At an off-the-record summit meeting for chief executives sponsored by Microsoft in mid-May, the PBS interviewer Charlie Rose asked Jeffrey Immelt, chairman of G.E., and his counterpart at the News Corporation, Rupert Murdoch, about the feud.
Both moguls expressed regret over the venomous culture between the networks and the increasingly personal nature of the barbs. Days later, even though the feud had increased the audience of both programs, their lieutenants arranged a cease-fire, according to four people who work at the companies and have direct knowledge of the deal.
MSNBC President Phil Griffin has reportedly told network producers to “restrain from criticizing Fox directly,” and Fox staffers were told to “be fair” to General Electric, MSNBC’s parent company. Olbermann said that he personally was “party to no deal.”
I think some people are going to be disappointed with this film. You’ve been led to believe that Judd Apatow is our contemporary master of comedy. The fact that he’s only actually directed two of the many films vaguely associated with his name may have escaped you. The presence of Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Adam Sandler, and Jason Schwartzman in the cast will further lull you into a sense of complacency. But what’s on the screen is, in essence, the kind of serious adult drama that Hollywood doesn’t make anymore with Apatow leveraging his clout and cast and reputation into putting together a film that otherwise could never get a wide distribution deal.
It’s not that the movie isn’t funny, it is. But it’s not the funniest movie out there. And a lot of the humor enters the picture because it’s a movie about comedians so you see them performing their jokes-as-jokes, many of which are pretty funny. And the need to work the humor in this way, combined with a complicated dual plot, produces a long film that, at the end of the day, while amusing isn’t going to become anyone’s go-to choice for a movie to pop into the DVD player after smoking some pot and ordering a pizza. Instead, it’s a legitimately good movie with interestingly unheroic characters and a real story. It also follows Knocked Up by offering a bracingly conservative vision of family life and obligation. It’s not a point of view I agree with, but it’s well articulated and done so in a way that’s divorced from the hypocrisy and petty moralizing of mainstream social conservatism.
This weekend, the Republican National Committee is gathering for its summer meeting in San Diego, the first for the RNC under Michael Steele’s leadership. In his speech to RNC members yesterday, Steele complained, “Think about all the crap we’ve taken from the press, and some of our own. And think about where we’re going.” Watch it:
So where is the RNC going? The RNC adopted three resolutions yesterday that give a pretty good indication of where the party is heading:
1) RNC resolution calls “Obamacare” a march toward “socialism.” For months, right-wing members of the RNC have been urging Michael Steele to call Obama a “socialist.” They even proposed a resolution renaming the Democratic Party the “Democrat Socialist Party.” But Steele pushed back, saying, “We don’t see this president so much as a socialist as we see him as a collectivist.” In recent weeks, however, Steele has succumbed to the right-wing’s influence and started calling Obama’s health care proposal “socialism.” Now, the RNC has adopted a resolution that “recognize[s] that Obamacare is marching America further towards Socialism and urge that it be stopped.” The resolution proposes “true cost savings” can be realized by encouraging seniors to opt out of Medicare:
RESOLVED, that true cost savings be achieved by allowing Medicare patients to opt out of Medicare program to pay for their own catastrophic insurance, and allowing Medicare participating physicians to discount their service fees for cash payments;
2) RNC resolution says Obama violated Constitution by appointing czars. For months, the right-wing fringe of the Republican Party has been railing against Obama for the appointment of policy “czars,” despite the fact that President Bush engaged in the same practice. Fox News has been pushing the conspiracy that Obama is acting unconstitutionally, even while the network’s own correspondent has acknowledged that the myth is false. The RNC has now adopted a resolution condemning Obama for his appointment of these policy liaisons:
RESOLVED, that the Republican National Committee recognize that the current concentration of powers in the Executive Branch is a violation of the powers of the President of the United States as defined in the U.S. Constitution and is dangerous to the citizens of America;
As ThinkProgress has noted, many of the “czars” that the right wing is up-in-arms over are actually Senate-confirmed positions. Moreover, the history of presidents appointing high-ranking policy advisers goes back over hundreds of years.
This seems unlikely to make a practical difference, but I’m glad to see that House leaders will let a single-payer bill get to the floor:
Seeking to dampen liberal anger about deals cut with centrists, Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) said House leaders have agreed to allow a floor vote on a government-run, single-payer system.
