In defense of sophistry

posted at 2:31 pm on November 3, 2012 by Jazz Shaw

For anyone who writes about politics professionally, there always comes a point where you ask yourself, what the heck are we doing here? Let’s face it… it’s not actually pure journalism in the classic sense, assuming that exists any more. The idea of collecting, sorting and disseminating news about current events is an appealing one and it’s a product which people have long shown an appetite for. But it didn’t take more than a few minutes for powerful people to realize the potential of being able to spin that coverage to bend public opinion in their direction. (In fact, the history of American newspaper publishing could fairly demonstrate a case that the motive predated the first actual publications.) So in terms of modern American politics, what is the value of punditry?

Matt Lewis seeks to answer this question in his column, In defense of punditry.

To be fair, I have also been skeptical of predictions made by political pundits — going so far as to pronounce that a monkey would have as good a chance of making correct predictions.

But while I am skeptical of political pundits, I am equally skeptical of the utopian notion that the “best and the brightest” young technocrats can crack the code and build a “model” to predict the complexities of human behavior…

Regardless, I have little skin in this game. Punditry and commentary will, of course, live on. The rise of the technocrat may make life harder for those who do horse race “process” coverage, but it can’t speak to what should happen — what policies a good society should embrace. And that’s what should interest us most.

It’s a nice, if somewhat idealistic notion. But I find it interesting – and somewhat telling – that Matt chooses to open his column with a quote from Edmund Burke. “But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever.

Punditry, in the common parlance, is accepted to be the opinions or methods of a learned person, expert or authority who makes comments or judgments, especially in an authoritative manner. But no discussion of political punditry seems to take place without Burke’s hint of sophistry lurking in the background. If the sophist seeks to deceive by weaving facts and distortions together while speaking in an authoritative fashion, doesn’t that mean that pundits from opposite ends of the spectrum will always look at each other as nothing but budget rate sophists?

Both Matt and Tim Carney pointed out a rather apt quote on this idea.

@drgrist: The dream that dispassionate experts can transcend and avoid ideological struggles is as persistent as it is futile.

If that sounds like an unpleasant tablespoon full of honesty, it probably is. There’s a natural – and not necessarily harmful – tendency for any of us to relay descriptions which are favorable to our candidate, our party or our ideology. We tend to report a bit more glowingly on surveys which favor our side and look at little harder and more skeptically at those bringing bad news. We admire and quote speakers who support the goals we hope for and raise objections to those who don’t.

But we can still draw some lines in the sand. If you’re reading a site which routinely reports things like “insider news” that John Roberts is retiring, you may want to rethink your opinion of them. If somebody regularly runs stories saying that 5,000 people showed up for a rally for Candidate X and numerous photos show there were only fifty people in the crowd, it’s probably time to shop for opinions elsewhere. This dates back to the yellow journalism newspapers in the American east in the early 1800s.

Either way, Matt Lewis brings up some good questions. A lot of writers doubtless wake up the day after every election and look in the mirror asking one question. Are you a pundit or a sophist? Or is there that much of a difference anymore?


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Nate Silver’s recent spat with Joe Scarborough shows that this election isn’t just about the Reagan coalition vs. the rest of America, its also about two kinds of media. The pundits have been relying upon “gut” and “instinct” to explain that Romney will win despite the state polling in swing states. Nate Silver is all “but facts exist.” When Obama wins a lot of pundits will be discredited, even more.

libfreeordie on November 3, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Merriam-Webster says:

Journalism:

Collection, preparation, and distribution of news and related commentary and feature materials through media such as pamphlets, newsletters, newspapers, magazines, radio, film, television, and books. The term was originally applied to the reportage of current events in printed form, specifically newspapers, but in the late 20th century it came to include electronic media as well. It is sometimes used to refer to writing characterized by a direct presentation of facts or description of events without an attempt at interpretation. Colleges and universities confer degrees in journalism and sponsor research in related fields such as media studies and journalism ethics.

hmmmph..

BobMbx on November 3, 2012 at 2:36 PM

A lot of writers doubtless wake up the day after every election and look in the mirror asking one question. Are you a pundit or a sophist?

