Yeah — Ross Douthat Is Still Bluffing

Update: Yeah, I just noticed John posted on Douthat’s column below.  We’ve got different angles — and his is the more pressing.  So read what follows as more a way to understand how it is that Douthat belongs to the tribe of the always wrong, and let it go at that.


The Grey Lady has a problem.

It needs, or thinks it does, a clear, articulate, analytically sophisticated conservative voice on its op-ed team.  David Brooks is tasked with handling most of that load, with the results we’ve discussed here many times, but Ross Douthat was the right-wing wunderkind poached from The Atlantic who was supposed to be the conservative model of the new generation of precocious opinion journalists that bubbled up during those halcyon days of the early to mid-2000s blogging boom.


It hasn’t quite worked out that way.

Consider today’s column.  I’m not going to do go full metal fisk on the piece.  Douthat tries to persuade his audience that the CBO report — the one that showed that the ACA works as intended,  liberating workers from jobs they perform only to hang onto health benefits — is actually testimony to how liberal government denies the dignity of work.  You can read the thing for yucks if you like that kind of up-is-down talk.

Here, I want to get to is the basic dishonesty not just of one argument in one column, but of Douthat’s method as deployed here.

The test was to click on each link in the piece, and see if Douthat’s claimed sources actually supported whatever he invoked them for.  Spoiler alert:  almost to a one, they did not.

Link number 1 is actually OK.  Douthat invokes a Keynes essay, and that essay appears at the end of the intertube he lays down, making the prediction Douthat says it does.

What comes next, though, ain’t so pretty:

…well-educated professionals — inspired by rising pay and status-obsessed competition — often work longer hours than they did a few decades ago…

This link takes you not to an original study but to a summary of others’ work posted at the National Bureau of Economic Research.  If Douthat had checked behind that summary he would have found that the picture of socially climbing workers taking on ever more hours over time isn’t exactly right:

these figures show that (a) the incidence of long work hours fell in the recessions of 1983, 1992 and 2002; and (b) that long work hours rose sharply in the 1980s, more slowly in the 1990s, and –as in the Census data– declined somewhat between 2000 and 2006.

That messier, hence less convenient picture is just the appetizer for the real misinterpretations to come.  Douthat claims that money and status drive folks to work long hours.  But the NBER summary at his link asserts,

Studies suggest that perceived job insecurity has risen substantially among highly educated workers.

Aha! Not virtue but necessity keeps people on the job nights and weekends.  From the underlying paper:

We find that two group characteristics — a rising level of within-group earnings inequality (at fixed hours) and a falling (or more slowly growing) level of mean earnings at ‘standard’ (40) hours– are associated with increases in the share of workers usually supplying 50 or more hours per week.
IOW, even for better educated/salaried workers, long hours are a response to a decline in or threat to earning power at normal so much  a status thing, and not exactly a rising pay story either.
It gets worse when Douthat finishes his sentence with an implied indictment of lower-paid labor.  He writes:

…while poorer Americans, especially poorer men, are increasingly disconnected from the labor force entirely.


Once again, the linked piece doesn’t say quite what Douthat claims.  It does have a political tinge — its author cites Charles Murray admiringly, which is always a tell — but the analysis is plain enough:

…a big factor is that – partly due to globalization and technology – the wages of less-skilled, less-educated men have been falling. Simply put, that makes them less willing to get off the couch, particularly if finding a job demands running a gauntlet of on-line applications or requires a move or a long commute or surrendering government benefits.  The surest way to put the most employable of these men back to work would be a stronger economy in which jobs were more plentiful and employers couldn’t be so picky about filling openings. [emphasis added]

So it turns out that Douthat’s disaffected workers aren’t merely and passively disconnected.  They’re barred by actual conditions in the real world from finding work.  A better economy would lower that bar and see re-entry into the labor force.  To be fair, Douthat does note that rising inequality has an explanatory role to play in what he claims are two trends. But the links he provide to support his attempt at social analysis confirm essentially nothing of his interpretation.


Next up, Douthat engages the CBO report itself:

The Congressional Budget Office had always predicted that the new health care law’s mix of direct benefits and indirect incentives would encourage some people to cut their hours or leave their jobs outright. But its latest report revised the estimate substantially upward, predicting that by 2021, the equivalent of 2.3 million full-time workers — most of them low-wage — could disappear from the American economy.

