Shorter Ezra Klein


People believe what they want to believe.

Klein has a chapter-length essay (I copied and pasted into Word to get a word count: 4,191 words) up on the first day of the news site VOX. Seriously. And it all comes down to my one short sentence. Six paragraphs in, there’s this:

“But Kahan and his team had an alternative hypothesis. Perhaps people aren’t held back by a lack of knowledge. After all, they don’t typically doubt the findings of oceanographers or the existence of other galaxies. Perhaps there are some kinds of debates where people don’t want to find the right answer so much as they want to win the argument. Perhaps humans reason for purposes other than finding the truth — purposes like increasing their standing in their community, or ensuring they don’t piss off the leaders of their tribe. If this hypothesis proved true, then a smarter, better-educated citizenry wouldn’t put an end to these disagreements. It would just mean the participants are better equipped to argue for their own side.”

I could have/should have stopped there. On the bright side, Vox is having a better first day that Nate Silver’s relaunched FiveThirtyEight.

(How Politics Makes Us Stupid Vox)

The Morning Quote (Moron Quote?)

Short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump

Short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump

“Around 2008, you had the president of the United States supporting traditional marriage, if you go back and look,” Trump opined to the hosts of Fox & Friends on Monday. “And, you know, maybe he should step down because of the fact, you think of a lot of people would like to see that very much. Perhaps he should step down.”

“I think it’s really unfair what they’ve done to [CEO Brendan Eich],” he added.

–Short-fingered vulgarian Donald Trump making another false equivalency to Petunia and Pals’ hosts sitting on the Couch of Dumb.

(Raw Story)

Tengrain Presents…

Dear Diary 1

Dear Diary 2

Dear Diary 3

Dear Diary 4

Dear Diary 5

Dear Diary 6

(Peggy Noonan’s Blog)

(UPDATE: I’m putting this on the front page because it was mentioned on The Professional Left Podcast and people are looking for it. Fresher posts below. Thank you to Bluegal and Driftglass for the hat tip.)

My coruscating contempt for extremely anodyne David Brooks

bobo tongues the world surreal

Bobo’s latest column sounds like a plea for help, so of course I won’t give him any. He gets paid for this:

Within a few years, though, his mood has shifted from smarm to snark. There is no writer so obscure as a 26-year-old writer. So he is suddenly consumed by ambition anxiety — the desperate need to prove that he is superior in sensibility to people who are superior to him in status. Soon he will be writing blog posts marked by coruscating contempt for extremely anodyne people: “Kelly Clarkson: Satan or Merely His Spawn?”

My guess is that the divorce negotiations are not going well. David Brooks is not really my beat and I bow humbly to my betters…

UPDATE 1: As with all things Brooksian there is only one expert: Driftglass who has made throughout his blogging career a study of the major asshole, er, David Brooks. He should be getting his doctorate any day.

UPDATE 2: Mr. Charles Pierce at Esquire, long rumored to be cribbing Driftglass’ Brooks gig, takes a mighty swing at the bloviating piñata, and delivers several blows that should make the kiddies squeal with delight as they are showered with candy.

Obama touched a commie!

ABC tells us…

Obama stopped to shake Castro’s hand as he was walking to the podium to pay tribute to Mandela. The handshake between the presidents of the long-estranged Cold War rivals came at a ceremony honoring the life and legacy of the former South African leader at a soccer stadium in Johannesburg.

…which of course is reported at Breitbart as:

Obama campaigned in 2007-8 on a promise to meet American enemies “without preconditions,” and met and embraced the late Hugo Chávez of Venezuela in 2009. He has also pushed for negotiations with the Iranian regime–long before the current “moderate” president took power. President Obama seemed pleased to meet Castro, who also spoke at the memorial, and the handshake was broadcast live on television worldwide.

The only question remains: What does Jennifer Rubin say?

The most facile analysis of the Bezos-WaPo Deal

Leave it to the Business Insider’s Henry Blodget to write a fanboy post to his investor/boss Jeff Bezos and then miss the point for at least half of the article.

Now bear in mind, Amazon did not buy the WaPo, Bezos did:

Lastly, I’d guess that Jeff Bezos thinks there are many ways in which the news business might be complementary to Amazon.

How might the news business be complementary?

1. Amazon is already in the content production and distribution business–and news is just another kind of content. Amazon distributes massive amounts of print and digital content. The content the Washington Post publishes and distributes could be bundled or distributed with that content. And, similarly, the content that Amazon produces–mainly commerce-related, but increasingly media–could be integrated with the Washington Post’s content, offering more choices for customers and consumers.

If you are saying that the WaPo could use Amazon as another distribution channel, they could do that today for a fee to Amazon. But why should they when the internet itself is a distribution channel that is free and they have a very successful, much travelled portal. It is much more likely that Amazon would want to buy ads on the WaPo website today than vice-versa. What kind of business analysis is this?

