A Resolution For 2015


Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Editor-in-Chief Emeritus of Ordinary Times. Relapsed Lawyer, admitted to practice law (under his real name) in California and Oregon. On Twitter, to his frequent regret, at @burtlikko. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

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58 Responses

  1. Avatar Damon says:

    Burt, this is the reason I started reading this website. It brought a diversity of viewpoints to a forum of civilized (or mostly so) discourse. Many other sites and interactions I’ve had have been the “la la la” fingers in the ears type of places–BSDI-although the more leftist media, which predominates popular media, seems more encompassing.Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar says:

      …although the more leftist media, which predominates popular media…

      But is that really true? Take NPR for example. Folks on the right complain it’s a lefty outlet while folks on the left complain it has a rightwing bias. Surely they can’t both be right?

      What really happens is that every one of us sincerely believes our own positions on the issues to be thoughtful, considerate, and sensible, thus non-extreme and the logical center. Even people like Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot would fail to recognize themselves as the consummate extremist assholes that they clearly were.

      So when you observe that mainstream media like NPR is being criticized from both sides that’s a pretty good indicator that they’re actually fairly centrist. If no one from the right is complaining that you’re lefty, say Fox News, then you’re clearly on the right. Ditto for someone like Amy Goodman on the left.

      Where you stand depends on where you sit.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        one problem is that conservatives complain when folks are too socially liberal, and liberals complain when folks are too economically conservative (maybe it’s a bad idea to leave food rotting in the fields? just a thought to those free market liberals out there).

        So it’s possible for both to be right.

        The best indication of the “lean” of a particular media outlet is which side (lib/con) has the better arguments. The media outlet leans the other way. [yes, there are ways to tell what a good argument is, independent of whether you agree with it.]Report

      • Avatar aaron david says:

        When driving back from SF yesterday, my son (a member of the Peace and Freedom party) pretty much said the exact same thing as @damon regarding NPR. Its only the Far Left that thinks they are right wing. And yes, we all view the world from where we stand, but we need to be ruthlessly honest with ourselves on where we stand.Report

      • Avatar Damon says:

        It’s been shown through various polls that mainstream media folk lean left on the conventional political spectrum. Frankly, I don’t care since I view both conventional left and right with disdain. But the mainstream generally carries the narrative and there is little real unbiased independent reporting and the media..all of it…is generally in bed with those in power.Report

      • Avatar Don Zeko says:

        The fact that the people producing the media are themselves predominantly liberals of one stripe or another doesn’t necessarily mean that the news product they produce is slanted in that way. The more accurate take, I think, is that the media is not slanted right or left in any systemic way, but has a number of more fine-grained biases both in terms of issues (pro-fiscal austerity, pro gay marriage) and what types of stories to cover in the first place (favoring federal over state & local government). Some of these biases put the left at a disadvantage, others the right, and still others don’t have an obvious left-right valence.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        yeah, I think the “media is in bed with power” is the best insight.
        But the secondbest insight is that Media is Lazy, and will print anything, if you write it well enough.

        So, it is actually possible to play three sides against each other, and get the media to do some “independent journalism” that Wall Street hates. IF you’re willing to spoonfeed it about what you’ve been rigging.

        Just remember the Media is lazy. If you write a good enough story, they’ll play ball.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling says:

        Look at the professions that (we are told, any way) lean left:

        * Journalists
        * Academics
        * Teachers

        What they have in common is that, as white-collar work goes, they’re not particularly well paid, and people do them largely for the intangibles. In my profession, as it became relatively more highly paid, the common outlook stayed socially liberal, but gravitated from liberal toward libertarian. (Though the events of 2008 moved that needle back.)Report

      • Avatar Damon says:


        Dunno know about where you live, but the county teachers where I live are some of the highest paid teachers in the country and my state and county spend a VAST amount of money on teachers and education.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:



        Average teacher salary (nationwide) is just over $56K. The range is from $75K (New York) to $39K (South Dakota). These numbers do not account for cost of living differences. Some schools in some districts in some states will have some teachers making over six figures, but that is usually limited to incredibly senior teachers who have worked within that district for most if not all of their careers (20+ years) and who take on responsibilities in addition to their classroom teaching (e.g., division chair, grade team leader).

        Average starting salary (nationwide) is just over $36K. For a job that almost always requires a bachelor to start and typically requires an advanced degree to continue on, a starting salary of $36K, average salary of $56K, and likely maxing out in the $80K-90K range isn’t all that great.

