Analyze foreign affairs like Tom Friedman

Tom Friedman on Iraq today: One of the first things I realized when visiting Iraq after the U.S. invasion was that the very fact that Iraqis did not liberate themselves, but had to be liberated by Americans, was a source of humiliation to them. It’s one reason they never threw flowers. When someone else has … Continue reading Analyze foreign affairs like Tom Friedman

Play their game

From Eric Alterman at the Nation: A week before his 2009 inauguration, President-elect Barack Obama chose as his first high-profile social engagement a dinner party at George Will’s house, where he was joined by William Kristol, Charles Krauthammer and David Brooks. Obama no doubt intended to demonstrate his desire to reach across the ideological divide and … Continue reading Play their game

Shallow generalities

This discussion between Skip Bayless and Mark Cuban is worth watching for two main reasons.  In the first place, they have a disagreement over the significance of Bayless's Sports Punditry.  Without a lot of argument vocabulary, Cuban accuses Bayless of talking in "generalities."  This is not exactly the right term, as Bayless tends, at least according to Cuban, … Continue reading Shallow generalities

Thought flatulence

Sentence of the day, Jason Linkins of the Huffington Post: And The New York Times' Thomas Friedman has aided this delusion by blundering around in a fog of his own thought-flatulence, wondering where the "grand bargain" was. (The "grand bargain" was always available via download.) I have read no more descriptive phrase of the Brooks-Friedman … Continue reading Thought flatulence

Suck.On.This, Gorgias.

I have been reading Plato's Gorgias lately, wondering why I didn't assign this to my argumentation class (well, ok, they had enough to do already).  But in honor of the "end" of the Second Iraq War, I think the following passage is worth thinking about: Socrates. Come, then, and let us see what we really … Continue reading Suck.On.This, Gorgias.

That’s what he said

It's the tenth anniversary of the atrocity of September 11 (I like this way of describing it).  Nothing to add, except that Paul Krugman's sentiment seems (partially) right to me: A lot of other people behaved badly. How many of our professional pundits — people who should have understood very well what was happening — … Continue reading That’s what he said


Some maintain that arguments are dialogues and such therefore be evaluated as such.  I have my doubts about this view, because so many of the arguments I encounter seem to be monologues, or at least the critical parts of them don't have anything to do with dialoguing with someone who disagrees with you (assuming the back-and-forth exchange is what is … Continue reading W-T-F

He who denied it supplied it

I have a kind of a general rule here I stick by most of the time: the people worthy of criticism are people who can plausibly be said to have some effect on the opinions of a non-ideological set of people.  However right wing George Will is, many people (except Kramer) find him "intelligent"; so … Continue reading He who denied it supplied it

Brain death

A guest op-eder in the Washington Post asks: "Is Conservatism Brain-Dead?"  My immediate response is–so what if it is–it must be kept alive by heroic measures.  To be honest, my immediate response was: "Does that hyphen go there, I think not."  In any case, upon reading the article, I'm struck by the standard employed to … Continue reading Brain death

The eternal present of the New York Times

Punditry is an accountability free occupation. In today's New York Times, the grizzled warrior David Brooks performs a chest-beating war dance over Afghanistan of the type he and his tough guy comrades perfected in the run-up to the Iraq War.  It's filled with self-glorifying "war-is-hell" neocon platitudes that make the speaker feel tough and strong.  No more … Continue reading The eternal present of the New York Times