As a general rule, I have a lot of time for Hayes, who I think is more interested in facts and data than most people on cable TV. But cable TV can do bad things even to good people.
On Friday night, MSNBC host Chris Hayes and I discussed Obamacare on the Bill Maher show.
Among other things, I made the point—not original to me—that Obamacare's rules are accelerating the trend to part-time work.
On Monday, Chris returned to his own MSNBC show to deliver an after-the-fact rebuttal.
Chris even brought a chart, to buttress his contention that the trend to part-time labor was driven by the 2008 recession, not 2010 Obamacare regulations:
So it's been a rough month for my family and me. It's been a rough month for the blog too. I'm well aware that people come here to read about public affairs, not personal losses.
Unfortunately, family and personal matters must claim my attention for some time to come. I won't be able to write as much or as well as required to produce a blog worth reading. I've long been a proponent of term limits for pundits and columnists. At least for the time being, my term has expired.
I don't intend to shut up entirely. I'll continue to write once a week for CNN.com, and I'll be glad to talk on TV if asked and if I feel I have something worthwhile to say. I'll continue to post occasional thoughts on Twitter at @davidfrum. But the daily - hourly! - production of commentary here at the Daily Beast will cease at least for the summer, and possibly for some time longer.
This summer seems an especially propitious time for a hiatus. As Ross Douthat has perceptively observed, the cause of conservative reform has gained increasing coherence and force since the 2012 election. More and more good work is being done by more and more people.
Compared to middle-class friendly changes like increasing the child tax credit and reducing payroll taxes, the top income tax rate should be at the bottom of Republican priorities. (It's not, but this is an argument that shouldn't be abandoned). Reihan writes at National Review:
Recently, I’ve been suggesting that Republicans ought to counter the president’s call for eliminating various tax expenditures to increase tax revenues beyond the levels reached under ATRA, AKA the fiscal cliff deal, by suggesting that we apply the revenue from the elimination of tax expenditures to an expanded child credit that could be used to offset payroll taxes, a la the Stein plan. This would leave the top rate under ATRA untouched while shifting the terms of the tax debate to friendlier terrain. Granted, this isn’t a consensus view among Republicans, but I think realism demands that conservatives recognize that for now at least, the political case for reducing the top marginal tax rate is relatively weak.
We aren't getting a top rate tax cut without a Republican in the White House, and we aren't getting a Republican in the White House without policies that broadly benefit the middle class. Whether elected Republicans recognize this is another matter, but for now, there are far more important concerns than the top marginal tax rate for our nation's best off.
I would describe this Rob LaZebnik takedown of millenialls as mean-spirited, but as most kids my age will probably assume he's being heartfelt instead of bitingly sarcastic, I'll just laugh along with the old people. Yet I can't help but wonder: isn't the reason so many kids my age are like this because of parents like LaZebnik?
You masterfully tied together a set of emotional symptoms that looked enough like attention deficit disorder to buy you extra time on all your finals and standardized tests. Plus, you got to take the exams in special quiet rooms, where a test facilitator would sharpen the pencils outside, because the grinding sound triggered your acute sensory overload. (Which somehow didn't preclude your part-time summer job at Blenders Juicery.)
You hired private college advisers to read your essays and hone your interview skills. Just think back to those valuable sessions where you learned to practically leap out of the chair talking about your passion for writing one-act plays in Cherokee, or how your heart raced that summer on the Mongolian steppes when you first spotted an ovoo monitor lizard, once thought to be extinct.
And you learned to deftly walk the college interviewer through your many achievements while still showing carefully modulated self-effacement: "Yes, I helped design the CO2 scrubber that will save humanity from global warming, but it was totally a team effort."
And I feel hardcore when I drink espresso:
The Wehrmacht, Germany's World War II army, ended up distributing millions of the Pervitin tablets to soldiers on the front (they called it "Panzerschokolade," or "tank chocolate"). The air force gave the tablets to its flyers (in this case, it was "pilot's chocolate" or "pilot's salt"). Hitler himself was given intravenous injections of methamphetamine by his personal physician, Theodor Morell. The pill, however, was the more common form of the drug. All told, between April and July of 1940, more than 35 million three-milligram doses of Pervitin were manufactured for the German army and air force.
