Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? War on Nate Silver Aftermath John J. Cook Captures Kyiv Edition
John Cook: "Mike Allen Wrote Today that Obama Avoids Politico Reporters Because They Ask Tough, Unpredictable Questions

Noted for February 20, 2013

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  • Joe Weisenthal: Barron's: Republican Grifters Gotta Grift: "Barron's took a huge swipe at Obama in its latest cover, promising that if he got his way, the US would be on the road to Greece. Let's skip the actual contents of the argument… the fact that the US monetary system is nothing like Greece's… the sequester (which is what Barron's is advocating as the 'responsible course') does nothing to alter the long-term fiscal trajectory of the country. Of course it's all silliness. But the real point here is that Barron's isn't so much a newspaper, but rather a mass-market stock tips newsletter…. And there's a very wide overlap between investment newsletter services, and cranky, anti-debt, armageddonism. It's part of the pitch. If you've ever read a copy of Jim Grant's 'Interest Rate Observer' or Marc Faber's 'Boom, Doom, Gloom Report' you'll find it's basically divided into two parts: First you get the author giving their big pronouncement on the world (E.G., Bernanke is ruining the dollar! All of this debt can only lead to WWIII!). Then after that, you get your stock and bond and commodity tips, usually free from politics or philosophy. People always want to be told a story. And the doom story tends to have appeal among the older, conservative readers of these publications. Barron's has always been a conservative publication, but a cover like this is just a natural move for a stock tips newsletter."

  • Brad DeLong (2009): Simple Keynesianism for Monetarists: A Primer

  • Ezra Klein: Janet Yellen explains our crummy recovery in three charts: "This is a very good speech by Janet Yellen, the vice chair of the Federal Reserve…. [R]ather than focusing on what’s holding this recovery back, she focuses on the forces that have driven past recoveries… that have been absent from this one…. Fiscal policy [has not been expansionary]…. 'During this recovery… residential investment… has contributed very little'…. Faith [has been lacking]. 'Another important tailwind in most economic recoveries is… the faith most of us have, based on history and personal experience, that recessions are temporary and that the economy will soon get back to normal'…. Yellen has been among the members of the Fed pushing the central bank to do more…. What’s needed now is for Congress to step up…. They… could take advantage of the low interest rates to, say, rebuild the nation’s infrastructure or pass a massive tax cut…. They have broad power over the housing market, and so they could pass legislation — like that proposed by Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)  — to make it easier for homeowners to take advantage of low interest rates and refinance. And while the nation’s grim mood isn’t entirely Congress’s fault, the gridlock, doomsaying and brinkmanship that has come to define Washington in recent years certainly isn’t making Americans more confident in the future." <-- But where is the accountability moment? To blame "Congress" as a whole is to make nobody accountable. Republicans in Congress and Republicans in the states have forced us into austerity, Obama's quest for a grand deficit-reducing bargain has not helped, and the Geithner Treasury failed to take steps to fix the housing market.

  • Robert Skidelsky: The Rise of the Robots: "If one machine can cut necessary human labor by half, why make half of the workforce redundant, rather than employing the same number for half the time? Why not take advantage of automation to reduce the average working week from 40 hours to 30, and then to 20, and then to ten, with each diminishing block of labor time counting as a full time job? This would be possible if the gains from automation were not mostly seized by the rich and powerful, but were distributed fairly instead."

  • Tom Scocca: The Politico Is Mad That The White House Does And Doesn't Talk To The Politico: "What makes today's exercise an archetypical story from The Politico is that the premise could be turned 180 degrees and it would be no less useful a line of attack or complaint. "He gives interviews not for our benefit, but to achieve his objective," Mark Knoller of CBS says. And if the president were failing to control his media message to achieve his objectives, letting the press push him around, The Politico would be on that story too—in precisely the same tone as this one. Bad president! And so, correspondingly, any piece of evidence can serve the argument. As proof that the Obama White House is stonewalling the press, The Politico points to the fact that it has been releasing too much information: There has been "extensive government creation of content (photos of the president, videos of White House officials, blog posts written by Obama aides), which can then be instantly released to the masses through social media"; the administration has staged "nearly two dozen" Friday releases of documents."

  • Jonathan Chait: Republican Reformers: Right But Maddeningly Vague: "[T]he same flaws… in all the efforts to reform the GOP from within: an unwillingness to identify… the forces… that prevent these reforms from succeeding…. [W]here are the Republicans speaking in opposition to Ryan and his allies?"

  • Richard Evans vs. Niall Ferguson: I suppose Niall Ferguson's highly personal attack on me just about deserves a response. Intellectual consistency has never been his strong point… he backed Michael Gove's narrowly Anglocentric proposals… even though Gove rejected the global sweep of Ferguson's own proposals. Ferguson doesn't object to the curriculum's obsession with teaching "facts" rather than analytical skills, despite the fact that his own books are full of arguments that schoolchildren surely find it stimulating, though probably not too hard, to analyse and disprove. Ferguson portrays me as an ivory-tower academic with no knowledge of school education… I have two school-age children… have talked to many teachers and pupils… well briefed on the current history curriculum and the government's plans to scrap it…. I have, as Ferguson says, written works on Nazi Germany but, 'dry' or not, they've sold more than a quarter of a million copies in English and been published in many other languages. In any case, I'd rather have a 'dry' style than follow Ferguson in writing articles that ape the sneering populism of a Daily Mail leader."

  • David Brooks: I was so right not to listen to Nate Silver, even though I was wrong!

  • Jay Rosen: Some shifts in power visible in journalism today: "How many shifts in power can you spot in this one report? From Reuters: 'AllThingsD, the widely read technology blog run by Kara Swisher and Walt Mossberg, has begun discussions with owner News Corp about extending or ending their partnership…. AllThingsD‘s contract with News Corp expires at the end of the year…. Sources said the website is receiving a lot of “inbound interest” from potential buyers…. While AllThingsD is recognized as the brainchild of Swisher and Mossberg, News Corp actually owns the website and its name. However, according to provisions in their contract, Swisher and Mossberg have approval authority over any sale.'"

  • Blue Texan: Memo to Ross Douthat: Obama Won The Catholic Vote: "[One] problem for authoritarian conservatives like Douthat is that the GOP is wildly out of step… on just about every economic issue… (not to mention the death penalty and immigration). The other problem… is that American Catholics overwhelmingly reject the bishops' stance on the sex stuff the GOP obsesses about…. And that's why Republicans keep losing the Catholic vote… cutting taxes for rich people and gutting the social safety net and demonizing immigrants and gays and obsessing about unapproved sexytime simply doesn't represent the majority of American Catholics' values. And they're voting accordingly. That's a bitter pill for right-wingers like Douthat to accept, but that's the reason -- not because the 'Catholic moment in America has passed' -- whatever the hell that means."

On February 19, 2013: