I haven't updated in a few days, mostly because it was a weekend of unexpected surprises. I had planned to rundown the Sunday papers, but a trip to the Emergency Veterinarian made that unlikely (incidentally, it cost $230 to learn that Oscar, my sweet, laid back boy kitty, had a tummy ache). Anyway, here are the big stories.
File Under "Ron Artest Is A Punk- And That's News?" The sheer amount of ink spilled over a brawl at a basketball game is simply astounding. Google News shows about 4,050 stories written on this non-event, dissected from every angle: The problem is African-American culture, the problem is "the civility gap" (whatever that is), the problem is the drunken louts in the stands, the problem is all of us. To hell with that- the problem is that Ron Artest is a thug with no self control. Can we please turn to news that matters?
What Is The Sound Of One Hand Giving The Bird To A Divided Party? Mitch Frank writes that what the Arlen Specter debacle demonstrates is that social conservatives want their agenda pushed forward now. He notes, however, that social conservatives are not the only ones who want their agenda pushed.
And the Christian right isn’t the only uneasy constituency in the Republican party. Fiscal conservatives unhappy about the deficit, isolationists and foreign policy realists unhappy about the war and libertarians hostile to the Patriot Act all held their tongues during the fight against John Kerry, but may be ready to start talking.
David Brooks also notes the beginnings of fracture. As he succinctly puts it, many Republicans feel that the expanded majority gives them the chance to finally win on issues they are passionate about, but they have fundamentally different views on what winning means.
This is a wedge I think Democrats would be wise to exploit. With our debt ceiling recently raised to $8.18 trillion (that is, $8,180,000,000,000 in debt), many people- left, right, and center- are skeptical of Bush's call for more tax cuts. Think about it, with almost 295 million people living in this country, each and every man, woman, and child, citizen and alien alike, is on the hook to the tune of $28,000. Of course, since we don't pay for it now our unfathomable national debt is handed off to future generations- a classic economic externality. Our debt load amounts to a tax on the unborn- utterly shameful.
Just that one issue alone- properly framed- could tilt some center-to-right leaning people away from the GOP. It needs to be very carefully positioned, somewhere along the lines suggested by Sandeep Kaushik suggested last week, but the divisions can be exploited. Remember, the divisions noted are among self-described Republicans. How many Bush voters are there without partisan predelictions?
File Under "How Do You Prove A Negative?" Iran claims it has suspended its nuclear activities- Bush says, "Prove it." Oh, boy. They're not even subtle about it. Play out the scene, people.
Iran: Look, Mr. President, the reactors are shut off.
Dubya: That's not proof.
Iran: We have no uranium.
Dubya: You have no uranium here, but you could have it elsewhere. That's not proof.
Iran: We have discontinued our missile program.
Dubya: For now. You leave us no choice but to to INVADE... um, liberate. Yeah, that's the ticket.
And they say statesmanship is dead.
"Please, No Wardrobe Malfunctions This Time" Finally, from the land of the non-story (which subtly incorporates last year's biggest non-story), Paul McCartney will headline the halftime show at the Super Bowl. What, no Lindsey Lohan?