All Articles
Faith in Experts Is More Rational Than Faith that Experts Are Wrong (27 Jul 2014 09:06pm)
I should know better than to ever even look at a post on Google+ about global warming. The reason is that I always look at the comments and it makes me very angry. I don't especially care what people think, but from top to bottom, the denial community is rotten. You have the lowest of the low: peopl...
Dallas Buyers Club Works Well Enough (27 Jul 2014 03:51pm)
I finally got around to watching Dallas Buyers Club. I really didn't want to watch it, but a lot of people told me I should. It turned out to be exactly what I thought it would be—exactly the kind of film that I don't need to see. More important: it is exactly the kind of film that the Academy...
Most Racists Are Good People (27 Jul 2014 01:01pm)
In Namibia, then under South African control and also an apartheid state, the towns were widely spaced in a desert of sere geologic beauty. A farmer who gave me a lift lived some hundred-plus kilometers outside of the next town, but recognizing that there would be little traffic and so virtually no ...
Modern Racism (27 Jul 2014 12:26pm)
I have been reading Ian Haney Lopez's excellent Dog Whistle Politics. You should expect a quote and a review of sorts coming in the next few days. But I want to talk about the issue of racism in a more general sense. The truth is that I'm feeling a bit full of myself reading the book, because what h...
Keenan Wynn (27 Jul 2014 10:19am)
What a pain today is! Last year, I did Norman Lear, who has made it through another year to the age of 92. But I didn't even mention Bobbie Gentry last year. I would definitely write about her today, but two weeks ago, I wrote, What Matters in "Ode to Billie Joe." In it I wrote as much about her as ...
Open Debate, Rula Jebreal, and MSNBC (26 Jul 2014 02:23pm)
You know my general feelings about MSNBC. It has become too much of a mouthpiece of the Democratic Party. And like the Democratic Party, it lacks backbone and shows no loyalty whatsoever. This was clear when they fired Alec Baldwin, whose show wasn't all that good anyway, but it was certainly better...
Carl Jung (26 Jul 2014 10:37am)
On this day in 1875, the great Swiss psychologist Carl Jung was born. When I was kid, I loved Jung. His work was so interesting. Freud seemed so bizarre to me, although there were things I liked about his work. But what I liked most about Jung was that he didn't focus on dysfunction. He provided a d...
Let's All Laugh With Curt Clawson! (25 Jul 2014 06:55pm)
I have a soft spot for losers and comically idiotic people. That's especially true when they are blissfully unaware of what they are doing and when what they are doing is in no way mean. And so, I do not present Representative Curt Clawson to laugh at but rather with. But laugh you should, because t...
Guaranteed Minimum Income (25 Jul 2014 03:27pm)
As regular readers know, I idealize economist Dean Baker. But there is one issue that I have a frustrating disagreement with him. He argues that technological advances will make the economy better for everyone. This is true if you assume that the increased productivity that is brought about by these...
Diffracting Rosalind Franklin (25 Jul 2014 11:13am)
On this day in 1920, the great British physical chemist Rosalind Franklin was born. If you haven't heard of her, it is simply because she's a woman. Really. The sexism against her was unbelievable. Although Francis Crick said that her X-ray diffraction work was critical to his Nobel Prize winning di...
Hazlitt on Henry V (24 Jul 2014 10:51pm)
Henry V is a very favorite monarch with the English nation, and he appears to have been also a favorite with Shakespeare, who labors hard to apologize for the actions of the king, by showing us the character of the man, as "the king of good fellows." He scarcely deserves this honor. He was fond of w...
Ezra Klein's Turbulent Affair with Paul Ryan (24 Jul 2014 09:09pm)
Recently, Ed Kilgore has been kind of down on Ezra Klein. He thinks that Klein has caught the "naivete bug" (my phrase). Last week, he was dismissive of Klein's article, No, the Halbig Case Isn't Going to Destroy Obamacare. And then today, he poked at him regarding this new article, Democrats Should...
Republican Abuse of Representative Democratic Norms Has Made Them Impotent (24 Jul 2014 06:55pm)
If it weren't for all the pain and suffering they cause, I would love the Republican Party. But I wouldn't love them they way I love Iago in Othello or Richard III in, well, Richard III. Because they are both brilliant in their evilness. Instead, the Republican Party is more like Cosmo Lavish in Ter...
The Extinct Pride of California (24 Jul 2014 03:17pm)
A fairly common thing for college students to do is to write parody lyrics to the fight song of a rival. Just such a thing was done by some creative student or students at Stanford University with the Berkeley fight song. It goes: That poor old Golden Bear It's losing all its hair It's teeth are ou...
Scholarship, Infidelity, and Robert Graves (24 Jul 2014 10:44am)
On this day in 1895, the great British scholar and writer Robert Graves was born. The volume and diversity of his work is overwhelming. He probably thought of himself as a poet. But he did an enormous amount of pure scholarship: critical analysis and translation. But I believe he paid the bills by w...
Watchlist Is Government Wishlist (23 Jul 2014 09:44pm)
Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux have just written a very scary article, Blacklisted: the Secret Government Rulebook for Labeling You a Terrorist. Basically, it documents that it doesn't take much of anything for the government to label you a terrorist. Being associated with someone who the governm...
Can the Democrats Hold Senate? (23 Jul 2014 06:59pm)
One of my many minor addictions is checking The Upshot's Senate Forecast every day. And it is not the simple thrill of seeing what "today's number" is. For the record, today's number is 53%—the Republicans have a 53% chance of retaking the Senate, which The Upshot classifies as a "toss up." T...
Cause of Every Israel-Palestine War (23 Jul 2014 05:09pm)
The war isn't a hurricane; it didn't happen by itself. Leaders on both sides made choices. In Israel, despite an unusual number of protests so early in a war, most of the public seems to think the government is doing the right thing, perhaps too timidly. I doubt anyone can judge public opinion accur...
Obamacare, Republicans, and Rich People's Money (23 Jul 2014 03:39pm)
Sometimes, I think I'm too hard on myself. There really is a big difference between being cynical and simply seeing reality clearly. This came to mind this morning reading Dean Baker, Why Would Anyone Think Republican Opposition to Obamacare Is Based on Ideology as Opposed to Just Money. It is in re...
Philip Seymour Hoffman's Raw Emotion (23 Jul 2014 12:45pm)
There are a lot of good birthdays today. Last year, my way of doing the birthday posts was to do a whole bunch of people, but to "give" the day to a certain person. Last year today, it was Raymond Chandler. It's kind of interesting, because a couple of night ago, I was going back over as much of my ...
Frank and Drum View of Obama (23 Jul 2014 12:51am)
Over the weekend, Thomas Frank wrote, Right-Wing Obstruction Could Have Been Fought: an Ineffective and Gutless Presidency's Legacy Is Failure. Nothing that Frank ever writes should be dismissed, but sadly, the article doesn't live up to its title. It is actually about what Obama's legacy will be, a...
"You Can't Fix Supid!!"?! (22 Jul 2014 09:46pm)
I have started a habit of most nights quickly checking out what was on the MSNBC primetime lineup. Normally, it doesn't take more than ten minutes, because all the shows are pretty much the same, and they are just reporting stuff that I've already read about. But in doing that last night, I came upo...
New Blood Pressure Guidelines (22 Jul 2014 04:08pm)
I have some medical news and it's less than a year old! The Cleveland Clinic reported, New High Blood Pressure Treatment Guidelines. This is a big deal to me. I don't suffer from high blood pressure, but I do suffer rather badly from high blood pressure hypochondria. It isn't about dying really. I d...
Courts Have Good News for Obamacare (22 Jul 2014 01:37pm)
There has been an issue that has been making its way through the courts. Because of some sloppy language in the ACA (Obamacare), it would appear that people who live in a state that has not set up its own healthcare exchange are not qualified for the federal subsidies that are one of the cornerstone...
Hopper Painting (22 Jul 2014 11:31am)
On this day in 1882, the great American painter Edward Hopper was born. When I was younger, I wasn't that impressed by him. But over time, he's become one of my favorite artists. It's mostly his compositions that I find stunning. Over the years, that's what I've come to see as most important. Especi...
Thomas Frank on Obama's Legacy (21 Jul 2014 10:13pm)
In approaching this subject, let us first address the historical situation of the Obama administration. The task of [presidential] museums, like that of history generally, is to document periods of great change. The task facing the makers of the Obama museum, however, will be pretty much exactly the...
Another Conservative Lies So He Can Make the Same Argument Despite New Data (21 Jul 2014 07:47pm)
I understand someone like Josh Barro who is a conservative (Neoliberal?) and does usually act as an apologist for the Republicans. But I've never seen him intentionally misrepresent the facts. He has his ax to grind, just like I do. But he would never make a statement like, "Raising the minimum wage...
Practical Libs, Ideological Cons (21 Jul 2014 03:26pm)
Actual economist Nick Rowe points out that I am wrong about Monetarism. It too is demand based. Some thought has shown this to be true. By lowering interest rates, the government (or Fed if you want to be technical) makes borrowing more attractive and thus increases demand. This has left me with som...
Why So Down on Krippendorf's Tribe? (21 Jul 2014 01:44pm)
Last night I watched Krippendorf's Tribe the 1998 filmed version of Frank Parkin's almost unrecognizable novel of the same name. Since it first came out, I've been a defender of the film. It certainly isn't great art—or art at all. It is just a silly film that doesn't try to be anything else. ...
Pretty to Think What We Might Have Seen From the Old Hemingway (21 Jul 2014 10:46am)
On this day in 1899, one of the greatest American novelist Ernest Hemingway was born. When I was younger, I was quite fond of his work. To my young boy mind, he seemed to establish what it was to be a man. That's most especially true of Jake Barnes in The Sun Also Rises. There was something very poi...
Beware We "Slow" Thinkers! (20 Jul 2014 08:49pm)
That was the trouble with slow people. Give him a fool any day. Slow people took some time to catch up, but when they did they rolled right over you. —Terry Pratchett Making Money ...
Why Term Limits Are Bad (20 Jul 2014 07:56pm)
I made the mistake of posting a kind of silly comment on a Google+ political post. That meant that I got updates on every comment made to the post and it wasn't pretty. And I wasn't interested. It was a comparison of Obama and Bush the Younger, and as you can imagine, there wasn't a great deal of th...
Martin Longman Has a Bad Day (20 Jul 2014 02:20pm)
I'm very fond of Martin Longman. He is an excellent writer and commentator. But he is having a bad day today over at Political Animal. First, he completely misread Ron Fournier's recent National Journal article, "We Don't Suck As Much!" a Motto Your Party Can Honestly Embrace. Longman actually gave ...
Pessimistic Conservatives (20 Jul 2014 12:42pm)
This morning, Jonathan Chait wrote, Why Optimism Is Still America's Greatest Strength. Basically, I agree with him. Cynicism and pessimism don't generally lead to reform. But a mixture is important, because there is a dark side to optimism; it can cause complacency. I want to talk about optimism fro...
Max Liebermann (20 Jul 2014 11:04am)
On this day in 1847, the great German painter Max Liebermann was born. I'm actually not that fond of his work. Or perhaps it is more accurate to say that I'm not that fond of his impressionism, which often strikes me as bad Manet. His portraits are rather interesting. And his one religious painting ...
Shadow Stats to Raise Prices Next Year (19 Jul 2014 06:54pm)
Shadow Government Statistics, usually referred to as simply Shadow Stats, is a company that provides, "Analysis Behind and Beyond Government Economic Reporting." And by and large, people who ought to know think they do a pretty decent job of gather information and grind it into data. But it is also ...
Cruz and Beck Distribute Crisp, Refreshing Dasani Sparkling Water to Brown Children (19 Jul 2014 05:07pm)
Satire is hard in this world. There are a number of reasons for this. One is that anyone can publish anything. Another is that everything is published so quickly. But this is hardly new. As I discussed in Indian Rope Trick, in the 19th century, a reporter made up the mythical magic trick out of whol...
"Your God" by Cheryl Wheeler (19 Jul 2014 03:23pm)
One of my regular readers (JMF, I think Rick Fane, it turns out) turned me on to singer-songwriter Cheryl Wheeler. She is an amazing talent. But that's pretty much a given when someone can stand up with a guitar and entertain an audience. She has a powerful, but interesting voice, and writes well-cr...
Al Kamen Doesn't Miss the Deficit—but He Should (19 Jul 2014 01:01pm)
Dean Baker posted something this morning, and I was planning to chastise him for faux naivete. But he was just waiting for the last line of his post. You see, the Washington Post published an article by Al Kamen, So Whatever Happened to the Deficit? That title is actually a bit misleading; the artic...
Lizzie Borden: a Bad Columbo Episode (19 Jul 2014 11:16am)
On this day in 1860, Lizzie Borden was born. She is famous not so much for killing her father and step-mother, but for getting away with it. And, of course, the rhyme: Lizzie Borden took an ax And gave her mother forty whacks When she saw what she had done She gave her father forty-one. The histor...
Selfie Toaster Dumber Than You Think! (18 Jul 2014 09:43pm)
As regular readers know, on the first of April each year, I write an article that is silly and (what I think is clearly) untrue. And I was really pleased with this year's entry, Miracle Reagan Toast Discovered. I'm still kind of amazed that no one seemed particularly taken with it. While it's true t...
Soon-to-Be More Knowledgeable (18 Jul 2014 06:41pm)
I was thinking about a little bit of conservative polemics that I noticed during the 2012 election, although surely it is older than that. It goes something like this: Americans don't see themselves as rich and poor; they see themselves as rich and soon-to-be rich. Now this is nonsense as politics g...
Misunderstanding Thomas Kuhn (18 Jul 2014 10:59am)
The great philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn was born on this day in 1922. He is best know, of course, for his book, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions. In it, he argued that science doesn't so much evolve slowly but rather lurches from one paradigm to another. I think this is often misundersto...
Sad About Johnny Winter (17 Jul 2014 08:35am)
I just heard the news that Johnny Winter died last night. That wasn't supposed to happen. He was supposed to beat the odds and live to be at least as old as William Burroughs. But he was 70, which is probably longer than I'll last, so that isn't too bad. I learned so much about playing the blues gu...
Paul Delaroche as He Ought to Have Been (17 Jul 2014 12:55am)
On this day in 1797, the great French painter Paul Delaroche was born. He is known as a "historical" painter, because he painted scenes from history. As a result, there are some complaints that sometimes his history wasn't quite right. Or maybe it is more likely that some pedantic graduate student h...
Humans, Swallows Equally Delusional (16 Jul 2014 09:06pm)
I gotta get this off my desk. For a month, I've wanted to talk about this amazing video, Swallows Suss Out Motion Detectors, Learn to Open Doors. Some college campus added motion detector doors to their "Campus Bike Centre." There were swallows who nested in there, but they still needed to get in an...
Steve Israel Should Become a Republican (16 Jul 2014 08:02pm)
Jonathan Chait wrote a very thorough and important article today, Why Democrats Can't Be the Party of Business. It is about how Democrats, like "little brain" Steve Israel, are reaching out to the business community because the fact of the matter is that the Republicans are doing everything they can...
Gil Fulbright Ads Are Very Funny But Probably Counterproductive (16 Jul 2014 04:34pm)
The anti-corruption group Represent.US has decided to run a fake political campaign in Kentucky. It is hilarious, as I will show you in a moment. But it does bother me to some extent. The reason is that focusing attention on corruption during a campaign doesn't cause people to get involved as much a...
Amazing Predictability of PolitiFact (16 Jul 2014 01:42pm)
PolitiFact seems determined to demonstrate that they are completely stupid and useless. Consider the history of the whole "fact checking" industry. People looked around and noticed that there was a problem with reporting, which tended to just provide what both "sides" were saying in a conflict. So t...
Barbara Lee and Blood Lust (16 Jul 2014 11:03am)
In general, I don't do politicians for the birthday post, but Barbara Lee is 68 today. I lived in Richmond, California for a long time, so although she was never my representative, I was right on the border of her district, and just across the bay for other times. So I've been familiar with her from...
Christie Pretends to Govern While Running for President (15 Jul 2014 02:36pm)
The Chris Christie administration has put out a fake movie trailer for, No Pain, No Gain. It apparently has to do with a tour Christie will be doing this summer to push for ever more cuts from public employee benefits. Ed Kilgore says that he considers himself too out of it regarding pop culture to ...
Rembrandt Over Time (15 Jul 2014 01:15pm)
Rembrandt was born 408 years ago today. Of course, we never really know about people born around that time unless they were royalty. But you know how it goes, he was born a long time ago, we pick a date and go with it because it gives us an excuse for talking about the man. But I don't really want t...
Sweet Dorothy Fields (15 Jul 2014 10:29am)
Today is unusual, because I'm kind of going to write two birthday posts. But this is the real one. Or the regular one. On this day in 1905, the great American lyricist Dorothy Fields was born. In her one way, she was as great as my favorite lyricist Lorenz Hart. And she wrote the lyrics to one of m...
Unreasonably Beautiful People (14 Jul 2014 09:56pm)
Since I seem to have been ensnared by Game of Thrones, and have given up on doing some rather pressing (and actually fun) database work, I thought I would leave you with a disturbing observation. As I have gotten older, I went through a bad period, and ended up with rather bad teeth that I work very...
Rick Santelli Slapdown (14 Jul 2014 05:24pm)
Normally, I wouldn't post something so quickly, but I just had to share this. I got it via Paul Krugman, Rick Santelli and Affinity Fraud. In the video below, Steve Liesman tells Rick Santelli that he's been ranting about the same stuff for five years—Inflation! Weak Dollar! Greece!—and ...
That's Right: I Watched Game of Thrones (14 Jul 2014 04:29pm)
I figured that it was about time that I check out Game of Thrones. So I got the Complete First Season and watched the first two episodes. These things are always nice in seeing old character actors who I admire, like Mark Addy as the king, and Iain Glen as some other guy who seemed okay until I lear...
Republican Policies Grow More Democrats (14 Jul 2014 12:56pm)
There has been a lot of talk recently about how young Americans are going to turn against the Democratic Party because the economy is so bad under President Obama. Jonathan Chait provided a good rundown of it, Teenage Republicans Still Not Happening Yet. It all started with an analysis by The New Yo...
American Aristocrat Owen Wister (14 Jul 2014 10:33am)
On this day in 1860, American aristocrat Owen Wister was born. He was born on the "storied Belfield estate in Germantown." His father was a wealthy physician and his mother was the daughter of the famous actor Fanny Kemble. When he wasn't attending school in Switzerland and England, he would hire po...
What Matters in "Ode to Billie Joe" (13 Jul 2014 09:49pm)
I find myself haunted by "Ode to Billie Joe." The weird thing about Bobbie Gentry is that she was a very good songwriter. Well, to be honest, her melodies often fell into the same patterns, but they always worked and could be quite original at times. And her lyrics were always quite strong. But noth...
Time as a Construct of Consciousness (13 Jul 2014 06:08pm)
I've kind of given up on calling myself an atheist. This is mostly just because atheists seem to hate it so much. Normally, I'd do it just for the fun of angering them. But I really do qualify. I don't believe in "God" as some being or thing or process that has any interest in me at all. In fact, I ...
Murrieta and Immigrant Hatred (13 Jul 2014 01:32pm)
I have always thought of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) as a pro-Israel lobbying group. And that's certainly not an unreasonable way to think of them. They are fiercely supportive of Israel, as I mentioned briefly a couple of days ago. But they are much more than that. I was pleased to come upon a...
Game Master Stewart Culin (13 Jul 2014 11:27am)
On this day in 1858, the great American ethnographer Stewart Culin was born. Ethnography is the study of cultures from the outside. I have long had a great interest in ethnomusicology, especially as it relates to the music in America. Mack McCormick's work in the south, for example, found amazing di...
Why Hard Working Blacks Vote Democratic (12 Jul 2014 08:20pm)
Ed Kilgore wrote an article over at Talking Points Memo, Mississippi Is Just One Piece of the GOP's African-American Problem. It's remarkable for not being at the Washington Monthly, or as I like to think of it, "A megabyte of advertising for a kilobyte of content." But given that I put up with the ...
Inequality Has Been Rising Steadily for 50 Years (12 Jul 2014 06:14pm)
Yesterday, I picked up a book, America: What Went Wrong by Donald Barlett and James Steele. The amazing thing about the book is that it was published in 1992 and yet it could have been written this year. And in fact, it is kind of like a user friendly version of Thomas Piketty's new book, Capital in...
Don't Look Back and Sneer (12 Jul 2014 02:42pm)
Last year, I wrote a rather angry article, Michelle Obama and Downton Abbey. It is well known that the First Lady is fond of the show, as I have been. But it allows people to look back at that time and say, "Oh, we are so superior!" You see, we don't treat gays and former prostitutes quite as badly ...
Modigliani, the Artists Not the Economist (12 Jul 2014 11:41am)
Tomorrow will be the economist Dean Baker's 56th birthday. Last year I wrote about that. And I sent him an email telling him. I also noted that he should consider it a great honor because it had been Modigliani the day before. He wrote back and talked about how much he admired his work. It was clear...
Class Is Not Style (11 Jul 2014 07:50pm)
We have seen already that Marxists have a problem with the idea of utopia. This is one reason why they reject the illusion that, just because chief executives nowadays might sport sneakers, listen to Rage Against the Machine and beseech their employees to call them "Cuddlykins," social class has bee...
Revolution at the Public Library (11 Jul 2014 06:37pm)
I was over at the library, just roaming around. That's the great thing about libraries and used bookstores: you never know what you'll come upon. That exists online with blogs, but not at, say, Amazon. For one thing, you don't get to browse older books. And the newer ones where you can "Look inside!...
Why Marx Was Right Review (11 Jul 2014 12:43pm)
I just read Terry Eagleton's newest book, Why Marx Was Right. It's a fascinating book and the best one that Eagleton has written in a while. It is organized in ten chapters that start with a common argument against Marx. Then he goes on to show that pretty much everything everyone thinks they know a...
Whistler Sans Mother (11 Jul 2014 09:50am)
Another day, another birthday. Lots of interesting birthdays. But do you ever just wake up in a foul mood? (One morning my wife woke up in a fowl mood and flew away!) If it weren't for caffeine, I don't know what I'd do. But it hasn't helped thus far today. So I specifically picked a birthday that w...
Don't Ask How the US Would React (10 Jul 2014 07:05pm)
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) tweeted out this image with the text, "We stand in solidarity with the people of #Israel as rockets from #Hamas-controlled #Gaza rain down on them." Okay, I understand. Of course, the ADL would stand in solidarity with the people of Israel if feather pillows were ra...
Another Libertarian Gets Trapped Talking About Practical Matters (10 Jul 2014 05:13pm)
Jonathan Chait wrote a really good article earlier this week, Libertarian Accidentally Shows How Obamacare Is Succeeding. It has to do with Peter Suderman's coverage of Obamacare over the past six months at Reason Magazine. Readers here may know of Suderman, because he's also a film "critic" who I b...
The Bill of Rights is About All Humans Not Just US Citizens (10 Jul 2014 10:42am)
I saw this sign from a protest against the kids who have fled the violence in Central America. It is literally true: the Bill of Rights applies to citizens. But of course, that's not what the sign means. It means that the Bill of Rights only applies to citizens. This is a common and totally fallacio...
Truckin' Away With Blind Boy Fuller (10 Jul 2014 09:35am)
On this day in 1907, the great blues singer and guitarist Blind Boy Fuller was born. Among blues lovers, there is such a tendency to focus on the Mississippi Delta as to think that nothing else was going on. But as I wrote about last month, Elvie Thomas and Geeshie Wiley, who were both thought to be...
Best Britney Spears Ever—and More (09 Jul 2014 06:59pm)
It's your fault America. Your the ones who like hyper-produced "cute" boys and girls performing your music. You're the ones who want all real emotion and authentic humanity taken out of your music. You are the ones who have elevated just the right reverb on the digital snare drum above songwriting c...
A Modest Proposal for Israel-Palestine (09 Jul 2014 03:15pm)
I have a modest proposal for the Israel-Palestine conflict: genocide. It's time tested. After all, if the conflict were going on 500 years ago, the Israelis would have just gone in, slaughtered all the Palestinians who weren't able to flee, and the conflict would be over. And would it really matter?...
Why Americans Don't Work Less (09 Jul 2014 12:53pm)
Dean Baker has long advocated a response to economic recessions that one never really hears about: work reductions. Suppose that there is a recession and a company decides that it needs to layoff 20% of its workforce. Instead of doing this and putting the laid-off workers on unemployment, the compan...
GOP Picks Perfect RNC Location! (09 Jul 2014 11:58am)
I don't want to hit this too hard, but it is funny as hell. The Los Angeles Times reported, Cleveland Picked to Host 2016 Republican National Convention. I've never been to Ohio, much less Cleveland. And I'm sure it's a perfectly nice city with wonderful people. And I understand: Ohio is a swing sta...
Gothic Novelist Ann Radcliffe (09 Jul 2014 10:52am)
On this day in 1764, the pioneering Gothic novelist Ann Radcliffe was born. I'll be honest, I'm not that fond of the Gothic novel. But Radcliffe had a great influence on novelists who I don't even think of as writing in this style. Part of this is because a lot of her work wasn't exactly Gothic. So ...
Why Are Libertarian Party Candidates Always Republicans? (08 Jul 2014 09:15pm)
Speaking of conservatives who lie to themselves and the world, Ed Kilgore brought my attention to something, even if he didn't note the irony, The Buses of Doom. It has to do with Bob Barr who is running for the Republican nomination for Georgia's 11th District congressional seat. "What?" you say. "...
Con Intellectuals Only Do Apologetics (08 Jul 2014 05:54pm)
I don't have a problem with people disagreeing with me. There are times that I'm wrong. Here is a really embarrassing example: Chained-CPI Madness. If you look at that article, you will notice that right at the top I note the error that I made. The point is that I may have a political ax to grind (I...
Fedoras, Libertarians, and Russell Edson (08 Jul 2014 02:09pm)
I have one final article relating to yesterday's brouhaha, but this one has nothing to do with David Weigel. I was having a nice conversation with Abenomix, and I happened to note that the grainy photo he uses (of himself I assume) would look like Sam Spade if you added a fedora. He tweeted back, "w...
Brilliant and Strange Arthur Evans (08 Jul 2014 11:47am)
On this day in 1851, the great archaeologist Arthur Evans was born. What I find fascinating about Evans is that he was an incredibly important scientist, and yet he was totally wrong in his central idea that the Minoan civilization was distinct from the Bronze Age Greeks who he thought were just a b...
Apologia for David Weigel's Apologia (07 Jul 2014 08:51pm)
Earlier today, I wrote what I thought was an unexceptional article about a David Weigel column. The only thing that worried me was that the last time I had written about Weigel, he retweeted my article announcement. The thing about this is that when I'm ragging on a public figure, I don't mean anyth...
David Weigel Tries Too Hard to Explain Away Conservative Racism (07 Jul 2014 04:10pm)
David Weigel is a smart commentator, but he really doesn't get it when it comes to racism in the Republican Party. I wrote about this before, Dave Weigel's Racist Apologetics. And I've written about it in a more general sense, Why My Father Watches Fox News. The fact that Republicans get behind peop...
Welcome to Neo-Feudalism (07 Jul 2014 02:37pm)
You probably know the idea of "creative destruction." Basically, it means that smart people come into a poorly performing company. They get rid of the dead wood—they fire people. Then the company's prices go down so that consumers have money they can spend on other things, increasing demand e...
Satchel Paige (07 Jul 2014 10:47am)
On this day in 1906, probably the great baseball pitcher ever, Satchel Paige was born. I think it's funny that after the recent steroid scandal in Major League Baseball, people were wondering what this was going to do to the hallowed baseball statistics. Yet for many decades, blacks were not allowed...
The Great Housefly Massacre (06 Jul 2014 09:54pm)
Here in Northern California, it has been very hot the last couple of weeks. And with the heat has come the houseflies. Normally, I don't notice them and I don't really care. As long as there is not one buzzing past me and distracting me, what's the big deal? But yesterday, I came into the kitchen an...
Hidden Politics Fester: Speak Up! (06 Jul 2014 08:59pm)
There's been something on my mind from a month and a half ago, and I thought I would address it. I have, what I think is a very friendly relationship with The Q-Filmcast guys. But when they did an episode of Dr Strangelove, there was a little unpleasantness—both on their blog and on Twitter. I...
Obama Is a Typical New Democrat (06 Jul 2014 03:19pm)
Jonathan Bernstein and Jonathan Chait have had a little fight. Bernstein started it by writing, Barack Obama Is a Generic Brand. Basically, all he's saying is this, "[A]lmost everything about Obama's presidency can be explained by saying he's a Democratic president." In other words, Obama has acted ...
Sylvester Stallone (06 Jul 2014 11:38am)
As you may have noticed, I'm not writing as much as usual. It isn't that I am busy. I just don't feel well. And it is a strange thing because I'm not sure if it is physical or mental. Of course, there really isn't much difference. The whole endorphin system in the body is there to help in the manage...
Disc and Track Names on Books on CD (05 Jul 2014 09:57pm)
I like books on CD. A librarian friend of mine told me recently that she had managed to make it through James Joyce's Ulysses with some cliff note and a book on CD while she read along. That struck me as a brilliant solution to reading a book I have tried to read many times over the past three decad...
Anthony Cumia and How Racism Works (05 Jul 2014 06:27pm)
Martin Longman brought my attention to the fact that, Opie and Anthony Are No More. Apparently, for almost twenty years, there has been this thing called, The Opie and Anthony Show. It's one of those shock jock shows that young men of limited intelligence think is super keen. I don't mean to paint w...
Dems Only Need a Little Help in Senate (05 Jul 2014 04:46pm)
On Thursday, I wrote, Jobs Report Good News for Senate Elections. As if reading my mind, Jonathan Bernstein responded, Sunny Jobs Report Won't Save Democrats. His argument is that if things go very badly for Obama in Ukraine, Iraq, and elsewhere, or the economy tanks, it will be very bad for the Dem...
Art, Opium, and Jean Cocteau (05 Jul 2014 12:10pm)
On this day in 1889, the great writer Jean Cocteau was born. But really, it is wrong to limit him as a writer. I have this little annoyance with Wikipedia where it will list someone as "actor, director, author, musician, and political activist." Normally, this means they are actors, once directed a ...
Me and You and Everyone We Know (04 Jul 2014 09:27pm)
The other night, I watched, Me and You and Everyone We Know. And I loved it. But it is not a typical film, so as I went to write about it, I needed some help remembering what I had been thinking. So I went to Wikipedia where I found that the consensus is, "Miranda July's debut feature is a charmingl...
American Independence Was Limited (04 Jul 2014 02:42pm)
It's Independence Day! Hooray! It's the day we got independence from England. Well, it's the day we declared independence from England. Well, it was the day that the document was ratified. It isn't even clear whether the official document was ready to be signed for another two weeks. And then it see...
Supreme Court Losing All Credibility (04 Jul 2014 11:52am)
In the long run, John Roberts is going to go down as one of the worst chief justices of the Supreme Court. I don't say that because I disagree with the rulings of the court. That's a given, even when the court isn't so skewed. The problem for Roberts' legacy is that the Court is getting totally out ...
Nathaniel Hawthorne and the Witch Trials (04 Jul 2014 10:03am)
On this day in 1804, the great American writer Nathaniel Hawthorne was born. He was a highly moralistic writer who did not have a very good view of human nature. Stylistically he seems quite modern to me, even falling into the surreal at times. For example, in The Scarlet Letter, we really don't kno...
"Independents" Don't Need a Party (03 Jul 2014 08:58pm)
Timothy Egan is a columnist for The New York Times and he is usually pretty good. But today, he wrote one of the stupidest or most disingenuous columns I've read in a long time, Declaration of Independents. It is about the growing number of so called independents. And it bemoans that fact that they ...
Jobs Report Good News for Senate Elections (03 Jul 2014 07:21pm)
As regular readers know, I am not an optimist. Most probably think me cynical and pessimistic. I don't see myself that way. I just react to reality as I find it. And sometimes, I'm really optimistic. After the first presidential debate in 2012, all my liberal friends were bummed out. So was I. But t...
Taxes and Collapsing Bridges (03 Jul 2014 02:59pm)
In a short blog post, The Great Disinvestment, Paul Krugman noted, "[I]t's absurd that the federal gasoline tax has been flat in nominal terms since 1993, which means that in real terms it has fallen 40 percent." That really struck me because it so highlights the results of the Republican Party's a...
Franz Kafka and the War on Drugs (03 Jul 2014 11:34am)
On this day in 1883, the great writer Franz Kafka was born. He was the kind of guy you would expect: shy, alienated, intellectual. He was educated and spent most of his adult life working as an insurance claims adjuster. But he always saw himself as a writer and even quit a job in order to give hims...
Hobby Lobby: Not About Religious Freedom (02 Jul 2014 08:22pm)
I always thought that Cosmopolitan was just a silly fashion magazine. But I'll admit, I have never so much as looked inside an issue. Then today, Digby linked to an article by Jill Filipovic, Hobby Lobby Supporters Insist Decision Isn't Sexist, Tell Women to Close Their Legs. It's one of the best th...
Reps Need Good Ideas Not New Ones (02 Jul 2014 05:10pm)
Earlier today, Paul Krugman wrote a very interesting article, Trick or Tweak. It's basically about the new Republican policy book Room to Grow, although it isn't mentioned by name. As he noted, "More specifically, the 'reform conservatives' seem mainly to be offering supposedly new ideas for the sak...
Christoph Willibald Gluck (02 Jul 2014 12:11pm)
On this day in 1714, Christoph Willibald Gluck was born. We know him simply as Gluck and he was a great composer. But we remember him because he was an enormously important opera composer. Although he had many patrons who required various things of him as a composer, his output is overwhelmingly ope...
The Wisdom of Seneca (01 Jul 2014 10:05pm)
Something I hate is how people expect philosophers to live up to their philosophies. Usually, people's disappointment comes down to a fundamental misunderstanding of the philosophy. That's certainly the case with Arthur Schopenhauer, who many people think should have killed himself. But it's also tr...
Immigration Reform Won't Help Reps (01 Jul 2014 05:12pm)
More and more, I find myself feeling like Louise on Bob's Burgers, "Am I going crazy?!" You may remember back in the lead up to the Iraq War, the McClatchy newspapers were providing excellent coverage of the case for war. And they were finding that most of what the Bush administration was saying was...
Ann Coulter Confuses Her Sex Life With Soccer (01 Jul 2014 02:02pm)
Unlike most liberals, I "get" Ann Coulter. She is fairly smart, actually has a good sense of humor, and knows what she is: a provocateur. She's also vile and politically pretty much a fascist. She's nationalistic, anti-diversity, and she fetishizes "strength" and "power." But like me, last week she ...
Film Pioneer Alice Guy (01 Jul 2014 11:11am)
I am often reminded of something that D W Griffith said about his innovative film making. It was more or less that he didn't see himself as innovating. He was just trying to tell stories. I think that's generally true of artists. Very few people see themselves as pushing an art form in new direction...
Public Confidence Doesn't Mean Much (30 Jun 2014 08:43pm)
Since 1991, Gallup has been polling people on their opinions about the three branches of government: the Supreme Court, Congress, and the presidency. Today, it published data showing that the number of people who have confidence in the Supreme Court is at its lowest level ever: just 30%. This is sti...
SCOTUS Says Not All Religions Are Equal (30 Jun 2014 06:47pm)
Last week, with the unanimous decisions, I thought, "Oh God! That was probably done to make the coming highly controversial 5-4 decisions more acceptable." That looks like it is the case. I assume that it is John Roberts who decides when decisions are released. And it should dispel any idea that you...
Con Claims "Epistemic Closure" As His Own (30 Jun 2014 04:25pm)
Seth Masket calls out Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry for his article, Vox, Derp, and the Intellectual Stagnation of the Left. Masket is making a broader point about what the people at Vox (or even Frankly Curious) are doing. So he argues that Vox is not some kind of insular liberal love-fest, but rather a pu...
Acuphilia: More Exciting Than You Know (30 Jun 2014 01:42pm)
This image is from the television movie Terry Pratchett's Going Postal, which really is a fine rending of Pratchett's work. In fact, I might even say better than his books, but I haven't read this particular book. Anyway, an element of the film is that people collect pins, much as actual people in ...
Don James Goldman (30 Jun 2014 06:09am)
I am still away from home, but I will be back later today and we'll get back to normal around here! I have been working in and around the Bay Area this weekend, and it was Gay Pride weekend. That's all fine, but the whole thing has turned from what was once an important political event to a great bi...
Ray Harryhausen (29 Jun 2014 06:03am)
On this day in 1920, the great, great, great special effects artist Ray Harryhausen was born. He is best remembered for his films Jason and the Argonauts and Clash of the Titans. His work holds up surprisingly well in this world of computer animation where literally anything can be done. Something t...
Peter Paul Rubens (28 Jun 2014 08:32am)
I have to go away for more testing of my high tech project. So there will be limited posting this weekend. Last year on this day, I did Richard Rodgers, one of the great heroes of my youth. And if I had more time today, I would do the theoretical physicist Maria Goeppert-Mayer. But I just feel too r...
Police Can't but Boss Can Invade Your Privacy (27 Jun 2014 09:11pm)
This last week was pretty good regarding the Supreme Court. As I reported on Wednesday, the Court found that the police could not just search the phones of people they arrest. They have to have a search warrant. But the same day, Corey Robin noted that, Supreme Court rules: the Government Can't Sear...
Fighting Global Warming Helps the Economy (27 Jun 2014 04:52pm)
You all know how much we love reform conservatives around here, right? Or at least, you know how much we would love them if they existed. One of the people who claims to be for reforming the Republican Party but always comes up with a reason why actually, the Republican Party is just fine, is Ross D...
Eric Cantor on Eric Cantor (27 Jun 2014 12:38pm)
From obstructing a jobs bill to put Americans back to work in 2011, to derailing gun control measures any time they reached my desk, I feel blessed to have had such an incredible run of preventing productive policies, and even a few pieces of landmark legislation, from ever passing... Of course, I'm...
Two Problems With Hierarchical Class (27 Jun 2014 11:46am)
In New York Magazine Jim Rutenberg has written a profile of disgraced and redemed Representative Mark Sanford, Path of Most Resistance. I'm sure you remember Sanford, who while governor of South Carolina disappeared. It was claimed that he was hiking the Appalachian Trail but was really just having ...
Paul Laurence Dunbar (27 Jun 2014 09:45am)
On this day in 1872, the writer Paul Laurence Dunbar was born. I am fascinated with the stories of African Americans after the Civil War. They were a particularly hungry people, socially and culturally—especially concerned about making better lives for their children. Both Dunbar's parents had...
Conservatives Will Never Get Over Obamacare (26 Jun 2014 07:40pm)
Regular readers know that I'm a fan of Jonathan Chait's writing. It isn't so much that he's insightful. He is, of course, often quite insightful. He is also, however, pigheaded about a few issues that he just can't seem to get his head around. But what I most appreciate is his sense of humor and his...
The Daily Show Fails on IRS—Again (26 Jun 2014 06:32pm)
The Tuesday night, I was very displeased with The Daily Show. Jon Stewart discussed the IRS non-scandal. I thought it was very typical of his occasional hit jobs on the Democrats, which he does apparently because he feels the need to keep his credibility. Although truly, it wasn't so much a hit job ...
"Ticking Bomb" Torture Hypothetical (26 Jun 2014 02:57pm)
For a long time, I've had a problem with the "ticking time bomb" hypothetical used by torture apologists. Basically, it is a way to argue against a categorical ban on torture. The argument goes something like this: Imagine you have a terrorist in your custody who has knowledge of a nuclear bomb in ...
Brave Is Kind of a Mess but Enjoyable (26 Jun 2014 12:12pm)
Last night I watched the 2012 animated feature Brave. It is what it is. Visually it is stunning. But it's curious. Much of the background animation could be mistaken for live action. The rendering of a waterfall was absolutely fantastic. But then in that environment exist all the characters who by a...
We'll Always Have Peter Lorre (26 Jun 2014 10:13am)
On this day in 1904, Peter Lorre was born. I once had this boss who had worked in television. I had mentioned Lorre for some reason and she dismissed him out of hand, "Oh, he was married eight times!" I believed her, in part because I'm gullible. But also, it just seemed like Lorre would be the kind...
My First, My Last, My Privacy! (25 Jun 2014 08:01pm)
I hate to write about two judicial case in the same day, but what am I going to do? The Supreme Court did something really good. I have to say, a lot of the time, I figure Samuel Alito listens to a case. Then he meets with his team and says, "How can we view this case so that it hurts the maximum nu...
The Spencer Collins Library Controversy (25 Jun 2014 05:07pm)
Will forwarded me an article I have extremely mixed feeling about, Kansas Boy Forced to Remove Little Free Library From His Yard. Nine-year-old Spencer Collins created a little library in his front year. His grandfather built a small structure to house the books and the policy is: give a book and t...
Who'd a Thought: Due Process in the US! (25 Jun 2014 03:53pm)
Would you like some good news for a change of pace? Well I got news for you: I provide you with plenty of good news around here, like how Kagemusha is a great film and the meaning of Jade's Trick in Shakespeare. But if by "news" you mean "political news" or "news of the day," well, I have some of th...
Kagemusha Is a Great Film, Of Course (25 Jun 2014 12:54pm)
I recently watched Akira Kurosawa's film Kagemusha. It is one of his films that gets neglected—at least by me. I think I've watched it once since seeing it in the theater when it was first released. But as I was watching it, I got really excited. I thought, "This is the best Kurosawa film!" An...
June Lockhart (25 Jun 2014 10:01am)
Another day, another birthday post. Last year I did George Orwell, although I actually talked more about the composer Francesco Araja. I feel my life adrift except that I have a birthday post to write each morning. I used to hate doing them, now they seem like the easiest part of my day. It's actual...
DVD Commentaries as Film Studies (24 Jun 2014 05:58pm)
A couple of days ago, I was commenting on The Q Filmcast episode on Ichi the Killer after writing my own review of sorts. In the crew, I think of James Savage as the intellectual. He was, for example, the one who made them watch Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. (Have I mentioned that I've made...
Obama Is Too Weak for Mercy (24 Jun 2014 03:21pm)
It is not the case that Dick Cheney has been able to go everywhere in the media and complain about Obama's policy on Iraq without push back. Most notably, on Fox News, Megyn Kelly said to Cheney, "You said there were no doubts that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction. You said we would be...
The Devil and Ambrose Bierce (24 Jun 2014 10:20am)
On this day in 1842, the great writer Ambrose Bierce was born. Like most writers of most times, he wrote a lot of different stuff. He was especially known in his own time for his short fiction—especially ghost and war stories. Today, he is known for his satire, especially, The Devil's Dictiona...
How I Discovered Jules Shear (23 Jun 2014 11:15pm)
I was shocked recently when frequent commenter JMF did not know who Jules Shear was. He's a really well informed guy on most things that matter. So I followed up his comment with a few of Shear's songs. And I started with the first song of his that I had ever heard, "Lovers By Rote" off the first Ju...
Blindness of the Upper Middle Class Journalist (23 Jun 2014 09:45pm)
I have something else to say about Will Bunch. Writing in 2008, he has two big problems with the modern Republican Party: budget deficits and global warming. These are, of course, the great concerns of the upper middle class journalist. He may work out of Philadelphia, but there is a fair amount of ...
Democrats Must Stop Believing the Reagan Myth (23 Jun 2014 08:42pm)
It's been well over a month since I started reading Will Bunch's Tear Down This Myth. It's an important book and I learned a few things from it. But I come at it from the perspective that Presidents are not very important when it comes to the things we give them the most credit for. In the case of b...
More Idiocy from Chris Matthews (23 Jun 2014 01:41pm)
Jonathan Chait offered up a snarky little article this morning, Chris Matthews Goes Tea Party on Elizabeth Warren. What happened was that Matthews was complaining that Washington wasn't getting the things done that she things should get done. He said things like, "You're blaming it on the Republican...
All That Fosse (23 Jun 2014 10:13am)
Last year, I wrote, Apologies to Alan Turing for the birthday post. It's interesting that his birthday comes just a day after another computer pioneer, Konrad Zuse. But when talking about Turing, I can never seem to get into the work that he did. He was so badly abused by our culture. It is sad. I n...
Ichi the Killer Is Silly But Not Fun (22 Jun 2014 07:52pm)
Somehow, the Q Filmcast guys sort of challenged me to watch, Ichi the Killer. Michael tweeted to me, "Have you seen ICHI? You may need some help sorting this one out Frank." And followed it up with, "Yes, just to hear you attempt to make sense of it would be marvelous." Now, I was deceived, but it w...
Programmable Computers and Konrad Zuse (22 Jun 2014 09:28am)
It's quite a day for birthdays, as you can see from last year's post, The Private Life of Billy Wilder. In particular, three women are retiring today: Meryl Streep, Lindsay Wagner, and Elizabeth Warren. But none of the people really inspired me. And talking about Freddie Prinze (who died at just 22)...
Chaney, Goodman, and Schwerner 50 Years Later (21 Jun 2014 07:32pm)
Fifty years ago tonight, three American civil rights workers with the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) were murdered in Neshoba County. They were, of course, James Earl Chaney, Andrew Goodman, and Michael Schwerner. They had just left the Philadelphia, Mississippi city limits when they were pulled...
Good English Dubbing in Bicycle Thieves (21 Jun 2014 05:38pm)
I have written about Bicycles Thieves before, Mercy and Justice in The Bicycle Thieves. You should read it, because it is short and it gets to the core of what is so great about the film. I conclude, "Life goes on. Justice is denied. And we feast on the crumbs of each other's mercy." I think most pe...
Did Bush Win Political Capital in 2004? (21 Jun 2014 12:18pm)
For ten years, this has been bugging me. After the 2004 presidential election, Bush the Younger said, "I earned capital in the political campaign and I intend to spend it." Now, for years I've been arguing that, Political Capital is a Myth. But people talk about it all the time and I don't get upset...
Thankful for Henry Ossawa Tanner (21 Jun 2014 10:00am)
It would be fun to write about Mary McCarthy today, given her decades long argument with Lillian Hellman. But regardless that McCarthy was the more serious political thinker, Hellman was the great writer. In a hundred years, people will still be performing The Children's Hour, while McCarthy will be...
Plots Are Excuses for Hanging Out in the Writer's Reality (20 Jun 2014 09:33pm)
Right now I am listing Aimee Mann's song "Frankenstein." It's kind of strange because I watched Frankenstein and then Bride of Frankenstein just last night. Well, it isn't that strange. I watch those films a lot. If I like a film, I'll watch it over and over again. But I don't bring the song up beca...
I Am the Swampman (20 Jun 2014 07:44pm)
I have said it many times before and I stand by it, "It is more important to be interesting than to be right." It just so happens that usually, the most uninteresting people are wrong most of the time. This is because uninteresting people just think the same things over and over. Take Dick Cheney. D...
Small Victory for Homeless in Venice (20 Jun 2014 05:55pm)
People don't seem to understand that it isn't 1830 anymore. You can't just, "Go west, young man!" Thus I find laws that attempt to limit the options of the homeless far beyond heartless (Which they certainly are!) and all the way to brainless. In 1983, the City of Los Angeles passed a law that stat...
America Versus "America" (20 Jun 2014 11:27am)
Infidel753 brought my attention to this David Cross video. Watch it and then we'll talk: This is an issue that I've written about quite a lot. We saw a related phenomenon at the 2012 RNC when Clint Eastwood showed us that when conservatives talk about Obama, they mean an imaginary one that doesn't...
Lillian Hellman (20 Jun 2014 09:28am)
On this day in 1905, the great playwright Lillian Hellman was born. I was kind of amazed that on the Wikipedia page, well over half of the overview section about her discussed not just her blacklisting by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HCUA), but the fact that she really did lie at t...
