What We’re Watching: May 25, 2018 - Good morning and happy Friday. Here’s what we have our eyes on today. Stories We’re Following President Trump gives a...
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Even after four years of bug-eyed right-wing paranoia, Cheney’s op-ed [in the Wall Street Journal, of course] stands out for its utter dearth of the slightest whiff of perspective or factual grounding. President Obama, she tells us, “is the most radical man ever to occupy the Oval Office.” He has “launched a war on Americans' Second Amendment rights.” He does not want the economy to grow. (“He believes in greater redistribution of a much smaller pie.”) Obama “seems unaware that the free-enterprise system has lifted more people out of poverty than any other economic system devised by man” — which is odd, because Obama is always saying things like “business, and not government, will always be the primary generator of good jobs with incomes that lift people into the middle class and keep them there.” The best approximations of America’s future under Obama are tiny European nations that lack control of their own currency. (“If you're unsure of what this America would look like, Google ‘Cyprus’ or ‘Greece.’”)
One might charitably attribute Cheney’s crazed rants on domestic policy to her attempting to opine on matters outside her field of expertise. Yet her litany of foreign-policy accusations is actually even more unhinged. Obama, she argues, has not only weakened America, he wants to weaken America’s world standing in the same way he wants to shrink its economy (“there is no longer a question of whether this was his intent”). He wants to “pre-emptively disarm the United States.”
She fears that we will somehow lack the nuclear capacity to deter foes that might obtain the tiniest fraction of our nuclear strength. (Obama “advocates slashing our nuclear arsenal even as the North Koreans threaten us and the Iranians close in on their own nuclear weapon.”) She believes “Al Qaeda is resurgent across the Middle East” and that Obama “stood by and did nothing” in the face of the attack in Libya, an especially bizarre belief considering Obama’s specific responses to the attack in Libya and general four-year record of endless drone strikes and, well, you know.
It's a truly ridiculous tirade with all the sophistication and accuracy of a Breitbart comments section. But there's also an unintentionally amusing part -- Cheney's unhinged rant includes this Ronald Reagan quote from 1961:
"Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well-taught lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don't do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free."
This is, to be sure, a popular quote on the right, and if it seems familiar to long-time readers, it's because I've written about it several times before. ...
"This" was referring to preventing the creation of Medicare. Reagan warned Americans in 1961 that Medicare, if approved, would turn the United States into a dystopian nightmare. In the same recording Cheney quoted, Reagan argued that if Medicare became law, we'd see federal officials empowered to dictate where physicians could practice medicine, and open the door to government control over where Americans were allowed to live. In fact, he warned that if Medicare passed, there was a real possibility that the federal government would control where Americans go and what we do for a living.
And so, freedom-loving Americans had to stop Medicare or we "may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free."
We now know, with the benefit of hindsight, that Reagan's paranoid rant was wrong, and hysterically so. His predictions didn't come true, and Medicare did not destroy American freedom. Those who are actually in their sunset years are delighted with Medicare, and are not sitting around, longing wistfully for an America where seniors seeking medical care were forced into poverty.
Cheney, either out of confusion, negligence, ignorance, or willful disregard of the truth, thinks Reagan's warnings from a half-century ago "still ring true." They do? How? What is Cheney talking about?
As Chait added, far-right paranoia seems to be bequeathed from one generation of deranged conservatives to the next. Social Security was going to destroy America, they said. When that didn't happen, it was Medicare that would crush our way of life, they said. When that didn't happen either, it was the Affordable Care Act -- the dreaded "Obamcare" -- that threatened everything Americans hold dear.
The delusions, like Cheney's op-ed, are laughable.
This Easter, Teresa MacBain will mark an anniversary that’s uncommon for an ordained minister — her first year as an atheist.
Last March, MacBain, now 45, stood at a podium before hundreds of people in a Maryland hotel ballroom at the national convention of American Atheists and told them that, after a lifetime as a Christian and 15 years as a pulpit pastor, she had lost her faith. ...
If there are any pastors there who find themselves perched on the edge of going public with their own loss of faith as she did, she will have some advice to give them.
“Go for it, but be prepared,” MacBain said from her home in Tallahassee, Fla. “They should be prepared for unexpected love and acceptance from the freethought community and they should be prepared for the worst from friends and family and people you would have never imagined. ...
“The freethought community just wrapped its arms around us,” she said. “Not just me, but my whole family.”
That includes her two adult sons and her husband, who is still a Christian and stood by MacBain through her change of heart. He has become a regular at weekly freethought meetings where she said his beliefs are respected. ...
For almost every gain, there has been a loss. The biggest, for her, has been the many friendships she lost, some decades long.
“I don’t think anybody is ever prepared for that,” she said. “It is something I still deal with. When you care for somebody, the caring doesn’t go away because they have removed themselves from your life. That does not happen. Those have been very hard things for me.”
Another low: the emails, messages and phone calls from people who wish her harm. Anonymous people have threatened her with violence and rape.
“I had to shut down one of my email accounts because I could not stand to open it anymore,” she said. “I was a mess.”
