Archive for ‘Ross Douthat’

June 29, 2009

Watch your back, Douthat

Ross Douthat today engages in sociological observation of the meritocratic elite in such a way as to infringe on turf claimed by David Brooks. (Via Memeorandum.)

There’s nothing really wrong with this particular Douthat column, if op-ed social criticism is what you’re looking for. But that’s some mighty pricey editorial real estate to be occupied by a latter-day Veblen cleverly commenting on what he sees on TV and reads in magazines when there’s so much important news to be reported.

A simple request, Ross: Call up Joe Lieberman’s press secretary Erica Masonhall and ask her when Lieberman plans to start holding hearings about Obama’s war on inspectors general. Maybe she’ll return a call from a Harvard-educated New York Times columnist. She sure as hell didn’t return mine.

Leave the Veblen trip to Brooks. Even the New York Times can’t afford to support every pompous op-ed windbag in Washington. You start crowding Brooks, and I’m betting he wins that competition. If he outlasted Kristol, he’ll outlast you.

Now, somebody needs to hit my tip jar.

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May 4, 2009

Attention Boston Globe employees

The New York Times Co. is planning to close your newspaper and put you out of work. However, David Brooks still earns $300,000 a year as a columnist for the Times. And they’ve just hired Harvard-educated boy genius Ross Douthat, too.

Just thought that news might cheer you up.

April 29, 2009

OMG, Douthat, too?

If David Brooks is Pinky, Ross Douthat is the Brain, but as to his New York Times debut, Matthew Saroff of TPM sums it up in a blog post title: “Ross Douthat Is a F***ing Moron.”

The money sentence in Douthat’s silly mess:

In the wake of two straight drubbings at the polls, much of the American right has comforted itself with the idea that conservatives lost the country primarily because the Bush-era Republican Party spent too much money on social programs. And John McCain’s defeat has been taken as the vindication of this premise.

First: Conservatives are not interested in “comfort.” Second, the simple lesson of the past two cycles is something that anyone who has been paying attention since Ross was in middle school would tell you: Lie down with Bushes, wake up with Democrats.

Douthat has never been a reporter. His life has been confined to academia and think-tank punditry in elite precincts: New Haven, Cambridge and Washington. He does not have any scope of experience to write about anything except the opinions of the elite, which are already easily available to anyone with access to NPR. Ergo, Douthat is redundant at best, and allowing him to write this kind of Big Picture analysis is to subject the reader to an arrogant, puerile know-it-all-ism.

Marc Ambinder (an actual reporter) shrugs his shoulders in resignation. Obviously, the thinking at 620 Eighth Avenue is: “If we’ve got to hire a ‘conservative’ columnist, make sure we hire one who’ll reaffirm our readers’ belief that conservatives are clueless idiots.”

Kathy Shaidle e-mailed me this column with a two-word subject line, “Lent’s over.” Thank God for small blessings.

April 21, 2009

NY Times circles the drain

Re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic:

The New York Times Co. fell into a deeper financial hole during the first quarter as the newspaper publisher’s advertising revenue plunged 27 percent in an industrywide slump that is reshaping the print media. Its shares dived Tuesday as investors prepared for the debut of Harvard-educated bore Ross Douthat on the op-ed pages of the struggling newspaper.

I might have added that last part.

UPDATE: David Boaz of the Cato Institute points out that the NYT can’t get basic facts right.

April 21, 2009

Don’t believe the blog hype!

Somebody’s lying to the Wall Street Journal:

It takes about 100,000 unique visitors a month to generate an income of $75,000 a year. Bloggers can get $75 to $200 for a good post, and some even serve as “spokesbloggers” — paid by advertisers to blog about products.

What a load of crap. Once again, the media can’t get the basic facts right. I average more than 100,000 visits per month and anybody who thinks that generates $75,000 a year is delusional. As for this “$75 to $200 for a good post” — Heh! Maybe Jane Hamsher expects that kind of money. Or maybe Harvard boy Ross Douthat.

This WSJ nonsense about $75,000 a year is almost a rumor too good to deny., but I’ll deny it anyway, because it could hurt my business. Most of my blog income comes from people hitting the tip jar, which you should do immediately.

Otherwise I might be tempted to sell out. But that would require a willing buyer, and so far my promotional work as “unofficial spokesblogger” for Corona Beer isn’t a paying gig. But if you’ll just click that bottle, maybe . . .

UPDATE: Jeff Jarvis: “He says that bloggers with 100,000 readers a month are making $75k. Name a few.” And buy that man a Corona!

UPDATE II: Pat in Shreveport: “That’s why he gets the big bucks.” No, they give the big bucks to Ross Douthat. Because he’s so witty and insightful, we laugh at the mere mention of his name. Har. Har har har.

