Slate‘s John Dickerson all but declares Obama’s budget strategy to be triangulation:
The Obama strategy relies on theater. There is nothing substantively new about Obama’s budget plan. He has offered versions of the same plan privately to Republican leaders, but now he’s trying to go around those leaders. One requirement for building trust with Republican senators is putting these offers on paper. This is meant to show individual senators that he is making good on the promises he has made in private conversations, but it also offers them the cover they need with their constituents. If senators are going to flirt with tax increases, they have to show their voters that they purchased something in return. Now they can point to the president’s public effort on entitlements. But wait, how do we know that Obama is really making a sacrifice? Just look at how upset his supporters are.
I generally accept that triangulation helped Bill Clinton out during the mid-1990s. In general, it’s a good idea for presidents to maintain some level of independence from their Congressional party, and I believe that Mitt Romney’s inability to do so hurt him politically in the campaign. However, to quote Lou Reed, those were different times. For one thing, the public’s attitudes toward Democrats and the GOP were more or less reversed compared to what they are now, so Clinton was wise to create a distinction between himself and a less-popular Democrat brand. In any event, now it’s the GOP’s brand that’s in tatters, not so much the Democrats’, so such a strategy isn’t strictly necessary. Second, polarization has increased tremendously since the early 1990s, and the simple fact is that there are fewer swing voters/radical centrists/Perotistas out there to appeal to with such a strategy. There are basically hard partisans and low-info voters at this point, and the latter need to be presented with a simple, emotionally potent argument rather than a chain of logic and assertions. Third, the power of the mainstream media has diminished tremendously over the same time period, while the power of partisan media and ideological interests within the Democratic Party has increased greatly. Simply put, the factors that made triangulation a smart strategy for Bill Clinton in the mid-1990s don’t really hold anymore. Mobilizing activists and party actors is where it’s at these days I think, but this other, old-fashioned thinking is par for the course in a White House full of Clinton alums.
The defense of this strategy is not so compelling, either:
If the grand bargain gambit fails, Obama will be able to campaign against Republicans as being unreasonable. He took a risk by offering cuts to entitlements, angered his party, and Republicans still wouldn’t budge. This is another way in which those protests help the larger cause. Later, if the big deal fails, the size of the protests will remind people how much more willing the president was to take a risk for an agreement than Republicans were. Chained CPI will not have passed, and Democrats will be in a stronger position politically.
What’s sad about this is that Obama’s budget isn’t that bad overall. There are definitely things in it that liberals could run with, but none of that is going to happen because Obama decided to include chained CPI specifically to placate Republicans, and now that proposal has subsumed the rest of the document in the minds of liberals. I’m assuming this was deliberate, and this is how they wanted it to go down. Nevertheless, Obama is fighting a two-front war now, and as both Wilhelm II and Hitler learned, those are damn difficult to win. While “Republicans wouldn’t let me raise taxes and cut Social Security” might or might not be a winning argument among Washington pundits, I’m really not sure that it is going to be a killer weapon against Republicans in 2014. Call me crazy.
Paul devoted almost none of his speech Wednesday at the historically black college in Washington, D.C., to explaining the GOP’s thorny relationship with black voters over the last fifty years, and most of it arguing that “the Republican Party has always been the party of civil rights and voting rights.” His history lecture focused almost entirely on the period before 1964, when the GOP began to champion the states rights arguments of southern whites. Echoing apopular conservative talking point, Paul repeatedly reminded the audience that Democrats passed Jim Crow laws in the south and that Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, as were the first black legislators and the founders of the NAACP.
The talking point here is popular, however, it’s asinine as well. Somewhere along the line, Republicans who like to use it to excuse nearly a half-century of “benign neglect” of these issues forgot that it was a silly little propaganda line and started to think that it was actually something they could use to win arguments and persuade people. Michael Steele built his black outreach program around it. Bruce Bartlett even wrote a book about it, and he’s not an idiot! This is a problem because it isn’t very persuasive, especially not to present-day black people who are engaged enough in civic life to know what’s what, but it’s also dubious to anyone with a sense of history. Yes, Lincoln was a Republican, and so was Grant. Both had pretty good records on this stuff. Then came about six decades of mostly GOP governance in which nothing was done. And nothing much was done during the New Deal/Eisenhower era either. There is something of a myth that the GOP was pro-civil rights during this era, but it wasn’t really the case. Some individuals and groups were–the great Earl Warren, some Senators like Jake Javits and Margaret Chase Smith, and actually a fair number of Eisenhower staffers like Sherman Adams, Ike’s Chief of Staff, and Attorney General Herb Brownell, who together pushed Eisenhower to get serious about the issue despite his palpable lack of enthusiasm toward it. For the most part, though, Republicans of the time represented Midwest and Interior West states that had few black people in them, didn’t care much about the issue, and didn’t want to jeopardize their alliance with Southern Democrats over it. See Caro’s third LBJ book for more on this. Eventually, Republicans came around for political reasons, when they realized that Adlai Stevenson’s ties to Southern Democrats eroded black support for Democrats and saw an in to grabbing that support. Richard Nixon’s support for civil rights was entirely opportunistic, and it was discarded once going the other way was better politics. In any event, Warren, Javits, Smith, Adams, Brownell and all the rest of them were all stereotypical RINOs who would have been drummed out of the party sometime in the 1990s if they were our contemporaries.
