Richard Nixon: The Social Liberal Of His Time

Published: mic (August 25, 2013)

On the centennial year of his birth, a renaissance of interest has occurred about President Richard Nixon. First came Penny Lane’s documentary Our Nixon, which compiles home movies shot by the 37th president’s closest aides as a way of humanizing the much-maligned “Tricky Dick.” Then came the release of The Butler, which adds further nuance to Nixon’s cultural image through John Cusack’s performance. Finally there was the recent release of the final batch of secret White House tapes, where Nixon discusses everything from Watergate strategies and circuit court nominations to fielding an accidentally placed phone call from a regular citizen. read more

Holy Overreaction, Batman! Why Ben Affleck Deserves a Chance

Published: mic (August 24, 2013)

The nerd community is in a fit over the recent announcement that Ben Affleck will be donning the legendary cowl in the upcoming Batman vs. Superman movie. Here are 10 reasons why they should give the man a chance.

1. He’s a talented actor.

Not only did he do an excellent job in the Oscar-winner Argo (although he was snubbed for his acting as well as his directing in that flick), he also impressed in movies like Shakespeare in Love, Dogma, Boiler Room, and To The Wonder. Before anyone tries to dredge up Daredevil as a means of rebutting this assertion, bear in mind that most of the problems with that movie had absolutely nothing to do with Affleck’s performance. Indeed, if anything, the main criticism that can be made about Affleck is his penchant for picking bad scripts (Armageddon, Reindeer Games, Gigli, Paycheck, Surviving Christmas, to name only a few). No matter how skilled a thespian might be, a shoddy script and sub-par directing will always tank their film, a fact that anyone who has seen George Clooney in Batman & Robin knows perfectly well. Speaking of which… read more

Arkansas Passes a Bill That Cracks Down On People With Tattoos, Piercings, and Body Art

Published: mic (August 21, 2013)

Last March, the Arkansas State Senate voted 26 to 4 in favor of SB 387, a bill limiting tattoos, piercings, and other forms of body art that it deemed “untraditional.”

After making several modifications, the State’s House of Representatives has started to coalesce behind a compromise measure (which can be seen here) that could, plausibly, be sent to the governor’s desk to be signed into law. Because of its vague wording, it’s difficult to construe exactly which procedures would be “limited” or outright banned. While the bill only specifically proscribes dermal implants, its language regarding tattoos is ambiguous enough that some pundits have expressed concern it could be interpreted more broadly. read more

This is the Most Important U.S. President That You’ve Never Heard About

Published: mic (August 20, 2013)

As liberals prepare to celebrate President Benjamin Harrison’s birthday today ….

I’m sorry? Most people don’t know that August 20 is Harrison’s birthday, much less care?

Well, that certainly is a pity. After all, if it wasn’t for Harrison, many of the policies liberals consider so important today might have never been enacted. Indeed, it was the Harrison administration that was responsible for such bills as:

1. The Dependent Pension Act of 1890. To fully appreciate the importance of this bill, one must first understand the origins of the modern welfare state in America. As policy historian Theda Skocpol has pointed out, the first comprehensive social insurance system established in this country was the veteran pension program enacted after the Civil War. Although its original function was to support Union veterans and veteran dependents who could trace their financial difficulties to injuries and/or deaths caused by the war, many began to call for it to provide benefits for anyone connected to the Union cause (as a veteran or veteran dependent) who was suffering from economic hardship that was perceived as being beyond their control, regardless of whether their difficulties were causally linked to the war itself. Because virtually everyone outside the South fell under this aegis, this constituted a de facto welfare program for all of the poor and struggling within the Civil War generation … one that Harrison’s immediate predecessor, Grover Cleveland, opposed in a number of ways (which I discuss in more detail in Chapter One of my master’s thesis here). Upon taking office, Harrison rejected Cleveland’s position and immediately began pushing for the enactment of the most ambitious economic relief measure in our nation’s history up to that point, one that provided general relief for those considered unable to find sustainable employment for themselves and nearly doubled both the pension budget and the number of pensioners by the end of Harrison’s term. For better or worse, the dam for social insurance in this country had been broken, with 20th century presidents from Theodore Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson to Franklin Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, and Barack Obama building on the logic and precedent established by Harrison. read more

The Chris Christie vs. Rand Paul Civil War is the Best Thing the GOP Could Ask For

Published: mic (August 12, 2013)

While Sarah Palin rarely provokes anything more than justified contempt among the left, her recent announcement that she is on “Team Rand” is as good a cause as any for liberals to remind themselves of why the ongoing feud between the libertarian-leaning Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and the center-right New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) — two of the top contenders for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination — is a cause for celebration. Here’s why: read more

Eric Holder May Have Just Made One Of the Biggest Decisions in U.S. History

Published: mic (August 12, 2013)

On Monday, Attorney General Eric Holder announced that the Justice Department will stop imposing mandatory minimum prison sentences on a number of non-violent drug offenders.

As he explained in a prepared statement:

“I have mandated a modification of the Justice Department’s charging policies so that certain low-level, nonviolent drug offenders who have no ties to large-scale organizations, gangs, or cartels, will no longer be charged with offenses that impose draconian mandatory minimum sentences.” read more

Immigration Reform 2013: Why Did the Media Ignore Yesterday’s Rallies?

Published: mic (August 6, 2013)

When Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-Ohio) visited Harrisburg, Pa., Monday to headline a political event for Congressman Scott Perry (R), he was greeted by more than the usual crowd of GOP well-wishers. As a crowd of protesters supporting Obama’s immigration reform policy assembled outside Metro Bank Park, they could be heard chanting “Serve the needy, not the greedy” and “Move Boehner, get out of the way. You’re not welcome in PA.” read more

Top 10 Signs You’re In Israel

Published: mic (August 1, 2013)
co-author Tillie Adelson

Before we were columnists at PolicyMic, Tillie Adelson and I were just ordinary Jewish twenty-somethings visiting Israel for the first time through Yael Adventures. Yael, or Birthright as it is better known, is a program that offers a free trip to the Jewish State for young Jews between the ages of 18 and 26 who have never been there before. It was an experience that both of us found deeply rewarding and would highly recommend to others … and, like all things we love, prompted us to muse about some of its more comic aspects. read more