Re: Ezra Ezra Ezra

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An inauspicious start for sure.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:22 AM
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I was just coming by to see if I could hijack a thread to discuss this.

My first thought: is this Ambrosino clown part of that social circle? He's clearly too young to have been part of the Flophouse era, but hiring a guy whose main qualifications are "has been published, and has generated controversy [read: pageviews]" strikes me as a decision that's more easily explained with reference to the young boys' network than to any rational decision making process.

Have any of the other Vox hires been analysis-free jabberers like this? That certainly didn't seem like the brand they were going for.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:24 AM
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I have no opinion, having never heard of him bore this, but Andrew Sullivan differs: http://dish.andrewsullivan.com/2014/03/13/the-hounding-of-a-young-gay-writer/


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:25 AM
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bore->before


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:25 AM
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FWIW, Ezra's response. (He disputes the "never read any of the dude's work before hiring him" part.)


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:28 AM
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TPM just put this up a few minutes ago. Relevant bit, aside from noting that he won't be on any LGBTQ "beat":

"Brandon's past writing was often quite pointed and personal, and not a fit for Vox -- and I told him so. The writing fellowship requires a very different approach."
If they're viewing him as a raw talent to be molded/cultivated, I guess it's an understandable decision, but:

A. There are literally tens of thousands of smart writers out there; I'm always skeptical when a guy like this fails upwards.

B. Really amateur not to have seen this coming.

C. There's a part of me that wants to tie this to a Grand Unified Theory of what's wrong with Ezra's whole approach, which is to value smartness and analysis, and to assume that the end product will promote liberal/progressive* values. I think the reality is that people like Ambrosino will write what they're paid to write until they get a better job, at which point they'll revert to hackdom and/or reactionaryism. There are a fair number of people who've made the big time now who, at one point or another, seemed to be "good guys" writing on the web (Tapper and Cilizza come to mind; not that either was ever a Marshall or even Yggles, but that, when they were writing as scrappy outsiders, they affected a tone that has proven to be totally BS, as they're now among the worst of the Villagers). I think the end result of Ezra/Vox thinking they can groom someone like Ambrosino is that he'll fit in for a few years, and then he'll have the credibility to go write contrarian BS for Slate or TNR, or do even worse for someone else, and he'll be trading on Ezra's credibility, not his own.

*Ezra has always insisted that he, personally, is a committed progressive/liberal, which I take to be true


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:34 AM
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3: Sullivan has himself played the gay contrarian quite a bit, so I think he's a bit biased.

Some of the things Ambrosino wrote don't seem to crazy to me (though I disagree with many of them). The defence of Jerry Falwell as not a bigot is just plain idiotic, though.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:35 AM
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3: I don't think Sullivan gets a vote on whether a brash young writer is being a force for good or evil. He's been largely in a white hat for a number of years now, but IMO he's done nothing to make up for "fifth column."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:36 AM
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7.last: And not just idiotic, but really poorly argued/written. I'd heard a bit about the controversy, but then I read an excerpt from that piece, and my jaw dropped. Waving to students is not, as far as I know, incompatible with homophobia.

I wonder if we're going to see a rising tide of LGB* writers who, growing up in this crazy new tolerant era, basically don't have a clue. This guy wasn't even pubescent when Bush rode anti-gay marriage back into the WH, and I suspect that, despite going to Homophobia U, has no idea how far things have come, nor how hard people had to work to get here.

*T and Q omitted because I don't think anyone of those persuasions could be the least bit blind to enduring hate.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:41 AM
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Really amateur not to have seen this coming.

Unless "there's no such thing as bad publicity" was a factor.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:46 AM
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Ernst Röhm was gay.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:57 AM
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10: Maybe; I'm sure somebody raised the issue. But I think they badly misjudged the net effect. I wouldn't be surprised if the intended calculus was "Some buzz, a bit of a ding from the left, and more credibility."

IOW, hippie-punching, albeit in a mild, semi-trolling manner..


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:57 AM
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11: Are you calling Klein Hitler?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 10:58 AM
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Has he murdered Ambrosiano and pretended he was putting down a coup attempt yet?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:01 AM
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What do you consider Q, JRoth? I'd probably generally put most people who fall there on the other end of the hard-time spectrum (and put myself there, so whatever) from what you're suggesting.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:03 AM
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I most often hear "queer" in the context of genderqueer. I assumed that was what JRoth meant.


Posted by: L. | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:08 AM
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IMO he's done nothing to make up for "fifth column."

I can give him a pass on "fifth column," mainly because he requests a pass, and he understands how he screwed up.

Maybe he can be forgiven for Elizabeth McCaughey, since he's sort of sorry about that.

But Charles Murray was always a despicable hack, and Sullivan continues to disgracefully endorse him. No excuse.

togolosh's 7 is also correct.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:10 AM
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Sullivan has himself played the gay contrarian quite a bit

The art of euphemism is not dead, I see.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:10 AM
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1) The profit point for anything desiring a mass market is considerably right-of-center. Youse guys are all watching VM and reading books (big audience reads one a year) instead of dedicating your free hours to screaming back at the tv. That reminds me, I got Borgen on the DVR.

2) EK is not as liberal/progressive as you are or as you think he is. There is a core that defines himself in hippie/lefty bashing, and the social issues have never excited him, so I can't even call him neoliberal.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:20 AM
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16 is correct. I dithered a bit on whether to group it the way I did (which needless to say isn't a deeply-considered, larger statement on the issue), but I was basically going with Q signifying, to a significant extent, people who don't have a natural home in any other identity. Passing (so to speak) when you're Q is probably easier than if you're G or L, because I don't think a lot of people are even aware of it (no queerdar), but my sense is that there are a lot of people who have wrapped their heads around LGB but still find Q to be weird or off-putting.

That is, at this point, if you meet someone young and moderately urbane and describe yourself as LGB, there's probably no strong response at all (beyond what you'd get for any other self-identification), whereas "I'm queer" may lead to a line of questions "So you're gay? Oh, then you're bi? So what are you then?"


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:20 AM
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19.2: I don't think you're wrong, but I think he's legitimately farther left on economic issues than the average Democrat. At least that's how I always read his predilections.

Of course, I basically stopped reading him when Wonkblog started (because OMG boring), so that may have faded to a much vaguer preference for egalitarianism rather than anything approaching outright redistributionism.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:24 AM
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20 is basically what I assumed, but I honestly wasn't sure. No complaints about your take, though I'm really not sure how easy various identities are going to be among the younger set, but I was just curious about your rationale.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:25 AM
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but my sense is that there are a lot of people who have wrapped their heads around LGB but still find Q to be weird or off-putting

Before we get to that, could somebody tell me what we're talking about?


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:29 AM
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From the concluding paragraphs of the Falwell piece that Sullivan links:

I'd been warned my whole life about homophobia, but no one ever said anything about homophobiaphobia.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:32 AM
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24 Christ, that's bad. Cringeworthy.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:34 AM
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I think "Q" means" miscellaneous". That way the abbreviation never has to be expanded again.


Posted by: cryptoc ned | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:34 AM
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26: Ha. Yeah, right. GILBerT IQQuA rides again!


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:40 AM
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LGBT&c


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:45 AM
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25: From the same piece:

Not tolerating someone for his narrow-mindedness is perhaps the epitome of intolerance.

The stuff on Falwell himself has been widely excerpted, and it's also impressively repugnant.

As is Sullivan on this subject. If we're not allowed to criticize Ambrosino because it's "hounding" him and , then why are we allowed to criticize the people who criticize Ambrosino?


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:50 AM
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There's a part of me that wants to tie this to a Grand Unified Theory of what's wrong with Ezra's whole approach, which is to value smartness and analysis, and to assume that the end product will promote liberal/progressive* values.

What makes you think Klein does assume that? Maybe I've just missed it, but I've never seen anything to suggest Wonkblog and the Vox project were meant to promote liberal/progressive values, simply journalistic ones.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:52 AM
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Thomas Sowell and Mona Charen have had 40-year careers as the shameless hack anti-black black guy and the shameless hack anti-woman woman whose job is to reassure the average anti-black or anti-woman person. Ambrosino could conceivably be the hack anti-gay gay guy until like 2070!


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:57 AM
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Yes. Richard Cohen probably wanted too much money.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 11:59 AM
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What makes you think Klein does assume that?

I've always gotten that impression from Wonkblog. It seems like a recognizable flavor of goo-goo (of which I approve, but I do think there are some obvious strengths and limitations to the approach of "we want politics to be more functional").


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:01 PM
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I mean, I suppose you could argue that wanting an informed public is a liberal value, but it's also one that most conservative journalists (as opposed to published hacks) would support.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:07 PM
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30: Well, pre-Wonkblog, at least, he was quite open about personally holding explicitly progressive values, and part of the point of Wonkblog was to be able to produce non-"unbiased" journalism. That is, he wasn't willing to work for WaPo if it meant being a typical journalist who had to pretend that, say, "death panels" are a real thing that reasonable people might disagree about.

Certainly the body of his health care work is entirely about pushing towards some form of universal care, which I think the last 5 years have made perfectly clear is NOT a conservative goal. (nor one that so-called centrists give a shit about). I would very much characterize his pre-WaPo healthcare wonkery as being based on, "If I lay out these facts, people will favor my preferred solutions." His stuff dripped with that idea. As I said, I haven't really read him at Wonkblog, so maybe he's abandoned it, but I don't have any reason to think that.

I don't think he's meaningfully partisan, but that's exactly the kind of common, bloodless progressive that hamstrings Democrats and liberals alike.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:11 PM
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I don't think the problem exactly is that EK should be a more direct mouthpiece for progressive values, whatever those are. There's plenty of opinion/advocacy journalism already. The problem is that I think the goal that he's set out, which is to do real political reporting but also including "objective" analysis/fact-checking, etc., is extremely difficult and expensive, because it requires specialist knowledge in areas where most journalists aren't specialists. And there are other problems, like a trade off between access and ability to do independent analysis. It seems like Wonkblog worked because Ezra was effectively the mouthpiece for some young, wonkish policy specialists and economists in the Obama administration and elsewhere, and maybe the plan is to just build on those contacts. But that's quite different than doing the kind of general reporting on a range of issues that the NYT does. It's especially difficult to do what I think Ezra is trying to do without becoming hyper-specialized and boring.

I think Talking Points Memo has similar problems; it started out as a place that promised "more than the news", ie opinion and analysis inflected reporting, but has now degenerated into basically predictable linkbait. We'll see, I wish him good luck!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:27 PM
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33:It seems like a recognizable flavor of goo-goo (of which I approve, but I do think there are some obvious strengths and limitations to the approach of "we want politics to be more functional").

There you go. Sometimes I think EK promotes technocratic elitism for its own sake, with only very vague ideas that form and process will deliver good outcomes.

In this sense, it can be useful to look back at the original Progressives, and their faith that the direct election of Senators would reduce corruption. Etc.

Does EK want single-payer? Sure, as long as it really doesn't radically change everything?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:46 PM
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The hit job on Ambrosino by some kind of self-appointed set of guardians of 'gay orthodoxy' seems distasteful to me. I haven't read much of his work, but the New Republic piece he did seemed unobjectionable to me and actually in its underlying logic more left than right.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:48 PM
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35: I don't think there's anything in there that's inconsistent with the journalistic ethic that GY describes in 30. I'm a liberal because liberalism reflects my values, but also because it reflects reality.

The facts on evolution or climate change or healthcare or any number of other issues unambiguously point toward liberal policy prescriptions.

As Colbert says, the facts have a liberal bias.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:49 PM
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36: I don't really disagree - all of the liberal magazines do their fair share of legit yet partisan/ideological reportage. But I think Ezra's idea that, essentially, the facts have a well-known liberal bias, and so simply reporting the facts (without "checking" against ideology*) will, on net, advance liberal values.

But the trouble is that, if you really think that you can do that, you can get snowed by smart operators who know damn well where their ideologies lie. Ezra was deep in the tank for Paul Ryan, very much to his discredit. Long after Ryan had begun to self-debunk (e.g. by citing that bogus AEI analysis claiming his budget would lead to 2% unemployment), Ezra would still treat him as a serious wonk. Whereas Krugman, who obviously can run wonkish circles around Ezra but has learned to how to use ideological filters, called out Ryan as a charlatan before pretty much anybody.

*NPR is awful, of course, but there was an interesting example this morning, in a piece on the Jones(?) Act, which requires domestic shipping to be done on US-built, -flagged, and -manned ships. It was the usual protectionism vs. jobs vs. efficiency thing, with well-known neoliberal bias, but what struck me was that the reporter never thought to question the assumption that, if only Exxon could buy cheaper, Asia-built ships, this would benefit anyone other than Exxon and their major stockholders. Without ideological priors, it's incredibly easy to get pulled into whatever set of assumptions/facts your interlocutor prefers. NPR types are too caught up in not being liberal to notice that A. they're practically all neoliberals, and B. the conservative across the desk just pocketed their wallet.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:54 PM
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But Charles Murray was always a despicable hack, and Sullivan continues to disgracefully endorse him.

Sullivan is desperately innumerate and craves the legitimacy of the scientistic approach Murray takes.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:55 PM
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36: I agree with this. How does he avoid becoming an encyclopedia, or a more edited version of wikipedia, or whatever? His big idea seems to be that there is somehow a big market for encyclopedia-like background explanation stapled together with updates and breaking news on the relevant issues, colocated on the same web site. But usually people can just go to Google or Wikipedia if they want to go deeper. Sure, there's some convenience value to having the whole package curated for you on one site, but it definitely doesn't seem like a paradigm-busting zillion dollar idea.

One thing that would be nice would be to have journalists be more aggressive about linking to useful primary source documents that take you off their site, or at least hosting such docs on their site. I assume they'll do that. But again, not an earthshattering step forward.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:55 PM
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38: The guy has defended Jerry Falwell from accusations of homophobia. He's gone beyond mere contrarianism into whackadoodle territory. There's a certain amount of piling on, but you will get that when someone so obviously unsuitable is elevated to a position of some prestige.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:56 PM
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38. If you're going to call something a "hit job" then you've got to provide an example of someone making an unfair critique.

As to that specific article, it's possible that Ambrosino is simultaneously despicable and able to write an individual piece that's not objectionable, but he didn't do it this time.

What is this but trolling?

It's time for the LGBT community to stop fearing the word "choice," and to reclaim the dignity of sexual autonomy.

Because, you know, it's the LGBT community that's outspoken against choice and sexual autonomy.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 12:57 PM
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42: Ezra's Vox either going to be Nate Silver - that is to say, smarter than every other mainstream voice that handles a topic - or it's going to fail or become something other than what he's currently describing.

I'm glad he's trying.

40.2: Krugman, as regards Ryan, isn't looking at things through an ideological lens. He's just a better Ezra than Ezra. Ezra's Ryan incident just shows how someone can be reasonably bright and take the correct approach and still get conned sometimes.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:04 PM
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With the caveat that I've never read a single word of Ambrosino's writing, there's also a question of how much you can hold a person's beliefs as an undergraduate against them. I certainly believed a lot of things then that seem absurd in retrospect.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:05 PM
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43: I haven't read anything he wrote about Falwell -- I guess if I really want to continue to argue about this then I would have to, but it doesn't seem worth it really.

44: the underlying logic of the 'born this way' approach seems quite anti-choice to me -- leave me alone because I can't help my weird behavior. (And if I could somehow help it you would have the right to take away my sexual autonomy?). Of course, 'choice' is generally also too simplistic a description of how sexuality works, although it maybe beats pure genetic determinism if you were really forced to choose. 'Born this way' worked and made pragmatic sense as a political tactic, but opinion writers shouldn't be forced to swear intellectual fealty to a political tactic.

