Moving On

Yesterday I agreed to take on the role of Director of the USC Annenberg Innovation Lab. It will mean a great deal of added responsibility and will also mean that I will not have time to write a daily blog. This has been a great three year experiment and I have enjoyed it. I’m going to leave up some of the most epic discussions as a kind of Greatest Hits collection. I will occasionally post on the Annenberg Innovation Lab blog.

As I noted a couple of weeks ago, I feel like the signal to noise ratio in our media has gotten terribly distorted. There is little honest reporting about what is going on in this Interregnum. Matt Taibi’s recent report on the Tea Party movement comes close to my feelings.

In the Tea Party narrative, victory at the polls means a new American revolution, one that will “take our country back” from everyone they disapprove of. But what they don’t realize is, there’s a catch: This is America, and we have an entrenched oligarchical system in place that insulates us all from any meaningful political change. The Tea Party today is being pitched in the media as this great threat to the GOP; in reality, the Tea Party is the GOP. What few elements of the movement aren’t yet under the control of the Republican Party soon will be, and even if a few genuine Tea Party candidates sneak through, it’s only a matter of time before the uprising as a whole gets castrated, just like every grass-roots movement does in this country. Its leaders will be bought off and sucked into the two-party bureaucracy, where its platform will be whittled down until the only things left are those that the GOP’s campaign contributors want anyway: top-bracket tax breaks, free trade and financial deregulation.

The rest of it — the sweeping cuts to federal spending, the clampdown on bailouts, the rollback of Roe v. Wade — will die on the vine as one Tea Party leader after another gets seduced by the Republican Party and retrained for the revolutionary cause of voting down taxes for Goldman Sachs executives.

To my long time contributors, I thank you for your insights and your spirit. We will cross paths again, of this I am sure.

-Jonathan Taplin

Pacific Palisades, CA

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42 Responses to Moving On

  1. Jim Ramsey says:


    What a great opportunity. I hope it takes you to some excitng places of personal growth. I will miss this site being active, but it has been a wonderful trip.

  2. PatrickR says:


    Thanks for the great posts over the past few years. This is a sad day, as your blog has been the top entry in my rss reader for some time. Your website is probably the only site out there that I have read every single post. I will miss your insights and hope that in the future you will again find the time to post. Even if its only once a month?

    Thanks again, your online presence will be missed greatly.

    All my best wishes for your future endeavors!

  3. Rick Turner says:

    Thank you, Jon, and I’ll be in touch re. the foundation thing.

  4. len says:

    This has been an education, and deeply appreciated. I will miss this conversation it having been one of the most intelligent and passionate I’ve had the pleasure to experience in these many years of online engagements.

    Happy trails!

  5. Glenn says:

    Jon, before you go:

    First, Godspeed your visionary effort spearheading the Innovation Lab. That’s so deeply cool!

    Second, Thank you for your hospitality and trouble. We’ve bandied old notions here about how the best schools are not the physical but rather the notional and emotional ones, and your table exemplifies the latter–actually, proves the case.

    Third, shame on you for shrinking from the noise ratio. How to define “noise”, and who gets to define it? As you caution against these things in the classroom, “Why I oughta…”. Come on. For two years I tried to project what the crackers would say, and got called a cracker for it. Did you masters of journalism suspect that I’d gone native? Whenever you’ve complained of the “noise ratio” you’ve, in effect, left the head of the table in intolerance, as though resting on your previous merit badges for tolerance. Instead of Nixon to China, China to Nixon.

    Fourth, it’s cheesy to sign off with a vindictive swipe at “the Tea Party”, as though referring to a discrete thing. A couple of us tried to warn here, for almost two years, that this would happen, and frankly this blog became a laboratory for, of all things, Left Wing reactionaries. That’s how Democrats get blindsided. We’d been counting on you to protect the blind side. It takes a sparring partner. Too bad there ain’t no Interregnum, just more of the same. Too bad there ain’t no New Federalism, just federalization by a bunch who’d tax copulation if they could. Too bad no detente with libertarians, the preferred pincushions. Too bad California is bereft. Ever wonder how that happened?

