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Archive for November, 2012|Monthly archive page

Programming Note.

In Television on November 19, 2012 at 4:22 pm

I’ve been following the program Homeland on Showtime closely. It came out of nowhere last year and floored me with its first season. It provokes the audience with its takes on terrorism, surveillance, mental health, political expediency, and national loyalty, to name a few. Its second season is well underway, and has taken some unexpected turns.

The awesome and erudite June Thomas graciously invited me to join her for a discussion of last night’s episode on Slate. It’s obviously more engrossing if you’ve been watching the show, but hopefully there are some nuggets worth extracting even if you haven’t. If you’re up for it, check it out here.

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Party Afoul.

In Politics on November 19, 2012 at 9:45 am

In case you didn’t hear, Barack Obama was reelected as president. (I’m not sure how I would feel if you actually hadn’t heard until now. Simultaneously flattered and abhorred that Brief Wit is your only source of news?)

The postmortems have come hard and fast since Obama’s victory, like that scene in The Avengers where the Hulk punches Thor in Grand Central.

In his own dissection of the loss, Romney inelegantly echoed the “47 percent” version of himself by saying Obama bestowed “gifts” on demographic groups. What you call “gifts,” I might call “rights” or “decencies,” but hey, let’s not parse. (Even Newt gave him grief for it.)

In the end, what looked to be the case became the reality.

Yes, Mitt Romney was so obviously and easily cast as a tone-deaf robber baron at possibly the worst time in 80 years to be labeled that way. But Romney was not just a bad candidate for his own message, he was a bad candidate for the GOP’s message. And, like a riesling paired with a ribeye, the GOP’s message was not very palatable to begin with.

Indeed, the predominant feature of these campaign postscripts has been clear-eyed criticism of the Republican party, chiefly its issue stances and waning appeal to a changing population. The takeaway: the GOP has run afoul of the electorate.

As the analyses have fluttered out, one of the earliest and most succinct was also probably the most palpable portrait, from former Bush reelection adviser Matthew Dowd on Good Morning America. He said that the GOP had become a “ ‘Mad Men’ party in a ‘Modern Family’ America.”

(I’m not saying it’s all over, but Sean Hannity’s already applied for Food Stamps.) Read the rest of this entry »

Inconsistent, But Insistent.

In Government on November 1, 2012 at 10:44 pm

It’s been bizarre, as Will Saletan said this week, to see Republican governors in New Jersey, Virginia, and Louisiana chew out their most stubborn citizens for refusing to evacuate, and yet eschew government for asking its citizens to buy health insurance. In either case, whether it is the stranded woman on the roof of her flooded house or the guy who rolls into the ER with a busted pelvis, our common humanity, government, and social contract impels us to try and save them:

“What’s odd about Christie and other Republican governors is that they recognize this principle only when a hurricane hits. When it comes to injury or disease, which we know will strike everyone on this planet, the Republican governors defend your right to ride it out. They oppose any requirement to buy health insurance. If you get sick, the rest of us will shell out to rescue you.

“Hurricanes and health care are different in many ways, of course. Buying health insurance is more expensive than evacuating for a natural disaster. But in both cases, the question is whether you should be allowed to make your own choices when the cost of bailing you out will fall on others. If the state has no business forcing you to buy health insurance, even when the premiums are subsidized, why should it be empowered to order you out of your home in a storm, just to save your skin? Why do Republican governors think they can have it both ways?”

It’s difficult to swallow your pride, and all the more agonizing to have to leave your home. I hope I’m never put in that position. If I was, I’m not sure making the right call would be easy. Lately, I’ve tended to think most people are bad at solving their own problems and better at solving other people’s.

After the poor decision to stay in their inundated town is laid bare for them by events, who knows better than the pig-headed couple who had to be rescued, that maybe the choice to “opt-in” shouldn’t have been left to them?