Thursday, September 13, 2007

Our Mission

The Atlantic Monthly (also known as The Atlantic) is an American literary/cultural magazine founded in Boston in 1857. Its creators were a group of writers that included Ralph Waldo Emerson, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., and James Russell Lowell (who would become its first editor).
From wikipedia.
The Atlantic Monthly's Declaration of Purpose, which was printed in its first issue, went like this: "In politics, The Atlantic Monthly will be the organ of no party or clique, but will honestly endeavor to be the exponent of what its conductors believe to be the American idea. It will deal frankly with persons and with parties, endeavoring always to keep in view that moral element which transcends all persons and parties, and which alone makes the basis of a true and lasting prosperity. It will not rank itself with any sect of anties: but with that body of men which is in favor of Freedom, National Progress, and Honor, whether public or private."
From The Atlantic.

Among the many notable names whose works have appeared in its pages are Mark Twain, Emily Dickinson, and Martin Luther King, Jr. The Atlantic became known as a literary and intellectual magazine of the highest quality, creating a tradition that was once its most precious resource. And the magazine also became known as a part of America's left wing, which was arguably the natural result of the antagonism to established powers contained in its Declaration of Purpose.
However, in 1999 the magazine was sold to David Bradley and his National Journal Group. Seemingly more concerned with cashing in off the prestige of the imprint than maintaining its traditions, as owner Bradley has made many questionable changes, and articles based in ideologies which were once out of place in its pages have become more and more common. The most controversial move made by Bradley was to uproot the magazine from its home in Boston and transplant it to his base of operations in Washington, D.C. There are many theories as to why this move was made. Bradley claims it was to centralize his operations, while many, if not most, outside observers feel it was done to clean house. What's undeniable is that almost the entire editorial staff refused to make the move (as expected), and Bradley put in his own people.
Bradley's (mis)handling of The Atlantic is a terrible loss for many on the left, effectively costing us one of our most respected and effective platforms. Strong arguments can be made the magazine is no longer leftist, but now tends towards Clintonian centrism. The blogger, and contributor, Matt Yglesias perhaps best exemplifies this tension. Known as a liberal hawk, Yglesias initially supported the invasion of Iraq, only years later admitting his mistake in a very qualified fashion. There are many, including me, who feel Yglesias's main loyalty is to his career, and that the mistakes he admits to have not been educational for him. At the very least he is a sloppy writer, prone to typos and garbled sentences.
Yglesias is also prone to networking in what can only be called a careerist way, leading to the formation of what resembles nothing so much as a high school clique among him and a few other, primarily D.C. based, bloggers. This has led to the reason this blog exists.
One of Yglesias's friends is a blogger named Megan McArdle. Previously a blogger for The Economist, despite an educational background that does not include any focus on economics*, in August of 07 she began a blog for The Atlantic. In the month since McArdle has become a focus of intense criticism and mockery across the interwebs, both for the incongruity of a libertarian arguing for business rights for The Atlantic and, more importantly, for demonstrating an utter lack of basic professionalism. McArdle demonstrably fails to research or even proofread her postings, at one point agreeing to discuss a book she admitted she had not read a day before the discussion.
And so we come, finally, to this blog's Statement of Purpose.
Megan McArdle is neither qualified for nor competent at her job. She should be fired. She is a terrible journalist, who lectures others on the standards of the profession while repeatedly failing to inform herself on a topic before pontificating on it in a post. She is also lazy in her writing and editing, leaving her posts pockmarked with typos and garbled syntax. The Atlantic has (or had) a tradition of quality, of careful, considered, and brilliant use of language. McArdle, at times, does not appear to be writing in english.
Furthermore, a shallow libertarian such as McArdle has no place at The Atlantic. Her arguments are as sloppy as her writing and researching, and amount to a selfish declaration of her right to keep all her money away from poor people. Setting aside the question of whether libertarian views should have a place in The Atlantic at all, the quality, or lack thereof, of her work is simply insulting to the magazine's tradition of excellence, and to those libertarians who take the time to inform themselves and craft intelligent, considered arguments.
There simply is no reason for her to have the position she does, except that she knows the right people.
I have no illusions of this blog accomplishing anything, and the faux high minded tone of this initial post will not be repeated. McArdle quite simply sucks, and does not deserve considered response. She deserves to be mocked, and fired. Since the latter is beyond my abilities, I have to resort to being a jackass. Fortunately, I'm well trained in that field.

Also, maybe this will let Gavin relax a little about what she's doing to a magazine he loves, and get back to the proper targets for S,N! McArdle deserves all she gets, but maybe this will allow for those energies to end up in the proper forum.

* Update:

This is an overstatement, and a rookie mistake. She has no kind of degree in Economics.


Shane said...

Nicely said. In total agreement. To think that Twain and McArdle could be mentioned in the same sentence is absurd.

Anonymous said...

Dude, I totally want to contribute on this blog. Please please please plllllllleeeeeeeeeeeeze.

Anonymous said...

Thank the FSM you did this. There really does need to be a blog like lgfwatch or instaputz just for cataloging her ongoing idiocy.

Suggestion: some posts that link all Gavin's previous fine work? Those need to be tied around her neck like a cowbell.

Anonymous said...

I see Megan is now just banning negative comments. Boohoo!

This comment has been deleted for rampant trolling, and the IP address of its author's bridge has been banned.

Posted by Fishbone McGonigle | September 13, 2007 8:04 PM

I suggest we document our comments for her here.

Anonymous said...

