The new White House budget proposal is getting a lot of attention because it explicitly connects the Obama administration to an agenda that includes cutting Social Security and Medicare benefits. Some pundits see this as a way to appeal to the "middle." But does anyone– in the middle or anywhere else–really want to cut the safety net?
Christina Hoff Sommers, who played a starring role in the anti-feminist backlash of the 1990s, is back again with a new edition of her book The War Against Boys. Originally subtitled How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men, it's now relabeled How Misguided Policies Are Harming Our Young Men; she now stresses–in a major New York Times op-ed (2/3/13) and a 10-minute one-on-one interview on NPR's Tell Me More (2/12/13)–that changing schools to help boys do better educationally is just a question of "basic fairness." She writes in the Times: That boys struggle with school is hardly news…. Over […]
With the election over, you're seeing familiar corporate media advice about the need for Obama to move to the right and learn to compromise with Republicans. Some of this is based on a frankly nonsensical view of the polarization that accompanied his first term. Matt Bai of the New York Times writes (11/7/12): There are, of course, plenty of explanations for why Mr. Obama's election did not usher in a less contentious political moment. Republicans say he squandered his opportunity to remake the political climate by adopting a traditionally liberal agenda. They point to his first big initiative, the stimulus […]
NPR's Tom Gjelten had a story on Morning Edition today (10/25/12) that made an important point about a prominent fallacy in the energy debate–and then spent the second half of the story falling into the exact same fallacy. The story questioned the constant use of the phrase "energy independence" in political discussions of U.S. energy policy. Gjelten noted: In truth, it would be virtually impossible for any country to be totally independent where energy is concerned. Not only would it have to produce all its own oil; it would also have to be independent of the global economy. Like sugar, […]
There's an interesting Politico story (8/22/12) about Andrea Seabrook, who until recently was a Capitol Hill reporter for NPR. She's moved on to a new independent reporting project, but it's what she said about her previous gig that's most revealing: "I realized that there is a part of covering Congress, if you're doing daily coverage, that is actually sort of colluding with the politicians themselves because so much of what I was doing was actually recording and playing what they say or repeating what they say," Seabrook told Politico. "And I feel like the real story of Congress right now […]
Even if you're not be an expert in media ethics, you'd probably agree that a show about finance and business exclusively sponsored by one giant bank has an obvious conflict. The fact that the show is on public radio might make such an arrangement all the more curious. And the fact that the host of the show also makes money giving speeches to the financial institutions he covers…. Well, now, that's not how things are supposed to work. But that's precisely how things work for Adam Davidson, the host of NPR's Planet Money. His program's exclusive underwriter is Ally Bank, […]
The Supreme Court decided on Thursday that lying about medals and military service, while "contemptible," is protected under the First Amendment's free speech clause. The court said the federal "Stolen Valor" law was overly broad and imposed a chilling effect on free speech. This news enraged Rush Limbaugh, who responded on is radio show with disdain, facetiously wondering, "I don't know if they legalized pedophilia or not." An interesting non sequitur, but back on point: Limbaugh's comprehension of freedom of speech has always been a crabbed affair, pretty much limited to the view that he and his conservative allies–people who enjoy […]
Imagine an amazing new invention that allowed anyone to duplicate any existing building, using no resources. However, the law requires you to pay for such instant buildings, at about the price of those made the old-fashioned way, on the grounds that allowing everyone to live in their ideal home for free would make it hard for architects to make a living. Relatively little of the money paid for the new houses, though, goes to architects–or even to their great-grandchildren, many of the actual architects being long dead; most of it, rather, goes to builders and real estate agents, even though […]