“A lot of members on our committee want a vote on that,” said Waxman said in an interview. “I believe their wishes will be accommodated.”
Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-N.Y.) offered a single-payer amendment in the Energy and Commerce Committee on Friday, but withdrew it after Waxman said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) had promised a floor vote.
To clarify, the idea behind a single-payer system is not to have a “government-run health care system” but to have a health care system similar to the one we currently have, but a health insurance system that’s like Medicare. To avoid confusion, the best thing is probably to press the media to characterize this proposal as a “universal Medicare” or “Medicare for all” plan. Medicare for all is not my favorite vision of health care; if it were totally up to me we’d construct something that’s more like the system they have in Singapore that would have a direct public provision element, a single-payer element, and a forced savings element. But Universal Medicare would be better than the status quo, and better than the “official” bills being pushed by congressional leaders.
Dave Weigel had the clever idea of getting in touch with the original pollster to explore the issue of how this looks when you restrict yourself to the white south:
So what proportion of Southern whites doubt that Obama is an American citizen? While [pollster Del] Ali did not release the racial breakdowns for the the South, and cautioned that the margin of error in the smaller sample of 720 people would be larger than the national margin of error (2 percent), the proportion of white Southern voters with doubts about their president’s citizenship may be higher than 70 percent. More than 30 percent of the people polled in the South were non-white, and very few of them told pollsters that they had questions about Obama’s citizenship. In order for white voters to drive the South’s “don’t know” number to 30 percent and it’s “born outside the United States” number to 23 percent, as many as three-quarters of Southern whites told pollsters that they didn’t know where Obama was born.
One thing to keep in mind, if only a quarter or a fifth of white Southerners believe Obama was born in the United States, that’s more than voted for him last year in some states. Obama won 14 percent of the white vote in Louisiana, 14 percent in Mississippi, and 10 percent in Alabama.
I think Republicans have basically given up on the battle of trying to win more Hispanics over to their side. Which leaves them with the medium-term objective of trying to get non-southern whites to act more like southern whites.
The Washington Post Co. returned to profitability in the second quarter and the flagship newspaper division narrowed its first-quarter losses largely because of cost-cutting, according to earnings released Friday morning. [...] The Post Co. is now largely an education company — its Kaplan Inc. education unit provided 58 percent of the parent company’s second-quarter revenue, as opposed to the newspaper division, which chipped in 15 percent. Nevertheless, the ongoing decline in advertising revenue at The Post — exacerbated by the recession — had been so sharp that it dragged the entire company into the red in the first quarter, despite continued growth by Kaplan and The Post’s Cable One cable company.
At Kaplan, if you put out a book saying that there are ten options on SAT questions, they would probably fire you and stop printing the book. People rely on Kaplan’s products to be accurate, and the company would suffer a lot if it attracted a reputation for publishing willfully inaccurate information. And then there’s George Will….
Turns out some conservatives never had a soul to lose. As reported by the Charlottesville, VA Daily Progress, before the vote, Perriello’s office, “received at least six letters from two Charlottesville-based minority organizations voicing opposition to the measure”:
The letters, as it turns out, were forgeries.
“They stole our name. They stole our logo. They created a position title and made up the name of someone to fill it. They forged a letter and sent it to our congressman without our authorization,” said Tim Freilich, who sits on the executive committee of Creciendo Juntos, a nonprofit network that tackles issues related to Charlottesville’s Hispanic community. “It’s this type of activity that undermines Americans’ faith in democracy.”
… The person who sent the letter has not been identified, but he or she was employed by a Washington lobbying firm called Bonner & Associates.
The fake letters say the groups are writing because “we are concerned about our electric bills. Many of our members are on tight budgets….” Needless to say, Bonner & Associates, with its many past and present fat-cat corporate clients, including the coal industry, isn’t on a tight budget.
Jack Bonner claims this was done by a “temporary employee” — a “bad employee” who has now been fired (see his statement here). TPM has been doing some excellent reporting, however, and explains just how bogus this “plausible deniability” defense by Bonner is:
John Hollinger opened up his most recent chat with this “Got a bunch of grunge CDs on shuffle right now, so if this chat comes across as angry and jaded blame Kurt Cobain.” That, in turn, led to the following exchange:
J-Vicious (Morristown, NY)
I dig that you’re jamming to Nirvana. Do you think Gilbert Arenas will come out of the dead this year and perform like the elite point guard he was a couple years back?
