Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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September 19, 2007
By: Kevin Drum

DING DONG, THE WITCH IS DEAD!....TimesSelect is no more. Krugman, Dowd, and Friedman are once again available to the masses. To celebrate, let's take a look at Bob Herbert's Tuesday column:

Like crack addicts confronting the irresistible vial, the evil geniuses of the G.O.P. can't seem to help themselves. This time — with an eye toward seizing the White House again next year, even if they lose the popular vote — they're trying to rewrite the rules for the distribution of electoral votes in California.

Hey, not bad for such a boring guy! The rest of the column isn't quite so zippy, but it's a start.

Of course, this also means that all the other Times columnists are once again roaming free. Today we have Tom Friedman (I've visited a bunch of obscure places lately and they're all growing really fast), Maureen Dowd (all the people I usually write about should have the good grace to stop making me write about them), and David Brooks (Defense Secretary Robert Gates is such a candid guy that he had either a ready-made cliche or a profound silence instantly available for every question I asked). Enjoy!

Kevin Drum 12:45 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (78)

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Comments

Kevin, your restraint, which couldnt have been easy, in minimizing Krugman references was admirable. Turns out they need us more than we need them, and that is how it should be.

Posted by: Michael7843853 G-O/F in 08! on September 19, 2007 at 12:57 AM | PERMALINK

Thank God!! Now I can have access to Maureen Dowd's empty-headed, pea-brained snark about what people are saying at cocktail parties about whatever administration is in power!! She's almost as good as Peggy Noonan!!

But, seriously, couldn't the NYT have devised a payment scheme that had at least an ounce of brains? The Times of London began a subscription plan (I think before they were decimated and turned into a tabloid by Murdoch) whereby computers on servers in the UK got it for free and foreigners had to pay for access to most of the content. Wouldn't that have made sense for the NYT? Giving everything for free to people in the US and making everyone else pay?

(Although I think I should get free access to the Times of London and everything else no matter where I am.)

Posted by: Anon on September 19, 2007 at 1:40 AM | PERMALINK

Krugman and Rich. After them, the rest of the Times is basically shit. The reporting sucks, too. The Financial Times is much, much better.

See also: Miller, Judith.

Although the NYT does publish those cute little seasonal recipes for things to do with tuna filets and the like.

Posted by: Old Hat on September 19, 2007 at 1:56 AM | PERMALINK

Thank God!! Now I can have access to Maureen Dowd's empty-headed, pea-brained snark about what people are saying at cocktail parties about whatever administration is in power!! She's almost as good as Peggy Noonan!!

Some lazy pop culture references + some lazy observation about politics = op-ed page gold!

See how it works?

40 Year Old Virgin + Barack Obama = 46 Year Old Virgin!

LOL!!!!!!!!!!!!11

Posted by: Old Hat on September 19, 2007 at 2:01 AM | PERMALINK

The really cool kids knew where to get their fix all along.

(And it wasn't about the op-ed schmucks anyway. It was about Morgensen and Barry and even Selena.)

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 19, 2007 at 2:07 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to provide some translations of these individuals:

Tom Friedman (I've visited a bunch of obscure places lately and they're all growing really fast)

Translation: Overpopulation is a problem and you should worry about it. Heh heh. But the idea is yours and not mine. Because if I had said this overtly you would question the idea because you do not trust me. With good reason ('Friedman' = 6 mos.).

Maureen Dowd (all the people I usually write about should have the good grace to stop making me write about them)

Translation: Pay no attention to the fact that all the prominent people in the world that have got there by actually accomplishing something-- while I merely write about them-- got there by actually accomplishing something. Pay attention to ME!! ME!! ME!!

David Brooks (Defense Secretary Robert Gates is such a candid guy that he had either a ready-made cliche or a profound silence instantly available for every question I asked)

Translation: Like the military, conservatives, Bush, and Republicans.

-------------------

Ooh!! What good value they all are, much better than that boring Herbert. Reading them is not wasting my time at all.

Posted by: Swan on September 19, 2007 at 2:11 AM | PERMALINK

David Brooks (Defense Secretary Robert Gates is such a candid guy that he had either a ready-made cliche or a profound silence instantly available for every question I asked)

Translation: Like the military, conservatives, Bush, and Republicans.

