The RP’s Weekly Web Gems: The Politics of the Media

If the GOP Primary was a film, who would make up the dream cast? [Newsweek]

College newspapers are struggling to decide whether or not to endorse Republican candidates in the state primaries. [Poynter Institute]

Check out these gorgeous New York Times Magazine photographs from the magazine’s past. [NY Times]

The Washington Post and Polyvore, the fashionista’s version of Pinterest, will join forces for their Oscars coverage this year. [Adweek]

This week’s New Yorker cover joins a series of other controversial magazine covers depicting the Republican primaries. [Huffington Post]

John Y’s Musings from the Middle: Sunday School Lessons

Today in Sunday School we discussed discipleship and how hard it must have been to follow Jesus’ call.

I was assigned to read the verse about Peter denying Jesus three times and asked what would I have done in his shoes, if called by Jesus to drop everything (family, friends, business) to follow Jesus.

Tough spot to be in.

It’s church so, on the one hand, the pressure is on to give the Christian and obvious answer.

On the other hand, it’s church so you better be truthful.

And what if the two conflict?

My answer was that I would have said, “Yes, sign me up! I’m on board….all the way!”

And then later in the day, when no one was looking, I would slip off.

People (including other disciples would wonder, “Where the heck did John go? He was here earlier.” I’d stay gone long enough for the group to move to the next town.

And I’d show up where I left the group the next day. I’d blame Peter for giving me the wrong date and time to meet (pointing out that Peter’s seemed a little off the beam lately with all the denial stuff and I’ve been worried about him and praying for him).

I’d further blame the rest of them for leaving without me. I’d remind everyone I was one of the first to sign on and cite my enthusiasm at the time…..and disappointment for being left behind.

If you hadn’t figured out by now, I went with the “honest” answer over the “most Christian sounding” answer.

I did add –and this was my “save,” sort of. I would quietly monitor the group for several weeks. If after that time it looked like they were completely legit, I’d make a surprise appearance, act like I’d been trying to catch up with them for several weeks and become a loyal disciple once and for all.

The Politics of Fashion: Retailers Get Creative in Dismal Economy

It’s been said that if it’s not broken, then don’t fix it. But for retailers like Target and J.C. Penney, something needed fixing. Lagging behind their competitors in sales and arguably relevancy, Target and J.C. Penney needed to reassess their brand, which is exactly what they did. But these aren’t the only two major retailers who have revamped the direction of their company – did anybody notice Starbucks’ new logo? Exactly. Say goodbye to the “Starbucks Coffee” label and say hello to just the mermaid lady – a decision that now allows Starbucks to expand their brand into music and other ventures. Or try The Gap – who after several months of disappointing earnings – tried to breathe new life into the franchise by also changing their logo, which didn’t quite work. Nevertheless, much like Starbucks and The Gap, Target and J.C. Penney have decided to switch things up to remain competitive in this steadily evolving retail market.

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The Politics of Fashion: Retailers Get Creative in Dismal Economy

THE RP’s BREAKING NEWS: ROMNEY CREDITS CHANGE IN TACTICS FOR FLORIDA SURGE

What caused the Florida Surge?

 

 

 

Mitt Romney claims that a change in tactics is what led to his surge in Florida polls. [A.P. News]

The RP Nation Weighs in on the Gambling Debate

Yesterday, The Recovering Politician featured a lively debate among the contributing RPs on the subject of whether states should expand gambling for the additional tax revenues they present during these difficult times.

To read the first piece that started it, check out The RP’s “The Moral Case for Gaming

To review all of the arguments and counter-arguments, pro, con and sideways, from yesterday’s RPs Debate, click here.

Our readers sent in some very thoughtful and interesting comments.  We excerpt a few below:

I understand the need for gambling in Kentucky.  I have no moral arguments against gambling.  My discussion is more the benefits of the individual vs. the benefits of society. First a disclaimer – I’m very liberal. Statistically speaking, it is no surprise to the educated that gambling favors the “house”.  The odds are any one person will probably lose more money than they gain from a wager.

According to a national survey, blacks and Hispanics are more likely to be “pathological” gamblers. Impulsivity also was greater among youth of lower socio-economic status . Gambling can also find risk populations with older adults. The bottom line, to me, is does the benefit of society outweigh the benefit (or lack thereof) for the individual.  W.C. Fields said there’s a sucker born every minute.  And Kentucky would depend on these “suckers” to help fund our state. Yes, we have our signs that urge citizens to drink responsibly, gamble responsibly, etc.  But I can’t help but feel Kentucky would be enabling a negative behavior for those least able to afford it.

I understand other states have gambling, and Kentucky is losing $$ to those states.  What percentage of Kentucky citizens are flocking to tangential states, and what percentage do we anticipate gambling would increase in Kentucky with in-state casinos? We need to be creative to generate income for our state.  And I know in-state gambling is one of those creative ideas.  I just believe it is an idea the ultimately will generate as many problems as it attempts to solve.

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The RP Nation Weighs in on the Gambling Debate

The RPs Debate Gambling: The RP’s Closing Argument

The RP: Closing Argument

[The RP’s Provocation, Artur Davis’s Rebuttal #1; Ron Granieri’s Rebuttal #2; Natasha Dow Schüll’s Analysis; Spectrum Gaming Group’s Analysis; Jason Grill’s Rebuttal #3; The RP’s First Defense; Jason Grill’s First Response; Artur Davis’ First Response; David Host’s Rebuttal #4]

I’m going to resist the urge to rebut David Host’s full-throated defense of trickle-down economics — we will leave that for another day.

