There are a lot of stupid things about Devil. There’s the fact that it’s an M. Night Shyamalan production. There’s the fact that the devil is apparently hanging out tormenting a bunch of nobodies. And then, there’s the fact that he’s stuck himself on an elevator. For serious? Does nobody understand Satan anymore? If you’re the Devil, and you break out of hell, you have a lot of options. You can go to Connecticut and cause sexy trouble. You can go to Spain and Paris and read a lot of Dumas. You can retire to Perth and hang out on the beach. Why do you waste your time on a gang of random irrelevants? If you’re going to go the torture route, there are people it would be vastly more fun, interesting, and rewarding to torment.
Following his victory in the Republican primary for Florida governor, Latino GOP strategists began urging Rick Scott (R-FL) to consider a Latino from South Florida as his running mate “to broaden his appeal and diffuse the immigration issue.” However, last week, Scott tapped Jennifer Carroll (R-FL), an African American immigrant from Trinidad, to share the Republican ticket with him as lieutenant governor. “Working together, we will broaden the base of our party,” Scott said as he introduced Carroll.
However, if Scott hopes to use Carroll to broaden a minority base that includes disgruntled Latino and immigrant voters who he has isolated via his hardline immigration stance, he may want to ask his running mate to brush up on her talking points. The Palm Beach Post published an awkward exchange between one of its reporters and Carroll in which she admitted that she hasn’t read the Arizona copy cat bill sponsored by Florida state Rep. Will Snyder (R). In fact, rather than answering a question regarding Arizona’s immigration law, Carroll asked the reporter to state her opinion. According to Carroll, she and Scott simply haven’t “gotten into the nitpicky as to how a bill is going to be crafted.”
In a separate interview, Carroll asserted that she supports Scott’s hard-line views on illegal immigration and his promise to enact a state law similar to Arizona’s:
“The bottom line is legal immigration. We cannot reward people for their illegal acts in coming to this country,” Carroll said. Even for legal immigrants like herself, she said, the process is “cumbersome, tedious and not friendly,” adding: “One thing we have to get away from is the race factor, because immigrants come from different backgrounds, like myself, from Trinidad. Not always Mexican.”
During his primary against Bob McCollum (R-FL), Scott poured millions of dollars into ads supporting Arizona’s tough immigration law and advocating for one like it in Florida. Snyder’s immigration bill, which McCollum unveiled as part of his campaign platform, was largely a desperate response to Scott’s pandering on the issue. Since then, GOP Latino leaders have been publicly asking Scott to abandon his anti-immigrant rhetoric. So far, there is no indication that either he or his running mate is listening.
Karl Smith speculates on the origins of austerianism:
My current explanation is that this is a transfer of logic from the way certain body tissues operate. Its clearly the case that skin, muscle and connective tissue respond to stress by growing: a process known as hydrotherapy. This might also be the case with nervous tissue and some other, though importantly not all, tissues. This is an interesting and important phenomenon that details the power of highly complex evolutionary systems. Yet, it is a fool’s errand to apply this to the world writ large.
When you stress most things they don’t grow back stronger, they break. When you apply job losses to an economy people don’t become hardier, they become poorer. The idea that tough love will lead to a better economy in the long run is just wrong. Not mean. Not heartless. Not insensitive. Wrong.
I think Paul Krugman’s old account of “Hangover Theory” more likely gets at the source of the problem. Most people are not very interested in the details of public policy disputes, but people recognize that politics is in some sense important. So since politics involves both empirical and ethical issues, people tend to gravitate toward moralistic accounts of what’s going on. The idea that a boom is necessarily followed by a bust that you just have to grit through both contains a little bit of truth* and constitutes an appealingly moralistic argument.