You're forgetting "also appreciate the silliness of Jamba Juice and the occasional South Park episode, just to show them you're conservative but still 'hip' and 'with it.'"

Posted by: Old Hat on September 19, 2007 at 2:14 AM | PERMALINK

Apple. Just as I was wondering what to have for a midnight snack....

Posted by: Blue Girl, Red State (aka G.C.) on September 19, 2007 at 2:15 AM | PERMALINK

It appears that the California initiative is unconstitutional in any case.


Each State shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in the Congress ...

(emphasis is mine)

The text clearly gives the job of setting the rules for the selection of electors to the state legislature, not to individual voters. The California constitution allows for referendums for state matters, but not for federal matters, and the election of the president is a federal matter.

There might be some way to finesse this (can a referendum order the legislature to act?) but it's too late for a change in wording.

Posted by: Joe Buck on September 19, 2007 at 2:41 AM | PERMALINK

Whoopee! We can tear them apart on forums now.

Posted by: Luther on September 19, 2007 at 2:53 AM | PERMALINK

I am glad that the op-eds are once again free, but I am even happier about the decision to open up (part of) the archives.

Here is an editorial from the first issue to the paper. Apparently, people were bashing the New York Times before it was even printed:

It has been praised and denounced in advance, for principles to which it was supposed to be devoted and for purposes it was said to entertain.

I hope that eventually they will open up articles from 1922-1986.

Posted by: Anonymous on September 19, 2007 at 3:43 AM | PERMALINK

I loathe Brookes, but if I took him seriously I'd think the end of his column darkly snarky:

“How often is a policy announced without a leak from the Pentagon?” he asks, as proof of unanimity.

There have, of course, been numerous dissenting leaks from the Pentagon and elsewhere in the government. Doesn't Brooks read the paper that publishes him?

Over the long term, Gates represents a shift in the foreign policy center of gravity. Over the short term, he is, to use a phrase he borrows from the historian Joseph Ellis, “improvising on the edge of catastrophe.”

Oh, goody. Let's look at the first card of the tarot, The Fool, capering at the edge of a precipice.

Posted by: bad Jim on September 19, 2007 at 3:54 AM | PERMALINK

Good news for you; I paid for the damn thing...

Posted by: bmaz on September 19, 2007 at 5:00 AM | PERMALINK

"Like crack addicts confronting the irresistible vial, the evil geniuses of the G.O.P. can't seem to help themselves."

Whoa, Herbert should think twice before listening to bloggers about how to spice up his writing. This sounds like a teenager commenting on the Huffington post

Posted by: Botecelli on September 19, 2007 at 7:39 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, not bad for such a boring guy! The rest of the column isn't quite so zippy, but it's a start.

—Kevin Drum

Pretty good column by Herbert today.

Posted by: Econobuzz on September 19, 2007 at 7:50 AM | PERMALINK

Maureen Dowd reminds me of a suburban mom who so desperately, desperately wants to be liked by her daughter's friends that she tries to outdo them in the bitchiness department.

I think her next column will be an offer to buy us all wine coolers. And -- don't tell your parents -- cigarettes!

Posted by: Brian on September 19, 2007 at 7:52 AM | PERMALINK

Thank God!! Now I can have access to Maureen Dowd's empty-headed, pea-brained snark about what people are saying at cocktail parties about whatever administration is in power!!

Dowd is just so down to earth and authentic. Why, just the other day, Ivanka Trump and Paris Hilton told her so!

Posted by: Jackson on September 19, 2007 at 7:57 AM | PERMALINK

What about the availablilty of MoDo and the Moustache of Understanding (not to mention Brooks) is worth celebrating?

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2007 at 8:11 AM | PERMALINK

they need us more than we need them, and that is how it should be.

Word. The Times tried to set itself apart from the blogging rabble by insisting that its product had more intrinsic value, but as the righty blogosphere (and many Bush Cultists who comment here) demonstrated, intellectually dishonest Bush apologia (hello, David Brooks!) is hardly a scarce commodity. And again, who really gives a damn what MoDo has to say, let alone is willing to pay for the dubious privilege of being subjected to her drivel?

