Today's Blogs

Dollars and Dissents

Harry Reid,pugilist: On Thursday, Senate Minority Leader Harry M. Reid called Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan “one of the biggest political hacks we have here in Washington.” In an interview on CNN’s Inside Politics, the Nevada senator accused Greenspan of failing to press President Bush on ballooning deficits and promiscuous administration spending while endorsing social security privatization, a proposal Reid spokesman Jim Manley said “would put us deeper in debt.”

Democrats are cheering the fighting spirit of “Hammerin’ Harry.” “Bravo to Harry Reid,” writes Los Angeles comedy writer Ben Fritz, for having the courage to call Greenspan what he really is—”part of the problem,” as Democratic icon Atrios tidily puts it. Ezra Kautz from liberal response squad Team Polianna thinks “the people’s banker” has been openly—and conspicuously—shilling for the president. “For a guy who used to come out of his cave once a year during the Clinton administration, only to utter roughly two words and return to his dark fires, Alan Greenspan has sure been talkative this week.” Many bloggers point to Paul Krugman’s New York Times column, which asks, “Does anyone still take Mr. Greenspan’s pose as a nonpartisan font of wisdom seriously?”

Apparently so. Louisiana Libertarian Kevin Boyd rebuts Reid’s accusations of petty partisanship, arguing that Greenspan “guided America through the boom of the 90s and has consistently supported pro-growth measures such as tax cuts, reducing government spending, and giving people more control over capital.” American Prospect pundit Matthew Yglesias agrees, noting that “there seems to be a very widespread consensus that Greenspan has done a good job of this. Setting the interests rates and so forth. Insofar as people have complaints about the man it overwhelmingly concerns his freelancing as a fiscal policy analyst.”

Collegiate liberal Ezra Klein admits the insult “looks a bit intemperate,” but argues that in uttering it, “Reid has shattered the consensus that St. Alan is above reproach.” Klein bets that when the political fallout from yesterday’s affront finally settles, “the grave, opaque utterances [Greenspan] intones from atop Sinai will be reported as what they are—partisan pronouncements that need to be balanced by a quote from a Brookings Institution Scholar.”

Read more about Reid’s offensive here.

Maximum pain, minimum damage: The United States military is developing a weapon that would deliver “a bout of excruciating pain” to people standing more than a mile away. The new crowd control technology is described as “a laser pulse that generates a burst of expanding plasma when it hits something solid,” knocking the victims off their feet and stunning them, hopefully without causing any further bodily damage.

Educator DJEB from A Logical Voice cries, “Ouch! My Right of Assembly Hurts!” The head laughing liberal at Liberal Laughing Place wonders, “how long before this is used against peaceful protestors who ‘riot’ by carrying signs around and chanting?” Photographer-blogger Roger Sizemore agrees, advising that “[t]hose pesky public demonstrations may soon require a much higher level of commitment.” A conservative Boston University student dissents. Since the device is specifically designed to avoid hurting protestors, he writes, “this is probably the most benign weapon the US military has developed since … well, ever.”

Read more about the weapon here.

Brick Township brouhaha: Students at Brick Township High School in New Jersey used a camera phone to record a teacher raging at another student who refused to stand during the national anthem. Mike from Techdirt wonders if such high-quality pictures could have possibly come from a cell phone. The New Jersey School Board thinks so—and is considering banning cell phones in schools. Though some bloggers are outraged at what they’ve called the teacher’s “attack” on the student—he pulls a chair away to force the student to stand—Techdirt believes the real issue is that two students were suspended but the teacher wasn’t disciplined. “It’s still not clear what the students did wrong here,” he writes. “They simply filmed a teacher going overboard—which seems like the perfect use of mobile phone cameras. They helped these students document a teacher going too far.” Too Many Topics, Too Little Time seconds Techdirt: “The video stands alone. … this warrants dismissal for misunderstanding the history of the united states and the right of dissent that that history carries.” But according to this news report, their fellow students don’t find the amateur cameramen too sympathetic.

Read more about camera phones here and more about the battle for Brick Township here.

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