News of meth's powers, unsurprisingly, spread. British papers began reporting on German soldiers' use of a "miracle pill." Soon, Allied bomber pilots were experimenting with the drug. Their tests ended quickly, though; while the soldiers who used pilot's salt were able to focus on their flying in the short term ... they also became agitated, aggressive, and impaired in their judgment over the long.
My name is David Frum. As you hear me speak, please add in your minds the counterpoint of a second voice, that of my sister Linda, who cut all the spiciest material. In our mourning for our father, we are joined as one. I speak for our children too, Miranda, Nathaniel and Beatrice; Barbara, Sam and Ellie; and for our spouses, Danielle and Howard, who loved Murray as we did, and whom he loved in return.
The rules of this beautiful hall did not permit us to bring my father's body with us for this ceremony. Let no one be disappointed. My father hated funerals. He seldom attended them. Why break the habits of a lifetime now?
My father avoided funerals not because of a lack of empathy, but because of his surplus of optimism. He always saw the world sunny side up. On the day he had his lung biopsy – an invasive and uncomfortable procedure – Linda asked whether it had bothered him very much. He gave that optimistic shrug and smile we loved so well. “It wasn't so bad."
That shrug and smile carried my father further in one lifetime than you might think it possible for any human being to go. His optimism always made the best of everything … even a looming nuclear war. During the Cuban missile crisis of 1963, my father purchased a painting he could not then prudently afford. He thought, "If we're going to die, let's at least die with great art on the walls."
Yet his optimism never overstepped his analytic rigor. In my father’s memoir, he tells a story of finding an exotic mask at an antique store in China. My father knew little about Chinese art. But he said the mask looked old. Its edges were oxidized in the right way. The holes in the earlobes were punched, not drilled, and the jade earrings that hung from those lobes appeared to have been carved by stone, not metal. He gambled and made the purchase. When he brought the mask home to show the experts at the Royal Ontario Museum, they pronounced it a Mongolian funerary mask, more than 1,000 years old, and a finer example than in the ROM’s own collection.
The Atlantic explains one rough part of being a 17-year brood: developers often turn forests into cities in far less time.
This year's Brood II cicadas are currently appearing on the East Coast (although not quite with the drama we initially expected). But John Cooley, a cicada researcher in Connecticut, has seen evidence of extinction elsewhere, in the sprawling subdivisions around Champaign-Urbana in Central Illinois.
"When they go out and build these things around Champaign-Urbana, they cut the trees down, they bring in the bulldozers, they pull up the top soil, and they stick the houses down," Cooley says. "None of the cicadas in the ground there would have survived that. None of anything in the ground would have survived that."
I've been patiently waiting for the arrival of our noisy overlords, and have thus far been disappointed at the events. Readers, have you encountered Brood 2? And if so, how did it go?
Rick Perry has been governor of Texas for more than half my lifetime, so even the idea of him attempting a fourth term is a little mindboggling.
For many observers, those are subtle signs that, come 2014, Mr. Perry’s name will be missing from the statewide ballot for the first time in nearly 25 years.
On the other hand, Mr. Perry just called a 30-day special session, and he still has not combed through the newly passed state budget and most of the bills passed during the recently concluded regular session. So there is plenty of time to shake things up with his veto pen or by pushing for the enactment of hot-button measures on abortion, guns and school vouchers — which is just what one of his top allies, Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst, is asking him to do.
It has not escaped Team Perry’s notice that the governor was leading Mr. Abbott almost three to one in a spring University of Texas/Texas Tribune poll of likely Republican voters. And while Mr. Abbott has a bigger and better-financed organization, the governor is far better known, and allies say he would have no trouble putting together a campaign in a hurry. His campaign manager in the 2010 race for governor, Rob Johnson, did not settle into the post until June 2009.
This is neat, and certainly adds to the idea that gay marriage is a stabilizing, conservatizing force upon society:
Cummings-Thomas said many couples who travel to the D.C. area to marry are from states that ban same-sex marriage. Returning home, they find that "being able to change their name is a way to have their home state recognize their marriage," in spirit if not in fact. For their own part, the two women had shown up at the courthouse early, the first same-sex couple to get a license in Howard County, Maryland. They were planning to share a name: They just had to figure out which one. Probably Reid, they were thinking.
