Here’s how The Nation described Chris Christie’s speech at CPAC yesterday:
The hard-right audience at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) was expected to give Chris Christie, the governor of New Jersey and not exactly the Tea Party’s friend, a cool reception on Thursday. … But, confounding expectations, Christie entered the hall…to rousing applause, whoops and hollers and a lengthy standing ovation.
And here’s how The New Republic interpreted the same event:
- "Christie can no longer hold a crowd—even a skeptical one—in thrall with the sheer force of his big personality…"
- "It was a severely chastened Christie who took the podium…"
- "He dutifully ticked through praise of other Republican governors—his mention of Wisconsin’s Scott Walker got more applause than just about anything else he said."
- "With the voracious, crowd-pleasing, mythical beast caged, what does Christie offer?"
So either the crowd whooped it up when Christie approached the podium or they sat on their hands. Either Christie is soaring back to the top of the GOP field after the George Washington Bridge scandal nearly sank him or he’s a pathetic shadow of his former self, pretending that he’s still got some momentum behind him.
The truth is probably that a conservative politician received a warm reception when he gave a conservative speech at a conservative political conference. And the truth is that nobody has any idea who will emerge victorious in the 2016 Republican primaries so the pundits might want to cease their highly subjective guesswork.
Under Commissioner Ray Kelly, arrest statistics recorded by the New York Police Department were often hidden or partially hidden from the public. That’s changed with the election of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the reinstatement of Commissioner Bill Bratton, who previously served under Mayor Rudy Giuliani. The New York Times has analyzed the administration’s newly released arrest data and the results are decidedly mixed.
The improvements include:
- Greater transparency of arrest statistics
- A huge decline in stop-and-frisk
- A significant reduction in the murder rate
But perhaps the most notable change (or at least the change most noticed by the press) is the spike in arrests of peddlers, panhandlers, and others who have committed minor violations, such as drinking beer in public, riding bicycles on the sidewalk, and, in at least once instance, selling churros on the subway.
This isn’t a surprising development. Bratton has long advocated for the “broken windows" theory of crime prevention, which posits that going after small-time crooks, such as vandals, will ultimately prevent more serious crimes from occurring. It’s a harebrained notion that Mayor de Blasio apparently agrees with. In its most insidious form, the “broken windows” theory can result in the abuse and harassment of artists selling their work on the street or kids spray painting an abandoned building.
One of the major objections to Ray Kelly’s use of stop-and-frisk was that it often targeted young black men and other non-privileged groups. I think it goes without saying that someone selling churros in a subway station all day is not a trust fund baby lounging in a Williamsburg condo at night. de Blasio and Bratton, if they persist with their current policing strategy, will incite significant backlash from the rank-and-file New Yorkers who put them into their respective seats of power. All Mayors have their faults but considering de Blasio’s opposition to stop-and-frisk and the chorus of critics who hated the “broken windows” theory during the Giuliani administration, one would hope that de Blasio and Bratton would avoid repeating past mistakes.
In a rebuke of one of Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s signature plans, the Saratoga Springs City Council passed a unanimous vote saying they didn’t support the Upstate New York Gaming Economic Development Act “as it relates to a destination resort casino being placed in the city of Saratoga Springs.”
Led by Mayor Joanne Yepsen, the council’s four Democrats and one Republican passed the measure to loud applause after about 90 minutes of contentious public comment…
The cynic in me can’t help but think that the wishes of Saratoga residents will be overridden by a handful of wealthy people who stand to profit from a new casino…but kudos to the good people of Saratoga for exercising some control over their hometown.
Check out Julia Ioffe’s recent work at The New Republic:
Ioffe is as good as it gets when it comes to translating the baffling world of Russian politics for an American audience.
On Tuesday, The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease is posting online results from the first controlled trial of LSD in more than 40 years. The study, conducted in the office of a Swiss psychiatrist…tested the effects of the drug as a complement to talk therapy for 12 people nearing the end of life…
Most of the subjects had terminal cancer, and several died within a year after the trial — but not before having a mental adventure that appeared to have eased the existential gloom of their last days.
“Their anxiety went down and stayed down,” said Dr. Peter Gasser, who conducted the therapy and followed up with his patients a year after the trial concluded.
After about two months of weekly therapy, the eight participants who received full doses of LSD improved by about 20 percent on standard measures of anxiety, and the four subjects who took a much weaker dose got worse. (After the trial, those patients were allowed to “cross over” and try the full dose.) Those findings held up for a year in those who have survived.
The trial was far too small to be conclusive, said Dr. Gasser… But the researchers see the results as a beginning. The drug caused no serious side effects, other than temporary — and therapeutically valuable — periods of distress.
Yesterday I published an article on Rare about institutional racism, the drug war, Stand Your Ground laws, and liberty.
It got…mixed reviews, to put it mildly. While some decided it was the best thing since sliced bread, others were pretty convinced it was awful (one review simply said, “Absolutely terrible”) — sometimes because of genuine disagreement, and sometimes because perhaps I wasn’t as clear as I could have been.
