Blogger Recommendations?

We're looking to inject some new life into an old blog.

blogging

As a few of you noted on the OTB site suggestions thread, my writing here has tapered to near non-existence. While part of that is a function of schedule, a lot of it has been a lack of motivation. My gradual disillusionment with my former party has left me without a rooting interest in what has become a team sports political fight. Further, the nomination and eventual election of Donald Trump to the presidency has both made me question my ability to rationally evaluate the American political climate or, indeed, whether it can be rationally evaluated at all. Relatedly, the Age of Trump makes political analysis and, especially,  rationally-based policy analysis seem futile. And, frankly, there’s an overwhelming same stuff, different day feel to the whole thing. Daily postings on how unmoored the Trump administration is from previous norms get tiresome rather quickly, for both the reader and the writer.

Additionally, Twitter has given me back some of the sense of community that existed in the old days of blogging but has been gone now for years. My curated Twitter lists, especially my Top Reads list, serve me in much the way that the blogroll did back a decade ago. Yet, while there’s an instant gratification of seeing tweets go viral and having immediate back-and-forth conversations, they’re also somehow more ephemeral than blogging. There’s a satisfaction in longer-form writing and going back to archived posts from years ago that neither Twitter nor Facebook provide.

I hope to get back in the habit of blogging and doing more published writing elsewhere after being in a prolonged funk.

That said, the suggestion that we inject new life into the site by adding a writer or two has appeal. I’m not sure, however, where to begin. In the old days, when blogging was more communitarian, I simply found people writing elsewhere who had a compatible voice, were reasonably prolific, and who would benefit from the exposure of OTB, which had an early mover advantage hard to recapture even as late as 2006 or 2007. But there are hardly any other blogs that I read anymore, with most of the oldies that I liked either long defunct,  moved in-house somewhere bigger, or gone off the rails ideologically.

We’ve had a handful of people approach us over the years but it’s more important to me to keep OTB’s voice than it is to generate more content. Most political bloggers are, naturally, quite partisan. Even in the early days of the site, when I was much more ideologically conservative and loyal to the GOP, that was never our brand. Additionally, while we’ve had writers from a wide variety of backgrounds in the past, we’ve evolved into one where all the topline writers have professional degrees; I’d be reluctant to bring on someone at this stage who didn’t fit that mold. I’d be happy to bring on someone younger than the late-forties/early-fifties demographic but, frankly, think there’s value in having writers who’ve been around the block a few times and be able to add perspective to analysis of current events based on a sense of what’s truly new versus old wine in new bottles.

If you’ve got recommendations along those lines, please pass them along. We’re taking the suggestions on site improvements into consideration, and will incorporate what we can once we’ve engaged a support team.

FILED UNDER: Blogosphere
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Tony W says:

    I wonder if Timothy Egan’s contract with the New York Times would allow him some freedom to try out ideas in a more casual and interactive format such as OTB.

    The man is brilliant.




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  2. JohnMcC says:

    So nice to see your name and work here again.

    Understand completely the sense of disequilibrium that Mr Trump’s triumph must have been to you; had an identical reaction when I realized what were the consequences of my very first vote for Pres – Mr Nixon. Left me embittered and apolitical for years.

    Your remark “…it’s more important to me to keep OTB’s voice than it is to generate more content…” is wonderful.




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  3. OzarkHillbilly says:

    think there’s value in having writers who’ve been around the block a few times

    There is value in that, but there is value in writers who are young enough to look at age old problems with new eyes.




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  4. gVOR08 says:

    @OzarkHillbilly: I find that I am losing touch a bit in that I’m not into social media. (I can’t imagine that anyone wants to see a picture of my dinner.)

    The mythology is that FDR was popular because he was first to really understand radio, and that JFK go elected because he understood TV. I fear Trump got elected because someone knew how to work social media. Not Trump himself, but some combination of Mercers, their boy Bannon, and the Russians.

    Much of politics is now happening on social media. It would be interesting to have someone, probably young, with insight into that world. But I don’t have a nominee.




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  5. @gVOR08:

    Social media is what you make of it, and it’s not always about people taking pictures of their dinner or lunch. I don’t see much of that ni my timelines, but then, like James, I tend to be selective about who I follow and use features like Twitter Lists to group people into areas or topics I’m interested in

    These days, if you want to see pictures of people’s dinner, you head over to Instagram — where I have an account but rarely use it — or Snapchat, which is apparently where the kids hang out these days.