K-Tel Classics: Bush Years! (19 Jun 2014 07:09pm)
This week over at The Nation Reed Richardson wrote, The Beltway Media Gets the Iraq War Band Back Together. It's a good article and well worth reading. But I was struck with something specific he wrote. He noted that it was like deja vu from 2002. "The experience is almost reminiscent of those old, ...
Chris Christie to be Indicted? (19 Jun 2014 05:39pm)
I don't hate Chris Christie because he's fat. I actually feel sorry for people who are fat. To a large extent, I don't think they have too much choice. Although I will admit, Christie allowing his weight to get as out of control as it did doesn't speak especially well of him. But I have the same kin...
"Meritocracy" and the Geico Gecko (19 Jun 2014 01:59pm)
I have nothing against Chelsea Clinton. In fact, when she was growing up, I felt a bit sorry for her. The modern right-wing media echo chamber had only just come of age and its hatred of the Clintons went all the way down to the young girl. As I remember it, Rush Limbaugh seemed to take some relish ...
Some Decent Songs in Frozen (19 Jun 2014 10:05am)
I just watched Frozen. It's about what you would expect. Well, that's not exactly true. The script was certainly far less carefully crafted than most animated features. And it does seem to be falling into what seems to be a trend in animation: plot padding. There is far too much action for action's ...
Oh How Nick Drake Come and Go (19 Jun 2014 09:01am)
On this day in 1948, the great singer-songwriter Nick Drake was born. He was a very depressed guy. This has special meaning to me, because most people think of me as a depressed person. This is not especially true. What I am is an extremely anxious person. But having been on anti-anxiety medication ...
Redskins as Pejorative (18 Jun 2014 06:00pm)
Speaking of football, Jonathan Bernstein has long been making the argument that the Washington Redskins should change their name simply based on the issue of etiquette. This isn't to say that there aren't a whole lot of other issues, but you don't even need to go there. The Native American community...
You Don't Care about World Football (18 Jun 2014 02:54pm)
Every day for the past week or so, Google has had a new Doodle about the World Cup. And that's fine, because Google serves the world and the world is crazy for what they rightly call football and we call soccer because what we call football should really be renamed, "The boring homoerotic game where...
Timothy Geithner Lies With Graphs Too (18 Jun 2014 12:08pm)
I noticed something interesting in Dean Baker's vicious but fair review, Stress Test: The Indictment of Timothy Geithner. It is a long and detailed review going point by point over how Geithner is nothing more than a hired gun for the banks who didn't didn't give two bits for actual homeowners or th...
Why Angel Heart Is an Important Film (18 Jun 2014 10:01am)
Alan Parker is one of my favorite film directors. Unlike most film directors who are often great in their own ways, Parker is an artist. I don't think it is any surprise that he directed two of the best filmed musicals ever: Pink Floyd—The Wall and Evita. And that's not even counting Fame and ...
Paul McCartney Is 8 Years Past 64 (18 Jun 2014 02:24am)
I hate to say it, but Paul McCartney is 72 today. There is something about him as a human being that I just don't like. He strikes me as arrogant in a way that annoys me. But he has reason to be. He is an excellent pop singer. But above all, he is one of the greatest pop songwriters ever. This reall...
Who Mourns for Cursive? (17 Jun 2014 04:54pm)
Sometimes I think that Ramona Grigg of Ramona's Voices exists just to annoy me. Don't get me wrong. I love her work. Look over there on the right under "Friends": she's there. But there are so many versions of her that I find myself constantly getting confused. For some time, Google+ kept telling me...
Gun Lobby: Profits Before People! (17 Jun 2014 02:53pm)
Where this photo comes from is a bit of a complicated story, and if you want the details, you can go to my sources, David Atkins' article, Two of the Most Heartbreaking Photos You Will See All Year. The picture of two of the fathers of boys involved in the Isla Vista killings—one of the perpe...
"Uncertainty" Not Holding Back Hiring (17 Jun 2014 12:02pm)
Dean Baker is back with another one of those great snarky headlines, Is Uncertainty Delaying Hiring or Is This Just Another Make Work Project for People Who Write About the Economy? This is the ultimate zombie idea: it has been killed countless times but just keeps shambling on. Apparently, it is ba...
More Republican Delay on Global Warming (17 Jun 2014 10:19am)
Here's a question for you, what has saved more lives: condoms or new AIDS drugs? That's a rhetorical question unless you are a complete idiot. As the saying goes: an ounce of prevention is worth of pound of cure. But I think the weights are off. It ought to be more like, "A gram of prevention is wor...
The Evolution of M C Escher (17 Jun 2014 09:29am)
On this day in 1898, the great lithographer Maurits Cornelis Escher was born. As a young man, he was sickly in ways that I don't like to think about. In college, for example, he failed some of his courses because of skin infections. Nonetheless, he seemed to get past this, attract a wife, have child...
Let's Send Paul Wolfowitz to Iraq! (16 Jun 2014 07:12pm)
The fact that things are going badly in Iraq would not normally be news in the United States. In a fundamental sense, it is not news regardless. The Shiite and the Sunnis are fighting? That's not surprising. And this is a reality that knowledgeable observers warned about when we decided to invade th...
US Healthcare Number 1—in Cost (16 Jun 2014 05:06pm)
Sarah Kliff over at Vox wrote an excellent article, Five Ways the American Health Care System Is Literally the Worst. It is based upon a new Commonwealth Fund report that is based upon three different report looking at the healthcare system from the perspectives of sick people, healthy people, and d...
Teacher Tenure Case a Farce (16 Jun 2014 01:57pm)
You probably have heard about Judge Rolf Treu finding that California teacher tenure was unconstitutional because it violated the students' equal rights to a good education. What is hilarious about this is that students in Calfornia do not have equal rights to a good education regardless. School fun...
Geronimo and the European Invasion (16 Jun 2014 10:30am)
Last year's birthday post was really good. With interesting things to say about the painter John Linnell, novelist Erich Segal (but mostly the whole Al Gore thing), and economist Adam Smith. Humility has never been a great gift of mine, so I highly recommend clicking over. As you may remember, last ...
The Lime in Harry Nilsson (15 Jun 2014 06:06am)
On this day in 1941, the great singer-songwriter Harry Nilsson was born. He was an amazing talent, known primarily for the song "Everybody's Talkin'," which was uncharacteristically not written by him. All my life I thought it was a song by Glen Campbell. So for years I was looking for records of Ca...
Inflation Will Continue to be Low (14 Jun 2014 06:26pm)
Jared Bernstein put together the great graph below that shows the rate at which wages are going up, Wage Mash Up: No Pressure, No Matter How You Cook It. What it shows is that wages are barely going up. The rate before the financial crisis was twice as high and even during the recession of the early...
The Father of Modern Geology (14 Jun 2014 05:02pm)
On this day in 1726, the great geologist James Hutton was born. Like most scientists of that time, he worked a large number of fields. But he is most remembered for his work in geology. He is often referred to as the "Father of Modern Geology." He came up with the idea of uniformitarianism. This is...
Off to the Valley! (13 Jun 2014 08:59pm)
My other lives have been very busy the last week, thus the slowdown in production here. And now I must go out of town for a few days. So there probably won't be a lot going on here. But the reason I'm going away is to test the high tech device I've been working on with my brilliant young Russian par...
Cato Sucks but PERC Does Good Work (13 Jun 2014 08:08pm)
Something I really hate is when a website allows you to write a comment with paragraph breaks, but when it's published, everything gets pushed together in one long paragraph. Such is the case with Google when you do reviews of websites. You can do that when you search for a big website on Google. Yo...
Right Wing Media Rarely Correct Erroneous Reports (13 Jun 2014 06:09pm)
Jonathan Chait made an interesting point today, Today's Obamacare Non-Train-Wreck News. One of the many Obamacare scare stories was about how after the exchanges got going, the insurance companies would see that they were losing money (or whatever) and would head for the hills. Of course, exactly th...
Unemployment Is Critical Factor in Presidential Races (13 Jun 2014 02:29pm)
I've gotten to the point where I would like to see if I can get some articles published at a higher level—places like Washington Monthly. Nothing too big, but a lot bigger than Frankly Curious. And so I'm working on some longer articles with original research. As part of that, I've been readin...
Physicist and Poet James Clerk Maxwell (13 Jun 2014 11:28am)
On this day in 1831, the physicist James Clerk Maxwell was born. He is one of the "big three" in physics, along with Newton and Einstein. He died of abdominal cancer at the young age of 48, yet he did an amazing amount of work. There are three fundamental things that he did: color analysis, statisti...
Other Problems With Racism (12 Jun 2014 08:31pm)
In this article, I'm talking about individual racism—the feelings that we all have toward others who we don't see as our tribe or whatever. I focus on African Americans, because I think that's the biggest problem in this nation and the biggest problem for me, having grown up among a lot of whi...
Anne Frank's Writer's Soul (12 Jun 2014 03:14am)
On this day in 1929, Anne Frank was born. Had she not been murdered at the age of 15, she would be 85 today. I figure that she would be alive to celebrate that birthday, because she had good genes. Her father Otto Frank lived to be 91 years old—the only family member to survive the Holocaust. ...
The Genius Ecosystem (11 Jun 2014 09:33pm)
Some time ago, a friend of mine asked me if I thought I was a genius. She was interested because her husband, who is in many ways like me, was going through a tough time and she was trying to get a better understanding of him. I'm not sure of the specifics, but it is definitely my experience that pe...
My Advice to Jack Trammell (11 Jun 2014 03:35pm)
Dave Brat is the guy who beat Eric Cantor yesterday in the Virginia District 7 House primary election. Afterwards, he was talking to Chuck Todd who asked him about a raise in the minimum wage. Brat then proceeded to waffle and do the usual libertarian move of obfuscating. Todd asked, "Where are you ...
Perfect "Potato Pancakes" (11 Jun 2014 12:44pm)
I find myself in the unusual position of not being interested in writing anything here. It is probably that I am badly in need of a vacation, but at $300 per night at the Timber Cove Inn, I just can't afford it. You see, my manic-depressive cycle has turned down. What are you going to do? I don't mi...
Richard Strauss, Not to Be Confused With (11 Jun 2014 10:25am)
On this day in 1864, the great composer Richard Strauss was born. It is hard to exactly place his music as he straddles a very turbulent period of music history. But before we get to talking about him, we need to talk about 2001: A Space Odyssey. Yes, the theme (if you will) of the film is Also spra...
How Eric Cantor's Loss is a Win for Him and America (10 Jun 2014 07:39pm)
I guess I won't have Eric Cantor to kick around anymore. As a politician, he has definitely been the enemy. He's a bad guy, working to make the country worse. But he's especially noteworthy for being smarmy. Now a lot of politicians are smarmy, but he really made it into an art—he was certainl...
Unpublishable Narcissism (10 Jun 2014 06:24pm)
There are only two works of fiction that I spend any time at all working on these days. The first is the video series "The Post-Postmodern Comedy Hour." And it is a very sad. Because nothing I've ever written works as well. Nothing I've ever written so encapsulates who I am as a person. It is sort o...
Tim Geithner: Grifter of the Power Elite (10 Jun 2014 12:49pm)
Last week, Matt Stoller wrote an excellent review of Stress Test, Tim Geithner's new book, The Con-Artist Wing of the Democratic Party. That headline is not an exaggeration; that's truly what he thinks of Geithner. Basically, he's making an argument that should be very familiar to my readers: about ...
Ants, God, and E O Wilson (10 Jun 2014 10:51am)
The great biologist E O Wilson is 85 years old today. He is controversial because of his work in sociobiology. This is the idea that social behavior is evolutionarily determined—at least in part. This comes out of his study of ants and their social behavior. It seems to me that rejecting this ...
Mike Lee's "Busy" Year (09 Jun 2014 09:13pm)
Derek Willis over at The Upshot had a little fun at Congress' expense, Do-Nothing Congress? These Members Did Something (Annual Reports). Since Congress doesn't really pass any legislation and since earmarks are gone, it's hard for our representatives in Congress to show that they've actually been w...
Elvie Thomas and Geeshie Wiley (09 Jun 2014 06:47pm)
For many years, I have been fascinated by the blue duo Elvie Thomas and Geeshie Wiley. They recorded a handful of songs in 1930 that are classics to people like me who love all that old blues music from the Mississippi Delta. (But read on.) In addition to it being really unique in that here you hav...
Conservatives Think Communism Is One Election Away (09 Jun 2014 03:34pm)
Paul Waldman asked a great question over at The Plum Line today, How Much Does Right-Wing Rhetoric Contribute to Right-Wing Terrorism? He's very careful not to ruffle any feathers by claiming that people like Michele Bachmann are actually culpable, "But what I am saying is this: there are some parti...
Revelation Predicted Muhammad?! (09 Jun 2014 12:52pm)
I just happened upon an email that has apparently been bouncing around since before Obama was even elected president, The Book of Revelation Describes the Anti-Christ as Someone With Characteristics Matching Those of Barack Obama. I know, I know: crazy right wing conspiracies are nothing new. I susp...
La Chanteuse Barbara (09 Jun 2014 10:38am)
On this day in 1930, the great singer-songwriter Monique Andree Serf, better known as simply "Barbara," was born. She was a French Jew who had to hide out during the Nazi occupation of the country, and overall had a pretty bad childhood. She later became a cabaret singer. But it was not until she st...
Ultimately Obama Will Be Judged on the Economy (08 Jun 2014 09:51pm)
Jonathan Chait has published a nice little pick-me-up for discouraged Democrats, Obama Promised to Do 4 Big Things As President. Now He's Done Them All. The four big things are: economic recovery, healthcare reform, climate change, and education reform. Barring the courts interfering with the new po...
Support James Risen and Press Freedom (08 Jun 2014 08:32pm)
Normally, I do not go in for pure advocacy, but this really struck me. Even after Attorney General Eric Holder said that no reporters would go to jail for not revealing a source, it looks very much like The New York Times reporter James Risen is set to go to jail for not revealing a source. This is ...
Problems With Split Screens (08 Jun 2014 06:05pm)
There are two reasons that I don't understand anonymous blogging and both of them act as reasons for blogging anonymously. First, I'm a narcissist. Writing is an extension of me and I can't imagine doing it without getting credit for it, even though I mostly do it to please myself. Second, I'm an id...
Power Abuse by the Power Elite (08 Jun 2014 04:21pm)
Power concedes nothing without a demand. It never did and it never will. Find out just what any people will quietly submit to and you have found out the exact measure of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them, and these will continue till they are resisted with either words or blows, or...
A Trip to Hell With Jan Frans De Boever (08 Jun 2014 11:04am)
On this day in 1872, the great Flemish Symbolist painter Jan Frans De Boever was born. I don't know much about him, even though he was very popular in his own time. He is probably best know for illustrating French Symbolist writer Charles Baudelaire's Les Fleurs du Mal (The Flowers of Evil). Both me...
Casablanca Is Not a Great Film (07 Jun 2014 10:21pm)
In 1992, I went to the Cinema 21 in Portland, Oregon to see Casablanca. It was the 50th anniversary release of the film and the place was packed. I had never seen the film in the theater, so that was very nice. But I remember walking out afterwards, and hearing a guy say, "I never knew it was such a...
Matt Continetti and the Conservative Id (07 Jun 2014 06:46pm)
Ed Kilgore brought my attention to a rant by Matt Continetti in the Washington Free Beacon, Dialing It In. Basically, Continetti is upset that President Obama is continuing to have a good time and not spending all his time wringing his hands about all the fake scandals that Fox News and idiot writer...
Bernard Frouchtben at the Antiques Roadshow (07 Jun 2014 02:32pm)
The Antiques Roadshow is an interesting operation. They stagger the people going to it and there is an enormous army of people who come. It really is nothing more than a place that people can come to get instant appraisals of work. If there is anything particularly interesting, they take you to thei...
The Progression of Paul Gauguin (07 Jun 2014 05:01am)
On this day in 1848, the great painter Paul Gauguin was born. As a human being, he was troubled. It isn't surprising that he was close to Vincent van Gogh. So I think we can look past the fact that he lived a questionable life, most especially in Tahiti. But let me just yield the point that Gauguin ...
Out of the Office (06 Jun 2014 07:25pm)
Just a quick note to tell you that I'm going to be gone all day tomorrow. I am off to the Antiques Roadshow, where I am most definitely not looking forward to standing in line most of the day. But it is a good opportunity. There will, of course, be a birthday post in the morning. I know that, becau...
David Brooks: Obama Was Right—Except (06 Jun 2014 04:49pm)
Normally, I just pass by articles by David Brooks, because really, what is the point? But this one was pure click bait with the title, President Obama Was Right. It was, of course, about Sgt Bowe Bergdahl. And the middle of it is really quite good. It is an excellent example of why most liberals giv...
Bernard Frouchtben's War Painting (06 Jun 2014 01:44pm)
My father is a construction contractor, but not the kind you probably think of when you hear the term. He actually built houses and small apartment buildings all alone, except for subcontractors for plumbing and electrical as well as the occasional helper (including me). And during a remodel of a ve...
Ada Rehan, Shaw, and Shakespeare (06 Jun 2014 10:51am)
Last night, I read a review of a production of As You Like It in 1897. It was written by George Bernard Shaw and the focus was on Ada Rehan in the part of Rosalind. He's very fond her. I would even go so far as to say that he might have a bit of a crush on her. But much of the review is about how he...
Nathan Hale's One Life (06 Jun 2014 09:27am)
You may remember back a couple of years that Eric Cantor celebrated Labor Day by tweeting out, "Today, we celebrate those who have taken a risk, worked hard, built a business and earned their own success." It really was a shocking thing, but it tells you everything you need to know about the modern ...
It Puts the Skin on the Book (05 Jun 2014 08:41pm)
It rubs the lotion on its skin or else it gets the hose again. I don't want to write this article. But I think I have to say something. You may remember the movie The Silence of the Lambs. In it, a serial killer by the name of "Buffalo Bill" is skinning women, trying to make his own suit of skin. T...
"Pro-Growth" Policy Produce Poor States (05 Jun 2014 05:28pm)
The Tax Foundation has put together a great map that looks at how much of each state's total operating budget comes from federal government aid. But before we get to it, let me lay out a few things. One is that it is not exactly fair that states are compared in this way, because people move. For exa...
The Nice Side of All Deserving to Die (05 Jun 2014 03:10pm)
There is one criticism of the music in Sweeney Todd—and more generally with everything that Stephen Sondheim has written: the lyrics are so dense that it is very easy to miss them. I was just taking a break and listening to the song "Epiphany." I quite like the song, the melody is lovely and t...
The Coal Misdirection (05 Jun 2014 11:31am)
Dean Baker wrote a great article yesterday, Why Do the Media Give So Much More Attention to Jobs We Lose Due to Environmental Restrictions Than Jobs We Lose Because of the Trade Deficit? And he actually answers half the question. I answer the rest. The issue is that in the entire United States, the...
John Maynard Keynes—Again (05 Jun 2014 09:10am)
On this day in 1883, the great economist John Maynard Keynes was born. Last year, I spent most of the time complaining about how this depression we are still in was in no fundamental sense different from the Great Depression, yet policy makers were determined to ignore everything we learned from Key...
California's Stupid Top Two Primaries (04 Jun 2014 11:39pm)
Ed Kilgore is right to noted that here in California we have a really stupid primary process, Top Two Follies. Because of a stupid voter approved change in the California Constitution, there are no more party primaries. Everyone is just on the ballot and the two candidates who get the most votes run...
Ken Burns' Cold War The War (04 Jun 2014 09:25pm)
After suffering through little bits of The World Wars, I picked up Ken Burns' documentary, The War. I'd heard great things about it, but I didn't even get half way through the first episode. Maybe it's just that I'm in a bad mood. Or it could be that it is so much not what I expected. I mean, the th...
Conservatives Just Hate Everything Obama Does (04 Jun 2014 04:36pm)
I just got back from work and I am exhausted. But I happened across a bit of Fox News and I saw Charles Krauthammer talking about what a bad precedent Bergdahl sets and how Israel had to release over a thousand terrorists for one guy. At first I thought, "Yeah, and that was a deal that the Israelis ...
Can We Wait About Bowe Bergdahl? (04 Jun 2014 10:35am)
Charlie Savage and Andrew Lehren over at The New York Times wrote a really interesting article yesterday, Can Bowe Bergdahl Be Tied to 6 Lost Lives? Facts Are Murky. Through this whole thing, I've tried to stay away, because it is more of a technical matter. I've never been in the military and I don...
Abstract Expressionist Fernand Leduc (04 Jun 2014 09:15am)
Okay, I'll bite. You see, I have a bit of a problem. Last year, for the birthday post, I did Rosalind Russell. And I would do her again this year. The problem is that wasn't the only time I've written about her. She is one of the great crushes of my life. I have such a crush on her, that I have a re...
Networks, Phones, and Black Magic (03 Jun 2014 11:46pm)
Well folks, sometimes other things intrude on my normal life stuck here in front of this computer screen. Today, it was a rather large "emergency" project for a company that found the network and phone system in their new office not working. I love that kind of work. It's always exciting to troubles...
Hopeless Search for Honest Conservative (03 Jun 2014 01:36pm)
There is a term that I've been using for a long time, and last week at The Nation in an article There Are No More Honest Conservatives, So Stop Looking For One, Rick Perlstein used it, "No more affirmative action for conservatives." Actually, I've stopped using the term, because "affirmative action"...
Coal Is About Profits Not Workers (03 Jun 2014 11:08am)
Dean Baker wrote another one of those blog posts, If Kentucky Is a Coal Mining State Is it Also a Heavy and Civil Engineering Construction State? What he's getting out is that The New York Times (although they are hardly alone), refers to Kentucky as a "coal state." But the entire coal industry in t...
Traitor Jefferson Davis (03 Jun 2014 09:38am)
It is such a difficult choice for birthdays today. Last year I wrote about Allen Ginsberg. It's Memphis Minnie's birthday, but I'm planning to write about Elvie Thomas and Geeshie Wiley later today. I was seriously considering Chuck Barris who is 85 today. He is such a genius and yet also responsibl...
How I Voted Today (03 Jun 2014 02:00am)
Well, it is election day here in California, and I suppose I should tell you how I'm voting, because that's what I do. None of this should be shocking. And it is kind of a boring election. Partly, this is true simply because I think that things are going reasonably well in the state. But going throu...
Gary Wesley American Hero (02 Jun 2014 09:20pm)
Too few people understand that citizenship is not just about rights; it is also about responsibilities. That's why I think everyone should vote at a minimum, although I do think as a country we make it harder than it ought to be—especially for the working poor. But if a democracy is not consta...
Poe, Death, and Sarah Jarosz (02 Jun 2014 06:43pm)
I've been vaguely aware of Sarah Jarosz for a few years. She is the kind of musician that I think of when I say that this is a great time for music. Of course, I say that as a lament, because as popular as she is, she's not one of the many American Idol shriekers and autotuned adolescent cuties that...
Suicides and The Bridge (02 Jun 2014 04:03pm)
I'm very fond of the Janis Ian song, "The Bridge." The first line of the song is, "The bridge that spans the gap between our souls..." And that is the obvious symbolism of a bridge: something that brings people and places together—that fills in the missing bits of our communal soul. I live ver...
Scalia: Public Unions' New Friend? (02 Jun 2014 01:11pm)
Last week, Michael Hiltzik alerted us, How Justice Scalia Could Become the Savior of Public Employee Unions. So in the coming days and weeks, don't be surprised if the liberal press gets all excited that Scalia was on the right side of a case for a change. This happens from time to time. Scalia sees...
Pure Math Distorting Political Debate (02 Jun 2014 11:31am)
About a week ago, Debraj Ray wrote a critical article on Thomas Piketty's new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Centery, Nit-Piketty. The basis of Piketty's argument is the inequality: r>g. What that means is that the rate of growth of return on capital is greater than the growth of the economy as a...
The Harsh Realism of Thomas Hardy (02 Jun 2014 10:05am)
On this day in 1840, the great novelist Thomas Hardy was born. I can't help but compare all 19th century novelists to Herman Melville. I love Melville for the perversity of his interests. But the clarity of his writing is terrible. I have him pegged as an introvert. He had a hard time seeing his sto...
The Conversation Is One of the Greatest Films Ever (01 Jun 2014 04:46pm)
I have a secret list of films that I think are magnificent. Some of them are silly like His Girl Friday and some are epic like Ran. But there is one film on the list that I don't even like talking about because I really don't know what it is, Francis Cooppola's The Conversation. I've watched it twic...
George Will Is Still an Idiot (01 Jun 2014 01:14pm)
For the past couple of days (and to a large extent for the last many years), Dean Baker has been taking George Will to task for the fact that he is a complete idiot—most recently in, George Will Still Can't Get Access to Government Data. I have a visceral hatred for George Will, because he is ...
Miss Monroe and Her Acetates (01 Jun 2014 11:15am)
On this day in 1926, Marilyn Monroe was born. She is such a mystery to me. She is remembered as a sex symbol, yet that's not how I think of her. I admit, she was pretty. But if I'm thinking sex symbols, I'm thinking Dorothy Malone, not Marilyn Monroe. Monroe was one of the great comedic actors. The ...
Obama Probably Not Into Black Flag (31 May 2014 11:05pm)
As I was preparing my article, Religious Right: Racism Not Abortion, I did a Google image search for "Now Accepting Negroes!" I didn't find anything I could use based upon that, so I just put the phrase across the "Bob Jones University" sign. But it did bring me to the image on the left. Well, to be...
George Tiller and Late Term Abortions (31 May 2014 07:28pm)
It's been five years since Dr George Tiller was murdered. In one way, he is just another victim of senseless violence. In another, he a symbol for something very big: the abortion debate. It's strange to think about it. I was about to write, "Tiller was murdered because he performed late term aborti...
Real Libertarians Should Be Democrats (31 May 2014 05:20pm)
David Atkins is now doing some of the weekend blogging over at Political Animal, and he brought my attention to a new Gallup Poll, Republicans Are Getting Left Behind, and "Independents" Won't Save Them. The scare quotes around the word "independents" are there because as we should all know at this ...
Religious Right: Racism Not Abortion (31 May 2014 01:33pm)
A funny thing happened on the way to the Religious Right. And it explains why black churches and the Catholic Church are generally not part of the Religious Right. If you look at the movement now, it is all about abortion—dating back to the Supreme Court decision in Roe v Wade. And indeed, th...
Darest Thou Now, Walt Whitman (31 May 2014 10:51am)
On this day in 1819, the poet Walt Whitman was born. My preference for poetry tends to be densely packed stuff that really packs a punch, like Mary Barnard's translation of Sappho, "Pain penetrates / Me drop / by drop." So I've never been all that fond of Whitman's breezy free verse. But I like it's...
Thomas Piketty Devours Chris Giles (30 May 2014 08:00pm)
You may remember a week ago, I wrote, Capital in the 21st Century Not Refuted. It was in regard to an article by Chris Giles at the Financial Times, Data problems with Capital in the 21st Century. My article was mostly about what the political consequences of this would be. Regardless of what Giles ...
Megyn Kelly Pulls in Youth at Fox News (30 May 2014 02:27pm)
This is the quote of the week, and not surprisingly, it comes from Jonathan Chait, "Guess the Median Age of Megyn Kelly's Audience. Her viewers are so young they can do circles around O'Reilly's viewers in their wheelchairs." You're a Frankly Curious reader, so I know you want numbers. The average ...
Richard Clarke Is Right About War Crimes (30 May 2014 12:50pm)
Did President Bush the Younger commit war crimes? Richard Clarke thinks so. And Democracy Now! got him to admit this in the following interview. He said, "I think things that they authorized probably fall within the area of war crimes. Whether that would be productive or not, I think, is a discussio...
Reps Support Troops When Convenient (30 May 2014 11:16am)
Why is there civil war in Syria? How about drought! You see, there were all these farmers. And the drought caused an exodus of them to the cities, looking for work. But there was no work so they sat around in the streets are started focusing their anger on the government. And before you can say "Ba...
What's Up, Mel Blanc? (30 May 2014 09:39am)
On this day in 1908, the great voice actor Mel Blanc was born. He is best known for his voice characterizations for the Warner Bros' cartoon shorts for characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, Tweety Bird, Sylvester the Cat, Yosemite Sam, Foghorn Leghorn, Marvin the Martian, Pepé Le Pew, and Speedy G...
"Jade's Trick" in Shakespeare (29 May 2014 09:40pm)
In general, Shakespeare's comedies are dreadful. But well performed, many of them can work. The best is probably A Midsummer Night's Dream, and I highly recommend the 1996 version, that few people have seen. But my favorite and most despised Shakespeare comedy is Much Ado About Nothing. The problem ...
Sexual Maturity and Violence (29 May 2014 01:27pm)
I haven't responded to the Santa Barbara killing spree because, tragic as it is, what is there to say? This stuff is non-news. Projections are that next year there will be more people killed by guns in the United States than are killed by auto accidents. The perpetrator suffered from Asperger syndr...
Angela's Drilling a Hole (29 May 2014 10:49am)
This is a picture of Angela Ellingson. I knew her and her boyfriend Jason Iverson very well some two decades ago. I would say that Angela and I were kindred spirits. And I liked Jason so much that I based a character in my first novel on him, who became the main character and narrator of my second n...
Liberty Fraud Patrick Henry (29 May 2014 09:35am)
I don't always do wonderful people on their birthdays. I do terrible people too like John Wilkes Booth a couple of weeks ago. But at least Booth was young and very possibly psychotic. Today, I'm going to talk about that great villain who wrote the words we all learned in grammar school: Is life so ...
Godspell Positive Vision of Christianity (28 May 2014 08:59pm)
I've been a fan of Stephen Schwartz for a very long time. I don't think his importance in musical theater is fully appreciated. He, and not Andrew Lloyd Webber, was really responsible for modernizing musical theater. And, of course, whereas Webber has a very shallow well of melodies, Schwartz is ver...
Maya Angelou and My Education (28 May 2014 06:45pm)
I just found out that Maya Angelou has died. I was never a big fan of her poetry, but she was a great narrative writer. I loved I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings when I read it in high school. And there was one part that I especially liked. It was in Chapter 5. The two children have been sent to live ...
Democrats' Senate Chances Keep Looking Better (28 May 2014 04:59pm)
Over the weekend, Martin Longman, as part of his usual duties at Political Animal wrote, I Am Optimistic About the Senate Races. I am not quite as optimistic as he is, but I still tilt in his direction, so I thought it would be useful to go through his argument. Let's start with the bad news. He ha...
Rude and Useless Comments (28 May 2014 01:40pm)
There is an issue with comments around here that even after almost five years, I don't get. There are people who agree with me and go into some depth about details. There are questions. There are people who disagree with me and make cogent arguments. And then there are people who just come around to...
John Fogerty (28 May 2014 09:33am)
I have the worst headache I can remember having, so it's kind of hard to write. So forgive me if this is short. Last year, the birthday post was about Isabelle Carre, who I have such a crush on that her picture in on my computer desktop. But I don't have much to add about her. It has been hard to ge...
"Great Men" and the Great War (27 May 2014 11:20pm)
Maybe I'm just an iconoclast and everything else follows from that. But I've caught a bit of this three part series that The History Channel is doing, The World Wars—I assume for Memorial Day. But the little I've seen has been nothing short of pathetic. It is all the usual stuff with Neville C...
Michael Kinsley Didn't Review Greenwald (27 May 2014 09:19pm)
Last week, I wrote, Lord Michael Kinsley. It was based upon his "review" of Glenn Greenwald's new book, No Place to Hide. The article is not really about what Kinsley wrote, but about what Kinsley always writes. He is an apologist for the power elite. I want to revisit this topic, because today, the...
More Robert Price Islamophobia (27 May 2014 04:50pm)
Robert M Price is such a curious fellow. I have long enjoyed his books and lectures on various aspects of religion. In fact, his essay in The Historical Jesus: Five Views ("Jesus at the Vanishing Point"), is probably the most profound thing I've ever read about the historical Jesus. His contention i...
Welfare State Is Good for Economy (27 May 2014 01:39pm)
Paul Krugman's column on Monday was, Europe's Secret Success. It is about how even though the European Union is a monetary mess, its economy is doing rather well. Of course, you would never know that from reading or watching mainstream American news. Because everyone just "knows" that Europe is coll...
Charity of Bruce Cockburn (27 May 2014 10:30am)
The great singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn is 69 today. I actually know him because he and my wife were once a thing. I think she was with him during at least part of the Stealing Fire tour, which is interesting because I actually saw him on that tour. That was a hugely influential album to me. I st...
Odds and Ends Vol 11 (26 May 2014 08:11pm)
Howdy, friends and neighbors! I gotta tell you, I was not planning to do an Odds and Ends today, but we are more than overdo. You know who does a great Odds and Ends kind of thing? Our friend Infidel753. And we're not just talking politics either, or even mostly. I get a lot of great stuff from him....
Victoria Jackson is Charming but Wrong About a Communist in the White House (26 May 2014 05:37pm)
For months, I've been wanting to write about Victoria Jackson. Now you all probably know her from Saturday Night Live where she usually played a dumb blond. And then she came out as a big Tea Party member and we all knew that it wasn't an act. Media Matters wrote an excellent article on her politica...
Joe Miller Joke Book (26 May 2014 01:57pm)
I've been kind of down recently, literally feeling like Stanley Ipkiss (Jim Carrey) at the beginning of The Mask. And I thought, "I know! I'll do what Stanley does: I'll get some old cartoons to cheer me up!" So I requested a bunch from the library, including Looney Tunes Super Stars: Daffy Duck. N...
Depression, War, and Dorothea Lange (26 May 2014 11:58am)
On this day in 1895, the great photographer Dorothea Lange was born. She is generally known for her photographs of the Great Depression and World War II America. She is best known for her iconic photograph, Migrant Mother. As I wrote last year, the photo is great just based upon the aesthetics. "But...
Try to Be Better on Memorial Day (26 May 2014 10:26am)
It is the way of my people. We are not barbecuers. We do not like the Monday holidays. But if it is for a good cause, we bear it. The labor struggle is a good cause. The civil rights struggle is a good cause. And today is Memorial Day, and remembering the men and women we sent to their deaths, is a ...
Numbers, Narratives, and God (25 May 2014 07:24pm)
Radio Lab recently produced a short about people's favorite numbers, For the Love of Numbers. It's interesting because it had never occurred to me to have a favorite number. In fact, it seems like one of the stupidest things I've ever heard of. It's kind of like astrology or something. And indeed, t...
Reagan's Legacy: Tax Cuts for Rich, Tax Hikes for the Rest (25 May 2014 04:32pm)
When people think of Ronald Reagan, they normally think of him as a big tax cutter. And there's a good reason for that: when he came into office, he cut federal income taxes across the board by 25% over three years. As I've discussed many times elsewhere, this is not as evenhanded a thing to do as i...
The Real Mr Bojangles, Bill Robinson (25 May 2014 11:38am)
Forgive me for repeating myself to some extent, I'm having an anxiety attack. But last year on this day, I celebrated the birthday of Igor Sikorsky, inventor of the modern helicopter. And as a man who spent years professionally riding in airplanes and helicopters (to test remote sensing equipment I ...
We Might Not Meet Again, But Isn't it Pretty to Think So? (24 May 2014 10:10pm)
Does anybody here remember Vera Lynn? Remember how she said that, "We will meet again, some sunny day"? Those are lyrics that Roger Waters wrote in The Wall. The reference is to her mega-hit "We'll Meet Again." Waters' point is that his father died in World War II when Waters was less than six mont...
Challenges of Female on Male Violence (24 May 2014 06:19pm)
Paul Day is the brilliant mind behind Billy Bob Neck, but he also happens to be the most interesting person on my Google+ feed. And sometimes, he sends out links to very serious stuff. Thus it was today when he alerted me to what is an important but typically trashy Buzz Feed article, This Is What H...
Could Michelle Nunn Win in 2014? (24 May 2014 04:08pm)
Over at The Upshot last week, I was not surprised to read Nate Cohn, Narrow Path to Senate for Michelle Nunn in Georgia. This is important because she is running to replace Saxby Chambliss, a man so conservative he once shot a man for not frothing at the mouth enough. Nunn is the main Democratic hop...
Bob Dylan as Relevant as Ever (24 May 2014 11:33am)
My allergies are terrible today, or I would spend the day on Jacopo Carucci, who I do love. But it's Bob's birthday—he's 73 today. Look, a lot of it (like all great men) is just that he was the right man at the right time. But it hardly matters, he put out at least ten albums of the greatest a...
Jimmy Carter Is Not Dead (24 May 2014 09:38am)
Normally, I start the day with a birthday post. But last night, I had a dream. I was in Walmart and Fox News was in the background. And they were talking about Jimmy Carter and his career. It was the kind of garbage that you would expect from that "fair and balanced" network. It sounded something r...
The Bonus Round (23 May 2014 09:24pm)
Even when I was a little kid, I hated the idea of coming in first place. Not that it was actually a problem I had to deal with as a practical matter. But it always seemed to be that second place was better than first place. It probably owes a lot to my love of stories. In general, I hate it when a g...
Capital in the 21st Century Not Refuted (23 May 2014 07:16pm)
Chris Giles at the Financial Times posted, Data problems with Capital in the 21st Century. It is a long and numbers-oriented article. And among economics wonks, it has created a flurry of activity, "You mean Thomas Piketty is wrong?!" Needless to say, there are a lot of people who want to think just...
Lord Michael Kinsley (23 May 2014 04:16pm)
I'm not going to go over what's happening because there's been a lot of good coverage of it (see links below). But Michael Kinsley wrote what was supposedly a review of Glenn Greenwald's new book, No Place to Hide. But it wasn't a review. You get no idea what's in the book. Kinsley's article is litt...
Kenneth Branagh as Macbeth (23 May 2014 08:45am)
I have long believed that Kenneth Branagh is the greatest Shakespearean actor ever. Of course, he has all the actors that came before him to build upon. But he is so much better than the generation that came before, that it is hard to escape the conclusion that he really does bring something special...
Douglas Fairbanks (23 May 2014 08:33am)
On this day in 1883, the great Douglas Fairbanks was born. His career is quite interesting in what it shows about the American film industry. America had an extremely vibrant industry during the silent era. But when sound came in, we fell in love with it. Films became much less cinematic. Calling th...
Benghazi! Preview (22 May 2014 07:15pm)
You can't have missed all the news about the upcoming House Select committee on Benghazi—or as it is more property referred to, Benghazi! As it is, the hearing is a political stunt. There have already been four committees that have looked into it and they have found nothing. But why not anothe...
Reps Hate Minimum Wage and EITC (22 May 2014 01:12pm)
Sometimes, Jonathan Chait annoys the hell out of me. But other times I just want to kiss him. When I disagree with him, it is usually about fairly minor issues of policy and ideology. But when it comes to the state of the Republican Party, no one is more clear. Just about an hour ago, he wrote an ar...
On Tall Tales and Bootstraps (22 May 2014 11:43am)
Fifty years ago today, Lyndon Johnson announced his Great Society goals. They were massively successful. But of late, we hear conservatives complain about the Great Society programs. And here is the logic, "If you exclude all the gains of the Great Society programs, the poor are no better off than t...
Gay Rights Pioneer Harvey Milk (22 May 2014 10:46am)
In late November of 1978, I was at a conference in San Francisco for kids who were interested in politics. I don't remember much about the conference, although it was probably a very good introduction to local politics and the issues that must be faced. Local politics is really interesting because i...
The Obamacare Denial Industry (21 May 2014 08:32pm)
Imagine that you were trying to get me to do more exercise for my health. Maybe you argued that walking a mile a day would extend and improve my life. I countered, "There is no evidence that walking a mile a day is going to improve my health!" But one day, a paper appears in The Lancet, "Study shows...
Answering Krugman's Three Questions (21 May 2014 05:43pm)
This morning, Paul Krugman posted, Questions About Student Writing. These are questions that I feel confident that I can school the Nobel laureate on. This last term, he has been doing something that I suspect he does not often get a chance to do: teach a great big class. And now he is grading paper...
The New "Climate Always Changes" Ruse (21 May 2014 01:15pm)
Last night, I got involved in a long comment thread on Google+ about global warming. It pretty much summed up why I hate talking about this stuff. I don't mind people going around spouting their nonsense, but don't claim just because you read an article on some denier website that you have it all fi...
The Erotica of Edouard-Henri Avril (21 May 2014 10:35am)
It's quite a day for birthdays. There are people like Alexander Pope (best known for not being Pope Alexander), stride pianist Fats Waller, and aviation pioneer Glenn Curtiss. Google is celebrating fossil collector Mary Anning. But I'm taking a different path today—a very different path. On t...
Perfect Day (20 May 2014 09:10pm)
I probably shouldn't tell this story. All my friends will hate me. No, they both already know. Recently, I was thinking about the perfect day of my life. I came home from work. My roommate was gone. She was the bartender at a strip club. She had been a stripper herself when she was younger. I've kn...
High Taxes Killed the Movies! (20 May 2014 06:27pm)
This is delicious! Back in 1981, when the recently elected President Ronald Reagan was pushing to lower income taxes, he said something that is really great to the Washington Post. Unfortunately, that particular article doesn't seem to be online, so I've had to get it from The Christian Science Mon...
All the Sorta Gay Sorta Celebs (20 May 2014 01:59pm)
You know me: I love link bait. So when I saw this headline, I had to click over to an article on Rant Lifestyle, 25 Celebs That Shocked Us When They Came Out as Gay. It's kind of a challenge, because really, how likely is it that anyone was shocked when whomever came out as gay. In fact, recently, I...
You'll Find Everything in Balzac (20 May 2014 10:15am)
Today: a love story. You may remember back a couple of days when I wrote about The Music Man. My favorite part in the movie is when Marian's mother asks what the gentleman wanted and Marian replies, "You'll find it in Balzac." I must have been seven years old when I heard that line and I knew I had...
Biodiversity and the Charlatans at The Daily Caller (19 May 2014 07:55pm)
Last week, The Daily Caller published, Global Warming Is Increasing Biodiversity Around the World. That caught my eye because apart from the obvious practical problems of global warming in the case of humans simply surviving, biodiversity is probably the most important issue. And here's the thing: a...
Impulse Control and Global Warming (19 May 2014 02:15pm)
It's rare that I read an article that really changes my way of thinking about a subject, but such was the case over the weekend at Political Animal where Chad Stanton wrote, Self Destruction, We're Headed For Self Destruction. It's a compare and contrast kind of article. He reminded me of how people...
Timothy Geithner: Awful Person and Liar (19 May 2014 11:09am)
Do you know what I really hate? People who do a really bad job working for the government, and then retire to high paying jobs and six-figure book deals. Today, of course, I'm speaking of Timothy Geithner and his book, Stress Test. Now sure: Geithner isn't the worst guy in the world. In fact, I thin...
Malcolm X (19 May 2014 09:24am)
On this day in 1925, Malcolm X was born. He was the black man who scared the white folks. And for that, I will always love him. What's interesting about that is that the Nation of Islam is a conservative group. And if you listen to conservatives today, what they claim that the black community should...
A Brief Intro to Bernard Frouchtben (18 May 2014 09:54pm)
I've had a very pleasant night. Yesterday, I learned that we are going to go to the Santa Clara Antiques Roadshow. This is kind of a big deal, because we are in possession of a badly damaged painting by a great American Primitive painter Bernard Frouchtben, and we are very keen to learn if it would ...
Heroes for a Debased Culture (18 May 2014 03:32pm)
I've only seen two films by Francis Lawrence. You probably know him from The Hunger Games: Catching Fire. I haven't seen that. I try to avoid films that are aimed at that just about puberty demographic. Plus the series is apparently where reasonably interesting directors go to cash in. The first one...
Parallels of Omar Khayyam (18 May 2014 10:17am)
On this day in 1048, the great mathematician and poet Omar Khayyam was born. It is a point of some annoyance to me that most people think that mathematics is not a creative field but rather just one where complex rules are applied to problems. But if that were the case, math would be easy. You would...
Political Clarity and Anti-Anxiety Meds (17 May 2014 06:19pm)
You may have noticed that I'm not writing quite as many articles as I usually do. This is because I am experimenting with taking an anti-anxiety drug. Most people think of me as a depressive, but this is not at all true. Or at least, it is not that important. I definitely have a manic-depressive cyc...
Hillary in 2016? Who Cares! (17 May 2014 05:21pm)
I've spent a lot of time over the last many years wondering, "Would Hillary Clinton make such a bad president?" I've thought that because, contrary to what most liberals think, her husband was a terrible president. I know, I know: unemployment was really low. That was great! But that wasn't him. Tha...
Is Your Family Improving America? (17 May 2014 12:00pm)
Target Smart has a great web application, What's in a Name? It uses a database of voter registration throughout the country and allows you to look up your last name. It will tell you what percentage of people with your name are registered Democrat and Republican. It also tells you how likely you ar...
Wilhelm Steinitz and Paul Bishop (17 May 2014 10:00am)
A couple of days ago, someone by the name of Alekhine's Cat followed me on Twitter. It was weird because this person had no followers. That alone intrigued me, but not as much as the reference to Alexander Alekhine, the great chess world champion who beat Capablanca. You see, I was trying to decide ...
The Best Altman Gosford Park (16 May 2014 10:44pm)
I have mentioned many times that Gosford Park is one of my very favorite films. But I've never really written about it. Tonight I sat down and watched it again and it has lost none of its power. It's hard not to compare it to Downton Abbey which is like a cartoon version of Gosford Park. The differe...
Anti-Constitutional Constitutional Conservatives (16 May 2014 03:45pm)
Yesterday, I made a brief mention of Steven Taylor's excellent article, The Anti-Federalist Impulse. It deals with Cliven Bundy and the militia people and more generally the "constitutional conservatives" and the Tea Party folk. They all claim to be the protectors of the Constitution, but if you li...
A Depressed Economy Is the Time to Address Global Warming (16 May 2014 11:17am)
On Monday, Paul Krugman wrote an interesting article, Crazy Climate Economics. And today, he's written another global warming related article, Points of No Return. They are both worth reading, but I wanted to bring up something that Krugman doesn't: environmental remediation as economic stimulus. M...
Jonathan Richman (16 May 2014 09:48am)
Jonathan Richman is 63 today. I am deeply divided about him. He is one of the most profound popular musicians of the last half century who was hugely influential in the punk movement. And much of his work is marvelous. At the same time, I can't really think of an artist who is as lazy as Richman. Fo...
The Music Man (15 May 2014 11:07pm)
I sat down this evening and watched The Music Man. (Guess why.) In general, I don't think musicals translate very well to the screen, but this film was even further harmed by the choice of Morton DaCosta to direct it. He directed the original Broadway version, and I'm sure he did a great job. He was...
You Are a Neanderthal! (15 May 2014 06:52pm)
I have great news: you are a neanderthal! As you may know, I fancy myself a defender of the downtrodden and vilified. This makes me a big booster for rats, for example. But it has also made me something of a defender of our neanderthal relatives. For one thing: they had bigger brains than we do, so ...
Competing Freedom Interests (15 May 2014 02:45pm)
Paul Waldman wrote an interesting article over at The Plum Line, The Maximum Freedom of the Rich to Influence Elections. It follows off of Harry Reid's recent idea that we need to have a constitutional amendment to reverse the Supreme Court's recent "money is speech" rulings. From my perspective, t...
The Greatest American Economist (15 May 2014 09:49am)
On this day in 1915, probably the greatest American economist ever Paul Samuelson was born. He is the man most responsible for establishing Keynesian economics to its place as the fundamental basis of the science. But today, there are real debates as to whether economics is a science. There is no do...