Jazz, with all due respect, I think you’re probably the only one …

ShainS on November 3, 2012 at 2:36 PM

Only the Washington press corps still hankers for a “thrill going up the leg” or “a perfectly creased pant leg” or whatever other literary device was meant to convey a pundit’s enthrallment to the community organizer from Chicago. How about a fast-beating heart or tummy flutters?

Obama has come across as an amazingly close approximation of Jimmy Carter, complete with a slow-growth economy and a foreign policy disaster, though one of Obama’s empty boasts was he understood the Arab world especially well. His backup team of David Axelrod and David Plouffé serve as second-rate Jody Powells and Ham Jordans. Frankly, I preferred Jody and Ham.

I must in all humility admit that it took me all of two weeks into his presidency to recognize that Obama was over his head. On February 5, 2009, I said in this space that Obama’s presidency was doomed. I pronounced him a dud, unlikely to be reelected president. Said I, “…with the economy in crisis and American national security in the hands of a starry-eyed novice, one can argue that we are in for a reprise of the Carter years complete with the self-righteous pout.” Well, I argued this for almost four years and today I rest my case.

Next week President Obama goes into retirement. I hope he will consider Hawaii.

Only the Washington press corps still hankers for a “thrill going up the leg” or “a perfectly creased pant leg” or whatever other literary device was meant to convey a pundit’s enthrallment to the community organizer from Chicago. How about a fast-beating heart or tummy flutters?

May the media all go with Obama, hopefully to Hades.

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:38 PM

Sorry for the repeat sub-section of the quote, but it is the one which matters the most, as regards the media.

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:38 PM

“But the age of chivalry is gone. That of sophisters, economists, and calculators, has succeeded; and the glory of Europe is extinguished for ever.”

- Burke

Europe can have Obama.

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:40 PM

The value of punditry is pretty goddamned low when an article purportedly analyzing the senate races ignores that only 1/3 of the seats are up for election, not all 100, and when the analyses in large part don’t even mention the party affiliation of the people being discussed.

rayra on November 3, 2012 at 2:41 PM

it’s not actually pure journalism in the classic sense, assuming that exists any more.

True Journalism died a long time ago Jazz. The Fifth Column Treasonous Media Marxist propaganda agents murdered it in it’s sleep.

SWalker on November 3, 2012 at 2:42 PM

Either way, Matt Lewis brings up some good questions. A lot of writers doubtless wake up the day after every election and look in the mirror asking one question. Are you a pundit or a sophist? Or is there that much of a difference anymore?

They should quit being hypocrites.

The old media in the US is dead.

May they all suffocate for good on Tuesday night, from an overdose of Obama caca, not Beluga caviar, fools.

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:42 PM

journalism ethics.

hmmmph..

BobMbx on November 3, 2012 at 2:36 PM

That my friend is a Oxymoron.

SWalker on November 3, 2012 at 2:44 PM

There is no such thing as a “tradition” of un-biased reporting of the news. That is a quaint 1960s era concept that so-called “reporters” invented to legitimize their left-wing bias. Non-biased news coverage NEVER existed.

Warner Todd Huston on November 3, 2012 at 2:44 PM

a quote from Edmund Burke. “But the age of chivalry is gone.

I’ve been saying for years that we live in “the age of vulgarity”.

MichaelGabriel on November 3, 2012 at 2:47 PM

God made all men.

Who made all equal?

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:59 PM

May the media all go with Obama, hopefully to Hades.

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:38 PM

.
“Professional Journalism” as we used to know it, is already obsolete.

They pretty much did it to themselves.

listens2glenn on November 3, 2012 at 2:59 PM

. . . The pundits have been relying upon “gut” and “instinct” to explain that Romney will win despite the state polling in swing states. Nate Silver is all “but facts exist.” When Obama wins a lot of pundits will be discredited, even more.

libfreeordie on November 3, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Don’t know what “pundits” you be talkin bout relying on “gut” and “instinct”. There is no “gut” or “instinct” necessary to point out that a D+8 turnout is a fantastical DNC hopey wish.

For the millionth time, Libby, it’s all about them metric. D+8 or 9 or 12? Lies, damned lies and bullshift.