Anyway, you know all this. But every once in a while someone talks about how Republicans will eventually flip on marriage equality and start to talk about gay rights as if they’ve always been for them, which doesn’t quite seem right to me. Republicans have, at various points, strongly supported civil rights as a party. Those points have happened to come at high points for the popularity of civil rights as an issue, so to the average person who is disposed to vote Republican, that record seems just about right–doing the important things, while avoiding the “excesses” like affirmative action and reparations and so on. This is why they’re able to get away with it. But Republicans have never been in favor of gay rights. There’s no real ambiguity there. The only thing I can possibly think of is that Reagan opposed the ballot proposition to forbid LGBT from becoming schoolteachers in 1978, but that’s awful thin, and Reagan’s own record is hardly positive in this area. You can’t posit Reagan as a hero of gay rights with that whole “not doing anything about AIDS” record. I guess you can add in Barry Goldwater’s support for LGBT to serve in the military, but Jesse Helms more than compensates for that. There’s no counternarrative to build here, really, and although there is some chunk of the GOP that supports civil marriage, the average person who is disposed to vote for the GOP thinks the party’s record on this stuff is just about right. That is, that full-scale opposition to marriage equality is the right thing in their opinion. The fact is that nearly all Senate Republicans voted for the 1964 CRA, and nearly all Senate Republicans voted for a Constitutional Amendment to ban same-sex marriage in 2004. People who came of age during these times will always have “antigay” as a first impression of the GOP, and it will actually take hard work to reverse that.
Red Dawn. Or, “Greg’s Dead! Who gives a damn?”
The source material is mostly noted for being gloriously cheesy and deliberately tongue-in-cheek, and as such has aged fairly well. John Milius might well be the prototypical right-wing loon politically, but he’s a savvy filmmaker who knew the difference between what he could take seriously in a film (American will, determination, and individuality defeating Soviet coldness and collectivism) and what would be better played for laughs (the whole America getting invaded idea). It’s aged well because it wasn’t the result of panic, but rather sort of a satire of panic. The remake is not nearly so clever, it’s merely a paean to commercialism. From the credit sequence that recycles scary news footage and graphs from the past couple of years, often out of context, the movie utterly fails to apply any kind of spin onto the premise of some cabal of North Korea, China and Russia launching a joint invasion of both American coasts. The original film was poking fun at a certain kind of fever dream that was, crazy or not, quite common at one time, and one which the filmmaker understood quite well. “Yeah, sure, this is crazy, but what if it actually happened?” This movie is about a fever dream that nobody really has, so it mostly spends its time trying to propel its nonstarter of a premise toward credibility. Which is to say, this movie ought to have “no fun allowed” stamped on the poster.