And the reaction to his article certainly shows some fear in some quarters of the word 'choice'. As for hit jobs, the two pieces I saw on him used a totally ridiculous level of personal vituperation given a 22 year old writer doing something like the TNR piece. If in another piece he came out in favor of a Falwell-led theocracy I guess it would be justified.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:10 PM
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One thing that would be nice would be to have journalists be more aggressive about linking to useful primary source documents that take you off their site, or at least hosting such docs on their site. I assume they'll do that

I've been noticing that happening much more lately. A recent noteworthy example I think was during the latest Woody Allen scandal where a number of stories linked to PDFs of the judge's custody ruling in 1993. This used to be the province of The Smoking Gun website. It's definitely a good thing.


Posted by: Barry Freed | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:12 PM
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46: For that reason, I don't think I would dislike Ambrosino at all as a human being. He doesn't seem to be a conscious suck-up and careerist - it just happened to work out that way for him. And I like his writing.

I just think that if he's going to be published in places like Time or The Atlantic or the New Republic or Vox, he needs to be a damn sight better thinker than he is.

Looked at one way, this is just good ol' fashioned Christian charity, but it's also just awful:

Well, what about Jerry Falwell himself? After all, he did blame 9/11 on the gays. He did make that remark during service about "even barnyard animals knowing better than that." He also did make certain to ban Soul Force, a gay-affirming Christian ministry, from stepping foot on our campus.
But what about when he opened the Liberty Godparent Home to take in unwanted children? Or when he hosted a forum on campus about homosexuality, and invited 100 prominent gay leaders to take part in the discussion? Or when he would drive around campus every night at lights-out to blow his horn and wave goodnight to all of us students?
When I think of Jerry Falwell, I don't think about him the way Bill Maher does. I think about the man who would wear a huge Blue Afro wig to our school games, or the man who slid down a waterslide in his suit, or the man who would allow himself to be mocked during our coffeehouse shows. I think about the man who reminded us every time he addressed our student body that God loved us, that he loved us, and that he was always available if ever we needed him.
I never told Dr. Falwell that I was gay; but I wouldn't have been afraid of his response. Would he have thought homosexuality was an abomination? Yes. Would he have thought it was God's intention for me to be straight? Yes. But would he have wanted to stone me? No. And if there were some that would've wanted to stone me, I can imagine Jerry Falwell, with his fat smile, telling all of my accusers to go home and pray because they were wicked people.

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:14 PM
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39: IMO this is the singular mistake liberals make: the idea that politics is a battle of facts, and that if "our" facts prove true, we'll win. There's no cause and effect there. The last 35 years have been a nearly perfect test of who's right about the economy, and the side that's been proved wrong again and again and again is still considered broadly credible, because facts are very close to irrelevant in politics.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:14 PM
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The problem is that if you're writing "backgrounders" in areas where you're not specialized you're almost always going to end up either getting spun by people with spinning to do or just recapitulating your own prior beliefs.

I say almost always, not always. Really good specialized journalists who know a lot about their subjects can often write really good insightful pieces. But this takes a ton of time and experience and is expensive and hard to do on a deadline. It's doubly or triply hard to do without becoming extremely technical and boring.

I think Ezra's theory is that his place will become the go-to site for backgrounders in all or most big political issues of the day. Maybe it will! But if the backgrounders are heavily spun, they'll just end up looking like what you get now in the NYT; if they're completely boring and anodyne, it will be like Wikipedia; if they're ideological, it'll be like what you get from opinion magazines, and if they're technical and boring they won't get read. Avoiding those pitfalls is possible but also enormously expensive and time-consuming.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:14 PM
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51 was me.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:16 PM
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There's a woman in the water field here in CA who is actually reporting water news in a new way. She has a post that's a selection of the news, one that's a selection of blog posts and one that is press releases. She also transcribes interesting agency public meetings and legislative hearings (in addition to posting the video). Agencies now send her their meeting calendars. And she posts her own photo galleries of the infrastructure. Her eye for information is amazing. And she doesn't sleep more than a few hours a night. I wrote to Ezra to suggest he talk to her (or at least look at her site), but didn't hear back from him.

She is adding real value to the news, but I haven't seen anything similar and don't know how it would scale up.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:21 PM
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IMO this is the singular mistake liberals make: the idea that politics is a battle of facts, and that if "our" facts prove true, we'll win. There's no cause and effect there.

I was looking up uses of the phrase "you can't take the politics out of politics" and found this piece in Grist. I was deeply depressed to be reminded how little the politics of climate change have shifted in the last two and a half years.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:23 PM
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I also don't see how you would do that for "the news". I can see how you would do that for a field, like aviation or something. People even have newsletters that are worth money in lucrative fields. But a whole lot of time goes by in those fields between broadly interesting news stories.


Posted by: Megan | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:39 PM
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50: I yield to nobody in my mockery of the "reality-based community" and absolutely agree that reality is nowhere near enough. But it's not nothing, and it's not counterproductive. Ezra can do his thing while Atrios can do his and Kos can do his and maybe the needle moves a bit after awhile.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:41 PM
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||
Dear Pitt-

Please hold on to the fucking ball.
|>


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:41 PM
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Woo! Hook 'em Panthers!


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:54 PM
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But I think Ezra's idea that, essentially, the facts have a well-known liberal bias, and so simply reporting the facts (without "checking" against ideology*) will, on net, advance liberal values.

I'd agree he believes this, I just don't think it's his professional project. I think he (professionally) genuinely believes in reporting the facts (from a particular viewpoint) for their own sake. The advancing liberal values, to the extent it happens, is gravy. Which is why, even though he's clearly liberal (in an American politics context), his journalism isn't as pro-actively political as many would like it to be.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 1:58 PM
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Re Andrew Sullivan, he just penned a full throated defense of Charles Murray a propos the Ryan remarks controversy, arguing that because Murray doesn't say that every black person is inherently less intelligent than every white person anybody that suggests Murray is a racist is an evil anti-science politically correct slanderer. He just believes that on average black people are inferior to white people. And suggestions that that is racist is a clear example that 'nothing drives ideologues nuts like reality'. Fucking hell.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:02 PM
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60 - Sullivan is too bigoted to guess that he might be wrong about black people on basic principles and too dumb to understand when people try to explain it to him with analogies, let alone math. Since he doesn't believe he's either one of these, he keeps falling back to the specter that is haunting Europe modestly influential political magazines, the specter of political correctness.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:16 PM
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And if there were some that would've wanted to stone me, I can imagine Jerry Falwell, with his fat smile, telling all of my accusers to go home and pray because they were wicked people.

When has Jerry Falwell ever said anything that would give someone this impression? Falwell and his ilk are evil, evil people. Falwell has stood against full civil rights for anyone but white Christian men his whole career. Any lickspittle apologist for Falwell, gay or straight, deserves to get excoriated in every public forum available.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:20 PM
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I find Sullivan really bemusing. I first encountered him in The Bell Curve nonsense, so I'd never heard of him before thinking of him as that racist nitwit. His tone, though, is really convincingly that of a pleasant, thoughtful person -- every time I read something of his, I get stuck wondering what's wrong with him on race. He just sounds like a person who would have figured out his errors by now.

At this point, though, probably not.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:23 PM
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He's clearly affable and super-generous to younger writers. He might even be trying to be thoughtful! He's just dumb as a six-pound bag of hair.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:29 PM
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59: You may be right. I suspect that, if he were convinced that his project were counterproductive to his personal values, he'd modify it. IOW, I think that he came to the project he has because of the beliefs he has, even if his intention is not to consciously/actively promote his values.

I don't think this quite violates the analogy ban:

If you want to reduce world poverty, you can go work for OxFam (or similar), or you can take up the neoliberal project and work to reduce barriers to trade (or whatever; I'm thinking of DeLong's numerous defenses of globalization as a boon for the world's poor). But the latter only makes sense if you believe the neoliberal premise. If Ezra doesn't believe that good, honest reportage/wonkery produces a more liberal America, I don't think he pursues it (or you can flip it: he's predisposed to that kind of reportage, so he tells himself it does good).

And so my point is that I think his project is barely, if at all, a net good for Klein's ostensible outcome preferences, and so (not that he's listening to me), he should reconsider its premises. To circle back 'round, istm that DeLong has largely abandoned neoliberalism, because he's noticed that, whatever the theory says, in practice it's cover for inequality. Not that he doesn't believe in the theory, but that he no longer puts his weight into advancing that cause, because there are more pressing causes.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:29 PM
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[T]he idea that politics is a battle of facts, and that if "our" facts prove true, we'll win.

"Wanted: Speechwriter for politician, party irrelevant. Must be able to blur the is/ought distinction in eight words or fewer."


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:30 PM
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61 I hated political correctness as an undergrad. Then I graduated and saw a hell of a lot more racism and sexism than I imagined existed back in my cocoon, plus none of the sophomoric sort of political correctness that is the product of sophomores trying on new ideas a bit too enthusiastically and simplistically. At that point my views on the subject flipped very quickly. Relatedly, the only defense of Ambrosino that I find at all convincing is that he wrote that shit at age 21 and 22. He still might grow out of it.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:35 PM
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64: Yeah. I guess, he's one of the very few people who publicly says a lot of racist stuff where I think that maybe he really is an innocent moron. But a weird kind of moron -- he's bright enough to write well, and process a lot of information on some level. He doesn't seem as if he can be genuinely that stupid. And yet the only options are stupid or evil.

Eh, which means evil. I just don't know why my evil-dar fails for him.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:36 PM
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The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was removing the batteries from your evil-dar.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:39 PM
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voting that 66 wins the thread.


Posted by: backwardsinheels | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:42 PM
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68: I hate to quote myself, he lied, and I'm not generally all that chuffed over my thrown-off little apophthegms, he slightly exaggerated, but I think I was on to something when I commented that the only thread uniting Sullivan's career and oeuvre was the disinclination and refusal to get a real job.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:42 PM
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He still might grow out of it.

He's much more likely to grow into it. He's found a formula that works, and I suspect he's only going to tinker with it to make it work better, and to broaden its application.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:42 PM
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And so my point is that I think his project is barely, if at all, a net good for Klein's ostensible outcome preferences, and so (not that he's listening to me), he should reconsider its premises

Well, again, I'd argue that you're confusing his political outcome preferences with his professional outcome preferences. I'd agree that if he thought his professional approach were actively working against his political preferences he'd at least reconsider it, but I absolutely don't agree that he needs to believe what he does produces a more liberal (as opposed to generally better) America to do it. To analogise in a way that I think is fair an d unbanned, I don't remotely think my journalism produces a more liberal Britain, but I do think it produces a (very, very modestly) better one, simply because it (I like to think) produces a better informed one where people who are trying to hide the truth are thwarted (in my very narrow corner of the world). I think it's much more likely that I'm accidentally advancing conservatism than Ezra is, and yet I still do what I do out of professional pride.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:45 PM
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72: That's a big part of my irritation with Ezra on this. Either this guy is a no-talent and he should be allowed to fail into a real job, or else he's good enough to make a living as a high profile contrarian, and Ezra is enabling. I think the odds of "Misguided kid taught to be a good-hearted wonk" is about as likely as that plan for the unicorn advice columnist.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:46 PM
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And so my point is that I think his project is barely, if at all, a net good for Klein's ostensible outcome preferences, and so (not that he's listening to me), he should reconsider its premises.

To restate the above, I think his project is a journalistic one, not a political one.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:46 PM
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Either this guy is a no-talent and he should be allowed to fail into a real job, or else he's good enough to make a living as a high profile contrarian, and Ezra is enabling.

Just for reference, here is what Ezra is quoted as saying in Josh's link in 5.

Brandon applied for the news-writing fellowship, a one-year position focused on helping inexperienced writers develop aggregation and reportorial skills. Contrary to some garbled reports, before hiring Brandon I read a lot of his previous work. Brandon's past writing was often quite pointed and personal, and not a fit for Vox -- and I told him so. The writing fellowship requires a very different approach.

But something that often happens to young freelance writers on the Internet is that they end up writing reams of their most controversial opinions before they ever get a chance to do basic reporting or benefit from a routine relationship with an editor. So as part of Brandon's writing test, I asked him to do eight news articles and two explainers -- more than 5,000 words of original content, in all. He needed more editing, training and direction. But he showed himself a strong, fast writer who really wanted to learn. And that training is what the fellowship is there for.

So Ezra is explicitly claiming that the application process including the writing test gave him a different perspective on Brandon than someone would have just looking at his published work.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:50 PM
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73: Fair enough. Since he started as an opinion blogger, it's hard for me to see him prizing a nebulous commitment to True Facts above his (I'll assume) deeply-held societal convictions.

But Lord knows he's ambitious, and he's certainly had the lords of journalism blowing smoke up his ass for years, so maybe he's decided that True Facts>ideology, even if he still roughly holds that ideology.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:50 PM
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Wait, what? I'm as committed as anyone to the idea that presenting the facts alone does not equal political success, but the idea that there's something wrong with having good, fact-based explanatory journalism is crazy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:54 PM
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Wait, what? I'm as committed as anyone to the idea that presenting the facts alone does not equal political success, but the idea that there's something wrong with having good, fact-based explanatory journalism is crazy.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:54 PM
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I think you're underestimating the extent to which for (some) journalists, True Facts is an ideology. It's unusual in mainstream American journalism for this to actually emerge, but it's not at all over here and I think it would be less so in the US were it not for the balance fetishism of the corporate media.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:54 PM
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I hadn't heard of Ambrosino previously, but I did enjoy much of the Atlantic piece the Sullivan linked, minus the Falwell defending and some other parts.

And I love Sullivan's writing, although I don't agree with him all the time. I am unfamiliar with any of his writing on Charles Murray or that it was a big topic with him. This despite being a regular to semi-regular reader of the Dish for a good many years. I think that, without necessarily knowing it, that I must read his blog somewhat selectively. I think I'll try to keep doing though so, because I really do enjoy his writing style.


Posted by: Airedale | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:59 PM
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76: Right, that's what the second part of the bit you quoted is getting at. I'm sure Ezra thinks that the guy is talented and, with "a chance to do basic reporting [and the] benefit from a routine relationship with an editor," he'll turn into a good little wonk/reporter. I just think Ezra is delusional on that point. As I said way above, most of these little fuckers are ambitious as hell, and view the little magazines and small web news operations as stepping stones to wingnut welfare and/or Big Media sinecures.

Jake Tapper was an actual force for good with Salon at the turn of the century; it hasn't made him one whit less of a hack at ABC and CNN. It would have been better for the liberal project if Salon had let him be and given his slot to someone with less ambition and more, for want of a better term, ethics. Granted, I'm not aware of any red flags in Tapper's background similar to Ambrosio's, so maybe it's not an apt comparison. But my point is that I look at a guy like Ambrosio and see a future Tapper or worse, not a future David Corn or Seymour Hersh.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 2:59 PM
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I'm sure Ezra thinks that the guy is talented and, with "a chance to do basic reporting [and the] benefit from a routine relationship with an editor," he'll turn into a good little wonk/reporter. I just think Ezra is delusional on that point.

Like a million other people, he can do the job. In media apparently the way to "get your foot in the door" is to do something incredibly stupid and get some name recognition.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:01 PM
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78: Part of my premise is that, in this day and age, approaching politics (and everything is political) with a True Facts ideology is a recipe for getting played by cynical operators.

Who benefitted from Klein giving significant cover to Paul Ryan? Neither liberalism nor facts, nor America as a whole. Has Ezra learned anything from that? I'm skeptical, to say the least.

