American Daily: June 2, 2016

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

2 June 2015

Barron prez guide

Rendell ignored the time snow paralyzed southern China in 2008, stranding millions of people, cutting off water supplies to major cities and killing dozens. Friedman ignored the buildings that collapsed like a soft pile of dofu across Sichuan in an earthquake that same year because they were rapidly erected by crooked contractors. I’m not talking here about arguments over China itself, like the dueling predictions of magical reform or sudden collapse so brilliantly dissected in James Mann’s “The China Fantasy,” or about the delusional fears of Chinese plots from analysts like Michael Pillsbury . The people telling these tales aren’t interested in complexities or, really, in China. They’re making domestic arguments and expressing parochial fears. Their China isn’t a real place but a rhetorical trope, less a genuine rival than a fairy-tale bogeyman.

On any given day, in any police department in the nation, 15 percent of officers will do the right thing no matter what is happening. Fifteen percent of officers will abuse their authority at every opportunity. The remaining 70 percent could go either way depending on whom they are working with.
Now, her heresies and inexperience are ancient history. Clinton has padded her resume with a four-year stint as secretary of state, and today, no issue divides Democratic politicians and galvanizes Democratic primary voters quite like the Iraq war once did; the Trans-Pacific Partnership is about as close as it comes (which is to say, not very close). In any party, there’s usually an appetite for an outsider to challenge the establishment, but this year there doesn’t seem to be much hunger for a different establishmentarian to supersede the frontrunner. Sanders isn't crowding O'Malley out; Hillary Clinton is. As Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid recently proclaimed, “There's not another Barack Obama out there … no all-stars out there” to challenge Clinton.

The Bronx, Anthony Bourdain said this fall on an episode of Parts Unknown devoted to the borough, "is a big blank space in a lot of people's minds. Including me and I live, what, ten minutes away." Bourdain was on to something. An abiding elusiveness has seemed to grip the borough ever since the great crime reductions made the place safe: What is the Bronx, anyway? Everyone can agree that the general situation north of the Harlem River has improved since the Dinkins administration, that the Bronx is no longer simply a hellhole, but the hellhole has been replaced by a semiotic emptiness. The cradle of hip-hop, yes, but that was an awfully long time ago; an immigrant place, sure, but much less so than Queens. I'm from the place, and so I have a churlish, tribal defensiveness about it, but I've also come to suspect that one reason the Bronx lags so far behind in the identity sweepstakes is that the borough still hasn't really figured out what it is.

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Rand Paul still isn't going to happen

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

2 June 2015

Rand Paul has got a lot of shine this week from his place at the vanguard of Patriot Act opposition but even his putative victory in seeing some of the act's provisions sunset hasn't pushed him any closer to claiming the Republican nomination for president. Ironically, the fight has shown just why the Kentucky Senator is such a long shot.

The key thing to remember is that it's the nomination of the Republican Party that Paul is seeking, and even if he's pitched his battle as one targeted at Obama Administration overreach, the central split over surveillance legislation is within the GOP. Take a look at what members of the party Paul hopes will pick him as its standard-bearer next year are saying about him:

The Republican establishment seemingly rose as one in umbrage after he faulted Republican hawks for the birth of the radical Islamic State, or ISIS. C-Span cameras caught one of those hawks, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, rolling his eyes mockingly on the Senate floor as Mr. Paul denounced the post-9/11 national security state.


Shortly after the Senate went into session, Senator Dan Coats, Republican of Indiana, was lamenting the perils facing the country without surveillance, and Mr. Paul tried to break in. Mr. McCain angrily interjected: “I want regular order. The senator from Kentucky needs to learn the rules of the Senate.”

That altercation was a continuation of a battle that ran all week. On Wednesday, Mr. Paul said on the MSNBC show “Morning Joe” that “ISIS exists and grew stronger because of the hawks in our party, who gave arms indiscriminately, and most of those arms were snatched up by ISIS.” That brought denunciations from all corners of the Republican Party, including from Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, a rival for the presidential nomination, and the conservative columnist Charles Krauthammer.

And here's some more invective

Behind closed doors in the Senate’s Strom Thurmond Room, Republican senators lashed out at the junior Kentucky Republican’s defiant stance to force the expiration of key sections of the PATRIOT Act, a law virtually all of them support. Indiana Sen. Dan Coats’ criticism was perhaps the most biting: He accused the senator of “lying” about the matter in order to raise money for his presidential campaign, according to three people who attended the meeting.

