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link roundup March 19, 2008

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, books, econ, environment, news, politics, race, religion, science, sex, tech.
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1) the human side of ralph nader (make sure you change the bookmark to chapter 1)

2) hillary’s “experience”

3) fred krupp, president of the environmental defense fund, talks about “his new book and his thoughts on harnessing the great forces of capitalism to save the world from catastrophe.” – direct real audio link & airtalk archive link (scroll to 3/14)

4) andrew sullivan ponders prostitution – 1 & 2

5) ezra klein on wright vs. falwell

6) TED talks (richard dawkins, larry brilliant, bill clinton, the google guys, and more)

in blog news… March 9, 2008

Posted by KG in media, misc, news, politics.
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nytimes photo

nytimes article about matt yglesias’s blogging “flophouse”:

This was an election night party and a blogger party at what residents and friends call the Flophouse, a creaky row house with sea-foam-color floors, where Mr. Yglesias lives with four other roommates, all young bloggers.

Group living in the nation’s capital is nothing new. In Washington, the work-life balance often seems less balance and more all-consuming overlap. After all, it is well known that even senators like Charles E. Schumer share housing with other politicians.

In that sense, the presence of a blogger house reflects the increasing number of online pundits in the capital. The Flophouse bloggers may not be part of the traditional mainstream news media, but they are certainly part of the mainstream blogosphere that is helping drive discourse in the city and the country. Mr. Yglesias said his site attracted about two million page views last month.

“Groups of similar-minded people congregating together and publishing their thoughts used to be called a magazine,” Andrew Sullivan, the former editor of The New Republic who now blogs for The Atlantic, wrote in an e-mail message. “This is just a 21st-century version of an 18th-century innovation.”


“the unbearable inanity of tim russert” January 16, 2008

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, interviews, media, news, politics, television.
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matthew yglesias hit the nail on the head with this one. it’s as if the guests on meet the press and russert have to come to a mutual agreement. the guests dodge his seemingly “tough” questions and russert continues to ask them.

“the unbearable inanity of tim russert”:

Actually, the balls Russert favors may be hard, but the pitches he throws aren’t curveballs, which go someplace useful. They’re sillyballs, which go somewhere pointless. Russert has created a strike zone of his own where toughness meets irrelevance. John McCain entered the zone last May, when he went on the show and repeatedly asserted that the Bush tax cuts had increased the federal government’s revenue. Hearing this, a tough but conscientious journalist might have pointed out that this is demonstrably false. Russert, however, reached for a trusty hardball and sent it sailing. McCain, he pointed out, was now supporting extending the very same Bush tax cuts that he had once opposed.

Well, yes, but this was a bit like asking someone who says the world is flat why he used to say the earth was round. The contradiction Russert pointed out was real—but hardly central. In fact, if tax cuts actually had increased revenues, then McCain’s change of heart would have been perfectly logical. The real problem was that McCain’s theory of the relationship between tax rates and revenue wasn’t true. In Russertland, though, as long as you acknowledge the contradiction, the questioner is satisfied. “You say the world is flat, but just three years ago you said it was round.” “You know, Tim, yes, I used to say the world was round, but times change, and that’s why I support the Bush administration’s bill to construct a restraining wall to prevent ships from sailing over the edge of the sea.” And so on.

To say that such exercises offer no information would be unfair. But the information is purely meta. Viewers watch a candidate getting grilled by Russert not to assess the candidate’s views but to assess his or her ability to withstand the grilling. And, when this sort of toughness and sparring becomes its own reward, the vacuity of the questioning is almost guaranteed. After all, if you asked a politician a serious, important question and got a perfectly good answer, then maybe, for a moment, you couldn’t be tough. Instead, Russert relies on his crutch of confronting politicians with allegedly contradictory statements they’ve made—to highly monotonous effect.

And that’s really the game here. Russert’s goal isn’t to inform his audience. He’s there to “make news”—to get his guest to say something embarrassing that lands in the next day’s papers or on the NBC Nightly News. The politicians, in turn, go on the show determined not to make news. And why do they bother? Because, as Geraghty has noted, it’s a rite of passage, and any politician too chicken to play Russert’s inane games would never garner the respect of the political class. And then, seven days later, it all happens again like clockwork. If it’s Sunday, it’s Meet the Press.

containing multitudes December 10, 2007

Posted by KG in 2008 Elections, interviews, news, politics, tech.
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great interview with andrew sullivan about the 2008 election and blogging…

the atlantic:

Your piece revolves around the idea that Baby Boomer candidates like Hillary and Giuliani are essentially rehashing the same debates they had in college dorm rooms 30 or 40 years ago. How are these discussions different from the ones college students are having now?

Well, in the past, the size of government was one of the more fundamental dividing lines between right and left. The right was supposed to represent the small government philosophy—limited spending, low taxes. Obviously, things have shifted. I don’t think any Democrat could possibly have increased government spending faster than the Republicans have done over the last six or seven years. Therefore, when you actually look at who would make government bigger or smaller, the distinctions between the two parties at this point are almost moot.

I also think the paradigm of whether one wants to be an interventionist or an isolationist, to use two hackneyed terms, has rather broken up since the end of the Cold War, and specifically since Iraq. Obviously, we don’t have a Soviet Union, a big state with an actual army that we’re fighting against. Therefore the rules of this war are very different and require a different calibration. I think we’re just at the beginning of really figuring out exactly what that means.

…agree with him on both counts there.