Cutting Edge: New ideas / Sharp opinions

Obama's lame response to the VA scandal, Metcalfe's close call and more ...

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States are falling fast

Steven W. Thrasher at the Guardian wonders which state will be the last to introduce marriage equality: “States have been falling for marriage equality … it’s hard to come up with the right analogy to express the speed. How fast have they been falling — like dominoes, in a parlor game with the rather high stakes of American civil rights? Or like tears dripping from the face of National Organization for Marriage President Brian Brown?

“When I started writing this article, Oregon was the 17th state to fall; in the middle of my draft, Pennsylvania became the 18th — the second in less than 24 hours and the fourth federal decision for marriage equality (rendered by judges appointed by Democratic and Republican presidents) in just the last month.

“As it moves through the federal judiciary, maybe the Virginia case will end up at the Supreme Court and become the Loving v. Virginia of its day. Or maybe it’ll be Montana. Or maybe not — as I was writing this, four couples there filed suit as well.”

Metcalfe’s close call

Chris Briem at Null Space: “There was an election [last week], right? Seems strange. Also, I know a lot of attention has been paid to two contested Democratic primaries for state house seats in Allegheny County. But I really think the most interesting results were in another, nominally uncontested, Republican state house race in the region.

“In Pennsylvania’s 12 legislative district, covering parts of southern Butler County, incumbent Daryl Metcalfe had an incredibly tight race against … nobody. The only other announced candidate for the race had long since been tossed off the ballot for failing to file some required paperwork. So who was his race against?

“ ‘Write in’ wound up with 45.5 percent of the vote across the district, which seems like an incredibly high result against a long-term incumbent, let alone an incumbent who felt secure enough to run for lieutenant governor just a few years ago.”

The new Net frontier

Tim Wu in the New Yorker says “Net neutrality” — the idea that everyone should have equal access to the Internet and that special bandwidth should not be sold to the highest bidder — “has seized the moment because it is standing in for a national conversation about deeper values. It is, among other things, a debate about opportunity — or more precisely, the Internet as another name for it.

“The Web’s famous openness to anyone with vision, persistence and minimal cash recalls the geographic frontiers of earlier America and the technological frontiers of the 20th century, as in industries like radio and early computing. As such, the mythology of the Internet is not dissimilar to that of America, or any open country — as a place where anyone with passion or foolish optimism might speak his or her piece or open a business and see what happens. No success is guaranteed, but anyone gets to take a shot. That’s what free speech and a free market look like in practice rather than in theory.”

Obama’s lame VA response

Dana Milbank at The Washington Post: “It doesn’t inspire great confidence that President Obama, on the day he finally decided to comment about excessive wait times for veterans’ medical appointments, showed up late to read his statement.

“The White House briefing room is only about 100 feet from the Oval Office, but Obama arrived 13 minutes after the scheduled time for his remarks, the first since the day the scandal broke late last month with a report that 40 veterans had died in Phoenix while waiting to see doctors. …

“Obama spoke of only ‘the possibility that somebody was trying to manipulate the data’ on appointment wait lists, and he suggested that ‘whatever is wrong’ may be ‘just an episodic problem.’

“But there are no ‘ifs’ about it: Numerous inquiries and leaked memos over several years point to ‘gaming strategies’ employed at VA facilities to make wait times for medical appointments seem shorter — and these clearly aren’t limited to those reported in Phoenix; Albuquerque; Fort Collins, Colo.; and elsewhere.”

Compiled by Greg Victor (gvictor@post-gazette.com).


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