Chart of the day

Making election day a national holiday would not be a turnout panacea, but it would undoubtedly raise turnout by making it easier for lots of people to vote.  Naturally, Mitch McConnell is opposed.

Here’s an interesting chart from Pew on the matter.  I’m actually kind of intrigued by the massive generation gap among Republicans.  In many ways (e.g., climate, LGBT rights), young Republicans are not nearly so bad as their elders.

Older Republicans much less favorable than younger Republicans toward same-day registration


Media centrism

Damn do I love this column from Margaret Sullivan on the media’s ridiculous, knee-jerk, “centrism.”  So good:

One of supposed golden rules of journalism goes like this: “If everybody’s mad at your coverage, you must be doing a good job.”

That’s ridiculous, of course, though it seems comforting. If everybody’s mad, it may just mean you’re getting everything wrong.

But it’s the kind of muddled thinking that feels right to media people who practice what I’ll call the middle-lane approach to journalism — the smarmy centrism that often benefits nobody, but promises that you won’t offend anyone.

Who is the media’s middle-lane approach actually good for?

Not the public, certainly, since readers and viewers would benefit from strong viewpoints across the full spectrum of political thought, not just minor variations of the same old stuff.

But it is great for politicians and pundits who bill themselves as centrists…

Even the cable news panels that purport to express opposing views are part of the damaging both-sides syndrome. A view from the left, a view from the right, and repeat. But take the average, and you’re right back in the comfortable, unilluminating middle.

Impartiality is still a value worth defending in mainstream news coverage. But you don’t get there by walking down the center line with a blindfold on.

Why do journalists and news organizations insist on doing this? I think the answer is pretty clear.

It’s because they want to appear fair without taking any chances.

They want not to offend. Maybe being a little “provocative” is okay on occasion, but let’s not go too far.

It’s a shame, because a lot of Americans actually seem to appreciate having their minds stretched by unfamiliar ideas, as freshman congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a democratic socialist from New York, has shown in her discussions of hiking marginal tax rates on the super-rich to benefit ordinary Americans.

That her views draw tough criticism — prompting opposing arguments like that of Brian Riedl of the conservative Manhattan Institute in his Daily Beast piece,“The ‘Tax the Rich’ Delusion of the American Left” — is fine, too.

But this is rare. Mostly, we have the irresistible pull to the center: centripetal journalism.

It’s safe. It will never cause a consumer boycott. It feels fair without really being fair.

And it’s boringly predictable.

In the end, the media’s center-lane fixation puts us all to sleep. And that’s no way to drive a democracy.

National emergency = profiles in cowardice

Great piece from Dahlia Lithwick:

Now who even knows what’s really on the table, given that the president has variously insisted that he will “almost definitely” declare a national emergency to get his wall done, and then that he would not, and then, as he put it on Friday, “We’ll work with the Democrats and negotiate, and if we can’t do that, then we’ll do a—obviously we’ll do the emergency because that’s what it is. It’s a national emergency.” So. Things.

Given the amount of thinking lawyers have put into the question of presidential power to declare a national emergency at the border, it would be frankly somewhat amazing if Barr hasn’t given it any actual thought. If you are inclined to bone up, you should surely start here, (and then here, and also this, and this, and here, and many thousands of words suggesting that we are not presently in an emergency and also that the president cannot use eminent domainto toss people out of their ranches and churches and homes by simply saying there is one). Given the reality that many Americans are as opposed to a declaration of national emergencyas they were to the shutdown, it might behoove Republicans in the Senate to find out whether the new attorney general plans to greenlight whatever power grab the president plans to arrogate to himself.

Apparently, though, nope, they’re cool. If Republican senators really wanted to stop this national emergency declaration from happening, all they would have to do is promise to veto any attorney general nominee, such as Barr, who refuses to reject the possibility. That’s it. Instead, the current plan appears to be that Senate Republicans will let the emergency declaration go forward, try to blame House Democrats, and then allow the question to be tied up for months and years in the courts, with setbacks blamed on “liberal judges.” Is it brave? No! Is it a bold declaration against unchecked executive overreach that will set an awful precedent whatever the outcome? No! Is it consistent with conservative and libertarian views of property rights and limited government? Also, no! And should the president declare his emergency, does anyone think the Senate will at any time check him, as the law, on its face, demands? No to that too!

Senate Republicans have no good option here between allowing another shutdown to happen and allowing the president to declare a national emergency without consequence. Moving calmly and deliberately toward the latter choice only because it’s the one that hasn’t yet been tested isn’t just shortsighted and cowardly. It’s Congress choosing again to do nothing to stop the president, and then claiming falsely that there is nothing they can do to stop him.

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