The message may have gotten through to Paul except for one thing: The libertarian-minded senator skipped the hour-long meeting. That only infuriated his colleagues more.

True, Paul does have Republicans on his side like Justin Amash and Tom Massie, and some Democrats, like Senator Dianne Feinstein are as hawkish on national security as Republicans like John McCain or Lindsey Graham. But the difference is that Paul is out-of-step with his party on this issue, and Stand With Rand fever dreams aside, too few Americans are attracted to libertarianism to make "growing the party" a viable route to the White House in 2016.

Back when the Paul who hoped to be president was Ron rather than Rand, I criticised him for elevating ideology over the coalition-building and legislative work required to shift a party's policy outlook. There is no guarantee Republicans will be interested in Rand's attempts to push their party's national security stance in a more libertarian direction, but unlike his father, he realises that even a presidential run designed to shift party policy rather than gain the nomination works best when it's part of a larger movement. If Republicans are receptive to a shift in foreign policy, Paul's work will pay off in the years and decades down the line, not in 2016.

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Patriot Act dispute shows how Australia and US differ on rights

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

1 June 2015

I've got a piece over at ABC's The Drum on the latest congressional back-and-forth over surveillance provisions of the Patriot Act. As much as the soon-to-be-passed USA Freedom Act reserves entirely too much power for government authorities, its encouraging to see that the security ratchet need not be permanent and that national security scaremongering is no longer the conversation-ender it had been in the decade-plus following 9/11. Less encouraging is that the debate in Australia is moving in the opposite direction:

[T]he USA Freedom Act['s] passage is not business-as-usual, and offers a key point of contrast between the United States and Australia.

With both countries sharing intelligence under the Five Eyes arrangement and engaging in public debates over government surveillance of the communications of ordinary citizens, it is tempting to see America and Australia as marching in lockstep when it comes to national security.

But the current debate in Washington demonstrates how different is the approach between the two nations.

In March, Australia's Parliament gave police a swathe of new powers to collect and retain metadata relating to the communications of Australians. Some disagreement over how to protect journalists' sources aside, the Australian legislation was supported by both major parties. More contentious but no less significant was Prime Minister Tony Abbott's proposal last week that the Government be empowered to revoke the citizenship of some Australians accused of terrorism.

In Washington, though, the drive is to wind back government powers of surveillance, which politicians from both parties, the majority of Americans, and even the president charged with overseeing them agree are too extensive.

Australians give little thought to just how much our conception of individual rights differs from that of the United States — we share rhetoric more often than we do outlook — but it is debates like the one over national security measures in which our national points of difference really come into play. This is a point Aaron Connelly made well last week discussing Tony Abbott's mooted citizenship laws.

As an American, I assume that rights are inalienable. It is an assumption at the very core of American jurisprudence. For this reason, the US Supreme Court has made it very difficult for the US Government to deprive Americans of their citizenship, and thus their rights.

In fact, the Prime Minister erred yesterday when he said that these new powers bring Australian laws closer to those of the US. Americans found to have joined terrorist organisations can only be stripped of their citizenship by a court, and only if the Government is able to meet a higher burden of proof than is normally required in civil proceedings. After all, if one can be stripped of his or her rights by a single minister based on secret evidence, as the Prime Minister proposes, they aren't really rights at all. But I accept that rights are not at the heart of Australia's constitution, as they are in the US constitution.

This is a polite acceptance for an American to make, but it's one that should concern Australians. We should not endeavour to become Americans, but there are points on which we can learn from the United States, and the premium placed on protecting individual rights is one of those. It doesn't always prevent government overreach — see the passing of the Patriot Act in the first place — but it does help ensure those mistakes are corrected once they're identified.

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American Daily: May 29, 2015