The decision to take the same surname is one way same-sex couples are rehabilitating—repurposing, you might say—some of the most ancient marital traditions. Name-change dates back to the common-law doctrine of "coverture," when a bride assumed her husband's name and legal identity and, in what is called "civil death," ceased to exist as a separate legal person. Feminism inspired some women to reject this tradition—about 10 percent of women, according to studies, decline to take their husband's surname—taking a stand for autonomy but contributing to a world in which teachers are sometimes unsure which children belong to which parents, and the generation who grew up with hyphenated names must decide whether to exponentially burden their own offspring. In embracing the standard option, same-sex couples are lending it a new, radicalized flavor. Not only lesbian brides but some gay grooms change their names; whether this will pave the way for straight men remains to be seen. Name-changing may turn out to be something men do when partnering with men, but not when partnering with women. The number of straight men who change their name upon marriage, remains so tiny as to be imperceptible.
Sen. John McCain's visit to Syria included some less than awesome people, reports BuzzFeed's Rosie Gray:
Senator John McCain’s office is pushing back against reports that while visiting Syria this week he posed in a photo with rebels who kidnapped 11 Lebanese Shi’ite pilgrims. The photo, released by McCain’s office, shows McCain with a group of rebels. Among them are two men identified in the Lebanese press as Mohamed Nour and Abu Ibrahim, two of the kidnappers of the group from Lebanon.
At the New York Times, Thomas Edsall works through the implications of whether America should retain a culture of cutthroat capitalism. Go read it.
Despite its egalitarian tradition, America may have already become a two-class society, with an elite benefiting from advantages in background, wealth, access to higher education and skill sets passed from generation to generation (whether through inheritance or cultural transmission). If that is the case, and there is some evidence that it is, the question is whether our rhetorical obeisance to egalitarian tradition will prevent us from openly recognizing what we have become – thus sapping our ability to do something about it.
As I wrote last week, it wouldn't be a terrible idea for Harry Reid to use the nuclear options to force a majority vote on appointments for cabinet positions and non-Supreme Court judicial appointments. Writing for The Daily Beast, Jamelle Bouie details what that would mean, and the fallout to be expected from such an action.
The New York Times calls attention to a study suggesting joblessness and smoking aren't great for the life expectancies of poorly educated white women:
The study weighed more than a dozen factors to see which were causing the divergence in mortality rates. Poverty, obesity, homeownership, marital status and alcohol consumption were among the factors investigated.
But they mattered little. As it turned out, smoking was important, as had long been established, but researchers were surprised that joblessness had a dramatic effect, even after controlling for factors that employment would have generated, like income and health insurance.
“What is it about employment that has this huge impact on mortality, beyond the material resources it brings?” said Jennifer Karas Montez, the study’s lead author, a researcher at the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies.
The Republican revival isn't quite going as planned, reports Josh Kraushaar in National Journal:
The most glaring example took place earlier this month in Virginia, where Republican Party leaders nominated for lieutenant governor E.W. Jackson, a minister whose thunderous opposition to gay marriage and invective against Obama threaten to damage the Republican ticket. His emergence was enabled by party leaders opting to choose their statewide candidates at a convention filled with single-issue activists instead of through a primary involving a wider swath of Republican voters. The party's gubernatorial nominee, Ken Cuccinelli, who engineered the convention process, is trying to downplay his socially conservative background, but is struggling to do so with his new ticket mate. Meanwhile, Republicans are empty-handed in next year's Senate race against Sen. Mark Warner, not even entertaining the notion that term-limited Gov. Bob McDonnell could follow in his predecessor's footsteps and pursue a congressional career.
Less noticed, but equally as damaging, is the party's persistent inability to contest statewide races in Colorado, which is rapidly becoming a Democratic-leaning state—in large part because of GOP mismanagement. The party's brightest recruit, Rep. Cory Gardner, just opted to pass up a Senate campaign against Mark Udall, leaving the GOP empty-handed. Even more startling is the reemergence of immigration hardliner Tom Tancredo as a legitimate gubernatorial candidate, jumping in the race this month against Gov. John Hickenlooper. (Tancredo won 36 percent of the vote as a third-party candidate in 2010.) If Republicans can't contest the Senate and governorship in 2014, it would mark eight straight setbacks in presidential, Senate, and gubernatorial contests dating back nearly a decade. An 0-8 record would get the Denver Broncos coach fired, but there hasn't been a comparable shakeup in the state party's practices in a long time.