UPDATE III: James Joyner at Outside the Beltway:

I’m quite dubious of these figures. They are likely self-reported and inflated. $75,000 a year is $6250 a month. Who is it that’s getting paid $6.50 per thousand visits? At that rate, Andrew Sullivan and Glenn Reynolds, who average around 4.3 million and 10 million monthly uniques, should be atop the Forbes 500.

Joyner’s got a Ph.D., so he’s got those def math skilz. Buy that man a Corona!

UPDATE IV: Another professorial blogger, Donald Douglas, says he ain’t ready to quit teaching merely because he’s raking in the sweet blog-o-bucks.

UPDATE V: Little Miss Attila is rattling her tip jar, too. She talks about a recent dearth of advertising income, but at least she’s in BlogAds, a network that won’t even allow me to join. So instead I’m doing G*o*o*g*l*e A*d*s*e*n*s*e (you’re not actually supposed to mention it on your blog) which threw me a whopping $153.25 for 243,000 page impressions in March.

Maybe Dr. Joyner (who’s also a member of the BlogAds network I’m not allowed to join) can do the math and tell me how many page impressions per month I’d have to get in order to gross $75,000 a year from Google. Short answer: A freaking lot.

UPDATE VI: Linked by The Anchoress, who’s got more traffic than me and ain’t even close to $75K/yr. And I’m not linked by Megan McArdle, who’s probably getting paid at least $75K/yr. by The Atlantic Monthly, but only a fraction of what Ross Douthat (who never linked me, either) is being paid since leaving the Atlantic for the New York Times.

The way I see it, there are two kinds of bloggers in the world: Bloggers who link me, and assholes.

UPDATE VII: Linked by Rusty Shackleford, who is not an asshole:

The Jawa Report gets over 100,000 hits every 3 – 4 days. It averages out to about 750,000 hits a month or about 9 million hits a year.
So by that math I should be making like $500,000 a year from this thing.
I actually felt kind of guilty for making some money last year from blogging since so much of the content of the Jawa is written by others. Pajamas Media, I thought, was a pretty sweet deal. But it was nowhere near what it needed to be for me to quit my day job.
Seriously, nowhere even close. Not even in the ballpark. Think minimum wage.

Blogging works best, it seems to me, as a promotional medium. That is to say, it’s a good way to call attention to something: A news story, a video, an event, or photographic evidence that Miss California’s had a boob job.

While it is possible to use a blog as a venue for long-form writing (and all the updates are turning this post into a War and Peace), the key function of a news/politics blog is as an aggregator — link, link, link. To that basic work of aggregation, you then add your own personality or specialized knowledge.

Since no two people have exactly the same set of interests, no two blogs will have the same linkage. Ergo, from the reader’s perspective, the key to getting the maximum value from the blogosphere is to identify a small number of blogs that share your general interests and then following their links. Your favorite bloggers thereby function as intake funnels that pre-select and present information.

From the blogger’s perspective, it helps to have some (more lucrative) service or product that you can promote through your blog. If you’re a journalist, an author, a political consultant, a radio talk-show host, or the idiot daughter of a failed presidential candidate, blogging can function as a way to establish your “brand” and promote your work in an interactive format.

Given this dual nature of the ‘sphere — blogging as promotion and blogging as aggregation — some people will gain far more from its non-monetary benefits than from direct income. It’s a way to “get your name out there,” or to get your ideas “out there,” and so you’re willing to overlook the fact that blogging per se is not particularly lucrative.

April 17, 2009

Dear Ross Douthat

Hey, Boy Genius, have you ever done any actual reporting in your life? Or are you Harvard guys too good to do anything except sneer?

[The Tea Party] have all of the weaknesses of the anti-war marches: Their message is intertwined with a sense of disenfranchisement and all kinds of inchoate cultural resentments, they’ve brought various wacky extremists out of the woodwork (you know, like Glenn Beck), and just as George W. Bush benefited from having opposition to his policies identified with peacenik marchers in Berkeley and Ann Arbor, so Barack Obama probably benefits from having the opposition (such as it is) associated with a bunch of Fox News fans marching through the streets on Tax Day, parroting talk radio tropes and shouting about socialism. Obama is a very popular President, at the moment, his unpopularity among Republicans notwithstanding, and it’s awfully hard to see the Tea Parties doing much to change that reality in the short run; if anything, they’re far more likely to reconfirm the majority in its opinion that American conservatism is increasingly wacky, echo-chamberish, and out-of-touch.

Politics as an abstract concept formed by reading Talking Points Memo may be sufficiently prestigious for you, Mr. Working Class Hero, but if you weren’t gunning the turn-only lane on Valleydale Road in Hoover in a desperate haste to reach Wednesday’s rally with Rick and Bubba, Lee Davis and Tim James, don’t tell me what the Tea Party movement is about, OK?