Most of the Facebook discussion, of course, devolved into name-calling which had absolutely nothing to do with me or the topic at hand. My husband, meanwhile, drew me a diagram on an index card to explain what he thought was wrong with my argument (funnily, it was actually the most data-based critique I got).
But enough about that. The internet may be forever, but everyone on it has a very, very short memory (as long as you’re not running for President).
Since I’ve gotten a couple messages in the wake of that post asking about how I respond to criticism in general/articles which don’t go over well, this seems like a good time to re-share some comments I made just over a year ago in response to a question about dealing with disagreement in blogging:
1. Say what you think.
2. Make sure you say it sincerely, as graciously as possible, and with lots of good sources to back up your claims. If you use a cold tone or don’t document your facts well, you’re inviting criticism and disagreement. It’s fine to write forcefully and make a fierce argument, but don’t say or do anything you wouldn’t say or do in person. In short: Make your personality as a writer a complement to your ideas, not a distraction.
3. Always be open to the possibility that you are wrong or haven’t heard all sides of the story. Just today I posted a correction from another blogger to a post I made which didn’t present an accurate picture in its first version.
4. If people respond to your opinions, that’s great! That means you’ve expressed yourself clearly and strongly enough to spark conversation. Read the responses as much as possible.
5. But here’s the thing: Not all responses are equal. Regardless of whether the person responding agrees with you or not, their input may or may not be any good. If another blogger responds with thoughtful criticisms of your arguments, you might want to take the time to reply. You don’t have to if you don’t have time or are feeling sick that day or just don’t feel like it, but it’s good if you do.
However, if someone responds with little more than curses and name calling, I’d advise ignoring it. If they are particularly crude or do this sort of thing repeatedly, you can even block them—and there’s nothing wrong with that.
Because let’s be realistic: Other bloggers with whom you actually want to build an online relationship—bloggers whose opinions are respected and valued, even where they’re not shared—are not going to be the ones replying to you with a stream of pointless, misspelled profanity. They’re just not, and you don’t need to spend time feeling bad about yourself or your opinions because someone got angry and couldn’t be bothered to engage you in actual dialogue.
The good news is that after a while, if you consistently focus on being polite, firm, and dedicated to the issues rather than attacking other people, you won’t get much of the bad kind of negative feedback at all.
6. Talk to the bloggers who you would like to have talking to you, and build yourself a friendly community. Share posts from writers you like, and—and this is crucial if they have big follower counts—add your own commentary. This will help them become familiar with you. If you don’t add commentary, you’re just one in the line of dozens of reblogs and you won’t be noticed.
In fact, reblogging with commentary is maybe a good way to start building confidence about posting (to circle back to your original question). It’s kind of a lower pressure situation, I think, than originating posts.
Also, use tagging to your advantage. If you want to say something against gun control, for instance, tag it “libertarian” or “Second Amendment,” not “gun nuts” or “progressive.” You’re going to draw a different crowd depending on the tags you use, and it’s ok to play it safe while you’re just getting started.
At any rate, hopefully this is helpful. Best of luck!
To this I’d make one addition: If you’re publishing for an audience which isn’t ”your” audience — followers who have gotten to know you over the years and are willing to assume the best even if they disagree with a particular post — feel free to skip the latter half of #4. It will take some willpower, but just don’t read the comments section. I promise it’s the best choice.
LTMC: I concur with the addition. If you try to respond to every negative critique of things that you’ve written, you’ll drive yourself crazy. You’ll also get nothing done. I’ve definitely had the experience of sitting down to write a lengthy response to someone’s critique of my ideas, and then an hour later, I think, “what the hell am I doing?” And I close the computer and walked out into the sunshine.
Basically, anyone who gets a decent size readership on the internet is gonna occasionally catch flak for what they write. Sometimes you just have to be confident that your take is more persuasive and give yourself a break. Being judicious about when to respond to criticism is definitely a very important skill for people who write. Sometimes it’s worth the effort. Other times, simply letting it be and moving on is usually better for your mental health and productivity.
People sometimes get angry with me because I ignored their response to something I posted. They also sometimes demand (bizarrely) that I supply them with additional information, charts, or data. It’s never the responsibility of a blogger to engage every critic nor is it their job to educate everyone who has never heard of Google. Thoughtful, evidence-based responses are great. Responses along the lines of “AMERICA HAS GREATEST MILITARY FORCE ON EARTH….WE MUST HAVE SUPERIOR STRENGTH TO DEFEAT CHINESE AND RUSSIA!!” are not so great.
Frankly, some people have no idea what the hell they’re talking about and it’s OK to ignore them, just like it’s OK to ignore your crazy old uncle who still can’t believe they let Jackie Robinson play baseball.
Sometime after Christmas of my last Utah season, in 2002, [Andrei Kirilenko] instant-messaged an invitation to his New Year’s Eve party. Then he wrote something that brought tears to my eyes: “Please come, John. You are welcome to bring your partner, if you have one, someone special to you. Who it is makes no difference to me.”
…It showed that in my own paranoia and overwhelming desire for privacy, I’d failed to give some of my teammates the benefit of the doubt. It was the boorish idiots who gave the rest of us athletes a bad name.