Yet again, Douthat links not to the report itself, but to a Washington Post article summarizing and in part spinning that document.  And it turns out that Douthat’s “full time workers” disappearing number is not quite right.  Here’s what the CBO actually reported, (p. 127)

Because some people will reduce the amount of hours they work rather than stopping work altogether, the number who will choose to leave employment because of the ACA in 2024 is likely to be substantially less than 2.5 million. At the same time, more than 2.5 million people are likely to reduce the amount of labor they choose to supply to some degree because of the ACA, even though many of them will not leave the labor force entirely.
I’ll admit that’s a relatively minor error on Douthat’s part (though the rhetorical torque he applies with the word “disappeared” puts it into the realm of bad faith to me).   But more important, note that Douthat didn’t delve into the actual CBO report itself, at least not enough to grasp any nuance — relying instead on the Post article’s own flawed account.
IOW:  sometimes the little mistakes are the most revealing.  You can’t argue with folks who don’t know what they’re talking about.  Those of us trying to understand health care in America by reading the country’s newspaper of record should have the confidence that what they find there is based on best attempts to identify actual facts.  Douthat does not encourage such confidence.
Please proceed, columnist!
Next, we have Douthat’s attempt to claim that there really is a better, conservative alternative to Obamacare.
the design of Obamacare … makes the work disincentive much more substantial than it would be under, say, a conservative alternative that offers everyone a flat credit to buy a catastrophic plan.
I think he’s trying to say that giving everyone health insurance that almost never insures would trap more people in the jobs they’d need to mitigate the risk of everyday mishaps, but that’s for another argument. I could also  take issue with the notion that the document he links is an actual alternative, and not some cobbled together bit of hand-waving and familiar right wing talking points on health care.  But there’s no doubt that at the point we’re still  the territory of op-ed privilege.
But here’s the real problem — and it’s one Douthat could very well have slid past all but the most careful of editors.  In the next paragraph he writes:
One of the studies used to model the consequences of Obamacare, for instance, found a strong work disincentive while looking at a population of childless, able-bodied, mostly working-class adults

That sounds like a good serious pundit doing his homework and digging into the academic research on his topic.  But if you click that link, it won’t take you to any study — not even a Heritage parody of social science.  Instead, it returns you right to the doorstop of the “alternative” proposal Douthat invoked in the prior graf.  There’s nothing else there at all, and certainly nothing any neutral observer would recognize as actual inquiry.  This is just a lie-by-citation.

Believe it or not, the beat goes on.  Douthat bloviates on his own dime for a few paragraphs before coming up with this :

On the left, there’s a growing tendency toward both pessimism and utopianism — with doubts about the compatibility of capitalism and democracy, and skepticism about the possibility for true equality of opportunity, feeding a renewed interest in 1970s-era ideas like a universal basic income.

There are two classic blunders: The most famous is  never get involved in a land war in Asia, but only slightly less well known is never, ever, trust Ross Douthat when he tells you what “the left” is thinking.

The first link takes you not to a critique of capitalism by, say, Joe Biden or even the House Progressive caucus, but to a lengthy and fascinating New York Times account of a book by a French economist that has yet to appear in English.  It’s an important piece of work, I hear, but hardly evidence of a growing American political tendency.

The second brings you to an interview with the author of another book yet to be released —  by Gregory Clark, an economic historian at Davis who has been arguing for some years for a biologically heritable account of economic outcomes.

There’s lots of people who argue with Clark’s work.  But for this discussion the question isn’t whether his brand of biological economics is bonkers or worse.  For this argument it is, does Clark speak from or for anything that could remotely be called the left?

The answer is no: he is one economist controversial within his own field, whose views, if they have any political stamp, have been much more eagerly received by latter day eugenicists than by any recognizable wing of, say, the Democratic Party.

Again: Douthat is a pundit.  He gets to be stupid on the Times’ dime.

