Yglesias Award Nominee

“There is an animal-welfare bill on New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s desk right now, S998, which pigspassed both the Senate and the Assembly with strong bipartisan support. The bill would ban the use in New Jersey of so-called gestation crates, the metal stalls, 2 feet wide by 7 feet long, that confine more than 80 percent of pregnant pigs in the United States. The National Pork Producers Council opposes S998, because it opposes any legislation that might constrain animal agriculture. The group’s communications director belittled animal-welfare concerns, telling a journalist, “So our animals can’t turn around for the 2.5 years that they are in the stalls producing piglets. . . . I don’t know who asked the sow if she wanted to turn around.”

Most of us are not so dismissive where cruelty to animals is at issue, which is why the bill is supported by 93 percent of New Jersey voters, including 94 percent of Democrats and 92 percent of Republicans. It’s hard to imagine a more popular piece of legislation … It’s not just animal science that is offended by the crates — so is basic morality. In short, forcing pigs to spend their lives in such conditions violates elementary principles of decency, compassion, and mercy … The bill on Governor Christie’s desk right now is a common-sense measure that merely requires that pigs in New Jersey be able to lie down when they wish and turn around comfortably. Surely, that’s the least we as a society can provide them,” – Bruce Friedrich, National Review.

For a glossary of the Dish Awards, see here.

Yglesias Award Nominee

“Back in 2012 I published a book about the Obama administration’s efforts to heal the economy. The book was largely a narrative, reconstructing events and internal debates as they unfolded. But it delivered a judgment on Obama’s economic team, and the judgment wasn’t favorable. Right there in the book’s subtitle it says that “Obama’s team fumbled the recovery.” This probably sounds right to anyone who’s unemployed, particularly anyone who’s been among the painfully large number of long-term unemployed

[But] my verdict on the administration was overly harsh. Job growth has been very steady the last three years. GDP growth has exceeded two percent in each of the last two years, and will almost certainly do so again in 2014 … And the same goes for historical comparisons. As Paul Krugman recently observed in Rolling Stone, the United States did a better job limiting the fallout from its financial crisis than the typical advanced economy has over the years. We also crawled our way out of the hole a little faster,” – Noam Scheiber.  (Awards glossary here.)

Yglesias Award Nominee


“Argument is like all other human behaviors: subject to conditioning through reward and punishment. And we’ve created these incentives on the left: always politicize; always escalate; always ridicule. We’re living with the consequences of those tendencies now. Unfortunately, I don’t know how we build a new left discourse, given that the two current modes of left-wing expression appear to be a) showily condescending ridicule and b) utter fury.

I mean you can guess what the response by some will be to this essay: deBoer doesn’t think racism is real, he doesn’t think sexism is real, he wants people to just get over it when they’re the victims of sexism and racism. None of that is true. I write about the structural racism of our society constantly. I believe that we’re still a deeply, inherently sexist culture. (For example, you may have heard of #GamerGate.) And I absolutely believe that there are tons of daily encounters that demonstrate these problems, and that the victims of them should feel comfortable speaking out.

I just also think that we have to be able to say “you know, I don’t think that your particular political critique here is correct” without being accused of failing to oppose racism and sexism in general,” – Freddie DeBoer.

(Illustration: a visualization of the Twitterverse on Gamergate over 72 hours via Andy Baio, with the help of Gilad Lotan, chief data scientist at Betaworks. Look at the polarization. The data also found many many more misogynist tweets than those about ethics in gamer journalism.)

Yglesias Award Nominee

A voice of reason in the ethical swamp of “journalism”:

WWD: What are your views of native advertising? Do you run them on your site?

David Remnick, editor The New Yorker: We run all kinds of ads, as long as they are clearly marked as advertising when there’s ever a question. I think advertising is advertising. If it’s 100 percent clear what it is, then, with certain exceptions, I can live with that.

