The NY Times

Update & Repost-Guardians Of The Galaxy

Day by day, given the economic failures of the current newspaper model, combined with the embedded logic within Left-liberalism and political activism, this blog is expecting the NY Times to more closely resemble Britain’s Guardian newspaper:

Here’s a Guardian headline tumblr page to help clarify: So.Much.Guardian.

If so, expect more of the following:

Ideological purity/belief will often override genuine diversity of thought and fidelity to facts. Even dog-bites-man stories can’t stray too far from narratives of victim-hood on the way to eventual liberation at the Guardian.  Beat reporting costs time and money, and the race to ideological moral purity is always on [display] in order to generate revenue (when it isn’t provided by deep pockets).

Continued drift towards radical opposition to tradition, religion, or any established political order in the real world. Slate, The Atlantic, The New Yorker, The New Republic…today’s low buy-in radical chic so often becomes tomorrow’s radical liberation and idealist outrage.  All reasonable people, genuine victims or not, should think twice about joining a cadre of political idealists (what does membership cost, exactly, and what happens to my mind when I believe in a political ideal?).  Reasonable people, however great the injustice, certainly ought to question the downsides of joining that mob out in the street.

Of course, there will be the usual tensions between establishment liberal political idealism and the radical activist base.

Sadly, a general climate of national idealism, American patriotism, and more religiously inspired civic nationalism to which previous generations of Times’ writers were forced to adapt, or (gasp) even shared (JFK), may no longer form a majority in this country.

David Thompson keeps an eye on the Guardianistas, particularly, George Monbiot, so you don’t have to:

‘Yes, dear readers. The odds are stacked against us and the situation is grim. Happily, however, “we” – that’s thee and me – now “find the glimmerings of an answer” in, among other things, “the sharing… of cars and appliances.” While yearning, as we are, for an “empathy revolution.” What, you didn’t know?’

Red Impulses Gone Green-Tim Worstall At The Adam Smith Institute On George MonbiotFrom George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’

So, economics is a science?: Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’…I’m much more inclined to believe it is if there’s a defense of Jeffersonian liberty and Adam Smith’s invisible hand: Repost-’Milton Friedman Via Youtube: ‘Responsibility To The Poor’

Can you see life, liberty, and property from here?: Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge…Kant chopped the head off from German deism and the German State has been reeling every since…is value pluralism a response?: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”

Using J.S. Mill, moving away from religion? Rationalism and Utilitarianism On The Rise?: From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’…Liberalism should move towards the Austrians, or at least away from rationalist structures?: Repost-From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’

Via The Future Of Capitalism: ‘The Politics Of The New Yorker’

You know, it just might be possible to nurture experimental literature, poetry and the ‘avant-garde’ without explicit political bias:

Via The Future Of Capitalism, a new editor at The New Yorker opines:

‘Is it necessary for us to have a conservative voice or something like that? We’ve discussed it, but I’m not sure exactly what it would look like. I think The New Yorker’s niche is pretty comfortably in this progressive space and it’s much less of an issue to us than it is to The New York Times.’

I actually might agree on two fronts:  The New Yorker definitely caters to progressive political ideals (a long-term winning strategy?) AND that there’s something loathsome about hiring just to fill quotas.  The idea of letting other people live their own lives and make their own decisions is so crazy it just might work.

The latter is lost on many true-believing progressives, as the presupposed rigged ‘system’ of the oppressor justifies all manner of intrusion into existing institutions through protest, radical unrest and forced quota-systems.

Beware those who would make you care:

Under A Green Moon-Ira Stoll At The New York Sun: ‘Comma in the New Yorker Opens Up Quite a Vista Of Liberal Parochialism’

From The New Yorker: ‘Writing Powered By Amtrak’

 

Repost-The Moral Decline Of A Nation?-Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘The Perils of Anti-Decadence’

Full piece here.

(This piece has been altered to reflect an accurate reading of Douthat’s piece. Better late than never. Original copies can be provided.)

There’s certainly been a lot of Kennedy talk in the air, lately, and Douthat makes the Aldous Huxley/C.S. Lewis case for moral decadence regarding the heroic elevation of JFK, and the Kennedy clan.

