I think it's worth checking out Noam Scheiber's piece on Obama and end of his "grand compromise" trip. I don't know about other supporters, but I generally thought that when he claimed that there was no "red America" or "blue America" he was engaging in campaign rhetoric. When he claimed, as Ryan Lizza notes, that politics was mostly played between the "40 yard lines" I thought it was more packaging than principal.
After the midterm elections, Geithner's chief of staff, Mark Patterson, thought the administration should try to defuse the debt-limit issue once and for all before the incoming Republicans arrived. He drafted a law giving the president the authority to raise the debt ceiling unilaterally and sent it to the White House. To sell it politically, the president could explain that renewing the upper-income Bush tax cuts, as Republicans were then demanding, would cost the government $700 billion over ten years, forcing it to hit the debt ceiling sooner.The White House was initially interested, but dropped the idea once Republicans made clear they would oppose it. But, of course, the way to win concessions from obstructionist opponents isn't to sound them out quietly. It's to cause them public discomfort. As one former Treasury aide who was involved explains: "Imagine the alternative reality where the president comes out in December and says, 'I understand you want to increase the high-end tax cuts. But that will make the deficit go up. ... I am willing to do some of what you want to do, but you have to pay for it by raising the debt ceiling.'" At the very least, it would have put the GOP on the defensive.But the White House didn't have an appetite for going to war so soon after the midterms. Instead, it chose to bargain behind the scenes, renewing the Bush tax cuts in order to win more tax benefits for workers. "The feeling [at the White House] was, 'Let's go home, lick our wounds, sort it out.' There wasn't a lot of fight in folks," says the former Treasury aide. "We [at Treasury] were a little bit obsessed. They were, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah, we'll deal with it later...' "
Matt Yglesias on the wonder of bougie burritos:
In many ways, the Chipotle burrito is very similar to the iPhone. Founder Steve Ells invented a way to maintain the basic speed and experience of the standard fast-food experience and make the quality of the food a little better.* The better food costs a bit more money, but consumers turn out to be happy to pay a premium for a superior product. A similar insight is behind privately held Five Guys, a burger-oriented fast-food concept that's also grown rapidly over the past several years. At the other end of the health spectrum there's Chop't, the assembly-line salad chain that's taken New York and D.C. by storm but hasn't yet gone national. All three chains are, in their different ways, raising the bar for food quality in a quick-service setting.Chipotle stands out for some unusual process innovations as well. Their "barbecued" meat products--carnitas and barbacoa--are vacuum-packed and cooked sous-vide in Chicago before being shipped out for on-site reheating. The sous-vide cooking method is mostly associated with cutting edge haute cuisine. The way it works is that a piece of meat and its accompanying seasonings are placed in an airtight bag. The bag is then placed in an immersion circulator, a bath of water that's held at a very precise temperature. Cooking this way is slow, but extremely precise. A piece of meat held in a 155 degree water bath for long enough will cook uniformly to exactly 155 degrees worth of doneness.
On NFL athletes staring into the abyss of retirement
Here's a really good piece by Elizabeth Merrill on NFL players staring into the abyss of retirement:
It can't be reality, pulling down a million or two a year, having surgery on both your hips by the time you're 31, hearing, around that same time, that your career is done. Washed out at 31. What does a guy do after that? "The hardest part is that you're part of something," said Chris Bober, a former offensive lineman for the Giants and Chiefs, "and then you're not and you have to go reinvent yourself."The myth, Bober said, is that NFL players are set for life. Bober seemingly did all the right things when he was in the league. He attended Harvard Business School and Northwestern's Kellogg School of Management. He invested his money. Then the recession came a few years ago, around the same time he was being cut from the Chiefs, and wiped away roughly half of his investments. But even if that hadn't happened, Bober knew he had to start another career. He was in his early 30s and had spent his entire life pushing and building toward something. He had to find something else to do.
It probably is said too much now, but coming from a time when black people were almost exclusively subordinate on television, this sort of thing is amazing. The Obama Presidency is, if anything else, a really special reality show for black people, a love letter to all of us disgusted with watching black families through the lens of sociology and "problem-solving."