My vote for most iconic sign outside the Supreme Court this morning goes to “DEAR SCALIA: Y.O.L.O. #scotusyoloO.” ...
I suspect most people posted outside the Supreme Court Tuesday who saw the sign knew what it meant, and thus knew without asking where Andrew Damron (the man who made it) stood on the issue.
At the same time, I suspect if someone were to ask Antonin Scalia if he knows what YOLO means, he’d fly spectacularly off the handle into full-scale, get-off-my-lawn crank mode.
I feel a little silly writing it out, but in this telling — based on my evidence-free assumptions — the population that doesn’t know what YOLO means is a proxy for the older, whiter, segment of the population that still opposes gay marriage, still wields great political power, but all of a sudden finds itself pretty clearly out of step with the country.
That, I suspect, is why Scalia’s been so contemptuous — contemptuous, even for him — of the fight for marriage equality. It’s not just a deeply held disgust for gay people, though that’s certainly a big part of it. It’s that he and his cohort are losing control, and the people wresting it from them aren’t just indifferent about who’s gay and who isn’t, but are also strange creatures from the future who seem to speak an entirely different language.
The Tea Party boycotted Fox News for the second time this month, saying the cable network is too liberal.
Tea Party members organized the second boycott of Fox News from Thursday, March 21 at 6 a.m. through Sunday, March 24 at 6 a.m. because they say the channel "turned Left," according to the blog Benghazi Truth.
The blog alleges that the Obama administration organized a media-supported "cover-up" of the events surrounding the 2012 attacks on an American diplomatic mission at Benghazi in Libya. ...
Stan Hjerleid of Fort Collins, Colo. posted a "Guest Daily Memo" on Benghazi Truth on Mar. 13 explaining why Tea Party supporters like himself are boycotting Fox News.
Hjerleid’s blog post alleges that media outlets are using techniques "used by Hitler" in order to "indoctrinate the masses." ...
Hjerleid writes that "we need to be careful what we see and hear" on the news.
"If we keep silent about (Fox News') shortcomings, then they can get away with shading their coverage further Left," Hjerleid writes. "I for one oppose that. They can make adjustments or I will get my news elsewhere."
The median justice during the Roberts Court is more conservative than at any time during the last 75 years, according to a statistical method developed by legal scholars Andrew Martin of Washington University School of Law in St. Louis and Kevin Quinn of the University of California at Berkeley School of Law.
When he was appointed in 1975 by President Ford, Justice John Paul Stevens was considered one of the court’s more conservative members. By the time he retired in 2010, he was heralded as its liberal lion.
The high court’s rightward trajectory mirrors the broader national shift over the last several decades. President Bush sealed a five-member conservative majority by appointing Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito.
By contrast, justices appointed by Democratic presidents have grown less liberal, with President Obama’s two picks shifting the court further to the right, according to Martin and Quinn.
Five of the 10 most conservative justices since 1937 serve today, according to a separate 2008 study by judge Richard Posner and law professor William Landes.
Building managers and legislative staffers have sought to reassure some concerned Tennessee lawmakers that recent renovations at the state Capitol did not install special facilities for Muslims to wash their feet before praying.
“I confirmed with the facility administrator for the State Capitol Complex that the floor-level sink installed in the men’s restroom outside the House Chamber is for housekeeping use,” Legislative Administration Director Connie Ridley wrote in an email. “It is, in layman’s terms, a mop sink.”
Matheny and Ketron were the main sponsors of a 2011 bill that sought to make it a felony to follow some versions of the Islamic code known as Shariah law.
Hundreds of Muslims came to the Legislature to express fears the measure would outlaw central tenets of Islam, such as praying five times a day toward Mecca, abstaining from alcohol or fasting for Ramadan.
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On the basis of one measure of valuation, “price to book value”, they are the most expensive, relative to other stocks, we have seen at any time in our data history going back to 1972. On this measure, the price of these stocks has already been bid up on a relative basis. For the first time in at least four decades, high yield large cap stocks are actually more expensive than the broader market. Buyer beware.
Google Inc's YouTube said 1 billion unique users were now visiting the video-sharing website every month, or nearly one out of every two people on the Internet.
"If YouTube were a country, we'd be the third largest in the world after China and India," YouTube said in a blog post on Wednesday. (http://r.reuters.com/dev76t)
Expanding high-speed data networks across the world and increased availability of internet-enabled smartphones have helped to connect billions of people to the Internet, fuelling growth in social media and video-sharing websites.
YouTube was an instant success after its founding by three former PayPal employees in 2005, adding millions of users in its first year. Google bought it for $1.65 billion in 2006.
The fast-growing video site, which had about 800 million unique monthly users a year ago, now represents one of Google's key opportunities to generate new sources of revenue outside of its traditional internet search advertising business.
Google does not break out revenue from advertising on YouTube, which is a free site, but its contribution in terms of Google's overall revenue is relatively small.
AdAge reported in January that Google planned to offer paid subscriptions to some content later this year.
YouTube had reached out to several video producers, asking them to submit applications to create for-pay "channels," AdAge said, adding that the first such channels could be available by the second quarter for between $1 and $5 a month.