriate Christian response to the Chick-fil-a ordeal would be? How should a Christian owner of a business conduct their business? What mistakes do you think the owner of Chick-fil-a has made? Going beyond Chick-fil-a, what do you believe the appropriate Christian response to be to homosexuals? same sex marriage?

If Jesus is God and the Bible is true, and you were committed to live under the authority of Christ in all areas of your life, how would you respond to these questions? Do you think your responses would be different? My response, edited and modified for the wider audience:
I really do respect and love my Christian friends, and my 30…

Chick-fil-A

I'm not going to eat a sandwich today because one side wants me to. I'm not going to not eat a sandwich because the other side wants me to. It strikes me that there's something vulgar about the way fast food has become the battlefield upon which we do battle over an issue of civil rights, so I'm not going to play that game.

This is what I'm going to do:

I'm going to fervently hope that my gay and lesbian friends achieve the right to civil marriage.

I'm going to loudly advocate, using my little platforms, that that right be extended to them.

I am going to vote for politicians who agree with me on this issue, and against those who don't.

And I'm going to donate money, when I have it, to organizations that work to secure that right.

Finally, I'm going to demand that my elected officials respect the rights of those people who disagree with me, because that, too, is the right thing to do.

I ... won't participate in a gaudy display of face stuffin…

Thomas Sowell's cherry-picking straw man

Thomas Sowell says President Obama and the elites are lying to you because, get this:
Perhaps the biggest lie of this election year, and the one likely to be repeated the most often, is that the income of “the rich” is going up, while other people’s incomes are going down. If you listen to Barack Obama, you are bound to hear this lie repeatedly.  But the government’s own Congressional Budget Office has just published a report whose statistics flatly contradict this claim. The CBO report shows that, while the average household income fell 12 percent between 2007 and 2009, the average for the lower four-fifths fell by 5 percent or less, while the average income for households in the top fifth fell 18 percent. For households in the “top 1 percent” that seems to fascinate so many people, income fell by 36 percent in those same years. Several big problems in two paragraphs:

• Having spent some time reading about this issue the last couple of years, I can tell you that the argument is not t…