But he shouldn’t get to claim authority he doesn’t have — the intellectual buttresses of knowledge he hasn’t actually worked to acquire or analytical effort he hasn’t put in.  Every single link in this piece but the one that just takes to Keynes is flawed, often deeply so, in the sense of supporting the superstructure Douthat wants to erect on top of his claims of erudition.  At best, he’s bibliography-padding, attempting to baffle his readers (and, I think, his editors) with the appearance of someone who does the hard work of thinking.  At worst, he’s misappropriating others’ labor to his own ends.

Echoing Gandhi’s apocryphal jibe:  were I asked what I think about right wing public intellection, I’d reply, “I think it would be a good idea.”

Images: Jean Clouet, Portrait of Guillaume Budé, c. 1536.

Adriaen van Ostade, Carousing peasants in a tavern, c. 1635


61 replies
  1. 1
    Baud says:

    This is an excellent takedown. Especially liked the links Douthat uses to support his views of the “left.” He might have been better off just linking to Wikipedia.

  2. 2
    Mike G says:

    Republicans moan and Republicans bitch
    Our rich are too poor
    And our poor are too rich.

  3. 3
    cyntax says:

    I dunno Tom; for non full metal fisk, that was pretty comprehensive. Are you saying you should have spent more time on Chunky Bobo? Before we can sign off on that we might need to get your blood pressure checked.

    But kudos for the detailed take down.

    The idea that people work longer hours due to job insecurity and down-sizing (my addition not in the source data) should surprise just about no one who has actually worked in a real job. Unlike CB. Maybe if the NYT could find a conservative pundit who has held down a real job they might get better commentary. Granted, it’s a big “if.”

  4. 4
    geg6 says:

    Masterful takedown. He’s not worthy of such beautiful but scathing analysis, but bravo!

  5. 5
    Tom Levenson says:

    @cyntax: Trust me. The first draft was longer. Much longer.

    And yeah — my wife has been on my lately to check my outrage at the door. Got a lot to do, and I don’t want to give the feckless Douthat more thought than he’s worth. There isn’t a bucket small enough to hold that amount.

  6. 6
    cyntax says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    There isn’t a bucket small enough to hold that amount.

    Nanotechnology FTW!

    Also, I have found the wife is rarely wrong.

  7. 7
    lurker dean says:

    well done. if i was this deceptive and inaccurate at work i’d be fired, but i guess douthat has a job precisely because of his ability to be this deceptive and inaccurate.

  8. 8
    CaseyL says:

    Tom, you are a good, brave man to read Douthat closely enough, follow all his links, and write a masterful evisceration. I don’t have the stomach for it. Thanks so much for doing the heavy lifting.

    The way Douthat (along with the rest of the RW-Villager axis) turned on a dime to attack Obamacare was really a choice piece of work. From “We will lose 2.5 million jobs!” to “We will be subsidizing 2.5 million freeloaders so they can quit their jobs!” is an exemplar of dishonest argumentation that should be enshrined in a textbook somewhere.

  9. 9
    Stella B. says:

    @Mike G: Beautiful. It deserves to be remembered.

  10. 10
    ericblair says:

    Conservative economic theory: Obama is the worst president ever, because he is criticizing the Job Creators. The Job Creators are rich people who do not hire workers because they have work to be done, but because they are kind to their inferiors. Because Obama is disrespecting the Job Creators, they has a sad and don’t hire workers. However, everybody who is unemployed is lazy and unmotivated, because if they were really motivated they would kiss some Job Creator ass and support Republican policies and then they would make Job Creators happy and get hired.

    So Obama is a terrible president because he didn’t create enough jobs, but the unemployed are unemployed because they’re just lazy. Here endeth the lesson.

  11. 11
    maximiliano furtive, formerly known as dr. bloor says:

    Sloppy thinkers like Douthat will have sinecures as long as publications like the Times believe that maintaining an appearance of “balance” is more important than publishing the smartest people available. They may as well break down and start publishing comics instead of opinions for all the good it does them.

  12. 12
    Nutella says:

    @lurker dean:

    his ability to be this deceptive and inaccurate

    I guess that’s what Douthat means when he talks about the dignity of work. His ability to be this deceptive and inaccurate is very dignified!

  13. 13
    trollhattan says:

    MostAll Republicans: “The CBO are gummint slime unless they publish something that is beneficial to our narrative OR we’re able to interpretlie that it is.”

    Le sigh.

