Archive of Articles for April, 2014

Are Political Lies Constitutional?

[ Posted Wednesday, April 16th, 2014 – 16:11 UTC ]

Are political lies constitutionally-protected free speech? That's an intriguing question, and one that the Supreme Court is going to take up next week. What makes the question interesting is how a valid argument could be made either way, no matter what your personal politics. Both sides resent well-funded politicians who blanket the airwaves with what they see as the baldest of falsehoods, but on the other hand political free speech is an absolute bedrock of the American system of government. Where do you draw the line? Should a line even be drawn?

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Good News For Obamacare

[ Posted Tuesday, April 15th, 2014 – 16:41 UTC ]

If life were but a metaphor, the headlines would now be reading: "Train Does Not Wreck, Pulls Into Station 7 Minutes Early." Of course, I am speaking of Obamacare, a subject which Republicans have all but reduced (in their own minds, at least) to a mumbling mantra: "trainwreck... trainwreck... trainwreck." But as more and more good news appears, the real story (with apologies to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, of course) is "the train which did not wreck in the night."

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Democrats Should Widen Focus On Voter Suppression

[ Posted Monday, April 14th, 2014 – 16:17 UTC ]

What with the ceremonies at the L.B.J. presidential library last week to commemorate the Civil Rights Act of 1964 becoming law, the subject of current-day voter suppression was brought up by several Democrats, including President Obama. While it was important to spotlight Republican efforts to move backwards on expanding voting rights in the speeches, what was noticeable on the weekend political talk shows was how adept Republicans are at centering their entire argument around voter identification laws. Democrats presenting their own case seemed willing to go along with this, for the most part.

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Friday Talking Points [299] -- Happy 50th, Civil Rights Act Of 1964!

[ Posted Friday, April 11th, 2014 – 17:14 UTC ]

This was a big deal. It is worth remembering. Johnson used the popularity he inherited after John F. Kennedy was assassinated to get this crucial law passed. Back then, it wasn't a clear "Democrats versus Republicans" split on the issue of civil rights, it was more geographic. Southern Democrats were the ones fighting the hardest against such legislation. Johnson is reported to have said after signing the bill that he had "lost the South for a generation" for the Democrats by doing so.

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I Don't Care Who Is On Before Craig Ferguson

[ Posted Thursday, April 10th, 2014 – 17:00 UTC ]

To borrow (or, more accurately, "to blatantly steal") a phrase: "It's a great day for America!"

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Election-Year Posturing From Congress Defines Campaigns

[ Posted Wednesday, April 9th, 2014 – 16:43 UTC ]

Congress is now doing what it normally does, in an election year. This is not intended to sound cynical, as I actually think it is a good thing for a divided Congress to stand up for its divided beliefs -- even while knowing that almost none of the bills it now votes on have a prayer of becoming law before the election. But these bills do serve an important purpose, and that is to define the two parties' differing agendas and priorities for the campaign. The clearer the picture that emerges between Democrats and Republicans, the better idea the citizenry has of what it is supporting in the ballot box, come November. So I actually welcome all the posturing which is now happening in both houses.

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Medical Marijuana On Bones

[ Posted Tuesday, April 8th, 2014 – 16:10 UTC ]

I say all this as a preface to commenting on a television program I watched (well, most of it) last night. Needless to say, commenting on pop culture isn't my strong point, and is in fact a rare occurrence in these pages. But I was so struck by what I saw that I felt it merited mentioning.

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Patiently Crunching Obamacare's Numbers

[ Posted Monday, April 7th, 2014 – 17:29 UTC ]

We are in the midst of a political battle over the Obamacare numbers right now, so it seemed like a good time to examine what they all mean, in an attempt to interject some clarity into a very confusing debate. The numbers will change over time, as will (no doubt) the claims made from both sides of the debate; but without a little context the numbers by themselves don't actually say much. And as time goes by, one particular number will become the most important of all the data -- and this number just got better today (more on this at the end).

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Friday Talking Points [298] -- "And Counting"

[ Posted Friday, April 4th, 2014 – 17:04 UTC ]

Today we're turning over the whole talking points section to the president, because he certainly deserves a victory lap after announcing this week that -- against all odds, and against all the slings and arrows of misfortune -- 7.1 million people signed up for health insurance on the Obamacare exchanges.

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Obamacare's Vital Statistics

[ Posted Thursday, April 3rd, 2014 – 16:36 UTC ]

The reason for this recycling is our version of President Obama's "spiking the football" this week, in his announcement that Obamacare had astoundingly met the original Congressional Budget Office goal of signing up over seven million people in the first open enrollment period. Call it Obama bragging about Obamacare's "vital statistics." What we're going to do today is review the last nine months of our own predictions on not just Obamacare but the politics of Obamacare, heading into the 2014 midterm election season. If you don't want to read all these excerpts, here's a short version that could fit on Twitter: The politics of Obamacare are now going to pivot to real data instead of Republican doom-and-gloom horror stories.

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