Motives, Action, and Ordinary People

by on 2008-10-15- Leave a reply

I started writing this post as a further contribution to the comment thread sparked by my last post, and in particular to the discussion that Janice Bially Mattern and I were having there. But my reply got too long for Haloscan to process, so I have moved it up a level and made it into a separate post. Plus, in doing so I am able to add this striking graphic, which is, I think, another example of the phenomenon we're wrestling with. Full disclosure, I found this picture over at FiveThirtyEight. Fuller disclosure, as you might guess, the discussion that
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Foucault 101

by on 2008-10-15- Leave a reply

With apologies to Mojo Nixon:Power is everywherePower is everythingPower is everybodyPower is not still the king
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Vox populi?

by on 2008-10-13- Leave a reply

There's this video of McCain supporters in line at a rally in Pennsylvania that has been making the rounds on the 'Net (tip of the hat to Janice Bially Mattern for sending it to me). Here it is now:Figuring out what to make of this is slightly more complicated than simply having a gut reaction to it -- not the a gut reaction is unimportant, or even necessarily wrong, but in this case I think it can obscure some of what's going on in the scene. This is particularly true since the video's author is clearly drawing a contrast between
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Asking the Wrong Questions

by on 2008-10-11- Leave a reply

One thing that has been bothering me of late in the Presidential debate is how the press and the public are asking the wrong questions of the candidates about the economy. While part of it may be symptomatic of a general lack of understanding as to what is going on, it also betrays an intellectual laziness in those covering and discussing the campaign. Wedded to tired lines of debate, these questions rehash what we think is important and distract from the development of an understanding of the current state of affairs which has very little relationship to the ancien regime.Two
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Hello, hoist. Meet petard. Oh, you already know each other?

by on 2008-10-11- Leave a reply

David Brooks always styled himself as a member of the conservative intellectual vanguard. He would much rather be an observer of "real people" than to actually dirty his hands at playing milkmaid in his own Hameau de la reine.But David Brooks has recently come to a stunning realization: To borrow a line from Jeff Foxworthy, "you might be a member of the East Coast elite if... you have a column in The New York Times, are a regular commentator on the NEWSHOUR, and like to drop names like Edmund Burke and Russel Kirk."Now, fearing that he might be among the
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Stick a fork in it?

by on 2008-10-11- Leave a reply

Yesterday I wrote in an email to a conservative blogger that I thought that McCain still had a fighting chance. I don't think so any more. I suppose enough slime might make this thing close. An al Qaeda intervention, or some other exogenous shock, might even salvage McCain's position.But I'll be very surprised if Obama doesn't win this thing, and win it convincingly.
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Before they disappear into the ether

by on 2008-10-11- Leave a reply

I've been fairly prolific lately. This state of affairs stems, in part, from what I've been working on for the last couple days: copy editing page proofs, which amounts to one of the dullest things I've done in furtherance of my career. Ever. Moreover, as I'm sure is the case for at least some of our readers, my mind has been colonized by two pressing developments: the final innings of the 2008 US Presidential campaign and the potential collapse of the neoliberal economic order. Both are doing their part to tap into my "outrage" receptors, and blogging seems to be
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Just because

by on 2008-10-11- Leave a reply

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A question to our readers

by on 2008-10-10- Leave a reply

In my failed attempt to implement a different haloscan configuration, I inadvertently added "ratings" to the blog. My general inclination is to remove them, as I don't understand what purpose they serve and the stars look really ugly. But I see people are already using them. So, should they stay or should they go?
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Svalbard update

by on 2008-10-10- Leave a reply

Andrew Sullivan proves himself a shill for Svalbard. Despite all the evidence to the contrary, Sullivan claims that the seed vault is a hedge against human extinction. But Svalbard watchers know the true role of the vault in Svalbard's plans for Panzerbjørn world domination. Why else would the Norwegians and the Russians engage in grim-faced saber-rattling over Svalbard?While we're on the subject, I should mention Zak's concern about a connection between the Svalbard threat and Iceland's financial collapse. Svalbard may, as he suggests, be attempting to secure control over the Arctic. This is a frightening thought. With the departure of
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Guilt by association: the other side of the coin

by on 2008-10-10- Leave a reply

My side of the blogsphere seems to think the video of a McCain supporter mouthing off about socialists and hoodlums is an indictment of McCain himself.When I watch the video, I see McCain affirming the man's anger but trying hard not to endorse his views. McCain, in fact, says he will work with "anyone" to solve the current crisis. Although I find the accusation that the contemporary Democratic party and its Presidential nominee are "socialists" bizarre, particularly in light of recent events, this is pretty weak tea when it comes to the rants of everyday partisans. So why is it
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The anatomy of a mimetic smear

