Archive for the 'General Politics' Category

The Moralist’s Catch-22

OK, let’s make a couple of assumptions right off the bat for the purpose of this exercise.

  1. You want to help others.
  2. You’d like not to compromise your own values in doing so.

Simple enough. Now, what do you do when compromising your own values is the best way to help people?

This is the moralist’s dilemma, and every now and then it becomes a focal point of policy. Do we employ torture in the hope that it saves innocents, or do we shun the practice, deciding that the moral implications outweigh the potential good?

What’s interesting politically about such dilemmas is that they are a poor litmus test. For instance, someone on the right might say yes to torture but no to sex-ed that isn’t abstinence-based. Sex education, as with torture in the abstract, compromises their values. But in this scenario, our hypothetical right-wing friend doesn’t think the benefits of lower rates of teen pregnancy or sexually transmitted disease are worth the moral grey of handing out condoms.

I don’t mean to pick on anyone; the point is you can’t simply say conservatives make moral compromises, liberals don’t, or vice versa. In fact, it would be far more accurate to say that, when dealing with the morally grey, liberals and conservatives alike will only “go there” when the cause matches their ideological bent. Adding to the deficit is OK when it’s to cut taxes, but not when it’s to increase spending. And on, and on.

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Suite101 Article: “Should Polls Matter…?”

After much procrastinating, I finally wrote my first article for Suite101. Their formatting kind of annoys me — namely putting my lede in a little yellow box — but it’s a good way to get some exposure and clips.

Here’s a snippet, check it out…

Were one creating a Platonic Republic, one might even divvy up legislative responsibility according to expertise: for instance, assigning the teacher-turned-representative from Utah to deal with education and education alone.

The realities of this republic, however, afford neither the luxury of specialization nor, even, representation in the sense of a senator making his or her own decisions with the constituency’s blessing. The United States doesn’t work that way: a vote in November isn’t understood to be a blank check for the person elected. Electoral pressures make representation less a mandate to vote on the electorate’s behalf than an appointment to vote as the public demands, lest they be replaced in the future.

BaucusCare Criticisms

Today, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) pulled back the curtains on Baucus-care, the definitive Gang of Six Finance Committee health care opus magnum we’ve been hearing so much about.

For his trouble, Baucus has been teared into by just about everyone. Progressives hate it, chiefly because it scrapped the public option, and even the trigger compromise, in favor of non-profit private health insurance cooperatives. Conservatives hate it because it costs a bunch, doesn’t do much to make insurance more affordable for those who already have it, includes an individual mandate that carries a hefty (up to $3,800 a year for a household) fine, and cuts nearly $500 billion from Medicare¹.

Though the plan was released today, The New York Times already assembled a bunch of really smart people to dissect it.

Here’s some snippets of the more interesting critiques.

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Hiatus? More like, bye-atus… Amiright?

At some point in the last, oh, two months, I convinced myself that someone would actually pay me to work for them.

Man, am I a sap.

As a result, my frail psyche has been imbued with just the right combination of self-loathing, boredom and stick-to-it-iveness to put some actual effort into this blog.

What you — Dan, Luke, the spambots and the circus enthusiasts who occasionally stumble upon this blog by mistake — can expect in coming weeks is the following:

  • Blog posts. In an abrupt departure from what the Two-Ring faithful have been used to, I will write stuff. Some of it will suck. But it’s better for my general well-being than opening new tabs I don’t intend to use and sporadically clicking my Facebook¹ bookmark.
  • Footnotes.²
  • Expert³ commentary.
  • Hyperlinks.
  • Exhaustive coverage of Fox’s hit new sitcom, Glee, airing Wednesday nights at 9 pm EST.

¹Speaking of Facebook: Catherine Anderson “had an epic dream about the sex-slave industry (with elements of her own life mixed in) last night that was the equivalent in plot and detail to five dreams! It might take me a while to sort out everything God is telling me.” Neat-o.

²Also, questionable grammar decisions. Does a footnote go inside the period like a parenthetical citation, or outside the period like a quotation mark?

³-ish.

American Politics in 50 Words or Less

And given the contrast between ironclad discipline on the GOP side and the “anything goes” attitude on the Democratic side, it looks like for a while yet we may be in a California-style dynamic where Republicans can’t win elections but Democrats can’t actually pass a governing agenda.

Matthew Iglesias, ThinkProgress.org

A perfect description of why a big tent supermajority isn’t really a supermajority at all.

Captain Kirk Does Palin

And I do double entendre.

Here’s the clip from The Tonight Show:

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Captain Kirk Does Palin“, posted with vodpod

Thoughts On Gates-gate

Though it pains me to do so, I’m going to dip a toe into some sound byte coverage. (In case you’re wondering, the water kind of sucks. Case in point: some drivel from the Christian Science Monitor’s blog which has Bill Cosby weighing in on politics.)

The latest scandal over diction is President Obama’s comment that the arresting officer in the Henry Gates incident.

Here’s the CS Monitor with just the basic facts (Skip to the jump for my analysis. It’s blockquote time.):

According to the police report, police received a call that two men black were trying to break into Gates’s house. In fact, the two men were Gates and his driver, who were trying to open the front door, which was jammed.

Both sides have suggested that the other was argumentative. The police report says Gates eventually became verbally abusive, accusing the officer of suspecting him simply because he was black. He was arrested soon after and placed in jail for four hours.

Cambridge police officials claim that the incident was an unfortunate escalation of wills. “I think what went wrong is that you had two human beings that were reacting … and cooler heads did not prevail,” said Cambridge police spokeswoman Kelly Downes.

And here was Obama’s take, when asked for it at a health care presser:

Now, I don’t know, not having been there and not seeing all the facts, what role race played in that, but I think it’s fair to say, number one, any of us would be pretty angry; number two, that the Cambridge Police acted stupidly in arresting somebody when there was already proof that they were in their own home; and number three, what I think we know separate and apart from this incident is that there is a long history in this country of African Americans and Latinos being stopped by law enforcement disproportionately.  That’s just a fact.

This certainly doesn’t merit the coverage it’s garnered, but it’s certainly fair for the police to take offense to kinda/sorta being called stupid by the Most Eloquent Man in the World. Especially given that we now know there was a black officer at the scene, who since has backed up his white partner’s handling of the situation.

Here’s Obama’s clarification quip, which I find to be a very reasonable reaction.

I have to say I am surprised by the controversy surrounding my statement, because I think it was a pretty straightforward commentary that you probably don’t need to handcuff a guy, a middle-aged man who uses a cane, who’s in his own home.

And, finally, the only reason any of this is worth talking about.

The fact that it has garnered so much attention, I think, is testimony to the fact that these are issues that are still very sensitive here in America.

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About the Author

Brian Eason is a University of Missouri graduate with bachelor degrees in Journalism and Political Science. He has covered Congressional elections and local government for the Columbia Missourian and worked as a general assignment reporter for the State Journal-Register in Springfield, IL. Brian has also had articles published in Roll Call.