Really, Red Dawn didn’t have to be as bad a movie as it is. There’s probably a cut of this movie that’s mostly just boring instead of incomprehensibly crazy. But why would we want that? Firstly, the pacing in the movie is nuts. It throws us a bit of a head-fake by lingering too long on a high school football game that doesn’t really mean that much to the story, and then proceeds to rush through every other story beat throughout. The timing for everything is just way off–Hemsworth is giving inspirational speeches when he (and the other survivors) ought to be paralyzed by grief and fear, and it seems like they finish their training to live as guerrilla fighters in about twenty minutes before launching about four bombing attacks in rapid succession with minimal downtime. The entire movie is edited like an ESPN highlights clip! Most movies have natural rhythms, downtime follows climax. In this movie–which barely clocks in at over an hour and a half but seems to have about two hours’ worth of story that stubbornly wouldn’t be hacked out during post–everything happens so fast that little things like character development, backstory, and escalating tension are simply not included. Speaking of the latter, there’s a plateau of tension rather than constant escalation–the North Korean regime, awash in Nazi-esque imagery for some reason, doesn’t do a thing to stop the terrorists short of a few rallies, until they finally just launch some napalm into the woods and kind of get lucky and hit their hideout (this single setback nearly destroys our heroes’ resolve, by the way). Incidentally, the movie’s setting has shifted to Eastern Washington State, presumably because young audiences could more easily relate to suburban teens from Spokane than Real Americans. Would it kill them to set one movie in rural America? Anyway, the Wolverines are hell-bent on attacking Captain Cho, the prefect of Spokane who seems out of his depth for the entire film, unable to control the situation, and with little knowledge of how to combat urban guerrilla tactics. This makes sense since a captain of infantry commands a company of men, which is about 200-300 people. That’s a big jump to running a large urban military district, and Cho is clearly not up to it, which makes their intention to target him baffling. They should have (unlike North Korea) just kept attacking strategic targets, and counting on the lassitude of their foe to help them. Then again, what if they’d turned this particular trait into something? In a different film, Cho could have been an immensely sympathetic character. He just wants to sit behind his desk, not work the field! Maybe he’s ambivalent about the mission. Maybe he catches some American TV and decides to work against his own guys! Sadly, this movie doesn’t develop his, or any other, character.
Red Dawn is not a good movie. But it didn’t have to be a terrible one. Some elements are irredeemable, like the score, which telegraphs every single emotional beat in the film. I think the composer actually wrote a Chris Hemsworth inspirational speech theme, and trust me, it gets a lot of use. Others aren’t as lousy. But the movie can’t stop moving, ever. It brings to mind such cheesefests as X-Men III: The Last Stand or the brilliantly damaged Mr. Brooks as closest comparisons. Both had way more story than they knew what to do with, and potentially strong material was lain wasted because the filmmakers were unable to zero in on the key parts of those stories. But Red Dawn isn’t as perversely entertaining as Mr. Brooks, which at least wins points for inventiveness and audacity. Whatever the flaws of that movie, it was someone’s fully realized vision. Red Dawn is nobody’s idea of a worthy remake, a straight-down-the-middle adaption to a weird, quirky, frankly sui generis film that’s itself utterly generic. (I can’t really talk about the actors since they’re given little to work with here. None seem actively terrible, though.) Plus, there’s a sequel setup so egregious that it doesn’t even bother to resolve its own situation. Yep, it’s Lost In Space‘s ending all over again, folding franchise fever into the catalog of contemporary corporate sins committed by this movie. Again, I come back to the tone of seriousness. A campier, sillier tone would have been a more natural fit for this movie’s scenario, it could have functioned as a sendup of pants-wetting alarmism in a similar way that the original did. But this film takes everything deathly seriously, when everything–from the concept, to the CGI effects, to the Inspiring Speeches–inspires ridicule. Half the characters’ names you only learn when they die! Then someone will note that, “Greg’s dead!” as if that matters to us. Long live Greg, we hardly knew ye. Seriously…
- Saw the movie Admission with Tina Fey and Paul Rudd, both funny people IMO. Bottom line: it’s okay. Actually I appreciated it more a little after I saw it, there’s some interesting character work going on in it. The premise is that Fey is an admissions officer and Rudd runs an alternative school, and both try to get one of his students into Princeton despite some hefty hurdles lying in the way. What’s good about the movie: both characters act partly selfishly and partly altruistically. Rudd’s a flake who ducks out whenever things get real and squandered his greatness, is aware of it on some level, so he’s trying to keep a similar kid from making the same mistakes as he did. Fey believes he might be the child she abandoned years ago, and is a hyperambitious woman who hates that she might have hurt his chances at success. It’s an interesting dynamic, and the movie doesn’t artificially “fix” either of them by the end, which is almost a watershed. What’s not so great about the movie: a thoroughly ossified scriptwriting-textbook story structure, way too many other characters, story elements and running gags, which keep the film from finding a comic rhythm and to find the jokes and let them develop, and also keep the focus off of the Rudd-Fey-kid dynamic that should have been given more focus. In other words, the “piling-on” effect that occurs in too many comedies these days. Fey and Rudd both act well enough, though after 30 Rock Tina Fey’s tears still act as a Pavlovian suggestion that laughs are on the way, which is not the case here. Also, both are “passers” rather than “shooters” in comedic terms, and absent a Will Ferrell or an Alec Baldwin or a Tracy Morgan, there isn’t really someone to go for the big, outrageous laughs that comedies need to have every so often. Then again, outrageousness is often in short supply with today’s studio comedies, and this film is hardly the only one that suffers from it. What holds together the most successful and hilarious comedies, from Dr. Strangelove to Animal House to Anchorman on the big screen, or alternately from Seinfeld to It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia to Girls on the small screen, is really just that each is outrageous (and honest) in its own way. Really, that’s just about all those projects all have in common. Our ongoing dearth of great comedy films reflects this–that most of the great comedy is going on among the cable channels strikes me as significant, since that’s the last bastion of outrageousnesss there is, though being outrageous need not be scatological–see the also hilarious Flight of the Conchords, or the marble rye episode of Seinfeld, which is thoroughly outrageous, yet essentially G-rated. Anyway, this film is a symptom of a much larger disease. But not unenjoyable, if you’re crazy about the cast or like the romcom genre. There was only one single story beat that took me by surprise, though, and only about a handful of strong laughs.
