You have an angry subset of Republicans who feel unfairly maligned by a society that’s changing in ways they don’t fully buy into. It’s a strain in American political life that’s always been around and perhaps it’s because of the nature of America itself — it’s been a dynamic culture from the beginning with lots of immigrants and second chances and social mobility. And there have been sweeping social changes in the past few decades, more changes than a lot of people are able to cope with. This group is fairly represented by Palin, with her “sharp” and “forceful” call to fight for their beliefs and dissent from the consensus. She didn’t make any friends among the elites of both parties yesterday, but I stand by my belief that she solidified herself in the leadership of the aggrieved Americans who cannot accept the legitimacy of their political opposition.
Obama, on the other hand, is by nature a mediator and a conciliator which is why he is effective as a president calling for national healing (and less successful at every day hand to hand political combat.) He’s the embodiment of all the social changes that freak out the right and always presented himself as one who can transcend them. But they don’t want the differences to be “transcended”, they want them to disappear. On the other side, a whole lot of other people are desperate to see him to succeed at that and have placed their hopes in his skills to work it through. They embrace the change — and hate the controversy […]
I doubt this debate will ever truly end. This tension, which becomes more and less acute depending on the times, is a defining feature of our country. For better or worse, those two speeches were equally representative of America.
- The WSJ’s James Taranto thinks writing about Michelle Bachmann’s “armed and dangerous” comment is irresponsible, because the context in which she used it makes it less inflammatory. Here’s the context, so you can decide for yourself:
“But you can get all the latest information on this event, this .. a must-go-to event with this Chris Horner. People will learn … it will be fascinating. We met with Chris Horner last week, 20 members of Congress. It takes a lot to wow members of Congress after a while. This wowed them. And I am going to have materials for people when they leave.
“I want people in Minnesota armed and dangerous on this issue of the energy tax because we need to fight back. Thomas Jefferson told us, having a revolution every now and then is a good thing, and the people — we the people — are going to have to fight back hard if we’re not going to lose our country. And I think this has the potential of changing the dynamic of freedom forever in the United States and that’s why I want everyone to come out and hear. So go to bachmann.house.gov and you can get all the information.” [pauses reflect pauses, not omitted text]
For Taranto, the context makes it all 100 percent non-violent. What the context actually does is make it even more violent.
- Americans oppose raising the debt ceiling.
The U.S. public overwhelmingly opposes raising the country’s debt limit even though failure to do so could hurt America’s international standing and push up borrowing costs, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll released on Wednesday.
Some 71 percent of those surveyed oppose increasing the borrowing authority, the focus of a brewing political battle over federal spending. Only 18 percent support an increase.
This should embolden the teabaggers looking to block raising the debt ceiling. But if you want to see how confused the public is:
Only 24 percent say the country can afford to cut back on education spending, a likely Republican target, and 21 percent support cuts to law enforcement.
With the Pentagon fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, 51 percent supported cutbacks to military spending.
Less than half, 45 percent, support an expected Republican effort to pare environmental enforcement.
Some 53 percent support cutting the budgets of financial regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission, in spite of the widespread consensus that a lax regulatory atmosphere contributed to the devastating financial crisis of 2007-2009.
And 47 percent support cutbacks to national parks, which were shuttered for several weeks during the budget battles of 1995 and 1996.
Expensive benefit programs that account for nearly half of all federal spending enjoy widespread support, the poll found. Only 20 percent supported paring Social Security retirement benefits while a mere 23 supported cutbacks to the Medicare health-insurance program.
Some 73 percent support scaling back foreign aid and 65 percent support cutting back on tax collection.
So … no more debt! But don’t cut anything from the budget, either. Except for foreign aid, because that billion will make all the difference in the world in a multi-trillion dollar budget.
- Are you color blind? There’s an (iOS and Android) app for that.
Scientists at Cornell University’s Computational Synthesis Lab are developing a commercially-available “3D food printer” that would allow users to “print” meals using “raw food ‘inks'” inside syringes. Sounds delicious!
Cooking is so hard, what with “ingredients” and “recipes” and “having to leave your house to go shopping.” So thank goodness for the fab@home project, an open-source collaboration on 3D printer technology that’s developing a “food printer” intended for home use.
Who needs to cook with real ingredients when you can get anything you need (or WILL be able to get it) from a syringe?
Now if this was being sold as a NASA project for long-range space exploration, then … maybe. But it’s not.