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Research desk is open

Dylan Matthews knows.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 20, 2010; 11:39 AM ET
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How much did George Soros and Terry McAuliffe pay Ezra Kelin for coordinating the JournoList project to control the public?

This story is the second Daily Caller leak from Journolist. More are sure to follow. It all sounds very bad but we are left to rely on the Daily Caller's reporting on/interpretation of the off-the-record e-mails. One hates to give Ezra Klein advice but wouldn't it be better to stop the steady drip-drip-drip of embarrassing headlines by releasing the complete Journolist archives now? We're going to find out anyway, gents.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | July 20, 2010 11:42 AM | Report abuse

Is their any constitutional protections to prevent a political party that controls the White House and congress from imposing stiff penalties on any business that sponsors broadcasting or publication of material that criticizes the powers running the government?

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | July 20, 2010 11:50 AM | Report abuse

i'd LOVE some research that shows how the MA HCR of 2006 is busting the state budget wide open.

I won't hold my breath for it though.

Posted by: visionbrkr | July 20, 2010 11:52 AM | Report abuse

I'm interested in teacher hiring and firing. Back home in WA I have family in the education system. From what they say it's not hard to fire a bad teacher, it just requires some documentation of attempts by the administration to work with the teacher to improve performance. Having moved out to New Jersey, however, friends in the education system say that once a teacher achieves "tenure" (a term I'd only heard applied to college professors back in WA) it's essentially impossible to fire them.

So which is it? Which states hire and fire the most teachers? Is "tenure" applied to non-college teachers in most states, few states, or is it really just a difference in terminology?

Posted by: MosBen | July 20, 2010 11:55 AM | Report abuse

@FastEddie: "How much did George Soros and Terry McAuliffe pay Ezra Kelin" . . .

Who is Ezra Kelin?

That being said, you don't really think anybody paid anybody anything to try and beat down the GOP and defeat conservatism, do you? Liberals, and left-of-center, think right winger are, have been, and always will be wrong on substance. Anything that happened on Journolist was gratis, and coordinate only in the same way anything with a lot of like-minded people getting together and discussing the issues--and knowing they have a platform to help shape the narrative--might.

The drip-drip of Journolist isn't going to stop, because Tucker Carlson has it and it will turn The Daily Caller into the next Huffington Post, traffic-wise. I had heard about The Daily Caller several times before the Journolist story, and never went to it. But now . . .

And what is this "it sounds very bad"? I have a hard time believing that any actual conservative is surprised or astonished that a left-of-center journalist would be advising colleagues to call Republicans racists in confronting what they consider a manufactured issue designed to damage a legitimate, high-quality liberal candidate. That that's all they did--which is much less than what the population of the Daily Kos was calling for, and trying to coordinate, all in public, not to mention Democratic Underground--is surprising. And certainly if there was something much more juicy, we'd be seeing it by now.

I mean, if this is shocking to you, I hope you don't read the daily talking points from Media Matters. Because they're doing more than that--all in public!

Frankly, all the stuff from Journolist seems pretty tame, to me. I was pretty sure they had been coordinating most of their policy strategy with Stalin's brain, still alive in a jar. This whole story is rather a letdown.

Finally, I like this trickle release. Since the revelations themselves are pretty tame, this drip-drop of new "revelations" makes it kind of exciting.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 20, 2010 11:59 AM | Report abuse

@visionbrkr: I'd love a breakdown of the budget-busting of TennCare. A chart of how it grew exponentially, and a rough estimate of the rampant fraud--both by providers and patients, as border physicians would often treat more patients from Kentucky, Arkansas or Mississippi than from Tennessee--would be enlightening. At least, a good indication of what we want to avoid nationally.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 20, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Willis,

The distinction is this concerted effort to change the way hard news reporters cover stories without any editorial disclosure.

That is the problem.


Posted by: FastEddieO007 | July 20, 2010 12:02 PM | Report abuse

Kevin Willis -

Did you ever wonder how the Obama-ites have been effective to circle their wagons in order to squelch stories like ACORN Child Prostitution story, Anita Dunn's praise of Mao to High School kids, etc, etc,.....

To me the biggest crime by our press was the way Obama & Hillary tried to make the democracy in Honduras cry uncle because they dared to have an election instead of letting Manuel Zelaya be Marxist Dictator for Life, pledging alliance with Obama's Marxist buddy Hugo Chavez.....meanwhile doing nothing as Daniel Ortega pulls off a coupe to become Marxist dictator for life in Nicauagua!!!

