Salon

By Tom Johnson | May 25, 2015 | 12:57 PM EDT

In the early 1990s, politicians floated the term “peace dividend” regarding a hoped-for post-Cold War reduction in the U.S. defense budget, and Pentagon spending indeed fell somewhat in the mid- and late ‘90s. Sean McElwee, a research associate at the lefty think tank Demos, argues that America now needs a post-9/11, post-Afghanistan, post-Iraq peace dividend which would allow greatly increased spending on certain domestic programs.

“As violent deaths from war and terrorism decline,” wrote McElwee in a Sunday piece for Salon, “the greater threat to Americans is their failing infrastructure, costly healthcare system and incoherent environmental policy…In addition, [America’s] ability to lead by example is threatened by poverty, homeless[ness] and rampant inequality.”

McElwee concluded that “Americans need to realize that today, the larger threat they face is their own fear leading them to underinvest in vital services. As Franklin Delano Roosevelt famously warned, ‘the only thing we have to fear is… fear itself.’”

By Matthew Balan | May 21, 2015 | 6:39 PM EDT

Patricia Miller ecstatically touted that the apparent "demographic free-fall" of the Catholic Church is "good news for the country" in a Thursday item for Salon. Miller bemoaned the American Catholic bishops' "outsize role in U.S. politics" in the past, given their opposition to abortion, contraception, and same-sex "marriage," and asserted that "with their flock fleeing and Pope Francis espousing a more conciliatory form of Catholicism less focused on the pelvic zone, the U.S. bishops don't look so powerful."

By Tom Johnson | May 18, 2015 | 6:07 PM EDT

Over the past decade or so, David Letterman has become outspokenly liberal, but according to cultural critic Scott Timberg, the seemingly apolitical comedy that Dave did in the 1980s actually hurt the left. Specifically, it served as a sort of opiate which left his audience disinclined to push back against Reaganism.

“For those on the progressive or liberal side of the aisle,” wrote Timberg last Tuesday in Salon, “the irreverent irony ‘Late Night’ brought to the table probably helped neuter the American left…The helpless bemusement behind it certainly became -- for anyone aiming at social or political or economic change -- a dead end.” In Timberg’s telling, laughter, rather than activism, became the “default response” to “the stupid stuff thrown to us by cheap consumerism and the Reagan-Thatcher takeover.”

By Tom Johnson | May 17, 2015 | 5:22 PM EDT

In the wake of the furor over his gifts to the Clinton Foundation, George Stephanopoulos has taken himself out of the running to moderate a Republican presidential debate set to air on ABC next February. That development gave Salon’s Jim Newell a peg for his Friday argument that GOPers are off-base in their recent push for conservatives (or at least non-liberals) to moderate their party’s debates.

“The mainstream media moderator serves a useful function in Republican presidential debates,” wrote Newell. “If [he or she] asks a difficult or uncomfortable question, the Republican candidate can simply badger the moderator for pursuing a stealth liberal agenda. Whenever the candidate is on the verge of embarrassing him or herself, he or she can lash out at the moderator for trying to embarrass the cause of conservatism as a whole. All of the Republican voters in the audience are conditioned to hoot and holler with approval whenever this happens.” Newell added that if the moderator is a bona fide righty, however, “it eliminates [the candidates’] escape hatch. It’s much harder to yell at a Fox News host or a Hugh Hewitt about how they’re protecting Democrats.”

By Tom Johnson | May 6, 2015 | 11:25 AM EDT

Some pundits have speculated that the Baltimore riots may benefit Republicans in next year’s elections. On the other hand, Walsh, of Salon and MSNBC, thinks that the unrest has yielded an opportunity for liberalism.

In a two-part series, Walsh argued that one lesson of Baltimore is that Democrats' Bill Clintonesque center-left “approach to race, crime and inequality” has proved inadequate, and that the party now must confront “the big structural issues driving poverty and rising inequality, not the behavior of the poor.” Meanwhile, sniped Walsh, when it comes to those problems the GOP is “still race baiting” and “still stuck in the 1980s.”