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  6. loaded says:

    Johnny, the vet can’t do anything more for Fluffy. He’s really old, and he’s in constant pain. The best thing we can do for him now is to say good-bye.




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  7. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @gVOR08: I don’t do social media at all (FB, twitter, etc) (does this blog count?) and have no desire to but yeah, it’s a brave new world and it would probably be beneficial to Luddites such as myself if somebody could explain how social media fit into and drive society.




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  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @loaded: That time does come. Sorry.




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  9. michael reynolds says:

    Doug has legal and politics covered. He’s less into foreign policy. (And I’ll say again that as a professional writer thought to be extremely prolific, I take my hat off to Doug.) Steven does excellent poli sci pieces, step-back analytical, process stuff. James, you used to be the FP guy but you’ve been busy.

    So, here’s my wish list: 1) Someone to focus on FP/Military. 2) Perhaps a historian to add context to current events. 3) Maybe someone to write about the intersection of politics and culture, though Doug does that well. 4) As Steven broadens issues out into poli sci, perhaps someone to add a philosophical perspective.

    You’re not going to find anyone as prolific as Doug, but you don’t need one because you have a Doug, you can do just as well with three or four contributors who are less productive.

    Maybe even. . . and I hope this won’t shock anyone . . . a girl. I’m told some of them can write after a fashion, and some are thought to have opinions.

    OTB’s politics are in the ‘Appalled Conservative’ vein, along with people like Jennifer Rubin, Michael Gerson, etc… I have no names to propose.




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  10. Todd says:

    … frankly, there’s an overwhelming same stuff, different day feel to the whole thing.

    I’m just a commenter, but I can relate to that feeling. This blog is one of the few places where I freely share my political thoughts (try to keep it off my Facebook, and try as I might, I’ve never caught the Twitter bug). But in the last year since the election, although I still read nearly every post from this blog that shows up in my RSS reader, it’s less and less often that I feel inclined to come to the site to comment.

    I suppose from the perspective of someone (you) who would like me to come to the site so that I see a few ads, perhaps a few new writers focusing on other areas, per @michael reynolds: suggestions above might make a difference. Personally, I would be interested in more of the military/foreign policy perspective type articles that you sometimes write.

    Thanks




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  11. Ebenezer_Arvigenius says:

    I’d say Chris Ladd from politicalorphans might be a good fit but he does not do a lot of blogging even on his own blog so I doubt he would be interested in a guest gig.




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  12. From the perspective of the writer, it does get tiresome to write what seems like the same thing every day about the latest absurdity coming out of the White House, but that’s been such a dominant part of the political, and even cultural, mood of the country over the past year that it’s impossible to avoid sometimes.

    I’ve also tried to give more coverage to legal issues and court cases of note, since that’s at least an area I can claim some degree expertise in.

    As for the foreign policy stuff, it would be helpful to have some more coverage on that side of the fence. I do try to chime in on the issues that I feel like I’ve come to have at least some understanding of, as well as some of the more obscure stories out there like the Catalan independence movement simply because they catch my attention. The truth of the matter is, though, that it’s usually the case that, except when we’re in the middle of a crisis or something, foreign policy or foreign news posts tend to get the fewest comments around here while the “Boy, look at this new way that Trump is offending everyone” posts tend to get the most.

    One thing I’ve noticed myself moving away from is the “Breaking News” or “Story/Outrage Of The Day” posts. These used to be the bread and butter of the blogosphere, and many blogs still use them as the basis for content and to drive traffic. With the ubiquity of cable news, though, and the fact that the best, though often not the most accurate, venues for such coverage seems to be Twitter, especially if you’re following actual journalists who are responsible about what they post on social media, it’s simply impossible or at least very difficult for a blog to add anything insightful to this kind of coverage. Simply put, though, a blog is no longer the best way to cover those kinds of stories, especially if all you end up doing is linking to primary sources. I’d prefer to wait for the dust to settle and concentrate more on analysis.




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  13. Todd says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    I’ve also tried to give more coverage to legal issues and court cases of note, since that’s at least an area I can claim some degree expertise in.

    I appreciate those posts. Thank you.




