SocraticGadfly: 7/4/10 - 7/11/10

July 09, 2010

David Dewhurst whines about being called a liar

Tough shit, Mr. Lying Texas Lieutenant Governor.

Of course, that's what you get for repeating something nutbar off the lips of Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer. As a bonus, your mask/claim to be the upscale, posh, gentler, conservative, aka Kay Bailey Hutchison with balls, has been rudely exposed as another lie.

(In all fairness, per PolitiFact, ABC effed up the kidnapping story a year ago. Brewer only rode on its coattails.)

July 08, 2010

Selling out to Pepsi in the name of science

I'm a bit late to the controversy about top science mag and science online presence Seed essentially selling blogging space to PepsiCo. (Fortunately, that offer has been withdrawn.)

That said, it leads me to two observations.

One, given that Seed does appear to be hurting financially, is about ... a bete noire of mine ... online paywalls.

And, it led me to think of two quasi bete noires of new media punditry, Jay Rosen and Clay Shirky.

Both of them, for all their commentary on the future of media, have failed to fully address the financial issues from all sides, IMO. That's why, though paywalls aren't perfect, it's an issue I hammer and hammer. Google has driven online ad prices lower and lower. HuffPost and elsewhere has shown, more than once, the conflict-of-interest issues that can arise with "donor media" on the nonprofit side. So, that means other financial models have to be investigated. (And, in dismissing paywalls, Rosen/Shirky have only attacked monolithic paywalls or micropayments; to the best of my knowledge, neither has really discussed the "metered flexwall" that a place like The Economist has.)

The second is that, Examiner, Suite101, etc. are showing how to ruin this model even further with SEO-targeted "writing." Not only does it lower the quality of writing, it sends more writing chasing after Google-lowered ad dollars.

Why Douthat is afraid of economic pessimism

Earlier this week, I noted that, in his most recent column, Ross Douthat claims that too much pessimism in an economic downturn can be as bad as too much optimism in a bubble.

True, at one level.

But, not at another, not at all.

To riff on Tolstoy, bubbles are all alike in their giddiness, but burst bubbles each have their own separate sadness.

But, to go beyond whether there's currently the right level, too much, or even not enough pessimism, whether in the general public, or the punditocracy, let's look at why Douthat is worried.

Douthat's real, ultimate, objective, I believe, is to tamp down fear, not amongst Tea Party types, but among moderate-conservative, normally dependably Republican voters who might be antsy about the "crazy Tea Partiers" but who share their fear, if not their anger.

Could they bolt? Could a few vote libertarian? Could some of them just not vote? All are possible.

Could more Republicans get more Tea Partyish on chasing those voters? That, too.

Now you understand what Douthat is afraid of too much pessimism.

July 07, 2010

No, Examiner, I don't want to work for you

I’ve asked before, when I was still in Dallas, for more details on how and how much an Examiner gets paid. And got no answer. Between that, having a paid job in traditional media, and having a blog where I get paid on a click-through basis, and know how much I make off it, unless Examiner can answer my specific questions, I wouldn’t consider working for it. Or, any similar organizations.

I would also want to know, of course, the Examiner’s profit margin and other things; given than Mr. Anschutz is a billionaire, it’s certainly a reasonable request to find out what his profit margin is on Examiner blogs in order to determine if he’s paying people fairly.

Rod Dreher, still stupid and arrogant

Leaving the Dallas Morning News op-ed staff obviously didn't remove those traits from Roberto, judging by his "praying for Hitchens" blog.

If only there were an "anti-praying" for someone, eh?

July 06, 2010

Americans DO WANT more stimulus spending

In fact, a solid 60 percent wants more stimulus spending over having immediate deficit concerns.

An even higher percentage favors other things, like lifting the payroll cap on Social Security taxes.

Petraeus jumps in bed with Max Boot

Yes, America's Political General sucks up to one of the top academic neocons to the point of denying his own Congressional testimony a couple months back that the US was too much in bed with Israel.

Sidebar: Is he thinking of running for President?

July 05, 2010

The Douthat bubble

Ross Douthat claims that too much pessimism in an economic downturn can be as bad as too much optimism in a bubble.

True, at one level.

But, not at another, not at all.

To riff on Tolstoy, bubbles are all alike in their giddiness, but burst bubbles each have their own separate sadness.

Then, of course, you have Douthat not telling that Reagan ended the 1979-82 double dip recession at the price of big tax giveaways and expanding income inequality. Per the unique pain angle, you also have him ignoring that the mild recession at the end of Poppy Bush's presidency in no way compares to either 1979-82 one or the current one.

As for the competitive advantages he says the U.S. has, not so fast.

Were it not for immigration, the U.S. would be at zero population growth (at best), just like some of "old Europe." In fact, it might not be but a smidge above zero even counting legal immigration in the mix.

The EU isn't all follies.

While Russia, as well as Japan and parts of the EU, may face demographic issues, Brazil and India certainly don't. (Well, their growth rates remain high enough they may face demographic issues other way.)

Anyway, Douthat is somewhat right, but not as right as he'd like to make us think he is.

Bipartisan political shenanigans

The Senate may consider a bill to reduce or eliminate many of the egregious tax breaks and write-offs that go to Big Oil.

Just one problem: The bill's sponsor, New Jersey Democrat Robert Menendez, hasn't included refineries (including the many in New Jersey) under the bill. A staff aide says he didn't talk to any refinery companies.

And, of course, that's not the point. He didn't need to.

Meanwhile, an Ohio defense contractor has found its way around a bill banning earmarks to for-profit companies: Create a nonprofit that just happens to support the mission of the for-profit. And, Democratic Rep. Marcy Kaptur, the beneficiary of campaign largesse from the for-profit, just happens to think this is a great idea.

And, so far, at least, it's been all Democratic representatives doing this.

July 04, 2010

Today Newspapers, RIP 1 year ago

To some of my friends back in Dallas, it's time to, belatedly by a day or two, mourn the one-year anniversary of the demise of Today Newspapers. That said, more than just ownership issues were involved with its end, though of course, that was a problem. But, a market that just wasn't ready to support journalism gets the lack of a newspaper it deserves. And, the lack of circulation numbers (along with the inflated ones at Focus Daily News) show south suburban Dallas just didn't want to support much in the way of a newspaper.

Part of how NYC burnishes its crime stats; other cities?

Instructing police officers to downgrade crimes, like robberies to stolen property or rapes to misdemeanor sexual assaults, is certainly one way of doing that.

It also means you can justify having fewer police officers (hence the incredibly slow response times in this would-have-been-downgraded rape), because, well, because there's not a lot of serious crime!

That said, New York City was the metropolis that got busted, because it was a journalist who was sexually assaulted. Especially during the ongoing recession, I wonder how common this is elsewhere.

MoJo Dowd now can't even SPELL right

In talking about her childhood-start crush on vampires, she spells the first name of Bela Lugosi (what other "Bela" could it be?) as "Bella."