‘So it isn’t quite sufficient to say that the cult of John F. Kennedy is merely a case where admirable energies and impulses have been misdirected toward an unworthy hero figure. Rather, the biggest problems with the Kennedy era — the way that “missile gap” rhetoric led inexorably to the Bay of Pigs fiasco and then a near-nuclear war, the sleepwalking escalation in Vietnam, and then what my colleague David Brooks rightly calls “the mirage of religiosity” around the modern presidency that Kennedy’s rhetoric and martyrdom helped conjure up — are all characteristic and recurring problems with the attempt to resist, through politics, the trends and tendencies that books like “The Abolition of Man” and “Brave New World” discerned and warned against.’

And:

‘These problems are among the reasons why so many contemporary writers, mostly liberal and libertarian, are inclined to dismiss the very concept of decadence … or at least to say that while we probably wouldn’t want to go the full Mustapha Mond, that kind of danger is still extremely remote, and so long as growth continues, living standards rise, and equality advances, anything that’s lost along the way is probably well worth giving up.’

Click through.

Another addition: Just read Douthat’s article. He is critiquing something that progress and the creature comforts of a material culture provide and which both Huxley and Lewis warned against: A soporific attitude towards life because much immediate suffering has been vanquished. Our technology and progress can lead to a sleepy drift where we are happy to trade security for freedom because many of us don’t know any better, and don’t want to risk finding out.

JFK was a receptacle for national liberal greatness, and for a lot of Americans’ sense of civic duty, membership to the national identity, and perhaps cause for moral action like joining the Peace Corps. Such calls to ‘national greatness’ politics as in the case of JFK can be intended to take advantage of the sense of purpose such politics bring to individuals’ lives. This can lead to great error and consequences on down the road, especially surrounding the myth of politics. JFK admirers can be a rather deluded bunch when the facts of his Presidency are enumerated (to say nothing of the conspiracists) and a poor receptacle for such hopes and dreams.

There seems to me to be a deeply personal line of reasoning behind much of this argument, which might require an individual to enter into a complex relationship with God through church doctrine, or at least to recognize the dangers of false idols and the celebrification of our culture. We should be skeptical of such mythmaking and what ‘national greatness’ politics can do to our commitments in life. I can respect such an argument, even though I may not agree.

I should say it’s nice to have a contrarian voice around in the face of a popular, secular humanism promising ever more individual freedom, ever more equality, and ever more progress. Those goods will clearly come into conflict with one another. Douthat, as a conservative columnist, seems to be living up the the Buckley-esque mandate of standing athwart history yelling: ‘Stop.’

———

A few more thoughts, for what it’s worth:

The progressive, activist Left seems perfectly happy to achieve its goals through charismatic, populist leaders engaged in majoritarian politics, often willing to push through ambitious laws impossible for even a competent technocracy to administer. This can easily go beyond science and wise policy-making into rabble-rousing street politics and a naive idealism wedded to the logic of political power.

Douthat, at least, gives me that courtesy of explaining his reasoning without immediately seeking control over my life through his political coalitions.

Of course, as Douthat points out, the decadence criticism would be applicable to the Right as well, and a surging conservative populism: Just repeating the names of Reagan, Churchill, and Calvin Coolidge doesn’t necessarily absolve one of one’s freedoms and responsibilities. Simply appealing to God and/or Ted Cruz comes with all the realities of human nature, policy-making, laws, and grubby politics, too. Skepticism is certainly warranted, and actions always speak louder than words.

——————

On that note:

Free-market libertarian Ira Stoll wrote ‘JFK, Conservative

Libertarian Virginia Postrel has a new book entitled ‘The Power Of Glamour: Longing And The Art Of Visual Persuasion.’ The Kennedys and their representation in the popular media and public mind certainly involves a lot of glamour. I like some of what she does:


The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books Via The A & L Daily: ‘Rescuing The Enlightenment From Its Exploiters’… Behavioral economics and libertarian paternalism and below all that some liberal totalitarianism (the personal is political crowd)…Ross Douthat Responds To Paul Krugman At The NY Times: ‘Can We Be Sweden?’

Are these the enemies of the future?: Virginia Postrel At Bloomberg: ‘How The Elites Built America’s Economic Wall’

Repost-From The Spiked Review Of Books: ‘Delving Into The Mind Of The Technocrat’

Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.

Once you take apart the old structure, you have to criticize the meritocracy you’ve helped create: David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’

Monday Quotation From Charles Kesler And A Few Thoughts on ConservatismCharles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’

Two Monday Links On Media-Who Do You Pay For Information?