You and David Brooks make such a perfect couple. Perfectly useless, that is. Go surf some more ‘barely legal’ porn. and stop pretending to know anything about actual politics.

Lent’s over, douchebag, and it’s punk-smacking season.

UPDATE: Linked by Cynthia Yockey, who stepped up to help fill the gap by punk-smacking Douthat while I was bound by my Lenten vow.

April 3, 2009

Will Rossy D. set down his teacup on 15 April?

By Smitty
Ross Douthat is sniffing in a self-congratulatory way about ‘A Coming Tax Revolt’. He responds to a Jonah Goldberg tidbit saying that the death knell on tax cuts as a winning issue for Republicans may have been premature:

Speaking as one of those conservative reformers, I’d make two points. First, nobody was saying that tax cuts couldn’t potentially become politically salient again if the Republicans got clobbered repeatedly at the polls and a sizable Democratic majority enacted large tax increases. The point – which Reihan and I started making in 2005, back when the GOP’s hold on government still seemed reasonably strong – was that it would be nice to prevent that sort of thing from happening, and that an anti-tax message alone was insufficient to the task of forestalling a Republican collapse. In this regard, I don’t feel like our obituary was premature; I think it’s been largely vindicated by events.

Amidst this self congratulatory talk, what were you and Reihan peddling in ’05? (emphasis mine)

The third possibility–and the best, both for the party and the country as a whole–would be to take the “big-government conservatism” vision that George W. Bush and Karl Rove have hinted at but failed to develop, and give it coherence and sustainability. This wouldn’t mean an abandonment of small-government objectives, but it would mean recognizing that these objectives–individual initiative, social mobility, economic freedom–seem to be slipping away from many less-well-off Americans, and that serving the interests of these voters means talking about economic insecurity as well as about self-reliance. It would mean recognizing that you can’t have an “ownership society” in a nation where too many Americans owe far more than they own. It would mean matching the culture war rhetoric of family values with an economic policy that places the two-parent family–the institution best capable of providing cultural stability and economic security–at the heart of the GOP agenda.

Ross, are you one of those Conservatives Unusally Neighborly Towards Socialism? A RINO, as it were? If you have Conservative hair #1 where it matters, tell me how you interpret the 10th Amendment, and whether any of the CBO charts so conveniently hosted by Mr. Perot mean anything to you. If the citizens of a state want their government ‘serving the[ir] interests’, that may be fine. But the Freddie/Fannie nonsense cannot be seen as something the Framers would support.

Surely an Ivy League graduate must realize that getting serviced in one chamber by Barney Frank, with Chris Dodd in the other is not the kind of servicing many find acceptable. How do you refer to yourself as conservative without denouncing this kind of crap, and the federal taxation you seem to welcome, with every breath, sir?

Are you going to be at a Tea Party on the 15th? We need you to set down the tea cup and to avoid being an I-told-you-so sycophant if there is going to be any “conservative reform”.

March 31, 2009

Ross Douthat update

Kathy Shaidle sent me an e-mail that said, “Don’t read this until after Lent.”

Smitty? Somebody? Please read the article and comment.

How long until Easter?

Update: by Smitty
Cynthia Yockey fills an important role, tying in her other Douthat reporting into an excellent roundup.
Thank you kindly!

March 20, 2009

How long until Easter?

Cynthia Yockey was the Good Sapphic Samaritan last week, helping me maintain my Lenten vow (I’m a proud Protestant, but made a promise to a friend who is a notorious Catholic hypocrite), and now as further testimony that the Lord sends “angels unawares,” Katha Pollit adds her widow’s mite:

But [William Kristol’s] presence on the [New York Times op-ed] page reminded readers that David Brooks is not really what Republicanism is all about. Frankly, though, I don’t see why there must be two conservatives on the page.

I suppose I should also acknowledge that, via Rule 3, a hat-tip is owed to Matthew Yglesias, even though he couldn’t be bothered to read Atlas Shrugged before denouncing it.
Now, I have acknowledged to Cynthia that she is owed an apology, because when I responded at length to her dispute of my views on gay marriage, I ignorantly wounded her — an unintentional offense, yet an offense nonetheless.
Thinking that Cynthia was currently in a long-term lesbian relationship, I engaged in a hypothetical speculation on the possibility that, should she by misfortune become a “lesbian widow,” there would be no guarantee that her next relationship would also be lesbian. Whatever one’s orientation or your congenital predisposition, whatever your habit and custom, life is like a box of chocolates, and sometimes a chance encounter becomes a “pivotal life movement.” Not until many years later, wondering how you arrived at your present circumstance, do you look back and ask, “When did that road fork? Where did I turn?”

