Conor Friedersdorf brings an independent-minded perspective to dialogues on politics and culture.
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.
Conor and Molly kick things off by discussing the lack of faith conservatives have in Mitt Romney. Conor says that Tea Partiers have to stop allying themselves with social conservatives in blue states. Molly argues that just because Barack Obama is ahead in the polls doesn’t mean that he’s winning, and Conor posits that there’s a relatively small difference between Romney’s vision for America and Obama’s. And speaking prior to the Paul Ryan VP announcement, they discuss the impact his budget would have. They close by looking forward to the Republican National Convention, and wondering if libertarians will feel out of place.
Conor talks to John Tabin about the 2012 presidential race. Was it fair that the British press tore into Romney? Conor wants to know how Romney’s foreign policy would differ from Obama’s. John explains what he didn’t like about the intervention in Libya. Why do so many strict constructionists support unconstitutional wars? Shifting to domestic issues, Conor and John applaud liberal journalists for their principled stance on Chick-fil-A. They close by discussing the prospects of third parties.
On Friedersdorf, the conversation kicks off with Mark discussing his column on purity balls, where fathers pledge to protect the chastity of their daughters. They next talk about Mark’s profile of David Frum—are Frum’s politics a psychological reaction to his famous mother? Conor disagrees with Frum’s dismissal of libertarianism, but thinks he deserves credit for publicly changing his mind at some cost to his financial well-being. The two go on to consider what the goal of parenting is, and the thing that parents in Mark’s neighborhood fear most. They discuss the good and the bad (but mainly the good) of the sexual revolution, and Conor argues that society should stigmatize absent fathers.
Conor, freshly back from the Aspen Ideas Festival, talks to Phoebe about the best way to attend a huge conference. They discuss whether high school students would benefit from publishing their papers online rather than just handing them in to a teacher. They next discuss what the goal of parenting is, referring to both Anne-Marie Slaughter and The Cosby Show, and Conor imagines an alternate life as an Ivy League preppy. Phoebe remembers Andy Griffith by talking about the town of Mayberry and the way race relations weren’t portrayed there. Conor theorizes that as online education becomes more popular some providers will start competing with one another by offering offline amenities. And Phoebe praises an author whose novel was panned in the New York Times by a critic who didn’t understand it.
On Friedersdorf, Noah begins by accusing libertarians of turning a blind eye to the Bush-Obama national security state. Conor argues that supporting the Libertarian Party in a two-party system is not quixotic, even though libertarianism has an image problem. Moving to the debate over higher education, Noah suggests that a college degree doesn’t just signal intelligence, but that education actually transforms students. Conor, on the other hand, worries that college might cost society more than it’s worth.
Conor asks whether Bob might abandon the Democratic Party over national security issues. Bob posits that humans aren’t evolutionarily equipped to evaluate the possibility of blowback in foreign affairs. Conor wonders why Americans aren’t more willing to impose checks on the executive branch—what won’t the public will accept in the name of “security”? They next discuss whether Obama’s mild manner causes people to accept policies that they would object to under a more cowboyish president. Bob presses Conor about what he hopes to gain by voting for Libertarian Party candidates. They conclude with Bob making the case that network effects all but guarantee Facebook’s long-term success—an argument Conor isn’t buying.