Fox news headline of the day


President of the United States Loves Gangsta Rap

Or, “non racially-coded headline” as Chait puts it.

As for the love of Gangsta Rap, that comes from this Rolling Stone interview (via Chait)

What music have you been listening to lately? What have you discovered, what speaks to you these days?

Thanks to Reggie [Love, the president’s personal aide], my rap palate has greatly improved. Jay-Z used to be sort of what predominated, but now I’ve got a little Nas and a little Lil Wayne and some other stuff, but I would not claim to be an expert. Malia and Sasha are now getting old enough to where they start hipping me to things. Music is still a great source of joy and occasional solace in the midst of what can be some difficult days.

The cable news asymmetry

As you know, I hate when people try and create political symmetries where there are clear aysmmetries.  There’s no rule that says politics has to be symmetrical.  Case in point, MSNBC is simply not the liberal opposite of Fox news.  Sure, they have made a conscious business decision to have a liberal prime-time line-up of hosts, but that’s not at all the same thing as what Fox is doing.  Paul Waldman explains:

What that amounts to, Boehlert says, is “playing defense” — countering stories the right is pushing before they erupt into major mainstream controversies. Nevertheless, “what the left has no real ability to do is sort of create news or manufacture news the way the right does,” he says. “Very few stories make the leap from the liberal opinion media or the blogosphere to the mainstream.” Why is that? Todd Gitlin, professor of journalism at Columbia University, says the key is Fox News. “The membrane between the outside and inside media is porous, but it’s not nonexistent.” On the right, he says, “it’s Fox that makes the difference.” While MSNBC’s evening schedule features three liberal hosts (Olbermann, Maddow, and Ed Schultz), it doesn’t have the same around-the-clock consistency of both ideology and story selection that Fox does.

Fox does more than amplify the conservative message; it builds momentum for a story by hammering it over and over for days or weeks until the mainstream media finally feels compelled to discuss it. While Maddow may take an interest in a particular story other media are ignoring, she won’t be backed up by six separate MSNBC shows doing a dozen segments a day on her new pet topic. But Fox routinely takes that all-hands-on-deck approach. Recently Media Matters counted 95 separate segments on the New Black Panther Party voter-intimidation case — a contrived story conservatives did their best to trump up — in a period of two weeks on Fox. This kind of relentlessness doesn’t work every time, but it works often enough. Eventually, many other news outlets covered the voter-intimidation story.

This is a really important difference that affects what stories the mainstream media actually gives their blessing to.   If Fox news hammers it enough, there’s a good chance it will end up in the pages of the Times.  Not so, Rachel Maddow’s concerns.  And for the people who seem to think that CNN is some liberal media alternative to Fox, don’t get me started.

Free speech v. Tax benefits

We’ve got a pretty simple principle in our tax code– if you want tax free, non-profit status, you cannot directly advocate for political candidates.   This applies whether you are a charitable organization of a church.  Apparently, some conservative churches don’t like this:

Pulpit Freedom Sunday is an initiative organized by the Alliance Defense Fund, a conservative Christian nonprofit organization, which according to its website seeks to “defend the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.”

“We believe that a pastor has a right to speak whatever he believes without fearing the government will somehow censor what he says or threaten to take away his tax exemption,” ADF spokesman Erik Stanley said.

He said the group believes that the 1954 amendment, sponsored by then Sen. Lyndon Johnson, D-Texas, is a violation of the Constitution. According to the ADF, the government’s monitoring of the content of pastors’ and churches’ speech is a violation of the Free Speech Clause.

This just really annoyed me.  The 1st amendment guarantees these churches/pastors the right to say whatever they want about politics– it does not guarantee their right to do so while maintaining tax exempt status.   Secondly, how nice it must be to simply go by your own “interpretation” of the Constitution.  We do have a Supreme Court and this part of tax law apparently works for them.  It’s not as if the 1st amendment gives you the right to say whatever you want and face no consequences whatsoever– simply that you can in no way be prosecuted or censored for the content of your speech.

“Pledge to increase the deficit”

I borrowed the title straight from Chait because it was too good to pass up.  Given all the absurd posturing about “the deficit!” Here’s a chart that every Republican should be confronted with at every opportunity.

I’ll be somewhat lazy, and just paste Chait’s commentary as well, because it is spot-on (the omission, that he forgets to use the term “non-defense” before “discretionary spending”:

Even that is a generous grade for the Republican budget, as it assumes that the huge cuts to domestic discretionary spending will be carried out. Cutting domestic discretionary spending is a classic budget dodge. It’s a giant catch-all category of programs that have long resisted cutting either because they’re popular, vital, protected by powerful interest groups, or all three. A promise to cut domestic discretionary spending is a way to grasp anti-spending credibility without naming an actual program you plan to cut. (If opponents say, “Do you want to cut veterans’ spending? Highways? The Coast Guard?,” inevitably the response is no, we’ll cutsomething else.)

That’s a really important point– Americans are all for cutting spending in the abstract, but once you name a specific program, other than “welfare” (“aid to needy families” gets plenty of support), support for cuts evaporates.   The American National Election Studies have a series of questions about whether we should spend more, less, the same, on a variety of specific federal budget programs.  Among conservatives, very few every choose “less.”  Anyway, I think I’ll term the Republican plans “The Pledge to Increase the Deficit” in conversation and see how that goes.

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