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  14. Stormy Dragon says:

    Subject I’d like to see blogged on: most political blogs are focused on how to get more people to agree with them and how to get their policy preferences enacted. But suppose that’s simply impossible because that’s not how society actually works? How should someone with {blogger’s} minority political opinions function in a society inherently opposed to them?




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  15. Barry says:

    @michael reynolds: Seconded, and a great analysis.




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  16. Andy says:

    James,

    I’m glad you’re thinking about this. I agree with Michael that OTB could use someone who covers FP & military matters.

    I don’t know who though since the requirements you’ve laid out eliminate all but a relative handful of people. Your best chance is probably academia and you and Steven probably have better connections there than any of us.

    The ideal candidate is actually you. I hope you reconsider and return to posting here. Silencing yourself because your party abandoned you makes me sad more than anything. As a lifelong non-partisan I fully understand the sentiment and frustrations described in your post here, but I’ve also found that being an outsider is quite liberating. Being on the outside can sometimes result in good ideas that you wouldn’t otherwise consider and, in the hands of someone like you, there is the potential to steer the debate.

    I think more voices that are independent and don’t tow the line or bias toward one of the political factions is something that is desperately needed right now, particularly in your area of expertise. After all, this site is called Outside the Beltway – it would be nice if it lived up to that name a bit more than it currently does.

    You can still be a useful contributor in that debate and maybe it will help get your party back. Forget writing about the latest Trump tweet or outrage du jour – that segment of “analysis” is already overflowing. We (America) needs informed commentary and analysis that is proactive, not reactionary. You are very good at that and I hope you give it another chance.




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  17. They Saved Nixon's Brain says:

    Daily postings on how unmoored the Trump administration is from previous norms get tiresome rather quickly, for both the reader and the writer.

    Bring it on!
    Trump makes me look like a tower of virtue.




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  18. de stijl says:

    David Weigel

    He would take the pressure off Doug to post on everything Trump related…

    From the perspective of the writer, it does get tiresome to write what seems like the same thing every day about the latest absurdity coming out of the White House, but that’s been such a dominant part of the political, and even cultural, mood of the country over the past year that it’s impossible to avoid sometimes.

    Weigel is smart, a solid writer, and a real reporter. Plus, WaPo may have to let him go (he was that person who prematurely tweeted / deleted the RafterGate photo of the Trump Pensacola rally pictures last week.

    I’ve read him off and on since 2006. He is a solid dude. (He may be a prog rock fan, but everyone has their secret sins.)

    Someone like Weigel would help if you want Memeorandum exposure / click-throughs.

    Or else what michael reynolds said and get a girl.




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  19. Daryl's other brother Daryll says:

    Erin Gloria Ryan is an up-and-comer who writes for the Daily Beast…very entertaining, funny, clever.




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  20. Surreal American says:

    Daniel Drezner might be an acceptable fit for this site currently, although he did support the Iraq War back in 2003.

    I wouldn’t know if he was available.




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  21. Skookum says:

    No matter what you decide, this blog has helped me tremendously before and after 8 Nov 2016. I’m very grateful.

    I think you are experiencing grief. I know I was nearly felled when Trump was elected, because I realized the America I knew since I was a child was gone. Racism–though always a fringe element–was now promoted. It was revealed that our democracy was not held up by law. but by norms that were flagrantly violated. Party tribalism and the power of wealthy donors became more important than the needs of the country. But I think your are experiencing another form of grief that I went through during the Reagan administration: I could no longer find a home in the Republican party.

    Now on the bright side!

    The citizenry of the country is engaged and ready to renew our democracy.

    We need information and analysis of issues such as:

    1. How to thwart Russian influence to disrupt democracy around the world
    2. How disillusioned Republicans can take back their party or form new one
    3. Legislation prevent authoritarians from assuming power
    4. Legislation to remove authoritarians from power
    5. How to keep income inequality from fueling an extreme left or right
    6. How to reform entitlements in a way that promotes both fiscal responsibility and a well-functioning safety net.
    7. How to reform taxation to make it simpler and fairer for all income levels and promotion markets efficiencies and a competitive business environment.
    8. Lessons from history, especially in regard to support for authoritarianism
    9. How technological changes are impacting society–rise of the robots, how social media impacts our lives, increasing access renewable energy, etc.
    9, Many more topics–but at a higher abstraction that party politics. In other words, intelligent discussion of problems we face, but not mired down in Trump, breaking news, etc.