  14. 14
    different-church-lady says:

    One of the HUGE problems with the entire line of thinking Douthat and others are using is this idea that only the employees control how many hours they’re going to work.

    If there’s no work to do, the boss isn’t going to give you overtime just because you decide to stay behind. If there’s too much work to do, woe be the employee who says, “Nah, I’m going to stick to my 40 this week.”

    Yes, an ambitious employee can seize upon opportunities for overtime, but they can’t create overtime at will. Most employers would be calculating the difference between paying higher labor costs in overtime rates versus hiring more workers to work at non-overtime rates.

    Unless, of course, said employers are squeezing those extra hours out of their ambitious employees without overtime compensation. Is that your implication, Mr. Douthat?

    If Russ would like to introduce the angles of part time employment, perma-lancing, cobbling together incomes from multiple sources, etc, etc, well then we could start having a complete conversation about the full state of employment in modern America. And that conversation would encompass a lot of things the modern conservative doesn’t want people to notice.

  15. 15
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Mike G:

    This. Sums up the modern “conservative” mindset, perfectly.

    Wipe them out. All of them.

  16. 16
    jake the snake says:

    @Mike G:

    That is so stolen.

  17. 17
    SFAW says:

    @Tom Levenson:

    my wife has been on my lately to check my outrage at the door.

    Tom –
    I’m guessing that she may be worried that, if you read too much Chunky Bobo, your IQ will decline into Teabagger vicinity. Probably not gonna happen (because your mental strength is as the strength of 10 and all that), but it’s a reasonable concern.

    After reading Jeff Jacoby – who I maintain is actually Pantload, slumming in Beantown – it sometimes seems as if his willful stupidity could be communicable, and I find I sometimes need to remind myself that there are FOUR lights.

  18. 18
    Botsplainer says:

    The Virgin Ben is gone from Breitbart.

    Ben Shapiro, the editor-at-large of Breitbart News, is parting ways with the company. He continues to be editor of the media watchdog group, TruthRevolt, the right-wing answer to the liberal Media Matters. TruthRevolt has no financial tie to Breitbart News and is a non-profit owned by David Horowitz. Shapiro began working for Breitbart News in February, 2012, just two weeks before Andrew Breitbart died. Shapiro was a longtime friend to Breitbart.

  19. 19
    slippytoad says:

    I think my response to this without reading Douchehat’s column which doesn’t sound like it deserves the time, is that when people who by and large never have worked for a thing in their lives start opining on the value of work, you can ignore them as they have no fucking idea what they’re talking about.

    Looking at Douthat’s biography, I can safely say he’s never had to sweat to put food on the table, so seriously, what in the hell can he possibly know about it?

  20. 20
    jake the snake says:

    Why does the NYT even bother? Conservatives hate the NYT. Conservatives don’t read the NYT.

  21. 21
    Jennifer says:

    You could’ve shortered this with “Ross Douthat is a lazy right wing hack.”

  22. 22
    SFAW says:


    Shapiro began working mooching a paycheck for Breitbart News

    Because the original would lend credence to the incorrect idea that the 1-percenters-in-spirit are the Makers, not the Takers.

  23. 23
    Alison says:

    I just wanna know how the fuck to say his name so I can properly cuss him out aloud when I see his crap in my paper.

  24. 24
    SFAW says:


    “Ross Douthat is a lazy right wing hack.”

    Or, as that noted Medicare Moocher, Alisa Rosenbaum, once wrote: A = A

  25. 25
    Snarki, child of Loki says:

    @CaseyL: “…an exemplar of dishonest argumentation that should be enshrined in a textbook somewhere.”

    Not a textbook, but undoubtedly to be “enshrined” in the official GOP platform. Where it will sink into obscurity amidst the numerous other examples of dishonesty.

  26. 26
    SFAW says:


    I just wanna know how the fuck to say his name

    I believe “Hey, asshole” or “You stupid motherfucker” is the proper way to address him. Can you pronounce either of those without problem? If so, then you’re golden.

  27. 27

    When I knew him (I admit 30 years ago) Greg Clark described himself as right of center. He is also a very eminent economic historian and a very nice guy.

    Without clicking the link, I guess that the French economist is Thomas Piketty whose book has already influenced lots of left of center Americans (all of whom read French better than I do). I think Douthat’s use of that link is OK.

