Following the early October defenestration of John Boehner as speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, Washington Post correspondent Karen Tumulty made waves when she said Republicans were “on the verge of ceasing to function as a national political party.”
But in this case, the wish was likely the father of the thought. “Dysfunction” was hardly the scene in the House last week as Wisconsin Rep. Paul Ryan took hold of the speaker’s gavel — an act unthinkable even to Ryan just a few weeks prior. The young, attractive Ryan always has been seen as the future of the Republican Party, able to bridge the gap between the GOP’s more ardent wing and those more interested in governing. (In the end, only seven of the Tea Party’s “Freedom Caucus” members voted against Ryan, proving the group’s opposition to Ryan was overblown.)
In fact, Ryan’s ascendance to the speakership itself served as a reminder that the Republican Party is alive and well. In fact, in the House, it is the Democrats who have ceased to function, as Republicans still hold 247 seats — their largest majority since 1927.
In Western news-making and opinion-forming circles, there’s a palpable reluctance to talk about the most noteworthy thing about modern Islamist violence: its barbarism, its graphic lack of moral restraint. This goes beyond the BBC’s yellow reluctance to deploy the T-word – terrorism – in relation to the bloody assault on the Westgate shopping mall in Kenya at the weekend. Across the commentating board, people are sheepish about pointing out the historically unique lunacy of Islamist violence and its utter detachment from any recognisable moral universe or human values. We have to talk about this barbarism; we have to appreciate how new and unusual it is, how different it is even from the terrorism of the 1970s or of the early twentieth century. We owe it to the victims of these assaults, and to the principle of honest and frank political debate, to face up to the unhinged, morally unanchored nature of Islamist violence in the 21st century.
It’s hard to believe Wisconsin college students are almost halfway through their first semester. Unfortunately, when the school year started, instead of orientation, our kids got a head full of indoctrination.
The University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point published a list of “Examples of Racial Microaggressions” on its official website. According to UWSP, a microaggression is described as “daily slights visited upon people of color, women, LGBT persons and other historically oppressed communities.” After some unfavorable national media attention this summer, UWSP clarified that the material is used in new faculty seminars and that the university is not banning the words but rather “building awareness” for a safe and inclusive environment on campus. Intentional or not, this list has a chilling effect on speech for new staff and especially young students who are still forming their own beliefs or worry that straying from the school sanctioned list of words and opinions could result in social repercussions or a lower grade in class.
It’s not news to anyone that political journalists tend to be liberal. That alone doesn’t mean they’re bad at their jobs, but the presence of strong political views combined with the lack of ideological diversity can pose problems for those with differing political views.
We see this frequently with mediated political debates, where journalists moderate and control what topics are covered, how questions are framed, and what assumptions are built into topics.
Some journalists are better than others, of course, but too often the moderators — from smug local journalists to Candy Crowley — become part of the story. They frequently don’t have the policy chops to ask good policy questions or respond to dumb policy answers. When they generally agree with a politician, they won’t push back on even the most erroneous or outlandish claims. But if they disagree with a candidate, they’ll push back, no matter how uninformed about the matter at hand they may be. This is related to another point of confusion: they seem to believe it’s their job to argue with candidates rather than facilitate discussions among candidates. The debate is supposed to be with one other, after all, not with the moderator.
The problem isn’t that Harwood is biased or not particularly worth reading or watching. That’s between him and his employers.
But why is he moderating a GOP debate? And why doesn’t this debate have a conservative partner?
According to the FBI annual crime statistics, the number of murders committed annually with hammers and clubs far outnumbers the number of murders committed with a rifle.
This is an interesting fact, particularly amid the Democrats’ feverish push to ban many different rifles, ostensibly to keep us safe of course.
However, it appears the zeal of Sens. like Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) is misdirected. For in looking at the FBI numbers from 2005 to 2011, the number of murders by hammers and clubs consistently exceeds the number of murders committed with a rifle.