Well Ezra knows all!!!

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | July 20, 2010 12:06 PM | Report abuse

@FastEddie: "The distinction is this concerted effort to change the way hard news reporters cover stories without any editorial disclosure."

I understand that. However, I would argue that news reportage is always biased and that editorial disclosure is almost never given. Caveat emptor.

Also, while Journolist had some people advocating that liberals call Republicans racists as a defense against the Jeremiah Wright story (I know, liberals calling conservatives racists? Shocking, yeah?) I have yet to see anywhere that Ezra attempted to shape the narrative thusly. Might be there, I dunno, but I haven't seen it.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 20, 2010 12:11 PM | Report abuse

Sorry for all the "!!!!!!"

I'm pretty outraged by the threat to the democratic processes that our government depends upon through the subversion of our "free" press by the corrupt powers that are running our government.

I'm quite surprized that Ezra Klein does not have enough of a conscience to realize that manipulation of the bias of hard news in our "free" press undermines the integrity of our government and its ability to respond to the needs/demands of the public.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | July 20, 2010 12:13 PM | Report abuse

How many doctors graduate each year in the USA?

How many foreign doctors come to the USA each year?

Why can foreign doctors thrive in America's so-called medically litigious environment, but American-born, caucasian doctors can't?

What is the income difference between foreign doctors practicing in the USA and American-born doctors?

How much malpractice insurance does the average doctor pay each year? What are total malpractice premiums collected from all doctors each year? What are the total claims/settlements paid out each year by malpractice insurers?

Posted by: Lomillialor | July 20, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse

How much correlation (if any) is there between a state's generosity in unemployment benefits and its unemployment rate?

I found this seemingly helpful chart of benefits by state,, but not sure how reliable it is. I suppose you'd also have to index the benefits to cost of living in each area as well.

Is there any good work you're aware of comparing different state unemployment policies and their effects? No preconceived notions on this, just curious.

Posted by: AttentionDeficit | July 20, 2010 12:14 PM | Report abuse


I'm thinking it depends on the state and how "STRONG" its unions are. Christie is taking on the unions to an extent but our property taxes are still highest in the nation by far and growing. There was a celebration when raises were capped at 2% annually (which btw can be bypassed if necessary).

Not many teachers around here are getting laid off and yes TENURE is rampant. I have about 5 teachers we know in our neighborhood and they hate Christie with a passion. I love him though!! In a fiscally conservative kind of way.

Same is beginning with Meg Whitman in California. i'll be watching that race closely now. Good article in Time magazine that I don't know if Ezra's linked to.,8599,2004619,00.html

Posted by: visionbrkr | July 20, 2010 12:16 PM | Report abuse

Ironically a key observation is that the JournoList was not only biased on behalf of Democrats over Republicans, but on behalf of Obama over Hillary.

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | July 20, 2010 12:19 PM | Report abuse

Eddie: "Did you ever wonder how the Obama-ites have been effective to circle their wagons"

No, the same way I don't wonder how I open the door of my house. I turn the knob. It's pretty obvious.

"through the subversion of our 'free' press by the corrupt powers that are running our government"

The press is more subverted by the collegiality of their special club (which would exist, and did exist, without email lists and well before), their generally high opinion of themselves and their role in the world, their love of opinion-making, and their abstract detachment from much of what they cover. The American press is more subverted by the ideological partisans at j-school than anybody in the American government. I refer you to Bernhard Goldberg, who was in a position to know: there is no conspiracy, it's just how they see the world.

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 20, 2010 12:21 PM | Report abuse

@visionbrkr: "I have about 5 teachers we know in our neighborhood and they hate Christie with a passion."

Maybe it's just me, but if I was in a position that many tenured educational people are--lavishly paid, with amazing benefits--I would not want to lose any of that. And unlike most private-sector businesses, seniority automatically confers the sorts of benefits people intuitively expect working 10 or 20 years for a place should confer. It's generally pretty sweet, and I could understand why nobody would let that go voluntarily.

At the same time, I would understand why such largesse was not practically sustainable.

I might vote against cutting my own salary and benefits (self-interest, and all that), but I'd have a hard time really being aggrieved and thinking that this was a great evil being visited upon us, unjustly, by our draconian overlords. Although, I suppose it helps to have spent almost 20 years in the private sector. Makes you appreciate the relatively economic security of a government job a great deal!

