Archive of Articles for March, 2014

From The Archives -- Don't Call It A Black-And-Tan

[ Posted Monday, March 17th, 2014 – 13:49 UTC ]

At this point, you may be tempted to ask the barman for what you believe will be a well-known local drink, and you may thus make the mistake of asking for a "black and tan." The reception of what you consider a harmless drink order for a pint glass half-filled with Harp and half-filled with Guinness Stout will not, however, be a merry twinkle of approval from the barman's eye for ordering a local delicacy. Instead, you will (hopefully) be forgiven for such a gross error of etiquette, and (once they hear some more of your American accent, again, hopefully) they will instruct you in the long and grim history of the Black and Tans -- with a helpful suggestion that if you ever want the same drink again in an Irish pub, that you ask for it as a "half and half" instead.

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Friday Talking Points [295] -- Happy Pi Day!

[ Posted Friday, March 14th, 2014 – 17:45 UTC ]

Today is 3/14, therefore a happy Pi Day to all! Next year will be even more fun, though, since it'll be 3/14/15....

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Eric Holder Takes Another Step In The Right Direction

[ Posted Thursday, March 13th, 2014 – 15:51 UTC ]

Attorney General Eric Holder today called for shorter sentences to be handed down for non-violent drug offenses, which would reduce prison time for many people caught with drugs. By doing so, he has taken another step in the right direction: away from the worst aspects of the "War On Drugs," and towards a more sane federal policy. The Obama administration -- Holder in particular -- has been charting a new path for the past year or so on this subject, and it is a welcome change. The new changes won't go far enough, though. Much more work needs to be done. How much of that will happen in the next year is open to speculation.

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We Need A "Do Not Track" List

[ Posted Wednesday, March 12th, 2014 – 16:24 UTC ]

Over a decade ago, the federal government did something which made people's lives better. A law was passed by a Republican House and a Republican Senate and signed by a Republican president, and it has demonstrably made people's lives better. It was called the "Do-Not-Call Implementation Act" and it created a government database where private individuals could voluntarily add their phone number to block its use by telemarketers. So far, it's been a smashing success, and the law was improved by making the list permanent (so people don't have to keep signing up for it) in 2007. Also in that year, a survey showed that 72 percent of Americans had registered for the list. The time has now come to build upon this landmark legislation and create a "Do Not Track" list, to further protect consumers' privacy.

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Dianne Feinstein Is Shocked -- Shocked! -- At C.I.A. Spying

[ Posted Tuesday, March 11th, 2014 – 17:28 UTC ]

Senator Dianne Feinstein and the Central Intelligence Agency are having an increasingly-public spat, it seems. Feinstein has now accused the C.I.A. of spying on her congressional committee (which is charged with oversight of the C.I.A.) and the C.I.A. has accused Feinstein's committee of taking documents they weren't supposed to have. They are both trying to convince Eric Holder's Justice Department that the other is at fault.

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Republicans Begin Evolving On Gay Marriage

[ Posted Monday, March 10th, 2014 – 18:26 UTC ]

Is the gay marriage issue beginning to disappear from the Republican Party's playbook? Are Republicans on the verge of admitting defeat and deciding to move on? The answer is likely "not quite yet" to both of those questions, but the fact that they can even now be seriously asked seems like progress of a sort. It'll likely be years before we see Republicans (at least on the national stage) boldly taking pro-marriage-equality stands, and it'll likely take at least one more groundbreaking Supreme Court decision before the issue loses all of its political weight in the party. But glimmers of such a future can at least now be seen, which wasn't true even as recently as one year ago (the first two landmark Supreme Court gay marriage case decisions were announced only at the end of last June). Previously unimaginable, these questions are now in the realm of the possible, to put it another way. Because (to borrow President Obama's term) the Republican Party has finally started to "evolve" on the subject.

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Friday Talking Points [294] -- CPAC Follies And More

[ Posted Friday, March 7th, 2014 – 17:59 UTC ]

It's been a busy week in politics -- even without all the CPAC follies -- so let's get right to it.

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2014 Election Season Begins

[ Posted Thursday, March 6th, 2014 – 17:53 UTC ]

The 2014 election season is officially underway.

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Obama Poll Watch -- February, 2014

[ Posted Wednesday, March 5th, 2014 – 17:20 UTC ]

For the second month in a row, President Obama had an all-around positive month in the public polls. His job approval average was up, his job disapproval was down, and he has almost completely recovered from the dip his numbers took after the Obamacare website rollout fiasco. This is clear when you take a look at the chart for February:

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Poor Politicians

[ Posted Tuesday, March 4th, 2014 – 16:59 UTC ]

Headlines can be deceptive, so allow me to state up front that I don't mean "oh, those poor poor politicians," or even literally, as in "politicians who don't have millions." I mean it instead in the sense of "the politics of the poor," which could shape up to be a major issue in the upcoming elections. Why this is happening in this election cycle, I cannot really say. Poverty isn't some sort of new thing, after all. But both Republicans and Democrats seem to be showcasing their ideas in a way we haven't really seen since John Edwards trod the hustings.

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