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

29 May 2015

  • Joe Stiglitz proposes a new approach to economic management.
But a recent report — authored by Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz along with Roosevelt Institute fellows Nell Abernathy, Adam Hersh, Susan Holmberg, and Mike Konczal — suggests this basic assumption is badly mistaken. The problem isn't just one of distribution, the report argues. The problem is that the economy is fundamentally broken, shot through with opportunities for the rich to get richer not by building wealth but through exploitation and taking. We'll need redistribution, yes. But first the whole system needs to be rethought.
  • No Republican candidate is pitching himself as the moderate of the race.
So for the most part all 15 to 18 candidates are competing to show who is the “true conservative” of the bunch. You’d have to say that the shadow of Huntsman ‘12 is pretty big; nobody wants to go there at all, even if the minority of self-identified GOP moderates—and there are even some who self-identify as liberals—is a tempting target for someone trying to get into the mid-single-digits in polls.
Because even if the intelligence on Iraqi WMD had been stronger, the Iraq War would still have been a colossal mistake. Let’s imagine that Bush had possessed irrefutable proof that Iraq possessed chemical and biological weapons. Those weapons would still have presented no grave threat to the United States. As Gregg Easterbrook has pointed out, chemical and biological weapons aren’t really weapons of mass destruction. “In actual use, chemical arms have proven less deadly than regular bombs, bullets, and artillery shells” while “biological weapons … have rarely done great harm.” Yes, Saddam had used chemical weapons against the defenseless Kurds and, with American assistance, to counter Tehran’s manpower advantage during the Iran-Iraq War. He had also used them to put down a Shiite rebellion in the aftermath of the Gulf War. But he had never used them against the United States, even during the Gulf War—probably because America’s response would have been ferocious. And the 9/11 Commission repudiated Bush administration claims that Saddam might have given unconventional weapons to al-Qaeda, an organization he feared and disdained.
A scathing statement issued by the Media Action Network for Asian Americans fired the first shot. “60% of Hawaii’s population is [Asian American Pacific Islanders]. Caucasians only make up 30 percent of the population [of Hawaii], but from watching this film, you’d think they made up 99 percent,” said MANAA President Guy Aoki. “This comes in a long line of films—The Descendants, 50 First Dates, Blue Crush, Pearl Harbor—that uses Hawaii for its exotic backdrop but goes out of its way to exclude the very people who live there. It’s an insult to the diverse culture and fabric of Hawaii.”

Filipino-Americans are to turntablism what East Africans are to winning marathons or the Irish are to literature: a statistically small group that has contributed a preponderance of the art’s elite. From the Bay Area came the legendary DJ Qbert, Mix Master Mike, DJ Shortkut and DJ Apollo. In L.A., the Beat Junkies furnished DJ Babu, D-Styles and DJ Rhettmatic. Each ranks as an all-time great at making Technics turntables speak in tongues.

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American Daily: May 27, 2015

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

27 May 2015

In dealing with the Middle East, few if any modern US presidents have been able to find a balance between upholding US ideals and meeting America's practical foreign policy goals. Obama has been dealt a poor hand in the Middle East but has tried harder than most to narrow the gap between ideals and practicalities. He is trying to introduce the concept of government legitimacy as a greater determinant in US relations with regional governments.
If Jeb Bush accepts anthropogenic climate change, he'll have to offer a policy to address it. And the fact is, carbon tax dreaming aside, there is simply no policy acceptable to today's Republican Party that would substantially reduce US carbon emissions. There is no way to thread that needle.
  • Is the Supreme Court on the cusp of redefining "one-person-one-vote"?

But the court in Sims did not specify a precise definition of the word population. In the half-century that has passed, the court has also passed on several other opportunities to do so. The prevailing interpretation has been that the population meant all the people. But critics have long maintained that the court might as well have meant eligible voters, as the power to vote and be equally represented was what was at stake. Conservative jurists have raised the question, at least for the sake of argument, and Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas did so in an opinion as far back as 2001.

These two conflicts, long segregated in history and memory, were in fact intertwined. They both grew out of the process of establishing an American empire in the West. In 1860, competing visions of expansion transformed the presidential election into a referendum. Members of the Republican Party hearkened back to Jefferson’s dream of an “empire for liberty.” The United States, they said, should move west, leaving slavery behind. This free soil platform stood opposite the splintered Democrats’ insistence that slavery, unfettered by federal regulations, should be allowed to root itself in new soil. After Abraham Lincoln’s narrow victory, Southern states seceded, taking their congressional delegations with them.

The petting party fad seemed to wane as the 1920s rolled to an end. "I am pretty sure they lasted beyond the 1920s, into the 1930s, but not much beyond," Fass says. "The 1920s was a self-consciously naughty decade where young people tried to overturn earlier Victorian strictures that inhibited sexual expression. The petting party was a perfect vehicle for that. Once the new mores regarding sexual experimentation became common and normal — though still peer enforced and regulated — this kind of public display was no longer necessary."

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American Daily: May 26, 2015

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

26 May 2015

My favorite piece of found poetry, published in The Washington Post last year, is a collection of things drone operators say before they crash an aircraft costing some $13 million dollars. Beautiful things like: “Okay, interesting. We are falling out of the sky.” I like that — like an indifferent parachutist. What seems to be everyone’s favorite contemporary poem centers on the machines too: Michael Robbins’s “To the Drone Vaguely Realizing Eastward.” Famously, it ends: “The bomb bay opens with a queef.”

