Friday, August 20, 2010

Read Stuff, You Should

OK, I understand Conor Friedersdorf's point that talk radio listeners aren't inherently bigots and loons; read his whole argument.  But still...I think he doesn't hold them responsible enough for, you know, listening in the first place.  That's a choice, and I think it's a choice that matters, even if it's also true that the same people can, in a different context, make better choices.  As one of his readers said today about Levin/Rush/Hannity: "It is more entertaining for them to pretend that the Left is not motivated by a desire to make the country better, but a desire to destroy it and enslave much of the population, so that's what they say."  It seems to me that if you're entertained by that kind of fantasy, well, it's not something to be proud of.   (Does Olbermann promote an equivalent fantasy?  I don't watch enough to know).

On to the good stuff:

1. Alan Abromowitz and Norman Ornstein debunk myths (5) about midterms.

2. Matthew Dickinson explains MMS.  Essential.

3. Happy 75, Social Security!  Kevin Drum explains the trust fund, and CBPP debunks myths (10).

4. Tyler Cowen takes on free parking (speaking of which: never play with goofy rules where landing on Free Parking gets you fines, or anything like that. Monopoly advice: stick to the original rules, and play quickly).  Cowen leaves Matt Yglesias free to campaign against government-enforced barber cartels -- and if you think it sounds silly, you're wrong.  Part two here, and especially part three here.  Great series, and I hope he keeps going.

5. Jamelle Bouie joins the fight against judicial elections.

6. Ezra Klein's takedown of Matt Bai is considerably more epic and way more fun than mine.  Also, on health care cost control.

7.  Newt bashing?  You wanted Newt bashing?  I'll give you Newt bashing: here and here.  Also, here.


  1. Money paid to the bank for anything but buying property goes in the center of the board, and landing on 'Free Parking' wins the pot. That's how everyone I know plays Monopoly. I'd like to play by the original rules for once, but I haven't met anyone willing to do so. Is this a regional thing?

  2. Not regional, that I know of...I grew up playing that way too, and AFAIK most people did. It's just not as good a game that way -- it's better to drain money out of the game, especially early on.

  3. In Abramowitz and Ornstein's article, I found the following paragraph confusing:

    "Midterm elections are largely determined by short-term factors, including the popularity of the president and the state of the economy. As a result, they rarely indicate anything about longer-term trends, and they have no value in predicting the results of the subsequent presidential and congressional elections. Presidents whose parties have suffered major midterm losses -- such as Harry Truman in 1946, Ronald Reagan in 1982 and Bill Clinton in 1994 -- have gone on to win reelection easily two years later. So even if Republicans make major gains in 2010, as is widely expected, it won't tell us anything about what will happen in 2012."

    First of all, I would not say that Truman easily won reelection in 1948. Second, these facts leave open the possibility that major midterm losses actually increase the president's chances of reelection. Maybe that isn't the case, but I'd like to see more relevant data on this point.

  4. . . . that the Left is not motivated by a desire to make the country better, but a desire to destroy it and enslave much of the population . . .

    I don't think this is very different from liberal tropes about conservatism being a malicious conspiracy against the poor and minorities.

  5. I don't know, David, the rhetoric of "treason" and so forth on the right seems to me to go farther than the liberal tropes you mention -- certainly farther than Olberman's line (which is mostly about conservatives being hypocritical jackasses). And this, despite the fact that today's right is the ideological residue of the only large group of actual traitors in American history, i.e. the old Confederacy.

    Also, further to Kylopod's point: I remember predicting the day after the '94 election that the Republican takeover of Congress made Clinton's re-election a cinch. Of course, Clinton had the sense to actually *campaign against* Republicans and what they stood for; it's still not clear to me that Obama understands that that needs to be done.

  6. I take issue with Massie saying Douthat's and Salam's posts are 'sane and humane'.


    'And they’ll need leaders whose antennas are sensitive enough to recognize that the quest for inter-religious dialogue is ill served by throwing up a high-profile mosque two blocks from the site of a mass murder committed in the name of Islam.'

    Douthat would attaint Islam itself with the guilt of al Qaeda. The language is less inflammatory than Gingrich's and more articulate than Palin's, but it is the same position. It is not sane nor humane.

    And this:

    'Too often, American Muslim institutions have turned out to be entangled with ideas and groups that most Americans rightly consider beyond the pale. Too often, American Muslim leaders strike ambiguous notes when asked to disassociate themselves completely from illiberal causes.'

    This is innuendo in the service of bigotry, demonization, and divisiveness.

    Salam seconds Douthat, saying he 'has written a wonderful column on Cordoba House that captures my feelings almost perfectly.'


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