The underlying issue is the pretty general one that people’s intuitive understanding of economic growth is not very good. When faced with trade, or immigration, or technological progress, or improved conditions for a racial or religious minority group, people tend to respond with anxiety that more for someone else means less for them. The idea that these things can actually push the production possibility frontier outwards doesn’t come automatically to people who haven’t received explicit instruction. I think it’s the same with the business cycle and intertemporal tradeoffs. People figure the money has to come from somewhere so if fiscal or monetary stimulus helps anyone, it can only be by hurting some other people or else by somehow stealing resources from the future.
The reality is the reverse. Growing slower than we could in 2010 doesn’t help us grow faster in 2011 or 2012. Instead it semi-permanently reduces our ability to produce future goods and services.
Tea party extremists backed by Big Oil and corporate polluters want to stop and then reverse all efforts to advance clean energy or avoid catastrophic global warming (see “New Yorker exposes Koch brothers“).
It is crucial that their self-destructive ideas and plans be made as widely known as possible, if we are to have any chance of preserving the health and well-being of our children and grandchildren and countless future generations (see, for instance, Ohio Tea Party survey to candidates: “The regulation of Carbon Dioxide in our atmosphere should be left to God and not government and I oppose all measures of Cap and Trade as well as the teaching of global warming theory in our schools”).
While the right wing supports monitoring the activities of pretty much everybody all the time, even the most private activities, they can’t stand it when progressives merely hold up their own wacky ideas for everybody to see. Think Progress has the amazing story:
Montana Tea Party Leader Fired For Advocating Violence Against Gays — But Is Backed By State GOP Candidate
Up until Sunday, Tim Ravndal was the president of the The Big Sky Tea Party Association, a prominent Montana Tea Party group. He was removed from that position, however, after apparently endorsing violence against gays and citing the 1998 murder of Matthew Shepard on his Facebook page.
On July 23, Ravndal declared his opposition to gay marriage in a Facebook status update. Another user replied: “I think fruits are decorative. Hang up where they can be seen and appreciated. Call Wyoming for display instructions.” Ravndal then responded: “Where can I get that Wyoming printed instruction manual?”
The post was deleted, but here is a screenshot of their exchange:
In 1998, University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard was beaten and tied to a fence post. Police said Shepard was attacked because he was gay. The almost inescapable conclusion is that Ravndal and the other user were referencing that murder, especially when the other user replies to Ravndal that he should be able to find Wyoming’s “manual” in newspaper archives “a bit over ten years” ago.
Ravndal now says he “never made the connection” between the Wyoming reference and Shepard’s murder. Nevertheless, the Big Sky Tea Party Association’s Board of Directors voted unanimously to remove him. However, the organization’s secretary, Kristi Allen-Gailushas — who is also a Republican candidate for Montana’s state senate — continues to back Ravndal, and defended his comments. On Sept. 3, she posted this to his Facebook page:
No matter what you guys say, Tim is a great American and Patriot. He does have a right to say what he wants. I know that he didn’t mean it, but in the heat of his anger with the ACLU might not have realized what he was saying. The people who are in the TEA party movement are called names all of the time. Racist, extreimest….you name it. Tolerance needs to be done on both sides especially the homosexual side. There isn’t any tolerance for people who have a different opinion than yours. If we say yes to gay marriage where does it stop? The people who want to have more than one spouse will be next and that is against the law. The definition of marriage is between a man and a woman, are we now going to change the definition?
Allen-Gailushas subsequently wrote on Facebook, “The Gay community wants a war….they’ve got one!!” Clarifying later, she added, “I didn’t mean a literal gun war, but a war of the truth and the hypocrisy they espouse.”
The AP reports today that several members and officers of the Big Sky Tea Party Assocation still back Ravndal. Allen-Gailushas and one board member are resigning over the decision to boot Ravndal from the organization, and many members are calling for a new Board of Directors.
John Doerr: If we don’t embrace a low carbon economy this decade, it won’t just harm the planet, but also the U.S. economy.
Philippe Cousteau is becoming a true champion of the ocean and the climate (see “Stunning video makes clear prevention is the only cure: What dispersants have really done to Gulf“). He is following in the footsteps of his famous father and even more famous grandfather with his work at Earth Echo.