It's interesting that Janet Maslin's review of Mimi Alford's new memoir takes Alford to task more than it does the man at the center of the book--John F. Kennedy. I guess that makes some sense given that Alford is the author and it was ultimately her story. But I've found myself overcome by a kind of visceral revulsion as I watched the story of Alford's affair with Kennedy unfold on Rock Center last night.
The Times profiles the intrepid Katherine Boo.
The Times profiles the intrepid Katherine Boo:
Ms. Boo graduated from Barnard in the late '80s, still typing -- for The Columbia Daily Spectator, for which she wrote editorials -- and was hired by Jack Shafer, then the editor of the Washington City Paper. Mr. Shafer, now a columnist for Reuters, said recently that he was impressed less by her writing then by her voluminous reading and her ability to think on her feet, and was amazed by how accomplished her first article was. "She had the soul of a poet but the arm strength of an investigative reporter," he recalled.
The recreation center looked out on the bayou, which most of the evacuees avoided--there were alligators there. So it was considered daring when Carolyn and Gus began taking their toddlers to the water's edge each afternoon, when the light made everything around them glimmer gold and red. "I want their eyes to be steady full of something beautiful," Carolyn said, "enough beautiful to push the ugly things they've seen out of their brains."One afternoon, Jasmine went to the bayou, too. It was the most beautiful place she'd ever been. Like many neglected children, she'd grown used to her lot in life, and barely paid attention when her mother asked the volunteers, "You got kids? I been trying to get rid of mine for some time." Jasmine had an eleven-year-old brother, and neither of them expected their mother to do "regular stuff," like helping with homework. Their mother said, "My kids don't even ask me anymore--my nerves is bad, so they gets beat up after one problem. Other thing they know is when I put that forty dollars' worth of food on the counter every month and they eat it too fast, they be going hungry until next month comes around."One kind of poverty is that of the imagination--the inability to envision a future truly different from the present. Jasmine had long judged people based on whether or not they gave her food and clothing, but, as she watched Carolyn and Gus and other families, she found herself mulling different gauges of worth. She'd been working lately on a definition of love. "Maybe it's that, like, you honor somebody and they honor you back," she said carefully. "If you do for them without being all, like, See, I did this for you, now you best do something for me--like, you just do it for the kind of your heart."Jasmine had seen her father only once since she was five. She knew that he had been in prison for selling drugs and attempted murder, and that he now put siding on houses. He was six feet two, had a place in suburban Minneapolis, and had sponsored the three best days of her life: "It was February and he was in a car, and he came by his cousin's house. I was playing in the parking lot then, so I caught a look of him. I knew right away--I said, 'That my daddy,' but because I'd grown big he didn't know me. But then he did know, and he took me eating at Manhattan's in New Orleans and bowling and to a movie, then he took me by my other cousin's, then we ate doughnuts, then he brought me to Avondale, too." Jasmine's furious dialling now had direction: she would ask her father to take her in.
Sarah Kliff parses the numbers on birth control, insurance, religion and the illusive independents.
And a lot of this likely isn't about Catholic voters at all. Rather, it may well be about the demographics that are most supportive of this particular health reform provision: young voters and women. In the PRRI poll, both groups register support above 60 percent for the provision.Those two demographics are important here for a key reason: they were crucial to Obama's victory in 2008. Third Way crunched the numbers earlier this month and found that the "Obama Independents" -- the swing group that proved crucial to his 2008 victory -- are, as Ryan Lizza put it, "disproportionately young, female and secular..."These voters have tended to be difficult for abortion rights supporters to engage on reproductive health issues like abortion. Research from NARAL Pro-Choice America, which I wrote about last weekend, found a significant "intensity gap" there, with abortion rights supporters much less likely to see it as a crucial voting issue than their anti-abortion counterparts.But when the conversation moves away from abortion to contraceptives - as it has this week - the intensity gap flips: A much larger segment of voters are willing to penalize a legislator who votes to defund family planning. That became apparent in polling that Democratic firm Lake Research Partners did earlier this year, which found that 40 percent of voters would be less likely to support a member of Congress who votes to defund family-planning programs. Just 22 percent would be more likely to support such a lawmaker.