What I object to is tricking the reader and blurring the lines so that unsuspecting readers, thinking that they are getting something that is assigned and edited by the editorial side, are getting something quite different. They are getting an advertisement.

WWD: Time Inc. has editors that will work on editorial and advertising content. Is that a no-no in your book?

David Remnick: Call Time Inc. That’s not what I got into journalism to do. I got in journalism for any number of reasons, not least because it’s so much fun. Journalism should be in the business of putting pressure on power, finding out the truth, of shining a light on injustice, of, when appropriate, being amusing and entertaining — it’s a complicated and varied beast, journalism.

For a glossary of Dish Awards, see here.

Yglesias Award Nominee

“In spite of the things I felt at the time when we went into war, liberals said: We shouldn’t get involved. We shouldn’t nation-build. And there was no indication the people of Iraq had the will to be free. I thought that was insulting at the time. Everybody wants to be free. They said we couldn’t force freedom on people. Let me lead with my mistakes. You are right. Liberals, you were right. We shouldn’t have,” – Glenn Beck.

Yglesias Award Nominee

“Whether one is a left-wing looney who becomes unhinged upon simply seeing this woman who loves her family and her country or is a right-wing yahoo who looks on her as some sort of high priestess of traditional values, Sarah Palin’s statement that, if she were in charge, “waterboarding is how we’d baptize terrorists” should shock the conscience … C. S. Lewis warns (I forget where exactly) about one’s glibly getting off, at God’s expense, one-liners that please the crowd but provoke unseen angels to weep. I think Palin’s guardian angel (and yes, she has one, CCC 336) wept at her comparing baptism to waterboarding,” – Edward Peters, of the Sacred Heart Major Seminary in Detroit.

There is also a request for an apology from Palin and the NRA from the National Religious Campaign Against Torture. See their letter to Palin here (pdf).

Yglesias Award Nominee

“Torture — waterboarding being something reasonable people may consider to constitute it — is and should be a question of grave moral consequence for Christians, and is for any Catholic familiar with the Catechism. Palin wasn’t even just jokingly comparing a serious violation of human dignity into one of the most important transcendental recognitions of it – she was mounting an expansive defense of something near torture, on the grounds that our prisoners ”would obviously have information on plots,” and therefore ought to, apparently, be subjected to a horrible practice not as a morally necessary last resort but a habit of quotidian intimidation. There’s a word for that kind of practice: barbaric. The Greeks used to use it to describe the other guys,” – Patrick Brennan, in a post called “Sarah Palin’s Barbarism”, NRO.

A reader adds:

The more troubling (and revealing) aspect of her comment is this:

it summons an ugly chapter of medieval Christianity in which violence was used as an expression of religious belief. For the Crusader, the infidel had to be converted and the danger of engagement and the blood of battle was in itself a kind of sacrament. Her reference to the danger of Jihad, torture and baptism in the same ugly speech to me is an indication that she is drawing on a brutal theology from the past.

It’s a Coulter-Boykin-esque allusion to converting Muslim prisoners by coercion. Barbarism is the right word. Needlessly incendiary as well. To which one might ask: can John McCain stay silent on this, even as the creature he foist upon the world continues to trash every principle he says he has?

Yglesias Award Nominees

“The entire Bundy affair just makes the Republican Party look bad. Are all Republicans racist? Absolutely not. But many overwhelmingly came out in support of this lunatic. I think it’s an awful day for conservatives. I think we need serious reflection because we’re not going to win 2016 with this attitude, keep doing things the same old way. We have old white men saying offensive things to women and minorities, and I’m tired of it,” – Crystal Wright.

“It isn’t enough to say I don’t agree with what he said. This is a despicable statement. It’s not the statement, you have to disassociate yourself entirely from the man. It’s not like the words exist here and the man exists here. And why conservatives, or some conservatives end up in bed with people who, you know, he makes an anti-government statement, he takes an anti-government stand, he wears a nice big hat and he rides a horse, and all of a sudden he is a champion of democracy …

Look, do I have the right to go in to graze sheep in Central Park? I think not. You have to have some respect for the federal government, some respect for our system. And to say you don’t and you don’t recognize it and that makes you a conservative hero, to me, is completely contradictory, and rather appalling. And he has now proved it,” – Charles Krauthammer.