- I’ve caught the first few episodes of House of Cards: This Time It’s American. I tend to agree with Larison and Rosenberg so far on the substance of the series so far. I like that it has more of an interest in power than The West Wing, though that series’ characters and sense of drama were strong indeed. House of Cards does have a strong sense of setting, and rock-solid production design and acting, but I’m not sure it works as well as the UK original, or even West Wing. Kevin Spacey plays Underwood as a full-on, amoral antihero interested only in maximizing his own personal power, a too easy choice for this kind of series, and thus not a very interesting one. The original version of the character had actual values and political priorities, like personal loyalty, fervent patriotism and nationalism, a Thatcherite worldview and ambitions of statesmanship, including a strong desire for peacemaking. The drama in the series was watching him twist, contort and compromise these things (and basic human decency) in order to acquire or maintain power. The character’s magnetism and frequent asides to the audience were intended to keep the audience on his side, and allowed the character to fume, rationalize, and confess, almost to allow release to a character who couldn’t ever find it. The new series posits Spacey as a Blue Dog without any seeming interest in policy or any redeeming personal attributes, but preserves the asides to the audience without the same kind of logic, they’re mostly just entertaining monologues delivered by Spacey. I don’t think it really works as well, and there’s this running contempt for people who actually believe in accomplishing things, and also toward progressives and progressive ideals in general. The original series clearly took a point of view toward Urquhart’s policies that was not in agreement with them, but still took him and his ideas seriously. Here, there’s nothing to take seriously. It’s as though someone realized that Americans hate Congress, and then just created a series to match that sentiment. It’s a pandering, depressing series.
- Also, I decided to investigate the Battlestar Galactica offshoot Caprica. I ignored the show initially because of how poor the payoff was for the end of the mother series, and for a while I just didn’t want any more BSG in my life for a while. Now I’m more open to it, and it’s actually a nifty little series that keeps a lot of the strongest elements of BSG but adds in some new ones tastefully, and thankfully omits all the bullshit about “God’s plan” and destinies and the Final Five cylons that ultimately helped kill the original show. BSG had one of the worst takes on religion I’ve ever seen on the small screen, though then again, this implies that there was one distinct take when it kept changing over time without any comprehensibility. Caprica indicates that Ron Moore and David Eick learned something from this debacle and keep those elements restrained and open-ended, like they originally did in BSG. And it’s the first show featuring a virtual reality for which I can see the appeal, that has it integrated organically into society, and had interesting ideas about how that would affect things. The “let’s make it just like real life” concept gets distracting at times–at one point a car is shown with a “Caprica” license plate, wouldn’t that be like having an “Earth” license plate here?–but I’m liking it so far. Eric Stoltz is such an underrated actor.
The upshot of the scandal involving NY State Sen. Malcolm Smith is that it’s only half shocking. He chose a stupid, illegal avenue to try to become NYC Mayor, but his stupidity at least we knew about when he and a handful of Democrats decided to bolt their party’s caucus and join with the GOP.
