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Thornton Hall

The Revolution Will Be Kuhnian.

Why I Hate Atrios

It has been suggested in a comment thread over at the Rectification of Names that I have lost my marbles. The reason? Because I expressed my dislike for a blogger named Atrios in the following terms: 

On the other hand, I could get quite scathing on the subject of Atrios and those who think his koans of Marxist posturing based on a Simpsons-style caricature of Washington DC amount to insightful commentary. He coined a good term once, I’ll give him that.

If one wants to develop a theory of why the thing to do in our democratic moment is is to whine loudly about the DCCC from a protected perch, (moving from academic teat to teat as he wears out his welcome), one probably should start with the imaginary setting of “the Villiage” and such fantastic beasts as “David Broder’s real agenda.” All the best excuses for inactivity involve imaginary forces: reality has the habit of changing and rendering fact based excuses obsolete. And the thing to know about Atrios is that he is very caustic and constitutionally impotent.

If, on the other hand, one wants to understand how American democracy works and why the media seems to be pulling in the wrong direction, a more empirical approach might be warranted. One might even, god forbid, talk to some actual people with experience in politics. One is going to have to confront the reality that the press and the Congress they cover are both filled with good people trying their best to do a good job. I told Atrios that on Twitter once. It confused him to no end.

Was that my most reasoned and dispassionate analysis? No. Do I take it a little personally when he calls the DCCC stupid? Perhaps. In looking over his blog today, I find that mostly he is saying non-controversial things about how horrible Trump and the Republicans are. I definitely overstated the case and turned Atrios into a caricature of a kind of person I hate. 

But I picked some random months from the Obama years and came upon one of his posts that embodies the thing I was lashing out at above:

Simple Answers To Simple Questions

Joe Nocera:

Why is it that the fear of moral hazard only applies to homeowners, and not to the banks?

Because Tim Geithner will be set for life.

This has been another edition of simple answers to simple questions.

by Atrios at 10:33 273 Comments

It's true: Obama listened to Geithner who said "moral hazard" if you bail out mortgagees. It was clearly a mistake. Lots of people thought so. I thought so.

But Tim Geithner's motive was not personal greed. He was already rich. He would "be set for life" no matter what. This self-satisfied smarm gets us further away from progress because it obscures the real source of Tim Geithner's error: what he was taught in economics classrooms. The idea that it's bad to help people doesn't come naturally to humans. It has to be taught.

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