Protesting Too Much

Ellen Pao lost her lawsuit against Kleiner Perkins. I take what I understand to be the majority view on that: she successfully demonstrated to me – and to most outside observers – that there was a bit of a sexist culture at Kleiner Perkins, but she failed to meet the legal standard of proof (that…

On Ken Livingstone’s Attitude Problem

Now that Venezuela is in full crisis, Ken Livingstone is in the news a lot doubling down on his support for the failed regime. Can’t ask the leopard to changes its spots, I guess. But I was surprised to learn from all this that Red Ken is suspended from the Labour Party for "bringing it…

Faith, Hope and Charity in Academic Arguments

Some friends and I got interested in the controversy about Nancy MacLean‘s book *Democracy in Chains: The Deep History of the Radical Right’s Stealth Plan for America. If you’re a libertarian, historian or political scientist, then you’ve heard about this. If not, the short version is that it’s a typical entry in the Koch Brothers…

A Defense of Anonymous Shitposting

The latest internet tempest in a teapot – CNN’s crypto-threat to dox someone who spread anti-CNN memes – raises an interesting question: should meme-makers be left anonymous? That’s not a First Amendment question. Since I haven’t heard a convincing argument that CNN’s threat rises to the level of illegal blackmail, I guess CNN has the…

The Defenestration of Reza Aslan

Reza Aslan has been "fired" (technically: not rehired) by CNN over a tweet calling President Trump a "piece of shit" for politicizing the recent islamist terror attacks in London before expressing sympathy for the victims. This piece of shit is not just an embarrassment to America and a stain on the presidency. He’s an embarrassment…

Boring the Audience into a Frenzy

Whenever I watch a (political) lecture or read a (political) book by Noam Chomsky, I’m always struck by how out of place his rhetorical style seems. Normally you think of charismatic figures as having a really forceful speaking style; Chomsky’s is rambling and dull. The question is begged: do people respond to him because of…

Freedom is Slavery

Todd Seavey, ahead of the curve back in 2009 in noticing that Will Wilkinson wasn’t really a libertarian, put it like this: "you have to admit that [Wilkinson’s] shtick is arguing that libertarians ought to accept elements of the welfare state." A socialist could say something similar about Freddie DeBoer I think. His shtick is…

Neoliberals and Social Democrats

Arnold Kling has a post up in which he complains that the terms ‘neoliberal’ and ‘social democracy’ are both vague and perjorative. Neoliberalism "gets used as an undefined all-purpose boo-word." And "If neoliberalism is the ill-defined boo-word, then social democracy is the ill-defined yay-word." The post never really separates the two complaints, though, and so…

Talk About How to Include Instead

Patricia Marino has a thoughtful essay on the limits of campus speech that I think is worth reading less because of the questions it raises – which mostly have pretty easy answers from my point of view – and more because it unintentionally points to all the attitudes we have to change to reclaim the…