Why was this stupid? Because it was such a short-sighted and illogical move. The State of New York was, until Al Smith and FDR, a reliably Republican state. Since then, it’s gone the GOP way in a competitive elections one time, in 1948, when there was a favorite son on the GOP ticket, and come on, it was 1948! Harry Truman won Utah. Still, realignments in US politics tend to go top down and take a long time to complete. In Texas, the state first broke with Democrats for Ike. Then they elected John Tower. Then came other statewide officials, governors, and an increasing number of U.S. Congressmen. Finally, the coup de grace occurred in 2002, when Republicans retook the legislature. It took, in other words, nearly fifty years for the state to go from completely Democrat to completely Republican, and it was entirely top-down. New York is one of the most Democratic states presidentially, hasn’t had a GOP senator since the late nineties, and the GOP has about a handful of Congresspeople left out of nearly thirty. The last thing they won statewide was in 2002, a decade ago. If you assume that George Pataki is the equivalent to Ann Richards here, then that means the GOP’s purchase on the legislature is essentially doomed, and it’s only a matter of time before it’s gone forever. And that does seem to be the case: you went from several decades of GOP control of the Senate, to a brief Democratic takeover in 2010, to a bare GOP majority in 2011 after the strongest GOP year since 1994 (i.e. as good as it’s ever gonna get), to a situation now where they don’t hold a majority and need a couple shortsighted turncoats to form a coalition. The trend here is not good for them, to put it mildly, and is driven by the fundamentals of realignment. To essentially screw over your own party in order to seize power that simple logic and history says will not last very long is really incredibly stupid. Additionally, the collapse of the GOP in the legislature has been delayed mostly by Michael Bloomberg’s generous help to State Senate Republicans for his own reasons–the government structure of New York State makes the City highly dependent on what happens in Albany, which he undeniably has an interest in participating in–but that help will likely stop flowing next year when he’s finally out of office. And then nature will take its course.
So, we knew that Smith was stupid to join the rest of the IDC, at least. Of course, other states have had bipartisan coalitions in recent memory, Alaska being one. But in Alaska, Republicans left their caucus because of the state’s legendary corruption. The Independent Democratic Caucus left the Democratic Caucus explicitly because of Smith, who ironically joined them. With his intelligence and awareness, he fit right in.
Jon Chait’s post on performance evaluations for teachers is correct on one level, and gets the best of Eugene Robinson there. If you’re attacking performance evaluation because people are cheating, then you’re attacking the means rather than the ends. The stronger argument is that, really, it’s really hard to evaluate what makes a good teacher. It’s a complicated skill set, much of it involves skills that can’t be quantified, and subjective evaluations would be unworkable to say the least. The stronger argument is, essentially, to question the premise of improving education through testing.
I’ve not seen convincing evidence that we have a widespread teaching crisis, certainly not of the sort that could benefit from some sort of Galtian billionaire principles to get everything running smoothly. However, I’m not ideologically opposed to modifying the terms of tenure. There are always some obvious cases that often come up when a teacher ought to be let go, and the extent to which tenure stops that is not so good. Then again, swapping tenure for performance pay is not a good trade, teachers tend to fight it tooth and nail (they certainly did under Michelle Rhee in D.C.) and I hardly blame them. It’s a bird in hand question: asking someone to drop a nonmonetary form of compensation in exchange for the possibility of some additional monetary compensation is politically sound, but ultimately it ain’t going to work because teachers can see that play. My (politically nonstarting) solution would be simply to pay teachers competitive rates for what they could expect to earn with their majors. Not in exchange for any concessions, just do it, and while you’re at it, sharply reduce all the extra hoops you have to go through to become a teacher. Limit student teaching to a few months at most, and streamline the credentialing process. This would have the effect of making teaching an incredibly attractive career option: competitive rates, good benefits, and job security. It would cost more money, of course, but it would also create a larger recruiting pool, which would lead to better teachers. In particular, every school district everywhere has a difficult time recruiting qualified math and science teachers because if you’re good at those subjects, you can earn a hell of a lot more in the private sector. Paying competitively (i.e. a lot more) would solve that. Might cause some tension between science and English teachers, for example, but that tradeoff is probably better than the temporary solutions that most school districts use to fill the shortage, or even worse choices. My sister’s junior high school has had a former P.E. teacher teaching math for the past ten years. This man has no degree in math and had no experience teaching it when he got the job, and is by all accounts still terrible at it. He’s the only one who teaches seventh grade math at the school. The school–which is in a suburban district with ample funds–hasn’t been able to find an adequate replacement for the last decade. This is how sparse such teachers are, and there’s no way around it beside more money being spent.