To use a current example, there's the point that Krugman raised today, which is that there's a sudden effort to argue that, because wages are rising, interest rates need to come up soon. This is bullshit from top to bottom, and IMO a conscious effort by the plutocrats to keep labor debased and themselves enriched. Can Ezra Klein Journalism ever say that? I don't think so. I don't think it's made to, because its dedication to True Facts lets the ideologues set the conversation. In this example, I think you'd tend to see Vox adjudicating the rate raising decision without ever quite getting back to the part where "because wages are rising" is actually cherry-picked statistical bullshit.

IOW, I think you need an underlying ideological commitment to undergird your ability to actually get to the True Facts, because otherwise you're chasing all of the misdirections of those in power. Someone who's a liberal first and journalist second thinks, "Wait, why do they want to raise rates in a still-shitty economy? Something doesn't add up." But a non-ideologue gets sucked into a debate the terms of which have already been established by one side or the other. Maybe they get as far as, "Liberal economists say that raising rates now is too risky, and they're probably right because of X, Y, Z," but that doesn't get to the underlying story, which is that, for the nth time in the last 6 years, the powers that be have seized upon specious reasons to make an economy that's shittier for hoi polloi.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:11 PM
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Apparently I feel strongly about all this.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:11 PM
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And you are entirely correct, jroth.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:21 PM
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I sort of almost maybe kind of agree with you. But the alternative position -- that if you're genuinely trying to reduce inequality and so on, you need a reliable fact base to work from, and so True Facts are independently valuable -- is really persuasive. The argument against is that people who say they're pursuing non-ideological True Facts always in practice turn out to be people who end up pursuing stupid bipartisanship, which means accepting bullshit to look evenhanded. And you're right that that always seems to be true in practice. But surely it's possible not to go down that road.

I don't have a lot of faith in Ezra specifically on that axis -- I think he's likely to stay pretty good, but really prone to stupid bipartisanship like taking Ryan seriously. But it's still a reasonable goal.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:30 PM
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I like how the journalism pack turns on a journalist *for being too interesting*. "BUT THE READERS MIGHT CLICK!!!!! Is that what you want, Ezra Klein?" Meanwhile, WHO THE HELL KILLED ERIC WONE? Which was usually buried somewhere back on page D3 of the Metro section, now pretty much forgotten.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:30 PM
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Oh, I doubt we are EK's intended audience. As with Wonkblog, the intended audience may be DiFi's staffer's secretary, who says "I got so little time, and the Net is so big. Cacophony! Who can I believe? Who will my boss trust when I hand him a memo?" The Village.

EK says believe me. EK wants to be the Politico of policy.
And I bet there is money in it.

Maybe something like this kind of money, based on branding

New Economy of Tentpole Films ...ancillary income outprofiting tickets and dvd

I keep wondering if EK made more money at MSNBC than WaPo. Once you got the brand you can make Tom Friedman money in speeches. Educational seminars at Jackson Hole?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:32 PM
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I think the idea that "good fact based' journalism necessarily equals bipartisan "both sides do it" journalism is totally wrong. ISTM that this is what Ginger Yellow, who is a working journalist, was saying above.

It's of course very hard (and time consuming and expensive) to do good fact based journalism without getting spun, which is why you need reporters that are smart, tough, experienced, and relatively specialized, which is what I was trying to say above. It's how difficult it is to do good work that makes me skeptical that the venture from Ezra will succeed very well (though I don't doubt that it will be interesting). I do think part of the problem with Wonkblog was that they were basically just getting spun by some younger, wonky Obama administration staffers, along with some Hill staffers, without even necessarily realizing it. But even so Wonkblog was pretty good.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:37 PM
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Of course I don't think EK's any good at all, a force for evil rather than good. I read him to know what the enemy is thinking.

Over at Crooked Timber they ask:"Who the hell reads David Brooks?"

Obama loves David Brooks.

I do read Krugman, but usually regret it.

Is Inequality the Cause of Capitalist Crisis

Michael Roberts tearing Krugman, Stiglitz and Piketty to shreds.

If you were really effective against our Neoliberal overlords, you would get discredited or killed.

There's a fact.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:45 PM
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89 is a pretty good article about the current state of the film business.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:45 PM
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86 to everything.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:53 PM
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There's no more food?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:55 PM
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I read the Ambrosino piece on Falwell/Liberty University and for the most part it seems fine to me. He's speaking for his own experience, he's telling his own story, why should he be castigated because he had an apparently positive experience with coming out to fundamentalist Christians? Is he just supposed to not say it because it doesn't serve a political agenda of demonizing them?

Now, I agree that the (brief) section about Falwell in particular seems politically naive at best. But it's not a lie, it reflects probably a lack of thoughtfulness and a lack of research on Falwell, but it's a sideshow to the rest of the story.

I do agree that he's not likely to become a great left journalist, I don't see a lot of great journalism potential altogether in the two pieces I read -- they are highly personal and show no capacity for research or for reaching out to tell a broader story than his personal one. But my impression is that the intensity of hte attacks on him is a little disturbing.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 3:58 PM
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EK wants to be the Politico of policy. And I bet there is money in it.

Yes, this would work. But it would be driven by buzz and vibe and a certain kind of panache in how you tossed off your supposedly deep factual knowledge, not by the sheer crushing weight of your giant backgrounders. The 'Politico of policy' space has extra potential because of the (IMO excessively) complex kinds of policy schemes and tinkerings that emerge from neoliberalism.

I do think part of the problem with Wonkblog was that they were basically just getting spun by some younger, wonky Obama administration staffers, along with some Hill staffers, without even necessarily realizing it.

Yes, good point, but that's a feature not a bug. In DC becoming a mouthpiece is a valuable part of the service a journalist performs, because if you're a mouthpiece for the right people you provide access into how decisionmakers are thinking. Which is more important than an unbiased observation from totally outside the system, because the world view of the decision maker has a lot of predictive power. 2009-2010 was a boom time for wonky technocrats -- that was the style of the new Administration and there were a large number of very big, complicated bills being passed. Ezra plugged into that whole scene very well.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:05 PM
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But it's still a reasonable goal.

I think it's a mistaken goal. Maybe this is just the part of me that used to read CS Lewis, but I think it's a mistake to target an inferior goal, because that goal is often included with the superior one (Lewis always put in terms of, aim to be godly, and you'll be good; aim to be good, you'll be neither). In this context, I'd put it as, the goal is a better world for all the people. If the facts are truly on your side, then you'll get to them en route to helping all the people. But if your goal is the True Facts, then you'll end up missing on them even as you fail to help all the people.

Why should this be, aside from analogy with dubious mid-century middlebrow Xianity? I'd repeat the argument I've made a few times: the world is complicated, and it's easy to be misled/distracted by people who oppose your real goal and don't give a shit for your ostensible one. Recall the famous Bush admin official (presumed to be Rove, I think) who sneered at those in the "reality-based community." The point isn't that they succeeded by ignoring reality*; it's that the other side floundered in trying to cope with an adversary that didn't give a shit about reality and facts.

I'm not saying it's easy to focus on ideology without twisting the facts to fit it (this was the sin of Leninism, right?). But what I am saying is that I see no reason to believe that focusing on the facts, even if they (ostensibly) support your ideology, is a guarantee of victory.

On a pragmatic note, I'd probably argue that we don't know nearly enough about how to apply True Facts for them to be as useful as we imagine. There are all sorts of instances where well-meaning application of True Facts led to shitty outcomes, because the system was more complicated than we knew, and the people in charge were more worried about proper application of the True Facts than about the outcome. EG, maybe all the known Facts at the time said "public housing shouldn't be too nice," but the net effect was slums, and if the people in charge had thought, "no matter what the Facts say, we mustn't build more slums," that wouldn't have been the case.

*although conservatism hasn't been as thoroughly discredited by Bush 43 as it should have, I'd still adjudge those 8 years as a net loss for conservatism


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:12 PM
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95: I haven't read the whole piece, so maybe it's fine, but "tolerance is the worst intolerance" is really the most childish and unthinking position. Again, yes, he's a kid, but that's a cardinal sin kind of an intellectual error. Does anyone think people who talk about White History Month are anything other than rank assholes? I mean, that's best case; worst case, of course, is flat out racist.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:18 PM
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EK wants to be the Politico of policy.

I remember seeing one piece that suggest grantland as a possible model for new journalism project.

Even though it doesn't cover politics and policy, there's another publication that belongs in this discussion: Grantland, the ESPN-owned sports and pop culture site. Like Wonkblog and FiveThirtyEight, Grantland is a largely independent satellite of a larger media brand; it was spun off from ESPN under the direction of editor Bill Simmons and given significant creative freedom to experiment with format and content. And though the site may be best known for its long, writerly features (including a spectacularly ill-conceived story on the inventor of a new golf putter last week), its most notable contribution to the visual grammar of the Internet may come from the young contributors to its sports coverage, who are developing creative ways to combine stats-based analysis, commentary, and illustrative visual examples. While this approach is a natural fit for sports coverage, it offers lessons for coverage of politics and policy as well.

The more I've thought about it, the more reasonable that advice sounds, particularly if they can avoid some of the errors while still including some of the goals of nurturing writers that Alyssa Rosenberg discusses in the context of the Caleb Hannan piece.

1. Simmons recognizes that this was an organizational failure, and that responsibility doesn't solely rely with Caleb Hannan: Simmons writes:

Another reason we created Grantland: to find young writers we liked, bring them into the fold, make them better, maybe even see if we could become the place they remembered someday when someone asked them, "So what was your big break?" That matters to us. Just about every writer we have is under 40 years old. Many of them are under 30. I am our third-oldest writer, as crazy as that sounds. For us, 31-year-old Caleb Hannan had (and has) a chance to be one of those writers. That's why it hurts so much that we failed him.

I recognize that some readers have interpreted this section of the statement as prioritizing Hannan's career over harm done to Vanderbilt. But in terms of organizational improvement, recognizing the role that editors play in preventing reporters from getting stories badly wrong is critically important. Ultimately, someone has to make the decision to run a story, and the way Simmons himself promoted the piece when it was published makes clear that he didn't recognize the glaring issues with it as an examination of a transgender woman's life, and as sports reporting. This doesn't mean that Caleb Hannan is not to blame for the focus he chose, the way he reported out that interest, and the words he used to present the story. But one of the best reasons for large journalistic organizations to hire staff with a broad range of life experience and expertise, and to treat those perspectives as if they're valuable and deserve deference, is so someone's present to step in when a piece fails, to educate the writer in question, and to save subjects of pieces from journalistic malpractice, and publications from damaging themselves.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:23 PM
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He's clearly affable and super-generous to younger writers.

Sullivan vis-a-vis Ambrosino? I did google image on Ambrosino and I think I'm pretty clear on the roots of that kind of generosity.


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:29 PM
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Jesus, you'd think I'd stand by accusations of chicken-hawkery by appending my name.


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:30 PM
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If I understand you correctly, that's a new usage of "chicken hawk."


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:37 PM
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His tone, though, is really convincingly that of a pleasant, thoughtful

Well, I am not convinced, and his tone sounds very different to me. I don't find him either pleasant or thoughtful. I think he's rather nasty: mean-spirited, and weak-minded, and not very bright. And I think he really, really dislikes women.

Oh, and he's a racist too.


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:54 PM
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102: actually, that's an old use of "chicken hawk", I believe.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:54 PM
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Reported by Time magazine in 1975, for instance.


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:56 PM
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this was the sin of Leninism, right?

Leninism was immaculately conceived, being free from original sin, from conception received the sanctifying grace and remained forever free from sin, original or oersonal


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 4:57 PM
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The real lesson here is that enforcing ideology conformity is exhausting. This guy is a 23 year old intern who probably isn't earning $40k/year. He's a nobody employed by a site with literally no audience.


Posted by: bjk | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 5:07 PM
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105: I wasn't able to read something like that until 1979 or so.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 5:07 PM
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Is the "Ban bossy" campaign battlespace prep for HRC's run?


Posted by: Tasseled Loafered Leech | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 5:16 PM
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Does anyone think people who talk about White History Month are anything other than rank assholes?

There is no month when we get to talk about [James] Blake [the white busdriver challenged by Rosa Parks]; no opportunity to learn the fates of J.W. Milam and Roy Bryant, who murdered Emmett Till; no time set aside to keep track of Victoria Price and Ruby Bates, whose false accusations of rape against the Scottsboro Boys sent five innocent young black men to jail. Wouldn't everyone--particularly white people--benefit from becoming better acquainted with these histories?

Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 5:29 PM
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If Grantland is so great, then why does every writer thereon, with the possible exception of the occasional Klosterman (who has his own faults, of course), read like a pale shadow of Simmons? In the very remote case in which I received my druthers, I might explore the possibility of enjoying a variety of styles, rather than just a Sports Guy Mad Libs with Generation X, Millennial, Hipster or Token Boomer pop culture references, as applicable.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 5:33 PM
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I am not a crackpot.


Posted by: Flippanter | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 5:33 PM
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I used to sort of like Zach Lowe and Bill Bramwell on principle, until the Dutch Cookie here said they were boring. And then I thought "holy shit, they really are incredibly boring." I mean they can't turn their statistical knowledge into any kind of an entertaining, or even interesting, narrative of their sports. Jonah Keri is very good but he was very very good for a long time independently of Grantland. If we're hoping for the Grantland of politics then . . . it probably won't be that great. Still better than the worst of old-school sports journalism, of course.

(The Grantland Hollywood reporting is also uniformly terrible and pompous, except for Molly Lambert).


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 5:38 PM
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If Grantland is so great, then why does every writer thereon, with the possible exception of the occasional Klosterman (who has his own faults, of course), read like a pale shadow of Simmons?

I refute you thus: Brian Phillips.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 5:41 PM
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112: That's the spirit.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 5:46 PM
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(The Grantland Hollywood reporting is also uniformly terrible and pompous, except for Molly Lambert).

Really? I remember that I liked Wesley Morris's review of Captain Phillips enough that it was one of the reasons I started reading things other than their basketball coverage. I also enjoyed his Oscars coverage (did I just admit to listening to Oscars coverage on Grantland? I guess I did).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 5:55 PM
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That said, yes, I would certainly hope that Ezra's ambitions are grander than Grantland, but I think it's a nice point of comparison, and good to have something other than Politico as a reference.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 5:56 PM
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Speaking of sports, can somebody explain what "The America Championship" is? It involves college basketball. Is this like NIT but shittier?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:06 PM
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I live streamed the Oscars on German TV and boy were there a LOT of deodarant ads. Male torsos disturbingly hairless and sort of plasticine, too.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:16 PM
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Germans smell bad.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:19 PM
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I'm not saying it's easy to focus on ideology without twisting the facts to fit it (this was the sin of Leninism, right?).

And orthodox Marxists in general. They all had a 'who you gonna believe, my beautiful theory or your lying eyes' approach. A lot like right wingers on economics.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:23 PM
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Marxists smell bad. And economists.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:24 PM
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As an occasional recommender of Sullivan, let me clarify why I think he's worth reading. Epistemic closure is not just a problem for the right. It's really easy to end up reading a bubble of leftish blogs and news sources without any check or balance. If you want a critique that pops you out of the bubble you need to read a conservative or two. Unfortunately, given the current state of conservative thought that means wading through a giant pile of reprehensible bullshit no matter what. You're not going to get much out of a regular reading of Jonah Goldberg or Erick Erickson other than an aneurysm. I read Sullivan because the reprehensible bullshit (and occasional outright evil) is confined to a few topics such as racial supremacy pseudoscience. On other points I disagree but can at least respect the right of a reasonable person to hold a differing opinion.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:25 PM
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Correction: American Championship.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:29 PM
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118: Maybe? The Big East conference changed its name to the American Athletic Conference, and it's conference tourney weekend.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:30 PM
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Those fuckers.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:32 PM
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123 is true, and Sullivan's opinions aside, his site is a good and prolific link aggregator across a broad range of topics, that provides enough pull quotes to gauge how much I want to read the whole thing.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:32 PM
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That would explain why, despite all the big talk, I'm watching Uconn playing Cincinnati.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:35 PM
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Back on Ezra for a moment:

90: I do think part of the problem with Wonkblog was that they were basically just getting spun by some younger, wonky Obama administration staffers, along with some Hill staffers, without even necessarily realizing it. But even so Wonkblog was pretty good.

