Author Archives: Mike Moats

America This is Quite Serious: Rough Trade

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Yesterday, the New York Times declared that “The phase of globalization that began with the ending of World War II is essentially over.”

At one time, interest in a story bearing this news would have been limited to a small circle of wonks and activists, people who use terms like “hegemony” and have strong feelings about the G8. Over the years there has been the occasional meaningful populist uproar over NAFTA, and I spent a brief period in college refusing to buy certain brands because of their overseas factory conditions, but for the most part, most Americans have had little to no opinion on globalization over the past 30 years. It’s not that anyone really loves it, but most people seem pretty ¯_(ツ)_/¯ about where their stuff is made. Consumers have not indicated on a large scale that they will pay more for U.S. made goods when they can pay less for the same gear made in China, Mexico, Bangladesh, Taiwan, Vietnam, etc. and so on.

But that was all before the 2016 presidential election. Continue reading

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HOT TAKES: Bob Dylan wins the Nobel Prize for Literature

When it comes to the awarding of something so prestigious as the Nobel Prize for Literature, there is no better source of commentary and reaction than Twitter. Here are the hottest takes on the hottest award of the year:

There was lots of speculation on who might win this year. Dylan was a longshot, to say the least. As one of the most comprehensive analyses of the field put it, “Bob Dylan 100 percent is not going to win. Stop saying Bob Dylan should win the Nobel Prize.”

But the answer my friend, came in from Sweden. The answer came in from Sweden:

Dylan was recognized for “new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition.”

Some speculated on other contenders:  Continue reading

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America This is Quite Serious: Humans of America

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There have been many, many offenses of this election cycle. But despite all the “locker room talk,” the most toxic and lasting harm comes from the growing hostility and dehumanization of the people we disagree with. It’s hard for things not to get this way, when coverage tends to focus on Whites Without a College Degree saying awful things about Latino Immigrants, or Millennials calling for the fall of Elites, or what Suburban Moms think of the whole thing.

I know we once all hoped that “there’s not a liberal America and a conservative America; there’s the United States of America. …There’s not a black America and white America and Latino America and Asian America; there’s the United States of America” But I think it’s time to look hard at where we are. And hopefully, recognizing that we are in fact all those things will help us realize that we are in fact all those things.

That is what Bloomberg Businessweek* has attempted with “America Divided,” an entire issue dedicated to the election. As usual, their electronic presentation is stunning. It’s worth checking out for the design alone. Starting with numbers, “America Divided” dives headfirst into the human stories behind our microtargeted voter profiles.

It is a special issue in every sense of the word Continue reading

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America This is Quite Serious: Did You Hear? Bon Iver “22, A Million”

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Forget the election. Forget conservative media, liberal bias. False equivalence. Forget how pundits spin, how voters react. Establishment. Elites. Forget them. You’re wasting time. It might be over soon:

America this is quite serious, and Bon Iver’s new album “22, A Million” is out today and worth a listen. That’s the opening track up there.

Read more in our election year series “America This is Quite Serious.”

-Michael Moats

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America This is Quite Serious: Get Thee Behind Me, White Christian Voters

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“What makes white people tick?” It’s a hell of a question. And one that FiveThirtyEight tackled this week, in its FiveThirtyEight way, with a statistical analysis of census data and voting preferences. The full breakdown is worth a read, but the main points are these: Contrary to conventional wisdom, there is no clear evidence that economic anxiety points to voter preferences: “Despite the myth that Trump’s base is poor whites, income is the least predictive of white voter support among the seven demographic variables tracked by the poll.”

The most predictive variable, it turns out, was whether a white voter had a high rate of “Religious attendance.” Those who said they never went to church were 71 percent for Clinton, while only 31 percent of people who went weekly supported her. These results are not surprising. But shouldn’t they be?


“…politics can distort and invert Christianity, turning a faith that at its core is about grace, reconciliation and redemption into one that is characterized by bitterness, recriminations and lack of charity.”

The nexus of faith and politics is a God damned mess. Probably literally. Continue reading

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America This is Quite Serious: Do Jobs Work?

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In this week’s Sunday Times, economic historian Michael Lind — author of the excellent Land of Promise — posed an important question about a fundamental tenets of our politics. His question is raised in response to the near constant refrain of every politician, that their ideas and influence will create good jobs for the American people, and that creating those jobs are the surest way to solve problems like too much welfare spending and too little health care coverage. This is a notion so pervasive, and persuasive, that even ideas that are good on the merits — clean energy, a humane immigration system, access to affordable health care — are typically reframed in terms of economic impact.

So, Lind asks: “Should the goal of public policy be to ensure that all Americans can have good jobs — or good lives?”

Lind is narrow in his focus. He defines good jobs as “jobs with solid wages, regular hours and, perhaps, generous employer-provided benefits.” By good lives, he doesn’t mean contentment and well-balanced kids and a trim waistline, but merely the “basic goods and services that define a decent life in a modern society.” In rough terms, a safety net that keeps people out of abject poverty for the span of their lifetimes.

The easy answer is: Continue reading

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