    One voice I would like to hear more of is Timothy Snyder Does he have a grad student who might be interested in blogging?

    In summary, I think part of the way to move forward would be to define the problems we face at a very high level, and then create non-partisan overviews of how to address them that don’t drag us down into party politics.

    Good luck! 2018 will be A Very Important Year. We need you!




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  22. Andy says:

    Now that my appeal to James is out of the way, I do have one nomination:

    Erin Simpson. She specializes in counterinsurgency (which is now passe’) but otherwise should meet your requirements.




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  23. de stijl says:

    @de stijl:

    Or else what michael reynolds said and get a girl.

    Felicia Day

    She blogs. She’s a gamer. She’s an awesome person. She introduced more nuance into “adorkable” than should be humanly possible.

    Ashly Burch

    From the Hey Ash, Whatcha Playin’? web series (and then a whole bunch of stuff after that).




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  24. James Joyner says:

    All,

    Some interesting suggestions. I suppose I should be flattered that several are under the impression that writers currently employed by the New York Times and Washington Post—or even the Daily Beast—would see writing for OTB a step up. Alas, I suspect strongly that such is not the case.

    I’m certainly not opposed to adding a woman’s voice. We had Kate McMillan writing here in the first wave of OTB going from a solo to a group blog, way back in 2004. I had hoped to lure Megan McArdle from her old blogspot site to OTB but she wound up with the Economist gig as I was getting ready to approach her.

    Erin Simpson is terrific but her blogging days seem to be well behind her and she has the Bombshell podcast to spotlight her views on all things natsec.

    I’m not at all familiar with Felicia Day or Ashly Bruch; I’ll investigate them further.




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  25. teve tory says:

    I had hoped to lure Megan McArdle from her old blogspot site to OTB but she wound up with the Economist gig as I was getting ready to approach her.

    oh dear god McMegan is the worst.




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  26. de stijl says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    With the ubiquity of cable news, though, and the fact that the best, though often not the most accurate, venues for such coverage seems to be Twitter, especially if you’re following actual journalists who are responsible about what they post on social media, it’s simply impossible or at least very difficult for a blog to add anything insightful to this kind of coverage. Simply put, though, a blog is no longer the best way to cover those kinds of stories, especially if all you end up doing is linking to primary sources. I’d prefer to wait for the dust to settle and concentrate more on analysis.

    I think you hit on the answer there, but you may not have realized it.

    Twitter has superseded blogs in immediacy. “Outrage Of The Day” is covered on other sites.

    What a blog does offer, though, is the deeper dive opportunity. Not “Here is What Happened Just Now”, but rather “This Happened Yesterday And Here’s The Meaning Of That Plus Background And Context And My Thoughts And Analysis Of The Matter” and please discuss this in the comments section after I’ve said my piece. That’s the value of a blog. It’s the day after stuff that breaking news doesn’t / can’t / won’t cover.

    You as a front-pager, have to determine whether to do straight analysis or partisan / ideological spin, or somewhere between.

    Blogs are long-form. Blogs are not immediate. Blogs are personal. You have to work with those parameters.




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  27. teve tory says:

    Of all the horrible, morally-bankrupt things I’ve seen her write, my…favorite…was during the housing crisis. She said we should apply social pressure on people not to walk away from their underwater mortgages because of the moral hazard of letting people shirk their responsibilities, but at the same time we shouldn’t think ill of anything that banks do in foreclosure because, hey, they have a responsibility to their shareholders to maximize returns through any legal means.

    In other words, the bankrupt homeowner should have to face pressures to do the right thing while the wealthy bank that sold them the ridiculous mortgage should be as cutthroat as possible to them.

    She’s a Randroid shïthead.




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  28. Daryl's other brother Daryll says:

    @James Joyner:
    I wasn’t thinking step-up…I was thinking in addition to.




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  29. de stijl says:

    @James Joyner:

    I suppose I should be flattered that several are under the impression that writers currently employed by the New York Times and Washington Post—or even the Daily Beast—would see writing for OTB a step up. Alas, I suspect strongly that such is not the case.

    Dave Weigel wrote for Reason’s Hit & Run blog for years. He was the functional equivalent to Doug. Yeah, he writes for WaPo now, but just on-line, he never (or rarely) gets a real ink by-line, so he’s gettable.