Could this be the moment when the Fox News right finally hits bottom? Nah:

And the beat goes on …

Update from a reader with on-the-ground perspective:

I live in a very pro-agriculture and ranching area of the country, and I am friends with a quite a few Republicans who are part-time ranchers/farmers, some of whom teach at our local state U, a land grant university that has the biggest Agriculture and Natural Resources programs in the state. Both my older kids majored in Wildlife/Natural Resources in that College, and even if that is the most “liberal” degree there, they’re still close friends with the teachers and the kids from all the departments. My oldest now works with our State Land Office that manages ranching, oil and gas and other leases of state lands as well as the income derived from those leases. I guess this makes me a little bit of an “insider’ on this issue, and this is what I’ve seen.

The Bundy story, at first, tugged at everybody’s heartstrings because the family farmer is truly an endangered species all over America, and anyone who cares about that–or of the quality of your environment or the health and safety of your food – is pretty sad to see that way of life disappearing. And here in the west there are very legitimate points about land and water use and the government’s land grabbing ways that both the conservative and liberal sides can agree on.  But very quickly, as the facts became known that he was basically associating with crazy militia types and was just giving a finger to the very same laws my friends obey on a daily basis – he lost all the sane people.

The ranchers/farmers I know all want the environment to be sustainable for the future and do work closely with the Feds to help that happen. They want to be able to share the land with hunters, fishermen and campers. They follow the rules about getting permission to use Federal State land and for the rotation of grazing locations; they pay their very reasonable grazing and water use fees – and still show a good profit afterwards. Yes, New Mexico has a couple of small family ranchers who are dug in righty nut-jobs that have been fighting the Federal Government on everything from wolf reintroduction programs to free ranging rights because they think they should be able to graze their cows anywhere they want in our National Forest – but for the most part, they are isolated and don’t represent the major users of Federal land.

It also doesn’t hurt that in poverty-ridden New Mexico, between the Feds PILT income and the leases paid to our State Land Office, we take in millions and millions of dollars of precious income that is channeled directly into our schools and other important public services, and everyone knows it.

The thing that gets me is that these same Republicans share almost all of my values. They’re live and let live on issues like gay marriage, abortion.  My friends think what Cliven Bundy spouts about race and his crazy political beliefs are all dead wrong. They recognize that he is a cheater and has not paid his fair share any more than the “lazy welfare recipients” he derides. Give the gridlock we’ve seen over the past few years, they totally hate Congress for it’s worthless political games and failure to do anything good anymore. They’re angry that defense of us from terrorists has turned us into a country perpetually at war and into a surveillance state.  Of course, they still blame Obama for pretty much everything, cuz God knows the President can just wave a magic wand to make the world change.  But in contrast to years past, they seem to me to be disillusioned, frustrated, a little sad, confused, and not very sure of just what the future holds anymore.

Sadly, they still see themselves as lifelong Republicans, members of a party that no longer exists to serve them, but rather, exploit their fear and sense of hopelessness in order to elect oligarchs to power. It’s like a church that you don’t agree with but dang it, it’s the church you were baptized in and all your friends and family are there so you remain a member even if you don’t follow it’s dictates anymore. I am so hoping that because this latest stunt hits so close to home, my friends take note of how despicable this party and its spokespeople are in trying to hoodwink THEM into thinking it’s only about low taxes and self reliance and freedom from government intrusion into their private lives. I keep hoping all the really decent, old-fashioned Republicans I know start taking the party back from the liars and cheats and scofflaws who control it now.