    Finally, it was an elegant table and I’ll always be grateful to you for the good wit and instruction and the wonderful company you attracted. Quite a feat. Quite a fête.

    Thanks, Jon. To me you’re an older brother, so I know you can take it on the chin.

    The Lab will be a blessing for all…

  6. Valerie Curl says:

    Jon, thank you for your efforts to bring civil discussion of differences into this current realm of shouting, vitriol,and hateful name calling.

    I fear for my country during this time. Even during the worst years of the Nixon Admin., the rhetoric was never this violent in nature, regardless of the Chicago riots or the campus movements and violence. Now, it seems almost beyond control and I fear that some group or individual will spark a riot beyond control. There’s too much division and hate and not enough willingness to discuss differences and collaborate on solutions.

    Of course, I blame much of the not on TEA partiers, per se, but on the DC politicos and media partisans who use the populace to their own advantage.

    If – or perhaps more accurately, when – violence does occur, perhaps those who have fostered popular anger will see the part they played in fostering it and feel some remorse. I can only hope. My father, an Air Force Master Sargent and WWII vet, taught me how to shoot a rifle and shotgun when I was 10. Because of his teachings, I’ve never had a desire to own a gun.

    Now, with all the anger and hatred abound, I’m wondering if I should have one stowed away,just in case violence comes to my small, No. California town. I’ve never felt this way at any time before and really hate being scared now.

    I hate thinking about owning a gun to protect myself from some crazy group. I hate knowing that there are people who are using fear and disinformation to inflame a less than knowledgeable populace in order to gain fame, wealth, and position for themselves.

    What I do know is that once this era has passed, regardless of how much anger and violence occurs, the nation will be stronger and more tolerant. That’s the nature of the human specie: horror brings greater enlightenment and tolerance. Not to everyone perhaps, but to the majority.

    It’s not a given that the country must endure the violence being stirred, but unless more people have the courage to speak up and out against the vitriol and hateful speech, it may well occur.

    As a calming breeze amongst the raging winds, your blog has helped to foster not anger but conversation and discussion. Thank you for that easy passage way. And good luck on your future endeavor.

  7. Mike Albaugh says:

    Say it so! You will be missed.

  8. Alex Bowles says:

    Congratulations on landing that post. They’re lucky to have you in it.

    And thank you for hosting this party. That appreciation extends to the wonderful group of guests who provided such excellent conversation. It’s truly been a pleasure.


  9. bernard says:

    I am going to miss your blog Jon, where I have encountered some fine tuned minds, I will miss them. Be well and open these future communications towards a more humane society.
    Take care man. God bless.

  10. TennesseeWilliamShakespeare says:

    Ostavim bez commentarii.

  11. Cameron says:

    I’ll miss this blog, but I understand you moving on. Good Luck to you!!

  12. Glenn says:

    Yes, and so does Jon do, as he just erased the archives. He saved his caves for the.lifeboat but burned his little Alexandrian library. How does a scholar think to do that, Bone? Jon? Why’d you do?

  13. rhbee says:

    So now there’s no there there either.

  14. Jon…

    Where are you going? I was just getting ready to put in my two cents! Well you snooze, you lose, I guess. In any case knock ’em dead at the Innovation Lab. They’ll have a savvy skipper at the helm.

    Best wishes from Yamaguchi,

  15. Brian says:

    Thanks for the posts and even more so for bringing da noise and da funk to blogging.

  16. Clint says:

    Congratulations! And thank you for the best blog on the net.

    I know all of us “out here” will miss you.

  17. Glenn says:

    true, rhbee, smack on. But apparently they’ve got tis new planet, a spinning little aqueous ball about our size and roughly co-distant from its similar sun that spins, in turn, hangers-on just like me! Trouble is that the putatively similar planet is at least a trillio light years away, so we’re all stuck here, together, for the fucking duration.