Voter-ID Is Vote Suppression (14 May 2014 08:00pm)
Many people have noted that voter-ID laws are a solution is search of a problem. But as Scott Lemieux has noted, that's really not the case, The Vote Fraud Fraud: Still Fraudulent. Republicans saw a very big problem: the percentage of white people (especially the old and male ones) in the country wa...
Conservatives Want What They Want (14 May 2014 04:40pm)
Emily Dickinson famously wrote, "The Heart wants what it wants—or else it does not care." I've been thinking about that a lot as it relates to two of my favorite conservative writers: Josh Barro and Dave Weigel. Both are smart young men who see the conservative movement for all its silly ridic...
Obamacare Disinformation Campaign (14 May 2014 01:55pm)
A lot of politics is just about differences of opinion. You know: reasonable people can disagree. I'll give you an example. I believe in a guaranteed minimum income. Providing this would allow people to go out and be creative: they could build innovative businesses without worrying that failure woul...
Girl, Dog, Pitcher, Gainsborough (14 May 2014 09:22am)
Last year on this day, I wrote about the great British painter Thomas Gainsborough who was born in 1727. But it was a very short article and I can think of no one more deserving to talk about in a bit more depth. He was mostly a portrait painter by trade and his best known work is The Blue Boy. It i...
Glenn Hubbard as Ignorant as He Pretends (13 May 2014 08:47pm)
Glenn Hubbard is the ultimate example of a conservative economist who has given up all pretense of being a scientist and works just as an apologist for conservative policy. See my article, Conservative Apologia Economics. I really can't see him talk without having a strong desire to slap him. He's g...
John Oliver Destroys Global Warming False Equivalence (13 May 2014 04:51pm)
Last week on Last Week Tonight with John Oliver, our intrepid host did a piece about global warming. It's funny and all, so I've embedded it below. But it acts as a very insightful bit of media criticism that I don't recall seeing before or, even worse, thinking about before. Well, I did have my pro...
Why Do Maps of Everything That's Wrong With America All Look the Same? (13 May 2014 03:06pm)
David Atkins brought this map to my attention last week, The Renewable Energy Map and the Slave State Map. He compares it to a map of slave states in 1854 and as should surprise no one, there is a great correlation. Of course, it isn't just about renewable energy. Take your pick: murder rates, teen...
Herbert Ross Directed Many Great Films (13 May 2014 11:46am)
Stephen Colbert is fifty years old today, but like a lot of entertainers, his life is really boring so I skipped him. Instead, I went with a really great director who you've probably never heard of. He got his start as a choreographer on stage and then eventually on the screen. This isn't so strange...
They Only Come Out at Night (13 May 2014 06:12am)
If at all possible, if you have the ability, you should spend a couple nights In, At and Around any place you plan to relocate to, move someone into or acquire. I know its old advice. I have heard it myself... or read it in a NOLO Press book on real-estate or Landlord-Tenant Law. See, you never real...
Democrats Are Always Black Presidents (12 May 2014 07:33pm)
For a long time, I've puzzled over something. Why has the conservative treatment of Obama been almost exactly the same as the treatment of Bill Clinton. Yes, there have been little differences. For example, no one ever claimed that Clinton wasn't qualified to be president because he wasn't born in A...
Abortion Is Not About Babies (12 May 2014 03:03pm)
Emily Letts is a young abortion counselor who decided to made a video of her own abortion to show that it wasn't some scary thing. I don't know exactly what she was thinking, but it seems to me that a lot of people in the anti-choice movement think that abortion involves doctors going inside the vag...
Julius Rosenberg and Politics of Fear (12 May 2014 11:31am)
I've never been a good team player. If the side I'm pulling for commits a foul, I call it. Affinity doesn't mean a great deal to me. That's why people tend to see me as a political radical. I don't see any reason to accept our political Overton Window. Indeed, if the Republican Party were not totall...
Obamacare Liars Going to Hell (11 May 2014 08:27pm)
The eighth level of hell is reserved for the Fraudulent, Malicious Panderers. This is where all the people who work in the right wing echo chamber are going to go. And this is clear in a recent poll by CNN, Should Obamacare be kept or repealed? But before we get to where in hell Sean Hannity will sp...
How to Properly Chill Beer (11 May 2014 05:51pm)
"Get your ice cold beer right here!" I remember that from the Giants games I went to when I was a kid. Now, of course, you have to walk to get your beer at the stadium—I assume it is to keep people from drinking too much and making sure that people can at least still walk. But I still remembe...
Be Careful With Cannabis Cookies (11 May 2014 12:42pm)
In my alternate life as protectors of drug users when I spent years trying to keep them alive (and still spend a fair amount of time helping people detox from drug addictions), I often pointed out an important but counter-intuitive fact about drugs: sniffing and eating drugs can be more dangerous th...
At the Academy With Jean-Leon Gerome (11 May 2014 10:36am)
The French Academy painters have something of a bad reputation today because of their exclusion of the Impressionists. (That's not true of all of them; some chose to stay out.) I'm all for as much variety in art as possible. But if I had to choose one group, it would be the Academy. The work is so b...
When in Doubt Benghazi! (10 May 2014 06:21pm)
The last five years have been something to behold. After the financial collapse, the conservative movement convinced itself that the reason things went so wrong was that the Republican Party had not been pure enough. According to this view, it only pretended to be conservative, but it really wasn't....
How to Make Monopoly Fun (10 May 2014 09:55am)
Jonathan Chait wants you to know, You Don't Hate Monopoly, You Just Suck at It. And he is right that Monopoly is a wrongly vilified game. In particular, the game does not take hours to play. A big part of what makes the game grind on are common extensions like doubling the starting cash and paying $...
The Booth Civil War (10 May 2014 12:22am)
On this day in 1838, John Wilkes Booth was born. He is one of the great villains of American history. But I think I understand him. He was, after all, only 26 years old when he assassinated President Lincoln. And it isn't at clear what he thought he was doing, given that the Civil War was over. But ...
Charles Krauthammer Doesn't Know Science (09 May 2014 06:21pm)
Going back briefly to the Jonathan Chait article I mentioned earlier, there is one thing that Charles Krauthammer said that really bugged me. It's been quoted various places but no one seems to have noticed the contradiction, so I figured that I should point it out. The thing is that Krauthammer wa...
Chazz Darling Vampire Cop (09 May 2014 02:38pm)
This is from yesterday's The Colbert Report. Jake Rush is a Tea Party candidate running for Florida's 3rd District House seat. He is an idiot, but not of the frothing at the mouth variety. He also does role playing as a vampire. That is, by far, the coolest thing about him. And that doesn't really ...
Will the Real Frank Conniff... (09 May 2014 11:38am)
In 1955, Frank Conniff went to the Soviet Union to interview Nikita Khrushchev and other communist leaders. This led the following year to his winning the Pulitzer Prize in International Reporting. At that same time he was a minor celebrity—frequently appearing on Who Said That?—a game s...
Pro-Business Policies Don't Help Economy (09 May 2014 09:31am)
Menzie Chinn has been doing some amazing work over at Econbrowser about the effects of "pro-business" policies on economic growth in the states. In two articles, he compares payroll levels with the ALEC-Laffer Economic Outlook Rankings. He finds that states that don't have the supposedly pro-busine...
John Brown Marches On (09 May 2014 12:50am)
John Brown was born on this day in 1800. He was not a crazy man. He was not like the people today who think that abortion is such a terrible thing that they must murder doctors and others in the name of their cause. For one thing, these people rarely have much of clue what they believe. Other than b...
Michael Hiltzik (08 May 2014 08:32pm)
I am going to be out of town for the next two days, so I'm not sure how much writing I will be doing here. I'm sure there will be some stuff. There will be the birthday posts, of course. And I'm sure there will be other things I find that I absolutely must share with you. As always, I'll try to writ...
The Conservative Culture of Ignorance (08 May 2014 06:37pm)
You may have heard about the House hearing on Obamacare yesterday. The Republicans brought in six health insurance executives to grill them on the number of people actually paying for insurance on the exchanges. You see, it was supposed to be a bloody good time for them. This followed from a survey ...
Helping Heroin Addicts (08 May 2014 11:20am)
Susan Svrluga wrote a very interesting article over at the Washington Post, 5 Ways to Help Heroin Addicts. When I saw the headline, I felt like Vladimir at the end of Waiting for Godot, "Off we go again." In general, the media establishment is a big part of the drug problem in this country. Reporter...
Peter Benchley Loved Sharks (08 May 2014 09:21am)
On this day in 1940, the novelist Peter Benchley was born. He has much to teach young writers. This is because he is such a mediocre writer and yet hugely successful. I'm no expert, of course. I've only read two of his novels, but I think that's enough. The first novel of his I read was one of his ...
Liberals ♥ Democracy! (07 May 2014 06:57pm)
Jonathan Bernstein has written a really interesting article, Democrats' Electoral College Edge. Who'd a thunk it? I've generally thought of the Electoral College as being something that benefited Republicans because of the tiny red states that get more than their fair share of electoral oomph. But ...
Thomas Friedman Is Wrong on Ukraine (07 May 2014 01:29pm)
Yesterday, Thomas Friedman wrote another of his grand columns, Go Big, Get Crazy. It's one where you can imagine him delivering it from a podium with big hand gestures that proclaim, "We will expand this great system of ours and let freedom ring..." On Mars or something. Actually, Friedman's idea th...
Republicans Just Don't Want Reform (07 May 2014 11:23am)
Jonathan Chait wrote an excellent article this morning, Springtime for Obamacare. In it, he goes through a number of arguments that conservatives have made about Obamacare and discusses how recent events have refuted them. I recommend reading the whole article, especially because I'm only going to t...
Johannes Brahms (07 May 2014 09:37am)
On this day in 1833, the great German composer Johannes Brahms was born. As you may know, I'm not a big fan of Romantic music. But that's mostly because the period brought out the worst in mediocre composers. Pretty much any Classical composer could grind out an acceptable piece of music. But that j...
Gun (and Much Else) Extremist Larry Pratt (06 May 2014 08:23pm)
Remember last night when I wrote, Repealing Smart Gun Law Won't Change Attitudes? It was about this New Jersey law that says if any Smart Gun is sold in the United States, all gun sales in that state must be Smart Guns within three years. So Democrats in New Jersey are offering to repeal the law. I ...
Art Laffer's Toxic Prescription (06 May 2014 05:47pm)
Jon Perr wrote a great article at his website Perrspectives, The Laffer Curve Brings Red Ink to Red States. It seems that over the past few years, Art Laffer has been going around the red states and selling the usual supply side economic nonsense. If you were around in the 1980s, you are very famili...
Good Obamacare News Is No News to Conservatives (06 May 2014 03:11pm)
I may have to subscribe to New Republic just because of Jonathan Cohn. His coverage of Obamacare has been great from the very beginning. If you are going to get your news about the law from one place, he's the source to go with. He's insightful of course, but more important, he's accurate. And that'...
On Being Better Than Others (06 May 2014 12:42pm)
In a very real sense, the ONION is "America's Finest News Source." There is more truth to be found in it than in most newspapers. I felt that especially strongly yesterday when I read, Woman a Leading Authority On What Shouldn't Be in Poor People's Grocery Carts. The article is about Carol Gaither, ...
Touch of Welles (06 May 2014 10:44am)
The great filmmaker Orson Welles was born on this day back in 1915. Yes, I gave him the day last year but my only other choice was Sigmund Freud who I am deeply divided about. Of course, in some ways I'm divided about Welles too. This is why I think of him more and more as a filmmaking innovator. He...
Repealing Smart Gun Law Won't Change Attitudes (05 May 2014 09:14pm)
Three words: it won't matter. Chris Hayes did a great sequence on All In about Smart Guns. These are the guns that only allow authorized people to use them. This is done with a little wristwatch that is worn on the same arm as you shoot with. This is necessary because the "watch" much be within ten...
Is it too Late for Democracy? (05 May 2014 03:41pm)
Chris Hedges wrote an update about his case Hedges v Obama, which challenged the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2012 (NDAA). The law allows the government to detain anyone (including US citizens) for indefinite periods of time as long as the government believes that they are terr...
I Was Forced to Watch Joel McHale (05 May 2014 12:50pm)
As a general rule, I don't watch the White House Correspondents' Dinner. The truth is that I think it's dangerous. What the event says is that the media and the political world are just one happy family that puts on a hell of a show for the American people. Well I think that's bunk. The politicians ...
Karl Marx as Moral Philosopher (05 May 2014 10:14am)
On this day in 1818, Karl Marx was born. Historically, he's a curious fellow since so many authoritarians claimed to base their despotic regimes on his thought. I think he was very much like Adam Smith: essentially a moral philosopher who had some things to say about economics. And also like Smith, ...
60 Minutes Spins for BP (04 May 2014 08:04pm)
Mike Wallace must be spinning in his grave. Tonight, Scott Pelley presented a segment on 60 Minutes, BP Cries Foul in Massive Oil Spill Settlement. They describe it as, "Is BP backpedaling on a settlement with oil spill victims, or are some Gulf Coast businesses exploiting BP to the tune of more tha...
We Are Great When We Gaze at the Stars (04 May 2014 06:07pm)
When the first planet outside our solar system, an exoplanet, was discovered, I was amazed. I think most people think of astronomy as being about building bigger and bigger telescopes, just like blowing up a photograph. But just like in the movie, it doesn't work that way. Just in the most basic sen...
The Banal Webdriver Torso Mystery (04 May 2014 02:50pm)
Among computer geeks, Webdriver Torso has been a big deal for the last week or so. You should feel good about yourself if you have no idea what I'm talking about. But let me explain, because it is rather interesting. Webdriver Torso is a YouTube Channel. It was started roughly six months ago. And in...
Seven Tenets Beat Ten Commandments (04 May 2014 01:09pm)
We all know that Mississippi is the worst state in the union by most metrics, but it would seem that Oklahoma is now the most hateful state. It's kind of like Texas but more backward. So this last week I wasn't at all surprised to learn that Oklahoma Republicans allowed a privately financed Ten Comm...
Darwin's Bulldog Thomas Henry Huxley (04 May 2014 10:28am)
Last year I highlighted Bartolomeo Cristofori for the birthday post. He was the inventor of the piano, and so I discussed how it was different from the harpsicode and the clavichord. It's quite interesting. If you haven't read it, I recommend checking it out. On this day in 1825, the great biologis...
Two Happy Pet Rescues (03 May 2014 07:48pm)
I am not one to claim that catastrophe is "opportunity!" Bad things happen and they suck. But that shouldn't stop us from relishing inspiring stories that come out of catastrophe. And so it won't stop me from related two stories of wonderful pet rescues. Being kind to pets is probably the only thing...
The Facts About the Reagan Presidency (03 May 2014 04:42pm)
A more factual synopsis of the Reagan presidency might read like this: that Reagan was a transformative figure in American history, but his real revolution was one of public relations-meets-politics and not one of policy. He combined his small-town heartland upbringing with a skill for storytelling ...
Terry Eagleton's Across the Pond (03 May 2014 12:03pm)
I am a big fan of Terry Eagleton's books, so I was quite excited to read his newest book, Across the Pond. It is subtitled, "An Englishman's view of America." It is a subject that he has a special expertise in, given that his wife and pretty much his children are Americans. So it should come as no s...
Clear Eyed Niccolo Machiavelli (03 May 2014 09:46am)
On this day in 1469, the great political philosopher Niccolo Machiavelli was born. I've been amazed over a very long time that a lot of people seem to be under the impression that he was some kind of bad guy like Vlad the Impaler. I've always found The Prince to be the work of a wise older man just ...
Google Translate Auto-Detect Sucks! (02 May 2014 10:16pm)
I am hopelessly mono-language. But I find I am constantly dealing with other languages, so I always have my Latin, Spanish, and French dictionaries close by. And, of course, I use Google Translate because it is one of the very greatest things about the internet. Often, it is so good that I don't eve...
Winning at Rock, Paper, Scissors (02 May 2014 08:45pm)
I like to think that I don't lose perspective on things. Despite my rants and ravings, I know what is important and what is not. And yesterday, a really important article flashed across my screen. It was by Joseph Stromberg over at Vox, How to Use Science to Win at Rock-Paper-Scissors. You may be on...
Why Benghazi Still Rocks Conservatives (02 May 2014 02:50pm)
As I've mentioned before, The Progressive has a feature called, "No Comment." In it, they put quotes that need no comment. For example, take almost anything from what Bundy has recent said and nothing really needs to be added. Media Matters flagged just such an example today, Fox Promises To Ignore ...
Elegant Racism (02 May 2014 01:18pm)
Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote a great article yesterday at The Atlantic, This Town Needs a Better Class of Racist. In it, he looks at an issue that has long bugged me: how we ignore implicit racist that has huge social costs and freak out about explicit racism that while vile is largely impotent. He noted...
Tragic and Wonderful Lorenz Hart (02 May 2014 09:54am)
On this day in 1895, the great lyricist Lorenz Hart was born. I can safely say that he is my favorite lyricist. He wrote very clever and complex and playful lyrics. For example, in "Manhattan," he wrote, "The city's clamor can never spoil; the dreams of a boy and goil." Throughout the rest of the so...
Things I Now Notice About Rockford Files (01 May 2014 07:17pm)
I've been revisiting one of my favorite television shows from my youth: The Rockford Files. It is really nice when childhood obsessions turn out to be as good as you remember and that is definitely true of this show. In fact, it is a lot more complex than I was aware of at the time. Some things that...
Short Clear Sentences Please! (01 May 2014 04:13pm)
I was planning on writing about something else, but this issue came up and I feel I must address it. It's about writing. It is possible to write really long sentences that are both beautiful and clear. But unless we really know what we are doing, long sentences muddle reader understanding. And I bel...
May Day and the Working Class (01 May 2014 01:16pm)
It is May Day: the original Labor Day. In fact, it still is International Workers' Day. It is the day that we celebrate the the working class. Is it any wonder that in America we are anywhere from a bit queasy to hysterically fearful of the term "working class"? Generally, people say this is becaus...
Are Gun Rights More Successful Than Other Conservative Causes? (01 May 2014 11:16am)
David Frum tries to answer an interesting question, Why Gun-Rights Backers Win While Other Conservative Causes Lose. He mentions a very things but basically he comes down to the idea that gun rights are basically the only conservative issue that is populist in the sense of not explicitly helping the...
Portrait Master Cecilia Beaux (01 May 2014 09:49am)
On this day in 1855, the great American portrait painter Cecilia Beaux was born. It is typical of the vicissitudes of art history that she is not better known. I think this is largely due to simple sexism. She is most often compared to John Singer Sargent and Mary Cassatt. But she didn't paint the k...
Hypocrisy at Media Matters (30 Apr 2014 11:00pm)
Media Matters for America is a great resource. They listen to Rush Limbaugh so we don't have to. They're kind of like Christ in that way: suffering for the sins of the right wing echo chamber. But I've always been a little bit skeptical of them, because let's face it: David Brock has a questionable ...
Literally Crazy Commenter (30 Apr 2014 08:40pm)
I continue to find myself facing ethical questions I do not really feel comfortable dealing with. About a year ago, I created a YouTube video, These are not very bright guys - All the President's Men. It is just a clip from that movie where Deep Throat tells Woodward that that he shouldn't believe e...
A Brief Look at Doodle 4 Google Winners (30 Apr 2014 04:21pm)
As you may be aware, there is a contest for school children, Doodle 4 Google. The Google Doodles are, of course, the special Google displays that commemorate things like South Africa Freedom Day. And sometimes they are animations, like the one they did for Claude Debussy's 151st Birthday. And someti...
Conservatives as Bullies (30 Apr 2014 12:57pm)
Whenever I think of conservatives in the general sense, I think of a quote by Malcolm Nance. According to Wikipedia, he is "a former US Navy Senior Chief, SERE instructor, and expert in prisoners of war and terrorist hostage survival techniques." So he's a serious guy in the arts of war. But after 9...
The Ballad of Johnny Horton (30 Apr 2014 10:06am)
Over the weekend, I was at the graduation party for my niece. Actually, she is the daughter of the sister of my sister's husband. And I have to say, they put on a good party. The father is a constant builder and one thing he has built on their vast property is a bar. Admittedly, the beer on tap was ...
Problems with Standards-Based Education (29 Apr 2014 10:50pm)
The following video is well worth spending some time watching. It is a lecture by Alfie Kohn about the pernicious effects of "tougher standards" in the education "reform" movement. Before I get to the substance, though, I want to say something about the style. A common thing in media is to have a pa...
Religious Belief Doesn't Trump Law (29 Apr 2014 08:22pm)
The United Church of Christ (UCC) has been performing same-sex marriages since 2005. So they decided to pursue a legal challenge to North Carolina's ban on same-sex marriages. They are arguing that the state is violating their freedom of religion. That is too delicious not to talk about. But I thin...
Alfie Kohn and Real Education Reform (29 Apr 2014 06:11pm)
Unlike most people, I believe in a kind of neo-classicism in education. I think that a liberal education is what binds us together. Increasingly, of course, it is what tears us apart. In particular, the current form of radical conservatism is based almost entirely on a large section of the country p...
Political Door Knockers Are Better Than Religious Ones (29 Apr 2014 12:05pm)
Normally, if someone rings the doorbell on a Saturday afternoon, it is my friendly neighborhood Jehovah's Witnesses. Like many Christians, they mistake the Bible for a book that ought to be read by the laity. And so they are out all the time fishin' for souls. It is almost sweet. And annoying as hel...
Raja Ravi Varma (29 Apr 2014 09:36am)
On this day in 1848, the great Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma was born. I've never been very clear on the Indian caste system, but Varma was kind of born to painting—or at least that bourgeois creative class. Actually, I suppose he was part of Vaisyas caste. His father was a scholar and his mo...
Why We Blog (28 Apr 2014 04:22pm)
Please forgive me for not writing much today. I've been here the whole time, but I seem to have the flu or something. I just don't feel up to reading or writing. In fact, I spent the last two and a half hours watching Harakiri, which is an incredibly powerful film. Even still, I don't feel up to wri...
Harper Lee's Creative Humility (28 Apr 2014 11:13am)
Today is the 88th birthday of Harper Lee. She wrote one of the greatest English language novels ever, To Kill a Mockingbird. Of all the Southern Gothic authors, she is the only one that doesn't seem to hate the entire world. But had she ever published so much as another story, we might have found ou...
Rutherford, Humor, and Don Quixote (27 Apr 2014 07:52pm)
I got an interesting question from reader Aster about the Jervas translation of Don Quixote. In his version of Jervas, the opening sentence of the preface was different from what I had quoted in About to Read Don Quixote. It turned out that both sentences were correct. It is just that some editors c...
Economic Mobility Is a Distraction (27 Apr 2014 04:31pm)
As Professor Farnsworth would say, "Good news, everyone!" Economists have looked at the data and it turns out that economic mobility has not gotten worse over the past several decades. Of course, as usual with such "good news" claims from Professor Farnsworth, it is actually bad news. You see, the r...
It's the Partisans, Stupid (27 Apr 2014 01:07pm)
Yesterday, I wrote about Lynn Vavreck's excellent book The Message Matters. In my discussion, I focused on how, Campaign Messages Don't Matter to Media. But there were other issues that I took note of. Toward the beginning of the book, she noted that campaigns don't matter to either the high or low ...
A Vindication of Mary Wollstonecraft (27 Apr 2014 11:03am)
On this day in 1759, the great writer Mary Wollstonecraft was born. She is probably best remembered today as one of the first and greatest feminist philosophers, but I think that is rather too small a box to cram her into. But there is no doubt that her ideas were far ahead of her time. She was even...
King James Bible as Cultural Signifier (26 Apr 2014 10:43pm)
Steve Benen brought my attention to a story from Louisiana. It seems that some people in the Republican controlled House thought they ought to have an official state book. And that book was, of course, the Bible. At first it was going to be the King James translation, but in committee it got changed...
A Brief History of "Hey Joe" (26 Apr 2014 09:32pm)
Most people know of the song "Hey Joe" because it was the first single released by The Jimi Hendrix Experience. But the song is like Robert Johnson's "Crosscord": it's been performed by just about everyone. And to be honest, I'm not fond of most of the versions of the song. It is at base, a folk son...
Is My Existence a Coincidence? (26 Apr 2014 01:25pm)
This American Life is doing a show, No Coincidence, No Story. Actually, it was last week's show, but for some reason, KQED is always a week behind. I only heard a bit of it but I wasn't terribly impressed because I'm never terribly impressed with coincidences. Our lives are filled with random events...
Campaign Messages Don't Matter to Media (26 Apr 2014 10:50am)
I just read Lynn Vavreck's excellent The Message Matters. It takes as given the fact that in presidential elections, the economy is by far the most important factor. The GNP growth during the last quarter of the year before the election and first two quarters of the election year is a shockingly goo...
American Impressionist Edmund Tarbell (26 Apr 2014 09:39am)
Today I had wanted to talk about Rudolf Hess. He fascinates me, because of his flight to Scotland in 1941. It strikes me as highly idiosyncratic. And it made Hitler really angry, so you've got to give the man credit. But his approach to bring peace made little sense. He sent a letter to Douglas Doug...
"Coincidence" Republicans Often Racists (25 Apr 2014 10:39pm)
Michael Tomasky wrote a very funny article over at The Daily Beast, Republicans Are Racists? No, It's Just All a Big Coincidence. Actually, it would have been a lot funnier, but I think he is genuinely angry. And so am I. The article is divided into two parts. First he catalogs all the ways that co...
Stop Assuming All Felons Are Murderers (25 Apr 2014 06:07pm)
I guess I have to talk about this new extension of "stand your ground" in George. But it isn't because of the conservatives. That isn't to say the law isn't awful, because it most certainly is. My understanding is that it allows people to carry guns wherever they want. Now they can't carry them into...
Vox Pushes Weak Venezuela Attack (25 Apr 2014 12:35pm)
Timothy B Lee is young journalist over at Vox. He mostly writes about intellectual property where his work is quite good. I noted this in an article last year, Vague Patent Trolling. But being a libertarian, when he gets outside of that issue, he tends to go very, very wrong, Libertarian Fail on Bir...
Ella Fitzgerald (25 Apr 2014 10:17am)
On this day in 1917, Ella Fitzgerald was born. She was one of greatest singers of the 20th century. Her subtle control of pitch is beautiful and amazing. But she is probably best known for her scat singing, which shows that the voice really can be used the same way that a saxophone or a trumpet can ...
Pay No Attention to Rich Man's Welfare! (24 Apr 2014 09:13pm)
That image is from All In. It shows yet another way that the government provides huge amounts of welfare to the rich. The normal price of private land grazing rights for one cow for one month is $16.80. The government basically gives it away for $1.35. That's a subsidy of $15.45 per cow per month. ...
A Slightly Pissy History of "Man of Constant Sorrow" (24 Apr 2014 08:14pm)
You probably know the song "Man of Constant Sorrow" from the excellent version of it (which I will get to) in the film O Brother, Where Art Thou? But it is a very old song, dating back to 1913 when Dick Burnett published it. And even that version may just be his version of an earlier version. Unfor...
It's Not Our Brains, It's Our Media (24 Apr 2014 06:14pm)
Today, Ezra Klein asked a question, What's the Liberal Equivalent of Climate Denial? But he doesn't have an answer. Or more specifically, Ezra being Ezra, he can't think of any equivalent so he leaves the question open. He is, after all, a liberal. And that's the kind of thing we do. Or do we? If y...
Racism as Political Subtext (24 Apr 2014 11:32am)
I'm sure you've heard that Cliven Bundy spouted some racist thoughts to Adam Nagourney at The New York Times, A Defiant Rancher Savors the Audience That Rallied to His Side. Ed Kilgore summed it up well, stating that he has "views about black folks that might embarrass your local Grand Dragon." In c...
The Spine Tingler William Castle (24 Apr 2014 10:02am)
On this day in 1914, William Castle was born. I have a great fondness for the independent filmmakers of that time. Just getting a film made was a major accomplishment. And getting people to go out and watch it was even more so. On the first count, I think his films stand up rather well today. Too mu...
Maximum Possible Win on Jeopardy! (23 Apr 2014 08:37pm)
"This is Jeopardy!" Or at least, this is the Jeopardy! board as it appears at the beginning of the game. And for a long time, I've wondered what the theoretical top score would be. The average winning score tends to be in the $20,000 range. But I figured the theoretical score would be substantially...
Republican Shame on Medicaid Expansion (23 Apr 2014 07:36pm)
The way politics is right now, it seems pointless to even discuss it. There are lots of parts of this, but the main thing on my mind is the Medicaid expansion. The current status with roughly half of the states not expanding Medicaid is just cruel. The best you can say about the politicians who are...
Deuce, Douche, and Blinded by the Light (23 Apr 2014 03:00pm)
Like many people, I have a great love of misheard lyrics—especially my own. My favorite is in the Janis Ian song "At Seventeen." One line toward the end of the song is, "In debentures of quality and dubious integrity." I can probably be forgiven, because I had no idea what a "debenture" was. F...
Republican Actors?! (23 Apr 2014 01:42pm)
It's been over two years since I wrote, Conservative Rock?! It was about an article in National Review that listed the supposed 50 greatest conservative rock songs ever. Perhaps the most charming thing that conservatives ever do is try to claim that that are cool. Because they aren't. I remember Bil...
Today Is Not Shakespeare's Birthday (23 Apr 2014 10:07am)
William Shakespeare was not born on this day in 1564. Or at least we don't know if was. He was baptized on 26 April 1564. And it was conventional for people to be baptized three days after they were born. So what the hell, why not say that he was born today? After all, Shakespeare isn't a man, he's ...
Canada's Middle Class Beats US (22 Apr 2014 11:36pm)
Over at The New York Times today, David Leonhardt and Kevin Quealy wrote an excellent article, The American Middle Class Is No Longer the World's Richest. The only thing that really surprised me in it was that the median income in Canada is now greater than it is in the United States. It's pretty ha...
Pedant vs Pedant (22 Apr 2014 06:42pm)
I have spent much of the last 24 hours watching dozens of episodes of David Mitchell's SoapBox, a video-cast he did for a few years where he rants about minor issues—often hilariously. It made me realize that as much as I think that Robert Webb is brilliant, David Mitchell is why I am such a b...
Statistics and Pornography (22 Apr 2014 03:48pm)
You may have heard about the Pornhub report that indicated that people in blue states watch more pornography than people in red states. To some extent, I think it didn't get more attention because it goes along with people's prejudices. Now if it had turned out that people in blue states were more i...
Taxes Are Rape and Other Libertarian Fantasies (22 Apr 2014 12:59pm)
I was just watching Stefan Molyneux answer Jon Stewart's list of questions for libertarians. I'm not going to put a link in because the truth is that the answers that I heard were so pathetic that I don't think it is a good idea to spread them around. But there is one issue that I want to discuss. S...
Law, Humor, and Henry Fielding (22 Apr 2014 10:14am)
On this day 1707, the great novelist Henry Fielding was born. I think of him as the English Cervantes. Their first loves were the theater, they fell into writing novels almost by accident, and they lived much of their lives in and out of poverty. They also shared a very sharp wit. Of course, there a...
Monkeys Do Math as Expected (21 Apr 2014 11:19pm)
Susannah Locke over at Vox wrote a very interesting article, Watch Out—Monkeys Can Now Do Math. It's about a recent study that showed that rhesus macaques do math symbolically. This isn't combining one group of dots with another group of dots. The monkeys were taught number symbols. For exampl...
Why We Idolize Certain Presidents (21 Apr 2014 06:50pm)
Jonathan Bernstein addresses an interesting question with his usual keen insight, Why Reagan Is King of the Conservative Heap. It follows off an article by Jonathan Ladd, Why Are Conservatives Obsessed with Reagan? He Coincided with Ideological Party Takeover Like No Democratic President Did. Ladd's...
Very Serious Conspiracy Theorists (21 Apr 2014 03:39pm)
Fred Hiatt is one of the Very Serious People (VSP) we so like to mock around here. And like all VSP, he is very concerned about the deficit. He is one of the cheer leaders for the Grand Bargain: Democrats cutting Social Security and Medicare in exchange for Republicans raising taxes on the wealthy. ...
The Case for Soaking the Rich (21 Apr 2014 12:10pm)
I used to work with this young engineer. I remember him primarily because he was an annoying conservative who listened to Michael Savage every day. But he was an okay engineer, nothing special but competent. Since that time, he stopped working as an engineer and went into sales. Why? Because he coul...
Elaine May (21 Apr 2014 09:52am)
Before we get to the birthdays, I have to share something I wrote last year on this day. James Dobson is a very vile conservative Christian who founded Focus on the Family. To give you some idea of the man, he once said, "It is not necessary to beat the child into submission; a little bit of pain go...
Easter Sucked! (20 Apr 2014 11:15pm)
It occurred to me that I haven't written anything to spoil Easter. The truth is that I don't hate Easter so much. It's on a Sunday, and things are always crummy on Sunday anyway. And it is mostly just a morning holiday, so it doesn't get in the way of the little life there is normally on Sunday. And...
David Brooks Plays Centrist (20 Apr 2014 09:39pm)
Wow, David Brooks wrote a really smart column. No, I'm just kidding! If ever there were one man who demonstrated the lie of "meritocracy," it is David Brooks. On Friday, he wrote, When the Circus Descends. And I should be clear: by Brooks' standards, it is not bad because it is not utterly and compl...
The Plutocrats Are Not on Our Side (20 Apr 2014 07:30pm)
Everyone around here knows where I stand on politics. I am a liberal on social as well as economic issues. But I don't think much about the social issues. Without a decent amount of economic equality, how ever we go about accomplishing that, the social issues are of limited importance. Regardless, a...
Rich Kid "Reporter" (20 Apr 2014 08:43am)
Friday in the fashion section, The New York Times published, Including the Young and the Rich. The nature of the article is clear from its first sentence, "On a crisp morning in late March, an elite group of 100 young philanthropists and heirs to billionaire family fortunes filed into a cozy auditor...
Harold and Adolf and Ted (20 Apr 2014 02:00am)
Adolf Hitler was born on this day in 1889. I have a hard time thinking that Hitler was a remarkable man. Obviously, he had a profound effect on history. But violent, hateful sociopaths are not that unusual. I tend to think he was just the right vile human being at the right time. When I look around ...
The Sergeant and the Kitten (19 Apr 2014 07:02pm)
I saw a really great collection of photos a couple of weeks ago, The 60 Most Powerful Photos Ever Taken That Perfectly Capture the Human Experience. And since I don't have time right now to write a proper article, I wanted to offer up what I thought was the most impressive. It is from the Korean Wa...
Frankly Curious Slowdown (19 Apr 2014 11:32am)
Well my friends, the next two days will have scant postings here. I am off to do some field tests with my business partner Mikhail on our totally cool high tech device that hopefully some day soon I will be able to talk about. It is arguably the best work that I've ever done. We are quickly getting ...
Cops Lie, This Time They Were Caught (19 Apr 2014 10:49am)
Most of what is wrong with the American criminal justice system is summed up in the following headline from the ABA Journal, Rare "Perry Mason" Moment in Court Wins Dismissal for Defendant, Desk Duty for 5 Police Officers. The basic story is sadly typical. The police pulled over Joseph Sperling, a 2...
Sweet Tim Curry (19 Apr 2014 09:25am)
Tim Curry is 68 today. To be honest, I'm not that fond of him as an actor in a general sense. There is a sameness to all his roles that I find boring. But as a musical comedy actor, he's brilliant. And he is quite simply a fabulous singer. That's where his true greatness lies and I still find it ama...
American Political Oppression A-B-Cs (18 Apr 2014 11:36pm)
I remember reading something Ayn Rand had written about the way political oppression worked in the Soviet Union. She said it wasn't that harsh laws were applied to everyone. It was that there were many laws and they were never applied to anyone, except when that person got out of line. Now I'm not s...
Tax the Rich for the Social Good (18 Apr 2014 06:39pm)
"But would that be so bad?" Matt Yglesias asked that question about the effect of very high marginal taxes on very high incomes. So CEOs retire earlier than they normally would? So celebrity lawyers leave the field early and take up a hobby? So movie stars stop making action films and take small pro...
Cost of Minimum Wage Rise Is Nominal (18 Apr 2014 04:27pm)
The standard conservative argument against the minimum wage is that it will cost jobs. If you scratch at it, however, it falls apart. As I discussed in Rasing Minimum Wage Won't Hurt Employment, the truth is that the data on this issue are at worst murky. And one has to ask, "If raising the minimum...
Conservatives and the Lucky Duckies (18 Apr 2014 01:34pm)
On 20 November 2002, The Wall Street Journal editorial page used the term "lucky duckies" to describe people who made so little money that they owed no federal income taxes. It is a ridiculous claim. The implication is that its hard to be a billionaire paying a 13% tax rate on your income, but it's ...
Shinobu Hashimoto at 96 (18 Apr 2014 10:06am)
The great Japanese screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto is 96 years old today. He is especially associate with Akira Kurosawa, having co-written a number of his greatest films. He started his career writing the multi-perspective classic Rashomon, based upon Ryunosuke Akutagawa's short story. This led dire...
Democrats' Electoral Changes Less Bad (17 Apr 2014 10:07pm)
At Real Clear Politics today, Sean Trende published the most cheery piece of analysis I've read in months, Could Democrats Gain Senate Seats This Fall? But it's important to stress the first word in that title. He's not saying that Democrats are likely to gain seats in the Senate. In fact, he thinks...
The Obamacare War Is Over (17 Apr 2014 07:05pm)
That graph comes from an excellent article today by Jonathan Cohn, Obamacare Signups Hit 8 Million. And I will come back to the article and this bit of excellent news. But I present it now as an object of magical properties—for conservatives. They see that huge spike in March and they shout, ...
Facts Are Ideological if Cons Admit It (17 Apr 2014 02:38pm)
Jonathan Chait wrote an interesting article this morning about one of my obsessions, Why the New Data Journalism Really Is Partisan. Unfortunately, Chait doesn't come right now and say what the truth is. So let me lay it out. Yes: liberals and conservatives both have their own base ideologies. Liber...
Media's Skewed Economic Framing (17 Apr 2014 11:14am)
I'm not so concerned about the generally wacky, anti-fact beliefs of conservatives. The much bigger problems come from the assumptions of the mainstream press when it comes to economic issues. It is there that we get the unquestioned framing of the oligarchs. Take for example, the inflation target o...
Alexander Cartwright and Baseball (17 Apr 2014 09:37am)
It is hard to say who invented baseball. This is partly true because, like most games, it evolved over time. But if there was a single inventor of baseball, I think the title has to go to Alexander Cartwright, who was born on this day in 1820. He was a volunteer firefighter and as a group they used ...
Fanfare for a Death Scene (16 Apr 2014 07:09pm)
Andrea mentioned watching the beginning of a film in which Telly Savalas played a Chinese man, Fanfare for a Death Scene. Well, I had to see that! To me, Savalas will always been the Tootsie Pop sucking, "Who loves ya, baby?" spouting police detective in Kojak. I've seen him in other things, so I kn...
Why Republicans Are Against Voting Rights Today (16 Apr 2014 01:35pm)
Ari Berman is an excellent political writer over at The Nation. And on Monday, he asked a really good question, Republicans Used to Support Voting Rights—What Happened? He looked at at a new book by Todd Purdum, An Idea Whose Time Has Come. And he provided a little rundown of the Republican Pa...
Libertarians and Economics (16 Apr 2014 11:54am)
Over at Daily Kos last month, gjohnsit wrote, Libertarianism and What Adam Smith Actually Said. It doesn't actually have that much to say about Adam Smith other than that libertarians have turned him into a kind of demigod who can't be questioned. As I wrote before, "If Marx is the opium of the soc...
Henry Mancini (16 Apr 2014 09:43am)
On this day in 1924, the great arranger-composer Henry Mancini was born. In some ways, he was a hack like all movie composers. He pumped out work at a furious pace. He recorder over 90 albums. He was nominated for 18 Academy Awards, four of which he won. And he was nominated for 72 Grammy Awards, tw...
Israel's Long-Term Security (15 Apr 2014 10:19pm)
The Israel-Palestine conflict is a difficult one for me and for most liberals. We want to support Israel because of, well, the Holocaust. But the country is currently behaving rather badly. And the Palestinians are clearly an oppressed people, but the terrorists acts are hard to support. But in gene...
Mourning for Lu Lingzi (15 Apr 2014 08:16pm)
I have a natural tendency towards political incorrectness. So I bristle a bit at turning victims into heroes, as we have on this day, one year after the cruel bombing of the Boston Marathon. The truth is that people die tragically every day and I just can't bear the burden of caring more than I do i...
Be a Patriot, Pay Your Taxes! (15 Apr 2014 10:39am)
I just did my taxes. Well, I did a rough calculation and then filled out an extension. And as usual, I am amazed at how much I pay. It isn't in absolute terms that I'm amazed however. It is in relative terms—relative to how much the super rich are paying. Despite the fact that I made almost no...
Leonhard Euler and Diff Eq (15 Apr 2014 09:31am)
On this day in 1707, Leonhard Euler was born. He was one of the greatest mathematicians ever. And that gives me an opportunity to discuss one of my favorite subjects: differential equations. I love them because they are such an obvious example of creativity in mathematics. Although courses are taugh...
Advice for Young Carey Wedler (14 Apr 2014 06:57pm)
Carey Wedler is a young liberal who makes videos. She's very good. But last month she made a video that really annoyed me, Why I'm Burning My Last Bridge With Obama. In it she talks about how disappointed she has been with the president. I'm all for that, even if I personally haven't been disappoint...
This Is Not Great-Great-Grandma's GOP (14 Apr 2014 03:28pm)
With political news so depressing (see, for example, my last article), I find I spend most of my fun hours each day working on a totally awesome high tech project that I still can't talk about. But there are stories that come by that while still in a fundamental sense depressing are also deliciously...
GOP Senate Would Be Worse Than Thought (14 Apr 2014 12:03pm)
It seems that I wasn't depressed enough about the current state of American politics. So yesterday, Jonathan Chait wrote an article to make me feel even worse, If Republicans Win the Senate, What Crisis Will Mitch McConnell Cook Up Next? It is about the effect that a Republican Senate will have on t...
Turbo Tax vs Tax Act (14 Apr 2014 10:06am)
Turbo Tax vs Tax Act Which is Best? OK. We are down to that yearly last minute crunch time…but people still want to know which they should trust with their taxes. The shortest easiest answer is, use the same service you used last year. Both of these and most of the services will impor...
The Models of Thomas Schelling (14 Apr 2014 12:05am)
The great economist Thomas Schelling is 93 today. At least I guess he's an economist. He is definitely a mathematical modeler. But a lot of stuff he has done strikes me as more like political science. And he is definitely of the realpolitik tradition. I'm not at all convinced that his models necessa...
Strange "Facts" in Conservative World (13 Apr 2014 09:19pm)
I used to be the head of IT at moderate sized investment company. I loved the job but hated the company. It was owned by a couple of old millionaires and every day I had to walk past their pictures with Ronald Reagan, Bush the Elder, and eventually Bush the Younger. And as is usually the case in suc...
Mona Caron Outdoes Magritte (13 Apr 2014 06:25pm)
I was introduced to an artist this morning, Mono Caron. She is a San Francisco artist who specializes in murals. And her work is beautiful. It is expansive and varied even though it maintains a single style. It also combines nature and city life in a way that this very much in keeping with San Franc...
What's Good and Bad About Us All (13 Apr 2014 11:39am)
Jonathan Bernstein wrote a typically insightful article on Friday, The Good, the Bad and the LBJ. His main purpose is to push back against the inevitable calls for Obama to be more Johnson. The idea, I guess, is that if only Obama held conversations while sitting on the toilet, everyone would fall i...
Let's Send Mike Huckabee to North Korea (13 Apr 2014 09:06am)
Conservatives are delusional. Really. The things I hear them say remind me of things one used to only hear from people in the militia movement or among the most extreme libertarians. Today's example comes from Mike Huckabee at the New Hampshire Freedom Summit. But before we get to that, just consid...
Beckett Great and Not (13 Apr 2014 12:56am)
Last year on this day, I celebrated the birth of Samuel Beckett. I do love his work. Although I have come to think that to some extent he's overrated. Or rather that people appreciate him in the wrong way. For example, much of Waiting for Godot is pure silliness. That's true of Happy Days and Endgam...
Translator Again Everywhere That I'm Not (12 Apr 2014 01:55pm)
Will sent me a little video of the band Translator playing one of their rare gigs back in 2009 at Slim's in San Francisco. Translator has been a problem for me for almost three decades. In the early 80s, they were really big around here—kind of like American Music Club in the early 90s. But t...
Austerity Is Always a Good Idea Even When it Isn't (12 Apr 2014 09:50am)
Dean Baker has noted a common bit of conservative propaganda, UK Conservatives Redefine Success Downward. What has been going on is that the conservative government under George Osborne has imposed harsh austerity on the country since 2010. Even though the economy was terribly depressed, the governm...
American Original Tiny Tim (12 Apr 2014 02:00am)
Where I grew up here in California, much of the milk comes from Clover Stornetta Farms. And for decades, they have advertised using billboards featuring their mascot, a white milk cow named Clo. And these billboards always feature puns. For example, in one, Clo is dressed as a judge and she has quar...
Jane Bolin at Yale (11 Apr 2014 07:21pm)
On this day in 1908, Jane Bolin was born. She was a remarkable woman, remembered today primarily for being the first African-American woman to graduate from Yale Law School. Like President Obama, it is hard to call her black when she was half white and half black, in as much as those terms mean anyt...
Would Republicans Support Voting Rights Act Now? (11 Apr 2014 02:41pm)
I have to admit: I'm confused. This week, we are celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. But it didn't happen fifty years ago this week. Johnson signed it into law on 2 July 1964. But 46 years ago today, the Civil Rights Act of 1968 was signed, exactly a week after Martin L...
Brendan Eich Is Not a Free Speech Victim (11 Apr 2014 12:44pm)
The whole Brendan Eich affair is not very interesting to me. As you probably know, he recently became CEO of Mozilla Corporation. And almost right away, he resigned over his support of the anti-gay Proposition 8 in California in 2008. But after I saw that racist war mongering idiot Andrew Sullivan o...
None Dead at School Stabbing (11 Apr 2014 10:29am)
You've probably heard about Wednesday's stabbing at the Franklin Regional High School in Murrysville, Pennsylvania. Alex Hribal, a tenth grader at the school, allegedly brought two large kitchen knives to school and started stabbing students as they prepared for class that morning. The whole thing t...
The 1980 Libertarian Platform Today (10 Apr 2014 10:32pm)
Bernie Sanders (or more likely one of his staff members) decided to take a look at the platform of the Libertarian Party back in 1980. Why? Because David Koch ran that year as the vice-presidential candidate. And the platform is typically loony: we'll only except everything! They want to get rid of ...
William Hazlitt Had Many Ideas (10 Apr 2014 08:11pm)
Having now done the birthday posts for over a year, I have the advantage of being able to go back and look at what I wrote last year. And the amazing thing is how much they evolved over time. By this point last year, they had just become something of a hodgepodge with my flitting from one person to ...
Healthcare Cost Control and GOP Hysteria (10 Apr 2014 02:48pm)
Paul Waldman at The American Prospect wrote a short article one of the reasons we have, The Most Expensive Health Care in the World. In it, he discusses charges to Medicare. He contrasts two drugs that are almost identical in the treatment of macular degeneration. One is Lucentis and the other is Av...
Marginal Worker Value (10 Apr 2014 11:10am)
In Paul Krugman's rave review of Capital in the Twenty-First Century by Thomas Piketty, he brings up one issue where the the book is weak. Inequality in America is still more about wages than capital. Now, this is changing and within a couple of generations, we will be as ossified an oligarchy as an...