My intention was kindness, but the result was cruelty, for I did not know that Cythnia’s 20-year relationship had ended with her partner’s death — after a long, painful, debilitating illness — on Dec. 7, 2004.

Ms. Yockey has chronicled her devotion to Margaret Ardussi in a page that I promised her I would link. My oppressive patriarchal heteronormativity bids me speak, but as Smitty points out, “He that shutteth his lips is esteemed a man of understanding.” Therefore, Ms. Yockey, I pray only that my apology is sufficent and acceptable, as it is my continued hope ever to remain

Your most humble and obedient servant,

ROBERT STACY McCAIN
March 16, 2009

‘McCain’s right, of course . . .’

“. . . and the Brookses and Meghan McCains of the party might as well join up with the Democrats, for if we adopt the ‘moderate’ programs these folks are pushing, we might as well have a one-party Democratic state.”
Donald Douglas, on “Core Values Conservatism,” agreeing with me and Charles Murray (I think)

Professor Douglas is taking issue with Ross Douthat’s critique of Murray’s Thursday lecture at the American Enterprise Institute (yet another event to which I was not invited).

Not being a member of the intellectual leisure class — hit the tip jar, people — I have no time for fucking around with the fine points on this one, nor is there any need for that. We need not agree on the ideal size of government in order to agree on three major points:

  • Government is too big. It’s too expensive, too powerful, and too meddlesome. Even if we could get this much government at half the price, it’s still more government than is good for us.
  • Bush and Republicans were wrong to expand government. No Child Left Behind and Medicare Part D were giant steps in the wrong direction which, by blurring partisan distinctions, made it more difficult for the GOP to present itself as the party of limited government.
  • Democrats want government to be even bigger. Government can never be too big, too expensive, too wasteful or too intrusive to satisfy The Evil Coalition of Liars and Fools.

You need not agree with Grover Norquist on the desireability of shrinking the federal government until it’s small enough to drown in the bathtub. With government as big as it is now and rapidly growing much bigger, the current situation creates a clear line of demarcation. You are either a small-government conservative or you are not a conservative, period.

Murray, Douthat and the Professor are welcome to engage in a three-way intellectual Jello-wrestling match over the fine points of philosophy or policy on all this. As politics, however, the choice is clear: The Republican Party can either (a) try to reclaim its limited-government credibility by going all-in against Obama’s neo-Keynesian economic plan, or (b) employ the approach favored by The Republicans Who Really Matter by nitpicking the small change.

My hunch is that (b) is a one-way non-stop ticket to Republican irrelevance. Jennifer Rubin is right: The opposition party must oppose. This is that 4 a.m. call, and if my answer lacks nuance and sophistication, it at least has the merit of simplicity: WOLVERINES!

UPDATE: Not directly related, but one of The Republicans Who Really Matters weighs in:

Drive-by pundits . . . are non-journalists who have been demonizing the media for the past 20 years or so and who blame the current news crisis on bias.

Fuck you, Kathleen Parker. I started out in the news business making $4.50 an hour in 1986, and I’ll take no lectures from the overprivileged likes of you. What journalism has become is a disgrace, and the unwillingness of people in the news business to say “fuck you” to useless idiots like you is one of the reasons why. (H/T: Tim Graham.)

UPDATE II: Kevin Williamson weighs in with a more thorough fisking of Parker’s column, as opposed to my outraged punk-smacking. The outrage is that someone who has for so long been a mere opinion columnist — as opposed to working in the actual news end of the operation — should be lecturing anyone about what’s wrong with the news business.

“Newspaper columnist” used to be a gig that you had to work a long time in the news business to get. The late, great Lewis Grizzard, for example, started out as a brilliant young sports reporter, and nonetheless was past 30 — and had already served as executive sports editor of the Chicago Tribune — before he became a columnist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 1977.

Then in the 1980s and ’90s, as cable news and USA Today started encroaching on the turf of the metropolitan dailies, there was this big push for “diversity” and “youth,” the chief result of which was a lot of Clever Girl Columnists wasting newsprint. (Hello, Rheta Grimsley Johnson! Hello, Maureen Dowd!)

Kathleen Parker was one of the better Clever Girl Columnists who got the affirmative-action leg up in that manner. But she succumbed to the Elite Media Syndrome of thinking that working in the news business makes you somehow superior to the guy who drops 50 cents in the newsbox, and her insufferable elitism is an apt metaphor for what went wrong with the business.

It’s still possible to make a profit on a newspaper, but to do it, you’ve got to have a small staff of people who work their butts off. You’ve got to have do-everything staffers, rather than having specialists who won’t lift a finger to help outside their job description. And one of the luxuries that profitable newspapers can no longer afford is the overpaid op-ed columnist who never gets her shoes dirty.

Good-bye to bad rubbish.