  28. 28
    Cervantes says:

    @Robert Waldmann: Yes, it’s Piketty. He taught at MIT for a couple of years in the ’90s.

  29. 29
    Gretchen says:

    re: overtime: one of the supervisors at my work told our charming boss that he couldn’t expect people to keep working 12 hours days indefinitely. He told her to work them 13 for awhile and they’d appreciate 12. Said with a self-satisfied chuckle. Last week we had a snowstorm, and he said the night shift should come in the next morning. I said you can’t expect them to work all day and then come back and work all night. He generously let them work only an 8 hour day, leave at 2 and come back at midnight. Douthat ought to work for my boss for awhile before he explains overtime to America. I don’t know if I hate my boss or Douthat more, but I bet they’d be best buddies.

  30. 30
    Bill E Pilgrim says:

    I think the one you’re describing as a small error is a rather large one and in many ways the heart of his sleight of hand. Er, if I may be permitted to mix body part metaphors.

    His entire schtick is in some ways centered on the characterization that he repeats over and over, that this is either mostly, or entirely, about people giving up the one and only job they have and going on some sort of welfare instead, sitting around instead of working, because they can.

    The reality is at least as likely to be someone giving up the night job, a farmer giving up the job at the diner, a small business owner or craftsperson giving up the night job cleaning the hospital, and on and on, all of which they were doing mostly because it was the only way they could get affordable health care.

    So the whole moral hazard debate he sets up starts with a straw man, the lazy worker leaving his job to use government money to stay home and watch soap operas instead of working, and then he takes it from there.

    Douthat is a con artist. Always has been.

  31. 31
    Kay says:

    is actually testimony to how liberal government denies the dignity of work

    Conservatives have done more to demean and devalue work than any group I could possibly imagine.

    When did they start valuing work? Before or after their presidential candidate announced that 47% of voters contributed nothing and were all looking for handouts? That group certainly includes a lot of dignified workers.

    Oh, look! Here’s Eric Cantor admitting what Douhat will not:

    “Ninety percent of Americans work for someone else,” Cantor said, according to a source in the room. “Most of them not only will never own their own business, for most of them that isn’t their dream. Their dream is to have a good job, with an income that will allow them to support their family.”
    “We shouldn’t miss the chance to talk to these people,” Cantor continued, according to the source, “which is why we will present and pass our plans to relieve the middle class squeeze.”
    What was extraordinary about that portion of Cantor’s presentation was not that it was out of place — it was entirely on-target for a political party hoping to win elections in 2014 — but that it came six years into the economic downturn, and decades into a protracted decline in middle-class standards of living. Could it actually have taken Republicans that long to realize they should address such problems, especially when Democrats have made huge gains appealing directly to middle-class voters?
    Apparently, yes. And even now, not all House Republicans are entirely on board. “It’s something that’s been growing and taking time for members to get comfortable with,” says a House GOP aide, “because they did spend the last decade talking about small business owners.”

    Republicans want a higher turnout in white working class voters, because those voters on the GOP side didn’t turn out, and they think that’s why they lost. That’s the moment they re-discovered the “dignity of work” – about 11 PM on election day, 2012.

  32. 32
    cg says:

    Thank you Mr. Levenson.

  33. 33
    Cervantes says:

    Never, ever, trust Ross Douthat when he tells you what “the left” is thinking.

    To be fair, one shouldn’t trust anyone who purports to tell you what “the left” is thinking.

    As for Douthat: never, ever, trust him, period.

  34. 34
    SFAW says:


    When did they start valuing work?

    1) For the “right sort of people,” they always did
    2) For everyone else, they never did.

    To their minds [sic], alleged persons like Sam Zell are the “right sort.” Thank FSM he works/worked harder than those other types.