In an interview, Handel acknowledged she played a role in Komen's decision to defund Planned Parenthood, but also pushed back against allegations that she was the sole actor in the decision. "I clearly acknowledge [my role] in the process, but to suggest I had sole authority is just absurd," Handel told Fox News Tuesday afternoon."The policy was vetted at all appropriate levels." Handel reiterated that Komen had stopped funding Planned Parenthood because of new grantmaking policies, further explaining that "controversy surrounding Planned Parenthood" also played a role.
That's me and my best friend, three years after I was diagnosed with breast cancer. We were holding a fundraiser in 2008 for breast cancer research/awareness and celebrating another year of being cancer free. I am 27 years old and have been a breast cancer survivor for 7 years now. When I was originally diagnosed and treated, I was lucky to still be covered by my mother's insurance plan. The related medical costs were easier for us to handle.Once I graduated college, I was no longer eligible for coverage under my mother's insurance. So when I took my first job, I readily opted into my employer's insurance plan. After submitting my application, I was told that the insurance company would not cover any tests/procedures/expenses related to my pre-existing condition...breast cancer. Not only did I require biannual mammograms, I frequently required breast ultrasounds whenever something seemed out of the ordinary with my breast exams. These procedures are extremely expensive out-of-pocket.Additionally, I am limited as to what hormonal birth control I can take as a result of the cancer. I am limited to two types...and they are expensive. And naturally, my insurance company would not cover either of the two options that I am allowed to take. I've been in a relationship with my significant other for about six years. While we have regularly discussed the possibility of children, we are simply not ready.Birth control is essential for our life plan. Luckily, not only was I able to turn to Planned Parenthood for my mammogram needs, they became my ONLY source for affordable birth control. Early detection is the key against any type of cancer. The resources provided by Planned Parenthood have been invaluable to me personally. It has given me peace of mind to know with 100% certainty that I have remained cancer free. You cannot put a price on peace of mind. Thank you Planned Parenthood.
But even convincing illusions are eventually dispelled. "We once obtained permission to go behind the scenes in ... The Battle of Gettysburg," a critic later recalled. "After that the illusion was destroyed. Most of the cannon in the foreground were of galvanized iron, the thickness of a sheet of tin, and so were the soldiers and wagons. When we returned to the platform the skill of the deception seemed to us greater than ever, but we were thoroughly disillusioned." Familiarity turned the marvelous mundane, made the breathtaking banal.The day of the cyclorama soon passed. In Sioux City, Iowa, a twister lifted the roof off the cyclorama building and destroyed the artwork. Another canvas was sliced into pieces, and sewn together into a tent for a restaurant. Most of the massive paintings, though, met more prosaic ends. They fell victim to leaky roofs and sagging supports, burned, or were left to decompose. By 1888, the proprietors of the Boston Cyclorama decided that Gettysburg had exhausted its appeal, and commissioned General Custer's Last Fight to replace it. More than a dozen workers labored for two weeks to remove the massive canvas; they spent at least a day just rolling it up. It toured for a few years before slipping from public view.In 1901, the astonished Boston Globe discovered the painting in a crate on a vacant lot, topped by an improvised roof, "going to rack and ruin." The story of a painting that once cost $200,000 rotting in a box, entombed in "a sort of mausoleum of greatness," captured national attention but provoked no efforts at salvage. The Boston Cyclorama Company dissolved three years later. And there the orphaned painting sat.
The interesting thing about the Avengers is--from what I can see--this is all about watching some (mostly) dudes bash heads and melt faces. No high-minded meditations on minority rights. No existential ruminations on the unbridled rage-filled id. No Jungian treatises on the nature of fear.
This is the exact sort of gauzy nationalism that corporations put out and Republicans have, themselves, often alluded to.
I watched the Super Bowl online and considered myself lucky, because I was -- for the most part -- spared the commercials. But the commercials are us, and the unfortunate part of opting out is that you often find yourself left out. So here I am, catching up with the flap over the Clint Eastwood commercial.