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Charter Myth Busting

[ 71 ] April 27, 2017 |


Rachel Cohen has an outstanding article in Democracy Journal on the real evolution of charter schools. There’s a pervasive myth that American Federation of Teachers president Albert Shanker started the idea, and this myth has been powerful for charter advocates because it sounds like it comes from the unions that are now fighting it. Shanker did comment on charters and he said some unfortunate things that can be contextualized by what was happening with education at the time. But it is damaging. Where do charter schools really originate?

In the 1970s, deregulation was the name of the game.
Efforts to deregulate major sectors of government took root under Ford and Carter, and continued to escalate throughout the 1980s under Reagan. From banking and energy to airlines and transportation, liberals and conservatives both worked to promote deregulatory initiatives spanning vast sectors of public policy.

Schools were not immune. Since at least the late 1970s, political leaders in Minnesota had been discussing ways to reduce direct public control of schools. A private school voucher bill died in the Minnesota legislature in 1977, and Minnesota’s Republican governor Al Quie, elected in 1979, was a vocal advocate for school choice.

Two prominent organizations were critical in advancing school deregulation in the state. One was the Minnesota Business Partnership, comprised of CEOs from the state’s largest private corporations; another was the Citizens League, a powerful, centrist Twin Cities policy group. When the League spoke, the legislature listened—and often enacted its proposals into law. In 1982 the Citizens League issued a report endorsing private school vouchers on the grounds that consumer choice could foster competition and improvement without increasing state spending, and backed a voucher bill in the legislature in 1983. The Business Partnership published its own report in 1984 calling for “profound structural change” in schooling, with recommendations for increased choice, deregulation, statewide testing, and accountability. The organized CEOs would play a major role throughout the 1980s lobbying for K-12 reform, as part of a broader agenda to limit taxes and state spending.

Efforts to tinker with public schooling took on greater urgency in 1983, when Ronald Reagan’s National Commission on Excellence in Education released its report, A Nation At Risk. This influential (though empirically flawed) document panicked political leaders across the country. Among other things, the report concluded that American public schools were failing—“eroded by a rising tide of mediocrity”—with ill-prepared teachers and low-quality standards. Its authors tied the country’s economy and national security to the supposedly poor performance of U.S. public schools, and Reagan capitalized on the alarm. His narrative fit snugly within the larger Cold War panic, and as in Minnesota, national business leaders were happy to promote this new movement.

School choice was not specifically mentioned in A Nation at Risk, though Governor Quie, who was then serving as a member on the National Commission, tried to get such recommendations included. But reformers didn’t have to wait long for a national endorsement. In 1986, the National Governors Association, chaired by Tennessee’s Republican governor Lamar Alexander, backed school choice in its Time for Results report.

Back in Minnesota, Rudy Perpich, a member of the Democratic–Farmer–Labor Party, was elected as governor for his second non-consecutive term in 1983. (He had first served from 1976-1979.) During the four years that Quie governed Minnesota, Perpich worked on a global business committee for a supercomputer firm, and returned to government deeply shaped by his corporate experience.

Ember Reichgott Junge, the state senator who would author Minnesota’s—and the nation’s—first charter school bill, described Perpich’s role bluntly: “According to the history books, Minnesota DFL governor Rudy Perpich had nothing to do with passage of chartering legislation. In reality, he had everything to do with it.”

I guess Minnesota has brought us more than just horrible food.

Anyway, the power of the Shanker myth is an important one and Cohen elaborates on it.

The mythological origin story of charter schools—the Shanker myth—has served an important role in keeping the charter coalition together. The idea that charters come from unions lends a certain weight-of-history inevitability to school reform. It suggests that everyone has agreed that change must come, and the only question is from who, and what it’ll look like in the end.

Besides, on some level, the dramatically compelling nature of the story—unions creating their own greatest antagonist—keeps people from digging deeper. As a writer, it’s easy to want to believe it. This author would know, having once subscribed to it herself.

