Bouncing off Paul’s CPAC barn-burner, Philip Klein wonders if the GOP would regress on civil liberties under a Republican president:
Following Paul’s speech, I spoke with Matt Kibbe, president of the limited-government activist group FreedomWorks, about whether the momentum for a greater focus on civil liberties would be stopped if Republicans recaptured the White House.
“The younger people that are joining either the Republican Party or the conservative movement care about civil liberties a lot,” Kibbe argued. “And so it’s going to be hard to put the genie back in the bottle unless you want the party to die out.”
My view is that under a Republican president, criticism of any perceived overreaching on surveillance would be greater than it was under Bush, but not nearly as fierce as it is under Obama.
That’s a pretty inarguable fact. If he wins the nomination, of course, all this would be moot, and we’d finally be able to see what might happen in a genuine libertarian were to become president. But even if Paul loses, he will surely open the debate in the primaries on this subject, and as Klein notes, be a thorn in the side of any future surveillance state enthusiasm in a Republican administration. And indications of a genuine libertarian resurgence in the GOP are increasing:
I’m sure you have well-thought-out opinions on this, but I’m not sure why you are so committed to not having advertising on your site. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t miss it … but I don’t begrudge it either. No more complicated than I don’t care that Tiffany’s has a longstanding corner ad in the NYT, or the luxury jewelry/car ads in between. Are readers really put off by ads? I’ll agree that you don’t want some sort of advertising control of content, but can that be a concern? Just don’t make them annoying Internet pop-up ads requiring people to “close/X” them away. But do use “banner ads” all you want.
The truth is: we’re not opposed to ads in principle and never have been. And my long-standing stance against sponsored content is not about ads, but dishonest ones. So why don’t we have them? It’s partly a function of being a tiny little company with no publisher. But it also comes from a sense that readers are prepared to pay for the site in part because it has such a high signal-to-noise ratio. As the rest of the web becomes insanely cluttered and distracting, we hope the Dish will become even more distinctive with our white space, and simple design. What we are actively considering, however, is serving ads for non-subscribers. That would give us another revenue stream, while still retaining an ad-free site for committed subscribers. Another is even less averse to ads:
I just re-upped for my second year and did so again at the basic $19.99 level and want to explain why. The Dish and TPM are my two favorite political (and sundry) sites – multiple refreshes every day. I would gladly pay more than $20 per year; I’d pay $100 or more every year. But I don’t agree with your no-ads policy. I don’t even understand it. What is wrong with putting Google Ads (or equivalent) on the top or right side of the page, get the income you’d get, and whatever the shortfall is, ask your readers to cover? What’s the harm? The ads are clearly labeled as such (check), and the advertisers are not trying to influence your content (check). Further – Google Ads are actually often helpful – Google (for better or worse) knows our interests well, and the ads they serve up to me on various websites are often quite useful alerting me that favorite website is having a sale on XYZ. And there is no reason for you not to pay yourself a salary, Andrew.
Another, on the other hand, isn’t a fan of ad networks like Google Ads:
I resubscribed for $250 a year. I will renew hubby’s as well; it’s a toss-up which of us is on the site more of the day. I thought of my renewal in a couple of ways: First, as a donation, similar to how I’d support any cause I believe in and/or benefit from (without the tax deduction, but who cares.) And I really appreciate no ads. That can not be understated.
This morning I was scrolling through my local paper, The Brattleboro Reformer (which you pulled and posted a great mistake headline from last year) and was once again confronted by an absolutely disgusting photo of toe nail fungus. There is no way to get the ad not to show up. Perhaps this is your best advertisement for folks to willingly renew. So they are not confronted with this photo in exchange for reading some news??
Thanks for all you do, and for steering clear of Google Ads.
Several more readers weigh in:
As my re-up date approached, I remained somewhat ambivalent. Then, the other day, I went to the newly reconfigured and utterly awful New York Times page.
Jeremy Lott expects the peninsula’s referendum on annexation to Russia to pass:
You don’t have to buy Russian President Vladimir Putin’s public spin this was a far right coup to see why most residents of the Crimea might prefer the stability and familiar corruption of Russia to the protests and uncertainty of the Ukraine.
Russia was able to take the Crimea without firing a shot. The military has been able to hold it so far with only warning shots because Turchinov’s government is disorganized and torn. It is unwilling to risk a wider war over this pariah region, and this reluctance is only bolstering Russia’s claim.
It’s hard to gauge the sentiments of an occupied people, but many locals have spontaneously told reporters they are not unhappy with the outcome. “If the Russians weren’t here, the government of Ukraine would come and occupy us,” retired stage actor Vladimir Sukhenko told the AP. “They would make us speak Ukrainian.”