The free market wins again!

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2007 at 8:14 AM | PERMALINK

Can the NYT editorial writers keep up with the blogosphere's daily conversation? I, for one, routinely encounter better "editorials" out here in the electronic wilderness than anything ever written by Brooks or Dowd.

Question, was the return worth it? Do any of them have the chops to cut it in the real world?

Posted by: corpus juris on September 19, 2007 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

David Brookes is a mendacious shit.

He is the Grima Wormtongue of the Republican party.

Posted by: Adam on September 19, 2007 at 8:16 AM | PERMALINK

Jesus, we had the same thought Gregory. You posted as I was writing.

Posted by: corpus juris on September 19, 2007 at 8:18 AM | PERMALINK

Oh, the joy of being recognized by one's peers! T. A. Frank's "I don't read Bob Herbert's columns but let me tell you how boring they are" pointless hit piece has won the approval of none other than the estimable Jonah Goldberg, one of the foremost practioners of the "I haven't read/seen/heard it but here's why I think it sucks" school of bogus criticism. Congrats!

Posted by: R. Porrofatto on September 19, 2007 at 8:22 AM | PERMALINK

David Brookes is a mendacious shit.
Posted by: Adam

And I wish he'd quit stinking up PBS's Nightly News and get a real job selling cameras and electronics on 42nd street.

Posted by: slanted tom on September 19, 2007 at 8:41 AM | PERMALINK

Maureen Dowd (all the people I usually write about should have the good grace to stop making me write about them), ...

—Kevin Drum

Like her or not, I think Dowd is the best at what she intends to do: piss everyone off by calling attention to the hypocritical nonsense that pervades politics and modern culture. The fact that so many commenters on this blog despise her is testament to her success as an op-ed columnist.

"...empty-headed, pea-brained snark about what people are saying at cocktail parties about whatever administration is in power!!"

Definitely. But, unfortunately, that's what millions of readers -- ON BOTH SIDES OF THE AISLE, BTW -- really want. So she gives it to them (us). The fact that her columns are a double-edged sword that cut both right and left is what really pisses folks off.

Posted by: Econobuzz on September 19, 2007 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

"David Brookes is a mendacious shit"

BrookEs? Well, I knew he preferred the Torys, but, did not know he had relocated to Britain. Or he could go to Germany, change his name to Bach, and cheer for Merkel.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 19, 2007 at 8:48 AM | PERMALINK

And, please folks, please, please do not Harang shortstop this day.

Posted by: stupid git on September 19, 2007 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

When it all comes down to it I think we'll forget how Gates did in Iraq and simply remember that he was able to bring Brooks to orgasm through use of alternating Reagan references and intervals of silence.

Posted by: toast on September 19, 2007 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

Bob Herberts: This crowd is no more interested in genuine electoral reform than Britney Spears is.

What's with the random jab at Britney Spears? Leave Britney alone.

Posted by: B on September 19, 2007 at 9:24 AM | PERMALINK

And, please folks, please, please do not Harang shortstop this day.

Leave me alone. We're licking our wounds. Plus, I've determined I'm officially too old to sit in the bleachers and cheerfully get stepped on and soaked with other people's beer and nacho cheese. Goodbye, youth...and playoffs.

Posted by: shortstop on September 19, 2007 at 9:36 AM | PERMALINK

And I wish he'd quit stinking up PBS's Nightly News and get a real job selling cameras and electronics on 42nd street.

Snort! Well done.

Posted by: shortstop on September 19, 2007 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

I think Dowd is the best at what she intends to do: piss everyone off by calling attention to the hypocritical nonsense that pervades politics and modern culture.

Hey, we found Dowd's fan!

Dowd doesn't call attention to hypocrisy, she creates the illusion of hypocrisy. "John Edwards is a hypocrite because he got an expensive haircut! That means none of his anti-poverty work means anything! Thank God, because I'd hate to have to read a position paper or dig into actual details! Look at his hair! Teehee!"

Dowd and her kind are giggling little shits. They may fancy themselves to be bold truth-tellers pointing out that the emperor has no clothes, but they're just empty-headed, mean-spirited assholes.