The beauty of this is that, after instituted for a little while, the leverage on tenure would flip. Right now, teachers are paid less, but they get tenure. It’s a trade-off our political system decided to make, and if you try to change tenure you come up against a brick wall because tenure is seen as part of the bargain. Under the new system, the bargain would be different: teachers would be making competitive pay and they’d get tenure, which would mean a very different political reality, and would lead to greater leverage if an administrator wanted to dump the guy who just has his class watch videos all day. I doubt teachers give tenure up altogether, but the other side’s argument would be a lot stronger if they wanted to make modifications to get rid of the worst cases, or to rethink the entire system and turn it into, say, a requirement for “for cause” firing. There’s nothing inherent to unions and tenure as a concept–Chait mentions baseball, which is a sport but also a business where everyone’s unionized but there’s no tenure. It’s strictly an alternative form of compensation.
To celebrate the season, Bill O’Reilly has published an article that goes well-beyond self-parody and seemingly into dementia, in a self-conscious attempt to replicate the “War on Christmas” fun over to its supposedly grander but ultimately kind of half-assed cousin, Easter:
There is no question that secular forces in America feel emboldened and are pushing the anti-religion envelopes as far as they can. They know the media are largely behind them, and they also have seen little pushback from Christian leadership. So why not demand that the Easter Bunny be rechristened? Why not attack public manger displays? What’s the downside?
While contemplating the resurrection of Jesus this week, American Christians might want to resurrect themselves. Because if the anti-Christian movement continues and does not see opposition rising up, in 20 years the spring bunny will be placing spring eggs into a spring basket everywhere. [emphasis mine]
The silliness here is achingly apparent, but I will make one concession. At the very least, there is a kernel of truth to the “War on Christmas” charges, in that lots of companies and government institutions try to avoid sending overtly religious messages during that time of year, and try to minimize the “Christ” part of the holiday. But this is because stores don’t get to select their clientele and don’t want to offend people of other faiths! Especially stores like Target, Wal-Mart, Sears, and so on, who are kind of the modern equivalent to general stores. A Christian bible store could CHRISTmas it up without much to worry about (quite the opposite), but Target couldn’t. They’d lose business. And government offices are bound by the First Amendment not to take sides anyway. There’s less a coordinated “war” there than a tension among conservative Christians who refuse to believe there’s a tradeoff between Christmas being a largely religious holiday for their own consumption, and being a holiday for everyone that can be celebrated in shops and offices, which is driven in turn by their inability to accept that their interpretation of religion simply doesn’t command broad public support anymore. Stupid as the conceit is, it is kind of interesting, if you’re into that sort of thing.
The “War on Easter,” though, is just fucking stupid. A devout Christian like Bill O’Reilly ought to know this, but the Bible makes no mention of a bunny rabbit in association with Christ’s death. Most peoples’ association with Easter involves eating ham and candy, possibly also going to church for one of two times that year. That’s it. There aren’t (commonly) live recreations of Christ’s crucifiction. You don’t hear Easter songs on the radio months before it happens. In fact, it changes days and sometimes months on a yearly basis, to the extent that it always seems like a shock when it happens. On Christmas, people like to sit with their families and watch holiday movies. It’s A Wonderful Life and so on. Nobody, and I do mean nobody, wants to sit back with their families today and pop in a DVD of The Passion of the Christ. To a large extent, Easter simply hasn’t been commodified, packaged and sold as Christmas has, and part of the reason for that is that its essence defies such treatment. While the religious concept of Christmas can be phrased in ways that aren’t terrifying to secular types (hope, happiness, etc.), the idea that torture and death (cut with a touch of resurrection, to be sure) is as marketable as all that is mistaken. Simply put, Easter doesn’t have the level of ritual that Christmas does, and what it does have tends to have little to do with religion. How can there be a holy war when there’s nothing to fight? Also, it’s questionable to assert that Easter is a bigger deal to Christians than Christmas (Old Bill might be confusing this with the fact that Jewish people put more emphasis into Passover than Hanukkah, which is in fact true). It’s really kind of an ersatz Christmas, to be honest.
Nothing much else to say, except to address this:
But those same people would never intrude on Ramadan, because they fear reprisal. [ick] And you very rarely hear the anti-religious loons go after Jewish traditions, because the Jews have powerful organizations that will respond quickly to anti-Semitic behavior.
It just kills these people that other faiths are able to have their little celebrations, that there’s some little piece of the pie they don’t have. These traditions aren’t attacked because Muslim commentators aren’t writing about a “War on Ramadan”, and they’re not asking for the right to make everyone outside their religion feel alienated, not part of that “real America” that folks like O’Reilly cherish. They just want to celebrate their little traditions in peace, and nobody has a problem with that. Except for the O’Reillys of the world. Just retire already, you senile asshole.
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