  • A black Republican's dilemma: fixing police without big government.

I believe Scott is making an honest attempt to help solve an important problem in the black community and is moving in the right direction. But his political views have left him with a muddled policy proposal, at least so far. He met with reporters in his Capitol Hill office recently to talk about his push for body cameras, but reporters left with several big questions unanswered. Here are three he’ll need to figure out if he truly wants to help solve this problem from his perch in the Senate.

The Walt Disney Company sought to cash in on this obsession in the early 1990s with a theme park dedicated to American history. Disney’s America was to have been part heritage, part amusement, a mix of “serious” and “fun.” Similar to other living history museums such as Colonial Williamsburg, Disney’s America was to simulate momentous events in American history. But in contrast, Disney’s America patrons would get a taste of authentic history from the vantage point of amusement park rides. Disney CEO Michael Eisner highlighted the serious side of the park by proclaiming that it would reject a “Pollyanna view” of American history. He promised to “show the Civil War with all its racial conflict” and even discussed tackling the Vietnam War. Such an approach attracted criticism from all over the political map. Liberal political cartoonist Tom Toles ridiculed the idea by superimposing Goofy on a mock-up of the iconic image of a naked girl, badly burned by napalm, fleeing US-sponsored South Vietnamese soldiers. Conservative William Kristol argued that if Disney was “going to have a schlocky version of American history, it should at least be a schlocky, patriotic, and heroic version.” Alas, Disney scrapped its plans for a history theme park due in part to such widespread skepticism.
But Fox in its current incarnation is neither a help nor a hindrance. Fox News—and its Svengali Roger Ailes—aren’t the Republican kingmakers they’re made out to be. I explored this point last month, noting that the network is better at employing presidential candidates than electing them. Whatever ambitions Ailes and Fox chief Rupert Murdoch may have to elect a president—in 2012, Ailes had his heart broken by Chris Christie and David Petraeus, both of whom declined his invitation to run—their first priority has always been to make money, which Fox News does, clearing a reported $1.2 billion a year. If you think of Fox News as a news-entertainment hybrid designed to make money, its combative programming style begins to make more sense.
  • Manhattan, as seen from the International Space Station.

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Knowing what we knew then, the Iraq War was a bad idea

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

25 May 2015

In certain circles in Washington, the polite story to tell about the Bush administration invasion of Iraq in 2003 was that of course it's obvious now that the war was a bad idea, but it was simply impossible in the lead-up to the war to realise that Americans wouldn't be greeted as liberators/there were no weapons of mass destruction/the mission wouldn't be cheap or easy/[insert your preferred catastrophe here]. This is a popular version of history because it's an exculpatory one, and a lot of people in Washington have good cause to want such a thing.

Republicans either still endorse the neo-conservative framework that inspired the excursion and want to maintain its power as a rhetorical tool or want to avoid the ignominy of a foreign policy disaster being affixed to their party. Democrats either are embarrassed that they endorsed the war at the time or are still cowed by accusations that post-Vietnam, the party isn't tough enough to be trusted on foreign policy. Journalists and analysts are also likely to have not applied enough scrutiny to Bush administration claims about the war at the time, and find it much more comfortable to blame duplicitous or incompetent officials rather than admit to to an abrogation of duty. Far too many people have a vested interest in misremembering the lead-up to the Iraq War.

That's why it's worth reading Jim Fallows's forceful reiteration of the history of that period, highlighting the pointlessness of asking candidates like Jeb Bush, “Knowing what we know now, would you have invaded Iraq?” Over to Jim:

Similarly: “Knowing what we know now, would you have bought a ticket on Malaysia Air flight 370?” The only people who might say Yes on the Iraq question would be those with family ties (poor Jeb Bush); those who are inept or out of practice in handling potentially tricky questions (surprisingly, again poor Bush); or those who are such Cheney–Bolton–Wolfowitz-style bitter-enders that they survey the landscape of “what we know now” — the cost and death and damage, the generation’s worth of chaos unleashed in the Middle East, and of course the absence of WMDs — and still say, Heck of a job. 

