Will get to security-state news of all sorts later today. For now, quite a remarkable illustration of the spread of the "false equivalence" outlook. For background on that concept, start here. The gist is:
for most of American history, the U.S. Senate has operated on a simple majority-vote basis, except for treaties, impeachment, and other limited cases;
since the GOP lost control of the Senate six years ago, Mitch McConnell's Senate minority has used filibuster threats at an unprecedented rate, requiring not a simple majority of 51 votes but a supermajority of 60 to get even routine business done or routine appointments approved;
the minority has sought to portray this approach not as a historical aberration but as perfectly routine. Thus every press account saying a measure "lost" rather than that it was "blocked" or "filibustered," takes us closer to this de facto Constitutional change. For more on why that matters, see this (and, for a positive example, this).
Comes now the Los Angeles Times -- a paper I've read and loved since boyhood, my original employer when I had a newspaper route and then when I phoned in high-school sports scores [my point: I'm not a LAT-knocker] -- with a story on attempts to put a cap on interest rates for student loans. Here was the headline:
And here is the bulk of the story, setting out the details:
So we have two plans, from the two opposing parties, each following a path to defeat. Sounds like one more case of everyone's-to-blame "gridlock." Then, in paragraph eight, we get this:
Right; both plans "failed." One because only a minority of senators voted for it; the other, because a majority voted for it but not enough to surmount a filibuster threat. It's impossible to say which side is being more obstructionist; the issue is "unresolved" and is one more sign of modern dysfunction. [Thanks to reader MR.]
But if thought corrupts language, language can also corrupt thought. A bad usage can spread by tradition and imitation even among people who should and do know better.
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James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. He and his wife, Deborah Fallows, are the authors of the new book Our Towns: A 100,000-Mile Journey Into the Heart of America, which has been a New York Times best seller and is the basis of a forthcoming HBO documentary.