Posted by: TR on September 19, 2007 at 9:48 AM | PERMALINK

I have to admit I liked Econobuzz's comment because it answered a question that's been nagging at me ever since Anna Quinlen left the Op-Ed page and was replaced by MoDo-- namely, "Who reads this crap?"

Posted by: Tyro on September 19, 2007 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

[Spam Deleted]


Posted by: kyle on September 19, 2007 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Better news! Paul Krugman has started his own blog. If you need a link - check out today's post over at Mark Thoma's place.

Posted by: pgl on September 19, 2007 at 10:19 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Mo, John Edwards should have had his hair cut for free down at the Mission. Whereas, you have spent so much of your valuable time passing out swill in soup lines. So much time, "donating" with the ilk at the local stab lab. Had only John picked up some grease on his coif, while dumpster diving with you, Mo.

Be sure to have your limo, slow to a moderate speed next Thanksgiving, so you can hurl some cans at those standing in front of your local Union Gospel Mission.

See you down on Track 29, Mo - Maybe we can catch out on a long tail for Baltimore. Hear they're giving out one time only 500 dollars to leave the state. Snooze in a grainer. Keep pitching for the poor, Mo.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 19, 2007 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

Hey, we found Dowd's fan! Dowd doesn't call attention to hypocrisy, she creates the illusion of hypocrisy.

Posted by: TR

Quoting a prior comment, I wrote: "...empty-headed, pea-brained snark about what people are saying at cocktail parties about whatever administration is in power!!" Definitely.

That makes me a fan? How so?

But, c'mon, get real, Dowd has millions of fans. In fact, I bet most of the folks you support politically read her religiously. As to whether she calls attention to hypocrisy or creates the illusion of hypocrisy, for me, it's clearly the former. I find that her columns usually trail my impressions, not precede them. But I guess that varies from person to person.

I like and respect John Edwards. While I don't think that his building of a (20,000 square foot?) mansion or getting a ($400?) haircut diminish the importance of his ideas, I do understand how his enemies might use those to undermine him through ridicule. So should he and his campaign staff, by the way.

That our society and MSM relish such tidbits is not Dowd's fault. She's just making the most of it.

Posted by: Econobuzz on September 19, 2007 at 11:32 AM | PERMALINK

Reading this post has been my best laugh of the day. Kevin, you have a great sense of humor-- you should let it loose here a little more.

Posted by: Steve on September 19, 2007 at 11:39 AM | PERMALINK

Not fair! You picked all the low-hanging fruit!

Posted by: Jun Okumura on September 19, 2007 at 11:45 AM | PERMALINK

Kevin, I didn't know you were a practitioner of the "shorter" rhetorical approach. Well done!

Posted by: Xanthippas on September 19, 2007 at 11:57 AM | PERMALINK
Krugman and Rich. After them, the rest of the Times is basically shit.

Well sure, if you can put up with Rich's clever rhetorical flourishes at the expense of substance and his hatred of Al Gore. Personally I recommend Krugman and Herbert.

Posted by: Xanthippas on September 19, 2007 at 12:01 PM | PERMALINK

Did the NYT have a story about this?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=k5tnFtG3_E4&mode=related&search=

If not they are irrelevant.

Posted by: slanted tom on September 19, 2007 at 12:10 PM | PERMALINK

Bob Herbert does a good job of reproducing Democratic talking points. He writes well, but seldom raises his own issues.

On the other hand, conservative black columnists Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams are highly educated people who advance their own arguments. Rather than following the Republicans, these two columnists often lead them.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2007 at 12:22 PM | PERMALINK

Wow, "ex-liberal," you delight in posting in bad faith, but that one was a doozy.

The irony of you, of all people, accusing Bob Herbert of reproducing talking points is too rich.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2007 at 12:40 PM | PERMALINK

By the way, "ex-liberal," if conservative black columnists Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams lead the Republican Party, they have a ways to go.

It's a pleasure, however, to see this latest dishoensty of your further discredit your bogus claims of past liberalism. Your handle is a lie, a snide reference to your neoconservatism, and above all, a deliberate insult. Why Kevin's moderators, who have been active this morning, tolerate your pissing on the floor in here is a mystery.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2007 at 12:45 PM | PERMALINK

How's the Times stock performing? Pinchy giving away any national security secrets lately? This American-hating fish-wrap is fast becoming irrelevant....

