Archive of Articles for April, 2015

Death And Television

[ Posted Thursday, April 16th, 2015 – 17:10 UTC ]

The question of when it is permissible to show death on television is in the news today because of a scathing commentary by Jon Stewart over the media's relentless showing -- unedited, unpixelated, and in full -- the recent video of a man shot in the back while running from a cop. Stewart didn't get into several aspects of the editorial decision to run the video, instead he was mostly focused on what he called turning the video "into screensaver mode... running as background wallpaper in your discussion," on cable news shows. He then detailed why he was so annoyed:

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Is The Marijuana Vote Up For Grabs?

[ Posted Wednesday, April 15th, 2015 – 17:29 UTC ]

There are very few political issues today which have not already become firmly entrenched along the same basic party lines that all our other political issues hew towards. In most cases, it's a matter of "Democrats believe X, while Republicans insist on Y." On one issue, though, there is a sizeable (and growing) bloc of voters who are not only cross-partisan but also so committed they could be called "single-issue voters." I'm speaking of the marijuana vote. And it could be up for grabs next year.

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Rubio Goes All In

[ Posted Tuesday, April 14th, 2015 – 15:10 UTC ]

Yesterday, Senator Marco Rubio became the fourth candidate to officially announce his intentions for the 2016 presidential run. He now joins Ted Cruz and Rand Paul in his own party, and Hillary Clinton across the aisle, as official candidates. I have to say, one thing about Rubio's candidacy is impressive, even if you don't agree with anything the man stands for. Rubio is going "all in," in poker terms. If he doesn't win his party's nomination and go on to win the White House, then he will almost certainly be out of a job when the dust settles. That shows a degree of commitment that few other politicians ever make these days, casting aside a cushy Senate seat for the chance at becoming president. As in poker, he's shoved all his chips to the middle of the table for one bet that could leave him at the top or flat broke. And, I have to say, that in and of itself is an admirable thing.

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Will Hillary Show Up To Netroots Nation?

[ Posted Monday, April 13th, 2015 – 16:54 UTC ]

And so it begins. Hillary Clinton is now officially in the race for the White House. Her announcement, like pretty much everything else about her upcoming campaign, will be microscopically analyzed within an inch of its life. Was she too generic? Was she appealing enough? Where were the specifics? What about Bill? And what was up with that laughably 1970s campaign logo? Most of these deep-dive analyses won't make a tiny bit of difference, in the long run (well, OK, that logo is pretty bad, hopefully that's the first thing Team Hillary decides to change...). But it'll certainly give all the pundits something to do in the meantime.

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Friday Talking Points [341] -- Jeb Bush, Hispanic?

[ Posted Friday, April 10th, 2015 – 16:31 UTC ]

So, apparently, Jeb Bush used to think he was Hispanic. At least, that's the box he checked when he registered to vote, a few years back. While immediately created much online amusement (my favorite: "It's pronounced 'Heb' Bush"), it does raise an interesting but tangential question -- and not just for Bush -- in the upcoming presidential primary process: Do Republican ballots in all states require full legal names for candidates?

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An Anniversary Worth Remembering

[ Posted Thursday, April 9th, 2015 – 17:03 UTC ]

On this day, 150 years ago, the Civil War began its end. The fighting didn't stop immediately, but today was the significant turning point in the conflict. Exactly one and a half centuries ago, Robert E. Lee surrendered his army to Ulysses S. Grant in a tiny Virginia hamlet called Appomattox Court House. This was the beginning of the end for the Confederate forces, and for the Confederacy itself.

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A Hard Look At The Big Blue Wall

[ Posted Wednesday, April 8th, 2015 – 17:13 UTC ]

It's becoming accepted conventional wisdom in Washington that Hillary Clinton is quite likely going to skate to the Democratic nomination for president. This disappoints many, since pundits love conflict in politics above all else. No conflict means having to write a whole lot of stories about a primary race that is over before it begins, which no political writer wants to do. But is there an even bigger buzzkill out there for political writers? Is the 2016 presidential election almost as easy to predict as the Democratic nominating contest?

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Cruz, Paul In

[ Posted Tuesday, April 7th, 2015 – 16:58 UTC ]

Senator Rand Paul announced today (to absolutely nobody's surprise) that he is running for the Republican presidential nomination for 2016. He joins only one other official candidate, Senator Ted Cruz, who made his own announcement a few weeks ago. On the Democratic side, nobody has officially thrown their hat in the ring. Such announcements are happening much later this presidential cycle, due to quirky financial advantages of our crazy campaign finance legal system (if it can even be called that, anymore, after the Supreme Court's evisceration). But I'm getting distracted, and veering off the topic at hand, which is paying proper attention to those candidates who actually are declared candidates. Since nobody else has officially stepped up to the podium yet, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul deserve at least a moment in the spotlight.

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Cake Wars Getting Stickier

[ Posted Monday, April 6th, 2015 – 16:49 UTC ]

Not since the line "Let them eat cake!" was supposedly uttered have delicious baked goods been so central to a political upheaval. Yes, we have entered what might be called the political era of "Cake Wars," it seems. Now, I don't mean to trivialize an important civil rights issue by relegating it to the dessert cart (as it were). But with all the political frenzy about both religious freedom and discrimination, the pundits always seem to come back to the same classic case: a baker contemplating whether to bake a cake for a gay wedding. It reduces the moral and legal arguments to a case that is both easy to understand and downright ordinary. What strikes me, though, while listening to the argument rage, is that most people on both sides of this argument haven't really come to grips with the larger implications of what they're advocating. To stretch the metaphor one last time, things could get a lot messier, as when a mischievous spouse mashes a slice of cake into their newly-wedded loved one's face at the reception (an admittedly bizarre ritual some couples feel honor-bound to perform, for the entertainment of their guests). That's right, folks -- the Cake Wars haven't actually gotten sticky enough, yet.

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Friday Talking Points [340] -- Obama Earning His Nobel

[ Posted Friday, April 3rd, 2015 – 16:49 UTC ]

President Barack Obama is finally earning his Nobel Peace Prize, it seems. A few months back, he announced a major shift in U.S. policy towards Cuba, ending a half-century of frostiness, and this week the outlines of a deal to avoid a war with Iran were unveiled, thawing a relationship that froze over back in 1979. Both of these foreign policy accomplishments go a long way towards deserving the Nobel Peace Prize Obama was prematurely awarded in 2009. At the time, many (this column included) joked that the Nobel committee was really awarding the prize to Obama for the sole achievement of "not being George W. Bush." But it seems now that by the time he ends his term in office, Barack Obama will indeed have earned the world's foremost peacemaker's prize. Since this is Good Friday, perhaps a Bible quotation is in order: "Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God."

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