Aside from all the speculation about what Ezra Klein really wants or really thinks about himself or his project, I think the Vox thing has taken about half the writers from Wonkblog with it, and I'll be surprised if it doesn't read almost exactly like it, at least to begin with. Klein himself has really (really!) done some good longform health care reporting -- not on Wonkblog but on Bloomberg, I believe* -- but it actually called for going out into the field, traveling around the country and interviewing people involved in new health care/service initiatives. Which is to say, journalism, old school. So he does have it in him, but I haven't heard enough about the other hires to know if they're up for more than sitting at their computers and spending time on the phone.

* I know I linked to one rather good piece at some point here, but damned if I can find it now.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 6:54 PM
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103: Well, I am not convinced, and his tone sounds very different to me. I don't find him either pleasant or thoughtful. I think he's rather nasty: mean-spirited, and weak-minded, and not very bright. And I think he really, really dislikes women.

I don't read Sullivan very often, and so have never noticed any attitude on his part regarding women, but I register him as often pained. He's fucked up a lot in the past and knows it; he apologizes fairly often, admitting his failures and trying honestly to explain them; my sense is that he's operating very much in good faith, but he won't back down if after long consideration he doesn't think he should.

All of that is fair enough. Look, he self-identifies as a Christian, so he's necessarily hamstrung in various ways.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 7:19 PM
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ydnew, do you know that because you're interested or are you dragged into knowing? I'm not sure if I should be ashamed or not how many times my eyes have glazed over when Lee has explained how the division she played in was The Big Number and now is The Bigger Number and yet who the fuck cares, etc. I hope other people are better partners than I am, though.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 7:38 PM
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I actually like college basketball in a very casual way. I kinda pay attention to my undergrad U's conference and watch some of the tournament. The conference thing was big news in DC because Georgetown left the Big East to join with six other Catholic schools. Divisions aren't very interesting; I don't blame you for not following closely. I suck at following anything hockey-related (the boyfriend's favorite) if it makes you feel better.


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 8:07 PM
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I don't actually feel bad about this in the slightest. I have now spent years following basketball at least casually (and even Selah has learned to differentiate between "baaa-ba-ball" and just "ball" by now, because this is our life) but I was curious what your interest was.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-14-14 8:14 PM
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he self-identifies as a Christian

And a conservative.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 5:04 AM
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Educational Question:

I just started my new job at a state hospital and somebody who is running an LGBTQ and A group described Q as "questioning". Is "queer" considered traumatizing?


Posted by: Bostoniangirl | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 6:55 AM
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110: Yeah, in an ideal world I would have tracked down that link and included it in a parenthetical.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:12 AM
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Nah, I think Questioning is just an alternative version, intended to cover people who feel as if they belong somewhere in the acronym but don't have a particular identity they're identified with.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:15 AM
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And orthodox Marxists in general. They all had a 'who you gonna believe, my beautiful theory or your lying eyes' approach. A lot like right wingers on economics.

Actually, it occurs to me that communism basically is another example of the principle I attributed to CS Lewis: Marx et al targeted a lesser goal (applying this theory of history/economics, to drastically oversimplify) while claiming it would be better for all the people. Instead of, you know, targeting making things better for all the people.

I think people have an inherent tendency to get sucked into ideologies - that's why all of the people who 30 years ago said, we don't have an ideology, we'll take whatever works whether left or right, ended up developing an ideology of centrism/Third Way. But, at least in theory (ha ha), if you set your priors right (and I'd argue that the American civics we teach our kids in public schools* kind of get it right), you have a greater goal that you can use to interrogate ideology, including your own.

*that is, participatory citizenship, individual equality, and broad egalitarianism


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:21 AM
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To extend 138.last, I think the overarching mistake Dems make in their messaging (aside from failing to drive home that Republicans suck*) is that they don't put that vision of America out as their own. I think that a lot of modern GOP messaging runs counter to what we teach our kids about America (the whole "I got mine" ethos that runs through it), but Dems do an awful job of saying, "You're being unAmerican." They basically concede the field on patriotism, even though Democratic values are very much traditional American ones.

Obviously I'm not saying they never say things along these lines, but I think that, as a whole, they're bad at making it a consistent, coherent message that can be used as an effective weapon. I understand a lot of the reasons for this, but reasons aren't excuses.

Concrete example: it's political malpractice that the GOP has been able to get away with restricting voting rights without getting pilloried. It's the most unAmerican thing imaginable, but the Dems managed to get sucked into a low-level back-and-forth about the True Facts on voter fraud (a debate they've won on the facts, and lost on the ground; good job, True Facts) instead of standing up at every turn and declaring that anyone who'd vote to restrict access to the voting booth is a traitor. And the wake-up call should have been November, 2000 - starting then and there, Dems should have recognized that this was the coming battlefield, and that they held the high ground. Instead they got distracted and wandered away, allowing the GOP to seize the "fraud" high ground. Stupid stupid.

*not being facetious, I mean that Dems, generally speaking, should run on "the GOP has been wrong on the economy for 35 years; the GOP let 9/11 happen and started the Iraq War for no good reason; the GOP wants to cut taxes for the rich and pay for it by turning America into a shithole with failing infrastructure and bad schools."


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:34 AM
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134: and not just a conservative, but an Oakeshott conservative. But really, I think anything beyond what Snarkout said above is sort of beside the point: Sullivan is man of at-best middling intelligence fumbling with his intellectual shortcomings in a very public space. I find him pretty distasteful but admire his willingness to take lots of risks. What I don't admire is the fact that he's a comfortable racist and, relatedly, seems to see markets as magical.


Posted by: von wafer | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:41 AM
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Did I spell Oakeshott correctly? I suppose I could look, but I'd rather not.


Posted by: von wafer | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:42 AM
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135, 137: I was going to say (much) earlier, that my sense of things is that Q is a bit of a catchall on both sides (that is, self-identifiers who aren't sure about their identities*, and organizers who want to be welcoming without needing everyone in a pigeonhole), but that it's at least conceivable that, at some point, Q kind of goes away. Because, in an enlightened society, the sorts of things that Q covers would cease to be identifying. That is, insofar as gender identity is stable**, LGBT (as well as straight) are identifying characteristics. But Q (as I understand it) has largely to do with gender identity that isn't stable, and isn't inherently identifying. For now, that's an Other and therefore identifying, but if that sort of fluidity ceases to be Other, I think it might also cease to be an identity. Does that make sense?

All this with the caveat that I've read no queer theory, and apologies if I'm offensively wrong about something here.

*"aren't sure" also meaning "it's complicated"; I'm not saying anyone who's Q is merely confused

**AB's best friend since day 3 of college recently started dating a woman after a lifetime of being straight. She doesn't think she's a lesbian, she just happens to have fallen for this one awesome woman. In this brave new world, people can handle that in a way they never before could


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:46 AM
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141: It's not in your spellcheck?


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:47 AM
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feel as if they belong somewhere in the acronym but don't have a particular identity they're identified with

Everybody gets a trophy!


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 8:02 AM
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Mine says "First."


Posted by: Opinionated Premature Ejactulator | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 8:39 AM
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139: This seems paradoxical. You denigrate True Facts, but suggest that we can know that the Democrats have failed at messaging because they've got the natural advantage of having the facts on their side.

Absent a media that holds Republicans responsible, Democratic messaging - of which there has been quite a lot - falls on deaf ears.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:00 AM
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103: Despite my previous criticisms of Sullivan in this thread, I am also sympathetic to him for reasons that other folks have described. He aggregates fun stuff; he presents views that I'm normally not exposed to; and in general, he seems like he's genuinely trying to work things out.

Still, it's useful to be reminded that my tolerance of that asshole is also a result of the fact that I'm not an object of his bigotry.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:22 AM
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Actually, it occurs to me that communism basically is another example of the principle I attributed to CS Lewis: Marx et al targeted a lesser goal (applying this theory of history/economics, to drastically oversimplify) while claiming it would be better for all the people. Instead of, you know, targeting making things better for all the people.

I think that example actually undermines your point, since the Marxists would have seen themselves on the other side of the CS Lewis quote -- they would have said that liberals who were trying to ameliorate problems without ever addressing the structural conditions that created them were going to end up achieving neither short-term nor long-term success (and I have some sympathy with that position).

It seems like the CS Lewis standard only works if and only if one's sense of "The Godly" includes "The Good."

There are many examples of the two diverging (I think of the parable of the Grand Inquisitor), but what was I reading recently . . . ah yes

Far from responding to Nazi genocide with wordless awe, Auden understood it as an extreme case of something all too comprehensible, the pandemic fantasy of building New Jerusalem in the real world:

Even Hitler, I imagine, would have defined his New Jerusalem as a world where there are no Jews, not as a world where they are being gassed by the million day after day in ovens, but he was a Utopian, so the ovens had to come in.

(Hopefully that isn't a Goodwin violation -- I thought it was a elegant turn of phrase when I saw it).


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:27 AM
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a Goodwin violation

"As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving the composition of Lincoln's cabinet approaches 1"


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:31 AM
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JRoth says:

To use a current example, there's the point that Krugman raised today, which is that there's a sudden effort to argue that, because wages are rising, interest rates need to come up soon. This is bullshit from top to bottom, and IMO a conscious effort by the plutocrats to keep labor debased and themselves enriched. Can Ezra Klein Journalism ever say that? I don't think so.

We both see Krugman as exemplary. I think "Ezra Klein Journalism" aspires to be Krugmanism, and you see Krugman as embodying a different principle.

But the specific piece you mention here is all judicious and reality-based - to the point where he even nods toward the possibility that he's misreading the evidence. He certainly doesn't blame the plutocrats.

Krugman is (with the occasional polemical exception) what True Facts looks like.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:37 AM
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Marx et al targeted a lesser goal (applying this theory of history/economics, to drastically oversimplify) while claiming it would be better for all the people. Instead of, you know, targeting making things better for all the people.

Bah. No no no

Marx did a historical analysis of industrialism/capitalism, determined that the liberal capitalist system inevitably tended toward crisis, cyclic or final (AGW), saw that crises would generate mass suffering and world war and enslavement and impoverishment of the spirit, and decided that the only moral choice was to prevent the coming horrors via attempts at overthrowing capitalism. Revolution is just a word for the overthrow, it can take many forms.

But socialism or barbarism is the human choice.

What's yours?


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:39 AM
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Because before industry and capitalism, nobody suffered or had a war.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:42 AM
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138: the American civics we teach our kids in public schools

The what we teach who .. where?

(Sincere question: I've been under the impression that kids aren't taught anything like civics in public schools any more. In what sort of classes? American history, with the founding fathers and all that? I've honestly thought we're teaching 'every man [sic] for himself' more than anything else, in the form of rugged individualism, the pioneer spirit, and so on. A government course/class would presumably teach civics, but I didn't think we had those any more; maybe I'm just out of touch.)


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:50 AM
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Whereas the liberal, looking back at the last 150 years, says:

"Damn Republicans! If we just had twenty more House seats and 5 more Senators Warren would write some regulation and we would end financial instability forever.
Forever!"

Liberal are not only the utopians Marx never was, they are stark raving mad.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:52 AM
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142: I don't think I quite agree. I think if anything "queer" definitions are getting more expansive. Should asexual people count since they have non-normative sexual identities? In a straight married couple where one spouse changes gender, does the other spouse automatically have to become gay or bi or does it feel a little different from those? I know one woman who's only ever dated transmen and so even though her relationships are straight they do also seem queer. And I see "pansexual" or "omnisexual" supplanting "bi" for younger folks because gender doesn't feel binary anymore.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 10:04 AM
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Dating only transmen must really limit the dating pool.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 10:13 AM
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139: I mean that Dems, generally speaking, should run on "the GOP has been wrong on the economy for 35 years; the GOP let 9/11 happen and started the Iraq War for no good reason; the GOP wants to cut taxes for the rich and pay for it by turning America into a shithole with failing infrastructure and bad schools."

JRoth, have you seen Greg Sargent's explication of the latest anti-Koch Dem message?

this is all about creating a framework within which voters can be made to understand the actual policy agenda Republicans are campaigning on. This is what the Bain attacks on Mitt Romney were all about: Dem focus groups showed voters simply didn't believe Romney would cut entitlements (per the Paul Ryan plan) while cutting taxes on the rich.
The Koch attacks are designed to do something similar. They aren't really about the Kochs. They are a proxy for the one percent, a means through which to tap into a general sense that the economy remains rigged in favor of the very wealthy. Placed into this frame, GOP policies - opposition to raising the minimum wage; the Paul Ryan fiscal blueprint, which would redistribute wealth upwards; opposition to the Medicaid expansion, which AFP is fighting in multiple states - become more comprehensible as part of a broader storyline. In that narrative, Republican candidates are trying to maintain or even exacerbate an economic status quo that's stacked against ordinary Americans, while Dems are offering solutions to boost economic mobility and reduce inequality, which are increasingly pressing public concerns.

I found this quite helpful. I'd otherwise seen Dem attacks on the Kochs -- Harry Reid's insistence in particular -- as something too arcane, too into the weeds, to register with most Americans; it would seem whiny, perhaps.

But this seems an interesting direction.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 10:23 AM
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155.last: Also because Dr. Who.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 10:25 AM
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Typical liberal. Ignores Dr. Who Whom.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 10:32 AM
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I thought it was a bad sign when the venture went from "we don't have a name for it yet but the parent company is Vox" to "it'll be called Vox".


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 10:40 AM
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153 -- You're out of touch.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 10:41 AM
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135: "questioning" presumably isn't being used to replace "queer"; they're simply not the same category. When Q pops up it's ambiguous, because it could be being used to mean either thing. Questioning certainly is less controversial than queer, though. Lots of people don't like "queer" I gather, and it doesn't mean the same thing to everyone who uses it. I kind of wish "queer" could replace the whole quiltbag, but on the other hand, "queer" may retain its usefulness as gay assimilationism creates/foregrounds a need for an identity that is both about the object of desire and the uh, what would we say, mode or flavor or something. It's interesting to see how things end up fitting together.

142: All this with the caveat that I've read no queer theory, and apologies if I'm offensively wrong about something here.

Eh, I'm deeply wary of the kind of gatekeeping that would have a required reading list before you're allowed to work out an opinion on something. I've read very little queer theory, myself, but feel free to blather about these things because these are topics of interest to people (or people who know people, viz: the luckiest people in the world.)


Posted by: Mister Smearcase | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 10:46 AM
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161: That's great! Could you explain what kinds of civics classes kids in public schools are routinely taking? I'd like to be updated, and I'm not quite sure where to look online for general info.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 10:57 AM
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You denigrate True Facts

I denigrate them as an end to themselves. I'm not meaning to suggest that Dems abandon facts the way the conservative movement has. I'm saying that pursuit (and presentation) of true facts as an end to themselves is not a route to political efficacy.

What the hell, an analogy: Apple, famously, doesn't use specs to promote its products. They'll refer to particular technologies, but rarely in a number centric way (they advertise Retina, not a certain dpi, although the dpi isn't necessarily a secret). By contrast, MSFT and PC manufacturers (and to an extent, Android makers) are famous for spec-based advertising: X dpi, Y megapixels, Z mHz. But Apple's concept is that the tech supports the experience, and they promote the experience. But this hasn't meant - in the Jobs era - that the tech has been crappy. Apple isn't promoting the experience because they can't hack the specs; the specs are the means to the end.