BigAlSouth on November 3, 2012 at 3:00 PM

“Chivalry,” or idle illiterate aristocrats on horses, was a source of tumult and nothing good ever came of it.

Akzed on November 3, 2012 at 3:01 PM

I couldn’t help thinking of all of us, myself included, who may occasionally give in to a minor inclination toward sophistry, be it ever so slight or infrequent, who post here. lol!

Perhaps Mr. Shaw sees this as a gentle break in the chain, a pause for introspection, ahead of Tuesday’s election.

If so, well done, Mr. Shaw.

thatsafactjack on November 3, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Nate Silver is all “but facts exist.”

libfreeordie on November 3, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Do you even believe yourself?

The facts regarding state polling (or any polling) are limited to these:

x number of people are contacted.

Of those x, y choose to respond.

Of those y, there is a preference breakdown (O/R) and a partisan breakdown (D/R/I).

That is where the facts stop. The central question of all predictive polling (and surely you must know this) is this: Is the sample representative of the people who will show up and vote?

The pollsters either say “yes” and publish the raw results, or they reweight the raw results to match what they believe is a representative sample.

The “pundits” you scorn are simply those who look at the results and say, “Based on reasons 1, 2, and 3, I believe the electorate is not going to have the same makeup that the pollsters believe it will.” Maybe they’re right, maybe they’re wrong. It’s a matter of analysis, not facts.

What Nate Silver does is assume that the pollsters are correct about the composition of the electorate. But relying on one set of assumptions rather than another doesn’t give him any great claim to the mantle of “fact”.

The question is, whose assumptions are correct? And to the pollsters, Nate Silver, and you, the question is, on what basis do you assume (as so many of the state polls do) that the electorate will be more Democratic this year than in 2008? So far, no one has tried to give a defense of that assumption. I think we all know why.

sadarj on November 3, 2012 at 3:02 PM

One area where unemployment will increase after the election: MSM journalists.

bayview on November 3, 2012 at 3:06 PM

With my job, the kids, the yard work and watching infomercials I don’t have much time for sophistry, but I try to get some in during my brief moments of happy time with my etch a sketch.

SparkPlug on November 3, 2012 at 3:06 PM

sadarj on November 3, 2012 at 3:02 PM

The difference is rather than saying “I think Obama is going to win”, Silver says: “I think there’s a 76.2% probability that Obama will win.”

To the stupid that makes it sound more scientific and thus more factual.

PackerBronco on November 3, 2012 at 3:09 PM

The “age of chivalry” was a time when brutish thugs on horseback (in French, Chivalier) would be sent forth to gather conscripts, collect taxes, and remind the peasantry of the unbridled will to exert lethal military force against any who would challenge the Birthright to Rule of the nobility.

The idea that a Knight was anything more than a walking slaughterhouse was invented in the Victorian era when they had a fascination for all things historic, but no desire to see them in anything less than a near-perfect light, else the history they evolved from be viewed as imperfect. So the writings of those before, such as Chaucer, that idealized the Virtues of Knighthood as it should be, were held up as “the way it was.”

The Age of Chivalry seems alive and well in these days of revised history…

PXCharon on November 3, 2012 at 3:09 PM

Either way, Matt Lewis brings up some good questions. A lot of writers doubtless wake up the day after every election and look in the mirror asking one question. Are you a pundit or a sophist? Or is there that much of a difference anymore?

Pundits are still human beings, Jazz. It is an exhausting and fairly thankless pursuit, laying out the world as you see it while knowing that a fair chunk of strangers out there will not just disagree with your views, but purely hate your guts.

Keep asking your mirror that question. It shows you care. I wish more (shameless) pundits would.