  35. 35
    Kay says:


    I think it’s great we’re finally talking about work, but Republicans haven’t talked about it for twenty years other than bitching incessantly about cash assistance or food stamps.
    In 2010 they launched an all-out assault on middle class public workers. I’ve never seen anything like it. They went from fawning all over “first responders” to calling them all lazy slobs. I followed the Twitter feed of the Fight for 15 workers on strike day and the conservative response was to call them all burger flippers and tell them they would be replaced by robots. Not a word about the inherent dignity of work that day, I’ll tell ya.
    Then there’s the ridiculous “job creators” campaign theme, where they totally overlooked the people who work for the “job creators”, and harangued the whole country on how we had to be grateful to have a job at all.
    They’ve derided work and workers at every opportunity, and the one and only reason they’re coming around now is they lost an election.

  36. 36
    Ajabu says:

    Kudos for wading through all that swill to disembowel it.
    As someone (eminently more gifted than I) once said,
    ” I’ll do anything for love but I won’t Douthat!”

  37. 37
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    Jesus, Tom, don’t do this to yourself. I cannot be good for you to wade into muck like that.

  38. 38
    SFAW says:


    and the one and only reason they’re coming around now is they lost an election

    Check your premise – they’re not “coming around,” they’re just trying to find some quick phrase to use to give them some sort of cover.

    If they were “coming around,” at least some of them would realize that the one-percenters are the Takers, not the Makers, for example. But they don’t and likely won’t.

    I have, for a long time, thought it ironic that the right wingers rail against the “liberal elites,” for a number of reasons:
    1) When I was a kid, being part of an elite group was something to which we all aspired – whether it was sports, or in school, or in the Armed Forces (e.g., Green Berets, SEALs)
    2) The rubes who keep crowing about the “elites” really mean “elitists,” but they’re too stupid to realize that.
    3) The rubes who crow about “liberal elites” use it in the sense of “Those damn liberals think they’re so much better’n us, just who the hell do they think they are?” And yet, as with all things Republican/conservative, projection is all: THEY, in fact, are the ones who think they’re better than those commie/socialist, fag-loving, nigger-loving, ed-joo-cated, LLLLie-berals.

    They are the greatest collective proof that Darwin was wrong, and that there is no such thing as a Just God. Because if God were Just, there’d be a shitload of smitin’ going on in the red states. And if Darwin were right, they’d all be dead from accidentally-self-inflicted wounds (firearm or otherwise).

  39. 39
    joel hanes says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Wipe [modern Republicans] out. All of them.

    Foul for eliminationist rhetoric.

    Tax them. (To hear them talk about it, that’s worse than death). Use the monies to build a decent civil society over their objection and despite their obstruction.

  40. 40
    SFAW says:

    @joel hanes:

    Tax them. (To hear them talk about it, that’s worse than death).

    Added side-benefit: some number will “Go Galt,” which will be a net gain for society and civilization.

  41. 41
    seaboogie says:

    Reading another Douthat article today, and was pondering the fact that perhaps there is simply a dearth of these: “a clear, articulate, analytically sophisticated conservative voice on its op-ed team (NY Times).” Does such a creature even exist in these times? It seems like the ultimate oxymoran.

  42. 42
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SFAW: Wouldn’t going Galt deny the dignity of work?

  43. 43
    SFAW says:

    @Omnes Omnibus:

    Wouldn’t going Galt deny the dignity of work?

    No, but it would deny us moochers of their essence.

    Which is not a bad thing.

    Allegedly Larison is rational.

  44. 44
    Cervantes says:

    @Robert Waldmann:

    When I knew him (I admit 30 years ago) Greg Clark described himself as right of center. He is also a very eminent economic historian and a very nice guy.

    Here’s one of my favorite bits of his writing:

    Insofar as economic forces influenced the political and military successes of Britain, the one that mattered more in the competition with the other European states was population growth, not technological advance. … Britain’s rise to world dominance was a product more of the bedroom labors of British workers than of their factory toil.

    It’s from the conclusion to his paper on “What Made Britannia Great?” (in Comparative Economic History, Hatton et al. eds., MIT Press, 2007).

  45. 45
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @joel hanes:

    I agree. Tax them.

    Into penury.

    If they object, THEN you engaged in “The French Solution”.

  46. 46
    Kay says:


    The real problem is conservatives don’t have any populists who aren’t also social conservatives. They have plenty of plutocrats who aren’t religious, and plenty of plutocrat religious. What they don’t have are secular populists. They are incapable of “compassionate” without “religious”.
    It’s really a great strength for liberals, and one they don’t get enough credit for.

