Friday, April 22, 2011

Read Stuff, You Should

I should be back to normal schedule now, more or less. I'll probably have a report from the Western (Political Science Association conference) later today or perhaps early next week. I'll report on Passover right now: my youngest's matzah balls and potato kugel were insanely good, as were my oldest's matzah kugel and homemade applesauce, my wife's brisket at the first seder, and (hey, I'm not modest) my chicken soup. I hope y'alls Seders were that good, for those with Seders, and again Happy Easter to those observing Holy Week right now. Hmmm...I guess I'm also supposed to use this space to link to other things I've written -- I argued over at Greg's place this week that Obama should enter the spin war over a (possible? likely?) fall government shutdown by pushing a shutdown failsafe now.

OK, on to the good stuff.

1. Budget and deficit: Mike Alberti at the always-terrific Remapping Debate has a nice gizmo to help understand federal income tax rates since WW II; the GAO's primer on federal debt; and Stan Collender explains why putting a definitive number on "budget cuts" is so tricky. Also, real economists at Microadvisors laugh at Paul Ryan.

2. Health care: Maggie Mahar explains why ACA is happening, regardless of the Supreme Court and future Congresses.

3. Greg Marx has an excellent article in the new edition of The Forum I'll be talking about more later, but for now I want to agree (and add a recent link from each) from the academic side (Marx is a reporter) with his praise for non-academics who are informed by and open to findings from political science. Marx mentions Ezra Klein (here on Medicare); Jonathan Chait (reading WSJ editorials); Steve Kornacki (I have two from him -- one on Jimmy Carter, one on the GOP in the 1990s); Jamelle Bouie (on presidential likeability); and Nate Silver (on appointed Senators). All excellent choices! My only complaint: somehow he relegated Matt Yglesias, who reads and reports on as much political science as any of these people, to a footnote. Yglesias is an important part of the story; here he is with a great short item on "weak" presidential fields and how name recognition works in different kinds of elections.

4. Presidential nomination stuff: Ed Kilgore's TNR columns are must-read; here's a good one on why it won't work to drag a reluctant candidate into the campaign; I agree with Mark Blumenthal about early polling and Tim Pawlenty.

5. Conor Friedersdorf continues tilting at windmills: Breitbart edition.

6. Libya? You'll want Fred Kaplan.

7. Very good article by Ben Smith on P.J. Crowley.

8. John Sides, not for the first time, explains why we shouldn't take party-bashing at face value.

9. And Michael Gerson on the profoundly un-conservative Ayn Rand.


  1. Ayn Rand was not only hostile towards religious ethics, but to libertarian beliefs as well (it bothered her that libertarians wanted people to be free to serve others and work more cooperatively).

  2. Hi Jon --

    Thanks for the kind words about the Forum piece, and I look forward to your further comments! Re: Yglesias, I'm a longtime devoted reader of his, and I've learned a fair bit of what I know about poli-sci from his blog. But I'm never sure how to classify him when I write about this subject, because even in the context of that wonky peer group he's not quite a "journalist" in the same sense. I don't at all mean that in a brow-furrowing "it can't be journalism if it's not objective" way, but rather that he doesn't work for an institution that sees its primary role as producing journalism, so he may face slightly different institutional and professional pressures (and the move from The Atlantic to CAP may suggest slightly different aspirations, too). That's all quite speculative with respect to how people understand their work, but it's enough that I hesitate to describe him as a "journalist who embraces polisci" without caveats.

  3. Greg,

    Fair enough. And it's a great article. Hint: my complaints, such as they are, will be on the baseball end, not the politics end.


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