He spoke earlier today at the third annual National Clean Energy Summit (webcast here), and was pretty blunt about the dire nature of our current situation:
California’s Republican gubernatorial nominee, former Ebay CEO Meg Whitman, has been touting her economic platform, calling job creation “the number one thing we have to do.” Today, on Fox News, Whitman once again asserted that she will create two million “new, good, private sector jobs,” and when asked by Fox’s Bill Hemmer how she actually planned to do that, she claimed that eliminating fees and regulations will magically create a flood of job creation. Watch it:
Whitman’s assertion that she’ll create two million jobs in five years looks a tad less impressive when you consider that the California State Department of Finance estimates that “California should gain 1.25 million jobs by 2015 without any of Whitman’s policies.”
This isn’t surprising, as tweaking on the edges of tax policy traditionally doesn’t have much effect on job creation, particularly when demand is as weak as it is right now. In fact, economist Terry Buss has concluded that when it comes to California, “tax literature, now in hundreds of publications, provides little guidance to policy makers trying to fine tune economic development.”
However, Whitman’s plan most certainly will cost California revenue, at a time when it is trying to dig out of a huge fiscal hole. As UC Berkley economist Michael Reich found:
Whitman’s proposed cuts in taxes and fees paid by businesses are likely to have little positive effect relative to the number of jobs that would be lost by the resulting drop in public investment. These cuts could result in a loss of revenue of $6 billion to $10 billion a year or more, depending on how they were implemented. These tax cuts would add substantially to the state’s budget crisis.
There is, of course, something to be said for eliminating fees and regulations that make no sense, but Republicans this year have seized upon them as one of the main impediments to job creation. But the elimination of a fee doesn’t save a small business that’s suffering from severe lack of customers or that can’t find a line of credit. And the number one thing holding back small businesses from hiring, at the moment, is poor economic conditions and lack of sales prospects.
Plus, some of the regulations that Whitman wants to do away with — including one guaranteeing overtime pay to workers — “would transfer over $1 billion from workers to employers,” reducing the ability of those workers to purchase goods and increase demand, while lining the pockets of employers. Such a step doesn’t create jobs, but simply exacerbates income inequality and gives employers the upper hand in labor relations.
Roger Cohen writes about the clocks on the wall in Dennis McDonough’s office:
What is striking, just two decades after the end of the Cold War, is the absence of a single European city. Europe, for the first time in hundreds of years, has become a strategic backwater. Europe is history.
Cohen thinks this is an unfortunate attitude, and I sympathize with what he’s saying. But here’s a different way of putting the point: The fact that the NSC’s chief of staff is primarily focused on backwaters like Kabul and Sana shows that issues falling under the umbrella of “national security” are perhaps not the most important features of the international landscape. The reality is that most contemporary Americans are much more affected by events in major developed world trade partners—Europe, Canada, Japan, Korea, Taiwan—than by counterinsurgency in Yemen. It’s not even close. European Union mishandling of the Greek debt crisis would have been a disaster for the welfare of the American people and I can assure you that neither the Treasury Department nor the Federal Reserve was busy that day worrying about Iraq.
You can say “well, these are economic issues rather than strategic ones.” But why should “strategy” just mean “stuff the military does”? We got militarily involved in Europe in the first place largely over concern for the implications of World War One for our commercial relationships, and those relationships are still extremely important. Treating these kind of issues as second-rate seems to me to be a bad habit.
Last week, both former Iowa Governor Terry Branstad (R), who is presently running to get his old job back, and Iowa GOP Lt. Governor candidate Kim Reynolds endorsed an unconstitutional proposal to deny public schooling to undocumented children:
Republican lieutenant governor candidate Kim Reynolds said Saturday that children who are undocumented immigrants should be denied access to public education. But she stopped short of offering a specific plan on how to make that policy a reality.
Reynolds was asked about immigration policy while attending the annual Latino Heritage Festival in Des Moines. Her running mate, former Gov. Terry Branstad, recently told WHO-AM’s Jan Mickelson that the 1982 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Plyer v. Doe — which said the children of illegal immigrants must be allowed access to public education — should be overturned.