But the Shanker tale may have also helped undermine progressive school choice advocates, who find themselves chasing a vision that has never played a major role in the inner circles of school reform. Most charters are more segregated than traditional public schools, are non-union, and when charter educators do mount union campaigns, they almost always face tremendous opposition. If the promise of unionized, integrated, teacher-centered charters has proven devilishly difficult to fulfill, it may be, in part, because the movement’s leaders never took it very seriously to begin with.

The Shanker myth also leaves those who support traditional public schooling, in its original form, stranded in a political no man’s land. And right now, those people are in the fight of their lives, looking for firmer footing. More broadly, the Democratic Party has grown wary of the Third Way policies of the 1990s, suspecting they provide little defense against a resurgent right. As the charter coalition enters a new, treacherous era, the consensus history of charter schools may at last meet some resistance.


Another Great Moment from Yesterday

[ 23 ] April 27, 2017 |


Above: Drill, Baby, Drill!

In the midst of Trump’s word diarrhea yesterday around everything from NAFTA (I feel like I should write about this but of course Trump doesn’t even understand what NAFTA is) to the 9th Circuit, he dropped something that is genuinely pretty concerning, and that’s potentially getting rid of the recent national monuments in the West created not only by Obama but also by Clinton.

The Antiquities Act of 1906 gives the president of the United States the power to designate lands and waters for permanent protection. Almost every president since Teddy Roosevelt has used the Act to place extraordinary archaeological, historic and natural sites under protection and out of reach of commercial exploitation.

Many sites originally designated as national monuments were later upgraded by Congress to become national parks, including Bryce Canyon, Saguaro and Death Valley. In many cases in the past, the Antiquities Act allowed presidents to protect vital natural and cultural resources when congressional leaders, often compromised by their ties to special interests representing coal, oil, timber and mining industries, were reluctant or unwilling to act.

A new Executive Order signed by President Trump on April 26th, 2017 puts this important regulatory tool for conservation and historic preservation at risk. The clear intention of the Executive Order is to lay the groundwork for shrinking national monuments or rescinding their designation entirely, in order to open currently protected public lands for untrammeled growth in coal, oil and minerals extraction.

The Executive Order requires the Secretary of the Interior to review all presidential designations since 1996 of national monuments over 100,000 acres in size. However, in the short-term it appears particularly aimed at reversing designations or reducing the size of Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears national monuments, which together comprise 3.23 million acres in Utah.

Remarkably, in its own press statement, the Department of the Interior (the federal agency responsible for managing and protecting our public lands) tips its hand and signals that it has no intention of undertaking a fair and independent review by describing Grand Staircase-Escalante and Bears Ears as the “bookends of modern Antiquities Act overreach”.

An attack on the Antiquities Act is an attack on all monuments and has huge implications for future presidents’ ability to protect important sites in the future.

Now, like all of Trump’s executive orders, which seems to be his preferred method of governing as he can sign something and then hold it up for the cameras, it’s really unclear what this means. It’s not clear if he has the authority to repeal or reduce national monuments unilaterally. But the Antiquities Act does allow the president to create national monuments unilaterally, so long as the land is federally owned. I am sure that there will lawsuits over a president’s ability to reduce monuments and I don’t know what will happen. But this is extremely alarming for those of us who care about western public lands.

Also, this is one of the issues that would have happened more or less the same way with any Republican. Bundyism is a central tenet of western Republicanism today. Trump might as well have named Cliven Bundy as Secretary of the Interior instead of Ryan Zinke, plus it would have saved me the indignity of having a former Oregon football player in the position.


[ 84 ] April 27, 2017 |

sessions trump

I’m beginning to think that the president may not be entirely competent:

While the Republican Congress has been laughably deficient in checking President Trump’s corruption and power grabs, the federal courts have been doing their job. On Tuesday, a federal district court judge blocked an executive order intending to deny federal funding to sanctuary cities. The president of the United States wasted little time in reacting, tweeting “[f]irst the 9th Circuit rules against the ban and now it hits again on sanctuary cities — both ridiculous rulings. See you in the Supreme Court!” and criticizing the winners of the suit for “judge shopping.” In a subsequent interview, he expressed agreement with “the many people that want to break up the 9th Circuit.”