    Martin Longman writes The Booman Tribune, but also has a cooperative arrangement gig with the Washington Monthly blog. The Booman Tribune is his own site and when he posts new content there it also shows up on the Washington Monthly. WaMo is big-league.

    You could pitch a similar deal to Weigel along the same lines. It’s more eyeballs all around.

    You could allow Weigel a free weekly opportunity to post a prog-rock video link of his choice in lieu of actual compensation.

    Hit & Run just picked up Eugene Volokh / The Volokh Conspiracy yesterday. He moved from WaPo to H&R. You can do this!

    Weigel is gettable and his beat is “This Is What Republicans Did Yesterday” so Doug can take a day off every now and again. He can link to crappy Yes videos.

    It doesn’t hurt to ask. At worst he says “no.” (Actually, at worst he says “Hahahaha, Are you freaking kidding me? Go away!” which carries a bit more sting than just the simple “no.”)




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  30. Hal_10000 says:

    My gradual disillusionment with my former party has left me without a rooting interest in what has become a team sports political fight. Further, the nomination and eventual election of Donald Trump to the presidency has both made me question my ability to rationally evaluate the American political climate or, indeed, whether it can be rationally evaluated at all. Relatedly, the Age of Trump makes political analysis and, especially, rationally-based policy analysis seem futile. And, frankly, there’s an overwhelming same stuff, different day feel to the whole thing. Daily postings on how unmoored the Trump administration is from previous norms get tiresome rather quickly, for both the reader and the writer.

    THIS. I used to blog at my own site every day. Now I’m down to maybe once a week and even that is an effort. I feel so disconnected right now from all that’s going on and find the Outrage of the Day tiresome. TBH, I’d much rather blog about science these days.




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  31. MarkedMan says:

    James, you’ve heard me say this before, but I’ll repeat it. I believe that thinking of your party as your “team” is a category error. A political party is like an operating system or maybe a specific program. It is useful insofar as it helps you advance your goals, and as a user you should encourage and contribute to better performance, but once it starts to decay, for whatever reason, replacing it with another one is perfectly fine. At its peak, WordPerfect was head and shoulders above Word, but in the end the world judges the quality of your writing, not your word processor. To drive the metaphor further, it seems like you are giving up writing because your preferred word processor fell behind the times.




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  32. grumpy realist says:

    @Hal_10000: Getting a good geeky science blogger for OTB might be a good idea.

    I’d try to track one down from my alma mater but am afraid they’re mainly gaga writing about Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.




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  33. michael reynolds says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Funny you should mention that because I was thinking of suggesting you. I gather you’re in science, you write well, you’re not especially partisan and you’re a female.




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  34. grumpy realist says:

    @michael reynolds: Thank you for the honor of suggesting me! My major problem as a blogger would be a) no time at present and b) even less time in future. (Am dealing with an estate, my own entrepreneurial activities, my daily job, qualification tests, and a talk at a conference next year.)

    I’ll be glad to write an article when Bitcoin finally crashes on the stories we technology geeks tell ourselves that This Time Will Be Different, mumble mumble network economics mumble mumble.

    (Have come to the conclusion that if anyone is making a pitch to you about anything that involves the buzz-term “network economics”, RUN do not WALK towards the exit.)




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  35. Hal_10000 says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Glad to see I’m not the only one who thinks bitcoin is going to crash and burn.




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  36. Ken says:

    @James Joyner: God God, if McArgleBargle started blogging here i would never forgive you




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  37. MarkedMan says:

    @Ken: Back in the day McArdle blogged somewhere that I used to frequent. She frequently spouted nonsense with great confidence. On a half dozen occasions she wrote about something that I actually knew about and she was either outright wrong, or fixated on something so trivial as to prove her complete lack of depth. (Kind of like the technological equivalent of discussing the US economy and becoming fixated on the fact that the penny is worth less then the dime, but is actually bigger.) I realized her one-note act was just more libertarian know-it-all snark – everyone is stupid but her and her bros. Haven’t read her in many, many years and doubt I missed anything.




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  38. grumpy realist says:

    @Hal_10000: I’m reminded of a graph that I was shown many many years ago about the number of articles that were being published about Anderson coupling in disordered systems. Exponential take off…and more and more and more….wow, we’re going have to create more journals on this topic!…and then it all crashed and went flat, like a mouse under an eighteen-wheeler. (The prof. was using the graph as a cautionary tale about us grad students attaching ourselves to “hot” areas of physics.)

