Tag Archives: Sam Brownback

On journalism and blogging

If you’re not following me on Twitter, you missed a downright Pharisaical disputation about journalism and blogging and bias, and what exactly it is that I do.

My end of the argument has been severely restricted by Twitter’s character limit, so I thought I’d address the question in greater length here.

The critics are, quelle surprise, Phil Scott fans. In fact, the most persistent was Hayden Dublois, a nice young man who’s a paid staffer on the Scott campaign.

His complaint, echoed by others, is that I’ve been unfair to Scott because I’ve frequently criticized him while never scrutinizing Sue Minter.

Which is, as a matter of fact, not true. I was sharply critical of her campaign in its first several months; I thought she was getting left in the dust by Matt Dunne. I’ve criticized her for too often following Dunne’s lead and for failing to articulate differences between herself and the Shumlin administration. I criticized her performance in the post-primary debate for missing opportunities to confront Scott and for appearing overly programmed.

It is accurate, however, to say that I’ve been far more critical of Phil Scott. So, why is that?

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A closer look at the “reasonable” Republican candidate

Ohio Governor John Kasich is offering himself to the good people of New Hampshire as a pragmatic, optimistic, kinda-centrist manager: a guy who can Get Things Done and Work With Others. His campaign schtick even convinced MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who called him “real and reasonable-seeming and relatable-seeming.” And:

If some voters up here are looking for authenticity in their candidate, well, just as a political consumer, a political observer who’s been up to New Hampshire for a lot of primaries and seen a lot of these events, I can see how New Hampshire voters see authenticity in John Kasich.

Yeah, well, not so fast. John Kasich is a veteran politician. He is presenting himself as relatable and reasonable, but his actual record in Ohio tells a very different story. His administration has been nearly as hard-right dogmatic as those of Michigan’s Rick Snyder or Kansas’ Sam Brownback. And just about as successful, too. When you open the attic of Kasich’s Ohio, there’s an awful lot of spiders up there.

“Out-of-state media are oblivious to the disgrace at the Ohio Department of Education.”

Those words are from the keyboard of Toledo Blade columnist Marilou Johanek. She’s writing about Kasich’s scandal-plagued education reform effort, which centers on that favored right-wing nostrum, school choice. His (ahem, former) school choice director, David Hansen,

… engaged in a fraudulent scheme to boost the evaluations of some charters. Mr. Hansen, whose wife worked as the governor’s chief of staff until she left to manage his presidential campaign, admitted scrubbing data on failing online and dropout recovery-charters to improve their standing in the state.

Wonderful. If charter schools aren’t working, then cook the books!

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We have displeased our benevolent overlords

Hey, remember when Vermont was ranked third in the nation by Politico magazine as a place to live?

Well, here comes the flip side, courtesy of none other than the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), that overflowing cascade of Kochian “economic liberty” bushwa. It ranks Vermont #49 in “economic outlook,” which is a very interesting way to put it. Because what they are ranking is not actual, tangible economic health — it’s how the state is poised for intangible future prosperity. And it is measured in terms of taxation and regulation.

But wait, it gets better. The lead author of the ALEC report is none other than Arthur Laffer. Yep, the guy behind the Laffer Curve, the absolutely unproven bit of dogma that claims you’ll create more revenue by cutting taxes, because the tax cuts will stimulate a cornucopia of prosperity.

Well, not only is it absolutely unproven; when it’s been tried in the real world, the results have been dismal. The Laffer Curve isn’t a coherent, evidence-based economic practice; it’s the money shot in a right-wing porn flick.

In case you think I’m overstating my case, let’s look at a state deemed praiseworthy by ALEC.

Kansas.

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