101 Year Old Message in a Bottle (10 Apr 2014 09:26am)
Recently, a German fisherman,Konrad Fischer, discovered a message in a bottle off the coast of Kiel in the Baltic Sea. He took it to the Internationales Maritimes Museum in Hamburg and scientists there set about tracking down its owner. And shockingly, they succeeded. The message was on a post card...
Two Songs From Tom Lehrer (09 Apr 2014 06:20pm)
Last year's birthday post was, In Which the Birthdays Suck. That was unkind. There were a number of interesting people: Carl Perkins, Jim Fowler, and Steve Gadd. But I rightly noted that Hugh Hefner was a very creepy guy. I implied it about Nathaniel Branden. And I noted that Joe Scarborough was an ...
Let's Be Kind to the Poor and Weak (09 Apr 2014 01:59pm)
I know that we Americans love stories about people who do stupid things. It apparently makes us feel better about ourselves. It's sad though. The popularity of shows like Cops do indicate that America is filled with a lot of stupid people, but they are mostly sitting in front of the TV. So it is wit...
Bad Samaritans (09 Apr 2014 11:44am)
I just read Ha-Joon Chang's excellent Bad Samaritans for the second time. It is an attack on neo-liberal policies that claim that the best thing developing economies can do is open themselves up to globalization and all will be well. As Chang shows, this results in undeveloped countries remaining un...
Don't Involve NASA in Ukraine Situation (09 Apr 2014 10:07am)
Last week, Sci-Tech Today reported, NASA Cuts Ties with Russia Except on Space Station. The reason that we aren't cutting ties on the space station is that thanks to budget cuts, we have no way to get to and from the space station. It's a pathetic situation, but then, so is this business of trying t...
The Republican Obamacare Endgame (08 Apr 2014 11:01pm)
Sahil Kapur wrote a really informative article at Talking Points Memo, Republicans Warn of New Obamacare Reality: No Repeal Without Alternative. It looks at the state of Republican Obamacare delusion. The only reasonably rational statement came from an anonymous Republican aide who said that in orde...
Four Songs From Jacques Brel (08 Apr 2014 09:21pm)
There are a lot of great birthdays today, but I have to with Jacques Brel, who was born on this day in 1929. He was one of the greatest singer-songwriters ever. He wrote chansons with interesting characters in complex situations. There is nothing especially interesting about his life other than that...
Bad Tipping and Christian Apologetics (08 Apr 2014 07:00pm)
Last year, there was a whole media dust up about Pastor Alois Bell who refused an 18% autograt (automatic tip on large parties), writing on the receipt, "I give God 10 percent why do you get 18?" It was an unfortunate incident that the Pastor later apologized for. But there is a larger question here...
Why Conservative Christians Hate Noah (08 Apr 2014 02:03pm)
Dan Mathewson wrote a really interesting article over at Religion Dispatches, Noah, Cosmos Controversies Not About Biblical Literalism. In it, he traces the rise of the conservative Christian movement to the early 20th century. At that time, Christianity had to deal with new scientific discoveries&m...
Third Way Looks Out for Corporate Base (08 Apr 2014 10:27am)
You may know about Third Way. It is a supposed centrist party that doesn't fall into the trap of the supposed extremist Democratic and Republican parties. The problem is that when they talk about policy, it turns out that it is what the Democratic Party establishment already supports. Now this is a...
Watching Jonathan Chait Flail (07 Apr 2014 10:37pm)
This morning I saw that Jonathan Chait had a new feature in New York Magazine. Normally, that is something to celebrate. He's an excellent writer with a lot of great insights. But this article was, The Color of His Presidency. It is about race in politics—an issue that Chait hasn't exactly dis...
Government Oppression and Billie Holiday (07 Apr 2014 07:56pm)
Billie Holiday was born on this day in 1915. After all these years, she is one of my very favorite singers. Here musical phrasing was entirely new and it continues to fascinate me. And I'm hardly alone. I love both Frank Sinatra and Madeleine Peyroux. But in a fundamental way, they are just ripoffs ...
People Who Know Where Ukraine Is, Don't Want to Go to War Over it (07 Apr 2014 02:43pm)
Now you know where Ukraine is. But maybe you already did. Most readers around here are pretty liberal and are not inclined to think that going to war over the slightest provocation is a good idea. I say this because a The Monkey Cage conducted a new poll that found that only 16% of Americans could ...
Elite Power Trumps Ideological Rigidity (07 Apr 2014 12:20pm)
I'm still not clear what exactly Ezra Klein's project is, but he has now published a very interesting article, How Politics Makes Us Stupid. It focuses on the work of Dan Kahan, who has shown that political ideology and tribal identification affect how we perceive data. I have some problems with his...
Why Low Inflation Is Bad (07 Apr 2014 10:18am)
For roughly the last week, Paul Krugman has been focused on the recent International Monetary Fund World Economic Outlook report and its suggestion that our current inflation target of 2% is too low. He talked about it in his column today, Oligarchs and Money. The point is that having such a low inf...
60 Minutes Whitewashs Obamacare Opponents (06 Apr 2014 10:34pm)
I caught a bit of 60 Minutes tonight. They did an interesting and even inspiring story, Affordable Care for Those Still Uninsured. It follows two nurse practitioners, Teresa Gardner and Paula Meade, who drive around in an RV providing free healthcare to the working poor of Appalachia. These women ar...
Who Else but Raphael? (06 Apr 2014 08:51pm)
What was I going to do? Talk about geneticist James Watson? I'm trying to rid myself of people with really vile opinions. And his attitude toward the great geneticist Rosalind Franklin is totally unacceptable. And let's face it, Watson and Crick were not that great. They were the first of many who w...
Income Inequality Problems (06 Apr 2014 11:40am)
In recent years, Joseph Stiglitz has focused on the issue of income inequality. And last week, he testified before the Senate Budget Committee. The topic was, Opportunity, Mobility, and Inequality in Today's Economy. It's all standard stuff around here, but it can't be repeated enough. Every day I h...
Warren Buffett Counter-Counterargument (06 Apr 2014 09:35am)
Warren Buffett famously noted that his secretary paid a higher income tax rate than he did. It was a good illustration of the reason we have such high income inequality in this country. As one goes very high in earnings, one's tax rate goes down. This is primarily because we don't tax capital gains ...
Roger Corman and the Art of Film Making (05 Apr 2014 09:05pm)
Listen up everyone! It is Roger Corman's 88th birthday today. And you should care, because he is an amazing guy. He made all those great early-1960s Edgar Allan Poe adaptations with Vincent Price that Richard Matheson wrote. And he did so much more. He is the very definition of an exploitation filmm...
The Guard Is Fun but Shallow (05 Apr 2014 07:20pm)
After gushing a bit about Brendan Gleeson, JMF recommended that I watch The Guard. And so I did. It is an amusing and interesting film, written and directed by John Michael McDonagh. It is hard not to compare the film to the work of his brother, Martin McDonagh. And it makes me wonder if I hadn't re...
John Roberts' Balls and Strikes (05 Apr 2014 05:29pm)
Balls and Strikes. That's what John Roberts said about being a judge. During his confirmation hearing, he said, "I will remember that it's my job to call balls and strikes and not to pitch or bat." At the time, I was appalled. Never in my life had I ever heard someone say such a nakedly dishonest th...
"If I Only Had a Brain" and Political Smarts (05 Apr 2014 12:43pm)
My favorite song is "If I Only Had a Brain." Or at least it is if you go by the song that I sing most often. Following from my mom, I am always singing bits of songs that comment about what is going on in my life. And given that I find myself often doing very stupid things, singing "If I Only Had a ...
The Global Cooling Myth (05 Apr 2014 09:39am)
This info graphic is from Media Matters, The Junk Science of Fox News' Favorite "Global Cooling" Myth. It is a very useful push back against global warming deniers who say that we can't believe the scientific consensus about global warming today just as we couldn't believe the consensus about globa...
Thaddeus and Lydia (04 Apr 2014 08:12pm)
On this day in 1792, Thaddeus Stevens was born. When I wrote about him a year and a half ago, I quoted Wikipedia of that time saying, "Stevens dreamed of a socially just world, where unearned privilege did not exist. He believed from his personal experience that being different or having a different...
Agatha Christie's Poirot (04 Apr 2014 02:19pm)
Recently, I've been watching a lot of the British television series Agatha Christie's Poirot. It's the one with David Suchet in the title role. I remember watching it when it first came out; I was blown away by Suchet in the part. I was used to Albert Finney in Murder on the Orient Express and Peter...
Rand Paul Won't Fly in General Election (04 Apr 2014 12:11pm)
Over at The Cook Political Report, Amy Walter made a good point, Don't Call Rand Paul the Frontrunner. Basically, she distinguished between candidates who get a lot of media coverage and candidates who actually win. Journalists like covering Rand Paul because he isn't as dreadfully boring as most Re...
Ramesh Ponnuru Obamacare Warning to Conservatives (04 Apr 2014 10:02am)
Ramesh Ponnuru is a remarkable conservative writer. I've used him more than any writer in my Quotations posts. And earlier this week, he was in fine form, Stop Waiting for Obamacare to Implode. Reading a bit between the lines, it is a devastating attack on Republican hubris. Basically, he's arguing...
The Legend of Sleepy Hollow (03 Apr 2014 07:41pm)
On this day in 1783, the writer Washington Irving was born. I'm embarrassed to admit that last year, I wrote, "All my life, I've been disappointed with 'The Legend of Sleepy Hollow.' It just doesn't make any sense. What exactly am I supposed to get from it? I don't suppose it matters." That was base...
Sabotage May Be Worst Film I Ever Saw (03 Apr 2014 03:16pm)
On Tuesday, I went to see Sabotage with my brother. Now I'm used to seeing pretty bad films with my brother. The truth is, my brother has no taste. I'm not being cute here. I mean literally that he has no taste. He'll watch anything. So Arnold Schwarzenegger was in this film and away we went! But it...
UPS and Corporate Power Abuse (03 Apr 2014 11:38am)
This morning on Business Insider, I read, UPS Fires 250 Employees for Staging a 90-Minute Protest to Defend Co-Worker. It seems in February, a bunch of UPS employees went on a short strike to protest the firing of union activist Jairo Reyes over an hours dispute. UPS has claimed that they had to fir...
Conservative Economic Ideal at Fox News (03 Apr 2014 09:42am)
I heard that Sean Hannity recently signed a $100 million four year deal with Fox News. Arithmetic fans will notice that this is roughly $25 million dollars per year. That stood out to me because Rachel Maddow makes less than one-third of that. But while Maddow is the star of MSNBC, Hannity is at bes...
Even Republican Women Hate Women (02 Apr 2014 11:11pm)
I think Dana Milbank is kind of an idiot. He is the ultimate Washington Wanker. He's a moderate who is great at spouting what all the upper middle class Washington pundits think. You know the stuff: economically conservative, and socially liberal—the beliefs that are totally consistent with th...
Cautionary Comment on Inspiration Story (02 Apr 2014 09:53pm)
I'm not one for inspirational stories. In fact, I hate them. It's really because I grew up in the United States. Now, for most people, this would mean that I would have grown up to believe in the greatest American myth: the will to success. This is the idea that you can do anything if you try hard e...
Charlemagne and Meritocracy (02 Apr 2014 07:24pm)
On this day in 742 (or 747 or 748) Charlemagne was born. He was also called Charles the Great. Of course, his wife called him Chuck the Not as Great as You'd Imagine. I'm just saying. He's notable for more or less putting the old Roman Empire back together. Initially, he was King of Franks with his...
Dean Chambers Knows Obamacare Signups Are Bogus Just Because (02 Apr 2014 02:07pm)
I really don't want to write about this, but some stories are like smack to a junkie. Remember Dean Chambers? He was the guy behind Unskewed Polls. Despite everything, I thought he at least had a tad of shame. I based that on the fact that right before the last presidential election, he changed his ...
Supreme Court Strikes Blow for Oligarchy (02 Apr 2014 12:43pm)
Welcome to your oligarchy! The Los Angeles Times reported this morning, Supreme Court Lifts Overall Limits on Congressional Campaign Donations. It used to be that donors could only give a total of $123,000 per year to Congressional candidates or political parties. This decision is not a shock, of co...
We Need a Financial Transaction Tax (02 Apr 2014 10:14am)
We liberals don't tend to like bankers. They seem to make a lot of money for doing nothing. But in fact, they do important work. At least some of them. Think about it. There are disparate people who have money they want to invest and disparate people who need investment money. At their best, bankers...
Why Conservatives Hate Obamacare (01 Apr 2014 11:11pm)
Today, the White House announced that 7.1 million people have signed for the ACA on the exchanges, thus meeting the administration's initial goals. Of course, when it comes to the Republican response, the healthcare law can't win. If the signups had not met goals, they would have said it proved that...
Politics and the Hierarchy of Needs (01 Apr 2014 09:03pm)
Twenty-five years ago, Margaret Thatcher's infamous poll tax (officially known as the Community Charge) was put into effect. It was the beginning of the end for the "Lead Lady." But I'm afraid that Americans don't much understand what it was all about. Until that point, the tax was basically a prope...
Miracle Reagan Toast Discovered (01 Apr 2014 10:36am)
Conservatives throughout the country are converging on Shawnee, Oklahoma to see what many are calling final proof of the divinity of Ronald Reagan: his likeness appearing on a piece of toast. Joe le Plumberre, the second cousin by marriage of Senator Jim Inhofe, found the image on his toast on 27 M...
Rubber Is Good Psychotronic Fun (01 Apr 2014 08:18am)
Consider this story idea: an abandoned tire becomes conscious and goes on a killing spree. If you are very boring, you might turn this into a stripped down version of Christine. But if you were Quentin Dupieux, you would turn it into a postmodern circus that plays with various realities before comin...
The Son Joseph Haydn Never Had (31 Mar 2014 07:04pm)
Since we already celebrated Cesar Chavez, this day can only go to one man (even though it is a rather good day for birthdays): Joseph Haydn. He is one of the greatest composers ever. He has been called "Father of the Symphony" and "Father of the String Quartet." But it would probably be most accurat...
GOTV Is Key to Democratic Success (31 Mar 2014 04:17pm)
Ed Kilgore often annoys me because of his New Democratic outlook on politics. Just the same, he is a keen observer who posts 12 articles a day. So he is required reading if you want to know what's going on in partisan politics. But what bugs me most about him is what I see as cynical defeatism. He i...
Great Deals on Black Pets! (31 Mar 2014 12:46pm)
I have only been the primary caregiver to two cats: Pulitzer and Deadline. They were both black cats with small amounts of white. That's probably just a fluke, because I'm not a racist when it comes to cats. I judge them on the content of their personalities not the color of their fur. But apparentl...
Happy Cesar Chavez Day! (31 Mar 2014 10:56am)
Here is California today, it is Cesar Chavez Day. And it also happens to be his birthday, which is tidy. But just like Martin Luther King Jr, we celebrate the mythic Chavez rather than the man. And that's just fine. But the man deserves to be remembered. He was a curious fellow. For example, he was ...
Pretend Wonk Paul Ryan (31 Mar 2014 09:38am)
Jonathan Chait caught something important buried in a long (pay-walled) report in Congressional Quarterly, You'll Never Guess What Just Happened to Paul Ryan's Promise to Tackle Poverty. It seems that Ryan's new budget will contain policy proposals that he supposedly researched in his 204-page pover...
The Lesser Known Vincent van Gogh (30 Mar 2014 07:55pm)
Having fought with a major networking problem all weekend long, I'm kind of tired. So you must forgive me for taking the easy way out and noting that Vincent van Gogh was born on this day in 1853. I put it that way, because van Gogh is probably the most overrated painter in history. I don't say that...
Bill Maher Gives Good Advice to Dems (30 Mar 2014 05:28pm)
Bill Maher is kind of a jerk. He's also pretentious and he thinks he's way smarter than he actually is. But that doesn't mean he isn't right. Or insightful. And on Friday's episode of Real Time, he had some great advice for the Democratic Party. I know its great advice because I've been offering it ...
Right Wing Propaganda Spawns Loons (30 Mar 2014 01:08pm)
Last week, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported, FBI Smashes Alleged Radical-Right Terror Plot in Texas. It told the story of Robert James Talbot Jr, who seems to be a right wing nutjob. He was soliciting people via Facebook to recruit men "to restore America Pre-Constitutionally and look forwar...
Why No Media Interest in Obamacare (30 Mar 2014 11:07am)
Paul Krugman is surprised about, The ACA Surge Blackout. In it, he noted that the media were all over the website problems as they should have been. But they seem especially disinterested in covering the fact that the website was fixed and enrollment is way up. It is quite possible that the program ...
Rats May Not Be Responsible for Plague (29 Mar 2014 10:40pm)
As you may know, I am a big fan of rats. And now, the long maligned animal may finally get justice. The Guardian just reported, Black Death Was Not Spread By Rat Fleas, Say Researchers. According to a number of different studies, it seems that the "rat flea" theory is wrong. The plague moved much to...
Brendan Gleeson (29 Mar 2014 06:52pm)
Today, Brendan Gleeson turns 59 years old. He is a great Irish character actor. He has the distinction of being the only living Irish character actor to never appear in an episode of Ballykissangel. I really like him because he's so amazingly likable up there on the screen. And that's even true when...
Why We Hate Cheney More Than Bush (29 Mar 2014 05:04pm)
Martin Longman got me thinking in his article, An Actually Weak President. It's about how Dick Cheney goes around calling President Obama "weak," while no one does the same to Bush the Younger, even though everyone knew that Cheney was the person actually in charge. He said, "You'll know that the cu...
Inflation Chicken Littles (29 Mar 2014 01:26pm)
If there is one thing that binds all the rich together it is their obsession with inflation. The situation is very simple. If you work for a living, you need a job. Modest inflation is good for the job market. But if you own for a living, then inflation is bad. That's because the stuff you own loses...
Joe Biden Gets a Dwarf Planet (29 Mar 2014 10:12am)
As you probably know, I'm a fan of Joe Biden. But this isn't because of his policy ideas. He's quite all right in that area, but there are a number of things I don't like. For example, he has always been a "tough on crime" guy, and that has led to our extreme prison problems and the racial inequalit...
Cons Think Colbert Is a Double Agent (28 Mar 2014 10:21pm)
Digby sent me to this very interesting study that shows exactly what I've known for a long time, The Irony of Satire: Political Ideology and the Motivation to See What You Want to See in The Colbert Report. For those who do not know it, The Colbert Report is more or less a parody of Bill O'Reilly's ...
Apologies to Fra Bartolomeo (28 Mar 2014 08:24pm)
Last year on this day, I think I was a little harsh to Fra Bartolomeo who was born on this day in 1472. While I did say that "he is insanely great," I also said that I wasn't much of a fan. Even then, though, I admitted that the problem wasn't with him. It was the times. It was the early days of per...
Moral Cowardice in Good Night, and Good Luck (28 Mar 2014 04:14pm)
Last night, I watched Good Night, and Good Luck for the first time since it came out. I didn't enjoy it as much as I did the first time. The screenplay is thin. There are lots of musical interludes and similar tricks to fill out the film to its sort (for a drama) hour and a half running time. What's...
Christie's Government Abuse Continues (28 Mar 2014 02:20pm)
Francis Wilkinson gives a great rundown, Christie's Bridge Report Is an Embarrassment. The report is even more sordid than the actions imply. It focuses on an alleged affair that Bridget Kelly had with Chris Christie's campaign manager Bill Stepien. Apparently, they broke up and Kelly went on tilt, ...
The Black Cultural Dysfunction Myth (28 Mar 2014 09:52am)
Jonathan Chait is back, Barack Obama vs the Culture of Poverty. It is the fourth article in the debate that he is having with Ta-Nehisi Coates, which I discussed last weekend, White Power and Black Oppression. It discusses the reasons that blacks are doing relatively poorly in our economy. Chait cla...
Artist and Rat Budd Schulberg (27 Mar 2014 09:37pm)
I just watched Good Night, and Good Luck, and I'll probably write about it later. But it is especially appropriate because that movie is about the Joseph McCarthy communist witch hunts. They shine such a light on who we are both as a society and as a individuals. And one of the people who got that l...
Paul Ryan More Racist Than Ever (27 Mar 2014 03:47pm)
Two weeks ago, I wrote about Paul Ryan's Racist Dog Whistle. This was about his contention that poverty was the result of lazy inner city men. Despite much contention to the contrary, it was pure racist dog whistle politics. Since then, Paul Ryan has gone around trying to prove that he isn't racist....
Corporate Bureaucracy (27 Mar 2014 11:18am)
The standard conservative line is that governments are bureaucratic and unresponsive while privately held companies are innovative and responsive. There was never any theory to explain why that would be. And in my experience, it isn't true. It's just a tired talking point of right wingers who hate t...
Nate Silver's Bizarre NYT Parody (27 Mar 2014 09:32am)
Nate Silver wrote a bizarre article at FiveThirtyEight last night, For Columnist, a Change of Tone. It is a parody of an article in The New York Times and it attacks Paul Krugman, implying that Krugman has been attacking the new website because it left The Times. Since it is done as satire, it is ha...
Grading Myself Against Jakob Nielsen's Design Mistakes (26 Mar 2014 10:40pm)
Jakob Nielsen is one of the great heroes of the internet. He's a web usability expert. I have learned a great deal from him over the years. It probably helps that his base attitude is the same as mine: people come to your website for a reason; don't waste their time. And the biggest aspect of this i...
Tennessee and Rose Williams (26 Mar 2014 06:27pm)
On this day in 1911, the great playwright Tennessee Williams was born. He is most known for A Streetcar Named Desire and Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. What has always bugged me is how Hollywood just loved Williams. But they glossed over the homosexual themes there. That was true of both Cat and The Night o...
The Real Global Warming Debate (26 Mar 2014 02:24pm)
Recent research proves it: scientific opinions on global warming really do differ. The executive director of the National Physical Science Consortium, James Lawrence Powell, looked at every peer reviewed journal article he could find on the subject of global warming in 2013. He found 10,855. Of thos...
Education, Inequality, and Myth (26 Mar 2014 12:17pm)
I was introduced to a very interesting book by Henry Farrell, a political science professor at George Washington University. This last term, he has had a reading group with seven female seniors and most recently, they read Paying for the Party: How College Maintains Inequality. The book looks at how...
Bela Bartok and Birth of Modern (25 Mar 2014 09:15pm)
On this day in 1881, the great composer Bela Bartok was born. When I a music major in college, a lot of people were really into Bartok. I never got it. It always seemed to me that there were more interesting modern composers like Elliott Carter. But now I get it. Bartok is kind of like Schoenberg wi...
Want Investors? Be an Attractive Man! (25 Mar 2014 02:02pm)
Researchers at MIT and Harvard noticed that less than 10% of venture capital money in Silicon Valley went to companies by women. So they decided to look at see if there was some real reason for this like woman not having as many startups or if it was just sexism. Can you guess what they found? They ...
Why Conservatives Ignore Global Warming (25 Mar 2014 01:01pm)
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) will release a report this week that, Predicts Dire Threats for People, Including Food, Water Shortages. Who would have thought? I mean, other than pretty much everyone in the field. Since I was a climate scientist from roughly 1990 to 1998, one ...
Let Discrimination Ring! (25 Mar 2014 10:40am)
Jeffrey Rosen wrote a very interesting article in New Republic, The End of Anti-Discrimination. It is about the Hobby Lobby and Conestega Woods cases that the Supreme Court is hearing. But they deal with an issue that has been much on my mind: where does it stop? If a company can say that it ought t...
Matilda Joslyn Gage (24 Mar 2014 07:36pm)
On this day in 1826, the writer, activist, and so much more, Matilda Joslyn Gage was born. There tends to be a problem for me when I write about the suffragist of the 19th century: they are so Christian. But Gage was a harsh critic of Christianity, which (if you haven't noticed) is an extremely sexi...
Why You Can't Argue With Christian Apologists (24 Mar 2014 03:39pm)
On the 14 March 2014 Real Time, Bill Maher had a few choice words about the biblical flood story. He said, "It's about a psychotic mass murderer who gets away with it, and his name is God. Genesis says God was so angry with himself for screwing up when he made mankind so flawed that he sent the floo...
For Some MA370 Will Always Be Mystery (24 Mar 2014 01:24pm)
According to the Malaysian government, MA370 went down in the Southern Indian Ocean with no hope of survivors. This doesn't come as a surprise, but it's sad. I had rather hoped that the plane had be hijacked so that the people had a chance. But it is not to be it would seem. Still many question rema...
Our Stingy Social Security Benefits (24 Mar 2014 10:03am)
Over the weekend, Isaiah Poole over at Truthout wrote, This Statistic Should Shut Down Any Talk of Cutting Social Security. The statistic: "36 percent of workers, according to one poll, have less than $1,000 saved for their retirement." He's right that it should shut down any talk of cutting social ...
Carter Thinks NSA Spies on Him (23 Mar 2014 09:40pm)
"As a matter of fact, you know, I have felt that my own communications were probably monitored." That's what former President Jimmy Carter told CNN today. He added that if he wants to write a world leader, he sends it on paper through the post office. When I heard that, I had two thoughts. First: my...
White Out in the Heart of Texas (23 Mar 2014 07:25pm)
On this day in 1924, Bette Nesmith Graham was born. Who, you ask? In the 1950s, she lived in Texas and worked in a bank. But to show you how much things have changed, the highest position in the bank that was open to women was executive secretary—the position that Graham held. But to supplemen...
Dad and I Go See Gravity (23 Mar 2014 05:15pm)
I took my father to see Gravity at the cheap theater today. And our reactions were exactly the opposite. We both rather liked it. But I loved the first hour and thought the last half hour was total rubbish. My dad thought the first hour was kind of boring and the last half hour was a thrill ride. He...
Libertarian Fail on Birth Control (23 Mar 2014 12:04pm)
Emily Crockett has written one of the best articles I've read all year, Timothy Lee, Latest Mansplainer on the Birth Control Benefit, Gets It All Wrong. It all started with the puppet video about reproductive rights. Crockett tweeted out a link to the video adding, "Puppets are creepy. So is your em...
Two Points on The Human Centipede (23 Mar 2014 10:14am)
Recently, I was told about the film The Human Centipede. I figured it was something campy like "bug man." But no. It is about an evil scientist who connects three people together, mouth to anus. Hence: human centipede. I have not seen it. I will not see it. I have a problem with scatological materia...
Two Musical Comedy Legends (22 Mar 2014 07:09pm)
Two great musical composers have birthdays today, so let me start with the one I don't like: Andrew Lloyd Webber. Now notice: I do think he is a great composer. I just don't especially like him. He's not big of melody. I mean, he can do it. But he usually limits such exercises to two songs per show....
GOP Millennials Ad Parodies (22 Mar 2014 05:42pm)
Via the always and forever wonderful Digby, I found out that Last Week Tonight with John Oliver did parodies of those awful Republican "Millennials" commercials. All I've done is create a playlist so the original runs followed by the parody for the two. Enjoy: ...
White Power and Black Oppression (22 Mar 2014 04:58pm)
Let me go through the history here, step by step, because it is a bit complex. First, Ta-Nehisi Coates wrote, The Secret Lives of Inner-City Black Males. In it, he argued that liberals should not be so upset about Paul Ryan's racist dog whistle, because it is essentially the same thing that Presiden...
Wonderful Legacy of the Krofft Brothers (22 Mar 2014 12:08pm)
When I was a kid, H R Pufnstuf was a big show. It seemed to be on all the time. But I did a little research last night and found out that only one season of the show was ever produced—just 17 episodes. But my perception that it was on all the time was right. Although NBC did not make any more ...
Marriage and Bad Economics (22 Mar 2014 10:32am)
Sometimes a headline will tell you everything you need to know about a news story. That was certainly the case with the Metro headline, Husband Locked Wife in Shed for Singing "Ding Dong the Witch Is Dead" When His Mother Died. There is slightly more to it, but it's in the weeds. Like the husband's ...
Son House (21 Mar 2014 08:18pm)
On this day in 1902, the great blues musician Son House was born. He's one of the legends of Mississippi Delta blues, which more or less make him a blues legend across time and space. According to him, he met a young Robert Johnson who would have been 18 or 19. He said that the young Johnson was an ...
Dems Need to Increase Asian Voter Turnout (21 Mar 2014 12:59pm)
The Monkey Cage is one of the best blogs going. Unfortunately, since it moved to the Washington Post, I don't read it as much. There just isn't enough coming from them to pay for a subscription, especially when the news and editorial page so often annoy me. However, I just noticed that they have low...
Politico's False Equivalence on Media's Putin Love Affair (21 Mar 2014 10:50am)
Digby also sent me to a very funny article by Roger Simon, Mess With Bull, Get Horns. But she didn't see the article the way I did. The article makes fun of the sudden outbreak of Putin love here in the United States. But as one would expect from Politico, Simon couldn't just attack the conservative...
Bill Donohue Welcome at NYC Pride (21 Mar 2014 09:48am)
There hasn't been a whole lot of news the last few days, and that always has me roaming around FARK and blogs looking at what people are yammering about. Digby brought my attention to a very interesting article in Gothamist, NYC Gay Pride Parade Welcomes Catholic League & "Straight Is Great" Sig...
The Urban Legends of Mr Rogers (20 Mar 2014 06:45pm)
On this day in 1928, the very good neighbor Fred Rogers was born. But did you know that he got started in children's television as a result of a child molestation conviction? You see, as part of his punishment, he was forced to do community service. This involved doing manual labor in the Neighborho...
Shakespeare Uncovered (20 Mar 2014 05:07pm)
I was looking for something to watch on Netflix last night and after looking for a long time, I came upon Shakespeare Uncovered. It's a six-part PBS series that dives into (more or less) one play per episode with a famous actor. The first was about Macbeth, which is probably my favorite Shakespearea...
Puppets and Reproductive Rights (20 Mar 2014 12:44pm)
The following video is brilliant and important. And it has puppets! Sadly, it sums up the current "religious freedom" debate. It is also accurate that increasingly, religious zealots think that hormonal birth control is a form of abortion. You know, I've been saying this for at least a decade (I'm n...
Staged Don Giovanni Is Best (20 Mar 2014 11:56am)
The other night I watched the Mozart's Don Giovanni, a 1955 filmed version of what is essentially a stage production starring Cesare Siepi in the title role. He's somehow perfect for the role, even though it is a baritone part and Siepi is a bass. The rest of the cast is equally good. But I was espe...
Of Course Boehner Kills UI Benefits (20 Mar 2014 10:29am)
Over at New Republic yesterday, Danny Vinik wrote, John Boehner's Ridiculous Excuse for Blocking the Deal on Unemployment Benefits. You probably know at least part of the story. And you can probably guess the rest. Extended unemployment benefits ended in December. This is a huge problem because we h...
Milton Friedman Wrong on Depression (19 Mar 2014 07:45pm)
While researching today's birthday post, I found the video below, Milton Friedman on the Gold Standard. It's quite interesting. Just on the surface level, listening to Friedman talk, you could predict that he was a libertarian. He comes off as so smug, I really feel the desire to punch him in the fa...
Populist Icon William Jennings Bryan (19 Mar 2014 06:32pm)
On this day in 1860, the populist icon William Jennings Bryan was born. It's sad that today he is almost entirely remembered for his anti-evolution views in the Scopes Trial. Because he was a lot more than that. And I mean that in a good and a bad way. But I think he stands as the ultimate example o...
The Great Democratic Myth (19 Mar 2014 02:58pm)
The video below is great. Cenk takes apart Toure of The Cycle. Go ahead and watch it because I agree with everything Cenk says, but I want to approach it from a slightly different perspective. Toure is making the standard Democratic argument that we have to nominate conservatives so they will win. ...
Maybe Nate Silver Should Stick to Sports (19 Mar 2014 01:30pm)
Earlier today, over at New Republic, Leon Wieseltier wrote, The Emptiness of Data Journalism. It is yet another attack on Nate Silver for his comments about the superiority of what he does versus what opinion journalists do. And it is by far the best that I've read. I've always liked Silver and I wa...
I Believe in God but He Doesn't Care (19 Mar 2014 12:11pm)
A couple of days ago, I had an epiphany. We are talking about God all wrong. I still find fascinating the question, "Why does the universe exist?" And a nice short answer to that question is: God. We could have different words for it. But any words or phrases are going to be disappointing. I even ha...
Ballad of a WiFi Hero (19 Mar 2014 10:05am)
Good morning friends! I'm getting a late start today because I've been working very hard on a technical project and I was up really late last night. But it should be a normal day here. I'm trying to be more organized. So there will somehow be five or so posts today. Yesterday, Andrea sent me to the...
Bad Oscar Winners (18 Mar 2014 10:06pm)
I just found this Watch Mojo video, Top 10 Worst Best Picture Oscar-Winning Movies. I thought it would be fun, but it only annoyed me. I probably should have guessed. Because there is one thing that I thought all people who really like movies as an art form agree on: the Academy Awards are a joke. ...
Neville Chamberlain Was Right (18 Mar 2014 07:07pm)
Last year, I highlighted a u-boat captain who was celebrating his 100th birthday. And I am pleased to keep the World War II theme going this year, but with a more tragic figure—even if the tragedy is more lore than history. On this day in 1869, the English Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain wa...
Killers, Drug Dealers, and a Racist Dwarf (18 Mar 2014 04:14pm)
Last night, I watched In Bruges from writer-director Martin McDonagh, probably best known for the recent Seven Psychopaths. It's interesting that his films are so visually interesting when he is, at heart, a playwright. But the thing about filmmaking is that it is a group effort. I know if someone w...
Democrats Should Expand Entitlements (18 Mar 2014 11:51am)
Digby highlighted a National Journal article this morning, Did Social Security Cost Democrats a Seat In Florida? It highlights how the Florida 13th district has one of the highest percentages of people over 65 years old. So the Democrat, Sink, tried to use the Republican Jolly's support for privati...
Nothing Left (18 Mar 2014 10:22am)
In this month's issue of Harper's Magazine, Adolph Reed wrote Nothing Left. Sadly, it is behind a paywall. I went and got a hard copy when I heard about it. And it is a great article. Unfortunately, my well marked copy has set idle because I haven't had much to add to it. It is very much what I thin...
Robert Reich and Inequality for All (17 Mar 2014 09:15pm)
I really like Robert Reich as a public intellectual. In fact, right now, I have a tab open with an article by him that I want to write about. And he's a great speaker. So I was very keen to see his documentary Inequality for All. But I was disappointed today when I finally got to see it. The spine ...
Michael Been's Easy Salvation (17 Mar 2014 05:53pm)
On this day in 1950, the musician Michael Been was born. He is best known as the lead singer and bass player of the bad The Call. I always thought that Been was a big time Christian, but there's not a lot of mention of it online. It is certainly the case that he wrote songs with a whole lot of Chris...
The Two Those Kind of People (17 Mar 2014 03:00pm)
You may remember last month, I wrote about Dave Camp's budget plan that I called Another Giveaway to the Rich. There were a lot of things I didn't like about it, most especially the timing gimmicks that would "starve the beast" over the long term, and a reduction in the number of tax rates to move t...
Keep Inside, It's St Patrick's Day! (17 Mar 2014 11:04am)
It's St Patrick's Day! Time to get sloshed on some distinctly non-Irish beer. Of course, if we are to believe Ballykissangel, the Irish don't drink much Irish beer. One thing's for certain: Americans don't much care for Guinness, although they do up their consumption on St Patrick's day. I saw a st...
Odds and Ends Vol 10 (17 Mar 2014 09:22am)
I just have a few shorts bits for you today. As usual: they are just things that I didn't have a lot to say about but which are interesting. I have to say: I'm getting tired of talking about Republican racism. But the fact remains that racism seems to be all that they have to offer. In fact, Paul Kr...
Richard Stallman Again (16 Mar 2014 08:02pm)
Last year on this day, we celebrated the 60th birthday of the visionary Richard Stallman. I don't like to repeat myself, but there is no one who I particularly want to celebrate. Jerry Jeff Walker is a fine singer-songwriter. Bernardo Bertolucci is a great film director. And I'm really fond of actor...
Obama Never Went After Financial Crime (16 Mar 2014 04:55pm)
Gretchen Morgenson calls the lie to all the nonsense we've heard from the Obama administration this last five years about how hard they were working on financial crime that led to the global economic crisis of 2008, A Loan Fraud War That's Short on Combat. "If there had been cases to make," people f...
Kiss of the Spider Woman 30 Years On (16 Mar 2014 03:25pm)
I just watched Kiss of the Spider Woman. I first saw it right after it came out in 1985. It was a great film and particularly appropriate because the authoritarian regime in the film could easily have been the El Salvadorian government of that time, which was a very big issue in the United States. A...
George Will's Disingenuous Arguments (16 Mar 2014 11:28am)
To me, the essence of liberalism is open-mindedness. In modern America, that is what differentiates a liberal from a conservative. I've written about this a lot around here. Conservatives start discussing any problem with a long list of things they just can't do. Liberals on the other hand are more ...
60% of Men's Wages Down Over 40 Years (16 Mar 2014 09:34am)
Matt Yglesias is fond of saying that the best way to help people out of poverty is to give them money—direct cash assistance. His point is very simple: the problem with poverty is not having enough money. Things like drug addiction are primarily a result of poverty, not a cause of it. If you g...
First David Brenner Tonight Show (15 Mar 2014 11:23pm)
I just heard that David Brenner died. He was 78 and had been suffering from cancer. I loved him when I was a kid but he's fallen off my radar since then, although I would occasionally see him pop up. His act hadn't really changed at all. And he was hugely influential. He was a critical part of the m...
The Fatal Flaw in And Justice for All (15 Mar 2014 09:47pm)
I was just washing dishes and it hit me: I know what is wrong with the film And Justice for All. Now understand, it isn't a bad film. Not at all. But really, it ought to be a great film—or at least close. And it isn't. It is about an important subject and it provides a surprisingly accurate re...
Sly Stone and Family (15 Mar 2014 08:11pm)
There are a number of good and interesting people born on this day. Last year I talked about Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She's notable for being the only liberal on the Supreme Court. I know, you probably think there are four liberal members of the Court. But there aren't. It runs like this: one liberal, t...
Poor Entrepreneurs and Bad Incentives (15 Mar 2014 11:11am)
Martin Longman wrote a very insightful article over at Political Animal, What's Really Offensive About Paul Ryan's Remarks. It is mostly about his actual experience working for ACORN in the "inner city" North Philadelphia. His job was to hire and train young people in the area to work in a voter reg...
The Paradox of Liberal Magnanimity (15 Mar 2014 09:06am)
My colleague at The Reaction, Infidel753 wrote an excellent article over on his blog, Magnanimity in Victory? It is a response to Ross Douthat's recent column, The Terms of Our Surrender. In that article, Douthat admits that social conservatives like himself have lost the same-sex marriage battle. B...
Quincy Jones and Another 81-Year-Old (14 Mar 2014 05:47pm)
Two interesting people turn 81 today. I'll get to that man of the day shortly, but I wanted to take a moment to talk about the man not of the day. That man is Michael Caine. There are two things that I really don't like about him. First, he is an extremely overrated actor. I think he's barely passab...
Skippy and the Tick (14 Mar 2014 02:34pm)
Just to close out this section of the day, on last night's The Daily Show, Jon Stewart introduced a show that never made it to Nickelodeon, Skippy and the Tick. This came from a comment made by Bill O'Reilly who said of Jason Greenslate, "This guy is a parasite... He's a rat." To which Stewart resp...
Should People Pursuing Risky Careers Be Forced to Starve? (14 Mar 2014 01:05pm)
Last September, the Huffington Post published an article, Jason Greenslate, Food Stamp Surfer, Responds To The Haters. Greenslate is the young man that Fox News used for weeks to vilify the food stamp program (SNAP). It's an interesting article because the young man is clearly intelligent—more...
David Frum Summarizes Charles Murray (14 Mar 2014 10:49am)
You are a white man aged 30 without a college degree. Your grandfather returned from World War II, got a cheap mortgage courtesy of the GI bill, married his sweetheart and went to work in a factory job that paid him something like $50,000 in today's money plus health benefits and pension. Your fathe...
Dave Weigel's Racist Apologetics (14 Mar 2014 10:23am)
I promise that this is the last time I'm going to write about David Weigel's apologetics on behalf of Paul Ryan. Understand: I wouldn't even care if Weigel were some conservative loon, but he's an excellent reporter. And his defense of Paul Ryan's racist comments are really worrying. As you may rec...
Between Right and Wrong Is Half Wrong (14 Mar 2014 09:38am)
Keith Humphreys is a healthcare policy expert and a liberal. And my did he step in it Wednesday while writing about economics, A Surprising Comparison of US and UK Economic Growth. He found that the economic growth in the two countries was roughly the same. And since we had a stimulus here in the US...
Odds and Ends Vol 9 (13 Mar 2014 09:37pm)
I really don't know why I do these other than that I kind of like the "Odds and Ends" graphic. But most of these could have been a full article. Or I could just do one of these a day and relax the rest of the day. Well, now that I think of it, only a couple of these actually seem interesting enough...
Imaginative Power and Percival Lowell (13 Mar 2014 07:41pm)
Today is one of those days when this year's birthday posts with a single-person focus is hard because there are a number of cool people who I would like to talk about . There is, for example, cartoonist Al Jaffee, the Mad legend. Then there is the great comedy writer and creator of The Fall and Rise...
Three Levels of Political Pessimism (13 Mar 2014 01:41pm)
Dean Baker has written a very interesting review of Thomas Piketty's new book, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. I mean "interesting" in a neutral way: it is notable to see Baker so optimistic. It is probably due to his iconoclastic tendencies. He just has to take a contrary position. And based u...
Better Than English (13 Mar 2014 11:11am)
Almost two years ago, I wrote an article, Pena Ajena! It was based upon an article, 25 Handy Words That Simply Don't Exist In English. The title of my article refers to a Mexican Spanish phrase. Literally it means "grief of others," but idiomatically it means, "The embarrassment you feel watching s...
Same Old Lesson for Dems in FL-13 (13 Mar 2014 09:55am)
David Weigel continues to be essential reading every day, but "bleeding heart libertarianism" seems to have morphed into old fashioned non-crazy conservatism these days. That's not too surprising, given that libertarians are, regardless of the number of holes in their hearts, conservatives. It is al...
Message to Google: Don't Be Lazy (12 Mar 2014 09:11pm)
It started yesterday. All of the YouTube embedded video code that I copied over had a extra closing parenthesis mark after it as follows. (It's in red!) <iframe width="400" height="225" src="//youtube..."></iframe>) Normally, I would have been concerned. But I have this problem of keep...
My Problem With Jack Kerouac (12 Mar 2014 07:28pm)
On this day in 1922, the great Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac was born. I am not a fan. In fact, I absolutely can't stand to read him. Yet he was an extremely important writer. And (unfortunately) he inspired generations of bad writers. When I was young and foolish and went to poetry readings, ...
The Crave Cat Food Challenge (12 Mar 2014 06:26pm)
Many songs haunt me for days on end. But they are not classics like "A Horse With No Name" and the wrongly maligned "MacArthur Park." But if one of those songs haunts you for the rest of the evening: you're welcome! I am different. I normally get television commercials stuck in my head. This makes p...
Paul Ryan's Racist Dog Whistle (12 Mar 2014 02:44pm)
Digby posted a Quote of the Day that made me burst out laughing. It isn't actually the quote that was funny. It is how she juxtaposed it with Lee Atwater's infamous "nigger, nigger, nigger" quote. For those that don't know it, Atwater gave an interview back in 1981 where he discussed the evolution o...
We Are No Better Than the Sumerians (12 Mar 2014 01:01pm)
I have a long running obsession with the Sumerians. They were, after all, the people who invented writing. Of course, we aren't talking great works of art like The Iliad, Don Quixote, and SpongeBob SquarePants. The purpose they put that writing to was just what you would think. "Larsa owes Sippar on...
Rich Scramble to Destroy Economy (12 Mar 2014 09:56am)
I am fond of quoting the opening of A Tale of Two Cities to note that it is always the best and worst of times. But there is one way that I am particularly focused on that modern America is the worst of times. That is the overwhelming influence of the power elite on economic policy. Right now, ther...
Is It Racist? (11 Mar 2014 10:18pm)
The Young Turks has introduced a new segment in their show, "Is It Racist?" And I think their premiere segment is great because it brings up a really important issue. Minnesota State Representative Pat Garofalo tweeted out the following: Let's be honest, 70% of teams in NBA could fold tomorrow...
Mainstream Press Support Power Elite (11 Mar 2014 09:16pm)
Peter Hart of Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) wrote a great article, The Good Kind of Protesters—and the Bad Kind. It looked at the coverage of protest movements in Ukraine and Venezuela. And then compared it to coverage of Palestinian protest movements. Now you know that I am sympat...
Urbain Le Verrier and Neptune (11 Mar 2014 06:52pm)
On this day, there are so many people I could have chosen to write about. There is the least interesting of the Three Stooges. There are two men who have been highly effective at making the United States a far worse country. And there are lots of good film directors, writers, and composers. But in t...
Poultrygeist Is Perfect in Its Way (11 Mar 2014 03:43pm)
This morning, Andrea told me that she started to watch a movie but only made it three minutes before she turned it off—it was so bad. That peaked my interest. Andrea has reasonably good taste in films, but she's also quick to judge and often bases her dislike on minor things. A single aspect o...
Woman Just Knows Obamacare Is Bad (11 Mar 2014 10:13am)
Many years ago, I read about the events that led up to a terrible airline crash. The pilots had set their plane on automatic pilot so that they could work on a problem they were having with their landing lights—an important but non-critical issue. But something had gone wrong with the automati...
The Binary Worldview of Conservatives (10 Mar 2014 08:36pm)
Paul Waldman wrote a great article over at The American Prospect, Let Them Eat Dignity. He used Paul Ryan's CPAC speech where he wept for kids getting school lunches to compare conservative attitudes toward rich and poor. When it comes to the poor, conservatives care very much about their souls and ...
Edie Brickell and Friends (10 Mar 2014 07:29pm)
Last year on this day, I talked about Osama bin Laden. And I recommend that you click over, because I think I was rather insightful. The article was called, Entitled Rich Boy. But I don't have any more insights into the man. Rich people are simple to understand. They can afford to be. So as a result...
Jonathan Turley's Minor Complaints (10 Mar 2014 06:35pm)
Jonathan Turley is a great man and I very much admire him. He is an idealist in a world gone mad with cynicism. Even when I disagree with him, I see his point. And mostly, I do agree with him. And that brings us to his op-ed in yesterday's Los Angeles Times, The President's Power Grab. Turley's pos...
Kansas Wants to Close All Minds (10 Mar 2014 02:56pm)
If a public official is acting really badly, you can depend upon the fact that he is doing it, "For the kids!" It's gotten to the point where much of the country is determined to destroy itself in the name of keeping the development of children arrested. It boggles my mind. Children are much less na...
Jack London and Socialism (10 Mar 2014 11:10am)
I spent much of yesterday over at the Jack London State Historic Park. Not being much of a fan of his writing, I wasn't that keen on it. But it turned out to be fairly interesting. It was also a good excuse to walk ten miles through the woods. A lot is made of how the Londons (Jack and Charmian) en...
Raul Julia's Great Acting Not Films (09 Mar 2014 09:18pm)
On this day in 1940, the actor Raul Julia was born. I hesitate to call him "great" even though he was a very fine actor. The problem is that he was in so much crap, it is amazing. Take, for example, Frankenstein Unbound. It isn't that it is a bad film, it's just so odd and silly. Yet up their on the...
Inequality Trumps Productivity (09 Mar 2014 11:32am)
This morning, Paul Krugman looked at the difference between France and the United States as a way of determining if governmental redistribution of wealth had an effect on economic growth. Interestingly, even though France had much more redistributive policies, which have only become more so (pdf) o...
