James Downie

Fox’s Egypt Problem
February 04, 2011

When the protests in Egypt began last week, it did not take long for conservative pundits to sound the alarmist warning bell. Fox digital politics editor Chris Stirewalt cautioned on Special Report with Bret Baier, “If this is directed toward retrenchment of the Islamic forces, it could be difficult period for [the] Middle East.” Glenn Beck declared himself “no fan of Mubarak,” but warned, “God help [the police] if Egypt falls. God help them.” This reaction wasn’t completely predictable.

Avast Network
January 24, 2011

This past December, when the host of the Wikileaks domain shut down the organization’s online presence, the Pirate Party came to the rescue. No, the saviors were not renegade Somalis or Internet bootleggers, but, rather, a small but growing five-year-old political party focused on copyright and intellectual property laws. There are between 30 and 40 Pirate Parties globally, and two Pirate Party members sit in the European Parliament. By reopening the shuttered Wikileaks on the Swiss Pirate Party’s site, the party linked up with one of the biggest stories of 2010.

Arguments Before Evidence
January 13, 2011

[Guest post by James Downie:] Like Jon, I have a hard time connecting right-wing rhetoric to the shooting in Tucson. Yes, the half-term governor of Alaska and Murdoch’s propaganda machine have contributed more than the left to a “climate of hate.” But to tie that climate to Loughner, one has to resort to assumptions, without a direct connection, which have allowed conservatives room to claim innocence.

Bill Daley's Seediest Exploit
January 06, 2011

[Guest post by James Downie] Most of the media attention on Bill Daley’s corporate ties has focused on his time as a JP Morgan executive, but his record at his prior job, as president of SBC Communications, is perhaps more worrisome. Hired as the company’s president in late 2001, after chairing Al Gore’s presidential campaign, Daley told The New York Times, “[P]olitics is not something I will be involved in other than as a citizen voting.” But as the trade journal Telephony wrote: The Bell company has lousy relationships with many state regulators and little Democratic support in Congress.

The Little Emirate and the World Cup
December 01, 2010

[Guest post by James Downie] Today, the talk of the soccer world is Barcelona’s sublime 5-0 destruction of Real Madrid. Come Thursday, though, for a brief moment at least, international soccer will grab the spotlight once again, as FIFA announces the hosts for the 2018 and 2022 World Cups.

Roger Altman Behind Closed Doors
November 17, 2010

[Guest post by James Downie] Jon Chait and Jon Cohn's skeptical posts about Roger Altman highlight his public statements, and the possible pick becomes even sketchier when considering his maneuvering behind the scenes. From Andrew Ross Sorkin's Too Big to Fail: The independent board members [of Morgan Stanley], led by the lead director, C. Robert Kidder, decided they needed to hire an independent adviser and, after a short conversation, chose Roger Altman, the former deputy Treasury secretary and founder of the boutique bank Evercore Partners (and Dick Fuld’s former carpool-mate).

David Brooks and Cultures
November 16, 2010

[Guest post by James Downie] In today's New York Times, David Brooks argues that liberals have dispensed with feelings and morals. Many of the psychologists, artists and moral philosophers I know are liberal, so it seems strange that American liberalism should adopt an economic philosophy that excludes psychology, emotion and morality. Yet that is what has happened. The economic approach embraced by the most prominent liberals over the past few years is mostly mechanical. The economy is treated like a big machine; the people in it like rational, utility maximizing cogs.

The Tiny Cable News Universe
November 15, 2010

[Guest post by James Downie] Thanks to the midterms, the Stewart-Colbert rally, and Keith Olbermann's suspension, the opinion pages have been filled with columns decrying the partisanship of today's media, and damning both sides of the aisle for relying on partisan sources.

Are Boehner and Cantor Freezing Out the Tea Party?
November 08, 2010

[Guest post by James Downie] A Tea Party wave just swept the country on Election Night, but as the Republican congressional leadership assembles its transition team, it looks poised to freeze the movement out: Transition Chairman Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) made the announcement hours before the group is set to meet to review the rules of the House and the GOP conference before assuming the majority next Congress. The members include: Reps.

Women Deserted The Dems
November 03, 2010

[Guest post by James Downie] Jonathan pointed out last night that young voters deserted Obama, but, whereas the young simply didn't show up, there was another key constituency that deserted the Democrats for the Republicans: women. According to the exit polls, the Democrats won female voters by only one point, a double-digit decline from 2006 and 2008. (In the 1994 debacle, Democrats won women by eight points.) Indeed, the one point victory is the Democrats' worst margin with female voters since 1984.