Posted by: Kevin_Willis | July 20, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

During past recessions, productivity would plummet as businesses held on to workers so that they would be good to go for the recovery.

However, since the early 1990s recession, the trend has been reversed: productivity has soared during each of the three recessions since as employers lay off workers to eliminate slack.

Relevant graph from the Fed:

What structural changes in the economy could have caused this?

Posted by: bobsimmons | July 20, 2010 12:27 PM | Report abuse

Kevin_Willis - There is still a key distinction. If like-minded people happen to have a bias, they have a bias.

But if they strategically coordinate their narrative----not by what they personally believe---but what they believe will affect the public the way they want----then that is Josef Goerbbels BIG LIE!

Posted by: FastEddieO007 | July 20, 2010 12:30 PM | Report abuse

Can Congress reauthorize the sale of War Bonds to support the efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq? Is a Declaration of War necessary? Could they be used to bring down the incredible costs of the conflict?

Posted by: kfs_enterprises | July 20, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Prime Minister David Cameron is in the United States. What if Dylan did some research on the British budget situation. I wonder what their budget reductions proposed by the new administration will look like and if anything similar in America is possible.

I know many states have reduced their recurring expenses by 10-15%. Britain is proposing to surpass that.

Posted by: lancediverson | July 20, 2010 1:10 PM | Report abuse


I don't know that they're necessarily lavishly paid but the fact remains that the public sector employees are now better paid that private sector and on top of that salary they have healthcare benefits and pensions (even though they're mostly an unfunded mess) that really makes the comparison not fair.

Tenure needs to die a very slow painful death so we remember it all.

I wouldn't want to lose it either but in my business I now realize that maybe you have to accept and work for less to make it sustainable. Every sensible business person realizes that eventually. Public sector employees are finally being told this and many are agreeable to that but many are revolting against it. They need to come to the realization that their "gravy train" is coming to an end.

Posted by: visionbrkr | July 20, 2010 1:26 PM | Report abuse

This isn't related to anything in the news (except Lebron, I guess), but is it possible to determine the average teacher salary vs. the average professional athlete salary? I hear complaints on a fairly regular basis about how athletes make millions while teachers are underpaid – however, this focuses on the very top athletes, which seems an unfair comparison.

So, what would the comparison look like between ALL teachers (including professors, etc.) and ALL professional athletes (including minor-leaguers, racquetballers, etc.)?

Posted by: Cyco | July 20, 2010 1:43 PM | Report abuse

Dylan, how much money is raised by the federal estate tax each year? And how many states have their own estate tax?

Posted by: msantow | July 20, 2010 2:18 PM | Report abuse

Fraud rates for all kinds of social services, both publicly financed and privately held. Like, what's the fraud rate of Medicare, Blue Cross? What's the rate of embezzlement in the private sector, for that matter?

Posted by: Lonepine | July 20, 2010 2:52 PM | Report abuse

If we don't pass cap and trade, and if EPA retains authority to regulate GHGs, what kinds of instruments can it use to do so? Didn't the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 authorize EPA to create a cap and trade program for SOx? Is it allowed to do the same for GHGs?

Posted by: Lonepine | July 20, 2010 2:55 PM | Report abuse

FastEddie007: "Did you ever wonder how the Obama-ites have been effective to circle their wagons in order to squelch stories like ACORN Child Prostitution story, Anita Dunn's praise of Mao to High School kids, etc, etc,....."

Maybe it's because the stories was manufactured outrage? Just because the right-wing whines/lies about something doesn't mean the media has to cover it. Though they still frequently do.

Posted by: lol-lol | July 20, 2010 4:46 PM | Report abuse

Whenever the latest job creation numbers are discussed, there is always a comment that "the US economy needs X number of new jobs created to keep pace with population growth." That number is typically estimated between 100k and 200k. Whether the number quoted is 120k or 150k seems to depend on who you are and which party you belong to.

Where do these numbers come from?

Posted by: Klug | July 20, 2010 4:48 PM | Report abuse


I don't know about you but I find this kind of outrageous.

I'd love to see a research desk expose that finds out poltiical contributions made by each of the 200+ who got VIP loans from countrywide including Senators and Freddie Mac higher ups.

You're right. There's plenty of manufactured outrage (just as there was at the last adminstration) but there's plenty of legitimate things to be outraged about, including but not limited to the above.

Posted by: visionbrkr | July 20, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

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