Cory Leonard

Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Bob Bennett on Church and State | Hugh Nibley Off the Record

In politics on October 29, 2012 at 9:13 pm

Former Senator Bob Bennett, fellow at the Hinckley Instiutte of Politics explains how it works:

The Church does not say, ‘Well let’s purge Harry Reid.’ They say, “Let’s call him up and ask him for something else we need.’ And he delivers.

via Bob Bennett on Church and State.

Bob Bennett Video on Nibley and Politics: Part 2.



American Exceptionalism in a Political Season

In politics on October 26, 2012 at 11:39 pm

Nothing wrong with loving your country. But when it becomes an absolute–or uncritial proposition, we limit our capacity for real dialogue about real problems. American politics become a campaign in perpetuity. (Tell that to swing states right now

This national characteristic, often labeled American exceptionalism, may inspire some people and politicians to perform heroically, rising to the level of our self-image. But during a presidential campaign, it can be deeply dysfunctional, ensuring that many major issues are barely discussed. Problems that cannot be candidly described and vigorously debated are unlikely to be addressed seriously. In a country where citizens think of themselves as practical problem-solvers and realists, this aversion to bad news is a surprising feature of the democratic process.

“I think there’s more of a tendency now than in the past to avoid discussion of serious problems,” says Allan J. Lichtman, a political historian at American University. “It has a pernicious effect on our politics and on governing, because to govern, you need a mandate. And you don’t get a mandate if you don’t say what you’re going to do.”

via Candidates and the Truth About America –


Lehman Brothers, We Heard You Were Dead –

In politics on October 7, 2012 at 5:33 am

Tales of the Zombie bank:

The main lesson of Lehman’s collapse is that the response to a troubled financial system is, ultimately, determined not by technical regulation, but by politics. The F.D.I.C. can use its new powers only after receiving the consent of the Treasury secretary. And its new powers pertain only to those banks deemed systematically important, a designation determined by political appointees. So while the F.D.I.C. is working to formalize the rules governing its new powers, investment-bank lobbying has grown by nearly 60 percent since the crisis began. Bankers learned that they need to be closer than ever to politicians.

Kenneth Rogoff, who co-wrote the pre-eminent history of financial crises, “This Time Is Different,” told me that crises don’t end because new laws are enacted and politicians can be trusted again. In 1945, “the financial markets were devastated,” he said. “State and local governments had defaulted on everything. Lending had shrunk.” Somehow, though, the economy recovered and experienced nearly 30 years of robust growth. Confidence comes, he said, when “enough time passes so everyone forgets there was ever a problem.” I was thinking about this as I walked through the new Lehman headquarters and overheard one employee brag about a real estate deal he had just made. (After all, the advisory firm Alvarez & Marsal could earn more than $600 million from winding down Lehman.) But the larger fact is that Lehman, which once seemed essential to the economy, is slowly disappearing. That few even know that this is happening in the Time & Life Building suggests that our confidence may not be far away.

via Lehman Brothers, We Heard You Were Dead –

via Lehman Brothers, We Heard You Were Dead –

booklist | the signal and the noise –

In politics on October 7, 2012 at 4:58 am

Call me a fox (and why you should call yourself one, too):

Hedgehogs, Silver says, are those who believe “in governing principles about the world that behave as though they were physical laws.” Foxes, by contrast, “are scrappy creatures who believe in a plethora of little ideas and in taking a multitude of approaches toward a problem.”

The author casts himself as a fox, and he thinks you should be one, too. As Silver explains, predictions typically fail when people—hedgehog people—ignore new information that conflicts with their worldview. And to remind us of how far afield the hedgehogs can wander, he cues up plenty of humiliating tape. There’s the economist who predicted a nine-percentage-point victory for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential ballot, based on an outmoded Vietnam-era model adapted from the computation of troop casualties. And there is the whole battery of Kremlinologists who missed the imminent decline of the Soviet Union because of their hidebound views of how communist leaders retained power. The heroes of The Signal and the Noise are those who stay nimble, forever incorporating new ideas and new information without drowning in a sea of extraneous data—people, in short, like Nate Silver.

via the signal and the noise – / current issue.


