Bloggers Under the Bus and Over the RainbowPosted: September 27, 2009
I was going to do a nice staid article about the Fed and regulation but frankly it’s a nice sunny, tropical Sunday down here and it just doesn’t seem kind to overwhelm my brain or yours with Barky Frankisms and tales from the crypt of A(ll)yn Greenspan. I scoured my usual sites for inspiration over coffee and landed on Memeorandum. The source didn’t thrill me but the headline was superb.
There it was on The Other McCain screaming ‘You’d be surprised what some of those Morons write on the Internet.’ Then there was The Public Editor over at the NY Times discussing how the Gray Lady handled the Acorn case versus Fox News. What grabbed me on The Other McCain was this bit which sent me off to Andrew Sullivan’s blog. You know, there is certainly a lotta crap out there under the catchall term of political blog.
By the way, there is nothing conservative about Southern populism.
We talked–after the election–about the direction the Blogosphere might take during 2009. I think we can already see the role of Twitter and the role of live blogging things like the Honduran Revolution or the Iranian protests over the Election. As an ‘institution’, if you will, we forced CNN out of its weekend complacency cocoon to cover real news stories instead of running pablum over and over with a few Youtubes and talking heads thrown in. That is probably the thing that will turn into case studies in Journalism schools around the country. My take is that this is a good thing.
There is also the increased patronage on wonky finance and econ blogs because more than the nation’s PhD students in Financial economics now have an interest in Financial Derivatives and the Federal Reserve Bank. There has been an increasing link between the worlds ‘scholars’ and the blogosphere. As I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been watching the the dissection of the financial crisis and macroeconomics play out in a public forum outside of the peer review process and I find it fascinating. I knew I always had trouble with Lucas, Fama, Cochrane et al when I was studying the efficient markets hypothesis and forced into recreating the results of various ‘seminal’ works but was basically hushed into silence by awed lecturers on the Gods of Finance. It’s been nothing but entertaining for me to see the wonkier macroeconomists point out basic errors in their arguments such as mixing up endogenous and exogenous variables. This is so basic that it would probably cause you to flunk a qualifying exam. I can only imagine that similar things are going on in the wonkier science blogs on issues ranging from climate change to RNA transcription. Again, my take is this is a good thing. It turns every one’s lap top into a lecture hall and specialist meeting. I’m all for this.
However, I front page at The Confluence which specializes in examining everything from the vantage point of politics. This is where I’ve noticed some distinct morphing over the year since the election. The political blogosphere seems to have split into three distinct camps now. Those that just exist to promote whatever firebrand idea of so-called conservatism they burnish who pick up and run on any tidbit that seems to support the ideology; factual or fishy. Those that support the current administration and apologize and rationalize every misstep and pick and run with any tidbit that seems to support their view of the world; factual or fishy. Then there’s a third group that either follow a group of issues or are just trying to figure out how best to get the issues brought into the discussion and action realm on top of all the ideological or partisan screaming. I think I can say as a member of the front page editing team that we really really try to fall into the latter group.
What makes me believe we’re successful is that we try as much as possible to stick to issues that we care about and present them in a way where we all can make sense of them. I also think the fact that we’ve had some recent seismic shifts in readership and that we’re now moderating a few more folks than the traditional Obots and Rushbots also brings our success to the forefront. None of us were happy with the election of the current administration. None of us really wanted the alternative either, but we’ve got what we’ve got and we now have to make the best of it. That has meant that we frequently have pushed for as well as against things that have been moving through the legislative and policy process. It also means we’ve run square on into the faces of some folks that used to consider us friendly territory.
I can’t speak for the other front pagers but I’m personally not here to validate your view point of the world. I’m not here to spew ideology one way or the other. As I’ve said before, there are plenty of blogs out there for you if you want to goosestep along with some one beating the same drum. Or better yet, start your own if you want an echo chamber. We know that’s worked for some.
Again, I have to speak exclusively for myself but I do believe you’ll find that most of the front pagers aren’t actively into the populist angst of the Tea Party Movement because we see where that comes from just as much as we’re not about to go back to our old blogging homes and partake in the koolaid parties. This does not further the agendas about which we care even though we share a sense of frustration with our government and its seemingly, endless corruption and arrogance. I’m also not going to turn anything I write into a conspiracy fest. I don’t go looking for sources that prove me right. I still use all kinds of sources and I try that Hegelian trick of synthesizing an informed opinion out of the gambit of options available to me. That is what I think I find delightful about my fellow front pagers. There’s always this willingness to question our frame, search for evidence, and then bring it here for a great and some times rambunctious discussion. We try to filter out the folks that insult rather than discuss and we find that this process is evolving as this blog evolves.
However, this is actually my hope for this blog and its future as well the hope for those blogs that are carving the niche of being something other than the blogs that seem to be happy spreading around the propaganda. To them I’d like to say, and to some of you that may either be stalking here or popping in and out, the election is over, we have our government for the next 18 months, get over it and move forward. I don’t see racists or communists under every move made by some one’s opposition, but they are certainly out there in the crazy quilt of American Politics and I know it when I see it. I think I’m also pretty good at sensing when people are intolerant to gays, women, minorities, and religious groups. I don’t want to be the word police and find demons in every little nuanced term but I will send any one that’s simply name-calling just because their emotional state is in a state of disarray to that lonely little byte hell realm we call the spam filter. Remember, I’m the patient one on that also.
What we need to do now is weave a place where we can find out more about what we want and find more ways to get it now. We should be able to do that while respecting each other. My personal agenda includes better healthcare, a financial regulatory regime that doesn’t look the other way for its friends, and primarily for me, a way to get the corporate money out of politics. My compass continues to be set to Liberal. I doubt that will change any time soon.
So, I’m opening up a big ol’ open discussion thread here so we can peer into our collective wisdom and think about what it is we do when we type into the reply box on this blog or any other. We have an artist here in the neighborhood that goes by the name of Dr Bob. You can always tell you’re in my neighborhood because of his signature piece hanging on a wall.
This is all I gotta say on the subject and you might wanna go get yourself your own Dr. Bob plaque if you agree with me.
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brought over from a post of mine at The Confluence