        I’m not complaining, mind you. Just offering some numbers and perspective on the issue. But I have the same (if not more schooling) as many of my friends and will never sniff what they make. Which I’m fine with because I love what I do.Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        You can add non-defense/police government bureaucrat to that list of careers that lean left and that may be relatively less well-paid than other white collar work. All that tells me, though, is that liberals care more about certain kinds of status and certain kinds of power than about money. And that’s a pretty good reason to be suspect of liberals, but I’m a heartless capitalist so I would say that.

        *I say may, because as Damon points out, teachers make pretty good pay, even compared to lots of other white collar work. A teacher with a Masters of Education is certainly likely to make less than someone with an MBA, but that doesn’t strike me as a particularly useful comparison. Although, if you did an hourly wage comparison between a third-year teacher with a M.Ed. and a first-year investment banking associate with an MBA, it’s not clear who would always come out ahead.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        Do you have any evidence for your assertion about generic bureaucrats leaning left?Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Average starting salary (nationwide) is just over $36K. For a job that almost always requires a bachelor to start and typically requires an advanced degree to continue on, a starting salary of $36K, average salary of $56K, and likely maxing out in the $80K-90K range isn’t all that great.

        That $36k number is interesting. Elsewhere I am seeing that the average starting salary for someone with a Bachelor’s degree was $45.6 in 2013. So we know that teachers earn less than the average. What would really be helpful is to get a breakdown by major and school. We have this for the overall pool, but not for teachers.

        I think what you’d find is that someone with an English or other Humanities degree who goes into teaching is doing pretty well compared to peers. Fields like publishing, for instance, pay really low starting salaries. However, teachers with STEM degrees are probably doing much worse. Engineering majors especially, as they tend to top the lists of highest paid degrees.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        j r,

        All that tells me, though, is that liberals care more about certain kinds of status and certain kinds of power than about money.

        You’ve reduced the motivations of scores of millions of people to three factors: status, power, and money. Do you think that list is exhaustive?Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Do you have any evidence for your assertion about generic bureaucrats leaning left?

        Mostly anecdotal, based on the two years I spent in a public policy grad program and the five years I spent working for the federal government. That and a lot of family and family friends who worked for municipal government; although there are confounding factors at work there.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        Hey, Where’s Aaron and that Onion link?


      • Avatar Tod Kelly says:

        It’s not “evidence,” but FWIW I know a hell of a lot of city, state and county ‘crats, along with a smaller handful of feds, and I don’t think there is a Republican among them.

        Probably for the same reasons that most gays skew DNC and corporate CEOs skew GOP: People generally tend to choose the sides that champion them and eschew the side that demonizes them.

        There are exceptions, of course, but if you showed me evidence that non-police/defense bureaucrats don’t skew left I would find it jaw-droppingly shocking.Report

      • Avatar greginak says:

        I worked in a catholic charity for five years. Most of the workers were liberal and with plenty of agnostic/atheists types. I wonder what they says about Catholic charities. It could say that most of the people willing to do hard, poorly paid charity work were liberal with far more non-religious types then in the general population. Are there more left leaners in gov? Beats me but i bet that would depend on the state politics to a degree.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:

        Excellent points, @j-r . I’d also be curious to see the salary difference (if one exists, which it might not given to heavy unionization) between teachers with degrees in education and teachers with degrees in other subjects.

        FWIW, I studied education for both my undergrad and graduate degrees but have worked exclusive in independent/private schools.

        BTW, I like how you framed the gap between the average starting teacher salary and the average salary for all bachelor’s degree holders as indicating the former is paid “less than average” as opposed to being “underpaid”. A far more objective accounting of the facts (not that I expected anything else from you).Report

      • Avatar j r says:


        I think that list was mostly a joke.

        Happy New Year all!!! See you in 2015.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:


        For a job [teaching] that … typically requires an advanced degree to continue on

        To be fair, that advanced degree is generally in education, a field noted for its lack of rigor.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy says:


        Perhaps, but it still requires an advanced degree which requires a similar level of financial investment and an often greater investment of time. For instance, both my undergraduate and graduate degree required ‘practicum’ hours (student-teaching), which far exceeded the typical one-hour-per-week-per-credit. For instance, my senior year of college — when most of my classmates had a mere 12 hours of class per week — I was putting in 40 hours of teaching time. During graduate school, I was able to use my regular job as my student-teaching but got the privilege of paying $12K+ per year to go to work (at a job that paid me $36K pretax).