I’ll close instead on a harmonizing note.  Too often the two sides of the gambling debate are boiled down to self-righteous moralists versus selfish libertarians.  (Indeed, more often the media focuses on the politics rather than the underlying policy debate.) In fact, whether we are discussing casinos, sports betting, or even a state lottery, there are valuable and valued moral arguments on each side of the issue.

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The RPs Debate Gambling: The RP’s Closing Argument

The RPs Debate Gambling: David Host Rebuts

David Host: Rebuttal #4

[The RP’s Provocation, Artur Davis’s Rebuttal #1; Ron Granieri’s Rebuttal #2; Natasha Dow Schüll’s Analysis; Spectrum Gaming Group’s Analysis; Jason Grill’s Rebuttal #3; The RP’s First Defense; Jason Grill’s First Response; Artur Davis’ First Response]

Given that Kentucky’s self-image is significantly rooted in an industry built upon parimutuel betting, opposing legalized gambling on moral grounds alone seems to require some degree of cognitive dissonance.  Moreover, the Kentucky Lottery is now more than two decades old – meaning that the camel (horse?) poked its nose under the tent some time ago.
Nevertheless, I do sympathize with those who wish to draw some practical line; who sense something amiss when state governments rush to endorse an industry which destroys lives.  Perhaps a reasonable case exists for allowing thoroughbred tracks to expand into slots and other gaming at existing locations; such a measure is a far cry from actively promoting the expansion of gaming as a remedy for budget shortfalls.
Certainly, expanded gaming offers an appealing short-term means for shoring up cash-strapped government budgets; perhaps a necessary evil in service of the long-term public good.  Yet, the risk in embracing gambling as an interim solution remains its potential to become a permanent substitute for fundamental reform.
I respectfully disagree with Jonathan’s premise that we cannot “balance our government’s books and invest in our country’s future without either raising taxes or reforming entitlement spending.”

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The RPs Debate Gambling: David Host Rebuts

The RPs Debate Gambling: Artur Davis Responds

Artur Davis‘ First Reponse

[The RP’s Provocation, Artur Davis’s Rebuttal #1; Ron Granieri’s Rebuttal #2; Natasha Dow Schüll’s Analysis; Spectrum Gaming Group’s Analysis; Jason Grill’s Rebuttal #3; The RP’s First Defense; Jason Grill’s First Response]

I would add just a little to Jonathan’s arguments against sports gambling, which I think are entirely correct.  The NCAA struggles to police the rules that exist today; it is a notoriously weak investigator without subpoena power, and I cant’t imagine the strains it would face if policing the ties between amateurs and more powerful, more nationalized gambling interests were part of it’s charter.

It’s worth examining the question of why the current regime of legalized sports betting in a few jurisdictions doesn’t pose the same risks. In fairness to Jason Grill’s case, there are enormous sums of gambling money at work today, and it’s been over 25 years since there was a bona-fide betting scandal in college sports. The true answer is that we don’t know what changing the scale of sports betting would do to incentivize corruption; in my mind, however, that’s a strike in it’s own right. If we guess wrong, the likelihood is an irreparable stain on amateur athletics. It’s also likely that, as I have argued in the context of legalizing marijuana, criminals are far more likely to bend their business model to profit from looser regulations, than they are to forfeit a lucrative market altogether.

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The RPs Debate Gambling: Artur Davis Responds

The RPs Debate Gambling: Jason Grill Responds

Jason Grill‘s First Response

[The RP’s Provocation, Artur Davis’s Rebuttal #1; Ron Granieri’s Rebuttal #2; Natasha Dow Schüll’s Analysis; Spectrum Gaming Group’s Analysis; Jason Grill’s Rebuttal #3; The RP’s First Defense]

Sports gambling & betting is widespread and common place in our country and it’s being done illegally every minute.

It’s immoral not to legalize it and give states the option to reap the economic benefits of it for all of its citizens and visitors.

On Jonathan’s college argument:

The FBI estimates that more than $2.5 billion is illegally wagered annually on the NCAA basketball tournament each year. However, Nevada sportsbook operators estimate close to $90 million or less than 4 percent of illegal betting on March Madness is wagered legally on the tournament in their state. 

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The RPs Debate Gambling: Jason Grill Responds

The RPs Debate Gambling: The RP Defends

The RP‘s First Defense

[The RP’s Provocation, Artur Davis’s Rebuttal #1; Ron Granieri’s Rebuttal #2; Natasha Dow Schüll’s Analysis; Spectrum Gaming Group’s Analysis; Jason Grill’s Rebuttal #3]

I guess it’s fitting that the guy who opened up this can of worms will be the first to try to shut it a bit.

I’m agnostic about Jason’s idea when it is applied to professional sports.  I think players are paid too much these days for the threat of Black Sox-era thrown ballgames return.  Pete Rose’s stupidity is the modern exception; when most professional players cheat today, it is in reference to the substances they ingest or inject, not the influence of gamblers and loan sharks.

My problem with Jason’s argument is how it applies to college athletics.  I’ve written at this site – and more recently both Taylor Branch and Joe Nocera have written brilliant searing, substantive essays — about corruption in college sports, particularly of the extraordinary unfairness towards the unpaid athletes who are earning universities and their coaches millions of dollars.

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The RPs Debate Gambling: The RP Defends

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