Oliver Wendell Holmes and Free Speech (08 Mar 2014 08:53pm)
One hundred and twenty-two years ago, Mississippi John Hurt was born. But I gave the day to him last year. And just a couple weeks ago, I wrote, A Little Mississippi John Hurt. It isn't just his music that I love, although that would be more than enough. He also has a great life story. But I can't w...
Darrell Issa's Continued Abuse of Power (08 Mar 2014 06:58pm)
You've probably heard about the kerfuffle between the House Oversight Committee chairman Darrell Issa and the ranking minority member Elijah Cummings. It was quite a show with Issa breaching protocol by ending the session without Cummings getting to speak and then killing Cummings' mic and walking o...
Conservative Economics' Reality Deficit (08 Mar 2014 12:56pm)
John Quiggin at Crooked Timber wrote a very interesting article last month, Macroeconomics Made Easy? In it, he discusses a new book by Kartik Athreya, Big ideas in Macroeconomics: A Nontechnical View. Athreya is a "freshwater" economist, which basically means that he's a conservative who doesn't be...
Face the (Republican) Nation (08 Mar 2014 10:49am)
Yesterday, Media Matters for America reported, CBS' Face the Nation Turns Exclusively to GOP for Ukraine Discussion. The announced lineup for tomorrow is Dick Cheney, James Baker, and Paul Ryan. It still amazes me that anyone talks to Cheney. He should be a national embarrassment, yet people still t...
Morning Music Classics From Joe Tex (08 Mar 2014 09:48am)
Good morning my friends! The other night my sister sent me a text asking if I knew the song "I Gotcha" by Joe Tex. Of course I knew the song! I doubt a week goes by when I don't sing it. It dates back to those days of my childhood when we used to walk around with a little transistor radio listening ...
Culpability in Accidental Shootings (07 Mar 2014 09:24pm)
I just read an incredibly sad story via Fark, Gun in Donated Clothes Kills Woman in Chicago. Carmen Dominguez was working at the Unique Thrift Store. It's a small chain of stores, mostly in Chicago. Dominguez and a co-worker were going through donated clothes. Some things were in a sock. The co-wor...
Two Different Maurice Ravels (07 Mar 2014 07:11pm)
On this day in 1875, the great French composer Maurice Ravel was born. What I find fascinating about him is that he is most remembered for Bolero. Yet that piece of music is totally unlike anything else he had done before. What's more, the work he did throughout his career was incredibly consistent....
Racial Diversity in Millennials (07 Mar 2014 01:05pm)
The Pew Research Institute has published an analysis of the Millennial Generation's attitudes regarding matters political. Jonathan Chait has a rundown of it, A New Report Shows How Young Liberals Own the Future of American Politics. Although that headline is certainly true, the article gives the wr...
Innumeracy in A Beginner's Guide to Endings (07 Mar 2014 09:00am)
The other night I watched the not altogether bad film A Beginner's Guide to Endings. It actually has a fairly clever script, which could have used a few more rewrites. The directing is stylish enough to be interesting but not so much as to be annoying. And the acting is good. Except for Scott Caan; ...
Yglesias Called Mike Lee Tax Plan (06 Mar 2014 10:37pm)
Matt Yglesias is gone—having moved on to work for Ezra Klein's Project X. I'm sure he will be back soon with his usual interesting take on politics and economics. But I was reminded of something he wrote back in September, Mike Lee's Tax Plan Looks Like Smoke and Mirrors to Me. Senator Lee had...
Paul Ryan Weeps for School Lunches (06 Mar 2014 09:34pm)
Paul Ryan was at CPAC today, and he's been getting a lot of attention for a story he told about a young man who didn't want to get a free hot meal from the school but would rather have his parents pack him a brown bag lunch. "He wanted one, he said, because he knew a kid with a brown-paper bag had s...
Michelangelo and Male Beauty (06 Mar 2014 08:13pm)
Last year, I focused on Elizabeth Barrett Browning, so I'll be moving on. That's kind of odd, because I'm not a huge fan of hers, although I do admire her work. But I am a big fan of Michelangelo who was born on this day in 1475. Last year, I wrote of him, "I still remember when I saw David for the ...
Free the Gnomes! (06 Mar 2014 07:28pm)
I've been reading Terry Eagleton's newest book, the wonderfully funny and perceptive, Across the Pond. I'm sure I'll write about it later. But I wanted to discuss something I learned in it. "Some years ago, there flourished briefly in Britain a Gnomes Liberation Movement, whose project was to abduct...
Same Sex Marriage Becoming Non-Issue (06 Mar 2014 09:21am)
Ed Kilgore wrote an interesting article this morning, Self-Isolation of White Evangelicals on LGBT Issues. It is based upon the WaPo/ABC poll about attitudes toward same sex marriage. As you may have heard, 59% of Americans believe that same sex couples should be allowed to marry. This is not much l...
GOP Scoreboard (05 Mar 2014 07:18pm)
H/T: Representative Mark Takano...
Lynn Margulis and the Gaia Hypothesis (05 Mar 2014 07:11pm)
The great biologist Lynn Margulis was born on this day in 1938. She did a whole bunch of stuff that I have to admit makes no sense to me. I've finally gotten to the point where I understand basic human biology. I know what a liver is and I know more or less what it does. That's a big step up for me....
Dancing Jesus and 666 Followers (05 Mar 2014 04:07pm)
Andrea's alter-ego, Nice Atheist Girl, hasn't been around much recently. I guess she's been suffering from existential angst—a common problem for atheists, nice or not. And she recently watched Die Wand. As I wrote yesterday, that's enough to depress anyone. But she came back with gusto today,...
Stan Lee Sucks: the Jack Kirby Story (05 Mar 2014 12:00pm)
This is not a review, but I do want to talk about the documentary With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story. It is, of course, about Stan Lee, the "great man" behind Marvel Comics. It isn't a review because I wasn't even able to finish watching the film. This isn't because it is a bad documentary. I thou...
Jon Stewart Hammers Jim DeMint (05 Mar 2014 09:55am)
I don't know why Jon Stewart gives Jim DeMint a platform to spout his nonsense. But I have to admit, on last night's The Daily Show, Stewart did an excellent job of countering DeMint. What DeMint is peddling is exactly what Paul Ryan is selling this week, "The War on Poverty is a failure; welfare is...
Die Wand or The Wall (04 Mar 2014 09:50pm)
Imagine a film that combines My Side of the Mountain and Kierkegaard's The Sickness Unto Death. Sound like fun? Then you should see Die Wand, Julian Polsler's faithful 2012 cinematic adaptation of Marlen Haushofer's book of the same name. Perhaps in the past, you've thought, "I like Wim Wenders' fil...
American Well-Being (04 Mar 2014 08:35pm)
Every year since 2008, Gallup and Healthways have put out the State of American Well-Being where they ranked each of the state by how well they are doing based upon "55 unique measures of well-being that went far beyond physical wellness and traditional health risk factors." They interviewed over 1...
Vivaldi's Opera (04 Mar 2014 06:49pm)
Last year, I wrote about Antonio Vivaldi who was born on this day in 1678. And I'm afraid that I'm forced to do the same thing this year. There are a couple of other interesting people, but I still have a couple of things to say about him. Vivaldi was one of the greatest Baroque composers. As I've g...
The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders (04 Mar 2014 01:15pm)
Andrea brought my attention to the following Saturday Night Live faux-trailer for a Wes Anderson horror movie with the very funny title, The Midnight Coterie of Sinister Intruders. I think the idea is to play with the idea of Wes Anderson as Wes Craven. Mostly, it is a parody of The Royal Tenenbaums...
Ukraine Is Putin's Problem (04 Mar 2014 11:40am)
Finally we are getting some decent reporting on Ukraine! I'm not talking about reporting on what's going on there. The reporting on that has been reasonable. And it's been sad. But I try not to be focused on whatever tragedy the mainstream news is focused on. The world is full of tragedies: you can ...
EITC Doesn't Replace Minimum Wage (04 Mar 2014 10:12am)
Jonathan Chait has a good article about Obama's new budget plan, Obama To Republicans: You're Right, Let's Expand The Earned Income Tax Credit. After Obama started talking about raising the minimum wage, the whole Republican movement went around crying, "Raising the minimum wage is a bad idea; let's...
Ira Glass and the Art of Storytelling (03 Mar 2014 07:19pm)
Ira Glass is 55 today. He is my generation's Studs Terkel, except that Studs Terkel is also my generation's Studs Terkel. He is something I've never quite understood: consistent. He was an intern for NPR at the age of 19. And 36 years later he is still there. (Technically, he is at PRI: Public Radio...
The Lone Gunmen (03 Mar 2014 05:07pm)
In my recent discussion with my conspiracy theory believing friend, the subject of The Lone Gunmen came up. It was a short-lived television series spin-off of The X-Files. I had never heard of it, but that is hardly surprising, since I have never seen an episode of The X-Files. I don't intend to be ...
Endless Details of Conspiracy Theories (03 Mar 2014 01:41pm)
You all know my position on conspiracy theorists: they are smart (often brilliant) people who get lost in details in the name of a broad but predetermined narrative. I admire the fact that they don't just accept the official story, but they very often get trapped into the "conspiracy" story and sto...
Fed Is By, For, and Of Power Elites (03 Mar 2014 10:03am)
This morning Paul Krugman wrote, The Inflation Obsession. It's about the recent dump of Federal Reserve documents and how despite the economy in free fall and a long depression in process, the Very Serious Fed Members were obsessed with inflation. How obsessed? He quotes Matthew O'Brien, who took th...
The Redemption of Dr Seuss (02 Mar 2014 08:35pm)
One hundred and ten years ago today, Theodor Geisel was born. He is better known today by his pen name, Dr Seuss. And we all love him even if his book If I Ran the Zoo was cruel to give to young readers. Or maybe that's just my complaint. But the fact is that he wrote and illustrated a number of gr...
Merciful God and Parasitic Worms (02 Mar 2014 07:17pm)
My response is that when Creationists talk about God creating every individual species as a separate act, they always instance hummingbirds, or orchids, sunflowers and beautiful things. But I tend to think instead of a parasitic worm that is boring through the eye of a boy sitting on the bank of a r...
Republicans Support War Not Troops (02 Mar 2014 02:48pm)
I haven't given any attention to Bernie Sanders' veterans benefits bill (S.1982), even though my Google+ account was flooded with information about it last week. I knew it wouldn't go anywhere. But what ultimately happened says a lot about the modern Republican Party. It was a simple bill: it alloc...
Robert Bork's Dark Legacy (01 Mar 2014 07:54pm)
On 1 March 1927, Robert Bork was born. He is most notable for becoming acting Attorney General under Richard Nixon after Elliot Richardson resigned rather than fire Watergate Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox. Regardless of much after the fact apologetics, Bork did the deed, very likely because of a ...
The Racism of White as a Non-Race (01 Mar 2014 06:03pm)
White Americans have to constantly remind ourselves of our privilege. The reason is that a big part of our privilege comes from our race being seen as a "non-race." I don't have to wince when the television news shows the picture of a white man who is wanted for murder. No one thinks that the fact t...
How We Got the Crazy Republican Party (01 Mar 2014 12:26pm)
Former Washington Post managing editor Robert Kaiser is tired. After leaving the Post last month, he wrote an article explaining why he wasn't too sad to leave Washington, How Republicans Lost Their Minds, Democrats Lost Their Souls and Washington Lost its Appeal. At first I thought that it was just...
There Is No Debt Crisis (28 Feb 2014 11:38pm)
The graph above is from Matt Yglesias. It is taken from information in a new book by Thomas Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-First Century. What it shows is something that Dean Baker talks about a lot: it is ridiculous to simply look at government debt. As he has pointed out a number of places, the f...
Herd Mentality on Shark Tank (28 Feb 2014 11:04pm)
I just caught the very end of this week's episode of Shark Tank. As you may have noticed in the past, I don't care for the show. It provides a ridiculous view of how venture capital actually works. But more important, it mythologizes the rich and pushes the idea that the rich are entrepreneurs when ...
Three Nobels and a Funny Man (28 Feb 2014 07:42pm)
It has been one year since Pope Benedict XVI resigned. I think that is hilarious. I don't begrudge him, but if God really cared about who the pope is, why would he allow such a thing? Wouldn't he just kill the old man and have things work the right way? As with most thing religious, it just doesn't ...
Obamacare Helps the Poor and Sick (28 Feb 2014 04:12pm)
Paul Krugman wrote a very interesting article earlier this week, A General Theory of Obamacare Fiction. Basically, he tries to given general advice to tell if any particular Obamacare horror story is true. But I think his article is a bit muddled, so I thought I would go through it here and try to m...
Good and Bad From Terry Fator (28 Feb 2014 10:52am)
Last night, after watching The Painting, I searched Netflix for "Terry Pratchett," probably because it was Richard Coyle's birthday and he had starred in Going Postal. There were no Pratchett related films, but Netflix offered me, Terry Fator: Live from Las Vegas. If you don't know him, Fator is a v...
Politics and Ontology in The Painting (27 Feb 2014 09:52pm)
Andrea wrote a teaser of an article over at ALE Designs about the 2011 French film, Le Tableau. In America, the film is called The Painting and so shall I from now on. It tells the story of a group of figures in an unfinished painting. There are the self-proclaimed leaders of the painting, the Alldu...
John Steinbeck and Three Others (27 Feb 2014 06:31pm)
In 1807, the poet Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was born. I'm not a big fan of him, but there is no doubt that he was talented. Edgar Allan Poe, although at first an admirer of him later became his harshest critic. I don't think it is widely know, but during his lifetime, Poe was known almost exclusive...
Obamacare Surcharge (27 Feb 2014 01:53pm)
The image above comes to us from Jonathan Chait, who does not have as much fun with it as you might expect, Obamacare-Hating Restaurant Now Charging Obummer Tax. Gator's Dockside is a sportsbar chain with 21 restaurants in northern (conservative) Florida. And they have put a sign outside some of th...
The Croods Has Something to Say, I Think (27 Feb 2014 12:45pm)
Last night, I watched the 2013 animated feature The Croods. It's an amusing and fun but ultimately forgettable film about a family of cavemen and their journey from fear to curiosity. Or something. It is kind of hard to say because the film only plays around with a plot. The story focuses on Grug, ...
Camp's Budget Another Giveaway to Rich (27 Feb 2014 10:34am)
Dave Camp has a new federal budget reform proposal (pdf) that is making a lot of liberals weep with joy. This is simply the result of how the Republican Party has gamed the system. After decades of absolutely unreasonable proposals like the Paul Ryan budget, when someone comes along with a budget th...
Christopher Marlowe and Two Singers (26 Feb 2014 07:08pm)
Today is the anniversary of the birthday post. I made it! But the truth is that it evolved over time. At first, I just focused on a single person and then went on to do multiple people. The format we have today is probably only about six months old. I think I would like to go back to the single narr...
Twit Say Twat Means Twaddle (26 Feb 2014 03:52pm)
This just in from The Virginian-Pilot, VA GOP Official Apologizes for Genital Slang "Error." If you are like me, you are mighty eager to know what that genital slang error was. But don't go looking to the "respectable" The Virginian-Pilot to tell you what it is. They apparently don't print such nast...
Democrats' 2014 Chances Not So Bad (26 Feb 2014 01:56pm)
The chart above is from a National Journal article, The 15 Governorships Most Likely to Flip. In it, Steven Shepard and Karyn Bruggeman rank each state by the likelihood of its switching from one party to the other. The top three states (Pennsylvania, Maine, and Florida) are all currently in Republ...
We All Deserve to Die (26 Feb 2014 09:56am)
All through the night, I had this going through my head, "We all deserve to die. Even you, Mrs. Lovett; even I." If you don't recognize it, it is the song "Epiphany" from Sweeney Todd. I watched the film for the first time a couple of days ago. It is a fine film: your typical "boy who kills people m...
The Renoir Patriarch (25 Feb 2014 10:03pm)
On this day in 1663, the English writer Pierre Antoine Motteux was born. He is most remembered today for his English translation of Don Quixote. It is generally regarded as terrible. When I first started studying the book, I wrote of this translation, "I originally thought that Peter Motteux's trans...
A Little Mississippi John Hurt (25 Feb 2014 07:47pm)
For some reason, I mentioned Mississippi John Hurt to a client who had never heard of him. So I went looking for a song to send him. Hurt was an interesting guy. He was a sharecropper in Mississippi, but his guitar playing and singing made him popular as a local act. This eventually led to some reco...
The Fed Isn't Interested in Our World (25 Feb 2014 01:11pm)
Matt Yglesias brought my attention to something really interesting yesterday, Ben Bernanke's Biggest Mistake. It contains more information from the recent dump of FOMC transcripts. But this one paints the Fed in an especially bad light that is unfortunately not at all surprising. It focuses on the ...
Why I Don't Like The Big Bang Theory (25 Feb 2014 10:11am)
Over at Wired, the Angry Nerd discusses why he doesn't like the television series The Big Bang Theory. You can watch the video below. The problem is that he doesn't really explain what his problem is, so I thought that I would. Many people over the years have gushed to me about the show as if I wou...
Venezuelan Protests Get Usual US Media Treatment (24 Feb 2014 09:24pm)
I heard a bit of NPR's On the Media over the weekend. In discussing Protests in Ukraine, Bob Garfield talked about Venezuela and how the reason Ukraine got so much more coverage was that it had good visuals in a way that Venezuela did not. He then went on to say how repressive the regime in Venezuel...
Just Because Abe Vigoda's Old (24 Feb 2014 07:16pm)
On this day in 1619, the great French painter Charles Le Brun was born. King Louis XIV considered him the greatest French painter of all time. But he might have been biased; he was Brun's employer. But Brun did a lot of work outside his palace work. He produced an incredible amount of art in his 30 ...
Kant in 90 Minutes Is Enough (24 Feb 2014 02:26pm)
After having a comment discussion with JMF about Kant, I realized that I was rather unclear about just what he had done. Kant is a lot like the blind men and the elephant: it's a wall! It's a snake! Kant wrote so much that it is hard to get your head around his totality. Being a mathematically incli...
Conservative Hypocrisy on "Future Generations" (24 Feb 2014 11:31am)
It's Monday, and that means Dean Baker is out with another article correcting the math of Very Serious Pundit Robert Samuelson. It is something I look forward to at the beginning of each week, and Baker rarely disappoints because Samuelson rarely knows what he's talking about. Go ahead and read the...
Political Writers Turn Off House of Cards (24 Feb 2014 10:02am)
Ah, television! Or at least television series. Over the years, I've been very into some popular series like Arrested Development and Deadwood. And I was very much a fan of Breaking Bad through the fourth season. But some shows never really click for me. The biggest example of this was The Sopranos. ...
Johnny Winter's Mississippi Blues (23 Feb 2014 08:26pm)
On this day in 1685, George Frideric Handel was born. As I've gotten older, I've become very bored with Baroque period music. I think that Classical period music is perfect because it has far more emotional depth than Baroque without hitting me over the head with it as much Romantic period music doe...
Braveheart's Torture Problem (23 Feb 2014 06:27pm)
I watched Braveheart again today. I saw it when it was out, roughly two decades ago and I rather liked it. So as is usual for me, I read everything I could find about the history of William Wallace and Edward I. Of course, I found the film was about as far on the fiction side of "historical fiction"...
Elite Colleges Reinforce Status Quo (23 Feb 2014 11:59am)
The graph below is from the Brookings Institute in a blog post, Rising Inequality in Postsecondary Education. But I found out about it via Matt Yglesias who is on a mini-jihad against those who would donate to the top tier "name" schools, Seriously, Don't Give Money To Fancy Colleges. What the graph...
Fed Only Interested in Inflation—Ever (23 Feb 2014 10:20am)
As you've probably heard, the 2008 transcripts of the Federal Reserve Open Market Committee (FOMC) were released last week. They allow us to see for the first time what all the Big Thinkers thought about the financial crisis and housing bubble in real time. And the picture is not pretty. It is also ...
GOTV Always Favors Democrats (22 Feb 2014 10:26pm)
Alex Roarty wrote a really interesting article over at National Journal, The GOP's Talent Gap. It's about how the Republican Party has too many chiefs and not enough braves. All the people working on Republican campaigns are doing it only as a stepping stone to those high paid pundit gigs in the Bre...
Terry and Arthur (22 Feb 2014 06:44pm)
On this day in 1732, the first US president George Washington was born. The less said about him, the better. Arthur Schopenhauer was born in 1788. He is probably my favorite philosopher. Not surprisingly, he was a proponent of philosophical pessimism, which is "a worldview or ethic that seeks to fa...
Absurdity of Neoliberal Policy (22 Feb 2014 01:09pm)
I have a six-year-old son. His name is Jin-Gyu. He lives off me, yet he is quite capable of making a living. I pay for his lodging, food, education and health care. But millions of children of his age already have jobs. Daniel Defoe, in the 18th century, thought that children could earn a living fro...
Ne Me Quitte Pas (22 Feb 2014 09:41am)
Good morning. I thought we would start with this nice video by French Rescue of Jacques Brel's "Ne Me Quitte Pas." As they note, the English translation is meant to be accurate and not poetic. For example, they translate the refrain "Don't leave me." They do, however, mention (on the YouTube page) t...
Plagiarism and Competence (21 Feb 2014 08:30pm)
There seems to be a problem with Republicans and plagiarism. They have this tendency to just stick other people's work in their speeches and bills without a thought. We saw a whole bunch of this with Rand Paul recently. And in the end, he didn't even seem to understand what was wrong with what he ha...
John Rawls and David Foster Wallace (21 Feb 2014 07:35pm)
On this day in 1836, the French composer Leo Delibes was born. He composed primarily for the stage, so: opera and ballet. As you know, I'm not a great lover of later Romantic period music. But as it goes, Delibes really is one of the best. He crafted very strong contrapuntal melodies. For example, a...
Free Will and Fun in The Incredibles (21 Feb 2014 11:01am)
Last night, I watched The Incredibles. It is a feature length animated film about a family of super heroes. Think: Fantastic Four meets Roseanne. It was written and directed by Brad Bird, and like most of his work, it is a hell of a lot of fun. The first half of the film is a parody of the super her...
Obama Stops Grand Bargain Talk (21 Feb 2014 09:14am)
Yesterday, the White House announced that Obama would remove Chained-CPI from his next budget. Chained-CPI is the way of raising the cost of living more slowly so that Social Security benefits would be cut over the course of a worker's retirement. Although it is not reported as much, it would also i...
Richard Matheson and Andrew Bergman (20 Feb 2014 10:03pm)
Sorry to be gone all day. This working for money thing is very time consuming. I'm sure I would be doing a lot better if I had an actual job. But keeping clients happy is exhausting. On this day in 1902, the great photographer Ansel Adams was born. He is best known for his nature photography. But o...
The Rich Are the True Class Warriors (20 Feb 2014 10:12am)
I've written a lot around here about the fact that we do have more or less a class war. But it isn't like conservatives would have you believe. It isn't that the poor are jealous of the rich. It is that the rich just hate the poor. As I show in It's the Poor, Stupid, in general, the poor vote libera...
Global Warming Weather Report (19 Feb 2014 10:05pm)
This is from many years ago, but I just saw it for the first time. It is Sam Seder doing the "Global Warming Weather Report." It's just over a minute long. Take a look: "It's gonna feel several degrees stupider than it already is!"...
Circling the Sun With Copernicus (19 Feb 2014 08:15pm)
On this day in 1924, the chess Grandmaster David Bronstein was born. In 1951, he made it to the World Chess Championship to challenge Mikhail Botvinnik. And over the course of 24 games, they ended tied with 12 points each—five wins each, and 14 draws. So Botvinnik retained the championship. Ga...
Liberalism in American and at FC (19 Feb 2014 02:16pm)
A couple of months ago, Milt Shook wrote a good blog post, Of Course Obama's Progressive! Give Him More Democrats, See What Happens. I have many problems with Obama, but he is basically right. Any politician has to be seen in the context of the political environment that he is part of. There is an u...
Republican Hypocrisy of Minimum Wage (19 Feb 2014 10:45am)
Yesterday, the CBO came out with an estimate of the effects that a rise in the minimum wage would have on the economy. They determined that an increase of the minimum wage to $10.10 per hour would cause a range of effects on the economy from the loss of as many one million jobs to a gain of a small...
Many Words About Milos Forman (18 Feb 2014 09:02pm)
On this day in 1848, Louis Comfort Tiffany was born. He did a lot of "decorative arts," but is primarily known for his wonderful stained glass work. He was the son of Charles Lewis Tiffany, the jeweler would founded Tiffany & Co. But Louis' work really does stand on its own. I recommend clicking...
Corpse in the Dorm (18 Feb 2014 03:41pm)
Over the years, I have written a lot about the corpse under the bed. For those of you who do not know it, it is the story of motel guests who complain about a bad order that is determined to be a dead body rotting under the bed. What's sad about the story is that it isn't a legend. It happens all th...
Angry People and Democratic Wimps (18 Feb 2014 10:56am)
Thomas Frank is back with a great article at Salon, The Matter With Kansas Now: The Tea Party, the 1 Percent and Delusional Democrats. It is the angriest I have ever seen from Frank. He argues that the pseudo-populism of the Republican base did not come about in a vacuum. The base really is angry at...
Isabelle Eberhardt's Worthwhile Life (17 Feb 2014 09:29pm)
On this day in the early part of the 20th century, we saw three fine actors born. The first is Kathleen Freeman who was born in 1919. She was a character actor over five decades known for her acerbic roles. I'm sure you've seen her countless times. She was, for example, in 11 Jerry Lewis films where...
The Next Trayvon Martin (17 Feb 2014 08:06pm)
Via Metro Hussein Jerry: ...
Glengarry Glen Ross Signifies Nothing (17 Feb 2014 01:51pm)
The guys at the The Q Filmcast do a podcast every week where they pick a film on Netflix to discuss. It is a surprisingly good show. There are five of them and they never seem to agree. Thus far, I have agreed the most with their producer Adam Rodgers, who the rest of the gang seem to think is a cin...
Julianna Forlano Does Comcast (17 Feb 2014 11:58am)
Absurdity Today is a periodic comedic take on the news produced and performed by Julianna Forlano. She has a wry wit with moments of extreme silliness. And she definitely looks at the world through liberal eyes. I've been following her videos since almost the beginning. I first wrote about her almo...
Happy Oney Judge Day! (17 Feb 2014 11:16am)
Well, it's President's Day. But according to the federal government, it isn't; it is instead Washington's Birthday. I don't especially like that. The best thing you can say about our first president is that he wasn't ambitious. Many people (most notably John Adams) wanted to form a native aristocrac...
Maximilian Schell Suddenly Gone (17 Feb 2014 12:16am)
I was shocked to see that Maximilian Schell died at the age of 83 back on 1 February. He seemed healthy, but apparently he got a bad case of pneumonia and quickly died. The next thing you know Max von Sydow will be dead and I won't know what to do. These people I don't personally know are so much pa...
Odds and Ends Vol 8 (16 Feb 2014 10:29pm)
Well, the tabs are really starting to add up in my little world. Right now I have 56 tabs open in Chrome alone. That can only mean one thing: I need to do another installment of Odds and Ends. There is some very important stuff today. That's generally the case with these posts. If there is something...
Ever Beautiful Tarot Cards (16 Feb 2014 07:27pm)
On this day in 1884 the great filmmaker Robert J Flaherty was born. He is best known for making the first kinda-sorta first feature length documentary, Nanook of the North. I get kind of tired of people claiming that it isn't a documentary. It is clearly the film from which grew the rich documentary...
Silicon Valley Wage Theft Proves Free Market Rhetoric Is False (16 Feb 2014 02:15pm)
As you may have heard, employees of high tech companies in Silicon Valley have filed a class action lawsuit claiming that big firms colluded to keep wages low by not competing with each other. These companies are Apple, Google, Intel, Adobe, Intuit, and Pixar. How very "free market" of them! You wil...
Suffrage, Hamlet, and Galilean Moons (15 Feb 2014 07:56pm)
On this day in 1820, the civil rights leader Susan B Anthony was born. She was an amazing woman who did a great deal, including organizing for women's suffrage, starting the first women's temperance movement, and founding the journal, The Revolution. She lived to be 86 years old, but unfortunately n...
More Disingenuous Treacle from Mankiw (15 Feb 2014 04:54pm)
Well, Greg Mankiw is out with a great big pile of income inequality apologetics in The New York Times, Yes, the Wealthy Can Be Deserving. His article in a nutshell: superstar actors make more today than they did 50 years ago because they are worth it. Matt Yglesias' reaction to this argument is exac...
To Live With Ikiru (15 Feb 2014 03:00pm)
After many years, I watched Akira Kurosawa's Ikiru. It is the story of a man who learns that he is dying of stomach cancer and so decides to use his life to do something meaningful. You can well imagine what kind of sentimental claptrap this would be in the hands of Hollywood. Ikiru—which mean...
The Trials of Mid-Level Actors (15 Feb 2014 11:18am)
Andrea alerted me to the documentary That Guy... Who Was in That Thing. It consists of interviews with 16 relatively familiar screen actors about the acting business and their lives. It's interesting because we don't get much information about actors at that level. I didn't learn much, however. I'm ...
Robots, Patents, and Inequality (15 Feb 2014 09:43am)
Dean Baker is probably the most insightful economic thinker in the public discourse. But there is one area where I think he is wrong. He complains that we have nothing to worry about from automation because it will make our lives better. This is in contrast to those of us who believe that robots are...
Why Isn't Alan Parker Making Films? (14 Feb 2014 08:38pm)
Sometime around this day in 1818, the abolitionist Frederick Douglass was born. Given that he was born a slave, we don't know exactly what day he was born. He only managed to escape after many attempts at the age of 30. His autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slav...
Economic Lensing and Fairness (14 Feb 2014 06:38pm)
There is this thing in economics called Marginal Productivity Theory. It claims to show that in a world of perfect competition, everyone makes exactly what they are worth. So if a CEO makes $30 million per year, that must be because he adds $30 million per year to the economy. It doesn't really matt...
A Little Valentine's Day Reality (14 Feb 2014 12:42pm)
I am a cynical son of a bitch when it comes holidays and romance. So Valentine's Day is a big day for me. In 2012, I wrote The Blood of St. Valentine's Day. It was about the two (or three) saints who the day is most likely named after. And it turns out that they were both brutally murdered, like mo...
Rian Johnson's Problematic Looper (14 Feb 2014 10:45am)
Another day, another time travel movie. Last week, I watched Looper and last night, I watched a bit of it to remind me what it was all about. It is the third film by Rian Johnson. The first was Brick, an interesting but ultimately disappointing film. The second was The Brothers Bloom, an interesting...
Grant Wood and Lots of Songs (13 Feb 2014 07:18pm)
I just got word that Ralph Waite has died. You probably know him as the father on The Waltons. But more generally, he was a character actor—undoubtedly the most fulfilling kind of actor one can be on the screen. But I have long admired him for a film I've never seen. In 1980, he wrote and dire...
Ranting Leftist on Economic Inequality (13 Feb 2014 02:42pm)
As a ranting leftist, I have a little economic news to impart to you. It seems that what people like me have been saying for a long time is backed up by economic data: both the private views of the rich and the public views of the mainstream are driven by the self-interest of the power elite. Who t...
Bill O'Reilly's Microwave Now at $85,400 (13 Feb 2014 12:47pm)
Last night on Colbert Report, I learned that Bill O'Reilly is auctioning off his notes from the pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama. Colbert lampooned this by auctioning off the microwave that he stole from The Factor when he was a guest on it. O'Reilly started the bidding on his notes at ...
Dark Cynicism in House of Cards (13 Feb 2014 11:35am)
I've decided to get rid of my Netflix account because I'm just not using it. So last night I watched the first episode of House of Cards because I've heard good things about it. I've heard good things about Orange Is the New Black too, but I just can't deal with a prison drama. Given that House of C...
No GOP Hypocrisy on the Debt Ceiling (13 Feb 2014 09:10am)
Ed Kilgore calls out the Republicans for hypocrisy about the Debt Ceiling. He notes that only 28 of the 272 Republicans in Congress voted for it—just over 10%. He also notes that of the twelve Republicans in the Senate who voted for cloture, none voted for the actual bill. I think he is totall...
Chuck and Abe (12 Feb 2014 06:45pm)
Sid Caesar is dead. Unlike a lot of old icons, I actually knew that he was still alive. He was 91. As I get older, I am more and more aware that I've died a thousand deaths. When you get into your 90s, are you still the same person? What I'm getting at is the old joke/observation about an ax that ha...
George Will's Convenient Libertarianism (12 Feb 2014 01:43pm)
Over at The New Republic yesterday, Isaac Chotiner writes, George Will, Tea Party Tory. The article walks a thin line that will make both George Will lovers and haters happy. It discusses Will's "evolution" from Tory to libertarian. And it doesn't pull any punches as when it notes the erroneousness ...
Russia, Sixteen Tons, and Inequality (12 Feb 2014 12:06pm)
Last week, I wrote about the Russian police doing "Get Lucky" at the Olympics. It was mostly just an opportunity to snark at the complicity (Or more!) of Russian law enforcement regarding the country's anti-gay laws. But Will send me a Yahoo! article, "Get Lucky" and 5 Other Mind-Blowing Covers by t...
Why Do Concerts Cost So Much? (12 Feb 2014 10:08am)
Matt Yglesias dug up a great bit of data about The Beatles' first tour of American 50 years ago: the tickets were really cheap. As you can see in the advertisement, tickets ranged from $2 to $4. Adjusted for inflation, this is $15 to $30. This is really interesting. At that same time, movie ticket...
Debt Ceiling Ends With Snicker Not Bang (11 Feb 2014 10:25pm)
Excuse me for being out the whole day. The truth is that my savings is almost completely exhausted and I am forced to start prioritizing paying work. Will called me up with a very boring computer job and off I ran. Why is it that the paying jobs are always the boring ones? Oh well, the job will be h...
The Greatest Mankiewicz (11 Feb 2014 09:23pm)
On this day in 1847, the great inventor Thomas Edison was born. Okay, I said he was great, now I can get to the point. I really have a problem with him. He was brilliant when he was young, but eventually he became Edison Inc, and that was a bad thing. At that point, it wasn't about literally bringin...
Republican Class Warfare on Obamacare (11 Feb 2014 09:46am)
Brian Beutler wrote an interesting article over at Salon this morning, Why They Hate Working America: GOP Equates Benefits With Personal Failure. It is about the Republican reaction to the CBO report that said that, because of Obamacare, some people would cut back the hours they work and others woul...
Bertolt Brecht and My Doppelganger (10 Feb 2014 06:58pm)
I am 50 today. I wouldn't be so keen to tell you that, but it is public information for reasons I am still kind of fuzzy on how it came to be. But somehow it got on Wikipedia and so it is there forever. Whatever. I don't particularly care that I'm 50 today, because I still feel about 17. What bugs m...
Captain Phillips Is a Laudable Thriller (10 Feb 2014 03:09pm)
Regular readers doubtless know about my trips to the movies with my comic book loving brother. These normally end in what I refer to as my "Marxist movie reviews." These are reviews of films as they function as government propaganda. See, for example, Marvel's The Despots. But yesterday, I had a dif...
Prosecutors Never Favor Legal Reform (10 Feb 2014 10:43am)
The fine people on The Young Turks discussed prosecutors who are fighting against drug sentence reform. The video is embedded below. I agree with pretty much everything they say. However, they show a shocking lack of understanding about how the criminal justice system works. The group that came out ...
Chuck Schumer Calls Republican Bluff (10 Feb 2014 09:43am)
As regular readers know, I'm not keen on any of the recent proposals for immigration reform. Fundamentally, they are giveaways to big business with the bare minimum done for the immigrant community itself. And the most recent proposal to allow undocumented residents to become documented but not citi...
Star-Ledge Endorsement of Christie Was a Mistake They Are Keen to Repeat (09 Feb 2014 07:55pm)
Tom Moran and The Star-Ledger Editorial Board published a bizarre editorial today, Chris Christie Endorsement Is Regrettable. It starts off by noting that they were wrong to endorse Christie for governor. Then they explain why they did it. And they finish by arguing that even with all they know, the...
Joseph Stiglitz and Carole King (09 Feb 2014 07:01pm)
Note: Today in Thomas Paine's birthday. I screwed up and celebrated it on 29 January. I'm really sorry about this. I saw the "old style" calendar date and ran with it. What can I say, I got excited. Go and read what I wrote and you'll see. It was fifty years ago today That the Beatles went on Ed to...
Spiritualism vs Religion (09 Feb 2014 04:35pm)
Since I just used an Atheist Eve cartoon, I was reminded of another of her cartoons where she takes people to task for being "spiritual" but not "religious." With all due respect to my fellow atheists, this kind of determined ignorance is the main reason that I feel queasy about self-identifying as ...
Why American Christians Feel Persecuted (09 Feb 2014 10:57am)
Amanda Marcotte wrote an excellent article over at AlterNet last week, The Christian Right's Bizarre Delusions of Persecution. She points out the way that Christians create scandals by breaking social norms and then, when they are corrected, claiming that they are being persecuted. The focus of the...
My Long Dead Friend Robert Burton (08 Feb 2014 06:09pm)
The great mathematician and physicist Daniel Bernoulli was born in 1700. There are a lot of Bernoullis in the history of science. But Daniel is the guy you've actually heard of. He's the guy who developed Bernoulli's Principle. This is an application of conservation of energy for fluid flow. Basical...
Immigration Reform Won't Save GOP (08 Feb 2014 01:35pm)
Dan Balz wrote an interesting article at the Washington Post this morning, The GOP's Immigration Conundrum. But that doesn't mean that I agree with his thesis. Like most Washington reporters, he thinks that it is very important that the Republicans do something on immigration. In his defense, he do...
Baby Elephant Transcends Zoo Concerns (08 Feb 2014 11:16am)
Elephants are amazing animals. I was just reading about them on Wikipedia. They are, for example, one of the few animals to recognize themselves in the mirror. They also fashion objects into tools. For example, "An Asian elephant has been observed modifying branches and using them as flyswatters." ...
Misogyny and Theft in the NFL (08 Feb 2014 10:00am)
Kathleen Geier wrote an excellent article over at Political Animal this morning, On the Raiders' Cheerleaders Wage Theft Suit: No Pay for Practices, Unreimbursed Expenses, and $125 per 10-Hour Game. It provides a good overview of Josh Eidelson's interview with two Raiders cheerleaders about the situ...
Russian Police Get Lucky (07 Feb 2014 08:02pm)
Will alerted me to the fact that the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs choir will be performing a "rousing rendition of Daft Punk's 'Get Lucky' before Friday's Opening Ceremony." Don't be fool by the name, the Ministry of Internal Affairs are cops. I'm sure that Will sent it to me because he thou...
Lewis, Dickens, and Philips (07 Feb 2014 05:23pm)
On this day in 1812, the great novelist Charles Dickens was born. I admire him as a writer. He was a master storyteller. Just the same, I think that I've only ever read A Tale of Two Cities and The Adventures of Oliver Twist. I look at David Copperfield and Bleak House and (Good God!) The Life and A...
Madeleine Peyroux for a Rainy Day (07 Feb 2014 04:00pm)
Given the glorious rain that California is finally getting, here is some music to go along with it: Madeleine Peyroux performing live at the Vitoria Jazz Festival in 2009. I can't really express how much I love her work. The solos are also quite good in this video. I don't know who any of them are. ...
You Are Allowed to Beg the Question (07 Feb 2014 03:35pm)
It has been a while since I've written anything about grammar. And on this wonderfully rainy day in the Bay Area, one could do worse than spend a little time enjoying our great language. For some time, I've wanted to discuss the phrase "beg the question." My interest in the phrase is that it is one ...
Yay! New Jobs Report! (07 Feb 2014 01:59pm)
It's the first Friday of the month and that means it's Labor Report Day! As Kermit the Frog would say, "Yay!" I like to think of myself as an optimist. And actually, compared to my friends, I am Pollyanna. So I was looking forward to today, hoping (as always) that despite all the evidence, we would ...
Bill O'Reilly's Cognitive Dissonance (07 Feb 2014 11:30am)
Bill O'Reilly is the cognitive dissonance champion, and this recent kerfuffle with Dana Milbank is a perfect example. After O'Reilly's shameful pre-Super Bowl interview with President Obama, Milbank wrote, Bill O'Reilly's Obama Interview Showed a Nation Still Divided. He did what few are brave enoug...
Francois Truffaut and the Babe (06 Feb 2014 07:53pm)
On this day in 1895, Babe Ruth was born. He is generally considered the greatest baseball player of all time. I don't think this is true. For one thing, it doesn't make much sense to compare different positions and different times. One thing is true: Ruth was part of a revolution in the game. In the...
Republicans Could Retake Senate—Or Not (06 Feb 2014 04:54pm)
We have more election forecasts, although this one is from real political scientists, so it deserves to be taken seriously. The model is thanks to John Sides and the rest of the crew that hang out over at The Monkey Cage, How Republicans Can Win the Senate in 2014. They put the probability at 54% an...
The Christian War on Science (06 Feb 2014 11:02am)
Last night I watched the creationism debate between Bill Nye (the science guy) and Ken Ham (the Christian nutjob). I had heard that Nye destroyed Ham, but I don't think that's true. Nye did a good job, of course. But it was impressive to watch just how slippery Ham was. He, along with the whole youn...
Safety Nets in the Circus and Economy (05 Feb 2014 10:01pm)
Do you like to see high wire acts performed without a net? I don't. In fact, lack of a net makes the whole thing far less entertaining to me. Knowing that the performer might die if he makes a mistake takes most if not all of the fun out of it. I do, however, understand that seeing a performer witho...
Swimming With Whale Sharks (05 Feb 2014 08:49pm)
I don't care what they say. Swimming with a 26-foot long whale shark with a mouth that is five feet wide is dangerous. It is also, I'm sure, thrilling. The photo above is from a collection take by marine biologist Simon Pierce and published in GrindTV, Whale Shark About to Eat Diver, Or So It Appea...
Queer, Junkie, Burroughs (05 Feb 2014 04:56pm)
Tom Wilkinson is 66 today. He is one of my very favorite actors. He first came to my attention in The Full Monty, where he plays a character whose authority has caused him to be estranged from other people. The part is incredibly well written, but Wilkinson's performance adds greak depth to it. I re...
Coke Gets America, Conservatives Don't (05 Feb 2014 12:31pm)
I have a personal note about the Coke diversity commercial which is embedded below. I didn't watch the Super Bowl on Sunday, but it was on at the place I was staying, so I saw a bit of it. And part of that was the Coke commercial. It is extremely beautiful and the sound design was just perfect. But ...
ObamaCare Is Not Destroying Jobs (05 Feb 2014 10:50am)
Let's do a little dive into the CBO report (pdf) that is wrongly being reported as, ObamaCare Will Cost America More Than Two Million Jobs. This is not at all what the CBO report actually says. But I do think the CBO screwed up by presenting this convenient factoid for conservatives to spin. And it ...
Night of the Still Living George Romero (04 Feb 2014 08:45pm)
On this day in 1895, the British character actor Nigel Bruce was born. He's the kind of guy you see in a lot of gold age films like Rebecca. But he is mostly known for playing Dr Watson in the Basil Rathbone Sherlock Holmes films. He was the person I was thinking of when I talked about how the serie...
There Are No Libertarian Republicans (04 Feb 2014 04:27pm)
I have long known that Dave Weigel is one of those "bleeding heart" libertarian. These are the kind of libertarians I was when I was a libertarian: very concerned with social justice—left leaning, you might say. But such libertarians are still (1) libertarians and (2) wrong. Weigel showed this...
Democrats Aren't Liberal: TPP Edition (04 Feb 2014 11:19am)
I haven't had anything to say about the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) up until now. The truth is that there isn't a lot to say. It is yet another trade agreement and that is pretty much always a bad idea in an economy that is as unequal as the one we have in America today. The issue is quite sim...
Leave Philip Seymour Hoffman Alone! (03 Feb 2014 09:27pm)
I do wish all the world would shut the fuck up about the "heroin epidemic" that is underway in the United States. Is there a heroin epidemic? No. Heroin use seems to have been on the rise for the last decade or so, but there isn't anything especially dramatic about its rise. Drug use waxes and wanes...
Obama Stained By O'Reilly Proximity (03 Feb 2014 07:06pm)
Dave Weigel wrote a very good article over at Slate today, Bill O'Reilly, Asking the Wrong #Benghazi Questions. In it, he goes over why conservatives are so focused on exactly what the administration said about the attack. Bottom line: they have a very simplistic take on the attack. In reality, a nu...
Shelley Berman Wants a Window (03 Feb 2014 09:43am)
On this day in 1874, the great writer Gertrude Stein was born. Her work is difficult, but playful. I've often thought that she isn't as big a literary star as, say, Joyce because she was a woman. On the other hand, her fascist sympathies doubtless don't help. She's still interesting to read, but I f...
Paul Ryan Admits He's No Catholic (02 Feb 2014 06:46pm)
There is a big difference between Catholicism and Protestantism. And that difference is that Catholics believe that the Church defines the religion while Protestants believe that the Church comes directly from the Bible. It should come as no surprise that I side with the Catholics. The problem with ...
Two Novelists, One Great, One Not (02 Feb 2014 03:03pm)
On this day in 1905, Ayn Rand was born. It can't be overstated just what a mediocrity she was as a thinker. She's a good example of how the less people know about a subject the more they overestimate their competency. She was convinced that the only person she owed any debt to was Aristotle. This wa...
Thoughts on the Super Bowl (02 Feb 2014 01:50pm)
I am out of town, thus the great slowdown in posts here. But I am not so unplugged as to not know that it is the biggest day of the year for Americans: Super Bowl Sunday. Here in the Bay Area, people are disappointed because two weeks ago, the 49ers lost in the last minute of the game against the Se...
S J Perelman and More (01 Feb 2014 03:49pm)
On this day in 1894, the great film director John Ford was born. I do, however, think he's a bit overrated. There are certain directors who have a certain buzz associated with them. Another good example is Hitchcock. I would argue that this does not apply to Welles, who has a different problem where...
Opportunity Means Nothing (31 Jan 2014 05:59pm)
Matt Yglesias made a keen observation about the State of the Union address, Sorry, Equal Opportunity Isn't Good Enough. It's about how both Obama and Cathy McMorris Rodgers (in her "response" to him) focused on "equality of opportunity." It's true: people just love the idea of opportunity. It's like...
Franz Schubert and Norman Mailer (31 Jan 2014 12:28pm)
In 1923, the great novelist Norman Mailer was born. It is kind of sad that he is remembered today more for being an egotistical jerk than a great artist. And indeed, he did have that whole Ernest Hemingway thing going on. But my take on him is that it was just his way of dealing with deep feelings o...
Rich Are Above the Law... Of Economics (31 Jan 2014 10:49am)
Are you ready for some more outrageous Wall Street banking behavior? You may have heard last week that JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon got a 74% raise. This is after the London Whale trade lost the company $6 billion in 2012. Then, last year, the company was fined $20 billion for financial misbehavio...
If Global Warming's Real Why Is It Cold? (30 Jan 2014 10:32pm)
I find it profoundly frustrating to talk about global warming. I don't mind ignorant questions. Ignorant questions lead to informed clarity. What I hate are disingenuous questions. A common question that fits into both categories is, "If There's Global Warming... Why Is It So Cold?" But I think most...
Otzi, the Iceman, Cometh a Long Way (30 Jan 2014 09:20pm)
Last night, I watched a great NOVA episode, Iceman Murder Mystery. It tells the story of the natural mummy Otzi, a man who died 5,300 years ago in the Austrian Central Alps. He appears to have died fairly directly from an arrow that was shot into his back. After that, he either died from the resulti...