  18. Andy says:

    Damnit Jon! Where am I going to get my dose of mostly positive yet pragmatic analysis of world events?

  19. Thanks for hosting one of my favorite parties. Best of luck with the new post.

  20. len says:

    @valerie: It’s a shadow show. It’s made to look scarier than it really is. There isn’t that much substance.

    @glenn: Relax. They always burn the library before they ‘innovate’. The trouble with that strategy is somewhere someone buries clay jars in the desert. Always.

    In the clubs, one learns to spot the scary eyes, hear the just a pitch too high commotion and stay away from those tables. Trust your instincts.

    As in Seven Days in May, one has to decide which voices are reasonable and which are only appealing to the emotions. The Trickster isn’t that hard to find in a room full of noise. The choice offered is against your best interests. Keep a clear idea of what those are and your instincts won’t fail you.

    We have a good system in this country. We vote and that is the ultimate power and even the powerful fear it. Even the A-listers fear it. Use their fear to protect you. You can see it in their eyes, you can hear it in the commotion. The same system that elected Barack Obama may elect Christine O’Donnell, and you know what; that’s ok. It’s just one more voice in a noisy room.

    The Gulf spill was crazy and it scared us, yet once again, ingenuity and perserverance prevailed. Trust that they always will. Things will be well.

    It was fun sparring with you, and thanks!

  21. Joel says:


    Best of luck in your new endeavor. I will miss your posts and your perspective on the current social and political climate.

  22. bernard says:

    As a farewell to this blog I would like to recommend watching this Doc. – Orwell rolls in his grave=

  23. Mason Dixon says:

    Thank God I know where you live. You are a gracious and scintillating host, and I will miss reading your thoughts, as well the comments of so many of the regulars here. I wish everyone the best. Perhaps we will meet again on down the road. Happy trails…

  24. doug says:

    we will miss you–hopefully you will miss us–

    The Tea Party is the future of the Republicans–the next gen will take over the old Bulls will die–where will the Democrats be?

  25. Gordon says:

    Thanks for hosting this community and congrats on your new post.

    You will be sorely missed until your return.

  26. Roman says:


    I couldn’t help but notice the coincidence of your signing off on the same day Rahm Emanuel officially stepped down. Up to this point, I haven’t put much stock in the polls, but now I’m beginning to wonder. You always seemed to have an inside track, and I have a hunch this is going to get really ugly, isn’t it?

    I’ve always found your blog accessible yet provocative and even a bit of a mind bender at times. Too bad you couldn’t scale back your postings as you did while you were writing your book. Your perspective going forward will be missed.

    My sincere thanks for taking on your “three-year experiment”; all the best in future endeavors.

  27. Dan Stevens says:

    Thank you for three wonderful years. Best of luck with the new position. Your insight will be missed.


  28. Seth says:

    Thanks for the party … er … blog. Congratulations and best wishes on the new job.

  29. Tom Mason says:

    Hi Jon – I’ve been lurking here for quite some time and enjoyed it immensely. Good luck with the new gig.

  30. rich solomon says:

    i can only say more of what’s been said: thanks for writing, for caring what happens in the constant collective effort and trip that is our culture, and for lending some sanity to my world through your own maladjustment. I will miss your blog but look forward to the world your students will bring forth. Cheers!

  31. Morgan Warstler says:

    It gets really, really boring when I’m not around, huh?

    Jon it speaks volumes that you don’t like blogging into the wind, meanwhile I MOST enjoyed banging on you when you felt your side was winning. That entire quote from Tennessee is EXACTLY what I kept saying to you about Obama…. I warned you over and over, if you want to hurt the oligarchy, you gotta decentralize the power structure, even while your own side replays the 60’s in your heads.

    New Federalism meant something to you… but you tossed it overboard when you could get the left to go along. You didn’t admit it until the end, wtf was that?

