It’s “on the road” week here at Altercation. As your pinch-hitter—Reed here—I’m posting from wintry Minneapolis, where despite a recent record heavy snowfall for December, they’ve been enjoying a far-warmer-than-average fall. This, after the Twin Cities experienced the fourth-warmest winter on record last year. But, you know, Al Gore is fat or something.
As for Eric, he’s enjoying the sunny climes of the Caribbean on the Nation cruise. But there’s no resting on our laurels around here. He’s written a new Think Again column on the mendacity of perhaps the world’s most powerful media mogul entitled “Murdoch, Murdoch, Everywhere.” One addendum I’d add to his thorough, Rupertian roundup. Right after this column came out, the New York Times reported that yet another editor within Murdoch’s empire embroiled in the phone hacking scandal, James Harding of The Times of London, will also step down. But that wasn’t even the most outrageous piece of news from that Times story. Instead, that had to be the revelation that Murdoch gave his former News of the Worldeditor, the disgraced Rebekah Brooks, who is currently facing conspiracy charges, a whopping $17.6 million severance package. Dick Armey, it seems, has nothing on Brooks when it comes to being handsomely rewarded for spectacular failure.
Debugging Our Democracy
by Reed Richardson
If there’s one broader lesson we can draw from the ridiculous posturing around the manufactured “fiscal cliff” crisis that has gripped all of Washington these days, it is this: our democracy can no longer effectively handle the basic task of responsible governance. And a not insignificant portion of the blame can be laid at the feet of a easily manipulated press. Of course, this diagnosis is by no means revelatory. Many have come to the same conclusion. Almost two years ago, Eric wrote at length about our “Kabuki Democracy” and deconstructed how our “maddeningly complex” political system, as currently constructed, routinely fails our citizenry, thanks, in part, to a complicit media that makes little attempt at honest, clear reportage of policy and process issues.
Coincidentally, this week, I stumbled across a very engaging essay by Johns Hopkins political science professor Steven Teles that offers up a similar critique—that our governing mechanisms and policy solutions almost invariably involve counterproductive, Rube Goldberg contraptions that only obliquely address the issue at hand. I admit that I discovered the essay only after it caught the attention of some conservatives on Twitter, who seemed to appreciate its insightful observations even though Teles, as one Cornerite claimed, was “of a center-left bent.” (Admittedly, this ideological appellation is of little relative value based on the extreme right-wing positions around which conservatives are now encamped.)