        Again, I’m not saying teachers are underpaid. And I’m not complaining. But the reality is that we are generally paid less than other professions that require similar levels of education/training/experience. There are a lot of ways to slice and analyze that, but nothing changes the raw numbers.Report

      • Avatar The Far Left says:

        My name was mentioned, so I thought i would drop in.
        People don’t see me very often, even though Fox News talks about me quite a great deal.
        Some people have even suggested that I no longer exist, although like God, and Mark Twain rumors of my death have been greatly exaggerated.

        Anyhoo, me and the other 5 members of my group gave this a bit of thought.

        While the media types conform to the Leftist Party Line very scrupulously regarding social concerns, they also tend to be upper middle class highly educated and well compensated members of the bourgeoisie.

        NPR for example, generally is sympathetic to same sex marriage, and loves them some exotic obscure music from authentic obscure dark skinned folk.

        But when faced with us, as in Occupy, they are deeply reflective, and fair minded, and you know, they have their property values and 401Ks to think about, and they know that economic concerns are very difficult, and without simple answers.

        Aside from of course, the obvious and axiomatic truths that taxes are always too high, and economic liberalism is self-evidently true.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Suggestion to The Far Left (and take it or leave it):

        Start calling it “Economic Conservativism” or “Economic Libertarianism”.Report

    • Avatar nevermoor says:

      I loaded the page to make exactly the same point as the first part of this comment.Report

  2. Avatar Road Scholar says:

    A good start would be to read more Elizabeth Stoker Bruening. What happened to her? Did all us atheists chase her off?Report

    • Avatar Will Truman says:

      She moved on to bigger and more lucrative pastures.Report

      • Avatar Road Scholar says:

        That didn’t take long. So Patheos pays their writers? Good for her.

        She occupies a position that is hard to pin down as left or right, just like good libertarians, precisely because it’s almost the exact polar inverse of libertarianism.Report

      • Avatar Glyph says:

        I don’t think she has trouble pinning herself down as ‘left’.


        “The vigor of the left position arises from the fact that we do not have to traffic in one-offs and pan flashes.”

        “The Left is not strictly interested in procedural justice — our purview extends to outcomes, which is why we are concerned with lived experiences in the first place.”

        Lotta ‘we’s and ‘our’s in there referring back to ‘Left’.

        Which is fine, good on her, but it’s hardly a maverick, non-doctrinaire position, no?Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        Yeah, the Christian left is her thing. And it’s not a capitalist left.

        Her husband is a bright guy too, and has interesting things to say, but turns into a 12-year old when he gets into a disagreement (just ask another former contributor, Jason).Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I didn’t know Freddie De Boer was married!Report

      • Avatar Chris says:

        I was going to compare him to yet another former contributor, usually refereed to by his initials.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      I enjoyed co-blogging with her and I enjoy her writing today. And her as well, as her personality shows through in her writing. It’s a shame the patheos site is so heavy with auto-play video and audio.Report

  3. Avatar James Hanley says:

    Reading the chief’s message, I can’t help but remember the attention a few years back given to some cities’ use of tests to weed out applicants who were too intelligent (out of concern they’d be too bored by the job). I have to doubt this chief was ever given such a test with that purpose.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko says:

      That was real? I thought it was an urban myth. There’s plenty of smart cops.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Wow, you’re up way too early in the morning, Burt. But, yes, it’s real, although I don’t have any idea if it’s widely used–quite possibly not.

        I have a former student who’s now with the Michigan state police. It only took a few years before they moved him to their training center because he’s smarter and more well-educated (a B.A. In history) than most. I agree there are intelligent police, but I suspect the average IQ isn’t much above the general population (with the slightly higher rate probably being an effect of the average cop being smarter than the average criminal).Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:


        It’s more that the courts found that refusing to hire people who score too highly on tests designed to measure intelligence is not discrimination.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Right, but that there was an actual case and controversy means it’s not just an urban legend.Report

      • Avatar Jaybird says:

        Oh, yeah. All-too-real.