    Your very best idea is no good because you can’t move your own side? Thats the definition of when you switch teams. Old dogs. New tricks. You got it in you.

    At least you are back to do something that has PROFIT as its motive. We’ll meet again.


  32. Brian H says:

    Bon voyage, Jon. It IS a bright bunch of honest and empathetic folks that gathered here. Salute to all.

  33. Alex Telthorst says:

    This long-time lurker is sad to see the conversation end. It’s been great to be a spectator – my life is moving back into a place where I might have had something to contribute. But it will have to be elsewhere – I really don’t know where to find this level of discourse on the web – I like reading as much as the next guy but the humanity in the conversations here is what brought me back every day.

    Thank you for your service Jon. I know we haven’t heard the last of your public voice. We await it’s return with great anticipation.

  34. billy-bob says:

    Peak Taplin

  35. josh c says:

    Argh!!! This is the biggest bummer! Jon, I would love to meet you one day. You’ve inspired me immensely and encouraged us all to dig a little deeper to understand more of the current nature of power in the world. That’s the best we can all do. You understand the nature of false arguments and false appeals to raw emotions. We can all do better in understanding for ourselves and with a tool like the internet, there isn’t much of a reason not to. Hopefully more of us can go and inspire the rest of the nation to start opening their eyes a bit. We’ll all be better off.

    Thank you truly.

  36. John Papola says:

    Congratulations my friend and best wishes.

    You’ve been quite a prolific blogger and I know that’s a challenge. But it’s also a glorious example of how voluntary people regularly produce public goods. Many thanks for the effort and honest debate. It will be missed.

  37. awreckloose says:

    mixed feelings here.
    this has been one of my must read blogs for most of it’s existence.
    i’ve always enjoyed and appreciated the outlook you have provided based upon your extensive and varied experience in multiple areas.
    dogma never lived here.
    so i’m happy for you but will definitely miss your insightful take on our unfolding interregnum.
    peace and prosperity unto you.

  38. Armand Asante says:

    Am I to understand you’ve erased most of the posts from your blog?
    You seem to have missed the point of the internet.

    Good luck in your future endeavors…

    I enjoyed this place while I was posting here. too bad most of it is gone now…whatever were you thinking.

  39. gb says:


    Thank you for giving me the opportunity to rub elbows with my idols (you included!) and thanks for dropping me on the front page (you don’t remember, but I do :-)

    And thank you T-Bone for “O Brother”… you may not have saved music, but you tried, and you did your best, and then some.

    And thank you to all the people here, the people I agree with, the people I don’t agree with, the fucking bug-fuck insane people that only bug-fuck insane people agree with and yet their voices need to be heard too.

    Don’t get too isolated by the new gig; Jon; the public is out here, and we’re unruly :-)

    Cheers, and thanks.


  40. Glenn says:

    Your putative archiving still doesn’t work, Jon. As you add to your chosen greatest hits these are excised from archival memory. Meanwhile the archive to which you point apologetically is a sham, most of the weeks in any given year, especially those of the last one, have been removed from access, from common memory.

    Is USC first rate, for the first time, or otherwise?

  41. Glenn says:

    The archiving is at least twice as expurgated as it is faithful.

    Two months off and one month on,

    Tweedle Deedle Dumpling,

    My Friend Jon.

    Can’t your servers handle it all? If not, then how could ya’ll presume to handle “Innovation” on our collective behalf?

  42. Anthony Nelson says:

    Mr. Taplin-

    I was your student in 2005, and I still visit your blog for your great insite. Thanks
    for doing this, good luck with your new position. I was the kid who was interested in theatre, if you remember, and because of your class, I have gone on to earn my Master’s Degree, and am in my first semester teaching Acting at Drake University. I will also be working at the Guthrie theatre in Minneapolis, next year. Please do keep updating this site. The knowledge you share is priceless and extremely important.

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