For some reason CBS has decided that an add for a gay dating site can’t be run during the Super Bowl. The spot is amusing, but quite tame:
Meanwhile, Super Bowl calvinball about advocacy ads continues. In recent years we’ve seen MoveOn denied the opportunity to run an ad, marriage equality ads denied, but this year we’ll be treated to Tim Tebow’s forced pregnancy advocacy.
Justice Department officials John Yoo and Jay Bybee were two of the main architects of the Bush administration’s torture program. As Bybee’s deputy, Yoo “was the author of much of the legal rationale for using waterboarding and other severe interrogation techniques.” He argued that interrogators who harm a prisoner would be protected “national and international version of the right to self-defense,” and illegal conduct must “shock the conscience.” Bybee headed the DOJ’s Office of Legal Counsel and signed off on the infamous 2002 torture memo. Newsweek now reports that a senior DOJ official has essentially cleared the two men of misconduct in an upcoming office of Professional Responsibility report:
While the probe is sharply critical of the legal reasoning used to justify waterboarding and other “enhanced” interrogation techniques, NEWSWEEK has learned that a senior Justice official who did the final review of the report softened an earlier OPR finding. Previously, the report concluded that two key authors — Jay Bybee, now a federal appellate court judge, and John Yoo, now a law professor — violated their professional obligations as lawyers when they crafted a crucial 2002 memo approving the use of harsh tactics, say two Justice sources who asked for anonymity discussing an internal matter. But the reviewer, career veteran David Margolis, downgraded that assessment to say they showed “poor judgment,” say the sources. (Under department rules, poor judgment does not constitute professional misconduct.) The shift is significant: the original finding would have triggered a referral to state bar associations for potential disciplinary action — which, in Bybee’s case, could have led to an impeachment inquiry.
A DOJ official said that Margolis “acted without input” from Attorney General Eric Holder. Emptywheel has more.
This is why the labor market is so horrible. We’re still 1.9 percent below the peak level. Probably at the end of 2010 Q1 we’ll be back where we were before the recession started. But during that time we’ll have had over two years of population growth and productivity growth, leaving tons of people out of a job until we get quite a bit above where we once were.
To say one more quarter of growth should put us pack at the pre-crash output level is too optimistic. Quarterly GDP numbers are normally reported on an annualized basis, so you would need almost 8 percent annualized growth in Q1 to get back up to where we were. Optimistically, we’ll make up 1.9 percent in two quarters, and it may take longer.
The Denver Federal Center, pictured above, is already working to improve its energy efficiency by installing 35 acres of roof-mounted solar panels, enough to supply all of its electricity needs. Our guest blogger is Sean Pool, Special Assistant for the Energy Policy team at American Progress.
While a comprehensive clean energy air, clean energy jobs bill languishes in the Senate, the President is wielding his executive powers now to green the government itself, creating jobs and spurring investments in new technologies.
Yesterday the president announced that the nation’s largest consumer of energy -the Federal Government- will cut its emissions of global warming pollution by 28 percent by 2020.
If a zero short-term interest rate is not enough to generate an economic recovery, and if deficit spending has reached its limits, then there are only two serious remaining policy options. One is to extend open-market operations to those assets whose prices can still be driven up – most obviously, longer-term bonds and foreign currencies. The other is to try to bootstrap a recovery by convincing savers and investors that the future will bring not deflation but modest inflation, something that can best be accomplished by announcing an explicit inflation target, but could possibly be achieved through a less explicit policy of “quantitative easing” – essentially, producing attention-grabbing increases in the monetary base. In practice such policies are not alternatives but complements: unconventional monetary policy today should be used as the opening salvo of a campaign to convince the private sector that inflation rather than deflation will prevail tomorrow.
Such proposals are the natural implication of utterly orthodox monetary analysis, applied to Japan’s unusual plight. If you believe that an economy is in a liquidity trap, and that fiscal policy has reached its limits – both propositions about Japan that are hard to deny – it is hard to avoid the conclusion that in such circumstances to adhere to conventional notions of monetary prudence is to flirt with catastrophe, and that policies that would normally be regarded as irresponsible become not only reasonable but essential.
But although this conclusion is hard to avoid, influential Japanese are still trying. Say to them that the Bank of Japan should announce a minimum inflation target of at least 2 percent, or that there should be a clear commitment to increase the monetary base at an annual rate of at least 15 percent, and you get the feeling that you have proposed an immoral act. In public the BOJ’s leadership has adopted a posture that is best described as philosophical, full of skepticism about its ability to do much to turn the economy around. And since monetary policy in a liquidity trap must work mainly through its effect on expectations, such diffidence is not only an abdication of responsibility; it undermines the effectiveness of whatever monetary expansion actually takes place.
I hear a lot of people say that Krugman was better back in the nineties before he became “shrill” and/or “partisan.” I think this is a misunderstanding. I think that if you just turned this into an article about the United States of America that was full of the names of prominent American political, economic, and media figures it would just strike people as a shrill or extreme article. The fact that it’s a piece about a far-off land full of unknown “BOJ leadership” softens the blows, and the fact that the main point is that foreigners (rather than, say, politicians you may admire) are screwing up makes people non-defensive about the argument. But it’s impossible to write clear prose about American politics for an American audience without sounding shrill or hackish or something to some large segment of the population, we all know and care too much.
