Sunday, November 30, 2008

L'il Debbie's Prescription Overlooks the Obvious...

...which, of course, would be a rejuvenation of the WaPo's sorry-ass op-ed page.

Howell, as she edges towards the door (thank Og), has ten suggestions for improving the paper, or at least ensuring that future waves of cutbacks don't cut quality. None of them mention the op-ed page - and surely each of the op-ed regulars must be drawing a comfortable salary.

We've been over this ground before, of course. Broder and Will are 100% reputation, 0% quality; somebody should've pointed out 15 years ago that these Op-Ed Emperors have no clothes. Robert J. Samuelson's beat is economics, but he doesn't actually know anything about economics. Richard Cohen is not only totally muddleheaded, but takes up a 'liberal' spot on the op-ed page without actually being one. Michael Gerson is a partisan hack who writes about The Decency of George W. Bush. Anne Applebaum seemed clueless that she was having a hard time deciding, this year, between two vastly different and irreconcilable worldviews. And so forth.

But the big thing is, quality opinion writing on national and international affairs isn't a scarce resource. Lots of people are doing quality punditry for free, out in the blogosphere. And even the well-known bloggers that are getting paid (I'm thinking of people like Kevin Drum, Ezra Klein, Matt Yglesias, Steve Benen, and others who are being paid strictly to blog for magazines like the Atlantic, the American Prospect, the Washington Monthly, Mother Jones, and so forth) are almost certainly getting paid way less than the op-ed regulars at the Washington Post.

And people like Matt and Ezra and Steve and Kevin and Hilzoy produce far better analytical writing each week than the WaPo op-ed regs, and actually add to your knowledge to boot. How often do you learn something new in a WaPo op-ed?

So here you have one truly terrible - and presumably pretty expensive - section of the newspaper, that could be greatly improved quite easily, and save lots of money at the same time. If you're thinking of ways to maintain the WaPo's quality and readership in an era of newspaper budget and staff cuts, how could you possibly miss this?

Bye-Bye, Deborah Howell!

Don't let the door hit your sorry ass on the way out. Buried deep in today's Apologist column:
Now that I've listened to readers for more than three years (my term is over at year's end)
Isn't that great news? The WaPo can only be improved by her departure.

Thursday, November 27, 2008

Special Thanksgiving Sex Change Post

Genderanalyzer says:
We guess is written by a woman (52%), however it's quite gender neutral.
:Looks in pants:

Yep, still got male bits down there.

Reminds me of this, from Doon:
The boy grew silent. Something was troubling his mother - something she chose to deny rather than explain. And he knew she knew he could perceive them - had she not been his teacher? Had she not made it her own goal, to educate her son in the Boni Maroni Ways and Means?

True, such training was unusual for a boy; the Boni Maroni order was, after all, principally composed of women.

Perhaps I am a woman, Pall thought.

But his heightened powers of observation were able to discern, between his legs and hidden from the casual observer by the clothing of his race, those telltale organs that confirmed his intuition that he was indeed a male-man.
Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Friday, November 14, 2008

George Will as Epicenter of Fairness Doctrine Paranoia

People (Steve Benen, Kevin Drum, Matt Yglesias) keep wondering where the recent wingnut fixation with the Fairness Doctrine comes from. The answer is, it seems to come from George Will, with an assist from Charles Krauthammer.

George Will, August 17:
Two Democratic priorities in the next Congress would placate two factions that hold the party's leash -- organized labor and the far left. One is abolition of workers' right to secret ballots in unionization elections. The other is restoration of the "fairness doctrine" in order to kill talk radio, on which liberals cannot compete. The doctrine would expose broadcasters to endless threats of litigation over government rules about how many views must be presented, on which issues, by whom, for how long and in what manner.

George Will, September 18:
Unless McCain is president, the government will reinstate the equally misnamed "fairness doctrine." Until Ronald Reagan eliminated it in 1987, that regulation discouraged freewheeling political programming by the threat of litigation over inherently vague standards of "fairness" in presenting "balanced" political views. In 1980 there were fewer than 100 radio talk shows nationwide. Today there are more than 1,400 stations entirely devoted to talk formats. Liberals, not satisfied with their domination of academia, Hollywood and most of the mainstream media, want to kill talk radio, where liberals have been unable to dent conservatives' dominance.

Charles Krauthammer, October 31:
What will you get [if Obama wins]?
(2) The so-called Fairness Doctrine -- a project of Nancy Pelosi and leading Democratic senators -- a Hugo Chávez-style travesty designed to abolish conservative talk radio.

It's hardly a surprise that Michael "The Decency of George W. Bush" Gerson would pick up on a theme already pushed by Will and Krauthammer.

Friday, November 7, 2008

WaPo Likes Gerson Column So Much, It Runs It Twice

The Gerson column, "The Decency of George W. Bush," ran on the op-ed page on Wednesday, and again today.

Guess the WaPo really wanted to drive home the point that our Torturer-In-Chief, a man responsible for the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis and the exile of millions more, a President who used his office to gut both the Fourth Amendment and the age-old protections of habeas corpus, who turned the prosecutorial arm of the Federal government into the sort of partisan operation more typically associated with banana republics, is really a decent man.

That's quite an interesting definition of 'decency' they have.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Hiatus, Redux

I feel like the Blogger Who Cried Wolf here, having twice before had short hiatuses as we planned for adoption travel that, for one reason or another, didn't work out.

This one appears to be the real thing, as in, we've been told to make travel reservations to Moscow. (The adoption agency gets us from Moscow to the city where the orphanage is, and back again.)

This may be a near-permanent hiatus for this blog - even aside from this belated entry into parenthood, there's a limited number of times one can say the same things about how awful Broder is. Ditto the rest of that crew.

I feel like I've done it, and it's hard to bring myself to skewer Broder once more when, twice in one week, he blames McCain's bad behavior on Obama's decision not to do weekly town-hall debates. It's hard to ridicule Gerson's hackery one more time when he writes about "the decency of George W. Bush" (I'm not making this up - that's an actual quote!) as he did yesterday; it's tiresome to tell Robert J. Samuelson to fuck off yet one more time because, yet one more time, he's proposed raising the Social Security eligibility age; and the avalanche of "the Dems had better guard against overreaching" columns, such as Ruth Marcus', yesterday, is already boring beyond words.

But I'll be around. I'll pop up in comments at all the usual places - CogBlog and Matt's and Ezra's and Brad DeLong's and Ryan Avent's blogs and places like that. I'm a political junkie, and I doubt that parenthood will change that.

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Hey, We Won!!!

Well, whaddaya know.

Great shout-out to Nate Silver in this morning's xkcd. In the mouse-over text, natch.