Ladysmith CulchaVulcha on November 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM

The question is, whose assumptions are correct? And to the pollsters, Nate Silver, and you, the question is, on what basis do you assume (as so many of the state polls do) that the electorate will be more Democratic this year than in 2008? So far, no one has tried to give a defense of that assumption. I think we all know why.

sadarj on November 3, 2012 at 3:02 PM

The significant growth in the latino voting population is one key factor. Remember, if every single black voter stayed home on election day in 2008 Obama would have still won. He wouldn’t have gotten Indiana, NC or VA, but he would have won with 66% latinos and his share of the white vote. This time around it will be closer with Romney getting 1984 Reagan style support from white voters, but the latino share of the vote is going to be even larger and they are supporting Obama at higher rates.

libfreeordie on November 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM

a method of argument that is seemingly plausible though actually invalid and misleading

libfreeordie on November 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM

…on the lower end of the sophistry scale

Obama is falling off the scale, the charltanic hoax/pox upon the land.

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 3:16 PM

FEMA’s vaunted “lean forward” strategy that called for advanced staging of supplies for emergency distribution failed to live up to its billing in the immediate aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.
In fact, the agency appears to have been completely unprepared to distribute bottled water to Hurricane Sandy victims when the storm hit this Monday. In contrast to its stated policy, FEMA failed to have any meaningful supplies of bottled water — or any other supplies, for that matter — stored in nearby facilities as it had proclaimed it would on its website. This was the case despite several days advance warning of the impending storm.

Big Government is awesome!!!!

CW on November 3, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Nate Silver’s recent spat with Joe Scarborough shows that this election isn’t just about the Reagan coalition vs. the rest of America, its also about two kinds of media. The pundits have been relying upon “gut” and “instinct” to explain that Romney will win despite the state polling in swing states. Nate Silver is all “but facts exist.” When Obama wins a lot of pundits will be discredited, even more.

libfreeordie on November 3, 2012 at 2:34 PM

Your feigned eeyoreism is showing. You’re as dishonest as they get b8tch.

CW on November 3, 2012 at 3:26 PM

God made all men.

Who made all equal?

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Samuel Colt.

rayra on November 3, 2012 at 3:27 PM

It’s been an hour… next course.

nitzsche on November 3, 2012 at 3:29 PM

seriously, when will the milksops running Hot Air realize that serial troll sacks of excrement like libfreeordie are costing them readership? It’s the same death spiral that idiot Charles Johnson went into at LGF 6-7yrs ago. Failure to cull the psychotics, the good folks left, and the place descends into LLL insanity.
Even worse, when a cretin like libfree is shown to be a previously banned troll, and nothing is done about it.

rayra on November 3, 2012 at 3:33 PM

To read the titles in any AP or Reuters piece is ‘hilarious’.

Samuel Colt.

rayra on November 3, 2012 at 3:27 PM

Very good…or Smith & Wesson.

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Beware! Every leftist pundit/sophist they trot out on the airwaves this weekend is saying the same Obama talking points meme—Mitt can’t win Ohio and can’t win period. He is too far behind.

This is telling since they are trying to depress and suppress Republican voters into thinking O is inevitable again. I think it’s their last ditch hope.

Rockshine on November 3, 2012 at 3:33 PM

Your feigned eeyoreism is showing. You’re as dishonest as they get b8tch.

CW on November 3, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Who hasn’t gone through a period of fundamentally believing their guy is going to lose?

libfreeordie on November 3, 2012 at 3:34 PM

libfreeordie on November 3, 2012 at 3:14 PM

That, at least, is an attempt to defend the numbers, which is better than most. I appreciate that among our resident libs, you’re actually willing to engage in argumentation. I would counter with the following observations:

1. Republican turnout was at historical lows in 2008. There is every reason to believe that this year it will be higher than 2008 and most likely higher than average.

2. Enthusiasm for Obama is down among just about every segment of the electorate compared to 2008, suggesting lower Democratic turnout.

Is the proposition that Dem turnout will be down and Rep turnout up from 2008 a “fact”? Of course not; it’s a projection based on certain observations and historical data.

But neither is it a “fact” that Dem turnout will exceed 2008. And therein is the flaw in Silver’s model. He takes that as a given assumption and runs his numbers off of that. I am prepared to concede that if Dems enjoy a larger turnout advantage than in 2008, that Obama will almost certainly be reelected. I just don’t think it will happen. And no one, including Nate Silver, can know with certainty what the electorate will look like come Tuesday.

sadarj on November 3, 2012 at 3:38 PM

This dates back to the yellow journalism newspapers in the American east in the early 1800s

That would be many of the same Hearst Newspapers practicing yellow journalism today.

