How would American Journalists cover the Government Shutdown if it Happened Somewhere Else?



Something like this. Thanks Joshua Keating.

WASHINGTON, United States — The typical signs of state failure aren’t evident on the streets of this sleepy capital city. Beret-wearing colonels have not yet taken to the airwaves to declare martial law. Money-changers are not yet buying stacks of useless greenbacks on the street.

But the pleasant autumn weather disguises a government teetering on the brink. Because, at midnight Monday night, the government of this intensely proud and nationalistic people will shut down, a drastic sign of political dysfunction in this moribund republic.

The capital’s rival clans find themselves at an impasse, unable to agree on a measure that will allow the American state to carry out its most basic functions. While the factions have come close to such a shutdown before, opponents of President Barack Obama’s embattled regime now appear prepared to allow the government to be shuttered over opposition to a controversial plan intended to bring the nation’s health care system in line with international standards.

Six years into his rule, Obama’s position can appear confusing, even contradictory. Though the executive retains control of the country’s powerful intelligence service, capable of the extrajudicial execution of the regime’s opponents half a world away, the president’s efforts to govern domestically have been stymied in the legislature by an extremist rump faction of the main opposition party.

The current rebellion has been led by Sen. Ted Cruz, a young fundamentalist lawmaker from the restive Texas region, known in the past as a hotbed of separatist activity. Activity in the legislature ground to a halt last week for a full day as Cruz insisted on performing a time-honored American demonstration of stamina and self-denial, which involved speaking for 21 hours, quoting liberally from science fiction films and children’s books. The gesture drew wide media attention, though its political purpose was unclear to outsiders.

With hours remaining until the government of the world’s richest nation runs out of money, attention now focuses on longtime opposition leader John Boehner, under pressure from both the regime and the radical elements of his own movement, who may be the only political figure with the standing needed to end the standoff.

While the country’s most recent elections were generally considered to be free and fair (despite threats against international observers), the current crisis has raised questions in the international community about the regime’s ability to govern this complex nation of 300 million people, not to mention its vast stockpiles of weapons of mass destruction.

Americans themselves are starting to ask difficult questions as well. As this correspondent’s cab driver put it, while driving down the poorly maintained roads that lead from the airport, “Do these guys have any idea what they’re doing to the country?”


Marco Rubio’s flip-flopping on immigration is insulting political grandstanding


You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Rubio. I’m sure you have some convictions, and I’m sure you’re balancing those against your political aspirations and the desires of the more senior or influential members of your caucus. But please pick a side. You proposed this bill. Perhaps that was just for a few highlights; knowing full well that any such legislation would have a difficult time even getting a vote from the house, you could be calculating that this is a decision you won’t have to make publicly. I do hope an inspiring young politician like yourself can find a way to be less pragmatic and more idealistic.

Then again, your vote may not matter much to this bill if it can’t even get a vote. So if you’re doing this to score PR points with a demographic that your party has all but abandoned, shame on you. But if you have any true intention of creating a better legal immigration system for people that want to help build this country, I suggest you take a stance and claim it.

Michele Bachmann and the Weird Economics of Conservative Politics

Michele Bachmann speaks at a Tea Party Express Rally at Waterworks Park on Aug. 31, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa. Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images
Michele Bachmann speaks at a Tea Party Express Rally at Waterworks Park on Aug. 31, 2011, in Des Moines, Iowa.
Photo by Steve Pope/Getty Images

Some thoughtful insight from Yglesias on Michelle Bachmann’s decision not to run for re-election in 2014. It truly may not be the scandal and the undoubtedly hard challenge she will face. She may just be better off achieving her goals outside of politics:

Minnesota House member and conservative icon Michele Bachmann announced today that she’s stepping down from her House seat to pursue unknown other ventures.

Initial news coverage seems to be linking this to an Ethics Committee investigation into the possible misuse of PAC funds to support her nominal 2012 presidential bid. But I think the relevant precedent here is South Carolina Sen. Jim DeMint resigning in order to run the Heritage Foundation. Or perhaps former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee taking a pass at a 2012 presidential bid in favor of working as a Fox News host. Which is to say that for many prominent conservative elected officials, getting out of politics and into the conservative edutainment industry seems like a more appealing and interesting option than continuing to work in politics. You can particularly see this in the case of Bachmann. She’s an unusually famous House member, but becoming a powerful House member is hard work and often takes a long time. The state of Minnesota as a whole isn’t nearly conservative enough for Bachmann to become governor or senator without moderating somewhat, and back-bench House members can’t really run for president. But if Bachmann gets out, I’m sure she can earn plenty of money writing books or making TV shows or doing speaking appearances.

Of course the tension between a desire to make money and a desire to move up in politics also exists for Democrats. But it’s the conventional tension that exists on both sides between ideological purity and the lure of K Street dealmaking. The conservative movement has become strong enough as a social force that you can get rich by being a conservative media star, which would not work for liberals.

Editors sometimes make bad choices

All Rights Reserved

When I pick my sources, I tend to read through a few articles from various sources on a subject before using one to quote and link to. I like to see how different media group articulate the issue, but most often I end up choosing between two sources for their clarity: The Week and Slate. The Week compiles quotes from multiple major sources, and generally offers different sides of the argument to give context, which I really appreciate. Slate leans left, but does so with less bombast than most and a whole lot more data and genealogy. I think the writers there are very smart, and focus on supporting their arguments well with government reports and historical context.

Of course, though I see them as some of the best online sources, between the editors and writers there are still some things I can criticize when it comes to their reporting. I noticed a bothersome trend this week in the coverage of something otherwise not worth mentioning: Beyonce and Jay-Z’s trip to Cuba last week.