Anyone seriously looking to comment on — or, more seriously, conduct from government office — US foreign policy should either explain why he was taken in at the time or how he's adjusted his worldview since. Because, and back to Jim, this was the lay of the land in 2002 and 2003:

The “knowing what we know” question presumes that the Bush Administration and the US public were in the role of impartial jurors, or good-faith strategic decision-makers, who while carefully weighing the evidence were (unfortunately) pushed toward a decision to invade, because the best-available information at the time indicated that there was an imminent WMD threat.

  • That view is entirely false.
  • The war was going to happen. The WMD claims were the result of the need to find a case for the war, rather than the other way around.

It's a point Greg Sargent makes too:

But this leaves out a big part of the story of the run-up to the war, which is that some people were arguing at the time against invading Iraq, on the grounds that the evidence was all right there in plain sight that Iraq did not pose a threat imminent enough to justify an invasion. Some people (I’m not claiming to be among them) were publicly shouting themselves hoarse, pointing out at the time that, at the very least, there were serious questions about whether Iraq really posed the threat the Bush administration claimed it did.

The question that is being posed to Jeb — would you have gone into Iraq, knowing what we know now? — is not really a hard one. As Brian Beutler notes: “the idea that the war was a mistake because of the intelligence failures — that it would’ve been the right call if the story the Bush administration told about the need to invade had held up — is quickly becoming the Republican Party consensus.” [...] Rather, the better question is: Are you willing to admit that we shouldn’t have gone into Iraq based on what was known at the time? Or at least that those making the case against the invasion at the time got it right, and that you got it wrong, even though you had access to the same evidence, in real time, that they did?

For good measure, I'll reiterate what I said on the ten-year anniversary of the war:

Take the United Nations' chief weapons inspector, United Nations' chief weapons inspector, Hans Blix, who had been in charge of determining whether Iraq was complying with UN restrictions. On the day of the invasion, March 20, 2003, (it began March 19, US time), the Sydney Morning Herald reported comments Blix had made the previous day in New York:

Outside the meeting, Dr Blix said that it "was not reasonable" for the US to end UN inspections in Iraq when the regime was co-operating more than it had in more than a decade.

"I don't think it is reasonable to close the door on inspections after 3 months," he said.

Blix also said he doubts Iraq would use biological or chemical weapons against the US, even if it had them. Clearly, he did not know whether Saddam Hussein did have the weapons of mass destruction the US said he did, but he was the guy in charge of finding out, and he thought there was sufficient doubt of the question and enough progress being made on inspections that it was worth continuing them. But the Bush administration, in its arrogance and its contempt for international governance, did not credit his perspective. They preferred to talk of slam-dunks and mushroom clouds.

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American Daily: May 25, 2015

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

25 May 2015

  • How the politics surrounding the PATRIOT Act have shifted.
It's a tactic advocates of mass surveillance have used repeatedly in recent years:
  • They drag their feet on legislation to curtail NSA spying authority until the last possible minute.
  • They argue that it would be reckless to let old spying authority expire without an alternative to put in its place.
  • Terrified of appearing soft on terrorism, members of Congress have repeatedly extended current authority without changes.

But it didn't work this time, and for good reason.

  • A prosecutor looks at his role in disproportionately imprisoning African Americans.

Like many people in the criminal-justice system, John Chisholm, the District Attorney in Milwaukee County, has been concerned for a long time about the racial imbalance in American prisons. The issue is especially salient in Wisconsin, where African-Americans constitute only six per cent of the population but thirty-seven per cent of those in state prison. According to a study from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, as of 2010 thirteen per cent of the state’s African-American men of working age were behind bars—nearly double the national average, of 6.7 per cent. The figures were especially stark for Milwaukee County, where more than half of African-American men in their thirties had served time in state prison. How, Chisholm wondered, did the work of his own office contribute to these numbers? Could a D.A. do anything to change them?

The expected, almost ritualised South Korean and Chinese criticisms of Abe's policy pronouncements seem to have left the Obama Administration unmoved. Earlier in the year, US Under Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said publicly that Korea's fixation on historical issues was 'frustrating' and produced 'paralysis, not progress.' The Korean response was predictably sharp, but as Karl Friedhoff and Alastair Gale both recently argued, the Koreans are slowly losing this global perceptual struggle with Japan.

  • How the Duggar Family demonstrates the dangers of the conservative cult of purity.

But it’s more than that. When all sexuality is a sin, when even holding hands is off limits, there isn’t a clear line between permissible, healthy forms of exploration and acts that are impermissible to anyone, not just the particularly devout. This gospel of shame and purity has the potential to be incredibly harmful because it does away with important lines. (Studies not only suggest that abstinence-only approaches to sex education do nothing to decrease the incidence of sexual behaviors, but also that they can make them riskier and that they deprive kids of the vocabulary they need to discuss when bad things happen.)

