Patterico's Pontifications

7/3/2014

A “Conservative” Writer Responds To Negative Comments About Him

Filed under: General — Dana @ 9:16 pm

[guest post by Dana]

David Brooks, conservative columnist for the New York Times discusses the negative impact of reading comments directed at him:

“I used to read them, but it was just too psychologically damaging,” Brooks said in an interview with Yahoo News’ Katie Couric at the Aspen Ideas Festival on Tuesday. “So then I would ask my assistant to read them.”

Brooks was shocked at the volume of “punishingly negative” comments when he joined the Times in 2003.

“It was the worst six months of my life,” he said. “I had never been hated on a mass scale before.”

The conservative columnist received more than 290,000 emails during his first six months at the left-leaning paper. “The core message was, ‘Paul Krugman is great; you suck,'” Brooks recalled.

Although the negative comments are damaging, Brooks describes why he remains at the NYT:

He has unprecedented freedom and job security. Times columnists, Brooks said, are treated like “hothouse flowers.”

“I’ve never attended a meeting at the Times,” he said. “We can write about anything. I’ve been at the Times for over a decade, I’ve never had a performance review. We can go anywhere we want. And we are just left alone.”

He also addresses off-the-record meetings with the president:

In them, Brooks says he’s seen President Barack Obama become increasingly “pissed off” with Republicans, Democrats and the media during his second term as he’s become more “acutely aware with the limits of the office.”

During Obama’s first term, the vibe was decidedly different. “He’d be carried in on chariots,” Brooks joked, with then-chief of staff Rahm Emanuel “throwing rose petals.”

Not that Brooks has made many friends in the White House. The “Obama people” are respectful when they tell him, “We really like you. … It’s so sad you’re a complete and total idiot.”

I am somehow disappointed by Brooks’s soft shell regarding the negative comments. While I can understand it would be difficult to read awful stuff about oneself, day in and day out, don’t you just wish one of the very few conservative columnists from such a noted liberal paper would have more steel, and push back? To not use the amazing platform he has to its fullest, seems a shame. There are excellent conservative writers and thinkers (I’m looking at you, Patterico) that I believe would not only withstand the barbs and push back with decisive and solid conservatism thus expanding the discussion, but would thrive because of it.

–Dana

Note: I used conservative writer in the body of the post, because that is how the original article referred to him. However, note that it is consistently italicized.

I used conservative writer in the title ironically, but I should have put it in scare quotes. What can I say? I had just gotten home from a day at the beach, I was tired, it was late, the dog ate my homework… Updated now.

July 4th: When Jesse Ventura And Jack Lemon Signed The Declaration Of Independence

Filed under: General — Dana @ 8:20 pm

[guest post by Dana]

This either speaks to the failure of American education, or some Americans are just that dumb. Either way, there is simply not enough beer and fireworks to erase this dismal display of Independence Day ignorance.

–Dana

Jay Carney Clarifies

Filed under: General — Dana @ 10:14 am

[guest post by Dana]

Former White House press secretary Jay Carney reveals a few choice gems as he looks back at his time at the podium…

You came to the administration from Time magazine, where, for a while, you covered the White House. How did your view of journalists change when you switched sides? I’m proud of a lot of my work. But if I had known then what I know now, I would have succumbed less often to chasing the same soccer ball down the field that everybody else was.

Are you saying they’re shallow? I think the format reinforces a shallow approach.

Were you surprised at times how tense things could get with your former colleagues? Sure. It can be surreal at the podium when you go down that front row and you have an exchange with one of the reporters in which there’s very emotional — maybe even theatrical — presentation and back and forth, and then you go to the next reporter and you have the same thing, as if the first one didn’t happen at all. You begin to wonder how valuable a service to the nation that is in the end.

Do people in the first row like to showboat? If you look at the difference in tenor between the on-camera briefings and the on-the-record-but-off-camera gaggles, it’s night and day.

One serious accusation that has come up throughout your tenure is that this is an Orwellian administration, the most secretive ever. I know — because I covered them — that this was said of Clinton and Bush, and it will probably be said of the next White House. I think a little perspective is useful. What I really reject — and would have rejected as a reporter covering this place — is this notion that whether a reporter is successfully doing his job depends on information he is being handed through the front door from the White House.

But won’t all these leak investigations produce a chilling effect? Len Downie [the former Washington Post editor] sat in this office as he was preparing a report about how we were producing a chilling effect, and I was able to take a copy of The Post and drop it on the table and point to yet another unbelievable national security leak. Reporters are still able to get stories and information that the administration clearly does not want them to have.

More at the link, including the “asset” that is Joe Biden and his unfiltered mouth.

–Dana

Why a Theory of Legal Interpretation Could Decide Whether ObamaCare Subsidies Live or Die

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:38 am

Here’s a fun little statutory interpretation question. The Affordable Care Act says that tax credits and subsidies are available when one enrolls in a health plan “through an Exchange established by the State under Section 1311.” A “State” is defined as “each of the 50 States and the District of Columbia.” Section 1311 is a provision that allows exchanges to be set up by states.

If one enrolls in a health plan through an exchange established by the federal government, they would not appear to be enrolled in a health plan “through an Exchange established by the State under Section 1311.” And thus, one is not eligible for a subsidy.

This is really happening — and it could be the death knell for ObamaCare subsidies, because most states didn’t bother to set up exchanges.

So, we have two competing schools of interpretation. One is: the language means what it means. You look at the language as it is reasonably understood by people reading it when it is passed. Nobody reading the word “State,” defined as “each of the 50 States and the District of Columbia,” would interpret it as “each of the 50 States and the District of Columbia and also the federal government under certain circumstances.”

But then we have another school of interpretation that says it doesn’t really so much matter what the law says — we have to look to what the lawmakers really meant. And there, it gets messy. Democrats will say: “Well, of course we meant for the subsidies to apply to policies bought on the federal exchange.” Jonathan Adler has long argued the contrary position: that the subsidies were intended to provide an incentive for the states to set up their own exchanges. Applying this theory of legal interpretation, some judge would have to wade through all the possible motivations Congressmen might have had for writing what they wrote, and decide between Adler’s view and the Dems’ view.

But you don’t even get to this argument unless you concede the proposition that what Congress “intended” can trump the plain language of what it actually wrote. I have criticized this position in the past. The only way you can have a rule of law is to interpret laws according to their objective reasonable meaning as understood at the time the law is written.

You can see the two schools of interpretation at work in the description of the argument of this case in the D.C. Circuit:

“If the legislation is just stupid, I don’t see that it’s up to the court to save it,” Judge A. Raymond Randolph said during oral arguments in March.

Randolph, a George H.W. Bush appointee, said the text of the statute “seems perfectly clear on its face” that the subsidies are confined to state-run exchanges. Carter-appointed Judge Harry T. Edwards slammed the challengers’ claims as “preposterous.” So the deciding vote appears to be with George W. Bush-appointed Judge Thomas B. Griffith, who wasn’t resolute but sounded unconvinced of the Obama administration’s defense, saying it had a “special burden” to show that the language “doesn’t mean what it appears to mean.”

Whether ObamaCare lives or dies will likely depend — for now — on one judge’s view of his role. Does he follow the law as written? Or does he ignore the plain language of the law to try to ascertain some subjective meaning that Congress might have intended to express?

Of course, this will all eventually be headed to the Supreme Court, where Anthony Kennedy and Justice Roberts will end up grappling with the same question. I don’t hold out much hope for Kennedy on this issue.


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