2. Amazon is already in the subscription and media-gadget businesses. Subscribers to Amazon’s “Prime” delivery service already get to watch free movies and TV shows. Amazon Kindle buyers already have access to free books. It’s easy to imagine that Prime subscribers and Kindle buyers will soon have convenient, free access to the Washington Post–and that this access might make a Prime subscription or Kindle ownership more valuable. Washington Post reporters, meanwhile, could produce an endless supply of ebooks and Kindle Singles.

Again, Amazon did not buy the WaPo, and so why would the WaPo want to essentially give away free product to Kindle users? What kind of business analysis is this?

3. “News” is the digital equivalent of a high-traffic intersection: As people pass through to figure out what’s happening they might also stop to do some shopping. Content and commerce companies have long dabbled with combining the two experiences, but no one has really nailed it. Given Amazon’s expertise in affiliate marketing and advertising, it’s not hard to imagine that the Washington Post could quickly become a laboratory for the next generation of integrated content and commerce.

Gasp! Amazon will bring advertising to the WaPo (if Amazon had bought it)? What a brilliant idea, I bet no one ever thought about having ads in a news paper before! What kind of business analysis is this?

4. Amazon is getting into the local physical delivery business–a business that the Washington Post is already in. Could stuff ordered from Amazon be delivered with your morning newspaper? Why not? And your daily newspaper–or parts of it–could certainly be delivered in a box with your Amazon stuff. I doubt that Bezos is really interested in the print version of the Post, but as long as it exists, it might be fun to fiddle with.

Again, Bezos bought the WaPo, not Amazon. And even if it was Amazon, how does that change the WaPo business model except to drive the cost up? Someone pays for that.

In short, there are lots [of] cool synergies that Jeff Bezos and Amazon might want to experiment with.

Sooooo, if there are lots of cool synergies, then why didn’t Amazon buy it, Henry?

Blodget cannot separate Bezos from Amazon, and it seems that he really doesn’t understand ecommerce or media. He is embarrassing himself again with facile business analysis.

(Business Insider)

What an a**-rocket

Glen Greenwald, that is:

Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian journalist who first published the documents Snowden leaked, said in a newspaper interview published on Saturday that the U.S. government should be careful in its pursuit of the former computer analyst.

“Snowden has enough information to cause harm to the U.S. government in a single minute than any other person has ever had,” Greenwald said in an interview in Rio de Janeiro with the Argentinean daily La Nacion.

“The U.S. government should be on its knees every day begging that nothing happen to Snowden, because if something does happen to him, all the information will be revealed and it could be its worst nightmare.”

Why not paint a big, red target on your meal ticket, Glenn?

I’ve tried to avoid putting the GG-ES story on MPS, mostly because I cannot find a snarky angle. I think the story is important, and yet the two principle players are both unlikable fools. But today’s missive from GG is just further proof that he thinks the story is about him, Him, HIM!

What an assrocket.

Worst Writer in the World® Writes Worst Column in the World

The Death of the Media

I guess you cannot keep a good man down–or your lunch–if you happened to have read Richard Cohen, The Worst Writer in the World’s® latest offering regarding the NSA Leaker, Edward Snowden:

“Whenever I see “Hello, Richard” on my computer screen, I realize what’s happened: It knows me. It knows what I bought and when I bought it and where I was at the time. It knows my sizes and my credit card number, and if it knows all that, it knows pretty much everything. I long ago sacrificed a measure of privacy for convenience. One click will do it.”

Because setting up an Amazon wish list is exactly the same thing as living in a police state with the NSA tracking all of your calls–including wrong numbers–to see if you are up to no good. The whole column is a dog’s dinner, but that paragraph is Cohen at the peak of his midseason form.

It’s really interesting watching the usual media suspects calling Snowden a traitor at the same time they are whinging over the Justice Department subpoenaing their phone records. Jeebus, some people.

Anyway, this is yet another time to celebrate our free and unfettered press, and specifically, Richard Cohen, The Worst Writer in the World®.

(WaPo via Scissorhead Mike Flugennock)

More, please

I love that Congressman Lynch will not let the GOP forget that they cut funding for the Embassies.

But isn’t it remarkable that Chris Wallace thinks that fact is getting off-track?

It’s a two-fer!

The National Review Online’s (The most intellectually dishonest rest stop on the information highway) Jim Geraghty says that the Newtown families are political pawns just like the 9-11 widows.

You know, Jim, this is exactly what a democracy is about: these citizens are trying to make a difference, to change things that they experienced first hand. They are trying to make the world a better place and to ensure that what they suffered through, no one else should suffer through. And yes, they have an agenda, as do you, Jim. The difference is that their agenda is towards saving people and yours is towards saving gun manufacturers bottom line.

Wingnuttia is letting the spiders crawl out of the brainpans of their Orcs and up to the mics of all their media outlets. Anyway, nice way to insult two groups of people who have been publicly shattered by events beyond their control.