Posted by: nikkolai on September 19, 2007 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

Gregory: By the way, "ex-liberal," if conservative black columnists Thomas Sowell and Walter E. Williams lead the Republican Party, they have a ways to go.

I fully agree. It's unfortunate that the Republican Party doesn't follow these two intellectual leaders to an even greater extent.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2007 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

***

Posted by: mhr on September 19, 2007 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Thomas Sowell's latest three columns at Townhall.com are (1) a discussion about how the postwar disaster in Iraq couldn't be foreseen, (2) an argument that we need to heed the advice of Gen. Petraeus, and anyone who doesn't is "political" and (3) a claim that you don't need helath care, you can just go to the emergency room.

Wow. What an original and imaginative voice! I have never, ever heard those exact same arguments from anyone in the Republican Party, and especially not George W. Bush!

Posted by: TR on September 19, 2007 at 12:57 PM | PERMALINK

thanks

kevin and many commenters

for a great string of laughs.

now that the nytimes have given up the siege and the castle doors have been re-opened,

we can all rush in and massacre some of our favorite editorial page blowhards.

has anybody worked out the math for a friedman unit yet? e/pi + six (keep your eyes shut and turn around twice) = 1 F.

Posted by: orionATL on September 19, 2007 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

David Brookes is a mendacious shit. He is the Grima Wormtongue of the Republican party. Posted by: Adam

Wormtongue's smile, at least as imagined as the character created by Peter Jackson, wasn't as smarmy. You knew he was evil, not just a tool.

Posted by: JeffII on September 19, 2007 at 1:06 PM | PERMALINK

It's unfortunate that the Republican Party doesn't follow these two intellectual leaders to an even greater extent.

What's unfortunate is that you consider these two conservative columnists "intellectual leaders."

Of course, by noting that the Republcian Party doesn't actually follow these two, you've just contradicted your earlier assertion that they are, in fact, leaders. But you knew that -- your purpose here is to insult the forums by posting the most obviously bogus bad-faith arguments you can. No one mistakes you for an honest commentator. Why Kevin's moderators find your insulting behaviour acceptable is a mystery.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2007 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

TR, I recommend you look up Sowell on Amazon. He has written dozens of well-researched books on a wide variety of subjects. If you have the time, read some of them.

Some are in economics, the field in which he has a Harvard Ph.D. "Basic Economics" is a good introduction to the field, from a free market point of view.

For me, his most interesting books are studies demonstrating the powerful impact of culture on various ethnic groups in a variety of countries. He has also written books on educational theory, on the impact of affirmative action in other countries, and other issues.

Bob Herbert is a fine columnist, but Thomas Sowell is one the country's leading intellectuals.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2007 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal wrote: For me, his most interesting books are studies demonstrating the powerful impact of culture on various ethnic groups in a variety of countries.

You don't say.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2007 at 1:26 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal, if Thomas Sowell were an intellectual, he'd be a professor, not working at a think-tank which provides salaries for conservatives who would be unable to support themsleves. Sowell's columns are typically ignorant claptrap from the republican talking-points-fax of the day.

Next, Bob Herbert is a real, live journalist who writes actual good work. In some cases, he writes stuff that can't be found elsewhere... which is almost his problem-- he's unable to ride the zeitgeist in order to attract an audience. Sowell, like many Republican pundits, is allergic to actually collecting facts on his own.

Posted by: Tyro on September 19, 2007 at 1:37 PM | PERMALINK

TR, I recommend you look up Sowell on Amazon. He has written dozens of well-researched books on a wide variety of subjects. If you have the time, read some of them

I've read two of his books. "Well-researched"? When you rely on one book for several paragraphs of sourcing at a time, that's not "well-researched." That's lazy.

Just because there are footnotes, doesn't mean there's anything there. See Coulter, Ann.

Posted by: TR on September 19, 2007 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal, if Thomas Sowell were an intellectual, he'd be a professor, not working at a think-tank which provides salaries for conservatives who would be unable to support themsleves.

