Although I agree with some of the recent discussion about The New Republic enabling conservative nonsense, I’d also like to draw attention to some of TNR‘s less acknowledged, but nonetheless egregious mistakes.
When the magazine has turned its contrarian attention towards popular culture, the results can be spectacular–train wreck spectacular. There was the post calling for Comedy Central to ax the Colbert Report after just two weeks, written by the otherwise sensible Noam Scheiber. The best part is when Scheiber begins to speculate as to where the blame should fall, citing rumors that Jon Stewart was too preoccupied with fallout from his Crossfire appearance to “mind his own ship.” Because having your secretary field calls about what it was like to call Tucker Carlson a “douche bag” really takes away from writing that handful of dick jokes before lunch.
Keelin McDonell tipped the magazine close to self-parody by writing “The Case Against Sarah Vowell”. That’s right, the case against a woman who appears on This American Life and Late Night With Conan O’Brien. And who can forget Lee Siegel’s “Letter to Jon Stewart” in which he–in all honesty–wondered if “smelled like ass” was a good thing or bad thing.
The real question you have to be asking yourself isn’t whether TNR has made neocon foreign policy seem sensible, but rather why The Daily Show hasn’t savaged most of the staff yet?
This sentence made my inner Tyler Cowen‘s head hurt:
Poetry doesn’t need promotion. People need time. A revolutionary way to promote poetry might be to criminalize capitalism’s theft of people’s time.
I have no idea what this means. This is from a post about promoting poetry on the consistently nonsensical Harriet, a poetry blog of the Poetry Foundation. What sort of social system isn’t going to exact an opportunity cost? So you have to have to work to make money, time that could be spent writing sonnets and making sly allusions to Rimbaud. Yeah, it’s rough. On the other hand, in the socialist utopia you have to write verse about the noble workers, and the vanguard, and wear severe looking coats that go past your knees. Tough call.
Dan Drezner surveys the current debate about the foreign policy community and adds some important insights. An excerpt:
Pollack comes in for no small amount of criticism in the blogosphere. Some of it is deserved (why he would team up with O’Hanlon to write this op-ed is beyond me¹), but much of it misses the fact that Pollack is a smart military and intelligence expert who, as Ilan Goldenberg points out, actually knows the Middle East (but was wrong about the war). He’s no neocon hack, and as Drezner’s post highlights, his pro regime-change book , The Threatening Storm, had some serious caveats for an Iraq invasion:
In The Threatening Storm, Pollack cautions the United States against behaving as a “rogue superpower” that does whatever it wants, whenever it wants: “If we behave in this fashion, we will alienate our allies and convince much of the rest of the world to band together against us to try to keep us under control. Rather than increasing our security and prosperity, such a development would drastically undermine it.” Continue reading
I disagree with Quixote’s assessment that several male commentaries, including my own, about men and feminism are somewhat illegitimate. While I’m mindful of reinforcing the “feminists hate men” narrative, that the lowest common denominator (or some misogynist tool) would turn “men can be feminists too” into “those broads are femi-nazis!” is largely unavoidable. Also, I don’t think of these comments as broadly representative of either Feministe or its commenters; I just used it as a jumping off point to discuss a debate I thought, in popular discourse, had been settled.
But I shouldn’t have been so surprised that there were still women out there asking if men can be feminists, as feminism–like so much else–isn’t a monolithic movement. My reaction should have been “Wow, there are still those sort of radical feminists out there? How quaint.” Our beef is with radicalism (or at least a particular strain of it). Continue reading
Via Andrew Sullivan, a roundup of a minor blogosphere debate about FDR and the more, uh, “creative” ways Roosevelt made economic policy. Pejman Yousefzadeh of Redstate asserts that the relevant lesson to be drawn from this is to beware of an unchecked Executive:
I don’t care how long ago this pathetic and frightening policymaking fiasco occurred. It is appalling that it ever happened and in order to make sure that no President ever again thinks of arrogating unto himself/herself the authority to engage in command-and-control decisions concerning issues best left to the market, it behooves those of us who actually are serious about policymaking and historical lessons attendant to policymaking to point out such travesties for the historical record . . . the better to avoid such trainwrecks in the future.
I’ll just point out that the sort of “policy making fiasco” Yousefzadeh is talking about is avoided by investing that power in the Federal Reserve. As Kevin Drum noted, the idea of messing with the price of gold was a way of controlling inflation, a task we now invest in the Fed Chairman. There really isn’t any danger of a president going around setting the price of milk and iPods (see: all of the 1990s). So it’s agreed: markets know more about the economy than the president, so “boo!” to price controls. Fiscal policy gets left up to an unelected, former Princeton econ professor. Deal.