True Facts are a means to an end - policies that work towards the larger goal.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 11:07 AM
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162.last: Thanks. I didn't really think I was crossing any lines, but, not having done my homework, I just wanted to signal that any line-crossing was ignorance, but not carelessly so.

IOW, trying not to straightsplain.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 11:08 AM
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Absent a media that holds Republicans responsible, Democratic messaging - of which there has been quite a lot - falls on deaf ears.

I think Dem messaging that relies on a media that holds Republicans responsible is precisely the problem.

Having the best facts works in court because there's a judge - even in a jury trial, the judge is there to stop the side without the facts from simply lying. But the American political landscape, in 2014, has nothing resembling a judge. Or rather, the thing that's dressed in robes and sits on the bench can't be bothered to adjudicate. At which point the lawyer who trusts that facts will win the case is being negligent.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 11:11 AM
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153: I think the death of civics as a taught thing is vastly exaggerated. My 4th grader comes home from school with the same sort of feel-good patriotism/citizenship that I was taught. Whether there's a course called Civics, and whether it's taught exactly as it was 40 years ago, is irrelevant. Public schools teach kids about America, and near as I can tell it's the same sort of Schoolhouse Rock Story of America that isn't liberal as such, but is very much in keeping with liberalism.

157: I did see that, and it seemed like a big improvement. A lot of it comes down to embracing populism as opposed to technocracy. If the whole party can do that, then they have a chance, but at least half the institutional party views populism with something between distaste and fear. So who knows how long it will stick.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 11:19 AM
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155: I don't think we disagree at all; my point was that, once we reach sexual singularity, queer goes away. Now it has salience because all of these things, previously hidden and/or impossible (what to do when your spouse changes gender simply wasn't a meaningful concept a couple generations ago, at least not in anywhere but tiny corners of society), are becoming familiar. But at some point they become so familiar that they no longer have such salience. I don't think we're especially close to that, and maybe it's just as utopian an idea as getting past race, but I could see it going that way.

Incidentally, I was thinking about bringing asexuality into my comment as well; I think that's very much the sort of thing that was hidden, is now open but "weird", and someday will be unremarkable.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 11:26 AM
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167: near as I can tell it's the same sort of Schoolhouse Rock Story of America that isn't liberal as such, but is very much in keeping with liberalism.

Yay, Schoolhouse Rock! "I'm just a bill, just an ordinary bill"

So awesome, I will always remember the tune. Along with "We the people, in order to form a perfect union". Which I can still sing, yep.

DAMN, those are outstanding.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 11:30 AM
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Marxists smell bad. And economists.

Marxists smell economists? Dialectical materialism is confusing.


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 11:30 AM
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150: Well then we disagree on Krugman. Don't just look at the blog post; read the actual NYT column for which the blog post was background:

Finally, although the current monetary debate isn't as openly political as the previous fiscal debate, it's hard to escape the suspicion that class interests are playing a role. A fair number of commentators seem oddly upset by the notion of workers getting raises, especially while returns to bondholders remain low. It's almost as if they identify with the investor class, and feel uncomfortable with anything that brings us close to full employment, and thereby gives workers more bargaining power.
Maybe you think that's what Ezra is going for, but I don't. I think he's grown less likely to write anything that partisan/polemic as he's grown older. I don't think the ideology of True Facts believes in class struggle; in fact, I kind of suspect that denial of class struggle is part of its raison d'être.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 11:32 AM
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155.last feels right to me. "bi" and "bisexual" feel a little quaint to me in ways that they didn't even a few years ago; there's a lot more, or more exposed, writing that denies a gender binary. (This is probably partially me changing what I read, but I'd like to think that the underlying conversation is changing, too.)

162.1 is interesting to think about. Exciting times.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 11:41 AM
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Having the best facts works in court because there's a judge - even in a jury trial, the judge is there to stop the side without the facts from simply lying. But the American political landscape, in 2014, has nothing resembling a judge. Or rather, the thing that's dressed in robes and sits on the bench can't be bothered to adjudicate. At which point the lawyer who trusts that facts will win the case is being negligent.

You're conflating two reasons that we need True Facts (or, maybe, you're talking about one and ignoring the other). ("We" being all right-thinking people who share my policy goals, reducing inequality yadayadayada.) You're talking about using them to persuade people to agree with us, and you're right that they're not necessarily effective toward that end.

But we also need True Facts™ to help figure out what to actually do. I care a lot about elementary education as a means of reducing inequality. And I think that the charter school movement is mostly a pernicious scam intended to break the public school system, both out of teacher-union-hatred and out of a desire to keep poor kids from getting decent educations. But I don't believe that as a matter of principle, I believe that because that seems to be how the facts on the ground are working out. To form that opinion, I need access to reliable facts, rather than ideological polemic: I've got my own ideology that I'm happy with, but I can't figure out how to serve my own goals without knowing how reality works.

Ezra might end up being completely useless as an evangelist for progressive causes, but still a useful resource for progressive actors.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 11:41 AM
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171: I kind of suspect that denial of class struggle is part of its raison d'être.

Has anyone followed the TPM book club discussion about economic indicators? It seems clear -- not from the TPM discussion, which I haven't read, but just in general -- that consideration of the GDP, roughly what's called 'the health of the economy', is problematic as an actual indicator of the public welfare.

Certainly those who are overly enamored of charts and graphs can lose sight of this.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 11:46 AM
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173: Yeah, I've been aware of that distinction, and you can see in some of my comments reference to facts as the right way to formulate good policy.

I don't have a formula in mind for how to manage the wonkery that's necessary for good policy as against the strong polemics that are necessary to gain the political power necessary to enact good policy. What I'm convinced of, though, is that prizing the former over the latter is a recipe for the shitty situation we're in.

Tentatively I might offer that we misconceive what "well-informed" means for the populace. Given what we've been learning about how partisans respond to facts that disprove their beliefs*, what is the benefit to promulgating wonkish facts? Instead, you need well-informed leaders who are in turn effective at telling the stories that people find appealing.

Point being, I might agree with 173.last, but that doesn't convince me that EK has a big public-facing role to play.

*and remember, the better-informed, more-educated the partisan, the more strongly they react against disproving facts


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 12:00 PM
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I hope 175 isn't coming off as Schmittian. The point isn't that the wonks tell the pols one thing and the pols say something else to the public in order to get elected and enact Thing One. It's that what the wonks are telling the pols gets absorbed into the message.

But a further point is that part of the pol's job is to tell the wonks when they've gotten it wrong, when their analysis that says, say, that NAFTA will result in a better America for everyone needs to be shit-canned.

Part of the failure of the modern Dem Party is that it subsumed its identity to the wonks and technocrats. Maybe there's a distinction to be drawn between facts and analysis, and I'd gesture in the direction of economics as an area where the two have been conflated.

OK, time to feed the children.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 12:05 PM
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. . . that consideration of the GDP, roughly what's called 'the health of the economy', is problematic as an actual indicator of the public welfare.

I was just thinking about this, because I saw something that was tangentially related to that question and thought I might send it to HG as a guest post. I should do that.

I've seen criticisms of GDP as a measure for at least a decade. I think there are a couple of reasons why they haven't had much impact on political discussions. In very brief I'd gesture at two -- first that we need some agreed upon metric and there's no clear replacement and, second, that I think the environmental critique of GDP (that it doesn't deduct anything for exhausting captial and or natural resources) is stronger than the human happiness argument (that lots of things which make people happy or unhappy aren't measured by GDP) and that because people tend to think of the environmental movement as opposed to industry it makes it more difficult for them to get traction with the message, "we need something that functions like this measurement only better."

I actually think GDP is a good example of the value of doing "just the facts" well, in that any possible replacement would, inevitably, be political, but getting something that could be broadly accepted requires something that has the technocratic virtues of being easy to use, easy to understand, and acceptable to business.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 12:49 PM
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Concrete example: it's political malpractice that the GOP has been able to get away with restricting voting rights without getting pilloried. It's the most unAmerican thing imaginable, but the Dems managed to get sucked into a low-level back-and-forth about the True Facts on voter fraud (a debate they've won on the facts, and lost on the ground; good job, True Facts) instead of standing up at every turn and declaring that anyone who'd vote to restrict access to the voting booth is a traitor.

I think this oversimplifies the politics of the issue. I'd love to see more people saying exactly what you're saying, but I think there's a reason that not many professional politicians have done so (and it's inevitable that politicians and activists face different constraints).

The problem is that the republican response is, "we also care about protecting the vote; allowing people to vote who shouldn't undermines the votes of everyone else." There are two possible responses to that, first is Franklin's argument that it would be better to let 100 fraudulent ballots be accepted than to deprive 1 person of their legitimate franchise, and the second is to say that there is an empirical question (True Facts) how best to protect the sanctity of the vote and it depends on the prevalence of fraud vs people being denied the right to vote. I agree that the second argument has not had much political impact, but I don't think the first would have been a better tack; I don't think it would have had more affect, and it would have allowed for easier counter-attacks.

That said, I do think the communities who are affected by voter suppression are pissed off about it, and I think that's made it much harder for the GOP to court minority voters. It just hasn't been a way for the Democrats to win suburban white votes.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 12:57 PM
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I don't see why any possible replacement for GDP as a primary measure of economic health or welfare would necessarily be political.

Can we distinguish between the political and actual policy?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 12:59 PM
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And I think the folks at TPM talked about this quite a bit.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 1:03 PM
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Tentatively I might offer that we misconceive what "well-informed" means for the populace. Given what we've been learning about how partisans respond to facts that disprove their beliefs*, what is the benefit to promulgating wonkish facts? Instead, you need well-informed leaders who are in turn effective at telling the stories that people find appealing.

Let me offer a counter-hypothetical. I'm not committed to the following argument, but I think it's worth making.

Your position seems to assume that Republicans have been better that Democrats at turning their positions into stories that resonate with the voters. I'm not sure that's true. You could argue that, over the last 20 years the Democrats have done better at reaching the majority of people but the Republicans have done better at (a) inspiring their hard-core base and (b) turning votes into policy.

There are a couple of reasons for (b) -- the over-representation of Rural states in the Senate, gerrymandering at the state level, and the fact that both parties have an interest in cooperating with big business, and that can make it easier to get bi-partisan support for certain parts of the Republican agenda.

But that's a different diagnosis of the problem then, "Democrats need better storytelling." Of course, better storytelling is always desirable, I'm not sure it's the primary problem.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 1:06 PM
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I don't see why any possible replacement for GDP as a primary measure of economic health or welfare would necessarily be political.

Of course it's political. From the broadest possible perspective if you want to have one number which can be used as shorthand for the growth of the economy and as a way to measure economic growth over time, it is inevitable that the number will not reflect everyone's economic interests equally. So then you arrive at, from the Krugman quotation that JRoth used above, "it's hard to escape the suspicion that class interests [will play] a role."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 1:11 PM
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|?

"Otaku Database Culture"

Frances Guerin on Haroun Farocki and Andrei Ujica's Videograms of a Revolution in Companion to German Cinema

"All of these dislocations amount to the film's conversation with what W.J.T. Mitchell (1986) calls "the iconic turn," a moment predicted, but yet to arrive. At the end of the line of generations who have denigrated the image in Western philosophy, art history, and visual studies, Farocki and Ujica's film might be understood to take up the call for the search for a way of conceiving the world visually, not through language. For Videograms of a Revolution, the details of the image's production is not important, its recognizeability and veracity are beside the point. What matters is the search for images to put in an archive of visual concepts. What matters is that the archive of images - in this case a film - will enable us to "understand," or at least remember, the historical moment of the Romanian Revolution.

As it turns out, the knowledge that we acquire from the film as image repository emphasizes that knowledge of the tumultuous events of the Romanian revolution is always subject to the positionality, or positionalities, of the representation. The experience is always necessarily a mediation, a mediation which in turn, according to Videograms of a Revolution, is in itself a form of historical knowledge.

The spaces or dislocations between camera perspectives, between images and history, between images and viewers are echoed everywhere throughout the film, both as comments on the problems of making images and of orchestrating this
particular revolution. Perhaps most significantly, even the spaces and places at which the revolution is played out, Victory Square, the television station, the
Central Committee, are represented as being dislocated from each other due to the camerawork that results from the urgency and simultaneous difficulty of getting close to, and ultimately, recording the events."

? because we might watch EK's project for a similar withdrawal from narrative and subject-positioning.

|>


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 1:16 PM
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181.last: This is true. Republicans are making strong inroads at the state level*; Democrats are fighting back at that level here and there notably and heroically (see North Carolina), but those of us who are armchair political junkies should take this more seriously.

* hence my continued interest in the activities of ALEC and its newly formed state level arm.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 1:18 PM
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182: From the broadest possible perspective if you want to have one number which can be used as shorthand for the growth of the economy and as a way to measure economic growth over time, it is inevitable that the number will not reflect everyone's economic interests equally.

I'm saying that we shouldn't feel the need to have one number that reflects the growth of the economy. Not unless we can be a little less stupid about it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 1:24 PM
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I'm saying that we shouldn't feel the need to have one number that reflects the growth of the economy.

You're not going to win that one -- easy to measure summary statistics are enormously helpful. For example they allow you to do historical or cross-national comparisons (you've seen the info-graphic with GDP growth under Democratic or Republican presidents, or a chart like this). Those represent questions that people want answers to.

We can and do use more than one number (unemployment, median income, etc . . .), but it's still useful to have numbers that are easy enough to calculate that they can be used to calculate comparisons or correlations.



Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 2:03 PM
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186: Okay, then. One might could visit the recent TPM discussion, held over a series of talks with one Zachary Karabell, regarding The Leading Indicators: A Short History of the Numbers That Rule Our World.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 2:15 PM
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I use both GDP, and the multiple Gini as shown at Wiki. WorldBank, CIA, etc. When looking at 3rd World, I use development indices.

Just today, I was wondering at all the talk of Poland's terrific "growth" compared to backward Ukraine, and yup lo and behold, exactly as I thought.

Recent Ginis

US, slave state: Gini 45
Poland, aspiring slave state: "freedom" as desired by educated elites like terza, 34
Ukraine, "backward country":28

For benchmarks:Sweden 23, Sierra Leone 62.9


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 2:30 PM
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I added Sierra Leone because there are cases where very poor countries have good-looking Ginis. But extractive economies can have both a low per-capita and a very high Gini.

Ukraine because of the corruption, underground economy, and large state sector, will look much poorer than it actually is. I don't think free housing shows up in GDP.

Countries like the US with despicable distribution and rapacious elite, will look better than it is.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 2:38 PM
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"freedom" as desired by educated elites like terza

You never disappoint, old bean.


Posted by: Von Wafer | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 3:15 PM
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Inequality is important, but it isn't everything, actual incomes matter as well. Starting off from the same place which country has the better outcome, the one with a mean full time job income of $490/mo and a Gini of 28, or the one with $1380/mo and a Gini of 34?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 3:20 PM
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Well, yeah maybe American and Polish "liberals" will say:

"We want to be Sweden. We really really truly want to be like Sweden, and we are trying very very hard. Damn Republicans."

Well presuming that is honest, which I don't, then the only thing that shows is the hopeless incalculable incompetence of liberals, and you would think basic human decency would motivate them to try to prevent their own elites (Obama, Kerry, Clinton) from breaking and pillaging more egalitarian equitable countries than their own like the Ukraine.