To pre-empt ex-liberal here, yes, universities hire conservatives, especially in Econ departments where they tend to be 50% or more of the staff.

And yet Sowell relies on wingnut welfare instead.

Posted by: Brian on September 19, 2007 at 1:45 PM | PERMALINK

Brian, good point. I should have added that-- Economics departments are, by and large, some of the most conservative faculties on campus. Professors doing fellowships at "even the liberal" Brookings think-tank write fairly small-c conservative peer reviewed publications (when was the last time Sowell wrote one of those?)

Posted by: Tyro on September 19, 2007 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Tyro, Brian, TR, your points are well taken, but presume that "ex-liberal" argues in good faith.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2007 at 2:02 PM | PERMALINK

Tyro: ex-liberal, if Thomas Sowell were an intellectual, he'd be a professor, not working at a think-tank which provides salaries for conservatives who would be unable to support themsleves.

1. Sowell has been a professor at several top universities.

"He taught at Rutgers (1962-63) and Howard (1963-64) universities, later taking a post as an economic analyst with AT&T from 1964-65. Sowell taught from 1965-69 as an assistant professor of economics at Cornell and spent the summer of 1968 there as the director of the Summer Intensive Training Program in Economic Theory. After teaching from 1969-70 at Brandeis, Sowell went to the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) as an associate professor of economics, where he was promoted to full professor in 1974. He also served as project director of the Urban Institute from 1972-74. Sowell stayed at UCLA until 1980 and also taught there from 1984-89."

http://www.answers.com/topic/thomas-sowell

2. Sowell could easily support himself without funding from the Hoover Institution, since

-- he has income from his synicated column
-- he has income from the sales of his many books.
-- given the push for black faces in many universities and his illustrious background, he could easily get a faculty position if he wanted one.

P.S. to Brian, your allegation about non-discrimnation in univeristy economic departmants would help refute TR's assertion that Sowell would be unable to support himself without Hoover Institution money.

However, I worked with an economics Ph.D. from NYU who didn't see things your way. He felt that his free-marked views would limit his academic opportunities, so he went into the business world.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2007 at 2:05 PM | PERMALINK

He felt that his free-marked views would limit his academic opportunities, so he went into the business world.

Translation: he realized he wasn't going to get tenure because he wasn't being productive and figured he'd make more money in the private sector so he could pay his kids' college tuition. What you view as "free-marked[sic] views" might also have been, of course, academically shoddy, as most extremist economics advocated by extremist Republican partisans tends to be.

Reminds me of that line in "Foucault's Pendulum" about the guy with a stutter who blames the fact that he couldn't get a job at the radio station on the fact that he didn't have a party card.

ex-lib, professors get a tenured position and stay there more or less for life, unless they're a superstar who gets recruited away from their current place. Sowell is not, by any definition, a public intellectual. His columns are simply mindless repetitions of Republican talking points. He's like your friend, the econ PhD from NYU-- the professorial life didn't satisfy him personally or financially, so he decided to take up another profession.

Posted by: Tyro on September 19, 2007 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

I do grant you, of course, mr. ex-liberal, that reading of Sowell is very satisfying for those who might not have much time to read but want to feel as though they're being intellectual. So there's that.

Posted by: Tyro on September 19, 2007 at 2:14 PM | PERMALINK

However, I worked with an economics Ph.D. from NYU who didn't see things your way. He felt that his free-marked (sic) views would limit his academic opportunities, so he went into the business world.
Posted by: ex-liberal

In other words, he couldn't get tenure. Either that or the business and/or economics departments of Chicago, all the Ivies, Tufts, MIT, Northwestern, most state schools, etc., etc. just weren't hiring.

BTW, I think cleaning his carpets is working for not "with an economics PhD. . . "

Posted by: JeffII on September 19, 2007 at 2:16 PM | PERMALINK

Tyro, I can only report what my friend told me. You don't know who he is, yet you feel qualified to correct me regarding his motives.

As I said, one should not judge Sowell only on his newspaper columns. His columns are written for the masses. As such, they are his weakest output. Better to evaluate him based on his many stimulating, well-researched books.