Thanks to readers.

From The Economist: Rethinking The Bundle:

‘With NYT Now The Times is trying to keep readers in its embrace, rather than have them wander in and out through social networks or search.’

If the purpose of mass media communications is adapting the latest technology to the greatest number of readers possible in order to broadcast information, then many print publications still lag behind the tech curve. They’re making pronouncements from older soapboxes and not necessarily from the device in your pocket.

So, who’s doing well?

One answer may surprise you. From Forbes on Vice Magazine:

‘Vice has relentlessly pursued every possible profit opportunity, including becoming a sort of in-house ad agency for its client, and aggressively pursuing branding opportunities and other non-standard advertising opportunities, rather than simply splashing banners on its website. It has focused heavily on video–good, watchable video–, the most lucrative segment of online advertising.

But other than just “news can make money”–which is still something–the other less on Vice might be: target a demographic and own it. In a sense, that’s always been true in media, but Vice shows it especially works on the internet.’

It’s tough to imagine older readers going in for VICE, but that’s much the point. Maybe it’s just as important to be ahead of a cultural curve.

A diversion to politics:  One demographic danger on the liberal end of the spectrum may well be observable at NPR: Aging liberal/progressive boomers need the support of young people in order to pledge and keep them in business, and also to transmit principles. They need a younger cohort, but many possibly future NPR listeners don’t have the money and inclination in their youth to support Terry Gross and The Splendid Table, at least not until they age-up.

Libertarian Reason magazine has an endowment, and compared to Vice shares in a similar spirit of punk, youthful rebellion, and flirtations with anarchy, but also offers deeper discussions on political philosophy and economy. Many libertarian principles are a tougher sell to a broader audience.

Conservative publications have a tougher slog still. Aside from the general liberal bent of many who work in media, the transmission of conservative values and principles to the young (fiscal responsibility, social and/or religious conservatism, depressive and/or sober realism) has always been unsexy and uncool.  Add to this many recent cultural trends, and those are a lot of grains to run against.

Classic Yellow Journalism by malik2moon

Remember The Maine! The good old days…by malik2moon

Related On This SiteFrom io9 Via An Emailer: ‘Viral journalism And The Valley Of Ambiguity’

From The Nieman Lab:-An Oral History Of The Epic Collision Between Journalism & Digital Technology, From 1980 To The Present.

Charlie Martin At PJ Media: ‘Could Amazon and Jeff Bezos Make the Washington Post Profitable?’…‘Sorry, Jeff Bezos, the News Bundle Isn’t Coming Back

Michael Kinsley At The New Republic Via Althouse: ‘A Q & A With Jill Abramson’

From Slate: “Newsweek Has Fallen And Can’t Get Up”

A Few Thoughts On Blogging-Chris Anderson At Wired: ‘The Long Tail’

You could do like Matt Drudge, but the odds are stacked against you.

Repost: A Goya Tour Of Madrid At The NY Times

Full slide show here.

The first modern?

“Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.”

See Also:  Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

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From Via Media: ‘Tom Friedman Gets Mexico Right’

Full post here.

Mead links to Friedman’s piece:

A work in progress?:

‘The ongoing success story in Mexico is one of the most important that the American press has missed in the last few years. We keep seeing Mexico as nothing but trouble—drug cartels, illegal immigration—when in fact a new reality is taking shape.’

Well, there appear to be some good things going on.  They have grown some of their own manufacturers into global competitors.  Here’s a list of Mexican companies.  Here’s a paper on NAFTA And The Mexican Economy (income disparities and all).

Friedman:

‘Mexico still has huge governance problems to fix, but what’s interesting is that, after 15 years of political paralysis, Mexico’s three major political parties have just signed “a grand bargain,” a k a “Pact for Mexico,” under the new president, Enrique Peña Nieto, to work together to fight the big energy, telecom and teacher monopolies that have held Mexico back.’

Despite the old, Spanish-style, paternal and formerly authoritarian government, the PRI’s long one party-rule (back after a 12 year absence, having ruled for 70 years prior), Mexico will need the support of pluralities and majorities of the Mexican people.  As most Americans are aware, there’s much police corruption, many drug and ‘security’ problems, a less than effective education system, and deep poverty which includes some tribes who don’t even speak Spanish.  Many entrenched and ideological interests support a heavily regulated private sector.