But Tomila Lankina believes the Crimeans might come to regret it:
The first point to note is that given Crimea’s strategic importance for Russia, the region is, and is very likely to remain, heavily militarized. Russian federal legislation has special provisions for governance of localities with substantial military, scientific, or strategic significance.
Molly Ball captures the atmosphere at CPAC during Rand Paul’s speech:
Though CPAC draws right-wingers of all stripes, from Oliver North to Santorum to a guy on stilts in a Ronald Reagan costume, it is increasingly dominated by libertarians, a combined result of their passionate engagement in movement politics and the discount rates the conference offers to college students. That makes it, for Paul, something of a hometown crowd. On Saturday, he won the conference’s straw poll in a landslide. The enormous ballroom at the convention center in the Washington suburbs was crammed with an audience of thousands for his speech on Friday, which Paul devoted exclusively to civil-liberties issues.
Paul castigated a progressive majoritarianism run amok, whose free-floating definition of legitimacy puts all minorities at risk, whether the racial minorities persecuted in generations past, or minorities of ideas at risk in the present day. He made frequent reference to his fight against the security state’s overreaches, and insisted upon the imperative importance of specific warrants and open, free trials instead of general warrants and secret determinations of guilt. Finally, Paul closed on a muscular message rejecting the gradualist’s insistence on a hesitant program of changes, telling the CPAC crowd that their job is not to minimize liberty lost, but to maximize liberty.
I find myself wanting Paul to go the distance in the 2016 primaries. No, that’s not because I want Clinton to win (if she’s the Democratic nominee). It’s because Paul would facilitate a younger demographic for Republicans, and that can only be good – for the GOP and the rest of us.
Perhaps the most crippling disadvantage the GOP now has is its dependence on seniors for political clout. We know just how divergent today’s generations are – to such an extent that they are effectively foreign countries to each other. 61 percent of Millennials are white, compared with over 80 percent for the pre-boomers – creating an entirely different rite of passage into adulthood. 26 percent are married, compared with 65 percent of pre-boomers and 48 percent of boomers. Millennials have far less trust in institutions, including political parties, and on social issues, Millennials are far more libertarian than their elders: marriage equality is simply a given for them, and legalizing weed a no-brainer.
On current trends, the GOP has close to no chance of winning over this demographic unless it loses its discomfort with non-whites and gays, if it pledges a re-run of George W Bush’s foreign policy, if it keeps championing the war on drugs, or the surveillance state. The widening generational gap between the parties is already unprecedented in modern times. And one segment of the voters is dying, and the other is gaining strength. Unless the GOP manages to find a way to re-brand itself with the next generation, it is facing an existence on life-support – and each pandering message to the Fox News demo will only serve to alienate Millennials.
Rand Paul is one answer to this. If he were to run against the archetypal boomer, Hillary Clinton, around the themes of individual liberty at home and non-interventionism abroad, he could immediately put the GOP on the Millennial side of this generational struggle. Even if he were crushed by Clinton, the GOP’s image would be re-made in a way much more attractive to the under-30s.
“All the important is yet to come. We do not expect a quick victory. Everything is to be paid for. Now we are witnesses of a birth of a new political reality, that is why everything acquires a special significance. This is not a technical enterprise, not a bargain. This is history itself. The struggle for Ukraine – is a struggle for reunification of Slavic peoples. Today it is clear that this reunion should be geographically different. Galicia and a number pro-western areas, and as well a large part of Kiev do not strive to Unity. We understand that. We won’t drag anyone by force. But we will not leave nor betray ours. However, for everything you have to fight and struggle to create a new political and historical reality …
If we win, we will begin the expansion of liberational (from Americans) ideology into Europe. It is the goal of full Eurasianism – Europe from Lisbon to Vladivostok. Great Eurasian Continental Empire. And we will build it. This means European Revolution will be Eurasian Revolution. This is our last horizon,” – Alexander Dugin, one of Vladimir Putin’s favorite polemicists.
(Photo: Pro-Kremlin activists hold Russian national, Russian and Soviet naval flags and orange-black flags made of the St. George’s Ribbons, a well-known Russian symbol of military valor, during a rally in support of ethnic Russians in Ukraine in central Moscow, on March 10, 2014. By Dmitry Serebryakov/AFP/Getty Images.)