IowaWoman on November 3, 2012 at 3:40 PM

I couldn’t help thinking of myself who may occasionally give in to a minor inclination toward sophistry, ever so slight or infrequent

thatsafactjack on November 3, 2012 at 3:01 PM

Well said!

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM

God made all men.

Who made all equal?

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:59 PM

Samuel Colt.

rayra on November 3, 2012 at 3:27 PM

I believe the original qoute was ““God made man equal. But, Colonel Colt made some more equal than others”

SWalker on November 3, 2012 at 3:43 PM

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 3:42 PM

You asked me to define ‘pathetic’ earlier on the QOTD. KENNY… look in the mirror.

thatsafactjack on November 3, 2012 at 3:47 PM

There is no such thing as a “tradition” of un-biased reporting of the news. That is a quaint 1960s era concept Lie that so-called “reporters” invented to legitimize their left-wing bias. Non-biased news coverage NEVER existed.

Warner Todd Huston on November 3, 2012 at 2:44 PM

In the past publications let their readers know what bias they had. If you picked up the ‘Conservative Chronicle’ you knew what to expect. Much more honest IMO then pretending to be unbiased and reporting from a very biased view.

IowaWoman on November 3, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Samuel Colt.
rayra on November 3, 2012 at 3:27 PM


There is but one God.

And John MOSES Browning is His Prophet

LegendHasIt on November 3, 2012 at 3:48 PM

libfreeordie on November 3, 2012 at 3:34 PM

Your response is that of a liar. Do some research on the languaged used by dishonest people. You’re FOS.

CW on November 3, 2012 at 3:49 PM

“Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts” is credited to American financier Bernard M. Baruch (1870-1965), who said it in 1946. James R. Schlesinger, United States Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975, is credited with saying: “Each of us is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), United States Senator from New York from 1976 to 2000, is also often credited with saying: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

From http://tinyurl.com/l4mjtm

cthulhu on November 3, 2012 at 3:54 PM

You asked me to define ‘pathetic’ earlier on the QOTD. KENNY… look in the mirror.

thatsafactjack on November 3, 2012 at 3:47 PM

Cute. Dont’t act like Doberman Shultz. I beg you. Oh wait are you Debbie?

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 3:55 PM

“Every man has a right to his own opinion, but no man has a right to be wrong in his facts” is credited to American financier Bernard M. Baruch (1870-1965), who said it in 1946. James R. Schlesinger, United States Secretary of Defense from 1973 to 1975, is credited with saying: “Each of us is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts.” Daniel Patrick Moynihan (1927-2003), United States Senator from New York from 1976 to 2000, is also often credited with saying: “Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not his own facts.”

From http://tinyurl.com/l4mjtm

cthulhu on November 3, 2012 at 3:54 PM

And Saint Ronald Reagan is quoted as replying… “Well, there you go again”… ;p

SWalker on November 3, 2012 at 3:56 PM

Heard around town, “Don’t forget to change your clocks on Sunday and your president on Tuesday.

Resist We Much on November 3, 2012 at 3:57 PM

OT:

From Adam Housley’s report:

British sources on the ground in Benghazi said they are extremely frustrated by the attack and are still wondering why they weren’t called for help. “We have more people on the ground here than the Americans and I just don’t know why we didn’t get the call?” one said.
Both American and British sources said, at the very least, the security situation on the ground and the lack of proper response were the result of “complete incompetence.” The covert team that came in from Tripoli was held up at the Benghazi airport for more than three hours by Libyan officials. Sources said the team notified officials in Washington that they were being delayed within 30 minutes of their arrival.

Chewy the Lab on November 3, 2012 at 3:59 PM

GIRD YER LOINS!

By Eliana Johnson

Speaking to reporters in Lima, Ohio yesterday, David Axelrod said the President’s closing argument is “coming from his loins.”

I’ve never seen him more exhilarated than he is right now. He believes in what he’s doing. He believes in what he’s fighting for. You can see in the speech that he’s delivering that this is coming from his loins.

