Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Megan whoopee

Photo by David Shankbone via Wikimedia Commons.
Hahahaha Megan McArdle:
I apologize in advance, because I am going to talk about a book that I have not yet read. To be clear, I intend to read Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century.” It is sitting on my (virtual) bedside with a big stack of other (digital) books that I intend to read. But it’s far down in the queue, and I’m afraid that I can’t wait to weigh in — not on the book itself, but on its topic. 
But the topic might not be what you think it is, you know. You might want to at least read a couple of reviews all the way through, huh?

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Real Leaders

Shorter David Brooks, "The Leadership Emotions", April 22 2014:
Barack lacks all conviction, while Joe Biden
Is full of passionate intensity.
O Captain! My Captain!.
We start off today complaining about how the politicals manage policy nowadays, something with which you and I might wish to concur with a hearty "Damn right, curse that Karl Rove!" or "Ol' Michael Deaver certainly has a lot to answer for!"

But it turns out that Brooks's problem isn't exactly that: it's more that dominance by the politicals has led to a presidency that's not amateurish enough:

Monday, April 21, 2014

Binges of Madison County

Pillars of the Community, Madison County, 1939, via Shorpy. Always a false front.
Ohai, Heritage, whassup?
Wow, it's been a while! Glad to see you're still on your game and all. And tell us all about Madison County, Alabama, and its tragically dispossessed widows?
Madison County Commissioner Roger Jones said no one realized just how much the new federal health care law would change things, especially for the spouses of some of his former employees.
“What I’m trying to do is get this coverage back to them,” said Jones. “A lot of these people are on fixed incomes. Some of them are living on Social Security and very little else, and health insurance is very important to them.”

Confirmation Bias Watch

Some more Piketty fallout: Paul Krugman again bows to empirical evidence and acknowledges changing his mind:
we're rapidly moving towards a state where inherited wealth dominates. I didn't know that. I really was-- I should've known it. I should've thought about it, but I didn't. And so then here comes this book with-- I mean, it's beautiful-- absolutely analytically beautiful, if that makes any sense at all....  You suddenly say, "Oh, this is not-- the world is not the way I saw it."
(h/t Marie2 at Booman Tribune)

Meanwhile Yuval Levin is on record as having (in 2011) blamed current inequality in the United States largely on Great Society social spending in the 1960s and '70s:
Flush with revenue and stirred by the promise of technocratic mastery, our government took on immense entitlement commitments and major social reforms in that era, and these have certainly had some of their intended consequences. But they have also struck at the roots (economic and especially moral) of our ability to sustain our strength. The collapse of the family among the poor — powerfully propelled by the ethic of social democracy and by a horrendously designed welfare system that was not improved until the mid-1990s — has vastly worsened social and economic inequality in America, and the capacity of generations to rise out of poverty.
I'd say that's yet another chance for Levin to show that conservatives can be just as open-minded and ready to bend their opinions to fit the facts as liberals are. How about it, Dr. L? Anything about the Piketty-Saez data make you want to rethink your premises there?

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Marx is risen?

Drawing by Martin Rowson.
In the wildest of today's Conservative Easter effusions, Ross Douthat, Apostolic Nuncio to 42nd Street, opines that
IN the season of resurrection, it’s fitting that he’s with us once again — bearded, prophetic, moralistic, promising to exalt the humble and cast down the mighty from their thrones.
Yes, that’s right: Karl Marx is back from the dead.
I'd like to say I scooped Douthat on this one, but truth is it's not really news except the bodily resurrection part, and I totally missed the lede anyway, which is about the French economist Thomas Piketty, whose newly translated Capital in the Twenty-First Century is causing [jump]

A Libertarian Easter

How conservatives really think about the Lord.

From the monumental OMFG Raptor Jesus by Benpadiah.
Via Chris Allen. Good post, too.
Drawing by A.F. Branco for The Liberty Alliance. This one apparently not meant ironically.
For a more serious approach, don't miss Tengrain and Vixen Blogging Against Theocracy.

Annals of derp: HHIMM to Intellectual Beauty

Heritage tonight:

Where do you suppose they got this data? First note when they got it, in the little note just under Alaska: six months ago, when it's pretty hard to imagine how they could have put together a such a magisterial picture of such data as there was at the time, when [jump]

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Because if anybody expected the Spanish Inquisition, it'd spoil the surprise!

And speaking of CIA, their torture psychologist James Mitchell has called up The Guardian to complain about the vicious way he is (apparently) characterized in the Senate select committee report as a, um, torture psychologist:

Quanto mi piaci mai, semplicità!