Fred Kaplan thinks the sanctions the US imposed on Russia last week were a mistake:
[I]f Putin had been looking for some way out of this mess, he certainly wouldn’t be looking any longer, because de-escalating now would make it seem that he was backing down under Western pressure. Obama has had two long phone conversations with Putin in recent days, but as long as he insists on preconditions for renewed diplomacy (Putin must return his troops to their base, he must sit down with Ukrainian officials), Putin has no reason to comply. Russia has deeper interests in Ukraine than the West does—and more localized sources of pressure to make those interests felt.
That being the case, Putin can sit and wait. He has the upper hand in this game—and the more the West plays on his terms, the stronger his hand will seem. Sanctions won’t change his behavior, except to stiffen it—and once that becomes clear, Putin will seem stronger, the West will seem weaker, and a solution to the Ukraine crisis will recede in the distance.
A friend bailed on the speech, making the very plausible case that Palin is simply another political celebrity freakshow, like Donald Trump. I can see the point there but, with Palin, and watching the hysterical reception her puerile screed received, there is something more serious going on. She is the living representation of the infantilization of American politics, a poisonous Grimm Sister telling toxic fairy tales to audiences drunk on fear, and hate and nonsense. She respects no standards but her own. She is in perpetual tantrum, railing against her betters, which is practically everyone, and volunteering for the job of avatar to the country’s reckless vandal of a political Id. It was the address of a malignant child delivered to an audience of malignant children.
Update from a reader:
Man, Sarah Palin even plagiarized that Dr. Seuss bullshit from an email meme that was popular three years ago.
Plus, there’s the irony that at the end of Green Eggs and Ham, the narrator does a total about-face and it turns out that he actually loves the very thing he’d just been railing against out of complete ignorance. Maybe Sarah never made it that far.
Rob Thomas is an American producer and screenwriter, best known as the creator of the critically-acclaimed TV series Veronica Mars and co-creator of Party Down. One year ago this week, he launched one of the most successful Kickstarter campaigns of all time in support of a Veronica Mars film (our discussion thread of the innovative, Dish-like project is here). The film is now finished and will be out in theatrical release and video-on-demand this Friday.
Let us know what you think we should ask Rob via the survey below (if you are reading on a mobile device, click here):
Linda Besner wonders if the promise of an Internet as a great cultural leveler – granting an audience to obscure artists as well as to the well-known and well-funded – might be wildly overstated:
In The People’s Platform, [author Astra] Taylor discusses how the supposedly open, free, and hierarchy-busting world wide web has failed to do better than a roomful of public television commissioners in encouraging the production or consumption of risky independent cultural products. In fact, it does significantly worse. Internet traffic follows a statistical pattern known as power law distribution; essentially, while there is a wide range of available options, almost everyone is crowded together at the most popular end of the spectrum. It’s a problem that’s getting worse: “In 2001, ten Web sites accounted for 31 per cent of U.S. page views,” Taylor writes, “by 2010, that number had skyrocketed to 75 percent.” Most nights, 40 per cent of the U.S.’s bandwidth is taken up by people watching Netflix movies.
In a similar vein, Dougald Hine challenges notions of the Internet as an agent of “liberation from the boredom of industrial society, a psychedelic jet-spray of information into every otherwise tedious corner of our lives”:
Kathleen Goodwin summarizes a recent paper that examined how paternal age affects children:
[R]esearchers found that in a sample size of over 2.6 million, advanced paternal age has a detrimental effect on the mental health of offspring, with a greater risk for autism and attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder, as well as likelihood of suicide attempts and low educational attainment, even when controlling for multiple other factors.
She considers the implications:
Until now, the onus of choosing when to prioritize career and when to attempt pregnancy was ultimately a woman’s to bear. While men are undoubtedly affected by their partners’ decision to delay pregnancy and the ensuing fertility issues and health risks that accompany this decision, they were free of the worry that their aging sperm would have any negative consequences on their unborn child. Anecdotally, there are many examples of successful men have married younger women and thus been able to avoid the complications of advanced maternal age (Donald Trump comes immediately to mind—his current wife Melania Knauss-Trump is 23 years his junior and he was 59 when their son Barron was born). The publication of this study puts the age of a father into the list of factors that parents must balance when deciding to begin a family. If this study is able to be replicated with the same results and becomes part of the public health lexicon, men will be forced to consider their own age when it comes to planning their careers and choosing when to have children with their partners.
[R]esearchers led by Semir Zeki of University College London asked 16 mathematicians to rate 60 equations on a scale ranging from “ugly” to “beautiful.” Two weeks later, the mathematicians viewed the same equations and rated them again while lying inside a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanner.