Both the order itself and Trump’s reaction to the court’s ruling indicated why he’s had a rough ride in the courts so far: He has no idea what he’s doing.

The most obvious problem is that while U.S. District Judge William Orrick lives in the geographic area covered by the 9th Circuit — he is based in San Francisco — he does not in fact serve on that court. He’s a trial judge, not an appellate one. The fact that the same president issuing executive orders apparently doesn’t understand basic facts about the structure of the American judicial system is rather sobering.


It’s not exactly news that Trump’s tweets and interviews tend not to withstand rigorous, or even cursory, scrutiny. The bigger problem for Trump is that you can say the same thing about his sanctuary city order.

In a 1987 case which upheld the use of federal highway funds to establish a de facto national drinking age, the Supreme Court gave Congress a broad (although not unlimited) ability to use its spending power to persuade states to advance federal objectives. One of the limits that the Court placed, however, was that if Congress wants to put conditions on federal funding it “must do so unambiguously” so that states “exercise their choice knowingly, cognizant of the consequences of their participation.” In addition, any conditions placed on spending must be “relevant to federal interest in the project and to the over-all objectives thereof.” Congress could withhold highway spending to compel states to raise their drinking ages because it was related to the federal interest in highway safety, but it could not accomplish the same goal by threatening to withhold Social Security spending.

These restrictions made it nearly inevitable that the courts would find Trump’s order unconstitutional. Judge Orrick’s holding that Trump’s order is not sufficiently related to the federal grants in question is debatable, although the case is strong. But it’s obvious that Congress did not “unambiguously” make clear that the grants in question were conditioned on local officials enforcing federal immigration law. The Supreme Court can revise its own precedents, but lower courts cannot — hence, Orrick had no real choice but to find that the order was unconstitutional.

I, for one, am shocked that Jefferson Beauregard Sessions III’s commitment to the Noble Ideals of Federalism might be opportunistic and unprincipled. This is highly unusual for an Alabama politician!

Look Around the Table. If You Think You Spot Republicans Who Are Deficit Hawks, You Are the Sucker

[ 88 ] April 27, 2017 |


Speaking of framing that inexplicably takes obviously false Republican claims at face value, there’s this:

Trump’s Tax Plan Is a Reckoning for Republican Deficit Hawks

As President Trump’s top economic advisers faced a barrage of questions on Wednesday about the tax plan they had just unfurled, there was one that they struggled most to answer: how to keep the “massive tax cuts” they proposed from ballooning the federal deficit.


Republican budget hawks will need to decide whether they want to stick to the arguments of fiscal responsibility that they used to bludgeon Democrats during the Obama era. One of those hawks, Senator Patrick J. Toomey of Pennsylvania, said Wednesday, “Rather than conforming to arbitrary budget constraints, the president’s plan rightfully aims to jump-start investment, which will produce significantly more revenue for the Treasury over the long term than any revenue-neutral tax plan could generate.”

Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, who was a fierce critic of deficits when he was a member of Congress, offered a glimpse of the rationale his former colleagues might embrace. “As a conservative, that bothers me a little bit,” he said Tuesday on CNN of the possibility that Mr. Trump’s tax plan would increase the deficit. “But we also look at deficits through sort of a different lens.”

Rappeport does at least make it clear that the Trump tax cuts will lead to yoooge deficits and most “budget hawks” will support them. But it’s bizarre that he sees this as a “struggle” or that he insists on portraying members of Congress who supported Bush’s large, debt-funded tax cuts as “deficit hawks” in the first place. Drum:

When does this nonsense stop? Republicans aren’t deficit hawks. They haven’t been since the Reagan era. Republicans used to be deficit hawks, but the whole point of the Reagan Revolution was that tax cuts were more important than deficits. Their only concern about the deficit these days is as a handy excuse for opposing any increase to social welfare programs.