    I can’t find it now, but somewhere on the Web I ran across a comparison graph which plotted the great bubbles of the past (Tulip bulbs, the South Sea Bubble, stock market before 1929, etc.) with the price of bitcoin overlaid on top of them and showing how completely similar the trajectories have been.

    Unfortunately for those of us with long (and historical) vision–the market can remain irrational longer than we can stay solvent.




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  39. CET says:

    @Surreal American:
    As much as I like Drezner, my sense is that he struggles to keep up with his current blog at the WaPo, so I’d be surprised if he was interested in taking on an additional project.

    I like the history/military issues/foreign policy idea for a new voice. I don’t have a great sense of the prestige hierarchy among blogs, but might there be someone at War is Boring, The National Interest, or War on the Rocks who is interested in some additional writing?




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  40. Ben Wolf says:

    @James Joyner: If we’re going to think big then grab Lawrence Wilkerson off the shelf because he’s got a lot of interesting things to say on foreign policy.




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  41. MarkedMan says:

    @MarkedMan: So I felt obligated to check out McArdle’s current stuff. Turns out she writes for Bloomberg now. I picked two: one that I might know something about, “Prescription Drug Imports Are Banned for a Reason“, and one that had a surprising title, “We Libertarians Were Really Wrong About School Vouchers“.

    So the first one turned out to be a complete mish mash primarily gleaned from the press releases of Big Pharma. And as I read it, it seemed strangely familiar. I’m pretty sure one of the reasons I stopped reading her was because of a similar article from a decade ago. There are a dozen things wrong with it, but the biggest: for some bizarre reason she takes it as axiomatic that the only way foreign pharmaceutical companies could sell drugs in the US is if they violated IP protection. She doesn’t expand on this amazing assertion in any way, just takes it as a given. FWIW, a more interesting area to explore would be the different ways medical devices and drugs are treated in the US. Evidence compiled for European certification on the safety and efficacy of a device, and audits of the manufacturers facility, get you 90% of the way to an FDA submission. For some reason this is not true of drugs. Forget IP protected ones, American manufacturers are now jacking up prices for generic drugs by an order of magnitude. What is stopping foreign producers from selling the same drug here, since it is already approved in Europe and has no IP barrier? This is a really interesting question and it might turn out to have a legitimate reason. But that would require the type of research McArdle just doesn’t have time for.

    The second is pure Megan. Basically it goes like this: “Hey, me and my Libertarian Bros knew it all 15-20 years ago and endlessly mocked those who didn’t see that vouchers were the only intelligent way to make sure the magic of the market transformed our schools. Who wudda thunk it, but it turns out we wrong about that! I don’t really have the time to look into it, but here’s a scribbled off thought: maybe it would’ve worked great but poor kid’s parents are stupid losers who don’t know what’s best for their children.” I mean, kudos for admitting she was wrong, but nothing here gives me any reason to think she won’t continue to be wrong about, well, basically everything.




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  42. Just Another Ex-Republican says:

    I think Jim Wright would fit in well here, though he comments primarily on domestic issues not FP.




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  43. DrDaveT says:

    @de stijl:

    What a blog does offer, though, is the deeper dive opportunity.

    This. Combined with:

    My gradual disillusionment with my former party has left me without a rooting interest in what has become a team sports political fight.

    At present, it is impossible to avoid media of various kinds telling you all about how today’s events work to the benefit or detriment of the various parties and factions. At the same time, it is essentially impossible to find any intelligent discussion of the actual implications of those events for actual people living actual lives. That is the voice that is needed — the one that doesn’t care which party benefits, but cares deeply what the consequences are.

    What are the long-term national security implications of [fill in the blank]? How much money should we be spending on counter-terrorism, from a rational risk management point of view? What are the looming demographic or health care time bombs that few people are talking about? What does Brexit really mean for Britain, or Ireland, or Canada, or the US?

    That’s what I want to read, along with the occasional “so, what are the pros and cons of separation of church and state, and is there a better place to draw the line?” thought piece.