The Ever Clear Mark Eitzel (30 Jan 2014 04:24pm)
On this day in 1882, Franklin Delano Roosevelt was born. As you probably know, I don't do politicians. But FDR wasn't a politician; he was leader of the free world for 12 years. I'm not a huge fan on the man. (I'm much more a fan of his wife.) I think of him the way that I think of Barack Obama: he ...
The Rich Are Afraid of Democracy (30 Jan 2014 11:39am)
Yesterday was Paddy Chayefsky's birthday. That got me thinking about the movie Network. That's the film where just-fired longtime news anchor Howard Beale gives his farewell to the viewers and goes on to rant, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" It's a sentiment that pretty much ...
My Partner the Ghost (29 Jan 2014 09:24pm)
When I was perhaps 8 years old, I saw a television show one Sunday evening. It was called, My Partner the Ghost. Basically, it was a show about two private investigators. The twist was—What a surprise!—one them was a ghost. So it was basically like The Rockford Files, but it was funny an...
The Only Founding Father Who Matters (29 Jan 2014 05:37pm)
Correction: Thomas Paine was not born on this day in the modern calendar. His actual birthday is 9 February 1737. On this day in 1923, the great screenwriter Paddy Chayefsky was born. I don't generally think that we can look to the Academy to spot great work. But in Chayefsky's case, they probably ...
The Rich Know Less Than You Do (29 Jan 2014 11:41am)
Last night on The Daily Show, Samantha Bee did a segment on the minimum wage. In it, she talked to investment banker Peter Schiff. He perfectly captures the essence of the patient aristocrat explaining the way the world works to the silly commoner. You could almost hear him sigh as he laid out the c...
'Job Creation' Means Anything to Everyone (29 Jan 2014 10:30am)
I watched the State of the Union address last night. It was typical of such speeches: a hodgepodge of policies that sound more like a pep rally than a policy speech. And given the political realities, how could it be anything else? We don't have a parliamentary system were the party in control can a...
Alan Alda but it Should Be Ernst Lubitsch (28 Jan 2014 10:41pm)
On this day in 1887, the great pianist Arthur Rubinstein was born. He is especially known for his performances of Chopin, so here is Nocturne Opus 9, No 2: The great film director Ernst Lubitsch was born in 1892. Despite the fact that he died at the age of only 55 of his sixth heart attack, he man...
Humor, Despair, and American Music Club (28 Jan 2014 05:53pm)
At one time, I listened to little else but American Music Club. I still think they are one of the best bands ever. They are sometimes referred to as "sadcore," which Wikipedia defines as having "bleak lyrics, downbeat melodies and slower tempos." That's not the greatest definition of the band, howev...
Did Paramilitary Approach to Law Enforcement Get an Officer Killed? (28 Jan 2014 04:21pm)
Back on the 21st, exactly one week ago, BART Police officers were searching a suspect's apartment when one of them accidentally shot and killed another. Michael Maes, a 26-year veteran, shot Sgt Tom Smith, a 20-year veteran who was the head of their detective bureau. BART has defended itself, noting...
Rian Johnson Delights and Disappoints (28 Jan 2014 02:19pm)
I'm am fond of the film The Brothers Bloom. It is a mess of a plot with a totally inappropriate ending.[1] But there is so much to like in the film that it triumphs nonetheless. But even more than that, it is a film that has made me want to check out other things that writer-director Rian Johnson ha...
Cuomo Hides Economic Conservatism With Liberal Social Policy (28 Jan 2014 10:43am)
I saw on The Daily Show that New York Governor Andrew Cuomo recently said that "extreme conservatives" don't belong in the state. This has caused a firestorm in the right wing media. It's a great moment for them. Conservatives always knew that liberals were non-inclusive snobs and now they have the ...
The 20th Century Goes With Seeger (27 Jan 2014 11:24pm)
I just got word that Pete Seeger has died. Even though he was 94, he looked like he was doing great. So I'm a little surprised. It seems like the 20th century is finally over. Is there any other icon left? I've embedded a video below from a concert a little more than 20 years ago at Wolf Trap. He's...
Ayn Rand Would Have Loved Tom Perkins (27 Jan 2014 10:05pm)
Today at Political Animal, Ed Kilgore wrote, Atlas Whined. In it, he discusses "venture capitalist Tom Perkins much-mocked letter to The Wall Street Journal comparing people like him to the persecuted German Jews ." And he notes that Ayn Rand would be very disappointed with such "fearful titans." He...
Mozart and Carroll (27 Jan 2014 08:21pm)
On this day in 1832, the great writer Lewis Carroll was born. This two Alice novels are still wonderfully fun to read. And you should go and do that! What bothers me is that most people think of him as some kind of pedophile. Even if he had actually been one, that wouldn't change the work. But I acc...
Class Distinction in The King's Speech (27 Jan 2014 04:25pm)
I finally got around to watching The King's Speech last night. It is a very good film. It looks great and the acting is flawless. It is that most most unusual of films: a character-based narrative. The plot only matters in so much as it motivates the characters. And the two primary characters are re...
"Please, Sir, I Want Some More" (27 Jan 2014 11:43am)
Oh, how America, day by day, becomes what conservatives most desire: the Dickensian utopia where the rich are treated as titans and the poor know their place. This morning, Jonathan Chait reports, Obama's Plan to End Discrimination Against the Long-term Unemployed. Chait seems to be reasonably impr...
An Enjoyable Adult Melodrama (26 Jan 2014 10:50pm)
Last night after my less than thrilling Silver Streak adventure, I decided to watch A Late Quartet. This is unusual for me. The film is barely a year old, and I find myself more and more trying to go back and pick up gems that I have missed from the past. But this film called to me, probably because...
Jules Feiffer and More! (26 Jan 2014 08:44pm)
On this day in 1911, the physicist Polykarp Kusch was born. Along with Willis Lamb, he demonstrated the magnetic moment of the electron was greater than the theoretical value. This caused a whole bunch of changes in quantum electrodynamics. I have no idea how one would go about such a feat. But then...
Arbitrary and Inequitable Distribution of Wealth and Incomes (26 Jan 2014 05:57pm)
Paul Krugman quoted John Maynard Keynes, who in his 1936 masterwork The General Theory of Employment, Interest and Money wrote, "The outstanding faults of the economic society in which we live are its failure to provide for full employment and its arbitrary and inequitable distribution of wealth and...
Second Thoughts About Silver Streak (26 Jan 2014 02:16pm)
Last night, I sat down and watched Silver Streak. I was kind of excited actually. I hadn't seen the film since I was in high school. And much later, I read a screenwriting book by Syd Field. In it, he talked a lot about the film and clearly thought that it was a great script. Even at the time, I tho...
Ross Douthat's Weird Idea of Compromise (26 Jan 2014 11:31am)
Ross Douthat's last column was about—Wait for it!—how the decline of marriage is causing income inequality, More Imperfect Unions. But that's really just the pretext. The actual point of the article is to complain that liberals are not willing to look at evidence, the way he and other co...
Chainsaws, Film, and Tobe Hooper (25 Jan 2014 10:53pm)
On this day in 1627, the great scientist Robert Boyle was born. He did a whole lot of stuff (hence "scientist") but he is mostly known for Boyle's Law. This is the observation that the pressure of a gas is inversely proportional to its volume. In chemistry, we normally learn this as a subset of the ...
Libertarian Theory and Practice (25 Jan 2014 11:57am)
The following video from the Majority Report is really good and very funny. Sam Seder has a standing "libertarian challenge" where he encourages libertarians to call in and discuss issues. At first, when I heard libertarians call in, I thought the show must be screening for stupid people, but I don'...
Warren Zevon and Many Others (24 Jan 2014 09:30pm)
It was a very good day for the world on this day in 41 AD. Roman emperor Caligula was assassinated that day. (Or maybe two days earlier; it was a long time ago.) Of course, he wasn't assassinated because he was a horrible emperor. He was assassinated because he was planning to move to Egypt. This wo...
Universality Won't Protect Entitlements (24 Jan 2014 01:55pm)
There is more out of the American Prospect/Democratic Strategist forum on entitlements. The last time I brought this up, it was to say, Democrats Work to Sell Out Liberalism. But today, I am here to agree in large part (although I still don't think the whole self-negotiation is a good idea). Ed Kilg...
Debt Ceiling and Not Very Bright Guys (24 Jan 2014 11:52am)
As I mentioned briefly yesterday, the Republicans are again threatening the Debt Ceiling and the global economic disaster that goes along with it. Jonathan Chait makes a nice catch about the issue this morning, House Republicans Make Saddest Hostage Threat Ever. His main point is that everyone knows...
Eisenstein and Manet (23 Jan 2014 08:30pm)
The Twenty-fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution was ratified on this day fifty years ago. It made poll taxes illegal on the both the state and federal levels. I think it is really interesting given that the voter ID laws are exactly the same thing: a way to make voting something that m...
Our Dirty Wars Ultimately Harm Us (23 Jan 2014 05:04pm)
You may remember my 95-5 rule: 95% of the problems in the world are caused by 5% of the people. This comes from my experience that the vast majority of people just want to live their little lives and be left alone. So it is a very small number of people who get us into wars and otherwise perpetrate ...
Sean Trende and the Next Two Elections (23 Jan 2014 11:39am)
One of my favorite conservatives is Sean Trende of Real Clear Politics. I usually disagree with him on substance, but he's a good and honest number cruncher. And yesterday, he did a whole lot of crunching, Obama's Job Approval Points to 2014 Trouble for Democrats. As is typical of him, he has put a ...
D W Griffith Plus More Than Any Day Deserves (22 Jan 2014 09:10pm)
Eight years ago, Evo Morales became the first indigenous president of Bolivia. He seems to have done a pretty decent job. He, of course, is largely dismissed as a socialist here in the United States. But then, so is the conservative created, free-market healthcare system we now call Obamacare. Moral...
O'Reilly, Krugman, and Visceral Hatred (22 Jan 2014 04:43pm)
My favorite economist Dean Baker alerted me to a conservative talking point that I didn't know about. People go around claiming that Paul Krugman called for Alan Greenspan to create a housing bubble back in 2002. And now Krugman claims that Greenspan was wrong to allow the housing bubble to continue...
Democrats Work to Sell Out Liberalism (22 Jan 2014 02:29pm)
Ed Kilgore provides a very nice service over at the Political Animal blog in providing a good overview of what is happening in politics throughout the day. And even though I've always know that he is a New Democrat, he hasn't manage to really annoy me until yesterday. That's when he started writing ...
There Will Be No GOP Reform for 2016 (22 Jan 2014 10:39am)
Ross Douthat is back with another one of those articles where he pretends that the Republican Party is "moderating." And that means that Jonathan Chait had to write an article where he mocks Douthat but strangely agrees with him. They are both wrong. So let me sort this all out. On Sunday, Douthat ...
Genghis Khan the New GOP Ideal Man? (21 Jan 2014 09:32pm)
Over on Majority Report today, they played a bit from a recent Fox & Friends episode that featured Nick Adams. He wrote a book called The American Boomerang. The book is an Australian conservative's idea of a "pep talk" for America. Go team! Whatever. But he was brought on the show to talk about...
Wishing for Better Than Benny Hill (21 Jan 2014 06:33pm)
I had gotten rather spoiled the last few days with some pretty good birthdays to choose from. In fact, the great abundance of them made me give short shrift to people I normally would have spent more time on. But that's why I'm the best at exactly what I do. In 1820, Joseph Wolf was born. He was a ...
My Mad Search for River's Safe Word in Serenity (21 Jan 2014 03:31pm)
Last night I watched Serenity again. It is the movie Josh Whedon made after Fox canceled Firefly and then it became a huge hit. If you've seen the film, you know that River goes crazy, kicking some major The Matrix-style butt, and her brother, Simon, runs in at the last minute and yells, "Blah blah ...
Chris Christie's Tiny Red Box (21 Jan 2014 01:20pm)
Chris Christie started his second term today.[1] I saw a bit of it. (I try to avoid these things because they are boring.) But one line really stood out to me, "We have to be willing to play outside the red and blue boxes the media and pundits put us in." That's interesting. I didn't know it was the...
Send in the Hacks! (21 Jan 2014 10:20am)
Query: Is there anyone telling us now that Christie is, or might be, innocent who wasn't telling us in October 2012 that Mitt Romney was going to win or that the election was "too close to call"? —Mark Kleiman Journalism V. Hackery ...
This Is Your Brain on Conservatism (21 Jan 2014 10:01am)
Yesterday, Paul Krugman wrote, The Undeserving Rich. This is a favorite issue around here. Conservatives try to argue that the poor are not deserving and the rich are. In fact, Krugman wrote a blog post about this last week that I discussed, The Rich Versus the Upper Class. (This is quite typical; i...
Fellini and Many Others (20 Jan 2014 07:08pm)
On this day in 1732, Richard Henry Lee was born. I only know him because he has a big number in 1776. He is, apparently, the guy who got the Continental Congress to debate independence. But being a rich man from Virginia, we can only assume he was a big slave holder. Does that make him a bad man or ...
Man Swims With Dead Tiger Shark! (20 Jan 2014 04:34pm)
Have you ever seen the alien autopsy video? There's very little actual video and whenever you got close it went out of focus? I have the same feeling about "daredevil" Shaun Harrington and his supposed close-call with a tiger shark. (See the video below.) The only time we see the shark under water, ...
"Fix the Debt" or "Screw the Poor"? (20 Jan 2014 02:47pm)
Jonathan Chait wrote an excellent article today, Deficit Scolds Are Holding the Unemployed Hostage. It is broadly about something I talk about a lot around here. The deficit scold industry may have it's stated purpose—to reduce the long-term deficit—but what it actually accomplishes is t...
MLK Day Is Not a Destination (20 Jan 2014 10:47am)
It is Martin Luther King Day! It is the day we celebrate the mythic figure rather than the man. And that is how it should be because no country has ever celebrated an actual man. But at least King is a happy exception to Lord Acton's observation, "Great men are almost always bad men." King was that ...
The Tell-Tale Genius (19 Jan 2014 05:15pm)
There are a lot of great and interesting birthdays, but I'm going to have to make this quick because of filial obligations. On this day in 1807, the great tragic character of the Civil War Robert E Lee was born. I think it is important to see him in the context of his time. In his time and place, w...
Why Would Anyone Think Jesus Makes You Non-Violent? (18 Jan 2014 09:20pm)
I'm about to quote Phil Robertson, but this is not about Duck Dynasty. This is about religious intolerance in a general (but American) sense. I just heard that in Robertson's GQ interview, he also said something about Shintos. Of course, that in itself is kind of funny because not that many people i...
Cary, Winnie, and Barbed Wire (18 Jan 2014 08:06pm)
On this day in 1813, Joseph Glidden was born. Now he may or may not have invented barbed wire. But he got the patent on it in 1874 and so he became an incredibly wealthy man. Given that he probably wasn't the actual inventor and how the idea was clearly on the minds of a number of people, it shows t...
The Rich Versus the Upper Class (18 Jan 2014 04:36pm)
Paul Krugman makes a great point in a blog post today, The Myth of the Deserving Rich. But then he commits an error (which he does all the time) that drives me crazy. But first, let's talk about the article generally. His point is that just as we try to justify the poverty of the poor, we try to ju...
The Tea Totaler (18 Jan 2014 03:07pm)
All evidence to the contrary, I don't drink much. But I am not a teetotaler. That's an interesting word. Originally, it referred to the 19th century movement of people who followed teetotalism—an explicit abstinence from all alcohol. It started at the same time and was more or less the same th...
Follow the Money in New Jersey (18 Jan 2014 12:00pm)
I know that I have sworn off MSNBC, but I got a tip that this morning there was real news coming on Up with Steve Kornacki. So I watched it. This is amazing. Really, you've got to see it. The description of this segment sums it up pretty well, "Top officials in Chris Christie's administration appear...
Pre- and Post-Modern Comedy (17 Jan 2014 10:02pm)
My but I am getting a late start on the birthdays today. Sorry about that. I've been doing a number of other things. And it's too bad, because we have a number of interesting birthdays today. On this day in 1899, the alpha gangster Al Capone was born. There is something about him that always makes ...
The Rich Should Plan Ahead (17 Jan 2014 04:52pm)
This is a slightly different take on income inequality than I normally propose. I say that the rich should want more equality because great inequality breads revolution. In this clip, Bill Maher makes a more immediate argument. If people are desperate enough, they will kidnap the rich. Of course, I ...
In America, the Dummy Controls the Ventriloquist (17 Jan 2014 04:20pm)
Earlier this week, I wrote about the movie Cradle Will Rock. It really is a good film and an indication of this is that I had totally forgotten that I had already written about the film. I was still thinking, I've got to figure out how to write about the film. And this morning, it hit me, "My Suitca...
Robert Gates' Duty to Cash In (17 Jan 2014 11:35am)
One of the first things that Obama did that angered me was to keep Robert Gates on as Defense Secretary. Of all the cabinet positions to put a Republican in, that is the worst. The Republicans have been (wrongly) hammering Democrats for being soft on the military for decades. So what was Obama sayin...
Michael Michael Michael Miguel (16 Jan 2014 09:48pm)
Michael Meier of The Q Filmcast tweeted out, "What are the chances of attending a meeting with 3 guys named Michael and 1 guy named Miguel?... Seriously, WHAT are chances??" This is like the ultimate invitation to me. It combines the things I most love: movies, math, and showing off. So I tweeted ba...
The Cremation of Robert Service (16 Jan 2014 08:22pm)
I am sorry to report that two icons of my youth have died today. The first is a man we all know as simply, "The Professor." Of course, that's just the character that he played on Gilligan's Island. He was, of course, an actual human being named Russell Johnson. And you know what? He was actually a h...
Hollande Fucks Julie Gayet and French Economy (16 Jan 2014 03:13pm)
As many in America get excited about the French sex reports that are only scandalous in America, there is actual very bad news out of France. But first up, the sex scandal. French President Francois Hollande was caught having an affair with actor Julie Gayet. And it may indeed be the case as Joshua...
Economic Inequality and Chemical Spills (16 Jan 2014 01:57pm)
I haven't written much if anything about the West Virginia chemical spill. That isn't because I'm not interested in it. I haven't been covering much politics for the last couple of weeks. Or much of anything else. But Reed Richardson wrote a great article on the coverage of the spill, or lack thereo...
Martin Luther King the Man (15 Jan 2014 08:44pm)
It's kind of shocking, really. Today is, in a concrete way, Martin Luther King day, yet there is almost no mention of it. I'll come back to it, but it seems very strange to me. And offensive. On this day in 1622, Moliere was born. He was such a great French playwright that I actually know who he wa...
Jerry Brown's Indictment of the US (15 Jan 2014 12:20pm)
The two news organizations that I turn to now are Al Jazeera America and the Los Angeles Times. Why? Because the former is really good. And the latter is good and has not yet started charging me to read it. (Although I feel certain that this is coming.) But even more, over the last six months, I've ...
Where Exactly in Hell I'm Going (14 Jan 2014 08:35pm)
You all know how much I love tests. Well, Andrea—as Nice Atheist Girl—sent me to the Dante's Inferno Test. Now, being one of the few people I know who has actually read The Divine Comedy, I feel I should point out that it is not what we in the Jesus biz call canonical. Dante was just hav...
The Love of Albert Schweitzer (14 Jan 2014 04:55pm)
Lots of birthdays today. And I was so tempted to just leave the whole article at that last sentence. But there are some really great people who were born today. But I'm going to have to get through this in pieces. Are you ready? I'm not. Hang on a second... Okay. Here we go. On this day in 1841, th...
The Anxiety of Never Being Good Enough (14 Jan 2014 03:52pm)
The combination of depression and anxiety is really great. A powerful combination! Recently, I came upon, John William Keedy's Anxiety-Themed Photo Series. Mostly, I think the photos are kind of lame—at least from the perspective of my anxiety. I don't think that Mr Keedy really gets the kind ...
It's Credit One Not Capital One (14 Jan 2014 02:28pm)
Well, the world of banking and credit is indeed a scary place. Somewhere I stumbled across a credit offer—think it came to my business email—for a new credit card. Since I have been cleaning house lately, credit wise, I thought it might be a good opportunity to consolidate some small de...
GOP Charges $11 for Process "Survey" (14 Jan 2014 12:21pm)
A friend of mine sent me the "2014 Speaker's Priorities Survey." It is typical of such things. It isn't a real survey. To begin with, the questions are all leading. It contains things like, "Do you believe that Obama is the Antichrist or just an evil communist?" Really! Here is the actual first ques...
Now My Phone Can Say "Fuck"! (13 Jan 2014 10:24pm)
This is literally the best fucking news I've heard all day. As you know, I recently got my very first smart phone. And it has been nice. There are a number of things I can do on the phone that I just couldn't before. And now I can browse the web with a reasonable amount of ease. But by far, the bigg...
Wilhelm Wien and Blackbodies (13 Jan 2014 09:01pm)
It seems the worse my mood gets, the worse the birthdays I have to choose from get. I've heard it said that depression is anger targeted inward. I don't think that's true. But I do find I have a curious combination of depression and anger. I think you can see that anger in everything I've written to...
The Cradle Might Fall (13 Jan 2014 06:20pm)
This article contains some of my reflections on the movie Cradle Will Rock. I've avoided it for 14 years for a very unfair reason. The last years of his life in America, Orson Welles went everywhere trying to get funding to make a movie about this same exact subject. But of course, who could trust W...
Danica McKellar Teaches Female Stereotypes (13 Jan 2014 01:44pm)
Back in the 3 January birthday post, Ever Since Marion Davies, I wrote, "The great film director Sergio Leone was born in 1929. Interestingly, he isn't even listed on the front page birthdays of IMDB. Who is? Danica McKellar who I've never heard of..." This does not mean much. It is common that I w...
To Dream the SNAP Benefit Dream (13 Jan 2014 10:57am)
Have you heard the news, sonny?! The Republicans are concerned about poverty! It must be true, because everybody's talking about it. And the Republicans are making speeches! But they aren't interested in little things like food and shelter and, you know, education. They are interested in dreams. The...
John Singer Sargent and the Haiti Earthquake (12 Jan 2014 07:49pm)
Four years ago today was the 7.0 M earthquake in Haiti that killed over 200,000 people. The death toll was so high because it struck the most populated area of the country. In all, over three million people were affected by it. I think Haiti is an embarrassment to the west. There is no reason for us...
Deep Thoughts on Sherlock Season Two (12 Jan 2014 01:46pm)
I finally got around to watching the second season of Sherlock. It is a well made series. But there is a real limit to how much of it I can take. The biggest problem is what they have done to Holmes himself. In the original stories, he is brilliant and arrogant and flawed; but he really does care ab...
Jim Hightower Is Just One of Us (11 Jan 2014 11:59pm)
On this day in 1503, the great Italian Mannerist painter Parmigianino was born. He was a master, but a bizarre one. He was known for his physical distortions of forms. For example, the highly stylized Madonna with the Long Neck, presents the Virgin Mary with an almost giraffe neck. The Vision of Sai...
Christie 2016 Bumper Sticker! (11 Jan 2014 11:44pm)
Made Especially for Frankly Curious by: Andrea English On Thursday night's Colbert Report, he presented a bumper sticker for a potential Chris Christie 2016 presidential campaign. I often grab these, as I did with the Slow & Measured faux movie poster about Harry Reid's approach to filibuster re...
The Last Two Words on Chris Christie (11 Jan 2014 05:18pm)
"John Dean." Richard Nixon did not know about the Watergate break-in before it happened. That's important to know. The reason that he was forced to resign was that he knew about and approved of the cover-up. And just as important, the cover-up wasn't about Watergate but about the larger project tha...
It's Raining, But Not for Long (11 Jan 2014 12:01pm)
We have had basically no rain this season and it isn't looking like there will be much rain in the near future. But today, and today only, it is raining! This is, folks, my biggest worry about global warming. Rising temperatures should cause more rain. And indeed, the models all predict more rain. ...
Rhino Horror Story (10 Jan 2014 11:45pm)
This is the horror story, but it takes me a while to get to it... In general, I'm not a Twitter fan. At first, it was great because I followed people I normally read, so it kept me up to date on what was going on. But it got to be too much. I wasn't getting anything done other than reading. The mai...
You Don't Mess Around With You Know (10 Jan 2014 10:06pm)
My am I late. My life is such a lovely collection of low paying gigs, that it is often hard to get around to my lowest paying (but best loved) gig: this website. As I was going through the birthdays, I was thinking, "What a terrible day this is!" But then I came upon Donald Knuth and things really p...
Chris Christie Is No Laughing Matter (10 Jan 2014 03:43pm)
Yesterday, when I saw Chris Christie's press conference, one line really stood out to me, "I was done with my workout yesterday morning and got a call from my communications director..." I had a feeling that was going to make a lot of people laugh. "Chris Christie working out?" But I know that's the...
Robert Reich Is Optimistic About GOP Failure, I'm Not (10 Jan 2014 01:50pm)
Despite what it says on the sidebar, I do not read Robert Reich every day. For one thing, he only posts about twice a week. But for another, I find his optimism inspiring but exhausting. Among my friends, I am considered the optimist. This is faint praise. Still, I think of myself as vaguely optimis...
Robert Rubin and the Villainy of the New Democrats (10 Jan 2014 12:30pm)
Some people don't like that I'm so hard on the New Democrats. I don't want to over state it, but there is a reason: they have been destroying the nation for two decades! So now we find Robert Rubin ranting on about "financial discipline." On the pages of the Financial Times he tells us, Sound Govern...
War Tech and Shakespeare's Propaganda (09 Jan 2014 10:17pm)
In the last article about Edith Piaf and "Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien," I referenced the St Crispin's Day Speech from Henry V. It is not a play I'm that familiar with. I think I've read it all once (but I've read bits of it many times while trying to answer various questions). And I've seen Kenneth Bra...
Non, Je Ne Regrette Rien (09 Jan 2014 07:45pm)
When I think of songs that are about strength and self-reliance, I think of Frank Sinatra. Songs like "It Was A Very Good Year" and "My Way" and "New York, New York" (even though I too know it from Liza Minnelli singing it in the film). But when I want to pick myself up, it is not one of these songs...
Not Having Nixon to Kick Around Anymore (09 Jan 2014 04:16pm)
On this day in 1901, Chic Young was born. He was the creator of the comic strip Blondie. I really liked it when I was a kid. Now, it seems kind of pathetic. But I think it is like all art: you have to put it in historical context. Look at the other comic strips of the 1930s: they're dreadful. What i...
The Count of Monte Cristo (09 Jan 2014 11:35am)
In 1844, Alexandre Dumas started serializing The Count of Monte Cristo. It was kind of his War and Peace—a novel with so many characters, you need a chart to keep track of it. Really! Wikipedia provides one: Count of Monte Cristo Relations. And even the highest resolution version is hard to re...
What Theists and Atheists Should Be Talking About (08 Jan 2014 09:10pm)
In the following interview with Denys Turner, he gets to the very basis of my thinking regarding spiritual matters, and I think he has a lesson for how atheists should talk to theists. Basically, he says that if you are going to be an atheist, you have to disregard one question, "Why does anything e...
Evolution and Elvis (08 Jan 2014 03:39pm)
On this day in 1935, Elvis Presley was born. I know what you're thinking, "How could he not win the day?" After all, in that scene from Pulp Fiction where Mia Wallace asks, "Elvis or the Beatles?" Of course: Elvis. As she points out, I like the Beatles. But if I had to pick the collected works of on...
Obama Soon to Put Chris Christie in Charge of Department of Transportation (08 Jan 2014 12:55pm)
You've probably heard of the George Washington Bridge closure story. Even though it was a small story, it was too delicious for liberals. What it looked like was that henchmen of Chris Christie caused a huge traffic jam in Fort Lee because it's Democratic mayor endorsed Barbara Buono rather than Chr...
Sonata for Francis and Poulenc (07 Jan 2014 08:46pm)
On this day in 1800, Millard Fillmore was born. He is generally considered one of the worst presidents. I don't really get this. Yes, I guess in retrospect, the Compromise of 1850 was a bad idea because the Civil War was coming no matter what. And the Fugitive Slave Act really was a vile piece of le...
Banker and Drug Dealer Economic Stimulus (07 Jan 2014 06:02pm)
Marketplace radio says that we should be happy for those big Wall Street bonuses because they lead to more spending and job creation. Of course spending by the Wall Street boys creates jobs, but the same is true of spending by drug dealers and bank robbers. It is a bit peculiar that a news show woul...
Larry Sabato's Useless Election Forecast (07 Jan 2014 02:51pm)
Larry J. Sabato is a political scientist with a long history of accurately predicting the outcomes of elections. He hasn't done such a good job during the last two election cycles, so of course, now he's writing for Politico. He just published, Republicans Really Could Win it All This Year. That's a...
Why the UI Extension is Probably Dead (07 Jan 2014 11:58am)
The Senate managed to overcome a filibuster because a whole six Republicans voted to allow formal debate on a bill that would provide extended unemployment benefits for another three months. Wow. What an amazing show of empathy and compassion from the party that hugs the Bible so close to its chest....
2013 Review: Part 6 (07 Jan 2014 12:37am)
Finally, the end of it. I think by this one, I'm starting to get the hang of it. Now I could go back and do it correctly. But that isn't going to happen. Maybe if I do it next year, it will be better. I think I have a better idea. Just one introductory paragraph and then a list of the ten best artic...
The Madcap Syd Barrett (06 Jan 2014 08:19pm)
What we know of the Elizabethan theater world is largely due to Philip Henslowe's diaries. He was owner of the Rose in partnership with the greatest actor of the period Edward Alleyn. We don't know when Henslowe was born, even the exact year. But we know when he died and it was today in 1616. On th...
2013 Review: Part 5 (06 Jan 2014 04:42pm)
September 2013 September began the drum beat for war with Syria. It seems that Joe Lieberman has never seen a war he wasn't in favor of. No wonder he and John McCain are such good friends. It seems that I spent the whole month making the argument if we cared about Syria, we should have done somethi...
Art Laffer's Economic Model (06 Jan 2014 02:06pm)
I've got my mojo back a bit. And so I'm very eager to write three long and involved articles that need to get done today. But there is so much else to write about. Paul Krugman went on vacation from writing columns for the last week. As I result, I stopped checking his blog. I shouldn't have. He's a...
60 Minutes Conservative Rampage Continues (06 Jan 2014 12:07pm)
Last night I watched the first segment of 60 Minutes. It looked like they were going to do a hit job on the clean energy industry. And I was not disappointed. After all that we've been through the last couple of months with the show, I am now convinced that someone is in charge who has a real conser...
Stopping Kaleidoscopic Optical Illusions (06 Jan 2014 09:50am)
This is a common optical illusion that I have seen in any number of books. It was tweeted out this morning by Brain Games. Normally, I wouldn't present it to you because it really isn't that interesting. I mean, some optical illusions are more interesting to certain kinds of people than others. Per...
Why the Duck Dynasty Bleeps? (05 Jan 2014 09:26pm)
I just had a thought about Duck Dynasty. Remember last October when Phil Robertson was complaining that the "editors" of the show were putting in random bleeps to make it sound like the clan was made up of a bunch of foul-mouthed hicks? I wrote about it, The Sad Reality of Duck Dynasty. At the time,...
The Name of Umberto Eco (05 Jan 2014 07:56pm)
As I made some mention of back a few weeks ago, I had entered into a depressive phase. I always say that I am lucky because in general, my manic-depressive cycle is minor compared to many people who suffer greatly from it. And I also claim that my depressive phases tend to be short. All of that is t...
GOP Strategy Won't Change 2014 Elections (05 Jan 2014 12:08pm)
Martin Longman wrote an interesting article over at Booman Tribune yesterday, GOP's Irrational Exuberance. It's about the Republicans and their conviction that they are going to totally rock in the 2014 elections. Longman isn't so sure. He thinks that "they will have to develop a positive message." ...
2013 Review: Part 4 (04 Jan 2014 08:47pm)
July 2013 It's interesting going back over old writing. Much of the time I can tell I'm just grinding out the article. But sometimes things really click. That was the case with the first article of this month, Can't Two Puppets Cuddle? It's a riff on that Bert and Ernie The New Yorker cover with th...
Blame Obama Not Brooks for Drug War Problem (04 Jan 2014 04:22pm)
I'm no fan of David Brooks. A couple of days ago, I wrote, David Brooks Puts Profits over Prophets. But I don't see why liberals are so upset about his Drug War apologia. Don't misunderstand: I see what they are saying. David Brooks used to smoke pot, but he thinks it should remain illegal without t...
Tom Thumb and a Hypocritical Jerk (04 Jan 2014 03:15pm)
Exactly 130 years ago, the Fabian Society was founded. It was originally a socialist organization, but never revolutionary. It called for gradual changes to make society a better place. Today, it is more or less what I call liberalism, but not the kind of liberalism that the Democratic Party suppose...
I Fed the Trolls (04 Jan 2014 11:58am)
I know not to feed the trolls, but sometimes I just can't help myself. Yesterday, over on a Jonathan Chait article, there were a number of really outrageous conservative commenters. And I wanted to share with you an exchange that I got involved with. It wasn't about politics; it was about grammar an...
The Rich Are Causing America's Decline (04 Jan 2014 11:02am)
I was watching an interview on Democracy Now! with Kevin Phillips from a couple of weeks after the last presidential election. Phillips is an interesting guy and he is always worth listening to. But he said something that really stood out to me. He noted that America was a nation in decline. This is...
2013 Review: Part 3 (03 Jan 2014 08:25pm)
Well, this gets us halfway through the year and I now thoroughly regret having started this series. It is really hard to sum up a month's worth of writing. One thing that has become clear to me is that I'm only interested in certain kinds of things when it comes to politics. I would be best paired w...
GOP Reformers Just Make Things Worse (03 Jan 2014 04:05pm)
Earlier today, Jonathan Chait wrote, Republican Reformers Stop Being Polite to Tea Party, Start Getting Real. Seeing that title, I jumped right in. I was prepared to savage any silly ideas that Chait had about Republican reformers and where they do or do not fit into the conservative movement. But t...
Ever Since Marion Davies (03 Jan 2014 01:08pm)
On this day in 1880, Francis Browne was born. He was a Jesuit, like our current Pope. But he is best known for his photographs—especially for his photographs of the Titanic. He had received a ticket to take the ship from England to Ireland. During that leg of the trip, a rich couple befriended...
MSNBC Creates False Equivalence for Itself (02 Jan 2014 07:33pm)
This is a good segment from The Young Turks, about another MSNBC "scandal." What happened was that Melissa Harris-Perry had some comedians on her show and they made a joke about the Romney family. Immediately, there is a freak out in the right wing media. The comedian then apologized and Harris-Perr...
Quantity Over Quality (02 Jan 2014 06:49pm)
On this day in 1822, the great physicist Rudolf Clausius was born. He basically put the Carnot cycle into the formulation that we now use. But more important he introduced the idea of entropy into thermodynamics. Entropy is kind of like the disorder of a system and it is the reason that systems are ...
2013 Review: Part 2 (02 Jan 2014 01:20pm)
Here we are with the second part of my six-part series on what the hell I was writing about last year. To some extent, it is getting boring, because I am most concerned about the same issues. Of course, I mix things up by talking about movies and music and science. But we continue to live in a shock...
Missing Scene From Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead (02 Jan 2014 05:16am)
Hamlet Will you play upon this pipe? Guildenstern My lord, I cannot. Hamlet I pray you. Guildenstern Believe me, I cannot. Hamlet I do beseech you. Guildenstern I know no touch of it, my lord. Hamlet 'Tis as easy as lying: govern these ventages with your fingers and thumb, give it breath with ...
David Brooks Puts Profits over Prophets (01 Jan 2014 10:42pm)
Because of a bit of a mix-up, I happened to read David Brooks' yearly discussion of the Sidney Awards, The Sidney Awards, Part 1. There is nothing quite like reading David Brooks or Thomas Friedman or oh so many other major newspaper columnists to make a writer feel good about himself. With Brooks, ...
Artist, Physicist, and Two Great Writers (01 Jan 2014 07:27pm)
It turns out that Paul Revere was really born on this day and not on 21 December, as I noted before. It's that stupid Old Style and New Style date thing that screws me up all the time. Whatever. It's not like he's an important guy. If it weren't for Longfellow's poem, he wouldn't even be in Wikipedi...
Bad Kerning (01 Jan 2014 04:34pm)
Typographic humor from Olly Moss: ...
2013 Review: Part 1 (01 Jan 2014 04:20pm)
As it is the first day of 2014, and I have already discussed the last year in a general sense, it seems natural to go back and look at what I spent the last year talking about. This is the first of a six-part series of articles about what we were talking about this last year. January 2013 The firs...
Frankly Curious in 2013 (01 Jan 2014 12:02pm)
Happy new year to all of you. It seems like a good idea to go back over the last year and look at what has happened to Frankly Curious. It would have been impossible for 2013 to have been as good a year for the website as 2012 was. During that year we went from almost nothing to a fairly widely read...
Austerity Is Not Working (01 Jan 2014 10:47am)
I'm trying, as much as possible, to make my political writing more understandable. It's very easy to throw around words that don't mean much to most people. One of those words is "austerity." In a general sense, there is nothing special in the word. I live a life of great austerity because I don't h...
Charm, Magic, and Kevin King (31 Dec 2013 08:54pm)
I wasn't going to write any more today. I'm tired. Really tired. The holidays wear me out. What's more, it is new year's eve and I hate new years eve. I feel like I, as a radical pedestrian, am not allowed to leave the house tonight. I left earlier to pick up some food for dinner. And in that brief ...
Henri Matisse (31 Dec 2013 07:05pm)
This is the last birthday post of the year. But it is not the last birthday post. For one thing, I'm not sure what I would do without my birthday posts. Yes, I complain about them all the time. Yet they give my life a certainty that I just don't get anywhere else. It's like the old stories of Winche...
Hopeless GOP Campaign to Stop "Fools" (31 Dec 2013 04:47pm)
Matt Taibbi has written an interesting article over at his post at Rolling Stone, On Christmas, Republicans Quietly Declare War on Themselves. As usual with Taibbi, it's a fun read so I highly recommend that you take a gander. But I think he is basically wrong. His thesis is that the Republican Par...
Why Conservatives Think Government Doesn't Create Jobs (31 Dec 2013 10:55am)
I think that it is important to understand what conservatives mean when they say certain things that make absolutely no sense. The big example of this is, "The government can't create jobs." This sounds like nonsense on the face of it. For one thing, it is usually said by some politician and you can...
The Beauty of Abandonment and Decay (30 Dec 2013 07:22pm)
Source: Barry Mangham/Pixog Speaking of The Third Man... There's that one most famous scene where Joseph Cotten and Orson Welles go up in the Wiener Riesenrad and Welles, as Harry Lime, talks about how insignificant humans are. "Look down there. Tell me. Would you really feel any pity if one of thos...
The Third Carol Reed (30 Dec 2013 04:42pm)
We have a big day for music today. But ultimately, the day belongs to a filmmaker. On this day in 1853, the great French composer Andre Messager was born. He wrote very lively and lyrical compositions like Solo de concours, which we hear here: Rock music innovator Bo Diddley was born in 1928. He ...
What Will Conservatives Blame Our Bad and Expensive Healthcare System for Now? (30 Dec 2013 12:44pm)
Aaron Carroll has another one of his Healthcare Triage videos out. I have to say, it's a mixed blessing. In general, I agree with everything Carroll has to say about just about everything. So the information that he presents is really good. But does he have to try so hard to act and sound like his p...
Don't Cry for the Democrats (30 Dec 2013 11:03am)
I'm not big on predictions, especially political predictions. But back in July, I did offer up, The Next Three Election Cycles. That was not so much a prediction as it was an explanation of what I thought it would take for the Republican Party to make substantial changes in order to start winning na...
Friendship, Character, and Jon Polito (29 Dec 2013 10:37pm)
On this day in 1800, Charles Goodyear was born. He was an inventor of processes for the manufacture of rubber—especially vulcanize rubber. What I think is most interesting about him is the fact that the Goodyear Tire & Rubber Company was named after him. But the company was founded by anot...
Otters Beat All Attackers Except Humans (29 Dec 2013 02:14pm)
Last week, I was watching the great television series Planet Earth, which is the only nature documentary series that I own. As far as I'm concerned, it is the best nature documentary yet made, and I think the producers knew that when they were making it. For one thing, they paid one nature photograp...
Why Libertarians Hate Fiat Money (29 Dec 2013 11:04am)
Brad DeLong brilliantly pointed out that, "Underpinning the value of the dollar is... the fact that you can use them to pay your taxes to the US government..." Ah! Now I think I understand why the libertarians hate "fiat money"! It's because libertarians are generally idiots. No, really. As I've no...
John von Nsoferatu (28 Dec 2013 09:16pm)
The day is almost over and I am finally getting to the birthday post. As you will see, the main person today is difficult. And it isn't much of a day for birthdays. That's fine. My perfect day is one where there are two or three people who I have something interesting to talk about. The worst days a...
Orcas In the Wild—Free! (28 Dec 2013 04:28pm)
I just found this photo from Ms.OpRoar on Twitter. It led me to an amazing article in The Daily Mail, Look Out, He's Behind You! Eight-Ton Orca Leaps 15ft Into the Air to Finally Capture Dolphin He Wanted for Dinner After Two-Hour Chase. Given the attack is on a dolphin, this must be a pod of trans...
More Evil English With Palate and Palette and Pallet (28 Dec 2013 03:41pm)
What does your choice of restaurant say about your palate and your palette and your pallet? Is it important? Well, in speaking, it doesn't matter at all. But if you don't know the difference between these words, you may look ignorant in writing. And that's a shame. Because all of these words are pro...
Too Bad Alan Turing Is Dead or He Would Really Appreciate That Pardon (28 Dec 2013 12:05pm)
The Queen of England pardoned Alan Turing for his crime of being gay. That's over 60 years after the state chemically castrated him for the crime and just 59 years after he killed himself as a result at the age of 41. Better late than never, you say? I don't think so. I think that late is exactly th...
It's Hard Out Here for Some Pimps (28 Dec 2013 11:03am)
So it was Christmas, and all day the same song was going through my head. "Santa Claus Is Coming to town"? "The Little Boy That Santa Claus Forgot"? "Santa Bring My Baby Back to Me"? No, nothing like like. It was "It's Hard Out Here for a Pimp" from the movie, Hustle & Flow. You know, "It's hard...
Mormon Church Now Open to Some (27 Dec 2013 04:33pm)
A couple of weeks ago, I read in The Guardian, Mormon Church Addresses Past Racism. It is about how the leaders of the church explained why it forbade blacks from the clergy for 126 years until 1978. According to the document, "The church disavows the theories advanced in the past that black skin is...
Wordy Sarah Vowell (27 Dec 2013 10:02am)
On this day in 1571, the great Johannes Kepler was born. He is perhaps the greatest theoretical astronomer of all time. He's the guy who made Copernicus' idea work. It was fine to put the sun in the center of the solar system. But the truth was that it still didn't work to predict the orbits of the ...
Our Economic Turn From Shared Sacrifice to Social Darwinism (26 Dec 2013 08:35pm)
Yesterday, Paul Krugman wrote, Why Corporations Might Not Mind Moderate Depression. What he's trying to get at in a deductive way is that there might be a level of unemployment that maximizes profits for companies. Under normally circumstances, companies would want a high customer demand. But that r...
Elisha Cook and Henry Miller (26 Dec 2013 04:27pm)
You wouldn't believe the day I've had. I'm exhausted and angry. I doubt I will write more today after this very late birthday post. On this day in 1891, the great novelist Henry Miller was born. I've never especially liked his work, but he really did revolutionize the novel. Not that anyone really ...
Conservative and Liberal Cover the Same Event; Guess Which One Lies? (26 Dec 2013 08:48am)
I just came upon a really good example of what is wrong with the right-wing media. Actually, it is the second one I saw today, but I left the other one because although it was a complete mess reported as a great conservative victory, it was too complicated to describe. This one is clear and simple. ...
I'm Mysterious, Folks—Live With It (25 Dec 2013 04:22pm)
Christmas would not be complete without a little thought about God. And this gives me the perfect opportunity to demonstrate that I am an atheist and why few other atheists believe that I am. In the following amusing scene from Keeping Mum, Reverend Goodfellow quotes from Isaiah 55:8, about the mys...
Sam Seder's War on Christmas (25 Dec 2013 01:41pm)
From year's ago, it is still a classic: Sam Seder's battle with Bob Knight about the War on Christmas. (It's embedded below.) Seder is hilarious in this segment. But the more serious thing here is that Knight actually claims that, "The war on Christmas is really the culmination of a war on faith." L...
A Brief History of Santa (25 Dec 2013 11:28am)
The great CGP Grey put the following video together two years ago this Christmas. It is "A Brief History of Santa." Now I can't vouch for the accuracy of the video, but in general, Grey has his facts together. So if it is wrong, I'm sure it's just stuff around the edges. The main thing in this that ...
Special Christmas Birthday Bonus (25 Dec 2013 08:32am)
On this day in 0 AD, Jesus was born. I tell ya, that one never stops cracking me up! According to scholars who are inclined to believe the Bible, Jesus is thought to have been born between 7 and 2 BC. And where the data 25 December comes from is open to debate. By around the start of the fourth cent...
Happy Newton's Day! (25 Dec 2013 07:31am)
I'll tell you a secret: it's not Christmas. It's Christmas Eve, and I am really pushing to get everything done for tomorrow (today) and maybe the day after (tomorrow). I love going out of town. But it is really hard to keep this blog going. At this point, it would probably help to have some alcohol....
Pigeons and Politics (25 Dec 2013 12:08am)
I offer this image to help you on this holiday that I hope you are spending with disparate family and friends. My point is not what is says in this image. As far as I can tell, this was originally a poster from a libertarian perspective aimed as "statists." Liberals think this applies to conservati...
The Night of the Meek (24 Dec 2013 09:09pm)
It's Christmas Eve, my friends! And tomorrow would have been Rod Serling's 89th birthday. And I think that everyone should spend a half-hour and watch the best Christmas television show of all time, the 11th episode of the second season of The Twilight Zone (47th overall), "The Night of the Meek." I...
Rewriting Hamlet (24 Dec 2013 05:56pm)
Here is a really funny sketch with Hugh Laurie and Rowan Aktinson, "A Small Rewrite." Laurie plays "Bill" Shakespeare and Aktinson is his editor. I especially like the part about the length. "Act three may be a bit long? In fact, generally I think we got a bit of a length problem... It's five hours,...
Supposed "Radical Center" Is Neither (24 Dec 2013 03:53pm)
I've been reading Michael Lind's excellent Up From Conservatism. It was published in 1996, so it is quite out of date. But, of course, it isn't. He describes the far right of that time in a way that explains the fundamental mystery of the Tea Party: why all the libertarian rhetoric, but social conse...
Here's Looking at You, Michael Curtiz (24 Dec 2013 12:08pm)
On this day in 1761, the great astronomer Jean-Louis Pons was born. Born into a poor family, he became a caretaker at the Marseille observatory. But he gradually learned the field—mostly on his own—and began making observations himself. He seems to have had something of a photographic me...
Smart People Are Dicks (24 Dec 2013 08:56am)
A beefy looking, shirtless, tattooed guy named Anthony(; on twitter sent out the following image: I mention that he looks a bit like a bruiser because most of the stuff he tweets out is really sweet. For example, he tweeted out this picture that actually made me cry. So I like to think of him as R...
These Are Victims: Matthew Shepard and Emmett Till (23 Dec 2013 07:53pm)
This afternoon, George Takei tweeted out this image. It is great and I'm pleased to share it here. (Matthew Shepard's name is unfortunately spelled wrong.) Phil Robertson's anti-LGBT comments were totally offensive. And they show a creepy obsession that conservatives have with anal sex. Think abou...