The speech repurposes to the same shopworn rhetoric pitting the rich against the poor that has animated liberal Democrats of campaigns past, from Mario “Tale of Two Cities” Cuomo to John “Two Americas” Edwards. From the text of speech the President delivered in Lima:

And here’s the thing, Lima — for eight years, we had a President who shared our beliefs — his name was Bill Clinton. And his economic plan asked the wealthiest to pay a little bit more so we could reduce our deficit and invest in the skills and ideas of our people. . . .

And let me tell you…I will be fine without a tax cut. I really will. Mitt Romney will definitely be fine without a tax cut. Don’t need it. And as long as I’m President, I’m not going to turn Medicare into a voucher just to pay for another millionaire’s tax cut. I’m not going to make young people pay more to go to college just for a tax cut for me or Mitt Romney. . . .

The folks at the very top in this country, they don’t need another champion in Washington. They’ll always have a seat at the table. They’ll always have access. They’ll always have influence. We understand that.

Comin’ at you straight from his loins.

Resist We Much on November 3, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Chewy the Lab on November 3, 2012 at 3:59 PM

The entire administration should face the court system, if it still exists.

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 4:01 PM

Nate Silver’s method is not scientific, not even close. The very basis of his model depend on questionable numbers, gathered and created by questionable methods. So many questionable sources as to make his outcome garbage. Garbage in~Garbage out.

IowaWoman on November 3, 2012 at 4:02 PM

Comin’ at you straight from his loins.

Resist We Much on November 3, 2012 at 4:00 PM

The boy is headed for Gehenna

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Some pundits weave their sophistry till their own reason is entangled.

Ain’t that right, Jazz.

 

Genius may dazzle, eloquence may persuade, reason may convince; but to render popular cold and comfortless sophistry, unaided by these powers, is a hopeless endeavor. –Robert Hall (1821 – ‘An Apology for the Freedom of the Press’)

FlatFoot on November 3, 2012 at 4:03 PM

Europe can have Obama.

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Excellent idea. Send him to The Hague. Then the Worst First Lady can call her brood “Brussels Sprouts”.

hillbillyjim on November 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM

Europe can have Obama.

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Libya can have Obama

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Excellent idea. Send him to The Hague. Then the Worst First Lady can call her brood “Brussels Sprouts”.

hillbillyjim on November 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM

To hell with that… Send him to Libya… Give him the damned keys to the Consulate in Benghazi…

SWalker on November 3, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Schadenfreude on November 3, 2012 at 2:40 PM

Excellent idea. Send him to The Hague. Then the Worst First Lady can call her brood “Brussels Sprouts”.

hillbillyjim on November 3, 2012 at 4:05 PM

To hell with that… Send him to Libya… Give him the damned keys to the Consulate in Benghazi…

SWalker on November 3, 2012 at 4:07 PM

Shouldn’t be any problem, right? After all, the Libyans love him, and to top the deal off, we’ll make sure he gets the exact same level of Consular protection that he gave Ambassador Steven’s.

SWalker on November 3, 2012 at 4:12 PM

If not for sophistry, wherever would we get our sophisticates? And how would Andrew Sullivan, Ezra Klein, and Jonathan Chait earn a living?

In unrelated news,FEMA has run out of bottled water for the stricken Northeast and won’t have more until Monday at the earliest. It seems that contrary to their claims on their website, they did NOT pre-position stashes of water, food, blankets, fuel, etc. like they did for Katrina and other hurricanes.

Heckuva job, Brownie!

Adjoran on November 3, 2012 at 4:16 PM

Heckuva job, Brownie!

Adjoran on November 3, 2012 at 4:16 PM

ugh you mean Bushies’s Brown? he don werk thea no mor

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 4:20 PM

ugh you mean Bushies’s Brown? he don werk thea no mor

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 4:20 PM

Sharp as a tack, ain’t ya?

/Well, sharp as an eraser is more like it.

AZfederalist on November 3, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Benghazi.

Mason on November 3, 2012 at 4:59 PM

Sharp as a tack, ain’t ya?

/Well, sharp as an eraser is more like it.

AZfederalist on November 3, 2012 at 4:38 PM

Clever entry Snidely

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 5:17 PM

Cute. Dont’t act like Doberman Shultz. I beg you. Oh wait are you Debbie?

