Virginia Foxx on higher ed

How stupid do you have to be to think that public subsidies for higher education is a bad idea?!  Seriously!  As if a college-educated public is somehow bad for America.  The evidence is simply overwhelming that a more educated public is a more prosperous public.  Even if you personally don’t benefit from subsidized public education, you most definitely benefit from being part of a more educated and prosperous society.  Alas, Republicans have put NC’s own Virginia Foxx on the Higher Education subcommittee.  I must say, I really enjoyed the snarky tone of this piece:

Fresh from the “Now that I have mine, let me keep you from getting yours,” file, Colorlines is reporting that North Carolina Republican Rep. Virginia Foxx, who was appointed as chair of the House Higher Education Subcommittee, doesn’t think that higher education should be publicly funded. Interesting perspective coming from someone who is a graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she recieved her A.B. in English and M.A.C.T. in Sociology, and Ed.D. in Curriculum Teaching/Higher Education from UNC-Greensboro — both public institutions.

Meyerson on the wingnuts

Great column from Harold Meyerson.  Please read the whole thing.  Short of that:

Do right-wing talk show commentators incite violence against the government? Feel free to draw your own conclusions – but to dwell on the rise of violent rhetoric on the right is to miss an even bigger, though connected, problem. Let’s focus, rather, on the first part of Beck’s and Erickson’s observations: The government wants to take away Glenn Beck’s (and by extension, your) kids. The government wants to take a census and will throw Erick Erickson (and by extension, you) in jail if he, and you, don’t comply.

Can we see the hands of all the kids taken from their parents because they didn’t get flu shots? How about all those people rotting in jail because they didn’t cooperate in compiling the census?

The primary problem with the political discourse of the right in today’s America isn’t that it incites violence per se. It’s that it implants and reinforces paranoid fears about the government and conservatism’s domestic adversaries.

To  beat a dead horse (that needs to keep being beaten).  Of course there are similar nutty people on the left.  The difference is they don’t have millions of people taking them seriously on Cable TV and talk radio.


So, I finally saw Inception.  Meant to catch this in the theater due to the great visuals, but never quite made it.  I wish I had.  Just wanted to make a couple of comments.

1) It was really good.  A number of critics were way too harsh on this movie.  Normally, I totally agree with David Edelstein (40), but I’m with Roger Ebert (100) on this one.

2) This was so much easier to follow than I expected.  The dream within a dream within a dream really was not that complicated.  I had heard so much about how confusing and hard to figure out the movie was.  Ummm, not if you pay attention.

3) That is all.

Just a coincidence

From the Post:

Last year has tied 2005 as the warmest year on record, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies announced Wednesday.

That conclusion, drawn from analyses of global surface temperatures, means that the decade that just ended included nine of the 10 hottest years on record.

I’m sure it’s all just a coincidence.  Nothing to do with carbon dioxide emissions.  Just sunspots or something.  Didn’t you see the big snows storm in the Northeast? Plus, it’s really cold outside.  Nothing to see here.   Look away and go about your business.

False Balance

As mentioned before, I’m pretty sure Jared Loughner was going to shoot somebody at some point.   Any time you shoot a member of Congress, that’s a political act, but I’m also thinking that Giffords just had the bad luck to be Loughner’s MC and that he would’ve been just as likely to shoot a conservative Republican who happened to represent him (presumably they want to control us through grammar, too).  It can probably never be settled, but I think it is likely that extreme right-wing rhetoric had little to do with this shooting.  That said, I think that the discussion of crazy right-wing rhetoric this led to is very useful and long overdue.  Best quote goes to New Yorker’s George Packer:

But it won’t do to dig up stray comments by Obama, Allen Grayson, or any other Democrat who used metaphors of combat over the past few years, and then try to claim some balance of responsibility in the implied violence of current American politics. (Most of the Obama quotes that appear in the comments were lame attempts to reassure his base that he can get mad and fight back, i.e., signs that he’s practically incapable of personal aggression in politics.) In fact, there is no balance—none whatsoever. Only one side has made the rhetoric of armed revolt against an oppressive tyranny the guiding spirit of its grassroots movement and its midterm campaign. Only one side routinely invokes the Second Amendment as a form of swagger and intimidation, not-so-coyly conflating rights with threats. Only one side’s activists bring guns to democratic political gatherings. Only one side has a popular national TV host who uses his platform to indoctrinate viewers in the conviction that the President is an alien, totalitarian menace to the country. Only one side fills the AM waves with rage and incendiary falsehoods. Only one side has an iconic leader, with a devoted grassroots following, who can’t stop using violent imagery and dividing her countrymen into us and them, real and fake. Any sentient American knows which side that is; to argue otherwise is disingenuous.

Thus,  it’s especially frustrating when the mainstream media works so hard to create an equivalency where there really is none.  Again, even if right-wing talk had nothing at all to do with this shooting, that doesn’t change the asymmetry Packer so nicely describes.  Yet Michael Kinsley has a great piece in Politico (there’s a phrase I don’t think I’ve ever used before) taking down the Times for this false balance.  Kinsley makes similar observations to Packer and then notes:

Here is how “balance” works. A front-page piece in The New York Times on Sunday is headlined: “Bloodshed Puts New Focus on Vitriol in Politics.” The piece says, “Democrats have … pointed out cases where Republican candidates seemed to raise the prospect of armed revolt if Washington did not change its ways. But many Republicans have noted that they too are subject to regular threats and abuse from the public, and, during the health care fight, some suggested Democrats were trying to cut off responsible political opposition and paint themselves as victims.”

So Democrats have noted that Republicans have advocated armed sedition while Republicans have noted that Democrats sometimes attempt to portray themselves as victims in order to stifle debate. Neither side has a monopoly on virtue. Balance!

In many ways, I think that this insistence on a false equivalence where there is none, may actually be the most harmful of media biases (in part, because it usually flies completely below the radar).

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