aTypical Joe: a gay New Yorker living in the rural South
Saturday, April 23, 2005
Kevin Drum looks into whether Republicans have succeeded in replacing the unpopular term “private accounts” with the more politically palatable term “personal accounts.” He charts media use of the two phrases and concludes:
So: although Republicans have indeed been working with Orwellian thoroughness to modify the linguistics of Social Security, I’m happy to report that they’ve had only minor success. Overall, it looks to me like the media is writing about Social Security pretty much the way they always have.
It looks like the Republicans are having more success at getting the term “nuclear option” designated a Democrat-created smear phrase. Armondo at Daily Kos is watching and fuming:
The Republicans INVENTED the phrase the “nuclear option” and now they are trying to weasel out of it by calling it a Democratic phrase.
Changing the Senate’s rules on judicial filibustering was first addressed in 2003, during the successful Democratic filibuster against Miguel Estrada, whom Bush had nominated to the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. Ted Stevens, a Republican Senate veteran from Alaska, was complaining in the cloakroom that the Democratic tactic should simply be declared out of order, and, soon enough, a group of Republican aides began to talk about changing the rules. It was understood at once that such a change would be explosive; Senator Trent Lott, the former Majority Leader, came up with “nuclear option,” and the term stuck.
Frank Rich on “Justice Sunday”
Frank Rich’s column in the Sunday NYTimes:
The fraudulence of “Justice Sunday” begins but does not end with its sham claims to solidarity with the civil rights movement of that era. “The filibuster was once abused to protect racial bias,” says the flier for tonight’s show, “and now it is being used against people of faith.” In truth, Bush judicial nominees have been approved in exactly the same numbers as were Clinton second-term nominees. Of the 13 federal appeals courts, 10 already have a majority of Republican appointees. So does the Supreme Court. It’s a lie to argue, as Tom DeLay did last week, that such a judiciary is the “left’s last legislative body,” and that Justice Anthony Kennedy, a Reagan appointee, is the poster child for “outrageous” judicial overreach. Our courts are as highly populated by Republicans as the other two branches of government.
The “Justice Sunday” mob is also lying when it claims to despise activist judges as a matter of principle. Only weeks ago it was desperately seeking activist judges who might intervene in the Terri Schiavo case as boldly as Scalia & Co. had in Bush v. Gore. The real “Justice Sunday” agenda lies elsewhere. As Bill Maher summed it up for Jay Leno on the “Tonight” show last week: “ ‘Activist judges’ is a code word for gay.” The judges being verbally tarred and feathered are those who have decriminalized gay sex (in a Supreme Court decision written by Justice Kennedy) as they once did abortion and who countenance marriage rights for same-sex couples. This is the animus that dares not speak its name tonight. To paraphrase the “Justice Sunday” flier, now it’s the anti-filibuster campaign that is being abused to protect bias, this time against gay people.
Once upon a time you might have wondered what Senator Frist is doing lighting matches in this tinderbox. As he never ceases to remind us, he is a doctor - an M.D., not some mere Ph.D. like Dr. Dobson - with an admirable history of combating AIDS in Africa. But this guy signed his pact with the devil even before he decided to grandstand in the Schiavo case by besmirching the diagnoses of neurologists who, unlike him, had actually examined the patient.
It was three months earlier, on the Dec. 5, 2004, edition of ABC News’s “This Week With George Stephanopoulos,” that Dr. Frist enlisted in the Perkins-Dobson cavalry. That week Bush administration abstinence-only sex education programs had been caught spreading bogus information, including the canard that tears and sweat can transmit H.I.V. and AIDS - a fiction that does nothing to further public health but is very effective at provoking the demonization of gay men and any other high-risk group for the disease. Asked if he believed this junk science was true, the Princeton-and-Harvard-educated Dr. Frist said, “I don’t know.” After Mr. Stephanopoulos pressed him three more times, this fine doctor theorized that it “would be very hard” for tears and sweat to spread AIDS (still a sleazy answer, since there have been no such cases).
The whole column must be read.
To celebrate the doctor!
UPDATE: The party was a success. The evening was a bit cold, so it ended early, but fun nonetheless. A good time was had by all. At Doug’s suggestion, a few photos follow below.
I vote for deliberative debate
Ann Coulter on the cover Time (find it yourself, I can’t bring myself to link to it) caused a week of blogger ire, much too much to point to (if interested I’d start at the Ann Coulter topic on Media Matters) and Brew at I’m Just Waiting for the Robot Invasion asked Monday, Are you a helper or a hurter, Ann?
His conclusion? Ann and her ilk make a positive contribution:
I often hate everything they have to say, and disagree with their positions with every fiber of my being, but they’ve brought something back to American politics that I think has been missing. The American public.
Fair point, but still I didn’t agree. All week I wanted to comment but couldn’t quite put my finger on it. Then finally yesterday Digby said it best:
There is an overt advocation of group hatred evolving here that should be offensive to everyone. Politics is a rough game and nobody says that we all have to speak as if we are at a tea party for Queen Elizabeth. But you have to look at the substance of what people like Coulter and Limbaugh are saying. They are making millions of dollars selling the message that liberals are enemies of America. Not just wrong. Not just stupid. Not just ugly. Dangerous traitors in a time of enormous challenge and global military action. People are reading and listening to this stuff and if they don’t know better they might just think she isn’t joking. Which I would argue, she isn’t.
So I went back to Brew and commented, quoting Digby, then added: That’s wonderfully clear and I completely agree. But I have a second point and that is about the tone of the debate. I like the term and the concept of “deliberative” and what she and others do (and too many liberals too) is the opposite of deliberative. It blocks deliberative impulses and replaces them with gut reactions.
Our media (and blog) culture encourages the shouting match, when what our culture and politics would benefit from is deliberation. (On my own blog I try to resist the temptation to stridently rant, and use it instead as a place for my own deliberative development. I like I’m Just Waiting for the Robot Invasion because it strikes me as thoughtful and deliberative too.)
I believe people can be engaged in other more healthy ways. The rant is a sometimes useful but intellectually lazy and culturally destructive shortcut.
“Wikipedia, Wikipedia, my favorite thing”
Now they’re applying the Wiki process to news:
The Wikinews site follows essentially the same set of rules as the Wikipedia encyclopedia, which allows anyone to create entries or edit and correct other people’s work, so long as each change is recorded. Unlike Wikipedia, however, which is solely a reference work, Wikinews reporters are encouraged to submit original stories and photos. [...]
David Speakman, a Wikinews administrator who posts under the username Davodd, says it will take time for the site to live up to its potential as a news outlet for the masses. Over the last few months, Speakman says the news operation has been gaining new participants at a faster rate than other sites operated by Wikipedia. However, he doesn’t believe the site is generating enough fresh material yet.