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 3:55 PM

thatsafactjack, what did you do to attract such obsessed and retarded fans like Kenny and socalcon, anyway?

Anti-Control on November 3, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Anti-Control on November 3, 2012 at 5:44 PM

Get a real girl friend, not one on the internet, Stud. The woman is on the internet constantly, there are those who suspect she is CS Deven

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Get a real girl friend, not one on the internet, Stud. The woman is on the internet constantly, there are those who suspect she is CS Deven

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 5:51 PM

Wow, you really [clownishly think you] know how to get under someone’s skin, don’t you, little Kenny?

Defensive much, little Kenny? I notice you didn’t bother trying to refute my comment about your obsessiveness and retardation, little Kenny – seeing that you didn’t seem to notice that my post wasn’t directed to you, who could or would be surprised that you didn’t? :)

You are easily provoked & manipulated, like a stupid clay figurine, did you know that, little Kenny? Now, why don’t you spend some more of your time honoring me by thinking about how to “cleverly” insult me next, little Kenny? ROFL@you!

Anti-Control on November 3, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Wow, you really [clownishly think you] know how to get under someone’s skin, don’t you, little Kenny?

Defensive much, little Kenny? I notice you didn’t bother trying to refute my comment about your obsessiveness and retardation, little Kenny – seeing that you didn’t seem to notice that my post wasn’t directed to you, who could or would be surprised that you didn’t? :)

You are easily provoked & manipulated, like a stupid clay figurine, did you know that, little Kenny? Now, why don’t you spend some more of your time honoring me by thinking about how to “cleverly” insult me next, little Kenny? ROFL@you!

Anti-Control on November 3, 2012 at 6:22 PM

Son You might want a job someday. Do you really want that diatribe to live with you for 50+ yrs?

kenny on November 3, 2012 at 6:36 PM

Are you a pundit or a sophist? Or is there that much of a difference anymore?

Was there ever a difference?

I prefer the term ‘advocate,’ and it pays for a good cigar, now and again.

locomotivebreath1901 on November 3, 2012 at 7:31 PM

Political punditry may or may not be sophistry.

Political punditry that is reasoned political analysis, critique, and commentary that is based on a rational assessment of the facts and reality is certainly not sophistry. Likewise similarly derived political humor. George Orwell comes to mind.

Political punditry that borders in trutherism and tin foil hat conspiracy and paranoia is sophistry on steroids, pathological sophistry off its meds. Michael Moore comes to mind.

There is a large area of varying and continuously shaded gray in between.

farsighted on November 3, 2012 at 8:40 PM

I am equally skeptical of the utopian notion that the “best and the brightest” young technocrats can crack the code and build a “model” to predict the complexities of human behavior

That’s intellectual vanity and hubris.

farsighted on November 3, 2012 at 8:43 PM

That’s intellectual vanity and hubris.

farsighted on November 3, 2012 at 8:43 PM

To clarify, not the skepticism, but the utopian notion.

farsighted on November 3, 2012 at 8:53 PM

It’s a shame that ‘sophistry’ has taken on such a pejorative connotation. In ancient Greece, it was quite a fine method of education. We could actually do with a lot more of it today. I blame Plato.

WhatSlushfund on November 3, 2012 at 10:42 PM

Every choice is a bias.

Choosing what to report is the initial one.

And for the past few centuries that begins with a decision of marketing.

News that will not sell is not news.

Even if it were ultimately more important than a killer nanny or a pair of kids swept away in a storm.

Reporting, slanted toward sales, is the primal distortion of the medium.

Then- every subsequent emphasis and angle and twist and spin enters the information stream to turn neutral details into a “story”.

And this focus reveals its creator’s promotion of a position.

There is no escaping advocacy, either unconscious or purposeful.

The unconscious is the more dangerous of the two, though. Because it presumes (without examination) that it is being “objective” when it is just as partisan and opinionated, de facto, as the most overt propagandist.

Being aware of your own slants is all you can do.

And reminding others of theirs.

Especially when they pretend none exist.

profitsbeard on November 4, 2012 at 1:58 AM