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  44. grumpy realist says:

    @DrDaveT: Oh, I’d be GLAD to contribute something about Brexit, which has turned into the greatest circus in the history of U.K. Mankind (at least from the Tory politician view.) I’ve been obsessed with it for several months now. For those who want to read a hilarious take on the whole affair, go over to The Guardian and pull up the waspish commentary of John Crace. He’s the one who nicknames Theresa May “the Maybot” and outfitted her with her coterie of advisors….namely, the pot plants she was pictured with in lonely splendor at one of the EU meetings.

    (No one, but no one, does political snark as well as the Brits.)




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  45. grumpy realist says:

    P.S. TAC has just come out with an all-barrels-blazing article arguing against Bitcoin.




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  46. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Maybe even. . . and I hope this won’t shock anyone . . . a girl. I’m told some of them can write after a fashion, and some are thought to have opinions.

    That’s why I love Wonkette.

    A sarcastic political mommy-blog. Great stuff.




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  47. Liberal Capitalist says:

    @grumpy realist:

    Off topic, but…

    I’ll be glad to write an article when Bitcoin finally crashes on the stories we technology geeks tell ourselves that This Time Will Be Different, mumble mumble network economics mumble mumble.

    Surprisingly, as a technology geek I completely agree with you.

    Bitcoin has no real basis for value increase. No because blockchain technology doesn’t work, but that there is no real reason why bitcoin would have any competitive advantage over any other digital currency.

    AmEx came out with the first “charge” card, but it was the “credit” card that really changed the game. Now there is no real competitive advantage in cards, so playing the game to garner points and awards is the benefit for those of us with a great credit rating.

    When people realize that digital currency “brands” could be as common as Kleenex competitors, then the gig is up.

    Disclaimer: this bitter insight brought to you that watched $750K evaporate during the dot com bomb era. I’m better now, thanks! 🙂




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  48. Ben Wolf says:

    @Liberal Capitalist: Bitcoin is a symptom of a global trend: people want to get away fron the dollar.




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  49. grumpy realist says:

    @Ben Wolf: Bitcoin is the delusion of a bunch of libertarian geeks who fail to understand history OR technology and who assume that everyone has instant Access To The Cloud, cheap energy, and infinite bandwidth. (Anyone who insists that bitcoin will be any use in an emergency involving Mother Nature has to be bonkers.)

    At the moment bitcoin is being used by rich Chinese for capital flight abroad–but there’s absolutely no reason as to why the original bitcoin has to be the channel. It could be bitcoin II, bitcoin III, bitcoin IV….at which point you have to admit there’s absolutely no intrinsic value in “rarity”. You might as well try creating a currency off “one-of-a-kind” products sold on Etsy–each one of them is the only one of its kind in the world, therefore it must be infinitely valuable, right? No.

    As Liberal Capitalist points out above, it’s like the credit card. The idea was what kicked the whole engine into gear; not the individual credit cards themselves.




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  50. MarkedMan says:

    @grumpy realist: Why am I not surprised that the latest genius move of the libertarian crowd is investing in the latest Tulip craze. I’ve read a few comments sections of bitcoin articles, and they are instantly in there, making it clear that they see what lesser beings can not. If I knew exactly when it will collapse, I would make a fortune, but alas, no one can predict the puff of wind that starts the house of cards tumbling down. We must be close though. I was looking up the sessions at the big annual healthcare informatics conference (HIMSS) and there was one about the upcoming revolution in hospitals caused by the “The Blockchain”. Its description was as pure a mass of buzzwords and hype as I’ve seen in a decade.




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  51. Ben Wolf says:

    @grumpy realist: It might be a delusion. But if so it’s a delusion brought about by underlying forces that are shifting the global financial and economic balance of power. De-dollarization is a thing and is gaining steam rapidly as people cease to regard the U.S. as reliable. China, Iran, Russia, Venezuela and others are now actively breaking with their reliance and operating in other currencies to reduce American leverage over their countries.

    The dollar is going down long-term and anyone investing or trading should take that into consideration.




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  52. Blue Galangal says:

    @teve tory:

    my…favorite…was during the housing crisis.

    You were able to distill it to just one? Respect. She epitomises the term “pseudo-intellectual” to me.