Today’s Students: Same as Always, but More So – Commentary – The Chronicle of Higher Education

In career on October 7, 2012 at 3:56 am

College students today, according to Arthur Levine and Diane Dean, drawing on research from Generation on a Tightrope: A Portrait of Today’s College Student, observe:

  • Most college students (89 percent) say they are optimistic about their personal futures but pessimistic about the future of the country (65 percent).
  • Three out of four undergraduates expect to be at least as well off as their parents, but four out of five do not expect Social Security to be available when they retire.
  • Current undergraduates have the most inflated grades in 40 years, but a majority (60 percent) believe their grades understate their academic ability, even though nearly half (45 percent) have had to take remedial courses. (Forty-one percent have grades of A-minus or higher, compared with 7 percent in 1969, and only 9 percent have grades of C or lower, compared with 25 percent in 1969.)
  • Undergraduates want change, but they are timid rule followers. They are politically disengaged. More than four out of five believe meaningful social change cannot be achieved through traditional American politics. Only one in nine has ever participated in a demonstration, the lowest level in more than 40 years of research.
  • Today’s students are simultaneously the most connected and disconnected generation in collegiate history. They are connected online 24/7, have reduced the historic campus racial and gender barriers, and aspire to have traditional lifelong relationships with a partner and children at higher rates than their predecessors. But their face-to-face communication skills are poor. They live in a world that emphasizes hookups and one-night stands

At the same time, another paradox leaves them connected and discombobulated:

A digital revolution that produced higher education’s first digital natives, who are better at communicating online than in person and often are more closely connected to a virtual social-media community than to the physical campus community. There is a mismatch between them and their colleges on issues as fundamental as when, where, and how education should occur. Often students do not understand fundamental academic conventions, such as the definition of plagiarism, or what constitutes appropriate decorum in a classroom. This create a growing tension between students and faculty.

via Today’s Students: Same as Always, but More So – Commentary – The Chronicle of Higher Education.


What Happened Last Night | Via Meadia

In media on October 4, 2012 at 9:55 pm

Best summary yet on the first Presidential Debate of 2012 and a primer on how Conservatives ought to complain about the media.  (Hint: no whining, be specific.)

This was not just about optics. Romney chose last night as his moment to shift toward this high center ground in American politics. He is not an austerity president or a penny pincher where causes dear to Jacksonian hearts are involved. He wants to be an education president and hopes we hire lots of new teachers, he incorporated his Massachusetts health care plan into his narrative and attacked Dodd-Frank from the left as a sell-out to big banks — and an assault on the right of Americans to get cheap mortgages.

He pledged to make sure the share of the tax load paid by the rich would not decrease on his watch and he promised no tax cuts that would increase the deficit. This may not be libertarian, small government orthodoxy, but it is mainstream Jacksonianism. Romney is attempting to brand himself as a red-blooded American rather than as a doctrinaire conservative in the race. He wants to run against Barack Obama like John Wayne versus Barney Fife — or Ronald Reagan versus Jimmy Carter.

via What Happened Last Night | Via Meadia.


Challenging the Claims of Media Bias – the Media Equation –

In media on October 2, 2012 at 3:15 am

David Carr’s take on the diminishingly-claimed-Romney-claim of media bias:

Even if legacy media still maintained some kind of death grip on American consciousness, it would be hard to claim that the biggest players in those industries are peddling liberal theology.

Think about it. What is the No. 1 newspaper in America by circulation? Why, that would be The Wall Street Journal, a bastion of conservative values on its editorial pages and hardly a suspect when it comes to lefty news coverage. (Though it’s worth pointing out that the paper has published some very tough coverage of Mr. Romney.)

What about radio? Three of the top five radio broadcasters — Mr. Limbaugh, Sean Hannity and the recently departed Michael Savage — have outdrawn NPR’s morning and evening programs by a wide margin. In cable television, Fox News continues to pummel the competition.

Many Republicans see bias lurking in every live shot, but the growing hegemony of conservative voices makes manufacturing a partisan conspiracy a practical impossibility.

via Challenging the Claims of Media Bias – the Media Equation –


Follow a Career Passion? Let It Follow You –

In career on October 1, 2012 at 11:16 pm

So now the NYT is introducing Cal Newport to the world. His small little blog will never be as unknown–but hopfully he’ll be able to continue offering insights

But this philosophy puts a lot of pressure on the rest of us — and demands long deliberation. If we’re not careful, it tells us, we may end up missing our true calling. And even after we make a choice, we’re still not free from its effects. Every time our work becomes hard, we are pushed toward an existential crisis, centered on what for many is an obnoxiously unanswerable question: “Is this what I’m really meant to be doing?” This constant doubt generates anxiety and chronic job-hopping.

As I considered my options during my senior year of college, I knew all about this Cult of Passion and its demands. But I chose to ignore it. The alternative career philosophy that drove me is based on this simple premise: The traits that lead people to love their work are general and have little to do with a job’s specifics. These traits include a sense of autonomy and the feeling that you’re good at what you do and are having an impact on the world. Decades of research on workplace motivation back this up. (Daniel Pink’s book “Drive” offers a nice summary of this literature.)

via Follow a Career Passion? Let It Follow You –