Go fuck up Sierra Leone.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 3:23 PM
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191:Damn if you actually didn't use "mean" instead of "median." Bill Gates walked into the bar...


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 3:26 PM
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Brown Revolution in Ukraine ...Counterpunch. What, you expect the truth from EK?

I heard one of the 1st things the Maidan Government did was to ban the Communist Party.

"First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out--"


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 3:48 PM
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Your position seems to assume that Republicans have been better that Democrats at turning their positions into stories that resonate with the voters. I'm not sure that's true. You could argue that, over the last 20 years the Democrats have done better at reaching the majority of people but the Republicans have done better at (a) inspiring their hard-core base and (b) turning votes into policy.
Given the desired policies of the Republicans, they've done a remarkable job of convincing people to vote for them. Meanwhile, any enthusiasm on the left is largely in spite of the Democrats messaging. Also, what policy the Republicans have managed to enact has mostly been in accord with the Washington consensus.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:03 PM
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Bob, why aren't you speculating wildly on the fate of the Malaysian Airline plane? I was hoping for that today.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:03 PM
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Ok, they tabled the ban. 32 CP members in Parliament incidentally. They did burn down the house of the CP leader.

But, oh the liberals have their fascist thugs under control. As the article from Counterpunch says, liberals won't fight, so they form alliances with brownshirts to do their wetwork for them. They always claim that the thugs ain't all that bad, and anyway we liberals are in control, trust us.

Where have I heard this before?

Freikorps.

Night all


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:05 PM
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196: Not a clue. Not even a guess. Weird shit.

Okay, likely hijackers.

Okay, maybe somebody shot it down and won't admit it, because China would be really pissed.

If the passengers were US citizens, Obama would say regrettable, but we couldn't take chances. Way to fight the terrorism.

But you know, shot down, there should be debris or other traces.

So not a clue.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:09 PM
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Come on bro come back. I want some plane craziness. Are Ukranian brownshirts flying the thing?


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:09 PM
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I used mean rather than median because I couldn't find the median for Ukraine. However, Polish median income is about two and a half times Ukrainian mean income. Ukraine is a bit more equal and a hell of a lot poorer than Poland. The reason it's more unequal isn't the Bill Gates equivalents. The top .01% does better in Ukraine than in Poland (e.g. 10 vs. 4 billionaires in a much, much smaller economy), but the people who are in the top quintile but not in the top one percent do a hell of a lot better in Poland than in Ukraine and as it happens so do the people working the cash registers and construction sites. Is that really your ideal - an economy even better for the Bill Gates' and Jamie Dimons but where every body else does a lot worse, but hey the folks making 100K take a seventy percent wage cut while the people making 20K only take a sixty percent wage cut?


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:10 PM
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Not a clue is not an acceptable answer from you. I want some conspiracy theory.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 4:10 PM
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||

Well, we've made it to Mississippi, where we're stopping for dinner.

It turns out that we stop every 2.5-3 hours, but that's not too terrible.

|>


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 5:00 PM
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Very few cars have enough gas to go much father.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 5:25 PM
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Given the desired policies of the Republicans, they've done a remarkable job of convincing people to vote for them.

You're forgetting that people are shitheads. The Republicans aren't just wildly throwing up stuff and magically tricking people to follow them.


Posted by: Disingenuous Bastard | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 5:33 PM
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The shithead factor should not be underestimated. 28% at minimum. The people who still approved of GWB in 2008. The crazification factor. Throw in voter ignorance and indifference and you've got 50% plus some tiny fraction needed to win elections.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 5:48 PM
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203: buh?


Posted by: | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 6:23 PM
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Uh, +r.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 6:26 PM
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207 doesn't remove all possible confusion, though


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 6:33 PM
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Frew.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 6:36 PM
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I wouldn't claim their stories aren't meant to appeal to the shitheads and the crazies.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 6:38 PM
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I'd bet I could come up with a dozen stories that the Republican party and their various mouthpieces have told that explain to people why the country is falling apart. Contradictory, nonsensical, and demented stories, but they all give people reason to vote Republican (or at least anti-Democratic). I'm not sure I could identify any such mainstream Democratic narrative. They'll identify specific problems (health insurance, inequality, ...) and propose technical fixes, but there's no story there.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 6:44 PM
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I've never read Sullivan (like, probably he gave Charles Murray a pulpit to say how pained he was at being called a racist ("I was probably clinically depressed for about six months") and to double down on the Bell Curve's 'science' ("Empirically the book is solid.")*

*These quotes may be very slightly paraphrased; I'll be darned if I'm going to watch that man's video TWICE.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:14 PM
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Weird. Half my comment disappeared. Trying again:

I've never read Sullivan (like, probably, less than 5 posts lifetime), so I just went over to his site and read about 25 posts to get an idea.

I get that he posts regularly and on an interesting variety of topics. But I can't get past the fact that
he just gave Charles Murray a pulpit to say how pained he was at being called a racist ("I was probably clinically depressed for about six months") and to double down on the Bell Curve's 'science' ("Empirically the book is solid.")*

*These quotes may be very slightly paraphrased; I'll be darned if I'm going to watch that man's video TWICE.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:16 PM
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Video.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:16 PM
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So it seems like there's this thing where expedia and Priceline buy up all the hotel rooms and then re-rent them out, which seems reminiscent of how the banks are buying up the fore closures.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:19 PM
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Also, did we really make it 200 comments into the thread without anyone mentioning the Guardian's op-ed on the very white-and-male mastheads of 3 new journalism start-ups, Ezra's included?

The article itself is middling and focuses almost exclusively on the gender piece of it, but the better criticism I've seen is in bits and pieces of tweets.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:32 PM
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Going back to Ezra and Paul Ryan, it's possible that his approach might be more effective at undermining Ryan in the eyes of the Villagers than Krugman. Other than that, I agree with JRoth on this topic.


Posted by: Eggplant | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 7:37 PM
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I thought it was a bad sign when the venture went from "we don't have a name for it yet but the parent company is Vox" to "it'll be called Vox".

Yeah, me too.

It's still not clear to me exactly what the goal is with Vox, but it's interesting that everyone seems to be discussing it as if it's a personal project of Ezra's. From what I've read about it, I strongly suspect that Yglesias has also played a major role in defining the project. While there are many, many potential complaints about Yglesias (seriously, so many), his approach is very different from Ezra's and not subject to many of the concerns people like JRoth have been raising.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 8:08 PM
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Also, JRoth is very very right in this thread.

Completely coincidentally, I'm going to be in Pittsburgh this week and just found out that I *don't* have a work dinner this Monday night.

Stormcrow, JRoth, Moby, anyone want to do a meetup? I will be carless and downtown at the Doubletree.

(I'm hoping there is somewhere that people won't be frantically celebrating with green beer.)


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:01 PM
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I could get dinner Monday. I suspect the green beer portion of the holiday is ending tonight, but I don't know.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:07 PM
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Yes, I think. Will have to double check my availability. And I'm forgetting which is the Doubletree these days (they change). Google says probably the one by the US Steel bldg. We'll come up with something.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:12 PM
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220: The parade was today, anyway.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:12 PM
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Excellent! Also, I meant to say Lurkers Welcome in my post above. Lurkers welcome!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:15 PM
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What this country needs is a good 5 cent cigar


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:38 PM
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Doubletree is the one on 6th east of the Steel Building. I work only a few blocks from there so I can swing by.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:43 PM
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They did burn down the house of the CP leader.
...As the article from Counterpunch says

Jeffrey St. Clair's house burned down? That's so fucked up, dude.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:44 PM
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225: Einstürzende Stahlbauten?


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:46 PM
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227: I hope not, but it would improve my view.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-15-14 9:56 PM
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As far as "queer" goes, well, somebodies might consider the word their privileged property, so all I will say is that the overwhelming most common self-appellation among us in the early 70s was...

...freak

I try to read some queer theory.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 3:10 AM
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Freak

'"On a personal level", wrote Zappa in what should have been a put-on but wasn't, "Freaking out is a process whereby an individual casts off outmoded and restricted standards of thinking, dress and social etiquette in order to express CREATIVELY his relationship to his environment and the social structure as a whole"'.[2]

The freaks, by Zappa's reckoning, resisted the binaries of right versus left, dominant culture versus counterculture, or squares versus hippies, preferring instead to align themselves with an aesthetic not narrowly defined by fashion or political leanings. The concept also allowed The Mothers to celebrate the freak identity, which until then was used to describe perversions of nature or carnivalesque sideshows. 'Bearded and gross and filthy, entirely obscene, they...were freaks. They were meant to be. They were playing the same old game again, épater la bourgeoisie, but this time round it wasn't called Dada or Existentialism or Beat, it was Freak-Out'.[3]

Out of politeness (te-he), I wouldn't publicly self-identify as queer, but who knows what lurks in this hidden heart.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 3:18 AM
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Having the best facts works in court because there's a judge - even in a jury trial, the judge is there to stop the side without the facts from simply lying.

Which is what makes it important to have fact-based judges.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 9:17 AM
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Thanks for the link in 216, Witt.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 11:57 AM
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Rant. Warning: don't read if you don't want your Sunday afternoon mellow harshed.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 12:10 PM
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I'm watching the boy, so I can't get mellow anyway.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 12:13 PM
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He'll bogart the whole thing.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 12:17 PM
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Further to the rant in 233: video of a fiery exchange in Philadelphia City Council between three older white American-born people and two other American-born City Councilmen.

Still doesn't quite capture the full electricity in the room but you get the idea.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 12:17 PM
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On the Sullivan front, per Witt's mention that she read the last 25 of his posts, I scrolled through the same, and he's on about religious, erm, epiphany or grace or some such: the call of God, or God's felt hand, whether giving oneself up to this requires what we might call a suspension of rationalist disbelief, and so on.

I hadn't realized he was on a God streak these days, but I gather it's an extension of discussion of someone's reply to Damon Linker's reading of Charles Taylor's recent book, A Secular Age. Okay! I haven't followed Charles Taylor for a while now, and hadn't realized he'd written this book.

Anyway, my question is this: there are self-identified Christians among us on this blog. Are they (I'm thinking of Halford, honestly) interested in this stuff? Sullivan just seems obsessively focused on it, and maybe he has an engaged audience for it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 12:53 PM
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I hadn't realized he was on a God streak these days

Lots of religion posts on Sundays. It's a regular feature.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 12:58 PM
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Oh. Thanks for explaining. I was a bit puzzled.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:04 PM
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there are self-identified Christians among us on this blog. Are they (I'm thinking of Halford, honestly) interested in this stuff?

I'm not a Christian, but I'm certainly a religious believer. I was raised as a Christian, and identify strongly with that heritage and way of thought.

No, his form of expression has never been interesting to me, nor has the writing of C.S.Lewis or Chesterton or lots of others who've made Christianity their principal identity.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:06 PM
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there are self-identified Christians among us on this blog. Are they (I'm thinking of Halford, honestly) interested in this stuff?

Not really. I don't like Sullivan and don't really see any reason to think his views on Christian theology would be any more interesting or intelligent than his views on anything else. Plus I'm only mildly interested in theology generally.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:20 PM
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241: Ah, okay. I don't know who he's talking to, then, but determining who it is would require delving further into the specific issue he outlines, and I'm not inclined to do that. Way to tank a blog, Andrew!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:30 PM
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You could opt for just not reading the asshole and using your time more productively.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:32 PM
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For the most part, you can sum up each Sunday's collection of posts by shouting BEST POPE EVAR a few times and taking a picture of the scene out your window.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:36 PM
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Sure. I just don't get these god-botherers, see. Ross Douthat is another one. They're trying so desperately to render Godism respectable. I try to respect their endeavors.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:37 PM
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Eh, they're posting on a topic that's interesting to them. Which is their prerogative. Daniel Larison does the same thing around any Orthodox holidays.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:39 PM
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244 made me laugh. But wait, Sullivan is a Catholic as well? Well, that is apparently a burden for many. This new Pope, though, not bad, all things considered, given that there's going to be a Pope no matter what.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:40 PM
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Every Sullivan I know is Catholic.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:51 PM
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I know some Sullivans whose families have been Protestants since before the Revolution.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:56 PM
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Which revolution?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 1:57 PM
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American


Posted by: Idp | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:00 PM
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This is kind of interesting, on the five essential questions for power holders* in a democracy:

"What power have you got?"
"Where did you get it from?"
"In whose interests do you use it?"
"To whom are you accountable?"
"How do we get rid of you?"

* Not limited to those holding political office.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:04 PM
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||
Q&a with the cast post screening ... Anyone got any questions?
|>


Posted by: X. Trapnel | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:11 PM
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251: That's farther back than any of my relatives know their history.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:15 PM
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two points about Sullivan: when he went for war with Iraq, he was literally having testosterone shots for medical reasons. now most things about testosterone people say are bullshit, but placebo, plus a bunch of performative masculinity.

second point. when he went for war with Iraq and all his super-nationalist bullshit, he wasn't an American, he was a Brit applying for his blue passport (or his green card, I forget the detail). A lot of it was sucking up to powerful people who could give him something he wanted.

so, no read, no never.


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:16 PM
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It's a good thing that God loves you, Parsimon, because the rest of us think you're a fucking moron.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:21 PM
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Not to be too blunt about it.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:21 PM
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Whoa, Halford, I have no idea what you're talking about, but I'm off now for the evening, thank god.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:26 PM
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You probably wouldn't, because you're a fucking moron.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:27 PM
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237:Thanks for linking to the review of Taylor, which is on my reading list

As Taylor clearly puts it, very early in A Secular Age, the shift to a "secular" age is "a move from a society where belief in God is unchallenged and indeed, unproblematic, to one in which it is understood to be one option among others, and frequently not the easiest to embrace" (p. 3). So the fact that ours is a "secular" age doesn't entail any necessary conclusion regarding the dis/enchantment of the cosmos (though disenchantment becomes more believable in modernity). The point, rather, is that no belief is axiomatic and taken-for-granted..

8-10 million people visit the Ise Shrine (Sun Goddess) every year. I just watched a show in which an American expatriate bowed, prayed, made offerings.
This is, for most, not always quite the same thing as visiting the Pyramids or Chartres. Situational suspension of disbelief?

Many Japanese also anthropomorphize their vacuum cleaners and kitchen appliances. Robots! Mecha! Talk to the machines. IOW, I see a lot of residual animism enjoyed in many aspects of Japanese culture.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:31 PM
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Re: meetup tomorrow (Monday) w/Witt. I can make it, but will need to leave by 8:30. Dalriata (or anyone else) if you want to choose a place up towards the DoubleTree that would be fine. I am out at our place in the boondocks tomorrow so will be driving in to town anyway . Probably could get in about 6:30 or so. Let me know here or via email.

(If we do go for one in the 6th st. area again, might try Redbeard's which is next door to Six Penn.))


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:32 PM
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I have no idea what you're talking about

"god-botherers?"

"trying so desperately to render Godism respectable?"

"apparently a burden for many?"

Seems you could have asked your questions differently.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:37 PM
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Yes, although that in and of itself would probably not suffice. There's also a long additional history of fucking morondom that adds to the context.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:40 PM
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Somebody asked me here if I worshiped the Emperor. Heisei, I think.

Sure why not. You don't get to tell me what that means. I also worship the big mulberry in my backyard. You got a problem with that?

It seems the first step atheists and secularists take is to authoritatively define what "God" and religion mean.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:41 PM
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"How can you possibly worship Amaterasu-omikami and also do particle physics or be a communist?"

Easy. I go to Ise and and do x,y,z. I also bow and pray and sunrise, and then go to the accelerator.

But you are displaying a terrible incoherence, inconsistency, and unreason in the totality of your mental systems and belief practices. There be discontinuities abounding!