Hidden Welfare for the Rich (23 Dec 2013 06:53pm)
If there is one issue that I find most difficult to get across to conservatives, it is the idea that tax deductions are a form of welfare. The best example of this is the mortgage interest tax deduction. Conservatives almost always say something like this, "Allowing people to keep more of their own...
Conservative "Populism" (23 Dec 2013 03:08pm)
Even before Washington conservatives like William Kristol repudiated the conservative populist strategy that the Republican right had pursued since the days of Nixon, conservative populism was revealed as a fraud by the deeds of Newt Gingrich and his allies in the Republican Congress elected in 1994...
Joseph Smith and the LDS Ossification (23 Dec 2013 11:44am)
Would I be allowed to just skip the birthday post today? I think so. It's just horrible. Really. But what am I gonna do? I would be so upset if I missed a day. So we grind. We grind along. We grind another birthday post out, even though I really need to get to the grocery store and start cooking for...
Income Inequality Solutions 2: Higher Inflation (23 Dec 2013 09:58am)
This is the second in a series of articles about what we can do to reduce our unacceptable levels of income and wealth inequality. The first was on the Estate Tax. This one discusses how our society's obsession with low inflation exacerbates income and wealth inequality. When I was in middle school...
Blackfish (22 Dec 2013 04:26pm)
The Q Filmcast guys did Marwencol this week. It tells the story of artist Mark Hogancamp. It sounds really good and I expect that I will watch it at some point. However, it did not seem like a very good choice with my continuing depressive period. But at the end of the show, they did another of thei...
Tolerance Lessons From Honey Boo Boo (22 Dec 2013 01:21pm)
Kathleen Geier is doing the blogging over at Political Animal this weekend. She apparently knows a lot more about reality television than I do, which she displays in, Your Mandatory Duck Dynasty Update. She compares the bigotry on display among the Duck Dynasty clan to the open-mindedness of—W...
Mathematics in a Vacuum (22 Dec 2013 11:41am)
On this day in 1915, actor Barbara Billingsley was born. She only died a couple of years ago at the age of 94. Best remembered as the mother on Leave It to Beaver, she is the ultimate symbol of 1950s domesticity. Never exactly a hottie (she only started acting at the age of 30), she exuded what we a...
Libertarian Affirmative Action (21 Dec 2013 09:17pm)
Thursday's Majority Report was really good. It provided a great contrast. Seder had on the reclusive Digby for about an hour and that was fun. I've embedded the video below, so you can check it out if you are so inclined. But what is really interesting is what happened in the second hour. He had a d...
Play-By-Play Chess Action! (21 Dec 2013 06:42pm)
I hope you can forgive me for talking a little bit about chess here. The following video is from the 1994 Blitz Chess World Championship semi-final between Ilya Smirin vs Viswanathan Anand. Smirin is an Israeli Grandmaster, although I don't think he had quite attained that title at the time of this ...
Masaccio at the Vanishing Point (21 Dec 2013 05:00pm)
On this day in 1890, the great geneticist Hermann Joseph Muller was born. He got the Nobel Prize for his work on the effects of radiation on biological systems and their genetics. But his most important work may have been his activism to promote the long-term negative effects of radiation, especiall...
Why My Father Watches Fox News (21 Dec 2013 12:02pm)
I think I have figured out why my father watches Fox News. Now, my father, like all of us, has his racial prejudices and I have seen them evolve over time. He's certainly a better man than he once was, not that he was ever some racist asshole who thought that blacks (or whatever) were bringing down ...
Dude That's Rude (20 Dec 2013 07:10pm)
I've been thinking about profanity all day. It all stems from a single comment on my article, Fourth Time: Reality TV Is Not Real. The commenter wrote, "Both your column and that guy's video make some good points; unfortunately they are obscured by expletive-heavy language that draws attention (mine...
Obama's Social Security Privatization Scheme and Roadshow (20 Dec 2013 02:17pm)
One of my most hated memes is "Obama's Katrina." Any time anything happens that is bad or at least seems bad for Obama, the Katrina analogies come out. But here's the thing: I was glued to the radio during Hurricane Katrina. While it's certainly true that Bush got some bad press, it wasn't that big ...
The Glory of Mike Watt (20 Dec 2013 12:11pm)
Christmas preparations are already getting in the way of work. But it's all food related, so at least it is stuff I enjoy. But that means I haven't posted anything today for my many bored fans. And this birthday post ain't gonna be great either. It's just not a great day for birthdays, although ther...
Fourth Time: Reality TV Is Not Real (19 Dec 2013 08:48pm)
Okay, this is the fourth time. Three times before, I have written about "reality" television. And as regular readers know: I hate it and will not willingly watch it. But before we get to all that, let's address the elephant in the room. Phil Robertson said some hateful, but extremely typical, Chris...
Are There Libertarian Atheists? (19 Dec 2013 06:48pm)
Last night, I got into a small argument with a guy (I think) who goes by the handle moine on Twitter. It was regarding two articles that I'd written: The Atheist Libertarian Connection and Libertarianism Incompatible With Atheism. So he took to something called TwitLonger to explain. But before I ge...
Pas La Vie en Rose (19 Dec 2013 01:47pm)
I'm feeling a bit better today. And trends are all that really matter, you know? I mean, there is no such thing as absolute happiness; there is just relative happiness. And relative to the last couple of days, I'm flying high. And by that, I mean I don't want to crawl under the bed. And that means, ...
Winning Elections With Bad Economics (19 Dec 2013 11:02am)
Yesterday, Paul Krugman wrote something that allows me to discuss a long held theory of mine. He was writing about how the United Kingdom's economy is finally starting to improve, The Three Stooges Do Westminster. This is in reference to a Three Stooges routine where Moe asks Curly why he is banging...
Musical Dreck to Commie Propaganda (19 Dec 2013 10:25am)
I don't know how other people dream. I figure it is like most of my dreams that are just some other reality—kind of a jumble of stories. But sometimes, my dreams become like puzzles. When I was in college, before a math or physics exam, my mind would be a chaotic stream of ideas. It was like m...
Fed Announces it Will Keep Interest Rates Low Until Unemployment Isn't Quite So High (18 Dec 2013 07:50pm)
I know this is a temporary reprieve. But I really have to thank John Tamny from pulling me back from the abyss. There is nothing quite like blinding anger to help one out of a depression. I'm not expecting much; by tomorrow, I expect to be back down. But while I'm feeling relatively good, I wanted t...
John Tamny Is Evil and Stupid (18 Dec 2013 05:36pm)
I just watched last night's The Daily Show, and even though I don't feel up to writing anything, I have to say something. Forbes columnist John Tamny was interviewed by Jessica Williams on the SNAP (food stamps) program. Okay, I understand: conservatives hate the poor because they are the poor. Whet...
Paul Klee and the Evolution of Talent (18 Dec 2013 03:49pm)
Some people really hate these birthday posts and some really like them. Over time, I think I've won over some of the haters, probably because they are better than they used to be. As a result, I keep doing them. But I hate doing it. They take forever. And for the last three days I have been slipping...
Income Inequality Solutions 1: Estate Tax (18 Dec 2013 10:40am)
This is the first in a series of articles about what we can do to reduce our unacceptable levels of income and wealth inequality. I don't have a fundamental problem with a capitalist economic system. It does seem right that if I provide the bicycle that allows another person to operate a package de...
Chris Hedges Gets Hopeful (17 Dec 2013 08:13pm)
The following interview of Bill Moyers with Chris Hedges is really great. What is most interesting about it is that Hedges now repudiates what he wrote in Death of the Liberal Class. In that, he wrote the future of this civilization is hopeless and all we could do is document it and hope that if ano...
The Writer We Killed (17 Dec 2013 05:30pm)
It turns out that Joan Fontaine also died over the weekend. I've never much liked her, but I think that's because of the kinds of roles she played. She was rather good in Suspicion, and generally later in career when she wasn't typecast so much, like in Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea. It's hard to ...
It Doesn't Matter Who GOP Nominates (17 Dec 2013 09:06am)
Ed Kilgore over at Political Animal writes, Can the Right Unite in '16? Basically, it is just an ad for TPMCafe article that looks more deeply at the hopes of the Republican Party establishment to unite behind a single candidate and not repeat their 2012 experience of everyone rushing to the bottom ...
We Will Save Us From Income Inequality (17 Dec 2013 12:45am)
Paul Krugman asked a question in his column yesterday, Why Inequality Matters. The question: "So the president was right. Inequality is, indeed, the defining challenge of our time. Will we do anything to meet that challenge?" I have an answer to that question: no. I know that sounds cynical and I d...
Syria Shows No White House Should Be Trusted (16 Dec 2013 07:15pm)
Seymour Hersh has written a really interesting article in the London Review of Books, Whose sarin? It is about the actual intelligence that we have about the sarin attack. It turns out that the Assad regime was not the only group that has the ability to make the stuff. In particular, there is the al...
Income Inequality Cartoon Wisdom (16 Dec 2013 01:24pm)
I was looking at cartoons about income inequality last night and I came upon a number of them that I'd like to share. Click on them to go to the original websites. They all highlight different aspects of the problem. As Estragon said, "Nothing to be done." That's the conservative answer to income in...
The Invention of Modern Comedy (16 Dec 2013 12:08pm)
You know this is quite a day for birthdays when Ludwig van Beethoven, who was born on this day in 1770, doesn't win the day! But it gets even more bizarre, so read on. Nonetheless, I'm not a huge Beethoven fan. He was great, I don't question that. But really: Mozart's my man. For one thing, Beethove...
Christie and Cruz Don't Play in Iowa (16 Dec 2013 09:37am)
Not that I really care about the 2016 campaign, but No More Mister Nice Blog is reporting, Iowa Republicans Apparently Live in Their Own Information Bubble, Not the Beltwy's. It looks at how Iowa Republicans are looking at potential 2016 presidential nominees. They are big on Paul Ryan, which is jus...
Lose Your Soul at Graton Casino (15 Dec 2013 08:19pm)
Over in my area, they recently opened up a big Casino, Graton. I was enticed to go and check it out tonight. It was not much of an enticement. Being a great lover of statistics, I find most forms of gambling mystifying. I assume the electronic games have winning percentages that are mandated by the...
Conservatives on Inequality: But, But, But (15 Dec 2013 03:33pm)
But, but, but! That's what the conservatives will say because that is what the conservatives have always said. Here in the United States, in the "land of opportunity," we have less opportunity than pretty much every other advanced economy. If you want to grow up to be rich in the United States, the...
Mrs. Ah-huh-wiggins' Boss (15 Dec 2013 12:37pm)
This just in: Peter O'Toole is dead. He was 81. Not exactly one of my favorite actors, but he was wonderful in some of my favorite films: The Lion in Winter, My Favorite Year, and Dean Spanley. Actually, a lot more than that. But if you haven't seen any of those films, you'd better get on it! I am t...
Same-Sex Marriage Marches On (15 Dec 2013 10:04am)
My father's favorite lines is, "What's wrong with these people?" This is usually applied to how people drive. But it's a good general question, because as I go on my way each day I wonder the same thing, "What's wrong with these people?" As you may remember, that great defender of liberalism, Bill ...
Richard Wilkinson on Inequality (14 Dec 2013 09:30pm)
Here is a great video about income inequality that you really must watch. I'll have more to say about it tomorrow and on into the future. This is because I'm getting less and less interested in the news of the day and more and more interested in talking about those few things that really matter to m...
How to Not Become a Neo-Nazi (14 Dec 2013 05:46pm)
I have to admit to a certain fascination with neo-Nazis and the like. A lot of them are just angry men who find comradery in their shared anger and hatred. But where does that come from? I mean, I've known a lot of violent assholes. And every couple of days some guy goes on a shooting spree. What wo...
Spike Jones and Der Fuehrer's Face (14 Dec 2013 12:15pm)
On this day in 1546, the great observational astronomer Tycho Brahe was born. In fact, before the advent of the telescope, he was certainly the greatest. That's pretty amazing: doing observations of the stars and the planets without the help of any optical instruments except, you know, the two we ar...
One Year After Sandy Hook Little Changed (14 Dec 2013 09:43am)
It is that day. One year ago today, a disturbed young man, woke up, killed his mother, shot his way into Sandy Hook Elementary School and killed almost thirty people. Then, he got down to what was probably his main purpose, he killed himself. These things always make me think of the film Fargo, at t...
The Bizarre Physics of American Politics (13 Dec 2013 06:58pm)
Kevin Phillips is a very keen political observer. Today, he is one of the Republican Party's harshest critics. But he used to work for Richard Nixon where he was partly responsible for the racist "southern strategy" that has worked so well for Republicans ever since. In 1989, after Bush the Elder ha...
I Gotta Be Me! (13 Dec 2013 04:45pm)
This is a detail from a very famous The Far Side cartoon. This particular image is from a coffee mug that was made of the cartoon. Everyone seems to think it is funny. And I am very much in agreement. But it was only rather recently that I learned that my reading of the joke was completely different...
Again: No Conservative Healthcare Ideas (13 Dec 2013 01:22pm)
Ezra Klein seems to have gotten everyone all talking about how Republicans are suddenly against high deductible healthcare plans, Obamacare Exposes Republican Hypocrisy on Health Care. You see, in the old days (last week), Republicans said, "We need high deductible plans that people can afford but a...
Lester Bangs Did Not Have Contempt for the Audience (13 Dec 2013 12:17pm)
Yesterday, Andrea said to me, "Do you know how many times you use the word 'great' in your birthday posts?" This was in reference to our decades long argument over the fact that I find the universe constantly fascinating, whereas she doesn't like Frank Sinatra. Or much of anything. She likes what sh...
Sometimes Debt Matters, Sometimes Not (13 Dec 2013 09:44am)
This is why I start each day by wanting to take a Xanax and go back to bed. On my video Tea Party Idiot Rant - Up with Chris Hayes, I got a comment from cvdogman. His icon is a charming image of an assault rifle that says, "It's because I'm black, isn't it?" It was marginally clever when I first saw...
A Great Filmed Midsummer Night's Dream (12 Dec 2013 10:24pm)
I've spent the last week, perhaps more dealing with a vague anger. It is not a personal thing, because life continues on rather well. But the world itself seems especially unjust. Maybe it is the season. Regardless, I have been treating myself to such delightful diversions as I can find. Tonight I t...
Evil Santa Penguin (12 Dec 2013 06:37pm)
I wish I could wait until Christmas for this. But it's gonna be old news by then. Aisha Harris over at Slate, proposed the very reasonable idea, Santa Claus Should Not Be a White Man Anymore. It's pretty straightforward, actually. As our country becomes more and more diverse racially, we need to let...
Cogs in the Liberal Economic Machine (12 Dec 2013 04:24pm)
Corey Robin wrote an excellent article over at Jacobin, Socialism: Converting Hysterical Misery into Ordinary Unhappiness. Although short, it is a manifesto against neo-liberalism. The idea of our brilliant "liberal" leaders like Bill Clinton and Barack Obama is that by making people more involved w...
Look Back in Brilliance (12 Dec 2013 12:35pm)
Fifty years ago today, Kenya became independent of the United Kingdom. So all you conservatives out there, don't you see? Obama isn't a Kenyan interloper, he's a British spy. "Obama, Barack Obama." By the way, what's with that? Public Policy Polling found that 51% of Republican voters thought that O...
An American Political Allegory (12 Dec 2013 09:09am)
So there's this squirrel and he's talking to his wife. He says, "I really hate that cat that roams around here. He almost killed me the other day." "You mean the one who ate our little son Charlie?" his wife asks. He says, "Yeah, that's the one!" "What about him?" "Well, I was thinking," he says...
Odds and Ends Vol 7 (11 Dec 2013 07:16pm)
Is it just me or am I writing longer articles recently? I can't help it. For the last couple of days, I've been so angry about the state of this nation. It all started this weekend when I took a big plunge into my long thought about book-length essay, "How to Cross a Street." The truth is that I hav...
Big Mama Thornton Ain't No Hound Dog (11 Dec 2013 06:05pm)
Five years ago today, Bernard Madoff was finally arrested for his decades of fraud. So remember: when you rip off people, make sure that they are poor! Of course, ol' Madoff had already had 70 really good years of life. This is far more than most people get. So he has to spend the rest of his life i...
More on Politics First Religion Second (11 Dec 2013 01:14pm)
Last night I discussed Ross Douthat's commitment to his conservative ideology over his commitment to Christianity and the Catholic Church. And look, I know that I've been writing a lot about Pope Francis these days. But it's important stuff. In a nation that is 80% Christian, it highlights not only ...
America's Vague Caste System (11 Dec 2013 11:30am)
Normally, I would be writing my birthday post now. In fact, normally, I would have already written it, but I just had to say something about the YouTube "conversation" I had, Racist Conservative Youth Complains About Racism. The truth is that the birthday posts take hours to write. I would really en...
Racist Conservative Youth Complains About Racism (11 Dec 2013 10:06am)
It's a sad old world. In general, I don't comment on YouTube videos, except to reply to comments on my own videos. But there was a video I commented on recently, Tea Party Leader Destroyed. The "leader" in question was our friend Amy Kremer, who you may remember prompted me to create the video, Tea ...
Ross Douthat's Politics Before Religion (10 Dec 2013 07:49pm)
Let's leave Ross Douthat's Catholicism aside for the moment. In his most recent column he is skeptical, Obamacare Turns a Corner? He has noticed that now that HealthCare.gov is working pretty well, liberals are optimistic about Obamacare's future. Not so fast, says Douthat. The law still depends upo...
Stuart Varney's God Is Money (10 Dec 2013 02:34pm)
I remember some time ago, Stuart Varney, the Fox News business guy, noting how he had to fight adversity. According to him, it is hard to become on-air talent with a British accent on American television. That's like saying it is hard to become a world class sprinter because you run so fast. But Var...
The Best Birthday Post Ever (10 Dec 2013 12:35pm)
This is a really great and varied day for birthdays. Really some days have a lot of the same kind of people. But as I think you will see, there are some really fascinating people today. On this day in 1787, educator Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet was born. He was a pioneer in the education of the deaf in...
Search Engine Optimization Nightmare (09 Dec 2013 07:36pm)
I've recently become obsessed with Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The reason is simple: Bing. Basically every article on this website is cataloged by Google and I get a lot of people coming to this website via it. I get nothing but a trickle from Bing and Yahoo!, which now uses Bing for its searc...
John Cassavetes (09 Dec 2013 01:48pm)
Most likely there will be less posting today. I'm working on the technical side of the site. Some of it is going well, but other aspects are really frustrating. Also, I think I'm badly in need of a day off. The great chemist Fritz Haber was born on this day in 1868. Knowledge can be used for good ...
The Stupidest Fucking Sentence Ever (08 Dec 2013 10:43pm)
Perhaps the stupidest sentence in the English language is this: I didn't come here to lose! The last time I heard it was when I was over at a friend's house and we were watching one of those cooking shows. The sentence is stupid on so many levels. To begin with, are we to believe that some people d...
What Shall We Do with Our Old? (08 Dec 2013 08:00pm)
D W Griffith deservedly has a bad rap as a racist. But I don't think he was a bad man. I can't remember who right now, but there was some southern Republican Congressman who admitted that he grew up thinking slavery wasn't bad and that the slaves were mostly fine with it. And just look at all the ha...
One Great Idea and Unimaginable Harm (08 Dec 2013 05:11pm)
I'm not a huge John Lennon fan. He wrote some great songs, though. "Strawberry Fields Forever," "Happiness Is a Warm Gun," and "Across the Universe" come immediately to mind. Just the same, he demanded a great deal of charity from the listener. I know I am pretty much alone on this, but "Imagine" is...
Pronoun Trouble (08 Dec 2013 12:40pm)
I haven't written much about grammar recently and it has begun to bother me. A few of you will understand this: grammar is a great refuge for me. If politics or my personal life are getting to be too much, I can curl up with Fowler or a number of other great writing writers and escape it all. When I...
The Bald Soprano Economy (07 Dec 2013 10:08pm)
I was thinking of of the movie The Paper Chase today. It was released forty years ago. I've watched it a few times over the years and each time it is different. When I first saw it, it was the story of Hart trying to get the grade and graduate Harvard Law School. Later, it was the story of a man lea...
No Filibuster Until GOP Is Destroyed (07 Dec 2013 06:02pm)
Sigh. I like Jonathan Bernstein a whole lot. He's a very smart guy and I've learned so much from him. But sometimes, he is such an idiot. This week he wrote, Still Hoping to Save the Filibuster. His argument is that with lifetime appointments, there really should be some kind of legislative check ag...
Noam Chomsky and Other Greats (07 Dec 2013 01:06pm)
On this day in 1598, one of the greatest sculptors of all time, Gian Lorenzo Bernini was born. He was also a great painter and architect. Oh, and he was involved in the theater and wrote plays. He's not as well known as Michelangelo, but he is at least as good and I would say better. He pretty much ...
Economic Racism (07 Dec 2013 12:50am)
Jonathan Chait has been writing a lot about race this week with having finally seen 12 Years a Slave and now with Nelson Mandela's death. I wrote a very positive take on one of his articles only yesterday, Liberal and Conservative Views of Racism. But I think he is a bit confused today, Why Conserva...
Erik Wemple, Just Another WP Idiot (06 Dec 2013 06:55pm)
Erik Wemple says, Good Riddance to MSNBC's Martin Bashir. As usual for a Washington Post columnist, he completely misses the issue. He didn't like Bashir's show. Fair enough. I only saw it a couple of times myself and it certainly wasn't something that I went looking for. But he was competent and in...
Not the Last Record Store (06 Dec 2013 05:40pm)
After Matt Yglesias came back from Singapore, the first thing he did was write an article about how old I am, Someone's Opening A Record Store. You see, I have a pretty big music library that spans many different genres. It ranges from Devotchka to Jacques Brel to JJ Schultz to various Mozart Operas...
Pennies from Heaven, Roses from Cairo (06 Dec 2013 10:45am)
A couple of weeks ago, Will mentioned to me that he had seen Pennies From Heaven. He asked what I thought of it and I told him I wasn't that fond of it. I didn't think it worked. But I began to think back on the film and reconsider it. After all, I was only 17 when I saw it. So I picked up a copy an...
Magic Then and Magic Now (06 Dec 2013 10:21am)
On this day in 1886, the poet Joyce Kilmer was born. You know him because of his very famous and oft parodied poem "Trees." You know: I think that I shall never see... By the time he was sent to fight in World War I, he was considered the leading American Catholic poet. And then, like millions other...
Conservative Hatred of Nelson Mandela (05 Dec 2013 07:49pm)
For conservatives, a moment like the death of Nelson Mandela is hard. They want to make it clear that they are not racists like that. They aren't like those people who believed in slavery or Jim Crow or apartheid. It's just that what minority groups want today that's all screwed up. Of course, in 20...
Angels Sing to Nelson Mandela (05 Dec 2013 05:38pm)
One of my favorite songs is Gang of Four's "Not Great Men." It starts: No weak men in the books at home The strong men who have made the world History lives on the books at home The books at home It's not made by great men They wrote that in 1979, when Nelson Mandela was rotting in prison on ...
Liberal and Conservative Views of Racism (05 Dec 2013 04:50pm)
Jonathan Chait has written a great article about the way that liberals and conservatives look at racism in this country, 12 Years a Slave and the Obama Era. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, but I'm going to talk about just one aspect. The truth is that it is hard for me to talk about rac...
Werner Heisenberg's Uncertain Reality (05 Dec 2013 11:05am)
This is going to be a hard day. My allergies are going crazy. As a result, I had to take one of those pills that puts me to sleep. So we'll see if I can make it through this article without collapsing on the keyboard. And this is gonna be hard. I have two major physicists today who deserve a lot of ...
We Lost Detroit (05 Dec 2013 09:20am)
With Detroit being screwed, and more specifically, Detroit's public employees, it seems appropriate to start the day with Gil Scott Heron's "We Almost Lost Detroit." The song is about the first commercial breeder reactor in the United States. But it applies well enough to what's going on there now....
Martin Bashir Fired, MSNBC Sucks (04 Dec 2013 04:00pm)
Just in case you didn't know it, liberals are a bunch of spineless fucks who have no loyalty at all. MSNBC has fired Martin Bashir for his comment about Sarah Palin. I'm sure the network will claim that he is resigning or whatever, but we all know the truth. As you all know, after the incident, I wr...
The Myth of Modern Christian Persecution (04 Dec 2013 03:14pm)
I haven't read Sarah Palin's new book, Good Tidings and Great Joy. But I've skimmed it. It's hard to take. Yet another book from a Christer claiming to be oppressed because the clerk at Target says, "Happy holidays!" Oh, if Saint Sebastian were alive today, how could he endure? Arrows are one thing,...
The One Ronnie (04 Dec 2013 12:41pm)
On this day in 1795, the great historian Thomas Carlyle was born. His The French Revolution: A History was the basis for Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. He was a fascinating man. He is probably best known today for coining the term "the dismal science" for economics. And the way most conservatives ap...
A Better World Without Hitchens (04 Dec 2013 01:05am)
This is amazing. It is an hour long debate between Eric Alterman and Christopher Hitchens. It is mostly a discussion of Hitchens' support of the Iraq War. The debate takes place right before the 2008 presidential election. It is really worth watching. Alterman is great as usual, and quite reasonable...
My Creepy People Models (03 Dec 2013 10:28pm)
To some extent, I think that the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a load of crap. But then, I think that of just about all tests. Still, these tests can be really helpful in understanding oneself. I test as an INTP (introversion, intuition, thinking, perception). As I've gotten older, that "thinking" ...
A Tale of Two Krauthammers (03 Dec 2013 08:34pm)
I've been pretty clear about my thinking regarding the filibuster over the years. And most recently, I even discussed the whole question of hypocrisy, arguing that one could reasonably have been in favor of keeping the filibuster in 2005 but be against keeping it now. It absolutely doesn't work the ...
Conservatives Hate Obamacare for No Reason (03 Dec 2013 01:41pm)
As you've probably heard, the Healthcare.gov website is now working quite well. But I had the unpleasant experience of hearing Charles Krauthammer on Fox News yesterday. Do you know what he was saying about Obamacare and Healthcare.gov? Exactly what he was saying a month ago! Now instead of claiming...
Cause We're the Fishes (03 Dec 2013 11:54am)
Since I was quite young, I've been a big Syd Barrett fan. For those who don't know, he was for all intents and purposes the founder of Pink Floyd. And with all due respect to the other members of the band and all the great work they did, it was Barrett who put them on the psychedelic music road that...
Heart of Joseph Conrad (03 Dec 2013 09:49am)
On this day in 1755, the great American painter Gilbert Stuart was born. He was mostly a portrait painter, but he did a lot of stuff and his work is really beautiful. Unfortunately, he is known for what I consider a pretty boring unfinished painting. I'm sure you know it. If you are my age, it hung ...
My New Romantics Anonymous Video (02 Dec 2013 09:59pm)
I created another video. Kind of. My short love letter to Romantics Anonymous was flagged by the fucktards at Studio Canal. YouTube announced that the video would only be allowed to be shown in some countries. Well, I thought one of those countries was the United States, because I could watch it. Bu...
How to Improve the Capitalist System (02 Dec 2013 09:17pm)
Okay, so Jeff Bezos wants to send carrots to my door via helicopter drones. Or something. I don't know. My father gave me the news last night that 60 Minutes continued their long history of hard hitting investigative reporting by doing a puff piece about how Amazon totally rocks! They could have jus...
Raising Minimum Wage Won't Raise Prices (02 Dec 2013 04:19pm)
Paul Krugman's column today is on the minimum wage, Better Pay Now. Basically, he says that given how popular raising the minimum wage is even among Republicans, it just might be possible to do. It is true that 57% of Republicans claim to be in favor of raising it. But give Fox News just one week of...
Conservative Elitists Cry Elitism! (02 Dec 2013 02:58pm)
In Why We're Liberals, Eric Alterman attacks the conservative claim that liberals are "elitists." He writes, "While unelite America is wonderful in every way, it's just not a place where a Laura Ingraham or Rush Limbaugh or Bernard Goldberg or Ann Coulter or John Podhoretz or Newt Gingrich or Peggy ...
Que Seurat Seurat! (02 Dec 2013 10:55am)
Wow, what a terrible day for birthdays! But at least I don't have to lower my standards for today's winner. But before we get to that, and with a great big yawn, let's get on to the other birthdays. On this day in 1863, the co-founder of Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus, Charles Edw...
Disunited States (01 Dec 2013 05:53pm)
One scenario that might preserve the status quo for the United States would be for its nations to follow the Canadian example and compromise on their respective cultural agendas for the sake of unity. Unfortunately, neither the Dixie bloc nor the Northern alliance is likely to agree to major concess...
Prison, Dentists, and the Least Among Us (01 Dec 2013 04:23pm)
The worst thing about society is our tendency to want to see justice done. The problem with this is that the universe is unjust and our society is even more so. I have heard a number of supposed feminists gloat about the idea of a rapist going to prison and being raped himself. Even apart from that ...
Lots of Great Music and Comedy (01 Dec 2013 11:52am)
There are a lot of great birthdays today and I'm afraid that many of them get short shrift, especially the older ones, many of which could have won the day. But we have lots of great musicians that I just didn't want to miss out on adding some music here. And then, of course, the day goes to one of ...
Filibuster Hypocrisy Is One Sided (30 Nov 2013 07:32pm)
The way that the Republicans have behaved for the last five years in Congress has greatly limited their options in terms of voicing their disapproval of anything—according to them, they disapprove of everything. While the Senate Democrats were in the process of eliminating the filibuster, many...
Two Great Humorists (30 Nov 2013 12:15pm)
On this day in 1667, the great satirist Jonathan Swift was born. Based upon his great works A Modest Proposal and Gulliver's Travels, one would think that he was a flaming liberal. But he was actually a Tory. I'll try to forget that going forward because his writing was mostly really great. Winsto...
Thematic Problems in The Heat (29 Nov 2013 07:10pm)
One of the things I was looking forward to on Thanksgiving was watching The Heat with my family. I didn't know anything about the film except that it starred Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, both of whom I like. The beginning of it was typical enough. Bullock plays FBI Special Agent Sarah Ashbur...
The Future of Obamacare (29 Nov 2013 05:02pm)
Josh Marshall presents a very optimistic take on the future of healthcare reform, A Realist's Take on Obamacare. He offers four reasons for this. First, the law is going nowhere until at least 2017 when a Republican might be in the White House. This is the response to the conservative belief that if...
Billy Strayhorn and Art from the Shadows (29 Nov 2013 10:22am)
On this day in 1803, the great physicist Christian Doppler was born. He is the man who explained the Doppler Effect. This is what you hear when a train passes by you. As it approaches, the frequency of the sound is high and while it moves away from you the frequency of the sound is lower. It's reall...
Tradition Is Turkey's Last Hope (28 Nov 2013 03:13pm)
People sometimes ask me why I cook with chicken so much. I think it is a stupid question. You might as well ask why someone eats bread or rice. Chicken is the easiest meat to cook with because it has relatively little flavor. Other meats need to prepared in such a way that compliments their distinct...
The Myths of Thanksgiving (28 Nov 2013 12:05pm)
John Green is an internet phenom. He and his brother Hank make highly produced videos that seem that be educational while being very entertaining. But if you watch them enough, you'll come to see that they are neither. Or maybe it's just me. If I already understand the subject, then I can follow alo...
Let's Pardon More Humans Not Turkeys (28 Nov 2013 10:12am)
Look at that fetching bird! Do I want to harm a feather on its body? Of course not! Especially after what happened to my chicken Fred. But what's with this tradition of presidents pardoning turkeys? To begin with, a pardon implies a crime. What did these turkeys ever do to deserve a death sentence? ...
Standing in the Shadow of Berry Gordy (28 Nov 2013 07:38am)
Randy Newman is 70 years old today. As a movie composer he is middling. But as a singer-songwriter, he is great. His first couple of albums are just great. Two in particular, were very important to me: Randy Newman Live and Sail Away. Later, he lost me, but there is no doubt that he is great. I reme...
Thanksgiving Without Cynicism (27 Nov 2013 12:28pm)
Well folks, I'm pushing today. There is so much to do. First, I have to write my normal stuff for today. And then I have to write at least my morning stuff for tomorrow. And, I have all this cooking today. As usual, I'm going to my older sister's place for Thanksgiving. I'm not in charge of cooking....
No Economic Lessons from Star Trek (27 Nov 2013 11:38am)
Oh my! Matt Yglesias is back to talking about Star Trek, The Star Trek Economy: (Mostly) Post-Scarcity (Mostly) Socialism. It is based upon some recent work by another unapologetic nerd Rick Webb, The Economics of Star Trek, which is ridiculously long for such a silly article. Is it unfair of me to ...
Libertarians Just Don't Like the Poor (27 Nov 2013 10:18am)
Shawn Fremstad has been writing over at CEPR Blog and putting out some great stuff. I recommend checking him out. But right now, I want to focus on an article he wrote last week, Paul Ryan Getting Advice on Poverty Policy From K Street Organization that Receives Most of Its Funding From Government. ...
Bruce Lee and Jimi Hendrix (27 Nov 2013 09:09am)
On this day in 1874, the historian Charles A Beard was born. He was a progressive who saw the history of America through the lens of class conflict. This view has fallen out of favor. But his idea applied to the founding of the country seems correct. He argued that there were two revolutions. First,...
Just Say No to an Economy of Exclusion (26 Nov 2013 10:24pm)
53. Just as the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" sets a clear limit in order to safeguard the value of human life, today we also have to say "thou shalt not" to an economy of exclusion and inequality. Such an economy kills. How can it be that it is not a news item when an elderly homeless person di...
Two Great Vincent Price Murder Films (26 Nov 2013 08:30pm)
Before there were slasher films that systematized violence to the point of pure boredom, there were great horror films in the 1970s. Unlike great murder fests of earlier times like House of Wax, these films were quite graphic—not, "cutting off a limb with a chainsaw" graphic, but lots of blood...
Many People Just Hate Iran (26 Nov 2013 02:00pm)
I have a great fondness for Iran. Or maybe it is just that I really like the food at Maykadeh Persian Cuisine in San Francisco. Whatever. But the truth is my impression of Iran is as a modern people who would very much like to throw off the chains of their theocratic overlords and rush as fast as po...
Income Inequality is Government Policy (26 Nov 2013 11:51am)
One thing I still hear a lot is that the reason there is so much income inequality is education and lack thereof. This goes along with the idea that there is "structural unemployment." It isn't that companies aren't hiring, it is just that workers don't have the skills that companies need! This is, ...
Peanuts and Secular Humanism (26 Nov 2013 09:08am)
On this day in 1895, the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill "W" Wilson was born. I understand the reason for starting the group. These were serious drunks who needed help. But there is no doubt that Bill W was a pernicious force in the 20th century. To begin with, the whole program is based upon ...
Boehner's Obamacare Woes (25 Nov 2013 05:24pm)
As you may recall, yesterday, I wrote about John Boehner's experience signing up for Obamacare, GOP Silence on Good Obamacare News. My focus was on the fact that when bad news comes out about Obamacare (Or just news that seems like it is bad news), the conservative press is all over it. But when tha...
Dog Violence Is Completely Unacceptable (25 Nov 2013 01:19pm)
As regular readers know, I admire Great White sharks. I admire grizzly bears. And I admire the larger molosser dogs such as the American Pit Bull Terrier. But I don't think any of them should be kept as pets. These dogs have been bred for fighting. They're good at it. And when they go bad and attack...
Jessica Sanford and the Power of Math (25 Nov 2013 10:40am)
Danny Westneat wrote a most amazing article over at The Seattle Times, Debunking Obamacare Sob Story. It is about Jessica Sanford, a single mother who has gone 15 years without health insurance. She was able to get it for just $169 per month and the administration used her as an example of an Obamac...
Lope de Vega (25 Nov 2013 09:34am)
On this day in 1896, the great composer Virgil Thomson was born. I like his work, but it is bizarre in Thomson's own way. There is, of course, Four Saints in Three Acts with its libretto by Gertrude Stein (And is it ever Gertrude Stein!) with music that is completely fitting. But here is his score t...
Kennedy Vs. Reagan (24 Nov 2013 09:38pm)
Alright folks, this is funny. It is the most recent "New Rules" segment on Real Time with Bill Maher. This one is called "Our Kennedy is Kennedy." It is a comparison of Kennedy and Reagan, because as Maher correctly notes, Reagan is the Republicans' Kennedy. But the presentation is done from a liber...
The Tea Party Has Always Existed (24 Nov 2013 06:36pm)
Captain Fogg over at Human Voices wrote a very compelling contrast between the way the far right treats Obama versus how they treated Kennedy, Remembering the Hero. Even though today Kennedy has an approval rating that tops 90%, while he was in office, he received the same kind over-the-top rhetoric...
Turkey Doesn't Make You Sleepy (24 Nov 2013 04:41pm)
Aaron Carroll is a health policy expert and a medical school professor and lots more besides. He's also co-written two very fun books with Rachel Vreeman: Don't Swallow Your Gum! and Don't Cross Your Eyes... They'll Get Stuck That Way! What I know him from primarily is his writing at The Incidental...
Conservatives Are Never Wonks (24 Nov 2013 03:51pm)
For years, I've wrestled with the ultimate political question, "Are conservative wonks really that ignorant or are they simply forced to pretend to be because of their ideological necessities?" I think I've come down on the side of, "They're really that ignorant." In modern America, just following t...
Joe Scarborough Is Not Reasonable (24 Nov 2013 02:16pm)
At Slate on Friday, Dave Weigel published an interesting interview with Joe Scarborough, "Eisenhower is Looking Pretty Damn Good": A Conversation With Joe Scarborough. What fascinates me is that someone like Scarborough can be considered a reasonable or mainstream Republican. The man is as extreme a...
GOP Silence on Good Obamacare News (24 Nov 2013 11:20am)
On Friday, Brian Beutler wrote a much discussed article with a great headline, Whoops! Obamacare Turns Out to be Great Deal Personally for Boehner. For obvious political reasons, John Boehner decided to buy insurance on the ACA exchanges. And he blogged about the experience. As you might expect, he ...
Spinoza and Pantheism (24 Nov 2013 10:01am)
The great Ukrainian painter Marie Bashkirtseff was born in 1858. She died of tuberculosis at only 25. It is amazing to think what she would have done had she lived a reasonably long life. As it is, she was a master. Check out the link for a few of her works. The great ragtime composer Scott Joplin ...
Kennedy's Legacy (23 Nov 2013 08:43pm)
Yesterday was the 50th anniversary of the assassination of John F Kennedy. There has been something on my mind about it, but it seemed wrong to bring it up—even though it isn't disrespectful. Obviously, the murder of Kennedy was a great tragedy—for those who knew him and more generally f...
The Q Filmcast (23 Nov 2013 04:36pm)
I've written a lot around here about the distinction between a critic and an ombudsman. When it comes to film, there is very little criticism. Mostly, so called movie critics are nothing but ombudsman. People get the idea that I think there is something wrong with being an ombudsman. There isn't. My...
She Didn't Really Hate Boris Karloff (23 Nov 2013 10:33am)
On this day in 1859, famed outlaw Billy the Kid was born. What I find interesting about him is that he was an attractive young man. And I think this is why he is alternately described as dashing and despicable. The biggest prejudice among humans is against the ugly and for the beautiful. The best is...
South Will Fall Again (with Obamacare) (22 Nov 2013 01:51pm)
Timothy Egan wrote a really good article over at the New York Times last night, The South's New Lost Cause. It is very clever. He starts by contrasting Obama's healthcare "lie" with how Lincoln lied to South when he said during his inauguration, "If you like the slaves you've got now, you can keep t...
Obama Must Use Filibuster Reform (22 Nov 2013 10:43am)
As one of the more hysterical of the filibuster reform proponents, I've been itching to talk about yesterday's historic change to the Senate rules. For those of you who have been in a coma, the filibuster was changed so that it now only applies to Supreme Court nominations and legislation. But even ...
Laughing 90 Years With Arthur Hiller (22 Nov 2013 08:53am)
On this day in 1819, the great English writer George Eliot was born. When I was reading her as a young man, I found her work rather dense. And I stand by the that assessment. But her work is remarkably clear. Since then, I've come to see that many of the American writers of that time were perhaps tr...
Voltaire and Magritte With Their Dog... (21 Nov 2013 08:19am)
Hey folks. I'm out of town all day today (again actually) and so no more posts until this evening. I look forward to seeing you then. But until then: On this day in 1898, the great surrealist painter Rene Magritte was born. Over the years I've really become fascinated by him. Paintings like The Hum...
How About Some Good Obamacare News?! (20 Nov 2013 01:41pm)
I really like this: actual stories of Obamacare successes. Because here's the thing: that's the rule, not the exception. If the mainstream media want to present stories of people losing crummy healthcare policies and being forced to pay more for good policies, fine. But don't present them as typical...
Martin Bashir Was Wrong to Apologize (20 Nov 2013 10:05am)
I want to be perfectly clear. Martin Bashir was wrong. He never should have apologized for his commentary about Sarah Palin last Friday. For one thing, what he said made perfect sense. I am so tired of this pretend outrage. Sarah Palin used slavery as an analogy for current deficit spending. What sh...
Edwin Hubble and the Big Bang (20 Nov 2013 07:09am)
On this day in 1900, the cartoonist Chester Gould was born. He is best known as the creator of Dick Tracy. It is not one of my favorite strips. But one can't deny that it is iconic: Roman nose and literally squared jaw. What's more, Gould was a great illustrator. That's especially true when you comp...
Time to Write Your Representatives! (19 Nov 2013 05:26pm)
With a new filibuster fight before us, I knew that it was time to contact my problem Senator Dianne Feinstein. She is one of the old Democrats who always stands in the way of filibuster reform. If Harry Reid is having a hard time finding the votes to counter the Republicans, you can count on Feinste...
Inequality From Birth in the United States (19 Nov 2013 01:13pm)
Now the idea that "dependency" is what makes people poor might make some sense if we were all born with the same opportunities to get ahead. Tragically, however, that American dream is dead, or, at the very least, it lies broken and bleeding on the side of the road. In today's economy, the single gr...
McDonald's Helpful Worker Website! (19 Nov 2013 12:12pm)
This just in via The Real News, McDonald's Website Tells Underpaid Workers to Sell Holiday Gifts on Craigslist and Quit Complaining. And yes, it really does say that. The video below is fun with the kind of cheery music that they like in places like McDonald's and North Korea. To be fair, the websit...
Washington Post Defender of the Rich (19 Nov 2013 11:38am)
The Washington Post is at it again with an all new attack on Social Security and the long con that retirees are perpetuating against the young, Social Security Proposals Are Wrongheaded. It starts by bemoaning the fact that the Holy Grail of the Very Serious "Centrists" have not and probably will no...
Charlie, Donald, and All Us Kaufmans (19 Nov 2013 09:16am)
On or about this day in 1786, Carl Maria von Weber was born. He was one of the founders of the Romantic period of classical music. As you all know, not one of my favorite periods of music. But the early Romantic period stuff isn't so bad. Von Weber is known primarily for his operas, but here is the ...
Peter Wintonick's Direct Cinema (18 Nov 2013 04:50pm)
Documentary filmmaker Peter Wintonick died today at the age of 60. If you know of him, it is probably from his film Manufacturing Consent. And if you are younger, you probably know Noam Chomsky from the film. Made in 1992 with Mark Achbar, it is a three-hour long exploration of Chomsky and his work,...
Obamacare Website on the Mend (18 Nov 2013 03:27pm)
Jonathan Chait has written a welcome salve for us liberals still bothered by the problems that have plagued the Healthcare.gov website, Obamacare Hyperventilation to Continue Forever! It is important to remember the "dog bites man" aspect of modern journalism. Things that don't go wrong are not news...
Odds and Ends Vol 6 (18 Nov 2013 12:20pm)
Well, boys and girls, it has been a while since our last Odds and Ends. That may be because I'm just generally slowing down. The fact that there has been little real political news doesn't help. But I've been lazy too, I think. Yesterday, I watched both The Lost Skeleton of Cadavra and The Lost Skel...
GOP Needs to Look Into Alien Abduction (18 Nov 2013 11:12am)
Over at The Monkey Cage, Henry Farrell reports on some really interesting political science (pdf) research, About as Many People Say They've Been Abducted by Space Aliens as Say They've Committed Voter Fraud. But that headline may give you the wrong idea; the research is very clever and shows that v...
Pictures of Louis Daguerre (18 Nov 2013 09:50am)
On this day in 1647, the French philosopher Pierre Bayle was born. He is noted for arguing in favor of religious tolerance. But there's an interesting aspect to words like "tolerance" and "diversity." They are exclusive. Sure, we do want diversity in our culture. But if we are to have real diversity...
Stagnation is Still All Income Inequality (17 Nov 2013 09:37pm)
Paul Krugman has written quite a laudatory article about a recent talk given by Larry Summers. I think part of this is just an attempt for Krugman to make nice after being fairly critical of Summers as a possible Federal Reserve chair. But there is no denying that what Summers has to say is interest...
Where's My Third Lost Skeleton Film?! (17 Nov 2013 03:37pm)
My friend, can your heart stand the shocking facts of another "Lost Skeleton" film? Well, even if it can't, I don't know if it matters. I'll discuss it in a moment. But first, you may ask, "What does he mean by this 'Lost Skeleton' film of which he speaks?" It is a natural question that a person wit...
John Rawls and Disingenuousness (17 Nov 2013 11:19am)
I'm in the process of reading John Rawls' Justice as Fairness. It is not easy reading. But still, I'm sure you'll hear me talking more and more about Rawls as time goes on. That's the way I am. Reading this book got me thinking of another of his books, Political Liberalism where he tries to answer ...
Lightfoot, Scorsese, and Others (17 Nov 2013 09:42am)
On this day in 1503, the great Italian Mannerist painter Bronzino was born. I love his work, but I'm especially taken with his name. Because "Bronzino" was not his last name. His actual name was Agnolo di Cosimo. He apparently went by Bronzino because of his dark skin. It's like if John Boehner were...
The Three Types and the Truth (16 Nov 2013 04:47pm)
Austin Frakt posted this image over at The Incidental Economist (it is originally from Dog House Diaries.) It got me to thinking who these three types of people are. I think the "Awesome" people are your general liberally minded people. I don't mean "liberal" in a political sense. I just saw that ...
Socialist, Communist, and Doodie Pants (16 Nov 2013 10:46am)
There has been a lot of excitement about the fact that Kshama Sawant seems to have won her race for the Seattle City Council. The reason is that she ran as a socialist. But here's the thing: it doesn't mean that much. The world "socialist" has lost most of its meaning both on the left and on the rig...
Two Greats, One Composer, One Actor (16 Nov 2013 09:34am)
It's a big day in drug history. Seventy-five years ago, Albert Hofmann synthesized lysergic acid diethylamide, better known as LSD. I remember a story (possibly apocryphal) dating back to the 1970s. On the first day of Introduction to Chemistry, a certain professor would walk in and write "C20H25N3O...
Gun Culture as Rampant Consumerism (15 Nov 2013 09:22pm)
This image is cropped from a picture in an article by photojournalist Nina Berman, Gun Rally Fashion Then and Now. She went to the Come and Take it Rally in San Antonio last month. It's one of these relatively common rallies where people walk around with loaded guns. The article is really interestin...
How to Catch a Cheetah (15 Nov 2013 07:21pm)
Cropped from a photo most likely by Aden Bishar. Not that I could do it, but it isn't that hard to chase down a gazelle. The issue is that these really fast animals cannot keep those speeds up for a long period of time. Humans are one of the relatively few animals that can run long distances in the ...
GOP Filibuster Games May Be Ending (15 Nov 2013 05:35pm)
The days of the Senate filibuster may be numbered—at least nomination filibusters. I say this because Jonathan Bernstein seems to have given up on saving the filibuster. He knows more about the filibuster than anyone I read. And for the last couple of years, he's always claimed that not only i...