To preface, I don’t have a strong opinion on the subject itself. I don’t care much for TMZ-style news coverage. Yet there are restrictions on US citizens with regards to traveling to Cuba, and in all likelihood the power couple broke the law. Two lawmakers in Florida with strong ties to the Cuban expat community are making public inquiries about the trip with that issue in mind. Tourism to Cuba, run by the state, supports a regime many in those lawmakers’ districts hate. The angle of any reporting on the subject should reflect that. Yet in an article from both news sources I tend to reference, the fact that those lawmakers were Republicans was cited in the lead in to the articles as well as within the angle of the articles. I find it pretty disappointing to see such SEO, click-seeking, agenda-driven reporting from both sources. It sure gets the liberal readers riled up more to claim that Republican lawmakers are trying to embarrass big-time Democratic supporters, but that doesn’t accurately reflect the story as well as the more emotional and reasonable reaction of lawmakers standing up for the concerns of the people they represent.

I know clicks and page views are important. I know there is not real objectivity in reporting anymore. But some get closer than others, and it’s disappointing to see them stumble. Especially with headlines and lead-ins, I know a lot of the blame lies with editors and higher-ups, but I hope the reporters pushed to pursue a cleaner, more objective edge to their stories, even if they were overruled. Try to keep people informed, ok guys?

Why CPAC didn’t invite GOP star Chris Christie

Quick analysis by Peter Weber over at The Week (a bit strangely fleshed out with Tweets) on what’s up with the CPAC  snubbing one of their most visible and popular members at an important meeting of conservatives, which Charles Krauthammer calls a “vast overreaction“:

Seemingly everybody to the right of Jon Huntsman has been invited to speak at the 2013 Conservative Political Action Conference — including formerly moderate Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (R). There’s one name, though, that’s conspicuously absent on the list of invitees: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R). CPAC spokeswoman Laura Rigas says that, officially, the conference “schedule is still being finalized, with several more announcements pending over the next three weeks.” But multiple news organizations are reporting that Christie won’t make the list.

There are plenty of reasons conservatives might want to hear from a wildly popular Republican governor of a blue state, as Christie’s fans were quick to point out.

“CPAC won’t invite America’s most popular Republican elected official to speak. Way to rebuild a majority, guys.” – Josh Barro

“Let me get this straight.  bans @GOProud, refuses to invite @GovChristie, and invites@SarahPalinUSA. Yes, they are stupid.” –Doug Mataconis

“Chris Christie’s 2012 speech at CPAC Chicago brought the house down” –Dan McLaughlin

“Christie not invited to CPAC, a gathering for a Republican party that loves to lose elections!” – David Podhaskie

So why the snub? Conservatives have a snap answer: Christie gave up his right to the conservative label during Hurricane Sandy, first by complimenting President Obama’s handling of the super storm and then for blasting House Republicans for failing to initially approve funds to clean up from the disaster.

“Well duh… he backed Obama at the last minute of the election. Freakin traitor!!!” – The American Patriot

That’s a pretty big reversal for a politician whom Republicans begged to run for president, then vice president, in 2012, and is considered a strong contender in 2016. So this is “revenge because a GOPer dared to say something nice about President Barack Obama?” asks Joe Gandelman at The Moderate Voice.

It certainly sounds that way — and this very pointed, clearly intentional, most assuredly let’s-send-’em-a-message snub of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also suggests what could be in store if former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush decides to run and doesn’t embrace the conservative agenda 100 percent or shows signs he’d be willing to reach across the aisle and not be on the partisan warpath 24/7…. Wasn’t there supposed to be some kind of “rebranding” going on? [Moderate Voice]

“I have my issues with him just like you do, but c’mon,” says Allahpundit at Hot Air. Christie may not be as conservative as Gov. Rick Perry (R-Texas), but “he’s one of the few members of the party with a national profile who’s reasonably well liked by voters across the board. Leverage his popularity, if only for a day.” Still, of all the moderates and RINOs upset by the Christie snub, the New Jersey governor probably isn’t among them.

All they’re doing here, whether they realize it or not, is throwing him into the briar patch. Christie was never going to run as the conservative choice in 2016 and lord knows he’s not going to run as a conservative to get reelected in New Jersey…. CPAC’s unwittingly helping him burnish his brand as the country’s most formidable centrist Republican. Expect him to gets lots of mileage out of it in interviews over the next month. [Hot Air]

There are some other theories on CPAC’s sidelining of Christie, some verging on the conspiratorial:

“Excluding Chris Christie from CPAC reveals the character of the extreme right. They care more about making money and stirring resentment.” – Joe Scarborough 

“That Christie has a 74% approval rating and that conservatives are mad at him are closely related. What conservatives want is unpopular.” – Josh Barro

While CPAC may be burnishing Christie’s luster among Democrats, some Democratic groups are attempting to do the opposite. On the same day the CPAC snub hit the wires, EMILY’s List — a group that supports mostly pro–abortion-rights Democrats — started its campaign to sink Christie’s heavily favored bid for re-election in November: Christie “has national ambitions and a relentlessly anti-woman, anti-family record, a dangerous combination that means we have to expose his extremism now, and prevent him from trying to take his regressive agenda nationwide.”

Even if he’s re-elected in New Jersey, though, the CPAC snub could hurt his chances with GOP primary voters in 2016, if Christie decides to run for president. Still, if that doesn’t work out, his brand of tough-talk and yelling at audiences is suited to more than just being governor of the Garden State.

“My solution to CPAC not inviting Christie to speak this year — have the Academy ask him to host the Oscars in 2014. ” –Daniel Drezner