I know I’m a partisan, but the evidence behind this is about as clear as it could be. Read up on the Reagan tax cut. It took about a decade for the GOP to completely shake off its historical aversion to deficits, but George H. W. Bush’s tax increase in 1990 was the final straw. Since then, deficits have been a rhetorical trope, but nothing more.

Trump’s tax pan is the orthodox Republican position and has been for decades.

Massive Upper-Class Tax Cuts Are Paul Ryan’s Plan

[ 147 ] April 27, 2017 |


This framing is a classic example of journalist who don’t get Paul Ryan:

Donald Trump is set to steamroll Paul Ryan on tax reform, the issue the speaker has devoted his political career to achieving.

But don’t expect Ryan to relinquish his pet cause easily.

The White House on Wednesday will drop the outlines of a tax plan that insiders expect will contradict the blueprint Ryan has been working on for more than a year. It won’t include the House speaker’s controversial new tax on imports, which was expected to bring in $1 trillion to finance lower tax rates. And top Trump officials are insisting their tax plan need not be paid for, rejecting Ryan’s stance that any package should not add to the deficit.

The administration’s sudden change of course came as a surprise to the speaker’s office, which didn’t get a heads-up before Trump announced on the fly last week that he would drop a tax plan Wednesday. Ryan had been working with the administration on a tax proposal “hand in glove,” as he put it, and the administration seemed content to let him take the lead.

This alleged conflict between Trump’s “tax cuts” and Ryan’s “tax reform” is completely illusory. Ryan’s objective is to pass the biggest tax cut for rich people that he can. The “tax reform” angle is useful for Ryan in the abstract because “yoooge tax cuts for the rich” aren’t politically popular, and because revenue-neutral tax reform could be “permanent” rather than having to sunset in ten years. But Ryan’s plan, which also required ACA repeal, was actually rather dumb politics because doing “tax reform” means unpopular tax increases and spending cuts as well as upper-class tax cuts, and had little chance of passing anyway.

The inevitable end game, therefore, was exactly what Trump is proposing: another Bushesque round of debt-financed upper-class tax cuts. It will probably pass in some form, although I doubt the elimination of most deductions will fly, and this will suit Ryan just fine.

NHL Round 2 Preview

[ 35 ] April 26, 2017 |
Sep 30, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA;  Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (8) looks on before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

Sep 30, 2015; Raleigh, NC, USA; Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (8) looks on before the game against the Carolina Hurricanes at PNC Arena. The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals 4-3 in a shoot out. Mandatory Credit: James Guillory-USA TODAY Sports

One round done, and the only thing we can say for sure is that Brian Elliott has the Conn Smythe wrapped up. (Ed. note: too soon.) Some pretty interesting second round series, though:

NASHVILLE OVER ST. LOUIS IN 5 Standings aside, I think the Blues are actually facing a better team this round (and remember that Josi and Subban missed 26 games between them.) Neither Allen nor Rinne will be able to sustain their first round performance but the latter has a stronger body of work. The Preds have the elite defensive pair, quality goaltending, and a strong top 6 up front — they’d be my bet to represent the West in the finals right now.

This series is an abomination in the face of the Lord; trying to figure out who I will cheer for will be like trying to determine whether I’d prefer Neil Gorsuch or Sam Alito to be the median vote on the Supreme Court. Analytically, Anaheim’s sweep is a little misleading in that they won 3 one-goal games against a team whose #1 goalie put up an .880 save% (for casual fans, .900 is below replacement-level.) This doesn’t mean they didn’t “deserve” it, of course — goaltending counts! — but they’re unlikely to do it again. The San Jose/Edmonton series was weird in that it featured alternating lopsided games rather than the closely-contested-games-decided-by-a-goal we’ve seen in most of the other series. In a coin flip series I’ll pick the Ducks for the same reason I picked them in round 1 — the Oilers are even more of a stars-and-scrubs team than Calgary, and this leaves them vulnerable to matchups on the road: the back end of Edmonton’s defense is very exploitable and McDavid and Draisaitl will have to contend with Kesler and Silfverberg (the latter of whom really drives the line now, I think — he’s a monster.) I expect it to be close either way, though.