    To James Joyner (and the others who work to post here): I’m sorry for your malaise resulting from the current political situation. I do hope you can find some more people to shoulder the burden. But this is one of the two places I still frequent for political conversation (the other being Balloon Juice). I still do love Charles Pierce, but since the commenting switched to Facebook, the old shebeen just isn’t the same. (In fact, there used to be a frequent commenter there before the FB switch who was a historian; wish I could remember his name, etc., because he might have been a good addition for you all… sadly the internet is evanescent.)

    And – in that same vein – I’m quite grateful for the community of thoughtful (and hilarious) commenters you’ve built here. You all often give me a pick me up when I can’t stand the thought of reading another WaPo article… so I’ll come here to see what everyone is saying about it instead and approach it that way. So thank you all for all the time and effort you put into this site.




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  53. george says:

    I’d kind of like a regular contrarian article, pointing out potential flaws in every party’s doings and policies.

    This is standard in engineering design; you start with brain storming, where you just take ideas, listing them and building on them uncritically, hoping for innovation, sometimes even brilliant creativity. Then you parse out the obviously unworkable ideas, and subject the remainder to ruthless attacks. Only when something has withstood the harshest criticism the team can muster is it put onto the short list for possible projects/designs. And in fact one of the most important persons on a design team is a good contrarian, who may rarely come up with their own ideas but is great at pointing out hidden flaws in ones that initially look good.

    This is half done in politics – partisans will be ruthless in its examination of the other party, but will try to ignore problems in their own; and even the ruthlessness will often be so partisan that it’s unhelpful. So even going back and forth between equivalent sources on the various sides (reading say Slate and then National Review) doesn’t give the kind of problem identification you’d routinely get in engineering design.

    I wonder if there are contrarians like that in political science – a well versed, intelligent person who loves to pick holes in whoever is in power – basically I guess someone who’s agenda is shooting down other people’s agendas, so that any agenda that survives is worth considering.




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  54. grumpy realist says:

    @Ben Wolf: What you’re simply saying is “boo dollar, yay other currencies.” Which can be easily satisfied by the Euro, the Swiss Franc, Japanese yen…all good standard currencies already used all over the world.

    So. WHY. Bitcoin???! It’s horrible as a currency–the last thing you want is a “currency” where the value fluctuates drastically day by day. It can only be used in conjunction with a huge infrastructure. It’s getting harder and harder to produce and will at some point zero out. It’s inherently deflationary, which is never good for an economy. It is taking longer and longer to settle purchases and sales involving bitcoin (never good–no currency can survive if you have to wait ten days for each transaction to clear) and the security “bitcoin banks” provide is, as everyone readily admits, total crap.




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  55. MarkedMan says:

    Bitcoin is 100% valued on the greater fool theory. ( Buying not because of intrinsic value but based on the belief that there is a bigger fool than you out there, waiting to pay you more than you bought it for. ) As investors start to get nervous, they will monitor the value on an hourly basis. As soon as a sufficient number of them are doing that, a dip will trigger a panic and the that’s all she wrote.




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  56. grumpy realist says:

    @MarkedMan: Bitcoin: Beanie Babies for Silicon Valley geeks.




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  57. grumpy realist says:

    And now it looks like even the “you can move Bitcoin cheaply around the world!” is going away.

    Hell, that’s more than what I have to pay at present for a bank transfer.

    Back to the drawing board, guys…




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  58. Ben Wolf says:

    @grumpy realistWhat you’re simply saying is “boo dollar, yay other currencies.”

    No, you’re not listening. You’re reacting.

    Which can be easily satisfied by the Euro, the Swiss Franc, Japanese yen…all good standard currencies already used all over the world.

    No. None of those countries are able or willing to run large trade deficits, which in the current monetary regime is how nations accumulate foreign currencies. Until now only the U.S. has been in thst position. But now another country with the capability and publicly stated will is reconfiguring its economy from an export led model to a consumption model.

    This is why cryptocurrencies are a thing right now. People are throwing in with unworkable alternatives because the old is dying and the new hasn’t been born. But you can take this to the bank: within the next ten years the Chinese will demand the Saudis accept yuan for their oil, and the Saudis will agree. That’s when the cryptocurrency craze will fade as people grasp the situatoon has fundamentally changed. Demand for yuan will rise and dollar demand will (as it is doing now) continue to fall, and at some point the dollar will fall below the 50% mark of global reserves.

    Bitcoin is not important.




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  59. Jeery john says:

    The great Article i like this is article good working i am complete reed article information article thank you




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