I'm well aware of a professor's life, since my spouse is a professor. Your comment reminds me of my niece, who is seeking tenure as a historian. Her attitude is that the only way to contribute as an intellectual is in the academic world as a tenured professor. I think she has unduly limited her career choices.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2007 at 2:22 PM | PERMALINK

Her attitude is that the only way to contribute as an intellectual is in the academic world as a tenured professor.

My guess would be that she has spent time in DC and is well aware of the crapola being churned out by 24-year-old "research policy fellows" and realizes what a load of BS it all is, while the serious researchers are scrambling for grant money and publishing peer-reviewed publications (once again, when was the last time Sowell did anything like that?).

I might concede that literary authors are a form of non-academic public intellectuals, but Orwell , Miller, and Mailer were really the last generation where that was still possible. Hitchens tried but became a parody of himself.

The promotion of "have the look and feel of an intellectual!" conservative pundits by right-wing think tanks creating flavors-of-the-month out of college students with decent writing talent has got to be one of the great intellectual tragedies of our modern age.

Posted by: Tyro on September 19, 2007 at 2:29 PM | PERMALINK

In fairness, I'm stating my case a bit too strongly. Many entrepeneurs of different sorts have roles as "public intellectuals." I think Steve Jobs certainly is one in his own field. The instant he gets a syndicated column writing about his legislative solution to the Iraq war, I'm going to tune him out.

Posted by: Tyro on September 19, 2007 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

If Mr. Drum wants to maintain a site worth reading, he'll stay well away from "analyzing" or "responding to" the scribblings of the NYT pundit twits. Like just about everyone here (I guess), I'm partial to Krugman, but the rest run the gamut from vacuous to dishonest. Yes, folks, even the ones "on our side", Rich and Kristoff and their kind -- they're not worth anyone's attention.

Posted by: sglover on September 19, 2007 at 3:00 PM | PERMALINK

In other words, he couldn't get tenure.

In other words, "ex-liberal"'s friend presumed he couldnt' get tenure.

"ex-liberal" offers this statement as an indictment of universites' standards of academic freedom, as a rebuttal to Brian's point, but in fact it's more an indictment of "ex-liberal"'s friend's own bias.

But then, "ex-liberal" argues as always in bad faith, and the more obvious it is, the more insulting to everyone here. For example, his assertion that "one should not judge Sowell only on his newspaper columns," and his repetion of the assertion that his books are "well-researched," compeltely ignoring the rebuttal to that point.

Many neocons and Bush Cultists argue in bad faith -- there's no other way to do so, after all -- but "ex-liberal" seems to take a particularly sick pleasure in being so obvious about it. Kevin's moderator(s) must have the patience of saints not to find it sufficiently annoying, but why that's so is a mystery.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2007 at 3:23 PM | PERMALINK

Tyro: My guess would be that she has spent time in DC and is well aware of the crapola being churned out by 24-year-old "research policy fellows" and realizes what a load of BS it all is, while the serious researchers are scrambling for grant money and publishing peer-reviewed publications

Actually she has spent her whole career in academia, which IMHO makes her less aware of other opportunities and their values. She's had a number of grants.

(once again, when was the last time Sowell did anything like [publish in a peer-reviewed journal]?).

This comment reflects a POV that the university and its tenure and journal system are where it's at, intellectually. That's my niece's view. I don't agree. Take for example, K. C. Johnson's blog and his book, co-written with Stuart Taylor. Johnson happens to be a professor, but the work of his that will endure is his blog and this book, which could equally well have been done by a non-academic.

Taylor is one of the country's leading lawyers, often interviewed on TV. I'm sure any law school would be thrilled to hire him, but he effectively makes his views known as a legal journalist and through his books. Incidentally, Taylor and Johnson are both liberals.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2007 at 3:25 PM | PERMALINK

"ex-liberal" wrote: This comment reflects a POV that the university and its tenure and journal system are where it's at, intellectually. That's my niece's view. I don't agree.

Let's check the scoreboard: the intellectual rigor and peer review of the university system on the one hand, and the opinions of a perenially dishonest neocon propagandist on the other. "ex-liberal" is even so kind as to provide one of his leading criteria for "credibility": Appearing on TV and being published by the credibility-devoid wingnut welfare press.