        I cannot comprehend the mindset of the bosses who said that they wouldn’t want people on their team who were too smart. The beat cops eventually become detectives (or I assume they do… they used to).Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        The intelligent are not a protected group in the US.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        Neither are the wise. Chief Anderson’s remarks evidence intelligence, but inherently are wisdom.Report

      • Avatar James Hanley says:

        Right. It’s the writing that evinces the intelligence per se.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman says:

        I wonder if there is a disparate impact argument for the right Asian-American applicant.Report

      • Avatar Michael Cain says:

        I’m not disagreeing with you, Burt. I was simply pointing out that a lawsuit that asserts “My non-hiring was because they discriminate against X” is tough to win unless X is one of the categories protected by statute, most commonly race, sex, religion, age and physical disabilities.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I think the recent court case is an issue because copdom, as an institution, has stipulated a certain IQ range as SOP and the court case was based on the rationale justifying that range. It agreed with the cops, unfortunately. So my memory of this accords with James’. And as I recall, the rationale back in the day – this issue got wide play in certain circles, what?, 15-20 years ago? – was that intelligence correlates with independent thought, which cop leadership argued could lead to all sorts of problems down the road. The boredom justification is a new one to me, and clearly (in my view) ridiculous.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumbers says:

        @michael-cain 10:01am

        The intelligent are not a protected group in the US.

        Sadly you are correct. I would go further and say they are actively discriminated against.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi says:

      Part of a chief’s job is PR. Part of a beat cop’s job is sitting around monitoring things. You select different people for the jobs.Report

      • Avatar j r says:

        Beat cops don’t stay beat cops forever. They become Sergeants and detectives and management and some of them eventually become chiefs.Report

      • Avatar Kimmi says:

        Standard pyramid, though. Not every beat cop makes sergeant. You may want to select folks who will probably be a beat cop their whole life. [You also want to weed out folks who will go on to be lawyers, or are otherwise likely to want better pay and be able to get it. Free Market Labor!]Report

  4. Avatar Kazzy says:

    Fine… If you want me to hang out with a bunch of stupid, unfunny uggos, I’ll be sure to get myself to this year’s Leaguefest.Report

  5. Avatar zic says:

    Kudos to Chief Anderson.

    I have to say that I’m intrigued by the NYC cops response to back off from doing their jobs:

    The New York Post on Tuesday reported, and city officials confirmed, that officers are essentially abandoning enforcement of low-level offenses. According to data The Post cited for the week starting Dec. 22 — two days after two officers were shot and killed on a Brooklyn street — traffic citations had fallen by 94 percent over the same period last year, summonses for offenses like public drinking and urination were down 94 percent, parking violations were down 92 percent, and drug arrests by the Organized Crime Control Bureau were down 84 percent.

    While there’s much whining about it (as in today’s editorial at the NYT,) there’s much joy for all those folks not harassed and ticketed, too. I hope this small window of cops leaving their comfort zone in NYC get’s studied for evidence of how not policing most low level offenses might be beneficial to communities.

    But the real issue will be how much do the city’s coffers will suffer the lack of revenue from fines, I think. I hope that’s also part of my wished-for study.Report

  6. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    I spent the holidays with a relative who watches a LOT of Fox News and it was interesting. Since I’ve lived in Canada for ten years and barely watched TV for the first thirty, I’m not sure I’ve ever watched it. To be honest, most of the things she would talk about weren’t particularly offensive or anything, just unexpected. I figured Fox is just boilerplate conservatism, but the stuff she talked about was so out of left field that I rarely knew what to say. So, it was not an unhappy visit at all.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I always want and dread examples when I read stuff like you just wrote.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        Oh, she asked me at one point:
        “You know why that guy shot those two cops in New York, don’t you?”
        Me: “I guess he must have been pretty crazy.’
        Her: “It’s the result of forty years of welfare.”
        Me: “Oh, I… uh, I did not expect that.”
        Her: “Welfare has made people feel entitled.”
        Me: “To shoot cops?…”

        A lot of the arguments weren’t really offensive as much as sort of weird non sequiturs. So, more often I was scratching my head instead of arguing.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        The guy wasn’t even 40 years old! He wasn’t even 30!

        My theory is that more political rage and arguments is caused by stuff like this instead of straight up policy disagreements. The straight up not getting basic facts right is more headache inducing.Report

        • Avatar Rufus F. says:

          I think the argument was that the welfare policies of the last forty years or so have fostered some sort of environment of entitlement that connects somehow to cop killing. Like I said, I found it a bit out of left field.Report

      • Avatar Burt Likko says:

        I get a lot of stuff like this from people I encounter, mainly from clients. Generally, my clients’ politics are irrelevant to the work I do for them so I ignore it. I assume that there isn’t a lot of deep thought that goes in to it… But I’ll await an opportunity this year to make an inquiry and drill down a bit.Report