Dude, I think you have the metaphysical problem.


Posted by: bob mcmanus | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:50 PM
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But I actually think (based on years now of experience) that Parsimon gets off on insulting people, and structures her comments fairly deliberately in order to insult with plausible deniability. In some sense being generally a moron gives her plausible deniability, so it's kind of a good, subtle trolling strategy. Props for that one.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 2:53 PM
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When the Halfordismo revolution comes, the first against the wall will be those who have maintained plausible deniability.

Re meetup: I have never been to Redbeard's, but would be up for that. Meat and Potatoes is a bit pricy but has excellent food. We could also try Market Square, say Winghart's or Diamond Market or NOLA if it's not presently on fire nope still closed.

(Note that I just work Dawntawn; for me food means lunch places, and there's little intersection between those and the places that are open after working hours. My opinions are embarrassingly suspect in this regard.)


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 3:03 PM
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Honestly at this point I've promised like 125 separate categories of my enemies "first up against the wall" status. I guess if the firing squad shoots them all simultaneously, and no one else gets executed before them, they can all be "first."


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 3:53 PM
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You would just need a really big wall.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 3:57 PM
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I'm still good for a comfortable paper-shuffling apparatchik position though, right?


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 3:58 PM
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My better half's late father, himself a retired RAF officer and lifelong socialist, had a marvelous line in "first against the wall" pronouncements. Lovely, lovely man - I miss him.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 4:00 PM
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He'd start by declaring something "not on" and within 3 fulminating sentences the perpetrator(s) were condemned to the wall. Crowded wall, that.


Posted by: dairy queen | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 4:06 PM
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Honestly at this point I've promised like 125 separate categories of my enemies "first up against the wall" status. I guess if the firing squad shoots them all simultaneously, and no one else gets executed before them, they can all be "first."

First against the wall: quibblers about whom the revolution kills first.


Posted by: Turgid Jacobian | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 4:13 PM
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Speaking of walls, hotels have them. If I'm thinking of the right place, the Doubletree is almost as close to the Strip as it is to Market Square. And not really close to either. Anyway, I don't have any good ideas, except that I noticed Redbeard dyed their Yuengling green for St. Patrick's Day's weekend. If the keg didn't get emptied, I'll have to drink something else.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 4:19 PM
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It's about the same, with the Theater District slightly closer: by Manhattan distance, it's 860m to Market Square and 800m to 6th & Penn. So shall we say Redbeard's, then?


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 5:09 PM
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OK. Say, 6:30 to meet there? And we can easily go elsewhere if it is not to our liking. I assume Witt will check back here--I don't think I have an email.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 5:37 PM
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Bat signal sent to usual suspects.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 5:50 PM
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I'm here! With e-mail magically enabled. I can find Redbeard's, I'm sure. And 6:30 works well.

I'll be in a brown suit with a light blue overcoat. Also I have different glasses now (if any of you have met me before? I don't think so but maybe I am misremembering....).

One more time: Lurkers welcome!


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 6:58 PM
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I'm going to be under dressed then.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 7:08 PM
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I have to present tomorrow, otherwise I wouldn't be in a suit either.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 03-16-14 7:14 PM
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100 comments back:

Your position seems to assume that Republicans have been better that Democrats at turning their positions into stories that resonate with the voters. I'm not sure that's true. You could argue that, over the last 20 years the Democrats have done better at reaching the majority of people but the Republicans have done better at (a) inspiring their hard-core base and (b) turning votes into policy.

I a free that, ceteris paribus, Dems get their fair share of the vote. The difference, I'd argue, is that Democratic positions are much more popular than Republican ones. On abortion, for instance, there has been a consistent majority for the Dem position for decades; what has become the GOP position - a de facto ban - has almost no support at all (25%? Maybe less?). But the GOP wins plenty of elections despite that unpopular position. On issue after issue - gun control, taxation, Social Security, minimum wage - the GOP position is not only minority, but frequently an absolutist faction. But they keep winning (look especially at the states).

I'm not sure how it plays into this whole discussion, but I think it's relevant to remember that focus group that was done circa 2004 (and I think was replicated in 2012) when a bunch of voters literally refused to believe that Bush's platform was his platform. It seemed too outlandish to be true. And I've never seen the least evidence that True Facts reporting would fix that.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 6:50 AM
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I'm sure someone above argued gerrymandering, but seriously: gerrymandering.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:02 AM
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From what I've read about it, I strongly suspect that Yglesias has also played a major role in defining the project. While there are many, many potential complaints about Yglesias (seriously, so many), his approach is very different from Ezra's and not subject to many of the concerns people like JRoth have been raising.

Seems like their entire copyediting budget will have to go to Yggles' work.

Anyway, good point: insofar as the model is to have the wonks produce the True Facts and have Yggles use those facts to kick conservative ass (which, as I've always said, is his singular strength; I hope he knows that), that would be a project that advances progressive goals. Whether they'll do it is another question.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:03 AM
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On abortion, for instance, there has been a consistent majority for the Dem position for decades; what has become the GOP position - a de facto ban - has almost no support at all (25%? Maybe less?). But the GOP wins plenty of elections despite that unpopular position.

But you know as well as I do that intensity matters. IF, for example, 15% of people care strongly about abortion remaining legal, 40% of people would like it to remain legal but aren't going to vote on that issue, 20% of people feel conflicted and just wish that politicians would stop talking about t and the issue would go away, and 25% care strongly about imposing additional restrictions then supporting restrictions on abortion might be a vote winning position, despite being supported by a minority of people. You could say the same thing about gun control, for example, that it isn't likely to be a voting issue for most supporters of gun control.

Also, consider two Kevin Drum posts on the question of whether the Democrats have been capable of attracting voters. The cranky position (which overlaps with your argument):

. . . I guess I'm feeling a little peevish this morning. Why is it that the working class often votes against its own economic interests? Well, let's compare the sales pitches of the Republican and Democratic parties when it comes to pocketbook issues:

Republicans: We will lower your taxes.

Democrats: We, um, support policies that encourage a fairer distribution of growth and....and....working man....party of FDR....um....

There are two problems with the Democratic approach. First, it's too abstract to appeal to anyone. Second, it's not true anyway. Democrats simply don't consistently support concrete policies that help the broad working and middle classes. Half of them voted for the bankruptcy bill of 2005. They've done virtually nothing to stem the growth of monopolies and next to nothing to improve consumer protection in visible ways. They don't do anything for labor. They're soft on protecting Social Security. They bailed out the banks but refused to bail out underwater homeowners. Hell, they can't even agree to kill the carried interest loophole, a populist favorite if ever there was one.

The reason for optimisim.

[T]he single most interesting chart in the report is one that doesn't show this smooth progression. You've probably seen this before from other sources, but the chart on the right basically shows that for the past 40 years voting patterns haven't differed much by age. In fact, there's virtually no difference between generations at all until you get to the George Bush era. At that point, young voters suddenly leave the Republican Party en masse. Millennials may be far less likely than older generations to say there's a big difference between Republicans and Democrats, but their actual voting record belies that.

As they say, "the trend is your friend until the bend at the end . . ."


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:27 AM
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This seeems significant. The IMF espousing redistributive polices like progressive taxation and other measures to reduce income inequality. They talk about it in terms of the holy grail of growth (really, what is it with economists and this obsession with this one number?), but it's encouraging at least to see the issue addressed at all by the IMF.


Posted by: togolosh | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:35 AM
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I have to present tomorrow, otherwise I wouldn't be in a suit either.

Read at first glance as "otherwise I wouldn't be in a snit" says the man somewhat in a snit as he has to "present" one thing at 9 PM tonight and another at 7:30 tomorrow morning.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:47 AM
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Uniting a couple of subthreads, here is a nice piece of reporting on inequality by Mrs. Ezra Klein. And here is some political context.


Posted by: knecht ruprecht | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:58 AM
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Hey, pursuant to 256, 259, etc., regarding moronitude, I do want to take this up. IDP explains at 262:

"god-botherers?"
"trying so desperately to render Godism respectable?"
"apparently a burden for many?"
Seems you could have asked your questions differently.

Thanks for the explanation. I want to make clear, though, that my terminology was in relation specifically to Sullivan, who clearly *is* bothered by the tensions his religious belief introduces for the rest of his worldview, who *does* feel he needs to defend his Catholic belief in a world in which, increasingly, being significantly led by such a thing is not considered a respectable thinking man's way, and who -- it seems to me -- is obviously burdened by the dissonance involved in, oh, say, being a gay married man who to all appearances would ordinarily be a liberal, but is not, because (among other things) God.

I do apologize if it wasn't clear that I was talking about Sullivan. His series of posts yesterday was all about trying to reconcile this stuff and explain it to others. It certainly does make me a moron that I didn't realize other Christians would think I was generalizing to them. But I wasn't.

I realize the above clarification may appear to some to be an exercise in plausible denial, but honestly, really: I do not deliberately structure my comments in order to insult people. I was insulting Sullivan, yes (and Ross Douthat, to be honest, though that's not really fair to Sullivan). Apparently I didn't make that clear enough.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 9:47 AM
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which, as I've always said, is his singular strength; I hope he knows that

Alas, Yglesias seems to think that his strength is True Facts, and so he gets spun by nitwits (or adopts nitwit ideology) to a greater degree than Ezra does.

I can't find it on the Internet, but there's a little speech by the Sally Field journalist character in Absence of Malice (aka, the Best Journalism Movie Drama Ever) in which she says to Paul Newman something like: "I know you think that what I do is nothing. It's not nothing. I just didn't do it very well."

Some of the critique of True Facts is really a critique of people who do a shitty job of discerning the facts. Maybe it's futile to report accurately and to provide appropriate context on WMD or global warming or whatnot, but I'd like to see more effort put into it than we've had so far, and I wish Ezra et al luck.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 11:27 AM
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Don't waste your time, Parsimon. Halford was just being an asshole, more or less unprovoked. Assholes vs. morons, it's the Unfogged way!

Re some of the stuff above, one thing that highlighted the shortcomings of Ezra's style of journalism to me was Steven Brill's great piece on health care costs in Time. That piece just took off, in detail, on the sheer craziness of the U.S. health care system. Actually not all that outwardly ideological (although the tone was outraged) since the story tells itself through the facts. It's such an obvious piece to do that you wonder why it isn't done more often. But Ezra couldn't have done it at Wonkblog, because he was so tied to tracking the policy wonkery within the system, and all those insider wonks were politically and otherwise constrained from just calling to tear the mess of a system down.

Maybe the new vox project can do more of that stuff -- but not if studious within-the-system neutrality is part of the tone.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 11:35 AM
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One would like to believe that Ezra chafed at the constraints he was under, and wanted to do more. I have no idea whether that's true or not. It's probably more likely that he thinks he's found a way to monetize journalism.

But there are some advances being made in the realm of True Facts - Glenn Greenwald and Nate Silver come to mind as two exemplars - that suggest that maybe there's hope for journalism as a method to inform social change.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 11:44 AM
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290.1: Heh, thanks for that, PGD: it's all I could think as well.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 12:13 PM
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290: Steven Brill's great piece on health care costs in Time

I'm not sure I saw that. Do you mean Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us? It appears to be paywalled.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 12:23 PM
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Nate Silver

Who is currently annoying me with the newly-launched 538 site in that he talks all "about" his NCAA tournament model and the results it yields but does not layout the actual rankings/metrics it yields in a form lie Sagarin does. (I assume he thinks that gives away too much of his secret sauce.) If I'm wrong and someone knows where it is nicely laid out then I'm either an idiot and/or they've managed to not not make it at all obvious.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 12:48 PM
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290.2: I think that is similar to how the current political fact-checking sites leave out so much and can be "right" while be totally wrong. I recall the infamous Philly Dem debate (which indirectly led to JournoList) as an example. It was the one which rally was a total cluster of center-right sexist and racist "narratives" ("Senator Obama, does Rev. Wright love his country as much as you do?" form George S as one notorious example. Asked about a former Marine as Obama pointed out.) I recall the utter vapidity of the U of Penn. Annenberg project fact check on the debate as it completely covered trivialities. Will they get past that? Be able to confront MSM-bolstered right-wing nonsense? More power to them if thy can.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 12:58 PM
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One thing I wanted to note several days ago is that we basically already have a True Facts news source: NPR*. And it does the job of informing its audience well; I'm sure we all recall that NPR listeners were basically the only people in America who knew that Saddam wasn't behind 9/11 and that we never found any WMD in Iraq.
Does anyone think that NPR advances the liberal cause in any significant way? Hell, my liberal MIL listens to far more of it than I could ever stomach, and she consumes no other news sources, yet she still comes out with nuggets of, if not Fox-level bullshit, at least Villager wisdom.

I'm not saying Vox can't work; I'm just saying that I'm skeptical of the motivating ideas behind it.

*All flaws (boring, CW-drenched, Cokie Roberts) acknowledged, their reporting model really is based on drilling down to the True Facts.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 2:23 PM
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NPR is the most conservative force in American media. FOX may make conservatives angry, but NPR makes liberals complacent.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 3:00 PM
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OT: I'm sitting at the bar in the seat closest to the door.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 3:29 PM
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Sounds like it's a day that ends in Y again.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 3:30 PM
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Right, but this time I set the jukebox to play the whole Meatloaf catalog.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 3:32 PM
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Is your Rusty Nail a festive shade of green?


Posted by: ydnew | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 3:32 PM
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That's a very personal question, ydnew.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 3:38 PM
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We're upstairs if anybody is looking.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 3:46 PM
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.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 3:50 PM
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Perhaps the most cryptic post in Unfogged history.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 3:51 PM
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Woo liveblogging?


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 4:27 PM
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God bless you brave souls, meeting up in a bar on St. Paddy's* Day.

*apparently this is how you are supposed to spell it? I am told.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 4:54 PM
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Donnybrook! Donnybrook!


Posted by: Stanley | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 5:09 PM
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That was yesterday.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 5:13 PM
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If it's on a Sunday, doesn't it get held over a day so you can get drunk at work?


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 5:20 PM
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Mexican bar for St. Patrick's Day, Irish bar for Cinco De Mayo. That is a good rule of bars. Speaking of which liveblog you monsters!


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 5:27 PM
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What? I'm not a fucking transcription service.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 5:35 PM
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Male: Oh yeah, like ttat, baby!
Female: You like that?
Male: Oh yeah!


Posted by: Chopper | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 5:51 PM
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Using the tubes to talk and look at things with people closer to missing Malaysian airliner than they are to me.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 6:04 PM
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Jesus Christ. I knew that Stormcrow was responsible.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 6:05 PM
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OK. Done.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 6:32 PM
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If I don't meet the other SH commenter on the bus, it means he's constipated or I walk slow.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 6:37 PM
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Any other survivors?


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 6:37 PM
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Are you still alive?


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 6:44 PM
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Oh, hey. There's my office.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 6:47 PM
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319: I'm not sure. I guess so.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 6:50 PM
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If you put the gum on the seat next to me...


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 6:54 PM
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No, that wasn't me.


Posted by: torrey pine | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 6:58 PM
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is a Catholic as well? Well, that is apparently a burden for many.

You could have just said it was a cross to bear, those poor creatures.


Posted by: md 20/400 | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 7:26 PM
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Awkward selfie on the Flickr feed. Plz retweet.

317: I walked to 5th & Market so I probably picked up a 61 much earlier than you did.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:09 PM
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Wait, was dalriata the person reading comments in the coffee shop or whatever that one time or are you two just being neighborly?


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:19 PM
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You could have just said it was a cross to bear, those poor creatures.

Don't forget the crown of thorns that we Catholics like to wear. Stylish! but painful!