Anyone’s who’s been to Mexico, though, sees a more complicated picture and knows Mexico has real promise.

From President Nieto’s speech.

“We are a nation that is going at two different speeds. There’s a Mexico of progress and development. But there’s another, too, that lives in the past and in poverty,” he said during his inaugural address at the National Palace in Mexico City.”

Here’s to hoping for some reform and the growth of freer Mexican industry and more economic opportunity for average Mexicans.   This would be a good thing.

**The Thomas Friedman Op/Ed Generator.

Related On This Site: From VICE: ‘The Mexican Mormon War’…Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest: ‘Mexico And The Drug Wars’

Repost-A Goya Tour Of Madrid At The NY Times

Full slide show here.

“Fantasy abandoned by reason produces impossible monsters: united with her, she is the mother of the arts and the origin of their marvels.”

See Also On This Site:  Goya’s Fight With Cudgels and Goya’s Colossus.  A very good Goya page here.

Ross Douthat Responds To Paul Krugman At The NY Times: ‘Can We Be Sweden?’

Full piece here.

Douthat’s original piece here.

‘The Swedish experience does demonstrate that it’s possible for a welfare-state society to survive the waning of religion and the decline of traditional marriage without sacrificing middle class prosperity. But this success is founded on a level of cultural homogeneity and an inheritance of social capital that simply isn’t available in a polyglot republic-cum-empire like our own.’

Riffing on Douthat: If liberty means extending liberty, or aiming to extend liberty to ever more groups of people through State involvement and a more moral bureaucratic class redistributing resources through the most up to date thinking or the new economic models, then at what cost does this occur to the creation of wealth?   Can you even compare Sweden and the U.S effectively?  What hard evidence do we have that these policies will work?  More deeply: Who is in charge and how do such people ‘know’ what is best for others?

—————–

I remain skeptical of some work by Charles Murray, but he had some interesting ideas on Sweden fifteen years back.  That model has not been as successful in assimilating immigrants and maintaining Swedish birth rates nor arguably economic dynamism, and there is a pendulum which can swing back darkly to the right, to nationalism, racial identity and the baggage of the past:

“In every town was a beautiful Lutheran church, freshly painted, on meticulously tended grounds, all subsidized by the Swedish government. And the churches are empty. Including on Sundays. Scandinavia and Western Europe pride themselves on their “child-friendly” policies, providing generous child allowances, free day-care centers, and long maternity leaves. Those same countries have fertility rates far below replacement and plunging marriage rates. Those same countries are ones in which jobs are most carefully protected by government regulation and mandated benefits are most lavish. And they, with only a few exceptions, are countries where work is most often seen as a necessary evil, least often seen as a vocation, and where the proportions of people who say they love their jobs are the lowest.”

As Murray suggests, the prevailing European secular habit of mind (which shuns overt religious faith) has also transposed a lot of Christian metaphysics (and a lot Marxist materialist/socialist/social democrat/communist thought) into the modern European state.  Many religious values continue of course, but are also, in part, maintained by that state.  That state, in turn, can limit much dynamism and freedom we take for granted here in the U.S..

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Continuing towards a theme, the rise of nanny-statism in the U.S. (banning Big Gulps and ‘nudging‘ people toward decisions you want them to make) partially has its roots in behavioral economics, and Cass Sunstein’s libertarian paternalism (he makes some interesting arguments):

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From an article at CATO:

“If behavioral economics has taught us anything, it’s that humans are vulnerable to framing effects. In other words, how people make choices turns on seemingly irrelevant aspects of the situation, such as the order in which options are presented, the other (unchosen) options presented at the same time, which option is designated as the “default,” and so on.

The new paternalists, having learned this lesson well, frame the public policy debate in a way that encourages paternalistic interventions. They have done so in at least three ways.”

Click through for more.  A lot of people have plans for you and me.  A lot.

—————-

Here’s a quote from Arthur Schopenhauer:

“Every person takes the limits of their own field of vision for the limits of the world.”