Yglesias Award Nominee


“I would argue that conservatism and the cause of limited government are undermined by loose talk and an excessive animus toward the federal government. These days, in fact, conservatives would be well served to focus a good deal more attention on the purposes of government, not simply its size. I say that because during the Obama era the right has been very clear about what government should not be doing, or should be doing much less of, and for understandable reasons. But it has not had nearly enough to say about just what government should do. That needs to be corrected — and in the process conservatives need to be careful to speak with care and precision about our Constitution and the role of the federal government in our history,” – Pete Wehner, Commentary.

This was in response to Jim DeMint’s surreal attempt to force American history into his rigid ideology. Somehow, in DeMint’s imagination, the civil war was won without “big government.” But the federal government is never “bigger” than in wartime, its powers never so expansive. When that federal government is sending troops to conquer half the country, how much “bigger” can it get? You can totally see why Chait pounces thus:

Everybody knows the slaves were freed by Ronald Reagan, and he did it by cutting taxes.

Kilgore goes deeper:

[DeMint’s ]rap is based on a series of palpable falsehoods that are extraordinarily common in the exotic world of “constitutional conservatism:” the deliberate conflation of the Declaration of Independence with the Constitution (this is how they sneak God and “natural rights”—meaning property and fetal rights—into the latter); the idea that the Civil War was about everything other than slavery; and the claim of Lincoln’s legacy, even though the Great Emancipator was in almost every respect a “big government liberal” as compared to the states rights Democrats—DeMint’s ideological and geographical forebears who touted the Constitution even more regularly (and certainly more consistently) than today’s states rights Republicans.

But this is more than a debate. DeMint now runs the Heritage Foundation, and has run it into the ground with know-nothingism and partisanship.

What was once a right-of-center oasis in rigorous social science, economics, social policy, science proper and other academic disciplines, is now a purely political operation, run by ideologues. And the consequences of replacing solid research with ever-more abstract ideological posturing are dire. A major political party is flying blind a lot of the time.

Look at the response to the ACA. Heritage once innovated several features of Obamacare; now the GOP scrambles to produce anything as a real alternative that can grapple with some of the same issues. Paul Ryan issues a report on poverty that rests on fatal misunderstandings of social science. Another potential candidate, Ben Carson, rightwing “intellectual”, Allen West, puts out a book with fake quotes pulled off the Internet. And the seriously smart ones – Ted Cruz, par exemple – specialize and revel in demagoguery they must know is irrelevant to governing.

This is the mark of a party more interested in selling books to a devoted audience, not a party capable of actually running a government. Which is why, in my view, the GOP is increasingly conceding the full responsibility of running a country in favor of a constant stream of oppositional pirouettes and rhetorical excesses. That may win a few midterms; but it will never win a general. Nor should it.

(Photo: Jim DeMint by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty)

Yglesias Award Nominee

“[A]s a queer employee of the Mozilla Foundation, this stuff isn’t even an abstraction to me. Perhaps most of all because of my acute awareness that my mother’s marriage to my beloved stepfather would have been illegal under anti-miscegenation laws not repealed in their home state until they were overturned in 1967 by Loving v. Virginia. It is because I have a real stake in the issue, and because my own views on the matter are so clear, that my own ambivalence this week has been strange to me. …

Several of my colleagues have called for Brendan’s resignation. I have not done so, despite my strong feelings on the issue, in large part because of my conviction that the open internet is not and cannot be a progressive movement or a liberal movement or even a libertarian movement. In the climate-change fiasco here in the US, we’ve seen what happens with a globally important issue becomes identified with a single political point of view. We can’t let that happen here: the open internet is not more important than gay rights or any number of other progressive causes, but it should and must be a broader movement. The moment we let “open internet” become synonymous with progressive causes—inside or outside Mozilla—its many conservative supporters will be forced into an impossible position. … I don’t see there’s much to gain by asking Brendan to resign,” – Erin Kissane, prior to the forced resignation yesterday.