While discussing the issue on Saturday, Reynolds said she agrees with Branstad’s position but would not go as far as to say that they would act directly against the law as it stands if they are elected this fall.
“Well, the Supreme Court has ruled, so that we need to operate within the law – what the law is right now – but would probably disagree with that and look at maybe changing that, or working towards it,” she said in an interview with The Iowa Independent. “But right now it is the law and we need to go by what the law is.”
In his interview with Mickelson, Branstad suggested that his unconstitutional plan to deny education to many children is necessary to save money, but it’s tough to imagine a more short-sighted way to cut costs. Children who are educated have the opportunity to become well-compensated workers, who will then pay back the cost of their education in taxes. Conversely, children who are denied an education are dramatically more likely to wind up incarcerated, and thus wind up costing the state even more in the end.
Moreover, it’s not clear how Branstad and Reynolds would work towards “maybe changing” the Supreme Court’s nearly 30 year old decision in Plyer, but recent history provides them with a model for such an effort — willfully flouting the Constitution. State anti-choice activists have enacted blatantly unconstitutional restrictions on abortion in an attempt to goad the right-wing Supreme Court into overruling Roe v. Wade. If Branstad and Reynolds plan to take a shot at Plyer, their most likely option is to simply thumb their nose at the Constitution and hope that the justices don’t thumb back.
Such a constitutional assault would hardly be out of character for today’s GOP. As ThinkProgress previously reported, top GOP officials have embraced everything from repealing the Constitution’s grant of birthright citizenship, to declaring Medicare, Social Security and the federal ban on whites-only lunch counters unconstitutional. (HT: Iowa Independent)
I have long been of the Ross Douthatian take on the Star Wars movies, which is that when it comes to my future children, only episodes IV-VI belong in my house. But every girl needs something to watch while she does the ironing, and Spike was airing the prequels over the weekend, and nothing better was on, so I felt I could justify a repeat watching as long as it was just background noise. The movies are just as awful as I remembered. It’s entirely possible that it’s the worst role, and worst acting job, of Natalie Portman’s career. Hayden Christensen is dreadfully miscast. George Lucas is one of the artists in the world most desperately in need of an editor with final authority over his work, or at minimum, exceedingly rigorous feedback he trusts.
I think part of the reason it’s a shame is that there actually are a fair number of good things in the movies that, had they been substantially refocused, might have made for highly entertaining viewing. Take, for example, the relatively genius casting of Jimmy Smits as Bail Organa. How much better could the movies have been if they had a balance, introducing both to Tatooine and the extended family Luke would end up with there, and to introduce us to Alderaan, and the political culture that would shape Leia Organa as a universal leader? The preconditions for their development are at least as important as the basic creation story of Darth Vader. It might have even made more sense to do a Young Jedi Knights trilogy, with the characters separated, setting up the preconditions for their eventual meetings.
Similarly, something like the showdown between Qui-Gon Jinn and Darth Maul is a good idea as a narrative device, but executed extremely poorly. That whole rotating-lasers-cut-us-off-from-each-other-and-pause-the-battle thing? Pointless. Slows down the pacing. Doesn’t reveal anything about the characters. Doesn’t reveal anything about the force, unless Darth Maul standing up while Qui-Gon kneels and meditates is meant to teach us something we don’t already know. The fight choreography is showy, but uninteresting.
I suspect my feelings are little more than misplaced nostalgia. Wanting the movies to have been good, doesn’t make them so, and it’s clear in hindsight that Lucas was never particularly the man to make them. But there’s so much that could have happened. Obi-Wan and Anakin could have chased Zam Wesell into Invisec and given us an actually engaging look at Coruscant. Someone action-y, but with dramatic ability, like Chris Pine could have been Anakin. Michael Stackpole could have written the script. Useless dreams, but it’s too bad the series has such a signficant misstep in its history.