Political Animal


January 05, 2013 5:59 PM Saturday Evening Reads

By Samuel Knight

Evening Reads:

-Bernie Sanders told MSNBC’s Ed Schultz that he’s ready to do battle with President Obama as Republicans threaten to engineer a government default in February’s debt ceiling negotiations. Sanders said that the White House is all too eager to offer welfare state downsizing in talks with the GOP. “We’ve got to make the president and Republicans and any Democrats that want to cut Social Security an offer they can`t refuse, and that is tens of millions of people have got to make it very clear to Congress — Social Security has nothing to do with the deficit,” the only socialist in Congress said.

-In his upcoming memoir, Stanley McChrystal accepts some responsibility for disparaging the Obama administration in front of Rolling Stone’s Michael Hastings. “Regardless of how I judged the story for fairness or accuracy, responsibility was mine,” McChrystal said, according to the AP. “By nature I tended to trust people and was typically open and transparent. … But such transparency would go astray when others saw us out of context or when I gave trust to those few who were unworthy of it.” The Pentagon has questioned the veracity of the article, but Rolling Stones has stood by Hastings, saying the piece is “accurate in every detail.”

-According to the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life (hat tip: POLITICO’s Charles Mahtesian), there will be ten legislators in the 113th Congress who said they “didn’t belong to any particular faith, didn’t know or refused to disclose their religion.” While this is a marked rise in the number of likely irreligious Congresspeople since the 96th Congress was polled - not a single Congressperson or Senator claimed to eschew religious affiliation then - Capitol Hill still has a long way to go before the God (or lack thereof) Gap is closed. According to Pew’s study, “About one-in-five U.S. adults describe themselves as atheist, agnostic or ‘nothing in particular’ - a group sometimes collectively called the ‘nones.’ But only one member of the new Congress, Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), is religiously unaffiliated, according to information gathered by CQ Roll Call.”

-While protests against sexual assault in India have garnered significant media attention, a less noticed demonstration took place in Ohio today to shed light on rape culture in the United States. The protesters gathered in Steubenville, a small town that played host to a horrific gang rape involving high schoolers. Roughly 1,000 people turned out to share painful stories of sexual violence and to denounce law enforcement for allegedly protecting members of the high school’s football team suspected of raping the 16 year old victim. Jefferson County Sheriff Fred Abdalla, who has turned down the opportunity to wrest the investigation from the town’s police department, said that the two boys already charged in connection with the rape would be the only ones to be indicted.

Correction: A previous version of this post incorrectly stated that Steubenville is in West Virginia.

Samuel Knight is a freelance journalist living in DC and a former intern at the Washington Monthly.


  • John B. on January 05, 2013 6:42 PM:

    Steubenville is in Ohio.

  • mudwall jackson on January 05, 2013 6:49 PM:

    there will be ten legislators in the 113th Congress who said they ďdidnít belong to any particular faith, didnít know or refused to disclose their religion.Ē

    how do you not know what you religion is? i mean how i have low standards for congress critters but still

  • jjm on January 05, 2013 7:34 PM:

    "Sanders said that the White House is all too eager to offer welfare state downsizing in talks with the GOP. "

    Hasn't he always offered knowing he'd be refused? When has he ACTUALLY downsized the 'welfare state'?

  • smartalek on January 05, 2013 7:50 PM:

    It's curious that in the very same post in which you refer to Bernie Sanders as "the only socialist in Congress" you'd also give a shoutout to the newly-seated Kyrsten Sinema, who is not only "religiously unaffiliated," but Congress' first out bisexual -- and who referred to herself in a profile I read recently as a "socialist."
    Now, perhaps she was just joking -- and maybe you meant to refer to Mr Sanders as something like an "avowed Socialist," capital letter and all -- but still.

  • emjayay on January 05, 2013 10:22 PM:

    I continue to be a bit bothered by the current use of "Socialist" even by Sanders, much less the Obama the Socialist people. I know what they mean, but even from the current online Mirriam Webster's:

    Definition of SOCIALISM

    1: any of various economic and political theories advocating collective or governmental ownership and administration of the means of production and distribution of goods

    2 a: a system of society or group living in which there is no private property

    b: a system or condition of society in which the means of production are owned and controlled by the state

    3: a stage of society in Marxist theory transitional between capitalism and communism and distinguished by unequal distribution of goods and pay according to work done

    Even England and France have gotten away from this meaning of socialism decades ago. What it seems to me people mean today is for society - everyone working for and agreeing to things together - to offer a social safety net for people, and to mandate rules and systems that provide for a range of social goods from fair work rules and adequate pay to a clean environment and medical care and a retirement for everyone.

    In other words, government putting controls and mandates on all employers, private (free enterprise/capitalistic)and public, and establishing additional programs to provide a minimum of modern life for people.

    We need a new word or new dictionary definitions.

    Of course in the fervid imaginations of the right, socialist equals Union of Soviet Socialist Republics equals Aetheistic Communism equals a grim radical Marxist totalitarianism. And Obamma the modern but really center rightish incrementalist guy is one.

  • R on January 06, 2013 8:51 AM:

    You go, Bernie! I don't care what they call you or how you describe yourself. We need your advocacy.

    So why don't you propose ending the F-35 fighter jet program? We could save billions. Instead you're standing idly by (oh, excuse me -- joining Senator Leahy and Rep. Welch in bringing FAA people to Vermont to "meet with municipalities and airport officials to learn about available federal resources that can mitigate the impact of increased noise") while the Air Force chooses the National Guard base in South Burlington as a home for these beasts. Ugh.

  • navamske on January 06, 2013 9:36 AM:

    "But only one member of the new Congress, Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), is religiously unaffiliated, according to information gathered by CQ Roll Call."

    Look for the theocrats to conflate Rep. Sinema's religious unaffiliation with her bisexuality.

  • LAC on January 06, 2013 9:40 AM:

    I wish Saunders would spend more time doing something and less time being the left's answer to John McCain. Just like I tune out McCain when he is on Sunday talk shows flapping his dentures about something, I am pretty much burned out on Saunders' s role as the nation's cranky scold.

  • zandru on January 06, 2013 10:55 AM:

    "when I gave trust to those few who were unworthy of it"

    Thus spoke disgraced General Stanley McChrystal on the perils of making newsworthy statements to a - duh! - REPORTER.

    Seriously, if all or a significant fraction of the Army's top brass are this stupid, maybe we ought to work on getting more of them to "retire." Cutting their budgets and scaling back on easy fast-track promotional activities - better known as "wars" and "occupations" - would be a good way to start.