Should be a great series, obviously. Caps fans shouldn’t be unduly nervous about the tough first round — it pains me to say it but the Leafs are a really good team, the best of the three interesting Canadian teams emerging from a rebuild. In a very even series, I side with Washington because 1)they’re healthier, 2)I like their goaltending more, and 3)I don’t believe in curses.

NEW YORK OVER OTTAWA IN 6. New York’s round one went well for me — I was happy to see them win for Subban-related reasons, and Montreal (who I thought would win) won their two games when I happened to be in Las Vegas (relevant to these previews, Steely Dan were great — Walter lead vocal on “Daddy Don’t Live in That New York City No More!” LARRY CARLTON GUEST APPEARANCE!) So I was able to win two NHL parlays while still getting my rooting interest in the end. I will again be rooting for my undergraduate heroes Boucher and Raymond, but I think the Rangers are the stronger team here. One caveat is that I thought Lundqvist was in decline — not unreasonable, given that he’s 34 35 and had the worst regular season of his career — but he looked as good as ever in the first round. If that continues the Rangers will win fairly easily, but I’m not 100% convinced yet. Make sure to pay attention to Karlsson who even playing hurt is an absolute marvel — I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a defenseman, including Bourque or Lidstrom, who can make high-degree-of-difficulty first passes look so easy.

And now, for a second opinion, Michael Berube (who also passes on this interesting analysis of the problems the Rangers have at home):

Rangers v. Ottawa. I read somewhere that whoever wins the Pens-Caps series has a clear path to the Stanley Cup finals. I’m thinking that one or both of these teams now has that remark on the locker room bulletin board– and I think it might matter more to the Rangers, who have finally managed to learn how to win at home in the postseason. Lundqvist looks great, the offense isn’t relying on just one or two lines, and the Zibanejad-Brassard matchup looks great. (I liked Brassard and was sorry to see him go, but for the next two weeks he is a bum.) Ottawa caught a break with a blown penalty call in OT in game 3 of the Bruins series, otherwise they might be home now. RANGERS IN SIX.

Penguins v. Capitals. I honestly don’t think anything can stop the Penguins now. The 1978 Canadiens, 1960 Canadies,1972 Bruins and 1985 Oilers could form a conglomerate fantasy team and I would still pick Pittsburgh. I called Columbus in 6 in round one because the Pens don’t have Kris Letang in the lineup, and now it’s like Kris who? That decimation of the Blue Jackets was decimating. And who knew Fleury had a Cup run left in him? Here’s to not dumping a former hero at the trade deadline. But I am just hoping that this really finally truly is the year an Ovechkin-led Capitals team makes the most of its talent, so I will pretend that home ice advantage means something here. CAPITALS IN SEVEN.

In the west: Nashville, wow. Edmonton, welcome back to the big time after a generation away. (C’mon, everyone knows 2006 was a fluke.) But goddamn, your home jerseys make my eyes bleed. Blues in 7, Ducks in 6.

Would Corporations Also Like Safe Spaces?

[ 57 ] April 26, 2017 |


Corporations love government interference when it means they can avoid states holding them accountable.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, both Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton pledged their support for more paid family leave. Now big business is countering the calls with a proposal of its own: Congress should establish a certain optional amount of paid leave and, if companies meet that threshold, they should be protected from state or local laws that might require more.

The proposal is part of a report being released Tuesday by the HR Policy Association, a coalition of more than 380 major U.S. companies. Together, the group’s members employ 9 percent of America’s private-sector workers. Executives on the committee behind the report represent companies including Marriott International, Procter & Gamble, IBM, Cigna, General Electric, Wendy’s, Oracle and General Mills.

The preemptive strike from the business community is also a response to the increasing number of states and municipalities that have taken matters into their own hands, passing local laws that require employers to offer paid time off.

You can see why they are freaking out. Those states and cities are so onerous and mean to our betters!