In recent weeks, CBS has been taking heat over its decision to allow Focus on the Family’s pro-life ad, featuring Heisman winner Tim Tebow, to air during the Super Bowl. The right wing quickly rushed to the defense of Focus on the Family. Former Alaska governor Sarah Palin urged CBS to “just do the right thing. Don’t cave. Have the backbone to run the ad.” This week, the far-right American Family Association (AFA) launched an action alert asking people to let CBS know they support the ad.
CBS revealed that it is open to accepting other “responsibly produced” advocacy ads, besides the Focus on the Family spot. “We have for some time moderated our approach to advocacy submissions after it became apparent that our stance did not reflect public sentiment or industry norms,” spokesman Dana McClintock said.
However, yesterday CBS announced that it had rejected a commercial for a gay dating site called ManCrunch.com:
“After reviewing the ad, which is entirely commercial in nature, our standards and practices department decided not to accept this particular spot,” said CBS spokeswoman Shannon Jacobs. “We are always open to working with a client on alternative submissions.”
Elissa Buchter, a spokesperson for the site, called CBS’s rejection “straight-up discrimination.” A letter from CBS said that the ad was “not within the Network’s broadcast standards for Super Bowl Sunday.” The commercial “shows two men excitedly watching the game, before their hands brush as they both reach into a bowl of chips. Suddenly, the two begin making out, much to the shock of a guy sitting close by.” The New York Post concluded that the ad is “no more racy than nearly any beer commercial not starring the Budweiser Clydesdales.” Watch it:
CBS’s decision to accept the Focus on the Family ad was controversial because most networks have a policy of banning advocacy ads during the Super Bowl, and have rejected ones by groups such as MoveOn.org and PETA in the past. Last year, NBC rejected a 30-second public service announcement about marriage equality to run during the Super Bowl.
Andrew Sullivan writes, “In the past, issues ads were deemed non-kosher – but if it’s a Christianist and virulently anti-gay organization behind the ad, it appears to be ok. But if it’s a humorous commercial ad for a gay dating service, CBS says no. … There is one reason this ad was denied. Its gay content was deemed offensive to football fans, while an anti-abortion issues ad wasn’t. That’s called blatant discrimination and if it doesn’t lead to aggressive protests I’ll be very surprised.”
Continuing a theme from yesterday, I think it’s more important than is generally acknowledged that most people have no idea how congress works. Consider, for example, the following hypothetical scenario. The Green Team has 13 Senators on the Senate Energy Committee and the Brown Team has 10 Senators. The President also belongs to the Green Team and he promised in a speech to pass a bill banning the use of puppy-burning power plants. The Brown team hates that idea. Then along come two Senators from the Green Team who offer an amendment saying, well, as long as you don’t burn more than three puppies a year you can do it. Then the committee takes a vote and the amendment is adopted, 12-11, with the 11 “no” votes all coming from the Green Team. Then the overall puppy bill comes up for a vote and it passes 13-11 on a party-line vote.
What happens next? Well, typically what happens is you start getting liberals complaining that the Green Team voted for a weak-ass sellout bill. Unanimously. They have the majority, they control everything, and this is the best they could do? Why didn’t they really fight? Meanwhile, the Brown Team complains that it’s been shut out of the process and the Green Team is passing these costly bills that put the interests of puppies ahead of the interests of people and that doesn’t even really stop puppy-burning anyway!
Anyways, this kind of thing happens all the time. Things happen because a small fraction of centrist Democrats side with the vast majority of Republicans, but then the overall legislative vehicle ends up being moved on a party-line vote. This leads to people criticizing “the Democrats” for doing things that only a tiny minority of Democrats actually did, and Republicans run around acting like they have nothing to do with outcomes even though they’ve actually been decisive in shaping them.
Last week, the Supreme Court’s five conservative justices joined together to invalidate a 63-year-old ban on corporate money in federal elections and in the process overruled a 20-year-old precedent permitting such bans on corporate electioneering. “There were principled, narrower paths that a court that was serious about judicial restraint could have taken,” Justice John Paul Stevens wrote in dissent, essentially “accusing his colleagues of judicial activism,” in the words of the New York Times’ Adam Liptak.
Referring to the memorable analogy in which Roberts compared himself to a baseball umpire, Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) told POLITICO this week, “He’s not somebody who just measures balls and strikes. It’s been the most activist court that I’ve seen in my 17 years in the committee.” [...]
Conservatives regularly attack Democratic judges as “judicial activists,” but Judiciary Committee member Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) said, “It’s well past time” to call out conservative justices for their own brand of judicial activism. He said that making such arguments now could help the president if he has another chance to nominate a justice to the court.
Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), a former judge and current Judiciary Committee member, called such complaints “hysterical.” He thinks the court’s decision last week was simply an effort to “to protect the Constitution’s First Amendment rights of free speech and association.” But his charge that Democrats are “hysterical” over right-wing judicial activism is odd considering he mused in 2005 that there might be a connection between violent attacks against judges and judges “making political decisions“:
CORNYN: I don’t know if there is a cause-and-effect connection but we have seen some recent episodes of courthouse violence in this country. Certainly nothing new, but we seem to have run through a spate of courthouse violence recently that’s been on the news and I wonder whether there may be some connection between the perception in some quarters on some occasions where judges are making political decisions yet are unaccountable to the public, that it builds up and builds up and builds up to the point where some people engage in — engage in violence.