New Column at The New Republic

Forgive me the hiatus in posting. I’ve been parenting (and writing a fair amount). Saw Tod (et al) at Leaguefest and he (et al) encouraged me to share links here to my work elsewhere, so…here goes! I’ve just published a column for The New Republic on how the Democratic Party is about to dramatically shift its…

One Further Thought on Internet Commenting

A Twitter “conversation” with our own Tim Kowal yesterday reminded me of something that I neglected to mention in my previous post. Part of why comments sections struggle especially hard to move beyond style to substance is because of the way they manage visibility. After all, if comments sections were just about providing feedback to the…

Back to School, Back to War? A Review of David Kirp’s Improbable Scholars

How do we balance urgency against responsibility in education reform? David Kirp’s recent book is a valiant attempt to square these two priorities. But can we really put aside “The Education Wars” so easily?

Why Support for (Any Old) Immigration Reform Won’t Solve the GOP’s Problem with Latino Voters

Immigration reform is up for debate in the Senate! Everyone knows the story by now: 1) with an eye to their electoral future, Senate Republicans are newly interested in reaching out to Latino voters, 2) they’re nervous about upsetting their anti-immigrant base, 3) House Republicans are generally more interested in #2 than #1, 4) but…

11 Ways to Hedge Your Claims Like an Academic—AND What Each Says About You

1. “In sum” What It Says About You: “Things are so slipshod in this piece that you wouldn’t notice the summary unless I signposted it.” 2. “Thus” What It Says About You: “In case you hadn’t noticed, this sentence is preceded by another sentence.” 3. “As a result” What It Says About You: See #2. 4. “Indeed” What It Says About…

9 Things Progressives Are NOT

1. Fascists: Progressives pushed for women’s suffrage and the direct election of senators. They generally pushed for a more inclusive, robust democratic community. Today’s progressives are pretty similar—they’re certainly not a movement trying to curtail voting rights or reestablish a thick cultural narrative that excludes elements of the population from community membership. 2. Marxists: This…

This Is How It Felt

This is how I felt nine hours after you were born. You are asleep on my chest, a fine little miracle in a striped swaddling blanket. Of course you are a miracle. Parents always say that, and it’s trite, but triteness and truth are keen companions. Humans are many things; we are users, choosers, planners,…

Fun Constitutional Facts: Gun Rights Edition

The words “regulate” and “regulated” appear three times in the Constitution’s current text. Here they are: Article I, Section 8: “The Congress shall have Power…To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes…[and] To coin Money, regulate the Value thereof, and of foreign Coin, and fix the Standard of Weights…

Dr. Seuss and Genius and Field Dominance

I read a lot of children’s literature these days (b/c this), which means that I’ve long been mulling over this precise sentiment: As any parent will attest, Dr Seuss was not only the greatest childrens writer ever, but also better than next best by an implausible margin — Justin Wolfers (@justinwolfers) February 7, 2013 Later,…

Should the Left Fear (Or Hate) Its Wonks?

If I am notorious for anything in the blogosphere—other than being that guy who won that thing at the Washington Post that one time—it’s probably my persistent (if gentle) criticism of “The Wonky Left.”[1] So when Bhaskar Sunkara writes that wonky bloggers like Ezra Klein, Matthew Yglesias, and Dylan Matthews are obsessed with technical policy…

Barack Obama 2.0 = the Left’s Mitch McConnell

(Alternate Title: “Trolling the Republicans: Obama’s Elephant Gambit”) It’s 2013, just days before a presidential reinauguration. Do you know who your president is? The blogosphere contains myriad cottage industries inspired by Barack Obama’s supposed inscrutability. To some—birthers and their ilk—he’s nefariously mysterious. To others—often fired by 2012 campaign rhetoric—Obama’s only confusing because he’s an “overmatched”…

Excusing the NRA, Remembering Ourselves

Now that the fiscal cliff fight is over, (for a spell) now that the inauguration is almost upon us, we’re finally ready to have the national conversation about guns (maybe, unless fighting over Chuck Hagel carries us all the way to the next debt ceiling climax). Before it gets going, though, I want to think…

On the Limits and Possibilities of Acknowledging Human Tragedy

It’s one of the great mistakes of contemporary political discourse that the doctrine of original sin is almost exclusively used to justify inaction. The usual argument goes as follows: humans are profoundly, tragically sinful. The world is a broken realm in which no great good can be achieved. All human intentions, no matter how benign,…

Election 2012 Recap: Getting the Triumphalism Right

Democrats awoke today awash in the smug warmth that comes with electoral success. Rightly so, given last night’s results. Jon Tester and Claire McCaskill are still Senators? Tammy Baldwin will be the first openly gay American to grace the Senate floor? Obama didn’t just win a few of the swing states—he won (pending Florida) all…

What If It’s the OTHER Reality?

Though I’ve made my view of the electoral situation pretty clear, I’m well aware that Tuesday’s election will be damned close. I’m well aware that as encouraging as Nate Silver’s model/conclusions are, he still predicts that Romney would win one or two out of every ten elections (were we able to run the trial multiple times).…

Nate Silver Himself Is the Entity to Be Analyzed

I love Nate Silver. I love his steady analysis of staggering reams of data. I love his measured treatment of complicated electoral possibilities. I love that he talks in terms of probabilities instead of certainties. I love his (apparent) bewilderment at the rhetorical windstorm currently swirling around his work. Nonetheless, I still feel bad for…

Teacher Hatred and Class Warfare

(There’s a fairly lengthy thought-piece introduction here. If you’re simply trawling for education policy arguments, make like a choose-your-own-adventure reader and turn directly to Section II.) I. One of the best parts about being an (philosophical) pragmatist: around 75% of the time the appropriate response to your critics is screwing up your face, raising one…

Mugged By Their Own Narrative

As Team Romney continues the process of self-immolation, various journalists have discerned a pattern in conservative reactions to his collapse. Echoing Richard Cohen’s column from several days ago, Fareed Zakaria notices that Romney is deeply constrained by the Republican Party’s pursuit of purity: So Romney could present a serious economic plan with numbers that make…

Progressivism’s American-ness

Over my last few posts on progressivism (here and here), I’ve made a fairly straightforward argument with three big claims: 1. Today’s conservatives consider progressives to be not just political opponents, but also un-American. 2. This is historically inaccurate. Most of the original progressives aimed at recuperating the nation’s core Founding ideals. 3. Furthermore, I argued…