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:28 PM
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Just neighborly; I had never even seen Moby until the last meetup. Given how small Pittsburgh and in particular our neighborhood is, that's pretty surprising. I need to drink more.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:29 PM
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Pics! nice work.


Posted by: RH | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:30 PM
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327: Very proud that that's one mortification of the flesh my patron saint indulged in that I never tried.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:32 PM
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328: I only shaved my toothbrush mustache a few days before that meetup.


Posted by: Moby Hick | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:47 PM
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330: You tried some of the other forms of mortification of the flesh that your patron saint indulged in?

Not to pry ...


Posted by: Just Plain Jane | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:51 PM
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331: I think I'd notice that. Especially in our neighborhood.


Posted by: dalriata | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 8:56 PM
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332: Long ago there was starvation sometimes, various things to look unattractive, nothing too extreme. I guess I talked in the archives about how I used to wear a bracelet high up my arm where it would be hidden under my uniform sleeve so that it would chafe a bit and remind me of my failings, but that was really a Narnia reference. It sometimes felt like if I could push the self-denial far enough I might be able to learn to believe in God. Instead I went back to eating.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-17-14 9:01 PM
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Instead I went back to eating.

Good call.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 3:48 AM
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Well, right. I don't recommend my path and it wasn't an entirely causal connection. I wasn't eating because I didn't want a body, and that grew out of many things beyond too many readings of Lives of the Saints as a child.


Posted by: Thorn | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 5:19 AM
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I thought I had mentioned this here (or maybe it was at the one meetup), but your descriptions of that phase of your life remind me strongly of Mermaids--which I thought was a nice little gem of a movie. (Read the book after I saw it and remember it as decent, but don't really have independent recall of it beyond the movie.) But I guess there is a fairly rich genre of literature/movies of young women (and men) coming to grips with their relationship with Catholicism. You know, like The Sound of Music.


Posted by: JP Stormcrow | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 5:55 AM
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This from Krugman is pertinent to the JRoth media discussion.

I think it's dead-on correct and supports the point I've been making, but I suspect JRoth would say the same thing.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:11 AM
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But I guess there is a fairly rich genre of literature/movies of young women (and men) coming to grips with their relationship with Catholicism Nazism. You know, like The Sound of Music.


Posted by: Jesus McQueen | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 7:27 AM
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This from Krugman is pertinent to the JRoth media discussion.

I'm glad this thread isn't completely dead because yesterday I realized where I disagreed with JRoth -- and I do still disagree even though I think most of what he's saying is correct.

1) I'm honestly less concerned with the question of "will vox" advance liberal concerns?" Than I am with, "will it turn out to be a project that a bunch of talented, ambitious, young people will feel proud do have been involved with?" I don't know whether it will accomplish that, but I do think "finding a better way to do news on the web" is a goal that is more than sufficient to justify starting a new organization.

1a) I firmly believe that almost any new project/organization will fail to achieve its original vision of success and that the key question is always how well are they able to adapt to changes and failures along the way. It's still useful to point out in advance, "I think they're going to have problems with X" but I also think it's worth giving them some space to figure out what their identity will become before trying to pigeonhole them with, "success or failure depends on their ability to do X." (which isn't exactly what you were saying, but I think it part of our different perspectives.

2) Two interesting articles from CJR this month. This one points out that there's a lot of space to do True Facts reporting that isn't currently being done.

As a general matter, far too few journalists around the country pay attention to water. Whereas major papers like The New York Times and The Wall Street Journal throw multiple reporters at energy, the water beat doesn't really exist, except at a handful of publications, and often as a forlorn subset of environmental or government coverage. It's strange.

...

I called [Chris Woodka] in October. Halfway through our hour-long conversation, I told him that he might be the nation's only stand-alone water reporter for a general-interest publication. "That's kind of sad," Woodka said, after a pause. It's something he's heard before, however, often from people in the industry who want more coverage of their field.Nearly 20 years ago, Woodka remembered, he attended a conference on Western water law in Phoenix that was expressly geared toward journalists covering water. "It reminds me that there's a lot less people reporting on it these days," he said.

And this article about Fox News does, I think, make the case that different media create different environments for news.

Whether Fox is employing [liberal] adversaries because public feuds fuel ratings, or because it's in pursuit of a franker public debate, they aren't saying. (The network declined requests to participate in this piece.) But the way the voice of dissent is wielded--liberals are always outnumbered, thrust into subjects that descend into brawls--often undercuts balance in favor of fireworks. It's a version of on-air political theater that some research suggests can actually further polarize opinions. Put another way, having two conservatives and a liberal can be a more powerful force than three conservatives--a counterintuitive approach that can solidify political beliefs and quash the other side.

The public's increasing tolerance, even preference, for hard-edged, high-volume television news is a clear driver behind the dynamics of cable news. Consider the case of Crossfire. CNN killed the show in 2005 after a famous interaction where Jon Stewart blamed the show for reducing news coverage to partisan hackery by airing only extreme talking points. "You have a responsibility to the public discourse, and you fail miserably," he said in his late-2004 appearance. Since then, Stewart has built his career on the backs of such comical partisan hackery, and when CNN re-launched Crossfire this fall, it found that, compared with the current aggression standard, the program no longer seemed extreme. "Crossfire . . . is far from a shouting match," Laura Bennett wrote in The New Republic. "And that is precisely the problem." The show has simply become too mild for modern tastes. What people want from cable news, says Holder, is something with a little life to it. "Anderson Cooper, I think he's great. But he's boring," says Holder. "Would you watch an old guy talk rationally about a topic? Bet you'd rather watch two hot chicks who are smart and who disagree yell at each other."

...

Adding opposing voices seems like a win for a democracy reliant on open debate: Even if you don't agree, you hear the other side. But viewers pay a price for open hostility. In the mid aughts the American Political Science Review published a series of experiments showing that people trusted the authority of government less after watching arguments about politics on television. To reach their findings, the researchers played a set of political debates with and without conflict. The respondents who watched the placid exchanges didn't change their views of government. The ones who saw a lively exchange tended to trust government less. Viewers also are more likely to retain information if it's offered with angry disagreement--numerous studies suggest that the kinds of camera close-ups that Fox and other cable networks regularly use enhance our focus by placing us visually close to the unrest. There's a strong evolutionary basis for our reaction: Out in the wild, strident conflict might kill us, so we pay attention. "When we assign people to watch a civil versus an uncivil program, they are increasingly likely to change the channel if they are given the civil one," said Diana Mutz, a professor at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania and author of the upcoming In Your Face Politics, chronicling several decades of research on the phenomenon.

Viewers may remember more from visceral segments, but that doesn't mean the additional knowledge translates into more respect for the other side. Mutz' research suggests that aggressive political debate leaves audiences even less trusting of their political foes. "The problem with that is when it comes to governing, you're not going to feel that there's a respectable opponent out there," she said. "And given that sometimes they win, you're stuck in a situation where you don't feel like the leaders are legitimate leaders."

3) Finally I think it's just worth recognizing that if your standard is, "will this be good for liberal causes?" Then you're going to be suspicious of most projects. Because, generally speaking, any new thing is unlikely to have much political impact. I think the Krguman piece that politicalfootball just linked makes a crucially important point about why you can't ignore the context and political implications of journalism but, at the same time, I do think that having an ethic of trying to do the job (journalism) well on its own terms is valuable.

But you can't be an effective fox just by letting the data speak for itself -- because it never does. You use data to inform your analysis, you let it tell you that your pet hypothesis is wrong, but data are never a substitute for hard thinking. If you think the data are speaking for themselves, what you're really doing is implicit theorizing, which is a really bad idea (because you can't test your assumptions if you don't even know what you're assuming.)


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:19 AM
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Sorry, that got longer than I intended.

But I do think the quoted passages are relevant (at least anecdotally) to the conversation.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:21 AM
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Apropos of nothing, did Jewish kids of later Gen X demographics make a lot of "Temple of Doom" jokes about going to temple when y'all were growing up? If I had been Jewish, everybody would have gotten really sick of those jokes.
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Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:45 AM
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A partial answer is that "temple" is a fraught word. Yes, it's in casual use particularly in Reform Judaism, and has it's origins in the 19th century decision, codified in the 1885 Pittsburgh Platform, to formerly state that the movement no longer desired the re-establishment of the Temple in Jerusalem, and its rituals. Hence, the "temple" is where you are...

But this usage has never been general, even in Reform, and most Jews don't refer to their houses of worship as temples.


Posted by: idp | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:55 AM
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284: Compare and contrast this piece on Labour strategy, arguing that Ed Miliband is de-emphasising swing voters in favour of mobilisation-first: http://renewal.org.uk/articles/what-would-a-40-strategy-for-labour-look-like/


Posted by: Alex | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:58 AM
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I guess I talked in the archives about how I used to wear a bracelet high up my arm where it would be hidden under my uniform sleeve so that it would chafe a bit and remind me of my failings,

The waistband to my old jeans do this for me.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 8:59 AM
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343: Well, I would have expected the kids from the big Reform congregations to be the most witty, and those usually seem to be called "Temple so-and-so" or the reverse.


Posted by: Natilo Paennim | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:10 AM
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343: Huh, I did not know that. The impression I had in my heavily Jewish high school milieu was that 'temple' was a neutral synonym for synagogue. But of course pretty much everyone I knew was Reform -- I knew one kid who wore a kippah, but that was it.


Posted by: LizardBreath | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 9:11 AM
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Krugman on the new 538:

But you can't be an effective fox just by letting the data speak for itself -- because it never does. You use data to inform your analysis, you let it tell you that your pet hypothesis is wrong, but data are never a substitute for hard thinking. If you think the data are speaking for themselves, what you're really doing is implicit theorizing, which is a really bad idea (because you can't test your assumptions if you don't even know what you're assuming.)
Smart guy, that Krugman.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 11:04 AM
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Beat me by 10 comments, pf.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 11:05 AM
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347: Me too. In Miami, all the kids called it "temple." Up here I think I've known more Jews who were either in conservative Reform congregations or rather liberal Conservative ones, and it tended to be called "services."

I really don't have time to get into the PK thing this minute, but come back later, I promise.


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 11:10 AM
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348-9: So here's why Krugman is backing my argument, and not yours: Discerning the True Facts, Krugman tells us, depends on correct analysis.

Nothing I've said opposes accurate analysis, and nothing Krugman says advocates ideological analysis over True Facts, which is what I take you to be promoting.

In 65 you mention Delong and free trade, and in 40 you mention the failure to check one's facts against one's ideological commitments. I don't think it's fair to say that Delong (and Krugman) got snowed by free trade arguments - they're smart guys who were more misleaders than misled, and we have to blame them directly for their own weak analysis. But that's what it was: weak analysis - a complete failure to take into account the political economy of the situation, among other things. A failure to correctly assess the True Facts.

(Delong, honoring his ideological commitments and, I suspect, his personal friendship, endorses Larry Summers regardless of the damning True Facts in that case.)

In the linked piece about 538, Krugman errs here:

More to the point, however, what does this downward revision tell us? We're told that the "whole narrative" is gone; which narrative?

The 538 piece is crystal clear on which narrative, and Krugman identifies it in the very next sentence:

Is the notion that profits are high, but investment remains low, no longer borne out by the data?

Yes. That's what the 538 piece is saying. So it isn't a failure to have an over-arching ideological narrative that ruined the 538 piece. The problem with the piece is that it was wrong and incomplete.

I will say this: If Silver can't get run an organization that respects the True Facts (and there is other evidence of this in his staff's inaugural effort) then maybe it really can't be done, and in the end, we're stuck with relying on ideology.

But note that in the end, Krugman himself isn't committed to the idea that the 538 piece is wrong - just that it looks dubious, and he needs more True Facts to assess it properly.

"Neener neener, people have been citing a number that was wrong" is just not helpful. Tell me something meaningful! Tell me why the data matter!

Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 11:43 AM
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I really don't have time to get into the PK thing this minute, but come back later, I promise.

I'll keep an eye out; I'm curious.

For what it's worth, there is now a second post on vox.com, and it is explicitly liberal, and completely familiar in style and presentation (an interview with an expert, and accompanying transcript but nothing particularly novel about the format), exactly like something you might see in the New Yorker.

Which is just to say that it's way too early to tell what their ambition really is and/or if they will be able to pull it off.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 11:46 AM
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To a certain degree I think True Facts vs. Ideological Analysis is a false dichotomy. There are a near-infinite number of true facts in the world, and journalism always requires shaping a narrative. Your ideological commitments will heavily affect what facts you investigate and how you shape a narrative (witness, for example, the effective disappearance of labor coverage in the U.S., or the frequent failure to put foreign affairs issues in the context of past U.S. behavior). Perspective-free journalism is impossible and also conceals ideology anyway, but it's also true that nobody wants ideologues who actually don't care about the truth.

I suspect what Jroth is partly getting at is the need for progressive journalists to aggressively take on a particular type of centrist journalism that presented itself as balanced and objective despite being loaded with ideological commitments anyway. There's room for full-throated advocacy journalism, there's also room I think for people who try to use the facts to support narratives that simply aren't getting the attention or exposure they should and were being pushed out of the neoliberal fake-consensus discourse.


Posted by: PGD | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 11:57 AM
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Just to make explicit the argument in 340.2.2 --

I'm saying that if there's a model for TV news which is popular with viewers, profitable for networks, increases viewer memory of information, and yet doesn't look very much like news. That may be a local maximum, but it's also a reason to hope that good "True Facts" web-based journalism doesn't have to look like TV journalism.

Again, who knows if vox.com will actually find a local maximum for web-based journalism, but it's an example of why I could be happy that somebody is trying.


Posted by: NickS | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 12:56 PM
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I suspect what Jroth is partly getting at is the need for progressive journalists to aggressively take on a particular type of centrist journalism that presented itself as balanced and objective despite being loaded with ideological commitments anyway.

Wait! That's also what I'm getting at!

Except: I don't think it's necessary to be liberal to do this, except to the extent that (per 39 and 40) the truth has a liberal bias.


Posted by: politicalfootball | Link to this comment | 03-18-14 1:12 PM
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I have a ton of work, so I can't say everything I want, but:

I think I wasn't clear enough in what I meant by True Facts reporting; to me, while 538 isn't exactly what (I think) Klein has in mind, it's much closer to it than what PK or Dean Baker do. If you define True Facts reporting as what Krugman does, then of course I think everyone should do it.

So let me try to redefine:

Regular, (or "Shitty") Reporting is what most MSM outlets do: they parrot CW, they treat facts as matters of opinion ("But Republicans say that cutting taxes will shrink the deficit. Back to you, Chet.").

True Facts Reporting is willing to get into the weeds, and is willing to buck CW. But it tends not to question underlying assumptions. That is, it will adjudicate the facts behind a current debate ("Do trees cause pollution? No."), but it stops there, without getting into why one side was putting forth Untrue Facts. There's an underlying assumption that, once they've laid Untrue Facts to rest, the side with the True Facts will win, as if this were a debate about what year Revolver was released, and a quick look at a Beatles reference book will end the discussion.

Actually Useful Reporting gets to the facts as well, and then uses them to figure out what's going on in the debate. Cui bono, essentially.

It's not that True Facts Reporting never goes beyond raw fact-checking (and, done well, it's much more willing to buck CW than pretty much any of the fact-checking sites that are out there), but that it acts as if politics were a debate over the facts, not a fight over power. Within parties* facts matter, because the debates tend to be about efficacy (what's the best policy for alleviating child poverty? how do we most effectively punish sluts?). But between parties, thinking about facts mostly reveals who's bullshitting; it doesn't settle anything.

*set aside for the moment that US parties are diverse coalitions and don't share consistent goals


Posted by: JRoth | Link to this comment | 03-19-14 2:06 PM
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