Tag Archives: Politics

Dark Money and Campaign Finance

Yesterday, NPR’s Fresh Air discussed money in politics and how recent changes to campaign finance laws have made it difficult to track money spent on elections and who is spending it.

Here is a description of the podcast from the NPR website:

Campaign finance rules allow some groups to not disclose their donors. The New York Times’ Nick Confessore says there could be “influence peddling … because we can’t see the money changing hands.”

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“Pornography: What Do We Know?”

That was the question being examined on the BBC’s Analysis radio programme. Here is a description of the show: 

What do we really know about the effects of pornography? 

Public debate has become increasingly dominated by an emotive, polarised argument between those who say it is harmful and those who say it can be liberating. Jo Fidgen puts the moral positions to one side and investigates what the evidence tells us. She explores the limitations of the research that’s been carried out and asks whether we need to update our understanding of pornography. She hears from users of pornography about how and why they use it and researchers reveal what they have learnt about our private pornographic habits. 

With pornography becoming increasingly easy to access online, and as policy-makers, parents and teachers discuss how to deal with this, it’s a debate that will have far-reaching implications on education and how we use the internet. 

Producer: Helena Merriman 

Interviewees: 

Professor Neil Malamuth – University of California 
Dr Miranda Horvath – Middlesex University 
Dr Ogi Ogas – Author of A Billion Wicked Thoughts 
Professor Roger Scruton – Conservative philosopher and Author of Sexual Desire: A Philosophical Investigation 
Professor Gail Dines – Wheelock College, Boston.

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November 3, 2013 · 1:44 am

Zakaria to Conservatives: Get Real, Lighten Up

This past Sunday on Fareed Zarakia GPS, Fareed provided his take on the Republican party and the conservative movement. Zakaria critiques conservatism as being overly ideological and detached from the practical realities that face the United States.

Progressives will likely find Zarakia’s critique compelling. I suspect Conservatives might not find it entirely fair. What do you think?

Here is a description of the video:

For many conservatives today, the “rot” to be excoriated is not about economics and health care but about culture. A persistent theme of conservative intellectuals and commentators – in print and on Fox News – is the cultural decay of the country. But compared with almost any period in U.S. history, we live in bourgeois times, in a culture that values family, religion, work and, above all, private business. Young people today aspire to become Mark Zuckerberg. They quote the aphorisms of Warren Buffett. They read the Twitter feed of Bill Gates. Even after the worst recession since the Great Depression, there are no obvious radicals, anarchists, Black Panthers or other revolutionary movements – except for the Tea Party.

Now, for some tacticians and consultants, extreme rhetoric is just a way to keep the troops fired up. But rhetoric gives meaning and shape to a political movement. Over the past six decades, conservatives’ language of decay, despair and decline have created a group of Americans who fervently believe in this dark narrative and are determined to stop the country from plunging into what they see as imminent oblivion. They aren’t going to give up just yet.

The era of crises could end, but only when this group of conservatives makes its peace with today’s America. They are misty-eyed in their devotion to a distant republic of myth and memory and yet they are passionate in their dislike of the messy, multiracial, capitalist-and-welfare-state democracy that America actually has been for half a century – a fifth of this country’s history. At some point, will they come to realize that you cannot love America in theory and hate it in fact?

Watch the video for the full Take or read more in the Washington Post.

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October 22, 2013 · 11:22 am

Fareed’s Take: Gridlock and Polarization in Washington

On the most recent episode of Fareed Zakaria GPS, Fareed devoted much of his show to the current state of political polarization and gridlock in the Nation’s capital. He began with his “take” on the problem.  He then discussed the topic with a panel comprised of Vanessa Williamson (Harvard PhD student and author of  The Tea Party and the Remaking of Republican Conservatism) , Norm Ornstein (of the conservative think tank the American Enterprise Institute) and Jeffrey Toobin (legal columnist for the New Yorker). 

Here is a link to  Williamson’s commentary on the Tea Party.

Toobin’s take on Republican radicalism and the effects of the primary system can be found here.

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October 16, 2013 · 6:12 pm

Is The Two-Party System is Making America Ungovernable?

That was the proposition being debated on the Intelligence Squared podcast. The debate originally occurred in 2011; however, it has a particular relevance today with the government is shutdown and the debt ceiling looming.

Moderated by ABC News’ John Donvan, this debate featured David Brooks–Op-Ed columnist for the New York Times–and Arianna Huffington–Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Huffington Post, who argued for the motion; and P.J. O’Rourke–H.L. Mencken Research Fellow at the Cato Institute and Zev Chafets–Former columnist, New York City News, who argued against it.

Here is description of the debate:

The Republican and Democratic parties are entrenched in calcified partisanship, where politics is played as a zero-sum game. The rise of the Tea Party, liberal backlash, and the exodus of moderate voices from Congress all point toward the public’s growing discontent. Has our two-party system failed us? Is this a call to change our two-party system of governance?

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October 14, 2013 · 1:10 pm