It's a hard call all right -- whether "ex-liberal"'s bad faith should be construed as anything other than a deliberate insult, that is.

Posted by: Gregory on September 19, 2007 at 3:39 PM | PERMALINK

How can any discussion of the value of Thomas Sowell's opinions exclude his recent masterpiece concluding that the best way to stop high speed car chases was to use...wait for it....helicopter-borne snipers! Yes, this is an intellect too wonderful to comprehend.

Posted by: Col Bat Guano on September 19, 2007 at 3:56 PM | PERMALINK

I particularly liked the intellect displayed by Sowell in the case of young women from Asia, who had been brought to the US and forced to work as virtual prisoners in South El Monte - Sowell reasoned that, perhaps one might care for their working conditions, but, that at least they had been able to come to this great land. Perhaps, as his ancestors from Africa

Yes, K C Johnson and Stuart Taylor do soooo much pro bono work for incarcerated poor African-Americans - Guess that doesn't quite sell the way the Duke injustice did. Just love these "liberals" of FAUXs who write and blog for conservative sites. Next, FAUX will be fawning over the "Reagan was Right" article of Taylor.

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 19, 2007 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

thethirdPaul - Yes, these two Dems (Taylor and Johnson) get praised on Conservative web sites because they are reasonable, intelligent, and fact-based. If you have a problem with them, it's your loss.

Two themes running through Sowell's columns are

1. Thinking outside the box
2. Recognizing that most solutions to problems have costs as well as benefits. That is, ideal solutions seldom exist.

In the example raised by Col Bat Guano, Sowell notes that there is no perfect solution to high-speed chases, so he suggests stiffer penalties as well as shooting the drivers from helecopters. Those who would like to expand their minds might try comparing Sowell's suggestions to other real-world alternatives.

Posted by: ex-liberal on September 19, 2007 at 4:50 PM | PERMALINK

ex-liberal, the humor of Sowell's high-speed-chase essay was that he was opining from ignorance, trading on his reputation among people like you that he's an "intellectual", to then propose solutions (helicopter snipers!) that were completely uninformed by any experience or any knowledge of the issues, practicalities, and difficulties involved. Someone who does stuff like that is called a "pseudo-intellectual." Give me Bob Herbert over him. At least I learn something new from reading Hebert.

Sowell is just the suit-and-tie version of the cranky old men yelling at those darn kids to get off his lawn while telling his adult grandchildren about the latest news that he read on the Drudge Report.

Posted by: Tyro on September 19, 2007 at 5:01 PM | PERMALINK

And I thought Sowell was expanding his mind ala Timothy Leary. Have read too much of his crud in smaller newspapers - His defending the tremendous gouging by the motel/hotel industry following Hurricane Andrew - "Keeps the riff-raff out" - And the South El Monte incident, was on a NPR seminar from Southern California with Susan Estrich.

But, Quisling would have loved your work, FAUX - He too, learned to see "the big picture" as he evolved politically. And one need go no further than the recent flip-flopping by Pollack and O'Hanlon to debunk that "liberal" Brookings crap. So go back to your Volokh Conspiracy folks, FAUX and enjoy "liberals".

Posted by: thethirdPaul on September 19, 2007 at 5:13 PM | PERMALINK

You're forgetting "also appreciate the silliness of Jamba Juice and the occasional South Park episode, just to show them you're conservative but still 'hip' and 'with it.'"

Speaking of which, if I hear one more time about how Ali G used to hang out with musicians who smoked pot, though he never partook himself, I think I'll have to roll myself a spliff.

Posted by: Disputo on September 19, 2007 at 11:19 PM | PERMALINK

Sowell notes that there is no perfect solution to high-speed chases, so he suggests stiffer penalties as well as shooting the drivers from helecopters. Those who would like to expand their minds might try comparing Sowell's suggestions to other real-world alternatives.

He notes there is no perfect solution and then comes up with one even stupider than current practice. That there intellectulizing must be hard because he comes across as a moron.


Posted by: Col Bat Guano on September 20, 2007 at 12:19 AM | PERMALINK

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Posted by: ilytQXlWvJ on October 1, 2007 at 6:40 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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