John Hollinger (3:45 PM)
We got Nirvana, Pearl Jam and the criminally underrated Alice in Chains going head to head right now. As for Arenas, I’m really suspicious. He had a very serious injury and it’s not like he’s 7-feet tall — the guy is entirely dependent on his cutting and quickness. Even if he stays healthy all year I think it’s highly unlikely he has the same zip.
That’s right on Arenas, but Alice in Chains? It seems pretty clear to me that the third leg of that particular stool ought to be Smashing Pumpkins:
I think their not-very-good later work sort of brought them into discredit, but Gish, Siamese Dream, Pisces Iscariot, and Mellon Collie alone constitute a reasonably extensive body of excellent work. Alice in Chains, meanwhile, gave us “Man in the Box” and . . . what?
My proposal for dealing with this issue would be to keep standing committees in place (the jurisdiction should almost certainly be re-aligned, but that’s another story and it’s boring) but rely on ad hoc committees for major pieces of legislation. Basically, if you want to do an important and controversial piece of legislation, the Speaker should appoint a committee to write the bill. The goal would be to put together a committee with enough solid ideologues to get a good bill, but also that’s ideologically diverse enough to produce a bill that can actually pass. And the incentive would be to make sure to appoint savvy dealmakers to chair the ad hoc committees rather than rigid ideologues or inept hacks.
Representatives in the large body of most nations’ legislative body tend to represent between 75,000 and 200,000 constituents. The US, there’s one Congressman for every 700,000 constituents. Getting down to the international norm would require tripling the size of the House.
It should be noted that massively increasing the size of the House would have other interesting consequences. A district with 200,000 members would have a off-year primary electorate of about 15,000 to 20,000 voters. This is a small enough number that it’s plausible for a candidate to meet, in person, everyone who’s going to vote for them. Medium sized cities would have so many members that campaigns would be waged strictly by direct mail, or we would move to multi-member districts.
I think this is a good idea. But to make it work you would need to embrace some other reforms, including multi-member constituencies and greater reliance on ad hoc committees. A side benefit of increasing the size of the House is that since each state has to have at least one House member, the current system over-represents residents of severely underpopulated states like Wyoming. Expanding the House would mitigate this to some extent.
Doubling-down on his previous claim that Justice-to-be Sonia Sotomayor is a member of the “Latino KKK,” nativist former Congressman and presidential candidate Tom Tancredo (R-CO) published a column yesterday suggesting that she supports an imaginary movement of Mexican-Americans planning to wage civil war against the United States:
The last thing the Democrats want is for the American people to know about the National Council of La Raza, their radical agenda and Sotomayor’s association with the group.
Sotomayor is a member of La Raza and her comments about “Wise Latinas” being superior to white men appeared in the La Raza Law Journal. The National Council of La Raza bills itself as “the largest national Hispanic civil rights and advocacy organization in the United States” who works through “its network of nearly 300 affiliated community-based organizations.”
Among these affiliates are several chapters of the Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (Chicano Student Movement of Aztlán) who La Raza helps fund. Aztlán is what radical “Mechistas”—as they refer to themselves on La Raza’s website—call the American Southwest, which they claim still belongs to Mexico. Their slogan is “Por La Raza todo, Fuera de La Raza nada” meaning “For the Race everything, outside the Race nothing.” One chapter says on La Raza’s site that their mission is “empowerment of our gente and the liberation of Aztlán.”
For starters, Tancredo offers no explanation for his belief that Sotomayor, who is Puerto Rican, would somehow find common cause with Mexican-American separatists. Mr. Tancredo may be unaware of this fact, but Puerto Rico is not part of Mexico.
Moreover, Tancredo’s claim that America is threatened by Mexican-Americans eager to start a second civil war is simply absurd hate speech. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Aztlán libel is based on a radical document published in 1969, which called on Mexican-Americans to “reclaim the land of their birth” and unite to fight “oppression, exploitation and racism.” Although this document is nothing more than “a relic of the counterculture of the 1960s,” nativist hate groups have seized upon it as a supposed “founding document of a bona fide conspiracy endorsed and backed by Mexico and, in some versions, by most Mexican Americans.”
For Tancredo, however, no theory is too bizarre, so long as it bolsters his deep-seated hatred of people who don’t look like him.