As of now, federal law offers many employees the opportunity to take unpaid family leave, but doesn’t require employers to give workers paid time off for sickness or childcare, including maternity leave. Since 2011, seven states and dozens of cities have passed laws requiring companies to provide paid sick days. Another two states and the District of Columbia passed laws creating family leave funds and requiring companies to let their employees use them.

In places like California, Arizona, New York City and Minneapolis, new laws let employees accrue at least one hour of sick time for every 30 hours of work, or roughly one sick day for every six weeks of full-time work. Nationally about 61 percent of private-sector workers have access to some form of paid sick days, according to 2015 data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Twelve percent have some form of paid family leave.

One sick day every six weeks! What’s next, the slaughtered first born of every CEO? No wonder corporations need special government interference. The free market indeed.

The Violence Against Gays Party

[ 78 ] April 26, 2017 |


Mike Enzi seems nice:

Sen. Mike Enzi (R-WY) told high school students last week that a man who wears tutus to bars and gets into fights “kind of asks for it.”

The senator made the remark Thursday during a Q&A with students grades 6-12 at Greybull High School, in response to one student who asked what he was doing to “improve the life of the LGBT community in Wyoming.” The exchange was recorded and later published by the Greybull Standard. (Listen here at 32:40)

Enzi said that not everything can be achieved through the law, and “what we need to have is a little civility between people.” Then he launched into a bizarre anecdote.

“We always say that in Wyoming you can be just about anything you want to be, as long as you don’t push it in somebody’s face,” the senator said. “I know a guy who wears a tutu and goes to bars on Friday night and is always surprised that he gets in fights. Well, he kind of asks for it. That’s the way that he winds up with that kind of problem.”

I’m glad he just threw that nice example out there for the kids.

Enzi does seem like the kind of guy who would cheer on the murder of Matthew Shepard after a night out in a Wyoming bar.

Drain That Swamp!

[ 45 ] April 26, 2017 |


Congressional Republicans are really going to sell the public on keeping themselves on the ACA while they continue attempting dooming millions of Americans to early and painful deaths.

House Republicans appear to have included a provision that exempts Members of Congress and their staff from their latest health care plan.

The new Republican amendment, introduced Tuesday night, would allow states to waive out of Obamacare’s ban on pre-existing conditions. This means that insurers could once again, under certain circumstances, charge sick people higher premiums than healthy people.

Republican legislators liked this policy well enough to offer it in a new amendment. They do not, however, seem to like it enough to have it apply to themselves and their staff. A spokesperson for Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) who authored this amendment confirmed this was the case: members of Congress and their staff would get the guarantee of keeping these Obamacare regulations. Health law expert Tim Jost flagged me to this particular issue.

A bit of background is helpful here. Obamacare requires all members of Congress and their staff to purchase coverage on the individual market, just like Obamacare enrollees. The politics of that plank were simple enough, meant to demonstrate that if the coverage in this law were good enough for Americans than it should be good enough for their representations in Washington.

That’s been happening for the past four years now. Fast-forward to this new amendment, which would allow states to waive out of key Obamacare protections like the ban on pre-existing conditions or the requirement to cover things like maternity care and mental health services.

If Congressional aides lived in a state that decided to waive these protections, the aides who were sick could be vulnerable to higher premiums than the aides that are healthy. Their benefits package could get skimpier as Obamacare’s essential health benefits requirement may no longer apply either.

I appreciate wanting to keep your staff healthy. Too bad it doesn’t apply to all Americans. I guess being a College Republican who gets a staff job out of college with a fireeating Republican makes you the member of a superior class, unlike those people.

Meanwhile, the Trump tax plan sure looks great!

Reduction of the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 15 percent, a cut which sounds like it will indeed apply to “pass-through” companies like the Trump Organization.

Reduction of the top individual tax rate from 39.6 percent to 35 percent and reduction in the number of individual tax brackets from seven to three.

Doubling the standard deduction.

Repeal of the estate tax.

Repeal of the Alternative Minimum Tax.

Repeal of the “Net Investment Income” tax that helps pay for Obamacare.