By Bryan Ballas | May 6, 2015 | 9:49 AM EDT

The pro-abortion crowd is getting desperate. With public opinion slowly shifting away from their favor, and the  number of abortion mills closing, it seems their days are numbered. According to Salon,com there is only one thing left to do about the pro-life movement: "more people, media and academics in public discourse, need to talk about this as terrorism — because that’s what it is."

By Tom Johnson | May 4, 2015 | 9:18 PM EDT

Salon’s Jim Newell doesn’t think Ben Carson will be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee, but he doesn’t see him as a garden-variety wanna-be. Rather, Newell believes that Carson is likely to incur one “spectacular humiliation” after another on the campaign trail. In a Monday article, Newell contended that the “free-flowing style [Carson] showed at the [2013] National Prayer Breakfast has been subject to diminishing returns in the last two years. The novelty is wearing off, and now he’s in a position where he makes a fool of himself just about every time his mouth opens.”

Also on Monday, Steve Benen, a former Salon and Washington Monthly blogger who’s now a producer for MSNBC’s The Rachel Maddow Show, opined on the show’s blog, "As a candidate for national office, [Carson is] likely to keep sharing ridiculous thoughts, which may endear him to some GOP factions, but which probably creates a ceiling for his presidential ambitions.”

By Rich Noyes | May 4, 2015 | 9:01 AM EDT

This week even as her scandals compound, Time prints a ridiculous, over-the-top tribute to Hillary Clinton: "She is one of America's greatest modern creations." And, left-wing journalists attempt to justify the Baltimore "uprising" as payback for "state violence" against black citizens, with a headline on Salon.com arguing: "Baltimore's violent protesters are right."

By Matthew Balan | April 29, 2015 | 8:44 PM EDT

Alex Wagner and her two left-wing panelists on the Wednesday edition of her MSNBC program – Salon's Brittney Cooper and The Nation's Ari Berman – likened the use of the word "thug" to describe the rioters and looters in Baltimore, Maryland on Monday to a notorious racial slur against blacks. Wagner played up how "there are folks, like CNN's Erin Burnett, who don't understand why it's offensive; and why some people are saying the 'T' word is the new 'N' word."

By Tom Johnson | April 22, 2015 | 9:24 PM EDT

Four Aprils ago, polling showed Donald Trump in or near the lead in the race for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination. In a Wednesday column, Heather Digby Parton suggested that Scott Walker could wind up as the Trump of this election cycle: the guy who peaked when he wasn’t even an official candidate.

Parton admitted that she’s never understood why so many Republicans think Walker’s great or why so many Democrats believe he’d be a tough opponent, given that he supposedly “makes epic gaffes over and over again.” In any event, she argued that now he’s hurt himself badly by going hard-right on immigration, thereby displeasing libertarian conservatives like Charles and David Koch who “tend toward a more moderate stance” on the issue and, of course, donate megatons of money to political causes.

By Tom Johnson | April 20, 2015 | 9:23 PM EDT

Imagine a president of the United States proclaiming in his or her inaugural address, “I do not believe in God. I do not believe in a hereafter…There is no hope, save in ourselves.” If something like that ever happens, writer Jeffrey Tayler’s dream will have come true.

Tayler, who routinely trashes religion for the liberal online magazine Salon, complained in a Sunday article that several recent announcements of presidential candidacies have brought about “a media carnival featuring, on both sides, an array of supposedly God-fearing clowns and faith-mongering nitwits groveling before Evangelicals and nattering on about their belief in the Almighty.” He called on the media not to let the candidates “get away with God talk without making them answer for it.”

By Tom Johnson | April 8, 2015 | 3:08 PM EDT

When it comes to false media narratives, the typical right-winger should be more concerned with the plank in his own eye than with the speck in the eye of a liberal. That, minus the allusion to the Sermon on the Mount, was the essential argument from Heather Digby Parton in a Wednesday column.

Parton sees Rolling Stone’s debunked, retracted University of Virginia rape story as one component of the right’s “new meme about liberal lies and false narratives.” This meme, she suggested, is wildly overblown (for example, even though “hands up, don’t shoot” was discredited, “young black males being unfairly targeted by police” still is a major problem) as well as hypocritical (e.g., Fox News has “peddle[d] false narratives” about matters such as the Benghazi attack and made a ton of money doing so).