Conor Friedersdorf brings an independent-minded perspective to dialogues on politics and culture.
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Jamelle discuss the controversy surrounding Rand Paul’s aid Jack Hunter, a libertarian writer with Confederate sympathies. Is it possible to sympathize with secession and not slavery? Jamelle grants that Paul wants a more diverse GOP, but says his neo-Confederate associations undermine this goal. He also wonders what Paul’s real convictions are, prompting Conor to compare Hunter to Jeremiah Wright. Jamelle points to Paul’s stance on the Voting Rights Act and the welfare state as evidence of unsavory racial attitudes. Conor suggests that Paul is being singled out for racism while other politicians get a pass on civil liberties violations.
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Elizabeth consider how Bushwick, Brooklyn quickly went from post-apocalyptic wasteland to hipster paradise. They discuss the new season of Arrested Development on Netflix and how binge watching has changed our relationship with TV. They move on to a controversial essay by a woman who chooses not to use birth control, which leads to a consideration of new ways that non-fiction writers can tell stories. Is Mark Bittman wrong about eating meat? And is a Northwestern student wrong to refuse to sing a song with lyrics by Walt Whitman?
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Freddie begin by discussing the Boston marathon bombing, and critiques of how the media covered it. Freddie recommends that the US stop its drone program in the name of national security. Conor sketches the evolution of journalism in digital media. After discussing Matthew Yglesias’s controversial piece on the economics of the deadly Bangladeshi factory collapse, they conclude with a spirited debate about the proper way to be angry on the Internet.
On Friedersdorf, the conversation kicks off with a discussion of The Slurve, Michael’s new subscription-only newsletter about baseball. Is the era of the free/open web over? Michael and Conor agree that it’s reassuring for journalists to control a portion of their income. Michael argues that baseball itself is in a golden age, and they share their favorite baseball memories. They next consider the lobster-catching lobster claw, and what it tells us about humanity. They close with a discussion of the harmful effects of the NYPD’s surveillance of Muslims.
On Friedersdorf, Mark and Conor kick things off by discussing the Pope’s resignation and how American Catholics are processing it. Can the Church change the internal culture that enabled the sex abuse cover-up? They next explore this question: Is it possible to be an NFL star and a good Christian? And is the idea that sports build character just a myth? Mark explains why he wants to develop the habit of occasionally smoking pot. And Conor argues that in the war on terror, Americans ought to show more courage.
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Freddie kick things off by discussing the declining share of national income that accrues to labor. Should we fear or welcome a future where automation and artificial intelligence replace much of the work done by humans? They discuss Chris Hayes’s recent book, Twilight of the Elites. How responsible are you for your outcome in life? Conor and Freddie debate the idea of “workplace liberty,” and who should decide when an employee gets a bathroom break. Conor asks Freddie whether he sees a conflict between the goals of liberalizing immigration and minimizing inequality. They conclude by arguing that liberals have failed to adequately challenge the errors of the Obama administration.
On Friedersdorf, James and Conor kick things off by discussing Chuck Hagel’s nomination. James ponders the fairness of calling his foreign policy views un-American, and Conor argues such views have a long history in this country. On domestic matters, Conor asks how pessimistic James is about the future of conservatism. Is Glenn Beck, rather than Fox News, pointing toward a viable future? Conor looks at California to explain why he isn’t a Democrat. James examines the intersection of guns, fear, and politics, and they focus on personal improvements in local communities as an alternative to national legislation.
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Sommer kick things off by revisiting the devastating earthquake in Christchurch, New Zealand and the recovery efforts presently afoot in the city. Conor argues that Portland, Oregon is similarly vulnerable to a catastrophic earthquake. Sommer discusses how urban planners are reacting to Hurricane Sandy. They discuss whether localities or the federal government are better at responding to natural disasters. Finally, they discuss the success (or lack thereof) that New Orleans and other cities have had preparing for future disasters.
On Friedersdorf, Conor and Max expand on their recent Twitter debate over third-party presidential candidate Gary Johnson. Max argues that Johnson’s libertarian economic policies are no less immoral than Obama’s drone strikes. Conor defends Johnson’s record as governor of New Mexico, but Max charges that conservative operatives now run Johnson’s campaign. Conor clarifies that he supports left-wing third-party candidate Jill Stein over either Romney or Obama. They partly agree that the conservative judicial philosophy poses a threat to civil liberties, but disagree on Johnson’s foreign policy. Conor maintains that Johnson is a competent leader, and Max notes that he wouldn’t support a third-party candidate if he lived in a swing state. Finally, they debate over whether libertarians and progressives can find common ground.
On Friedersdorf, Elizabeth kicks things off by describing a project in which she photographs 30-year-old women. Conor expresses skepticism about the new theory that men today are more emotionally needy than before. Is everyone just freaking out about the end of gender norms? The diavloggers debate the government’s proper role in combating obesity and consider portion size and deferred gratification. Conor inquires as to whether opposite-gender bathrooms should be used when they’re empty and the bathroom to which you’re assigned is full. Plus: Is wedding planning inherently sexist?
Conor and Peter try to make sense of QE3, the Federal Reserve’s effort to kick-start the economy. Turning to the political fallout from the embassy attacks, Peter argues that Romney thinks about foreign policy like a management consultant. Though they both believe in the primacy of free speech, Conor isn’t bothered by diplomats criticizing offensive videos. Peter talks about what Romney would actually do about health care if elected. If Romney wins the election, will the Tea Party ever trust him? Plus: Conor describes the album he’d love Jay-Z to make.
On a special crossover edition of Friedersdorf and The Posner Show, Conor and Sarah review the political conventions. Conor was disturbed by Joe Biden’s bloodlust, but was impressed by Bill Clinton’s speech. Turning a skeptical eye to the speeches by Michelle Obama and Ann Romney, Sarah and Conor discuss the folly of understanding a politician “as a person.” They then talk about how the tension between neoconservatives and budget hawks at the Republican National Convention went unacknowledged. Conor explores the problems in Romney’s plan for Medicare. Finally, Conor and Sarah lament that Democrats have abandoned the civil liberties positions they held in 2008.