by on 2008-10-10- Leave a reply

I've been curious about the accusation--which can be found in almost any comment thread on a media website--that Obama wrote a "foreword" for the William Ayer's book, A Kind and Just Parent: The Children of the Criminal Court. The rumor is obviously false, as the book doesn't even have a foreword (but does have two five-star reviews. I wonder how long that's going to last). So where did the rumor come from?The best I can tell is that Obama reportedly read the book; Ayers does mention "writer Barack Obama" as one of his neighbors in its pages, which at least
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Alternate realities

by on 2008-10-09- Leave a reply

When Obama's participation in an anti-redlining lawsuit is characterized as a "smoking gun" for his culpability in the current crisis, I know that we're through the looking glass.The bizarreness of attempts to blame the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) and ACORN for the current subprime crisis is so totally bizarre that it raises an important question: is the point of all of this to (1) simply find some way, no matter how warped, to blame Obama for the crisis or (2) also to plant the seeds for a campaign to bring back discriminatory lending practices?
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It could be worse…

by on 2008-10-09- Leave a reply

the peoples of the advanced industrial countries could live in Zimbabwe.Zimbabwe's annual inflation rate - already the world's highest - has soared to 231,000,000%, newly released official figures for July show.The rise - from 11,200,000% last month - was largely due to increases in the prices of bread and cereals.A landmark power-sharing deal between President Robert Mugabe and opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai has failed to ease the country's economic crisis.I bet the Icelanders didn't realize that they had it so good.
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Statistical noise alert

by on 2008-10-09- Leave a reply

When a polling organization conducts a mere 300 interviews each day for a national tracking poll, this is what you get: the potential for one day of outlier polling to produce phony movement. Or, to quote Brad DeLong (who we really should be linking to more):...the Diageo/Hotline Tracking Poll [is] an undersampled daily poll designed to produce a whole bunch of spurious three-day climbs in one candidate's relative vote share followed by a three-day decline so that reporters can trick readers into thinking that there are important pieces of news and trends in there.Anyone want to bet on how long
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The key to success

by on 2008-10-09- Leave a reply

Brad DeLong reveals the secret to success in your career:B People Hire C People, A People Hire A People, A+ People Boast that They Have A+++ People Working for Them...Wise words. Heed them.
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Who is Randy Waterhouse?

by on 2008-10-08- Leave a reply

Hello loyal Duck readers. I wanted to briefly introduce myself as the newest member of the Duck. I am a longtime friend of the site that has decided to start posting rather than just commenting on the great insights of colleagues.A little truth in advertising: my real name is not Randy Waterhouse. For fans of a certain author you will immediately notice that it is a pseudonym. Unfortunately, my current employer does not allow for employees to blog, so I've decided to assume this online identity so that I can contribute to the broader conversation on, well, whatever is bugging
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McCain’s “American Homeowner Resurgence Plan”

by on 2008-10-08- Leave a reply

Brad DeLong finds... uh... fault with McCain's "game changer."His conclusion?There's a big difference here: Democrats want to prevent depression and support the financial markets by investing taxpayer money in banks with troubled assets. Republicans want to give taxpayers money away to the shareholders and managers of banks with troubled assets.I would say that this is unbelievable, but I do believe it.My guess, however, is that most Republicans don't want to do this. Those "reaction meters" took a nosedive among Republicans when McCain proposed the plan at last night's debate.Anyway, I get the sense that a great many of the People
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Intervening to stop the Holocaust

by on 2008-10-08- Leave a reply

Erik Erickson at RedState thinks he's found an Obama gaffe:Barack Obama suggests we need to consider moral issues in intervening with combat forces. He mentions intervening in the Holocaust and how we should have done that.Um Senator, we did intervene in the Holocaust. It was called World War II.I guess you hadn't heard of that, kind of like you hadn't heard of Bill Ayers.I hate to say it, but Mr. Erickson just had a moment of profound ignorance. The Holocaust had squat to do with the US intervention in Europe. Hitler declared war on the United States out of solidarity
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Initial thoughts

by on 2008-10-08- Leave a reply

The conventional wisdom was that McCain needed to "take it to Obama." McCain even signaled that he'd take the gloves off. But Obama swung first and was, in many ways, the more aggressive of the two. I'm not sure what to make of that.1) I'm hearing a lot of people saying that McCain was more aggressive. I don't think that's true. I think his demeanor was more aggressive, and his attacks (with one exception) more personal, and that's an important difference. It hurt McCain last time.2) The McCain campaign's attempt at a "game changer" was clearly the proposal to have
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