Is it meaningful to say an electron “chooses” to jump the way it does? Obviously, there’s no way to prove it. The only evidence we could have (that we can’t predict what it’s going to do), we do have. But it’s hardly decisive. Still, if one wants a consistently materialist explanation of the world—that is, if one does not wish to treat the mind as some supernatural entity imposed on the material world, but rather as simply a more complex organization of processes that are already going on, at every level of material reality—then it makes sense that something at least a little like intentionality, something at least a little like experience, something at least a little like freedom, would have to exist on every level of physical reality as well.
Why do most of us, then, immediately recoil at such conclusions? Why do they seem crazy and unscientific? Or more to the point, why are we perfectly willing to ascribe agency to a strand of DNA (however “metaphorically”), but consider it absurd to do the same with an electron, a snowflake, or a coherent electromagnetic field?
I’m disappointed that you only put up the numbers from accidental gun deaths. It seems a bit disingenuous, as the number of non-accidental car deaths, pool deaths, etc., are, of course, dramatically lower. In 2010 the FBI recorded 12,996 homicides. Of those, 8,775 were committed with guns. That compares to 1,704 with knives, the next closest, 540 with blunt objects, and 11 with poison. Even if you would argue that, of those killed by guns, many would have been killed with another weapon, it’s hard to see how that would directly play out. How many drive-by knifings can you have? How many people can get hit by crossfire from a baseball bat?
How about suicide? In 2010, we had 19,392 gun suicides. Not so many with cars. And for those who would argue that guns don’t matter when it comes to suicide (i.e. people will kill themselves regardless of what tools they have to accomplish the deed), multiple studies have proven that access to guns dramatically raises the risk of a successful suicide attempt.
But if you want to stick with just accidental deaths, as you’ve done, let’s contextualize it a bit. From 2005-2010, almost 3,800 people in the US died from unintentional shootings. 1,300 of those were under the age of 25. 31% of those shootings could have been prevented by the addition of two devices: a child-proof safety lock and a loading indicator. And 8% of those shootings (that’s 304) were carried out by shots fired from children under the age of six. How many accidental road deaths are caused by drivers who are under the age of six?
So, yes, lots of stuff can kill you. No surprise. But in the US, we’re at a much higher risk of death by firearm because of the lobbying efforts of the industry whose product is design to kill.
Another reader, from the other side of the debate, quotes Waldman:
On one hand, there are over 300 million of us, so only one in 500,000 Americans is killed every year because his knumbskull cousin said “Hey Bert, is this thing loaded?” before pulling the trigger. You can see that as a small number. The other way to look at is that each and every day, an American or two loses his or her life this way. In countries with sane gun laws, that 606 number is somewhere closer to zero.
That sentence encapsulates what I hate about the anti-gun crowd.
Ed Finn argues that “when we start depending on our computers to explain how and why things happened, we’ve started to outsource not just the talking points but the narrative itself”:
The idea that a computer might know you better than you know yourself may sound preposterous, but take stock of your life for a moment. How many years of credit card transactions, emails, Facebook likes, and digital photographs are sitting on some company’s servers right now, feeding algorithms about your preferences and habits? What would your first move be if you were in a new city and lost your smartphone? I think mine would be to borrow someone else’s smartphone and then get Google to help me rewire the missing circuits of my digital self. …
But of course we’re not surrendering our iPhones or our cloud-based storage anytime soon, and many have begun to embrace the notion of the algorithmically examined life. Lifelogging pioneers have been it at it for decades, recording and curating countless aspects of their own daily existences and then mining that data for new insights, often quite beautifully. Stephen Wolfram crunched years of data on his work habits to establish a sense of his professional rhythms far more detailed (and, in some cases, mysterious) than a human reading of his calendar or email account could offer. His reflections on the process are instructive:
The idea for Time In Motion came to Qi Wei while working on its predecessor, and has taken about four months to put together. For the original series, Qi Wei shot at the same location for between two to four hours, usually at sunset to catch the most dynamic and glorious lighting. The challenge then was to slice up an image in an interesting way, then to find ways of using the best moments in a given shard and arrange them into a coherent overall image. In this [new GIF series], the same balance was necessary, but has to be sustained across each frame.
One thing lost in the conversion is time for inspection and contemplation. The images now generally pass by far too quickly to be discerned, leaving the overall effect to be taken in. Ultimately, Qi Wei is as interested in notions of time raised by these pictures as he is in the aesthetics of the images themselves.
We are many. Just not all of us are open about it! I don’t like the term “atheist” (being freighted with Dawkins anti-theism); I prefer the term “non-believer”. I passed through my ex-Catholic/angry-atheist phase to a post-religion phase where I value what we have in common more than I care about what separates us. I go to church because 1) I married a woman of deep faith, and 2) because we found our way to a community that welcomes both of us, when she was effectively driven out of her cradle Catholicism by the horrors of California’s Prop8. In fact, I was lobbying her to become Episcopalian for years, as that seems the logical place for a Vatican II-style Catholic with progressive views of church and justice.
