Worldwide Blueprint

The new format opens up a ton of opportunities for the Run, and with Thanksgiving and Christmas (the Midnight Run’s ONLY two major breaks) coming up, it’s worth laying out the plans for the new format in detail. This week, we lay out upcoming projects, the update schedule, and an occasional shift in tone as the Midnight Run evolves well past its previous weekly news-brief format.

1.) Upcoming projects. The Midnight Run is going, for a host of reasons, to expand well beyond the regular news update that it has had for the last four years. Among these reasons are that 1.) the longer form discussions are, frankly, a lot more fun to write, 2.) considerably more topics can be explored with their own article instead of being sprinkled into a two-paragraph news piece, 3.) there are a number of subjects I have been meaning to get into that fit neither the news updates, nor do they make any sense in the immediate wake of Blowback.

Topics planned for the Run include a long-overdue update to Midnight Run: Debt (as opposed to the occasional updates built within certain briefs), a considerably deeper look at suicide (which was barely referenced in previous updates), and continuing updates to Lethal Ignorance (which itself will become a regular part of the Run’s focus).

2.) Update schedule. There are only two stops in the Midnight Run schedule. Two weeks for Thanksgiving, and two weeks for Christmas. The irony is that, with the new format, those holidays aren’t much of an issue. The Run will update on November 4 and 18, and December 2nd and 16th. There will be a Grab Bag for both January updates, before returning to normal in February.

3.) Tonal shift. On occasion, we need to break from what is, almost by necessity, a consistently violent news stream, and discussions about heavy topics. Occasionally, we need to focus on much lighter fare, and discuss much more This is the mindset that led to the July updates, which themselves take after the more optimistic tone of Blowback. The Run will continue to cover much more difficult topics with the clinical approach it always has (because that’s the respectful way to do it), but occasionally we will look at the much less violent side of the news.

The reasons for this are two-fold. Firstly, there are way too many other places where one can go to get what is essentially a running police report of everything going wrong. The second, and to some extent more important, point, is that eventually it becomes draining. It’s not all that entertaining to be told how everything around you is going wrong (this is what killed Air America, too much of a focus on being incredibly cynical, and no focus on being informative or entertaining). It is both much more interesting and frankly, more realistic, to occasionally stop looking at everything going wrong and occasionally look at everything going right.

4.) Bottom Line. The Run will continue to check news every month, and that will be the most structured the Run gets from here on. Over the next few months, as the Run turns 4, the scope will expand well beyond firearms. The result will be a much more varied series, with the ability to put a topic under a microscope that simply couldn’t happen under the previous format’s relatively rapid production pipeline. In other words, a better product with the help of more production time.

On November 7, the Midnight Run will be four years old. The format of mostly-weekly news briefs has become, in all candor, stagnant and repetitive. Even in that four years, the tone, writing style, and author of the Run have all changed significantly in that half-decade.

It is time that the Midnight Run embrace all of that, and become a considerably better project as a result.

But regardless of the changes here…..

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.

Grab Bag: October 2017

On this month’s news update, we have 2 notes on criminal justice, violent crime rises nationwide (thanks to about six cities), Salon wants to give up on identity politics, and how Russia is making the outrage culture a national security issue.

There is also a remarkably depressing amount of news regarding both the NRA and Congressional Republicans caving to calls for “common sense” gun laws in the wake of the Vegas shooting.

1.) Felons and voting rights. An appeals court in Louisiana is looking at a case that could lead to released felons getting the right to vote in the state. The argument is that the ban on felons voting goes against the state’s 1974 constitution. The previous judge who heard the case, Tim Kelly, said that the law was unfair, but constitutional. (Which is an interesting choice of words.)

2.) Due Process. Believe it or not, a new poll suggests that Americans still believe in the idea of “Innocent Until Proven Guilty.” While social media outrage mobs might see it differently (where every news story is followed with extremely violent and creative “punishments”), across the political specturm, we see broad support for the idea of due process. It is a bit concerning that almost 1/4 of Americans polled do not believe in due process rights, but for the moment this is a good thing to see.

By the way, this does not mean that respondents didn’t see sexual assault as a problem, but rather that due process is part of solving that problem in a way that is fair to both sides of a case.

3.) FBI UCRs. The FBI’s Uniform Crime Report for 2016 is out, and it does show an increase in overall violent crime for the second year running. However, despite the increase, those who follow the statistics noted that crime is still fairly low, and that the idea of an epidemic simply doesn’t exist. However, a Fordham Law professor cautioned against sweeping generalizations based on this one report, as Reason states:

John Pfaff, a professor at Fordham University Law School, cautioned that crime is a complex, geographically concentrated phenomena, and that it can’t simply be attributed to how many people are or aren’t being sent to prison.

He noted that Chicago, which has been experiencing an unprecedented spike in murders over the past several years, was responsible for about 20 percent of the national net increase in homicides. However, half of Chicago’s rise in murders were confined to five neighborhoods with 9 percent of the city’s population. “So in other words,” Pfaff said, “five neighborhoods in Chicago explain 10 percent of the national increase in homicide rates.”

4.) Identity politics. Salon, a major leftist publication, says it is time to stop using identity politics. This (rather shocking) column is based around the idea that the overuse of identity politics is dragging down the entire left-wing agenda. The argument being that it is only serving at best to shut down debate, and at worst to give rise to an opposing force of white nationalism.

But above all else, the author positions identity politics as something that is “not winnable”:

Since the self-esteem of liberals has flourished on the basis of the constant calling out of offenses among liberal stalwarts who had strayed from the politically correct parameters of discourse, the right has decided — and this really explains so much about the alt-right and its allies — to keep liberals occupied full-time. They did that first with right-wing talk radio, with its barrage of offenses, starting at the same time as identity politics among liberals took hold, i.e., around 1990. Then came Fox News and the many internet venues that flourished in the 2000s, and finally there was Donald Trump as constant outrage machine.
Liberals can’t have a moment of peace, because they all but desired this interminable reality of having to put out discursive fires, and now they can do so to their heart’s content for the duration of the Trump presidency. Has anyone noticed how the calling-out of liberals by liberals has suddenly ceased? Wayward liberals have not ceased offending, but Trump fits the bill just as well; after all, he too used to be a “liberal” of sorts, he is a renegade to his class, to New York elite norms, to the way wealth and privilege are supposed to behave themselves.

5.) Russia. But, you know who is loving identity politics, and the inherently volatile nature of our outrage culture? The Russians. A new story emerged on September 28th stating that the Russians used social media to play both sides of any number of issues, basically by serving as state-run trolls.

And that’s basically all there is to that story. The Russians have been absolutely loving seeing our country tear each other apart via Internet arguments, and they’ve decided that our division is their gain. So make a bad situation worse.

They weren’t merely meddling with the election, but they were meddling with us. And we apparently couldn’t have been more receptive.

6.) Vegas Aftermath. As is expected post-mass shooting, there have been calls for gun control. But perhaps the most surprising aspects this time around are both the NRA’s carefully-worded support of new gun control, and that a Republican is leading the effort.

Of course, Democrats are hoping that a ban on so-called “bump stocks” is just the beginning, and are eager to pursue other gun control measures.

It will start with bump stocks, and then gun controllers will see how far they can push a supposedly pro-gun Congress, and how far the NRA will bend.

Stay informed. Stay alert. Stay free.