Related On This Site:  From Michael Totten At World Affairs: “Noam Chomsky: The Last Totalitarian”Via Youtube: (1 of 3) Kant, Chomsky and the Problem of Knowledge…Martha Nussbaum criticizing Chomsky’s hubris in Martha Nussbaum In Dissent–Violence On The Left: Nandigram And The Communists Of West Bengal

The West is less violent?  I’m not sure I’m convinced by Pinker, anyways: At Bloggingheads Steven Pinker Discusses War And Thomas HobbesFrom Reason.TV Via YouTube: ‘Steven Pinker on The Decline of Violence & “The Better Angels of Our Nature”‘

Martha Nussbaum and Amartya Sen have plans for America and India, and it involves much more state involvement here in America:  Amartya Sen In The New York Review Of Books: Capitalism Beyond The Crisis

Have you downloaded the apps…and the concepts of Enlightenment and post Enlightenment liberty that can lead to runtime errors and fiscal failure? Sachs and Niall Ferguson duke it out: CNN-Fareed Zakaria Via Youtube: ‘Jeff Sachs and Niall Ferguson’

Repost-From The NY Times: Review Of Christopher Caldwell’s Book “Reflections on the Revolution in Europe: Immigration, Islam, and the West”Francis Fukuyama At The American Interest-’The Two Europes’

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

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Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘The Liberal Gloat’

Full piece here.

Despite the title, it’s reasonable.  Are we in decline, and just fighting over the spoils?:

‘Or consider the secular vote, which has been growing swiftly and tilts heavily toward Democrats. The liberal image of a non-churchgoing American is probably the “spiritual but not religious” seeker, or the bright young atheist reading Richard Dawkins. But the typical unchurched American is just as often an underemployed working-class man, whose secularism is less an intellectual choice than a symptom of his disconnection from community in general.

What unites all of these stories is the growing failure of America’s local associations — civic, familial, religious — to foster stability, encourage solidarity and make mobility possible.’

Are we leading ourselves down the garden path towards old Europe?  Which ideas will lead the way, at least in our politics?

Related On This Site:  I find myself attracted to the slow decline, realism model, whether or not it’s correct:  Ross Douthat At The NY Times: ‘Washington Versus America’  The NY Times op-ed writer and a practicing Catholic? William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Charles Murray is trying to get virtue back with the social sciences: Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People

Did the same thing happen in higher ed..ever more inclusion and divvying up the pie until we can’t any longer?:  On this site, see: Louis Menand At The New Yorker: ‘Live And Learn: Why We Have College’..
 Walter Russell Mead takes a look at the blue model (the old progressive model) from the ground up in NYC to argue that it’s simply not working.  Check out his series at The American Interest.  He has a big vision with some holes in it, but it’s one that embraces change boldly.
The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

Still reliving the 60′s?  With all these drivers of change, with what we are replacing the Church and civic associations…a belief in Reason, and progress…where can that lead?: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”….Update And Repost- From YouTube: Leo Strauss On The Meno-More On The Fact/Value Distinction?’

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Stanley Fish At The NY Times Opinionator: ‘Sex, the Koch Brothers and Academic Freedom’

Full post here.

Denying CUNY’s gift of an honorary degree to playwright Tony Kushner does not necessarily stifle academic freedom. Fish revisits his original post.

‘My general point is that academic freedom is a useful notion only if it is narrowly defined. More things escape its ambit than fall within it.’

and:

LeVay and Wallen are behaving as so many in the Kushner controversy did; they are crying academic freedom whenever a university does something they don’t like, and by doing so, they cheapen the concept.

because academic freedom issues:

“…arise when the university either allows its professors to appropriate the classroom for non-academic purposes, as some think John Michael Bailey did, or allows itself to become the wholly owned subsidiary of another enterprise, as FSU may have done.”

It must take a certain courage to point this out at the NY Times.

Art can serve many masters: religion, politics, ideology, commerce etc…but I suspect good art (a play, in this case) does more, at least staying faithful to simply giving pleasure…or sustaining dramatic tension?

David Mamet wakes from Brechtian slumber, and conservatives rush in.

Related On This Site: Fish defended Ward Churchill’s academic freedom too: From The Stanley Fish Blog: Ward Churchill Redux…

Broad, but maybe not broad enough.  Martha Nussbaum says the university needs to be defend Socratic reason and still be open to diversity:  From The Harvard Educational Review-A Review Of Martha Nussbaum’s ‘Cultivating Humanity: A Classical Defense of Reform in Liberal Education.’

A lot of this could be avoided by keeping political and aesthetic judgments apart, argues Roger Scruton: Repost-’Roger Scruton In The American Spectator Via A & L Daily: Farewell To Judgment’