And here's intrepid journalist Èdvard Snouden in the Guardian, explaining his controversial interview with Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin:
I was surprised that people who witnessed me risk my life to expose the surveillance practices of my own country could not believe that I might also criticise the surveillance policies of Russia, a country to which I have sworn no allegiance, without ulterior motive. I regret that my question could be misinterpreted, and that it enabled many to ignore the substance of the question – and Putin's evasive response – in order to speculate, wildly and incorrectly, about my motives for asking it.
Let the record show that I, for one, would easily believe that he might have criticized the neo-Tsarist police state without ulterior motive, and I'm also starting to believe that story that Greenwald promised him he could go to China and enjoy their freedom of speech and have his own pet phoenix. But not everybody involved is so innocent, starting with Vladimir Vladimirovich and working back to 2009 or so, when the CIA sent young Snowden to NSA by means of a very curious mistake.

But is our children learning?

Philip Kovacs at Education Week. 2011.
You've heard about the situation in the Newark Public Schools, which have been under state control since 1995 and now, under the imperial control of Governor Christie's proconsul/superintendent Cami Anderson, faces the layoffs of about 1000 teachers or a third of the teaching force as well as of other workers, while Teach For America missionaries (no doubt wearing pith helmets and carrying machetes; see shrill Owen Davis) replace them and in spite of the $40-million budget gap Anderson's local minions reap remarkable rewards. I just wanted to post all these extraordinary links, and note in passing that Newark is getting to be like the Stalingrad of education rephorm.

But in the interests of fairness, I'd like to present the following comment in favor of the layoffs, from a story at

As a teacher I think it's a great idea to "trim the fat", so to speak. I work hard for my position and I see other teacher's doing the same things year after year. Other professions are merit based, I think Teaching should be too. We are talking about the future of our Country. What types of people would you like to see fix our nation, slackers or go getters?

Hey, I'd like to see our classrooms staffed by people who know how to use apostrophes and capital letters, but nobody's asking me.

Christie on partisanship

Governor Christie, quoted at ForwardProgressives:
“I don’t believe this is a conservative, or moderate, or liberal issue,” Christie concluded.  “I don’t believe this is a Republican or Democrat issue. Because, let me tell you, I know as many drug-addicted Republicans as I know drug-addicted Democrats.” 
OK, I'll let you tell me. But I want numbers.
From artsy tumblr ChrisChristieEats.

Confirmation Bias Watch

Image by John S. Dykes for Wall Street Journal, July 2012.

A little over a month has passed since famous conservative genius Yuval Levin accused Paul Krugman of refusing to entertain evidence that challenges his beliefs even as he criticizes everybody else for doing the same thing. Here at the Rectification of Names we were able to adduce empirical evidence that Krugman has, actually, repeatedly changed his mind in the face of facts and publicly admitted it, as scientists are supposed to be capable of doing, but not as it happens that Yuval Levin has ever done so.

I just want to note here that Krugman has done it again, on the very important question of whether humanity can afford to stop destroying our Earth with greenhouse gases, in yesterday's Times column:
One front many people didn’t take too seriously, however, was renewable energy. Sure, cap-and-trade might make more room for wind and the sun, but how important could such sources really end up being? And I have to admit that I shared that skepticism. If truth be told, I thought of the idea that wind and sun could be major players as hippie-dippy wishful thinking. But I was wrong.
Still no data on Levin. In 2008, incidentally, he wrote on the subject of climate change denialism,
the genuine abuses of science have been (and frankly continue to be — just listen to “rolling back the waters” Obama lately) more serious on the left in this debate than on the right. 
Maybe now we have some hard evidence on the relative abusiveness of left and right in this connection, this could be a good opportunity for him to demonstrate his ability to revise his views in the light of reality. I can't find that he's said anything on the subject at all lately.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Circus ex machina, machina ex circo

Probably from a Tellyvision show called "Lost Girl", via TheMonkeyTwin
Shorter David Brooks, "When the Circus Descends", New York Times, April 18 2014:
It's centrist street cred time, so I'd like to pause here to mention how fond I am of a pragmatic little idea out there minding its own business when an ideological circus drops on its head, which is a new metaphor for Both Sides Doing It. Thus the crazy right believes that the Common Core State Standards for education are a Communist conspiracy. Also the left doesn't like them either for some [jump]

Cheap shots and fever spots

Dark... edgy... conservative...

Wednesday Addams deals with the national debt. The film's auteur is—apparently—John Hilt, head of the little known and less effective Exposing Marxists PAC (h/t The Wire). His letter to Louisiana Representative Louis Gohmert suggests he's an entrepreneurial job-creaty seeker after some of that wingnut grift:

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Ukraine, I kraine...

I have a Croatian friend—for well over 20 years, in fact, meaning I first really got to know him during the collapse of Yugoslavia, when he was pretty militant, as you might be too if you knew Slobodan Milošević was trying to murder your mother along with all her neighbors, and even though one of his best friends was a Serb. But he mellowed to some extent thereafter.

At the beginning of 1993, he caught me mocking the Czechs and the Slovaks over the pathetic character of their national breakup, when they couldn't afford to have [jump]
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