For the purposes of this field guide, we have laid down parameters. A hamburger is a marvelous sandwich, but it is one deserving of its own guide. The same holds for hot dogs, and for tacos and burritos, which in 2006, in the case known as Panera v. Qdoba, a Massachusetts judge declared were not sandwiches at all. Open-faced sandwiches are not sandwiches. Gyros and shawarmas are not sandwiches. The bread that encases them is neither split nor hinged, but wrapped.

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American Daily: May 21, 2015

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

21 May 2015

Indeed, a closer look at de Blasio's progressive agenda further complicates the narrative that Clinton is out of step. HuffPost examined Clinton's position on each of the elements de Blasio's agenda, and found that she is philosophically supportive of all 13 of the principles. Where we couldn't find an answer, we noted it. When she comes up short, it's largely a matter of degree or because she hasn't made her current stance fully known (whether intentionally or not). There are places here where she may be vulnerable to attacks from her primary opponents, who have records with fewer blanks to fill in. But Clinton has her defenders when it comes to her progressivism, including at least one person who has signed onto de Blasio's platform.

  • Why haven't Republicans settled on a frontrunner yet?

Another reason not to actively narrow the field is because there are several good but inexperienced candidates in the mix. Walker and Rubio both show significant political strengths but were all but unheard of outside their states just five years ago. Jeb Bush has an impressive pedigree—Republicans usually win presidential races when they nominate Bushes and usually lose when they don't—but he's been out of the game for a while, and his recent fumbling over Iraq War questions suggest his political skills need some honing. By letting the race play out for a while, party elites get many chances to actually see how good such candidates are and who could get through a general election without committing massive errors.

If there was a single moment when the US became a global power, it was the war with Spain. The Spanish Empire had been crumbling for a century, and there was a ferocious debate within the US over whether America should become an imperial power to replace it. This centered on Cuba: pro-imperialists wanted to purchase or annex it from Spain (pre-1861, the plan was to turn it into a new slave state); anti-imperialists wanted to support Cuban independence.
  • The gay couple that married in Minnesota... in 1971.
With some sleight of hand involving a legal change to a gender-neutral name, they obtained a marriage license in another county, and in 1971, in white bell-bottom pantsuits and macramé headbands, they exchanged vows before a Methodist pastor and a dozen guests in a friend’s apartment. Their three-tiered wedding cake was topped by two plastic grooms, which a friend supplied by splitting two bride-and-groom figurines.

J.K. Rowling, best-selling British author, inadvertently entered the political fray Monday by revealing the full name of a beloved character in the Harry Potter series, Moaning Myrtle.

“Moaning Myrtle’s full name was Myrtle Elizabeth Warren,” Rowling tweeted.

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American Daily: May 20, 2015

By Jonathan Bradley in Sydney, Australia

20 May 2015

  • Barack Obama has finally joined Twitter.
The new @POTUS account, like @WhiteHouse, belongs to the government, not to Obama. The next president will take it over in 2017, according to Alex Wall, the White House Director of Online Engagement. In a White House blog post Monday, Wall announced the @POTUS account and explained that it “will serve as a new way for President Obama to engage directly with the American people, with tweets coming exclusively from him.”

In particular, Danois points to the songwriter, producer, and McCann Erickson executive Roquel “Billy” Davis, who conceived and co-wrote “I’d Like To Buy the World A Coke” for that 1971 campaign. Davis, an African-American, is perhaps the best example of the slowly integrating world of modern advertising that Weiner said couldn’t exist in Mad Men’s 1960s — only in our alternate, parallel, real universe.

  • What it's like to be a woman on Capitol Hill.
Sexism on Capitol Hill
  • Republicans go looking for red meat in South Carolina.
A dozen Republican presidential hopefuls showed up at the South Carolina Freedom Summit. They were there to court primary voters who will winnow the presidential field next February. Judging from the speeches, it’s going to be an ugly race. What the candidates are selling, and primary voters are buying, is vituperation against people who don’t look, talk, or pray like the Republican base.

Since the average Republican is significantly older than the average Democrat, far more Republicans than Democrats have died since the 2012 elections. To make matters worse, the GOP is attracting fewer first-time voters. Unless the party is able to make inroads with new voters, or discover a fountain of youth, the GOP’s slow demographic slide will continue election to election. Actuarial tables make that part clear, but just how much of a problem for the GOP is this?

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