It would also eliminate nearly every deduction except for mortgage. Among many other things, this would effectively mean the end of freelancing as a career choice.

How would this affect Herr Trump? Secretary of the Treasury Jay Gould:

How will the president’s own tax bill be affected by the plan? “I can’t comment on the president’s tax situation since I don’t have access to that.”

I’m sure that Trump will make this clear soon enough by releasing his taxes!

Broadly Diverse

[ 120 ] April 26, 2017 |


As we have discussed, the New York Times has added to its Broad Array of Viewpoints on the op-ed page by hiring a third Republican white guy. Jeff Stein interviewed him, and the results are as expected:

It’s a decision that infuriated many of the paper’s liberal readers. Stephens may be a vocal critic of Donald Trump, but his views are firmly right-wing. In an interview on Sunday, his first since joining the Times, Stephens defended his view that fears of climate change are overblown, his argument that the campus rape epidemic is an “imaginary enemy,” and his belief that Black Lives Matter is sending the wrong message.

“Look, at the risk of being incredibly politically incorrect, but I guess that’s my job — I think that all lives matter,” Stephens said. “Not least black lives.”

Whew, finally Times readers can have access to the inane, offensive talking points that have already become cliches. Speaking of which, we also get the slightly more sophisticated variant of “how can there be global warming when it’s snowing in Minot in January” argument:

A guy I know just had a baby and he’s a big global warming, climate change activist. If he thinks in 20 years we’ll be heading toward unsustainable climates and there will be tens of millions of people being displaced, presumably including himself, at the most apocalyptic level, then presumably he wouldn’t be having children.

Ah yes, the old McArdle standby “if you favor higher taxes why don’t you send more money to the government?” It seems highly likely that Stephen’s friend, unlike Stephens, is not a climate denialist and also understands that nobody’s choice to have a single child has any impact on the climate. And here’s another Penetrating Insight:

But it turned out that, in Germany, the sun doesn’t shine all the time. And, even in Germany, the wind doesn’t blow all the time. However, you need power all of the time; because you’re spending tremendous amounts on wind and solar subsidies, you need an alternative base-line.


It’s pretty much all like this; not only are the arguments uniformly dumb you’ve also heard them all a million times before. So what is his contribution supposed to be, exactly? Here’s Liz Spayd:

What I do support — fully — is Bennet’s aim of hiring people who don’t conform to a liberal orthodoxy of thought. And I hope he is right in his unflinching belief that readers will want to hear what Stephens has to say. “The crux of the question is whether his work belongs inside our boundaries for intelligent debate, and I have no doubt that it does,” Bennet told me. “I have no doubt he crosses our bar for intellectual honesty and fairness.”

1)That is one hell of a low bar and 2)it remains unclear why Viewpoint Diversity justifies hiring a a third anti-Trump reactionary white guy but never anybody to the left of Krugman.

Fairy tales don’t become facts just because you never stop repeating them

[ 165 ] April 26, 2017 |

Or do they?  

In the midst of a screed about how Donald Trump is a real old school Republican in the true sense of the word, meaning he wants to repeal as much of the New Deal as possible, unlike contemporary GOP leaders such as [citation missing], we get this:

Yet President Trump cannot simply ignore the modern conservative movement. For one thing, its two great successes, victory in the Cold War and reigniting economic growth (through Ronald Reagan’s tax cuts, spending policies and regulatory reforms), have made plausible his own visions of post-Cold War foreign policy and a resurgent economy.

Total per capita GDP growth, 1946-1980: 104.2%

Total per capita GDP growth, 1981-2015: 77.4%

Oh but you see that doesn’t count because of the aftereffects of World War II.  Also, the fact that the economy grew just as fast under Clinton as it did under Reagan, despite a hike in marginal income tax rates on high earners that every right wing pundit on the face of the globe assured us at the time was going to destroy the economy and lead to cats and dogs living together doesn’t count either, because of the bubble.

So the facts never fit the narrative, but there’s always a good reason for that. Several in fact.



[ 80 ] April 26, 2017 |

Jonathan Demme has died.

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