Crossposted over there:

How's that defense working out for you? A few days ago you claimed "typo" to cover your shameful laziness and inability to correctly summarise someone else's work. Today's excuse for your laziness is "I was joking"?

So, does that explain why you left out Biden, Dodd, Gravel and Kucinich, Hunter and Tancredo? Is that part of your clever joke?

Or is the right explanation that once again, you screwed up and will lie to cover it up?

brad said...

I'll put up a brief summary of Gavin's posts at some point in the near future. It'll be fun to do a shorter Gavin.
As to letting others post, it appears I need the email attached to your blogger or google account to do so.
Put it in a comment in a spam safe format and I'll delete the comment when I see it, or wait until I make a spam account somewhere for this.

brad said...

And yes, by all means chronicle deleted snarky comments here. Maybe just preface the comment with *Deleted* or summin.

Anonymous said...

I'm not too impressed with Megan McArdle, but why target her and not Yglesias? How is he any better, just because he's more of a lefty? He's still a sloppy writer, and arrogant to boot.

brad said...

Well, if you want to join up and post about Yglesias, by all means do so. We don't have to focus only and absolutely on Mizz McArdle here, but in order to maintain a somewhat... uniqueish sense of purpose we have to focus on bloggers or columnists writing for supposedly lefty content providers.
Paglia springs immediately to mind, and I dibs her next column at Salon, provided I remember and no one at S,N! beats me to it.

Scott said...

I just viewed a video on The New York Times where McArdle discusses public education with Mark Schmitt. Her argument and reasoning are quite strange. She says she doesn't care about having a public school system, but then says she would like to get rid of public schools in the inner cities. She says it does the worst job at the thing that is hardest. She says it has been failing for fifty years. Then she says a hundred years ago it was educating ghetto children. Listening to her one gets the idea she knows very little about what she talks about. She haphazardly compares the present system with a system from 100 years ago. She says kids were taught to read and write 100 years ago. She does not know what she is talking about. She says she is interested in the tails. This is absurd reasoning.

Matt said...

I'm so glad to find you folks!!!

I have fond memories of reading the Atlantic in early adulthood, but Michael Kelly's abominable editorship was the last straw for me. Since McArdle's further tarnishing of the brand, I've been pulling my hair out in frustration. Are they just trying to stop us from reading altogether? Or is she part of some elaborate joke designed to prove the Peter principle?

Anyway, thanks for your efforts.

Dr Zen said...

I expect to be deleted but I had to lay one on her:

"Here's why I think you're an idiot:

"Hence the dueling factoids over whether Bush's tax cuts disproportionately benefitted the rich. The left likes to look at the average amount individuals got, which leads to the conclusion that the rich got a lot more. The right likes to look at who got a bigger share of the tax cuts, which leads to the conclusion that the poor and the middle class were the big winners. Neither of those ways to frame the question is obviously wrong."

This is why the right is wrong. It's simple. Try very very hard to think it through.

Tax cuts are given to individuals. Not to sectors of the community. Bush doesn't go "Here you are, middle class people, share sixty billion bucks". He goes "Here you are, person who earns 20K a year, have a dollar". Do you see? What's disproportionate is that the rich guys each get a truckload of money, and the poor don't.

Yes, I know, the poor as a group get more. But there are many more of them. I know you tend to think of them as one homogenous, horrible mass, but it remains true that they are a composite of many, many individuals. All of whom have been fucked by the Bush administration.

Ah okay. That's not the only reason I think you're an idiot. There are dozens of others. And I've only read maybe a dozen of your posts."

Keep up the good work, guys.

Anonymous said...

I agree with you that Megan's libertarian ideology doesn't belong in The Atlantic Monthly. It's an affront to loyal Atlantic readers, and amounts to cheap pandering to the right.

However, I disagree that her prose or syntax is any worse than anything else you see from professional bloggers on the web. She's a bright person and a talented writer, her distasteful libertarian pontificating notwithstanding.

I do agree, however, that she doesn't belong on The Atlantic in any capacity, because her viewpoint is out of place in that milieu. I am a liberal, and when I pick up the Atlantic, or visit its blogs, I expect generally liberal points of view. No, I don't want to be "challenged" in a condescending way by having libertarian or right-wing views shoved in my face with a battering ram. If I wanted that, I'd go to Drew Carey's blog.

Joe T.

Anonymous said...

Megan reposted my lengthy comment in its entirety as the subject of another post and refuted it by calling me a "twaddler" and then an "olympic twaddler!" Irony is, I had subscribed to her blog under the "food" section of my RSS reader because of something she wrote one time or another concerning animal welfare. The idea of anyone taking her commentary on economics or policy seriously is actually laughable.

Marion Delgado said...

Belatedly, I agree with the entirety of the criticisms in your mission statement. For me the last straw was her saying the Johns Hopkins people like Burnham were making "frankly lunatic" statements when in fact they answered her questions accurately and backed them up very fairly.

I don't believe the fact that Michael Kelly died in a jeep accident should let anyone forget whose mentor he was, and whose tradition McArdle is maintaining.

But I would add neocon to her Maureen Dowd-but-libertarian credentials. The and ron paul and so on people are libertarians too, but they're not psycho hawks like McArdle. I realize she's denying W three times before the cock crows now, but she didn't back in the days of water-into-wine and roses.

I remember J School towards the end - most of the classes were mixed up - PR, marketing, journalism, advertising, all the same thing innit?

And the McArdles were their desired product.

You can call me Elle. said...

Yay yay yay. My husband just pointed me to this blog because I was yelling about Megan yesterday. Keep up the good work!

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