  47. 47
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Cervantes: “Lie back and think of England” writ large?

  48. 48
  49. 49
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @SFAW: I occasionally have my moments.

  50. 50
    Cluttered Mind says:

    @Botsplainer: So Ben Shapiro came to work for his “longtime friend” Andrew Breitbart and then two weeks later Breitbart was dead? It would be irresponsible not to speculate! We know what happened to “longtime friend” of the Clintons Vince Foster, don’t we?

  51. 51
    Dexter's new approach says:

    Ross speaks as a person without much life experience. He came to his job with his POV, and nothings going to change that.

    The high-earning workplace is not all young startups trying to make their place in the world working long hours. It’s mostly filled with older folks out of ideas that live through their work. They don’t work long hours to make the place better, they do it because it makes them feel more important.

    Most CEOs spend a ton of their time kissing up to Wall Street with conferences and visits to big investors when – if they are being honest and consistent – they should let their results speak for themselves.

  52. 52
    Ruckus says:

    Your names are correct of course but they are also so non specific as to encompass the entire conservative side. If you saw him on the street and called out “Hey stupid, motherfucking asshole”, 27% of the people should reply automatically.

  53. 53
    Fred says:

    @SFAW: Actually there does seem to be a lot of smitin’ going on in red states. But the rubes keep on re-installing their tormentors.

  54. 54
    Neo says:

    If this journey into “freedom” and FUNemployment is so desirable, why was there so much noise back in October when we had a (partial) government “shutdown” ?

    Don’t government employees need “freedom” and the joys of FUNemployment too.
    .. or was it that they still got paid after the shutdown that ruined it for them ?

  55. 55

    Saw a cartoon passed around on Facebook by a Republican relative, showing Obama announcing that the unemployment rate will now be called the Liberation From Work Rate.

    I’m not sure if that’s version #1 of the meme or version #2. Maybe both: it’s the assertion that the ACA is a job-killer but Obama loves that because he hates work so much. (Of course, people who leave the workforce entirely, or who quit their second job while keeping the first, aren’t part of the unemployment rate at all, for better or for worse.)

  56. 56

    @Neo: You really don’t understand the difference between quitting your job, and getting furloughed or laid off?

    (When the rate of layoffs increases, that’s a bad sign for the economy, and it pushes wages down. When quits increase, it’s a good sign: in most cases, it implies that people either found better jobs or for some other reason don’t need to keep them, and it pushes wages up. This whole flap has been about obscuring the difference.)

  57. 57
    different-church-lady says:


    To be fair, one shouldn’t trust anyone who purports to tell you what “the left” is thinking.

    And that includes bloggers on the left.

  58. 58
    Cervantes says:


    To be fair, one shouldn’t trust anyone who purports to tell you what “the left” is thinking.

    And that includes bloggers on the left.

    Assuming you have a definition of “on the left” that can be trusted …

  59. 59
    oldster says:

    About that Keynes link?

    There’s a different kind of sin underlying that one.

    If you look at this Crooked Timber link,

    you’ll see that Douthat learned about it from Quiggin.

    But now he refers to it without any kind of h/t, so that he can make it *appear* as though he knows the minor essays of Keynes because that is the sort of Public Intellectual that he is.

    In other words, he is misrepresenting his knowledge, and not giving credit to other people, in order to make himself look better.

    Which used to be pretty much the essence of academic dishonesty, back when I was teaching kids.

  60. 60
    Cervantes says:

    @oldster: Well, you may be right but Quiggin himself seems not to be accusing Douthat, even though you gave him an opening to do so with your comment.

    Did I miss something? Quiggin refers to Twitter, so perhaps there are clues there that are inaccessible to me.

  61. 61

    “It needs, or thinks it does, a clear, articulate, analytically sophisticated conservative voice on its op-ed team.”

    Well, they could get, for instance, Larry Summers or Timothy Geithner.

    Oh, that wasn’t what they had in mind?

    But that snark conceals a point: movement conservatives have no intellectual credibility left. Even the economics they were so proud of has failed. Their good points have been taken over by the “centrists,” especially the Democratic centrists.

    To address their problem, the NYT’s publishers would have to admit, publicly, how far to the right the Overton window has slid, and that’s not likely.

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