Mutual respect makes our inter-faith relationship work. My wife’s service in church (she’s now the Head Verger of an Episcopal cathedral) is a major part of her life, and I love her completely, so of course I support her wholeheartedly. And she respects who and where I am as well. I too was raised Catholic, so the ancient rhythm of the liturgy is familiar, and the music is simply amazing (thankfully she went “nosebleed high” when she swam the Thames). I guess I am essentially a cultural Trinitarian sacramentalist Christian, even if I don’t believe per se. So I’ll do gladly do Episcopal calisthenics on a Sunday, though I don’t pray, sing, or take communion, because that would be disrespectful of the community.
As the members of my church say, “Whoever you are, wherever you are on the journey of faith, you are welcome here.” Kinda restores my faith in Christianity.
Reading your most recent post on Apatheism, I thought I’d relate the following story of how politics have made this outspoken atheist into a staunch defender of religious freedom.
Great to hear an actual defense of the ACA from Charlie Crist. Why, I wonder, do we almost never hear Democratic members of Congress say the same thing? Why the constant defensive crouch? Why do we not have an aggressive, active campaign to defend the ACA? I’ve never understood why Democrats seem so incapable of making the case for their policies. Part of me thought the Obama era could overcome that. But Democratic uselessness seems far too deeply ingrained for that.
With the release of Son of God, a new movie about the life of Jesus, Edward J. Blum and Paul Harvey remember that “Jesus films have not always been so serious, and they have not always been directed toward particular segments of the Christian community”:
Neither Godspell, nor Jesus Christ Superstar endeavored to convert unbelievers to Christianity. If they had a particular audience in mind, it was those who loved the theater. Both originated as stage productions. Tim Rice, the writer of Jesus Christ Superstar, explained later that he was fascinated with Jesus as a human and not as a divine figure. Following the theological controversy of the 1960s that had some leading religious thinkers emphasizing the actions of humans and not the powers of God, Rice tapped into this humanistic concern. In some respects, Godspell and Jesus Christ Superstar wanted to have their communion bread and eat it too. They followed the Jesus People movement by repacking Jesus in the idiom of cool, but also indulged in the new theologies that wanted to dispense with his divinity.
Blum and Harvey go on to ponder why, then, “major motion pictures about Jesus returned to their serious ways”:
So what was unique about the 1970s? One main difference was that evangelicals and Catholics had yet to form tight political bonds and had yet to become a powerful niche market. By the time of [Mel] Gibson’s Passion of the Christ, an entire industry of the devout had been created. It boasted singers like Amy Grant, athletes like NBA star David Robinson, restaurants like Chic-fil-A, and painters like Thomas Kinkade. Those markets, along with conservative media outlets, made the Son of God and The Passion not only possible, but lucrative. In fact, a main sponsor of The Bible miniseries was the dating site Christian Mingle.
In a review of David Nirenberg’s Anti-Judaism, Michael Walzer observes that the author “insists, rightly, that real Jews have remarkably little to do with anti-Judaism.” Elaborating on how “imaginary Jews” came to capture the minds of thinkers who had little experience with actual Jewish people, Walzer draws on Nirenberg’s discussion of Shakespeare’s The Merchant of Venice “to illustrate the difference between his anti-Judaism and the anti-Semitism that is the subject of more conventional, but equally depressing, histories”:
Shylock himself is the classic Jew: he hates Christians and desires to tyrannize over them; he loves money, more than his own daughter; he is a creature of law rather than of love. He isn’t, indeed, a clever Jew; in his attempt to use the law against his Christian enemy, he is unintelligent and inept. (A modern commentator, Kenneth Gross, asks: “What could [he] have been thinking?”) But in every other way, he is stereotypical, and so he merits the defeat and humiliation he receives—which are meant to delight the Elizabethan audience. …
Nirenberg’s question [is]: What put so many Jews (like Shylock or Marlowe’s Jew of Malta) on the new London stage, in “a city that had sheltered fewer ‘real Jews’ than perhaps any other major one in Europe”? His answer—I can’t reproduce his long and nuanced discussion—is that London was becoming a city of merchants, hence a “Jewish” city, and Shakespeare’s play is a creative response to that development, an effort to address the allegedly Judaizing features of all commercial relationships, and then to save the Christian merchants by distinguishing them from an extreme version of the Jew.