The Best Healthcare in the World! (15 Nov 2013 03:17pm)
The United States is in the midst of the most sweeping health insurance expansions and market reforms since the enactment of Medicare and Medicaid in 1965. Our 2013 survey of the general population in eleven countries—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sw...
The Structural Unemployment Canard (15 Nov 2013 01:22pm)
Paul Krugman offered the graph above that I think is really important. What it shows is the economic recovery in Europe following the beginning of the 2008 crisis and the beginning of the Great Depression. The results are stark: even though the downturn isn't nearly as bad, Europe is only doing as ...
Skewed Focus and Libertarian Conspiracy (15 Nov 2013 10:21am)
This morning Capt Fogg brought my attention to yet another faux right wing scandal, Liberterrorism? The whole story is very simple: JPMorgan Chase is putting a limit of overseas money transfers for their small business account transfers—$50,000 per month. But this isn't an actual limit on "sma...
Juggling and Calla Lilies (15 Nov 2013 09:26am)
On this day in 1887, the great painter Georgia O'Keeffe was born. I don't actually know how big a deal she is in the world of art. But here in the west of the United States she's huge. And her work is quite compelling with big (sorry) sensuous lines with wonderful use of those pastels that one rarel...
Good to See Anthony Weiner Again (14 Nov 2013 09:59pm)
Here's the thing and I think it is probably clear if you've read this site with any regularity over the past couple of years. I like Anthony Weiner. He's a good and unapologetic advocate for liberal policies. I'm very sorry about all his personal problems but they don't mean much to me. I think, as ...
Conservative Ideological Clumping (14 Nov 2013 06:03pm)
Over at Crooked Timber, John Holbo has written a really interesting article, Overton Straitjacket. In it, he makes the observation that while liberalism in America is spread out fairly evenly over its ideological range, conservatism is bunched at its right extreme. If liberalism were like that, Obam...
Democratic Freak Out Will Not Help (14 Nov 2013 03:36pm)
Yesterday, I was pushing back against all this nonsense about the poor people not able to keep their existing insurance plans. As I pointed out, these are just Placebo Policies. They make people feel that they have insurance, as long as they don't use it. And that's worse than useless. It's very muc...
Not Palin Again! (14 Nov 2013 12:56pm)
I'm sorry about this, but I have to comment. Sarah Palin was back in her natural habitat (Facebook) to walk back her comments to Jake Tapper that Pope Francis surprised her with comments that "sound kind of liberal." Now she says that she was deceived by the media. After talking to "Catholic friends...
The Sad Short Life of Veronica Lake (14 Nov 2013 10:05am)
On this day in the 18th century, two composer fathers were born. The first is Leopold Mozart who was born in 1719. If you've ever seen the movie Amadeus, then you probably think that he was a relatively bad father. The truth is different. He was a terrible father. The second is Johann van Beethoven....
The Veil in the Western World (13 Nov 2013 07:59pm)
As happens from time to time, someone I've never heard of starts to follow me on Twitter. Now I fully admit: I'm terrible on Twitter. I've been trying to follow Andrea's lead and be something more than a tired series of "Look what I've written on Frankly Curious!" But when Jennifer Izaakson followed...
Placebo Policies (13 Nov 2013 02:09pm)
Robert Reich is angry at fellow Democrats for—What else?!—wimping out on healthcare standards. I'm right with him. In fact, I've spent most of the day being angry about the whole Obamacare situation. Everywhere I look, pundits are second guessing whether the website will really be up and...
Richard Cohen and the Murder of Willie Edwards (13 Nov 2013 11:42am)
Yesterday, I had a little fun with Richard Cohen's reference to the offensive Merle Haggard song "Are the Good Times Really Over (I Wish a Buck Was Still Silver)." It was part of Cohen's own offensive column, Chris Christie's Tea Party Problem. The thing about the column is that it is effectively an...
Edwin Booth Is Not His Brother's Keeper (13 Nov 2013 09:41am)
On this day in 1732, one of the great characters in 1776, John Dickinson was born. It's a great character, but the real man was far more complex. He was not John Adams' antagonist and simply abstained from votes. Given my souring opinion of Adams over the years, I'm inclined to think that Dickinson ...
My Odd Love of Great White Sharks (12 Nov 2013 10:49pm)
When I was just 11 years old, I saw the movie Jaws. This is because I had totally clueless parents. I had Jaws related nightmares well into my teen years. But on the positive side, it got me really interested in Great White sharks. It seems that every month or so, I go on a reading binge about thes...
Robots Demanding That Promises Be Kept (12 Nov 2013 06:45pm)
According to the Daily Mail: Firemen were called to a house fire that broke out after a mechanical cleaning gadget somehow switched itself on and destroyed itself by moving onto a kitchen hotplate. Local media in Austria have referred to the incident as 'robot suicide' and even suggested it was fe...
Can We End the Filibuster Now?! (12 Nov 2013 04:45pm)
The Senate Republicans have just filibustered the third nominee, Cornelia T L Pillard, for the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. This raises the obvious question that I've been asking for years: how long are we going to allow this to go on? No amount of handshake agreements a...
Don't Let Merle Haggard Deceive You (12 Nov 2013 02:43pm)
Ed Kilgore alerted me to the important news that over at the Washington Post, Richard Cohen was turning to my man Merle Haggard about the fact that people in Iowa really hate supposed moderate Chris Christie. He referenced the fact that over two million people had listened to the live version of the...
Vote You Asshole! (12 Nov 2013 11:38am)
This morning, I was very disappointed in The Daily Show. Jon Stewart went after 60 Minutes in the most tepid way only to throw in some false balance by equating the false story about Benghazi with the Time magazine cover that references the fact that Chris Christie is very fat. Not surprisingly, The...
The Sculptor, Playwright, and Musicians (12 Nov 2013 09:50am)
On this day in 1915, the great literary theorist Roland Barthes was born. These days he's fallen out of favor, partly due to many of the excesses of later literary theorists. Also there is a belief, especially among conservative scholars that the only kind of valid truth is that which can be verifie...
Frank's Personal Hygiene Tips (11 Nov 2013 06:02pm)
It has been a while since I've written about germs and my generally strong feelings about the subject. It's strange, because I am not what anyone would mistake for a clean freak. But I think I have a good perspective. And I feel even more superior after having read, Everything You Know About Your Pe...
Sarah Palin Still Terrifies Me (11 Nov 2013 03:21pm)
The Des Moines Register reported yesterday, Palin Compares Federal Debt to Slavery at Iowa Dinner. And you may well ask why I care. After all, Sarah Palin is always saying something stupid and she is always somewhere. This weekend, it was Iowa. But I think it is important. I don't care about the sl...
Real Atheists in Foxholes (11 Nov 2013 12:20pm)
If there is one thing that all atheists hate, it is the phrase, "There are no atheists in foxholes!" The problem with it is that it implies that atheists haven't really thought through what they think and that when it comes right down to it, they will turn to God just like the theists. This goes rig...
Remembrance on Veterans Day (11 Nov 2013 10:32am)
I got this picture from Wikipedia. The caption reads, "Joseph Ambrose, an 86-year-old World War I veteran, attends the dedication day parade for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in 1982, holding the flag that covered the casket of his son, who was killed in the Korean War." This is not just how I think...
Crime and Dostoyevsky (11 Nov 2013 09:19am)
On this day in 1863, the French neo-Impressionist painter Paul Signac was born. He was most clearly influenced by Georges Seurat. But it is taken to extremes. What's more, there are more modern aspects of his work—designs that remind me of Paul Klee but also that 1960s San Francisco sunburst k...
Why Does Anyone Listen to S&P? (10 Nov 2013 08:47pm)
For decades, I've wondered just why we have credit ratings agencies. They clearly aren't good at their jobs. There is no real reason that we should listen to them. There is a real chicken and egg aspect of it. We seem to invest confidence in them because we invest confidence in them. Of course, over...
Frankly Curious Four Year Anniversary (10 Nov 2013 06:49pm)
Today is the four year anniversary of Frankly Curious. On this day those many years ago, I wrote, Everything Interesting for Everyone Interesting. The next day I wrote an article about kitchen knives. And then I waited another month before I posted anything else. I was exhausted! Then there were a c...
Why Are Republicans the Wrecking Crew? (10 Nov 2013 04:57pm)
After reading a lot of nonfiction books—especially on politics—I'm not clear what I'm supposed to have learned. I'll often go back through the book to figure out the theme. Part of this is just that I'm a bit scattered, and I'm very good at putting new data into an existing (or if the bo...
Lara Logan's Benghazi Ax (10 Nov 2013 01:14pm)
I've written a bit about Lara Logan's dreadful 60 Minutes segment on Benghazi and how it has been shown to be totally wrong. But Digby puts it all in historical context, Lara Logan in her own words 10/2/2012. It seems that just one month after the attack, Logan was ranting about it. Her response to ...
Ennio Morricone and His Musical Whips (10 Nov 2013 09:10am)
On this day in 1483, the religious reformer Martin Luther was born. I actually see him as a villain. Here I'm not just talking about his antisemitic views, which in fairness, were typical of the time. The whole protestant reform movement has done far more harm than good for the world. The Catholic C...
My Life as an Atheist Outcast (09 Nov 2013 07:52pm)
I don't know if you've noticed, but Andrea has become quite the atheist. She is now going by Nice Atheist Girl. It all started with a conversation we had. I mention it mostly because it is so rare that Andrea finds any idea I have compelling. This is in stark contrast to the way I feel about her, wh...
Muppet Mash (09 Nov 2013 05:06pm)
Ryan Cooper alerted me to this great video. Look: normally, I'm not that fond of this kind of music. But this is Sesame Street and for whatever reason, I find it really compelling. It could be as simple as this: Grover. He was long my favorite Muppet and I was crushed when he did not show up on The ...
Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo (09 Nov 2013 03:31pm)
I don't know how I missed this all these years. At some point last week, Chris Hayes mentioned the sentence "Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo." Being the kind of guy I am, I went crazy with it. I even dreamed about it. It's all syntax so it was very much like the kind ...
An Atheist in the Foxhole (09 Nov 2013 01:30pm)
I just read Joe Muto's An Atheist in the Foxhole. What a great book! The guy can write. I just tweeted to him that he ought to write a novel. The story he tells in Foxhole is not all that interesting. But his telling of it is constantly exciting and often laugh out loud funny. I also found it person...
I'm Official in Love with Barbara Buono (09 Nov 2013 09:43am)
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Carl Sagan and the Cosmos (09 Nov 2013 09:28am)
Today's birthdays are way worse than they were yesterday. At least we had some good songs then. On this day in 1731, the surveyor and astronomer Benjamin Banneker was born. He wrote a number of the most popular almanacs of his day. But he is most notable for being a free black man. His father was a...
Smartphones and Productivity (08 Nov 2013 08:46pm)
Against my will, I was forced to get a smartphone. My friend and partner Will wanted to get a new phone so he decided to give me his old phone. It is some kind of a Samsung unit, but of course, compared to what I've had, it is awesomely amazing. I think what I had before is 0.0001g or some version o...
Sympathy but Not Disease for Rob Ford (08 Nov 2013 02:05pm)
Clare Malone has an interesting piece that I half agree with, Rob Ford's Tragedy, Our Shame. At base, it is a call for a little understand—not just for Ford but for all people who have allowed drugs to get out of control in their lives. And I'm totally on board with that. I wrote just that on ...
Huge Black Vote In Virginia a Trend? (08 Nov 2013 10:59am)
Ed Kilgore has been following an interesting bit of demographics from Tuesday's election, More on VA and the African-American Vote That Saved Terry McAuliffe. In comparing the 2009 election where the Republicans in the top spots won big, the 2013 electorate looks the same. Except: the turn out of Af...
Dracula and Three Music Women (08 Nov 2013 08:48am)
It's another one of those crappy days with very few good birthdays. But at least we'll get a few good songs. On this day in 1710, the writer Sarah Fielding was born. I've never read her. I never even knew she existed. She was the great novelist Henry Fielding's younger sister. But she is important ...
Obama and Buono and Christie (07 Nov 2013 08:32pm)
I just thought of something while reading Patricia Murphy's excellent article, Why National Democrats Rolled Over for Chris Christie. As I've complained about before, President Obama did not endorse Barbara Buono in the New Jersey's governor's race. I've heard it said that Obama did that as a kind o...
Venezuela Is Still Doing Fine (07 Nov 2013 02:54pm)
I am fascinated with the media coverage of Venezuela. I discussed it about a week ago when talking about the new Slate feature, If It Happened There... The idea of it is to report news about America as we would report it if it were happening elsewhere. The problem is that it matters very much where ...
Fear Mongering at Wonk Blog (07 Nov 2013 12:54pm)
This doesn't help. Over on Wonk Blog, Sarah Kliff caught my attention with the headline, Uh-oh: Techies Are Finding New Problems With HealthCare.gov. But there was exactly nothing of importance in the 200 word article. And what is the big news? The team located problems further down the user experie...
Chris Christ Is an Exemplar of Something (07 Nov 2013 11:52am)
No one knows Wisconsin like John Nichols, so when I got a tweet from him, I clicked over, The Scott Walker Effect: Helping Democrats Win and Republicans Lose. It has a lot of fun details about the big rally that Walker did with Ken Cuccinelli that only managed to attract about 150 supporters. That w...
Fun With Penises and Inspiration Posters (07 Nov 2013 09:58am)
For whatever reason, I am feeling very lazy today. So I was trolling around FARK looking for anything that would relieve my boredom. And I came upon an interesting headline for an NPR story, "Despite the Rise of Electronic Keyboards, the Penis Still Popular Among Aficionados." Now maybe you are quic...
The Singer and the Physicists (07 Nov 2013 08:21am)
Two of the greatest female physicists of the 20th century were born on this day. First up, Marie Curie was born in 1867. She is known for the discovery of both polonium and radium. I'm sure you know all about her. Second up, Lise Meitner was born in 1878. She was one of the people responsible for th...
Christian Suffers for Her Ignorance (06 Nov 2013 07:12pm)
Will sent me a bit of sporting news today, Kentucky Cross Country Runner Pulls Out of Regional Championships Rather Than Run With Bib Number 666. It is already getting a bunch of attention and you can expect the Christian conservatives to make a big deal about it. Codie Thacker will be seen as a her...
Sympathy for Rob Ford (06 Nov 2013 04:22pm)
Since early yesterday, I've been wanting to talk about Rob Ford's admission that he smoked crack cocaine. But before I get to that, I want to clarify something. Ford is a terrible human being. He represents everything that is wrong with conservatism. In addition to everything else—but this is ...
More New Mexico Anal Probing (06 Nov 2013 02:53pm)
If I told you that that the police pulled over a guy for a minor traffic violation and then drug him off to a hospital for anal probes, you would probably tell me I told you about that yesterday. But you would be operating under the illusion that this doesn't happen all the time in America. We have ...
Huge GOP Loss in Virginia (06 Nov 2013 01:34pm)
So a pretty weak Democrat won the Virginia governor's race by 2.5 percentage points in what is still mostly a red state. Conclusion: the election was a repudiation of the Democrat?! And thus it is with the pundit class the day after the election. They seem to have lost their grip on what they are do...
Back to Normal in New Jersey (06 Nov 2013 09:49am)
I am so glad that the New Jersey governor's race is over. Now Chris Christie can get onto the serious business of showing his true colors. Are you ready for the start of Christie's 2016 presidential campaign? I am. I'm looking forward to not hearing people talk about how reasonable and centrist Chri...
Trace Beaulieu and the Gospel of Crow (06 Nov 2013 08:09am)
On this day in 1854, the great John Philip Sousa was born. He wrote many of the best marches ever written. I know that marches are thought to be kind of a joke today, but they are a wonderful kind of music. When I was in college, a march came into my mind and it has stayed in my mind for the last 30...
Reasonable Republican = Extremist (05 Nov 2013 03:08pm)
Ed Kilgore provides a good rundown of one race we haven't heard much about: the Republican primary election in Alabama's first congressional district—the Mobile area, In Alabama GOP, It's Hard to Be Too Radical. It is an election between Tea Party nutcase Dean Young and the Republican establi...
Welcome to America, Now Bend Over (05 Nov 2013 11:47am)
This shouldn't surprise anyone. To many people in the United States, nothing (And I do mean that: nothing.) is more important than stopping people from using drugs. You know, Jaycee Lee Dugard could be held as a sex slave in a backyard shed for 18 years. How could the police have known? And really, ...
News You Can't Use (05 Nov 2013 09:15am)
I've been reading Joe Muto's excellent (And funny!) An Atheist in the Foxhole, which is subtitled, "A liberal's eight-year odyssey inside the heart of the right-wing media." One of the things I learned is that Fox News was not always the way it is now. Of course, they were always going after the rig...
Paper Mooning for Tatum O'Neal (05 Nov 2013 08:35am)
On this day in 1850, the great poet Ella Wheeler Wilcox was born. Now I don't go in for all that positive nonsense, but I appreciate it. For example, she wrote, "Love lights more fires than hate extinguishes." I don't believe that, but it is a beautiful sentiment. She also wrote: Laugh, and the wor...
Campaigns from a Fundamentals Guy (04 Nov 2013 08:12pm)
Ed Kilgore provided a good rundown of, The 2012 Campaign Books. I am knee deep in this stuff. I'm trying to get my hands on all of the campaign books from 1976 onward for a book that I am working on. But I was around for the 2012 campaign and I think I have a very good take on what happened. Now, I...
Insurance Companies to Blame for Old Canceled Policies (04 Nov 2013 06:36am)
I am going to be out pretty much all day, so there won't be anything up until tonight. However, I wanted to mention a really good article by Dean Baker, You Can Keep Your Insurance: Washington Post Fact Checker Assessment. It follows after Glenn Kessler's assessment of Obama's statement that if you ...
The Best Possible Martin Balsam (04 Nov 2013 06:34am)
On this day in 1879, the humorist Will Rogers was born. Of course, he was best known for his rope act. Overall, he was just an entertaining guy. Although he is thought of as a cowboy, he was over one-quarter Cherokee. But you know the old saying, "The only good Indian is an Indian who who can entert...
I Love Democracy (03 Nov 2013 05:18pm)
As regular readers know, I used to be a libertarian. I was even involved with the Libertarian Party and went to various events held by it and by other libertarian groups. So I understand the movement as a whole and to a lesser extent, I understand conservatism. One thing that all libertarians under...
Romantics Anonymous Copyright Dispute (03 Nov 2013 11:24am)
Am I pissed off? Yes, I am extremely angry. But did I hide it well? I think so. Our copyright system is totally fucked up. But it is made far worse by YouTube's pathetic policy that any corporation can claim copyright to anything and it is up to people like me to prove that I'm not breaking the law...
Business Will Not Give Up on GOP (03 Nov 2013 10:19am)
Martin Longman over at Political Animal has been writing about how the business community might try to take back the Republican Party. He also mentions how they are interested in a third party. You know, all that Third Way bullshit. Now, I think from a practical standpoint, there is absolutely nothi...
Night of the Tom Savini (03 Nov 2013 09:22am)
On or about this day in 1558, the great Elizabethan playwright Thomas Kyd was born. He more or less invented the revenge play—a genre that is still with us today. Think: The Expendables 2 where the hero is far more concerned with killing the villain than stopping him from flooding the world wi...
I'm No Germanophile (02 Nov 2013 05:55pm)
Regular readers of this blog are well aware that I am a Francophile and an Anglophile. What I am not is a Germanophile, or as I would put it (because I'm not a nice man) a Krautophile. The amazing thing is that it is not because of the Nazis. But I'll come back to that issue. The problem for me is t...
Regional Violence and American Nations (02 Nov 2013 02:11pm)
I read a great article by Colin Woodard over at Ten Miles Square, Violence Is a Regional Issue. It is based on the work in his book, American Nations. In it, he divides the United States up into eleven regional cultures. I haven't gotten the book yet, but he provides historical and sociological reas...
60 Minutes Punked on Benghazi (02 Nov 2013 11:58am)
As I discussed this last week, the Benghazi "scandal" is back in the news because of a really terrible bit of reporting by 60 Minutes. It was based primarily on claims made by Dylan Davies (referred to in the report as Morgan Jones as though he really has to worry about retaliation). I've been amuse...
A Bit of George Boole (02 Nov 2013 10:40am)
On this day in 1734, the American explorer Daniel Boone was born. I think of him as part of the leading edge of imperial expansion. The man was basically at war with the native tribes his whole life. He's not exactly a hero, but he's entirely typical of "great men" of the period. I was surprised tha...
"Michelle" and My Aching Toe (01 Nov 2013 11:01pm)
I was planning to write more tonight. Unfortunately, I had a small accident. I was going to take a badly needed bath. So while I was waiting for the tub to fill, I grabbed my guitar and tried to play Paul McCartney's beautiful and unique "Michelle." As usual with just about anything I do, I lost tra...
The Abortion Mess in Texas (01 Nov 2013 09:04pm)
What happened in Texas this last week is really bad. And I am not especially talking about what it means for reproductive rights. As you have probably heard, on Monday, the US District Court in Austin stopped part of Texas' new anti-abortion law from going into effect because it was likely unconstit...
Editing Cranky Girl Limerick (01 Nov 2013 03:36pm)
Over the weekend, I found this Cranky Girl comic strip. I'd never seen it and now that I've looked into it, it's pretty good. Of course, it's not quite up to Pearls Before Swine. (Rat is my hero!) What I was struck with was that it had a limerick in it. And it's not a bad one! I do think that Crys...
Selective Conservative Outrage (01 Nov 2013 01:45pm)
Let me see if I can put some perspective on this week in politics. Today, 47 million Americans are seeing their Supplemental Nutrition and Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits cut as a temporary program comes to an end. Of these, 47% are children; 8% are senior citizens. But according to the Republica...
GOP Filibuster Abuse Never Left (01 Nov 2013 12:02pm)
It's been a quiet week in Washington, where all the staff members are strong, all the pages good looking, and all the Republicans well below average. It has been a quiet week. The big story of this week is the same as it was last week: the Obamacare website. Normally, reporters claim this kind of st...
Bigot and Singer and Collette, Oh My! (01 Nov 2013 09:25am)
On this day in 1920, "commentator" James Kilpatrick was born. You probably remember him on 60 Minutes battling it out with Shana Alexander. This is the first example of I know of where the media provided a very clear skewing of politics. Alexander was the supposed liberal, but she was actually more ...
Why Has the Democratic Party Abandoned Barbara Buono? (31 Oct 2013 06:38pm)
I just saw a segment on All In talking about why it is that the Democratic Party hasn't gotten behind Barbara Buono for governor of New Jersey. Steve Kornacki was guest hosting and he was on with E J Dionne. I admire both of those men and usually agree with them. But I thought they both demonstrated...
Rand Paul's Pathetic Plagiarism Excuse (31 Oct 2013 01:24pm)
I've been more or less on Rand Paul's side in the whole Wikipedia plagiarism scandal. From a legal standpoint, there is nothing because Wikipedia is not copyrighted. And from an ethical standpoint, it just isn't that big a deal. The obvious (And correct!) reaction would have been for Paul to admit t...
Odds and Ends Vol 5 (31 Oct 2013 12:10pm)
It's only been a couple of days since the last Odds and Ends and I already have stuff piled up—a lot more than I talk about here. There seems always to be too much good stuff to get to in any depth. As it is, these articles take long enough to write. This time, we have stuff on the filibuster ...
Johannes Vermeer (31 Oct 2013 11:45am)
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Its iconography is the best of any holiday. Oh the things you can do with some balloons, sheets, and a body suit! And what could be better: you get to give out candy to kids! My raison d'etre is to corrupt children in the way of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. Unfort...
GOP Still Has No Healthcare Ideas (30 Oct 2013 04:56pm)
Jonathan Chait makes a good point today, The Republican Health-Care Plan: Repeal and Cackle. He quite rightly notes that while the Republicans having much fun with their faux outrage about the Obamacare exchanges and the fact that some people are going to have to give up their terrible insurance pla...
Obamacare's Small Portions (30 Oct 2013 02:08pm)
Has anyone else noticed how much the GOP position on Obamacare resembles the classic borscht belt joke about the two ladies at a Catskills resort? Lady #1: "The food here is so terrible, it's inedible!" Lady #2: "And the portions are so small!" Republican #1: "Obamacare is slavery!" Republican #2: "...
The Sad Reality of Duck Dynasty (30 Oct 2013 01:35pm)
As I've discussed before, there is very little "reality" in Reality TV. For example: Reality TV Not So Real. And: More Proof Reality Shows Are Fake. So I was quite interested to see a headline, "Duck Dynasty" Is "Fake"! Star Phil Robertson Confesses How TV Editors "Arrange The Scenes" & Rewrite ...
GOP Needs No Mother and Child Reunion (30 Oct 2013 12:23pm)
This morning, Charlie Pierce wrote, The Reign Of Morons: Absurdity In The Senate. It is about a remarkable bit of political posturing in the Senate. The 27 Republican senators who voted to reopen the government and lift the Debt Ceiling just voted to repudiate the vote. In other words, "We voted to ...
I Can't Stop Loving Madeleine Peyroux (30 Oct 2013 11:17am)
Really. She's just so great: ...
Tom Bodett Jokes (30 Oct 2013 11:04am)
Since 1986, humorist Tom Bodett has been the spokesman for Motel 6. You have undoubtedly heard the commercials with Bodett's unique midwestern drawl ending each one, "We'll leave the light on for you." He's a very funny guy as you will hear if you listen to NPR's Wait Wait... Don't Tell Me! And it's...
Fox News Exists Game Show (30 Oct 2013 09:45am)
It's time for lying with graphs! In fact, it's time for lying generally! That's right, it's time to play everyone's favorite game show, Fox News Exists! This episode is brought to you by the fine folks at Media Matters. They monitor Fox News so you don't have to. On Monday's episode of Fox & F...
The Difficult and Beautiful Ezra Pound (30 Oct 2013 12:02am)
On this day in the 18th century, two very famous early Americans were born. The first was John Adams who was born in 1735. I loved him in 1776, but as an actual man, he wasn't all that great. In particular, although he was against the British aristocracy having power in America, he really very much ...
Politicians Are Not All Frauds and Liars (29 Oct 2013 07:27pm)
I just got a chance to read Alex Massie's article that I referenced before, Russell Brand: an Adolescent Extremist Whose Hatred of Politics Is Matched by His Ignorance. In it, he quotes Brand as writing, "Like most people I regard politicians as frauds and liars and the current political system as n...
Why the GOP Can't Criticize Itself (29 Oct 2013 06:41pm)
Jonathan Bernstein made a funny, but we both know it is very serious. He compared two articles. First, Alex Massie's attack on Russell Brand's "all those liberal politicians are really conservative" game. Second, Ramesh Ponnuru and Rich Lowry's attack on the "radical" wing of the Republican Party. H...
BuzzFeed Unwritten Rules (29 Oct 2013 04:35pm)
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It's Now Or Never for Senate GOP (29 Oct 2013 04:16pm)
Charlie Cook made a great point in an article yesterday in the National Journal, Why 2014 Is Do-or-Die for the GOP. This isn't anything like the conservative claptrap about how we are on the verge of a socialist hellscape where white folk have to hand out dollar bills to every black person they see ...
Libertarianism Incompatible With Atheism (29 Oct 2013 12:23pm)
CJ Werleman has written an absolutely fabulous column over at Slate, Atheists Can't Be Republicans. It is primarily an attack on what I call The Atheist Libertarian Connection. He notes, "I am acutely aware that a great number of atheists identify with the libertarian wing of the Republican Party, b...
Wizard of Animation Ralph Bakshi (29 Oct 2013 10:39am)
On this day in 1861, the great painter Andrei Ryabushkin was born. He has a very distinctive style—in some ways primitive. He painted primarily ordinary working people, but not of his time—of those two centuries before. As a result, he was never really accepted. His paintings were not pr...
Accidental Movie Watching (29 Oct 2013 08:28am)
Well, I guess the title doesn't say it all. It could mean when you are flipping channels and are about to hit the hay, when you stumble on something that looks vaguely interesting... And you wind up watching an entire movie. Has it happened to you? I've done it a lot. In this case, I mean confusing ...
CAPTCHA Solved But Who Cares? (28 Oct 2013 10:32pm)
According to Reuters, These Coders Say They Taught a Computer to Crack CAPTCHA. According to the article, the San Francisco based company, Vicarious, has developed this program as part of his larger mission. As their website says, "We're building software that thinks and learns like a human." What I...
WTF. What a Way to Ruin a Beer! (28 Oct 2013 03:54pm)
If you’re looking for something with a nice blend of weirdness and a package certain to catch the eyes of your guests, try getting your hands on Brewdog’s “The End of History,” a 50 percent ABV beer released in 2010 that sold for the absurd price of $765. But you weren’t just paying for potency at ...
New Democrats and the Rightward March (28 Oct 2013 02:13pm)
Joel: "Oh no, no, no! Oh, my heavens, no! No! Oh God! Oh Porgy! Oh my dear heavens, no, no, no, no, no, no, no...." Crow: C'mon, c'mon! Read 'em all! Joel: There's six pages of "no's" here, Crow! Crow:Well, y'think that's enough to convey the raw terror she must feel as a giant bowl of "Californi...
Euphemisms and the Grand Bargain Hunt (28 Oct 2013 12:39pm)
Last week, Joshua Green wrote, Obama's Top Economic Adviser Tells Democrats They'll Have to Swallow Entitlement Cuts. He went to a Q&A session with Gene Sperling and concluded that the administration is trying to soften up the liberal base for a deal that offers entitlement cuts in exchange for Sequ...
Curing Polio and the Worthless Rich (28 Oct 2013 10:56am)
On this day in 1902, the great actor Elsa Lanchester was born. In a career spanning 55 years, she made almost 100 films. A lot of people will know her from countless supporting roles like Mrs MacDougall, the nosy neighbor in That Darn Cat! But I have a crush on her for playing Mary Shelley and the M...
LA Times Stands Up for Reason (27 Oct 2013 07:33pm)
I learned from The Young Turks this evening that the Los Angeles Times will no longer be publishing letters from climate change deniers. My already high opinion of that paper just went up even further. Let me explain this from my perspective. My PhD is more or less in global warming. That is what al...
Truthful Obama Bumper Sticker (27 Oct 2013 06:20pm)
Mark Czerniec is a total dick! A year and a half ago he totally ripped off the article I was going to write today, The Price of Gas When Obama Took Office: $1.81. You see, as I crossed the Golden Gate Bridge this morning, I saw the bumper sticker above. I hate this kind of thing. It isn't just cons...
Lou Reed Sowed and Reaped for 71 Years (27 Oct 2013 04:50pm)
I guess I have to say something about Lou Reed who died today, apparently from complications of a liver transplant earlier this year. I used to be a huge Lou Reed and Velvet Underground fan. Frankly, the Velvet Underground holds up a whole lot better. Whenever I listen to his solo work, there is som...
John Cleese and Three Great Painters (27 Oct 2013 09:24am)
On this day in 1744, the great painter Mary Moser was born. She is best known for her floral paintings, but I find her portraits especially compelling. In doing this birthday post, I try to highlight women and other under represented groups. But I have certainly noticed that there have been a lot of...
Odds and Ends Vol 4 (26 Oct 2013 06:05am)
Again, I will be out for the day. In fact, I will likely not be back until very late so I doubt anything will be put up for the rest of the day. You should check out Andrea's blog, Curiously Clever, she's putting up a lot of stuff these days. She also just started a new website, Nice Atheist Girl. W...
Judy Johnson and Baseball's Checkered Past (26 Oct 2013 06:04am)
On this day in 1842, the great Russian war painter Vasily Vereshchagin was born. You know all those really cool war photojournalists who we see to this day? Well, before there were cameras, there were men like Vereshchagin. Of course, they were more like the great war poets of old. They were there t...
Crypto Locker and Other Ransomeware (26 Oct 2013 02:51am)
Let’s start this by stating the obvious: Back up all your important files, NOW! Being more specific… Just backing up your files sounds simple enough but some aspects of correctly doing so are not so obvious... and if you are competent in doing so, it’s not likely to be the case for your neighbor, ...
Exact Potato Soup Recipe (25 Oct 2013 06:54pm)
Almost four years ago, I posted one of my "mom's recipes" for cream of potato soup. This references the fact that my mother didn't use recipes. So whenever I would ask her how to make something she would only be able to give the most vague recipe. But over the past year, I have worked out an exact r...
David Frum Fantasy Ted Cruz Hellscape (25 Oct 2013 05:49pm)
You all know what I think of David Frum: he's an idiot. And people just love him! He's that most beloved of figures in the mainstream media: a "reasonable" Republican. And what did he do to get that? Oh, a few things here and there. He isn't a ranter; that's probably the most important thing. But he...
Evariste Galois (25 Oct 2013 03:35pm)
On this day in 1838, the Romantic period composer Georges Bizet was born. He was only 36 when he died. I'm not that fond of this early work. But his operas are quite good. And then came Carmen. Interestingly, it was not well received when it first came out. There were a couple of reasons for this. F...
Sympathy for Lt John Pike (25 Oct 2013 12:28pm)
Lt John Pike is back in the news. He's the pepper spraying copy from the Davis protest two years ago. Yesterday, it was announced that Pike will receive $38,056 for a workers compensation claim. There is understandably much outrage in the liberal world about this. But I don't go along with it. Acco...
Nathan Phelps, Survivor (25 Oct 2013 11:43am)
Frank commented on one of my last posts and informed me that Shirley Phelps-Roper's brother, Nate, is now an atheist. That makes me feel better. Rational thought and escape are possible. According to the only source on the Internet: Nathan "Nate" Phelps is an American-born Canadian author, LGBT rig...
God Hates You (25 Oct 2013 10:38am)
God wants you to know that He seriously hates your guts. His self-proclaimed "evil angels" at WBC just thought you should know. ...
Life May Be Simpler Now (25 Oct 2013 10:31am)
Paul Waldman wrote a good one yesterday, The False Glow of Remembered Childhood. It's about how everyone looks back to the days of their childhoods and says, "Those times were simpler!" But that isn't true. As he notes, in a general sense the times were not simpler. They were simpler for you. Why? ...
I Think Your Bible is Broken (25 Oct 2013 07:52am)
Reading comprehension is not encouraged at Westboro Baptist Church... Proverbs 6:16–19 There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him [because the Bible tells me so]: haughty eyes [arrogance], a lying tongue [saying gays are evil, etc.], hands that shed innocent ...
American Myth and Escape Plan (24 Oct 2013 11:12pm)
As I noted this morning, I went to see Escape Plan with my brother. Given that it is a Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger vehicle, I expected it to be terrible. It wasn't. I found it more engaging than I expected. It is a prison break film, and as such, there was much more actual plot than...
Pat Robertson's Shamanic Mission (24 Oct 2013 08:37pm)
I don't think people appreciate just want an amazing man Pat Robertson is. Because he is cloistered away at the Christian Broadcasting Network, he has been allowed to simultaneously become a national figure while having the same old crazy beliefs of a regional phenom. There is his Bible approved wei...
America's Most Hated Family Update (24 Oct 2013 07:29pm)
BBC's Louis Theroux had the stomach, once more, to talk with batshit crazy Shirley Phelps, her unfortunate children, and the seriously fucked up Westboro Baptist Church in his documentary, America's Most Hated Family in Crisis. If only Shirley Phelps could keep her crazy to herself rather than pois...
Shirley Phelps and Her War on Sanity (24 Oct 2013 06:01pm)
As a sentient citizen of the U.S., I am well aware of Westboro Baptist Church and the appalling, vicious hatred of its "ministry." In this country that they scream God hates because of gay people, they are allowed, by law, to publicly propagate their twisted version of Christianity. That's the pric...
Ricky Gervais NEVER Sleeps (24 Oct 2013 03:25pm)
I don't suppose it's a secret (or important for that matter), that Ricky Gervais is one of the five people on the planet that I would pay to be stuck in an elevator with. Recently he tweeted something like "hard work never killed anyone, but why risk it." To which I responded, "What if you're only s...
Louis CK: Jesus Christ! (24 Oct 2013 09:21am)
I'm not a fan of the animation style (sorry! Atheist Comedy), but I enjoy the comedy of truth. ...
Odds and Ends Vol 3 (24 Oct 2013 09:15am)
I will be out for most of the day. So this is it until the evening. Savor it. Luckily, this edition of Odds and Ends at least has a couple of fun items. And the Walmart story is especially great. We live in a really screwed up nation. One of the things I will be doing today is going to see Escape P...
Maria Bamford: Workplace Hostility (24 Oct 2013 08:27am)
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Conservatives Want Anyway New (24 Oct 2013 12:12am)
Matt Yglesias published a really good article yesterday, What Do Conservatives Like About Health Care in Singapore? He's confused, you see, because he actually knows something about the Singapore healthcare system. And based upon that, conservatives ought to hate it because it is a far more intrusiv...
Don't Let Moss Hart Come to Dinner (24 Oct 2013 12:07am)
It is another one of those days. There is no one I care all that much about today. So forgive me if this is short and uninspired. On this day in 1804, the great physicist Wilhelm Eduard Weber was born. Working with Gauss, he invented the first electromagnetic telegraph. He was something of a prote...
Inequality Breads Extremism (23 Oct 2013 09:15pm)
Simon Wren-Lewis at Mainly Macro tries to answer the question, What Is Wrong With the USA? He teaches at Oxford, so he sees things from an English point of view. And he's seen that in the United Kingdom, the conservative press have pushed their far right to act in ways that are similar to the Tea Pa...
Obamacare Is Not Liberal Policy (23 Oct 2013 08:34pm)
Mike Konczal has written the most insightful thing I've read this month about the problems with the Obamacare exchanges, What Kind of Problem is the ACA Rollout for Liberalism? He argues that the failure of the exchanges is not the result of liberalism; it is the result of neoliberalism. Or to put i...
Malcolm Gladwell Is Interesting But Wrong (23 Oct 2013 05:15pm)
Malcolm Gladwell is a very interesting writer. He's published a series of provocative best sellers. And NPR just loves him. I like him too. It's important to have people like him around. But it's just as important to remember that he is almost always wrong. A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to...
Guns Are Not Sexy! Guns Are Sexy! (23 Oct 2013 02:16pm)
Doublethink again. As Frank pointed out in his post Police Oversight and Dead Children, "Our society is all about guns; men are supposed to like them; boys are supposed to play with fake ones. I wish it weren't so. But it is wrong for a society to tell a boy in a million ways that guns are cool and ...
A Number of Very Bad Choices (23 Oct 2013 01:35pm)
In yet another accidental shooting here in the U.S., a child is dead simply because someone who had no business having a gun in the first place, left it lying within easy reach of a child. So today, a 5-year-old boy is dead in a tragedy that was, as a chief deputy astutely observed, "avoidable." Of ...
Gilbert Lewis Dot Dot Dot... (23 Oct 2013 01:24pm)
On this day back in 1857, the great Filipino artist Juan Luna was born. He was also involved in the Philippine Revolution and was even arrested for agitation. But the main thing of note about him is his painting. He had a distinct but compelling style. Happily, he was recognized in his own lifetime....
Redneck Patriotism (23 Oct 2013 12:25pm)
This image and accompanying text are from a multi-forwarded email that I received this morning. This Guy Had The Guts To Put This On The Internet. There are people in my life whom I love in spite of our vast political and religious differences. (I feel a little like Diana Nyad dealing with Oprah ...
Police Oversight and Dead Children (23 Oct 2013 10:08am)
Yesterday, two sheriff's deputies killed a 13-year-old kid here in my home town of Santa Rosa. Thus far there aren't many details of the case. According to the Press Democrat, the kid was walking down the street with what looked like an assault rifle but which was in fact a "replica." According to t...
YouTube's Broken Copyright System (22 Oct 2013 09:50pm)
This is a very good video from a guy who does game reviews on YouTube. Now I don't care about games, but this video is about the truly fucked up system where people who make videos are guilty until proven innocent. All someone has to do is say, "Hey! He's using my copyrighted material!" And the vide...
Nancy Kulp and the Conservative Dick (22 Oct 2013 09:12pm)
You probably know Nancy Kulp as the actress who played Miss Hathaway on the The Beverly Hillbillies. Later in life, she became very involved with the Democratic Party in her home state of Pennsylvania. This led to her running for a House seat in 1984. It was an overwhelmingly Republican district, so...
Odds and Ends Vol 2 (22 Oct 2013 08:29pm)
Well, here we are with another collection of odds and ends. Rather than just do the old stuff, I've thrown in a few things from today and yesterday. I begin and end with some discussion of revolution. Perhaps it is because when you get right down to it, I'm not much of an ideologue, but I don't dig ...
Maria Bamford's "Ask My Mom!" (22 Oct 2013 06:13pm)
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French the Rainbow (22 Oct 2013 06:00pm)
Funny or gross? I'll decide. It's gross. Gross and stupid....
EU Needs Shake Up, but Without Fascists (22 Oct 2013 05:54pm)
Gideon Rachman is a good guy. He's a smart guy too. And knowledgeable! But man oh man, does he not understand the Tea Party. And sadly, he's not too clear on what the European Union needs either. Yesterday in the Financial Times, he wrote, Watch Out for the Rise of a European Tea Party. (It is behin...
Fighting Fire with Fire (22 Oct 2013 05:46pm)
According to a CNN, a survey of the nation's teachers indicates that "nearly three-fourths of the nation's teachers say they personally would not bring a firearm to their school if allowed, but most educators believe armed guards would improve campus safety." If we truly want to keep our children...
Bugs Bunny Does Franz Liszt! (22 Oct 2013 03:17pm)
I have a good young friend who is way into skydiving. That's right, one of my friends is a crazy person. And I cannot image ever jumping out of an airplane myself unless it is absolutely, positively necessary. That makes me want to never go up in a plane again. Regardless, I was very excited last n...
Why the Tea Party Loves Rand Paul (22 Oct 2013 12:41pm)
Last night I read a bit of Parker and Barreto's Change They Can't Believe In. It looks at the Tea Party movement from a political science standpoint. It is a dense book and I've only read a small amount of it. But the base conclusion is that what makes the Tea Party movement distinct is a shared rac...
Consumer Reports Supports Exchanges (22 Oct 2013 11:03am)
Sunday, John Hayward over at Breitbart wrote, Consumer Reports Recommends Staying Away From ObamaCare for at Least a Month. Of course, that isn't what he's really talking about. This is the usual conservative media echo chamber crap that any problem with Obamacare means it is a failure; and any succ...
From the No Shit Sherlock Files (22 Oct 2013 10:56am)
Marijuanna is safer than alcohol. It's true. There are actual, scientific reasons why you can get a doctor's prescription for marijuana but not bourbon. That so many people are more deeply disturbed by someone smoking marijuana than they are by children accidentally shooting themselves is truly b...
On a Lighter Note (22 Oct 2013 10:23am)
7 Things You Might Not Know About Calvin and Hobbes Watterson to Spielberg and Lucas: Thanks, but no thanks. [Good news!] Calvin and Hobbes...and Robotman? [Robotman was actually very funny.] The Complete Collection isn't quite complete. [Are you serious? I paid a lot of money for the complete co...
Gun News (22 Oct 2013 07:57am)
People throughout this country enjoy their constitutional right to bear arms, armed with an arsenal of reasons why they aren't to be blamed when someone gets shot and killed. I would not deny anyone their right to have a gun if that's what makes them feel safe or manly or free or whatever the hell g...
Republicans Hate the Military (21 Oct 2013 09:50pm)
David Brock has a new book out with Ari Rabin-Havt and the Media Matters staff, The Benghazi Hoax. It is an e-book, but for just 99¢ it is probably worth checking out. I just read an excerpt from it on Huffington Post, The Benghazi Hoax. It is a great teaser, because it leaves the reader wanti...
Odds and Ends Vol 1 (21 Oct 2013 07:20pm)
I've had it. At any given time, I have something like 100 tabs open in my browser. Almost all of these could be filed under, "When I get an hour or two, I want to write about that!" And sometimes I do get around to them. For example, it took me weeks to get around writing, Stalin, Not the Bomb, Defe...
GOP Works to Improve Obamacare (21 Oct 2013 04:37pm)
Ed Kilgore is worried about the newest court challenge to Obamacare, The Gift to the GOP That May Keep on Giving. But I'm not worried. It is a very clever challenge, however. The law says that people qualify for federal subsidies through each healthcare exchange "established by the state." But what ...
Don't Boast and Post! (21 Oct 2013 02:56pm)
The Boy Scouts of America are all about faith and respect (except for gays and nature). UPDATE: Boasted, Posted and Busted...
Do Atheists Care What Oprah Thinks? (21 Oct 2013 02:29pm)
Apparently they do. Did you know that it isn't only religious zealots who live in a chronic state of twisted panties? Even some atheists have hair-trigger offense mechanisms that one would normally associate with Fox news people. It is a mental state in which some ignorant bastard's offhand comments...
Martin Gardner Playing With Math (21 Oct 2013 01:14pm)
On this day in 1772, the great poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge was born. Before getting to his work, I'd just like to say that I've always been disappointed with his politics. Like most of those early Romantic poets (with notable exceptions), he was conservative. In a sense you can't blame them. They w...
Boys Lack Empathy, Vote Republican (21 Oct 2013 11:15am)
The video below discusses new research that shows that girls don't develop much empathy until the age of 13. It is worse for boys who don't start developing it until they are 15. In fact, most boys see a dip in empathy between the ages of 13 and 16. This isn't shocking news. To begin with, this is ...
Who Mourns for JP Morgan? (21 Oct 2013 09:46am)
Dean Baker made some interesting comments at his blog yesterday, Post Granny Bashers Are Whining for JP Morgan. In it, he discusses how the Washington Post has defended JP Morgan against a civil suit the Justice Department was pursuing against the company for mortgage backed securities that they kne...
Bill Watterson Interview (20 Oct 2013 05:59pm)
I found this excerpt of a Mental Floss interview with Bill Watterson. Check out Mr Watterson's college-era work....
What I Think of George W Bush (20 Oct 2013 04:10pm)
After mistakenly believing that George Bush Jr had created prettified versions of the Abu Ghraib torture photos, I have reflected on why I could believe that he would do such things. Part of it is that I have a very low opinion of Bush. He's a trust fund kid who skated through life into the White Ho...
Freedom and John Dewey (20 Oct 2013 01:01pm)
On this day in the distant past, two great painters were born. The Dutch Golden Age painter Aelbert Cuyp was born in 1620. Mostly, he was a landscape painter. He does amazing things with skies: light, not the way it is, but the way it ought to be. The French portrait painter Nicolas de Largilliere w...
Second Guessing the Falsely Accused (20 Oct 2013 09:52am)
Last week, This American Life produced an episode Confessions. The show primarily consists of two stories. The first is about a detective who learns that he had unintentionally created a false confession. The second is about Jeffrey Womack, whose life was haunted by a murder allegation that he refus...
Songwriter Vinicius de Moraes (19 Oct 2013 06:08pm)
On this day in 1862, the elder of the Lumiere brothers, Auguste was born. His younger brother Louis was born on 5 October 1864. They were moving picture pioneers. They invented, for example, the perforation on the sides of film that allow it to be perfectly fed through cameras and projectors. But th...
Business and Tea Party Are Not at War (19 Oct 2013 02:25pm)
There have been a lot of articles written in the last two days talking about the battle raging inside the Republican Party. Yesterday, for example, Bloomberg published, Republican Civil War Erupts: Business Groups v. Tea Party. But I don't buy it. If there is a war going on in the GOP, it is only b...
Bush's Disgusting Torture Apologia (19 Oct 2013 11:08am)
Update: Based upon commenter CEB who actually, you know, reads headlines, it would appear that these are a parody. I did check the page extensively for details and other sites as well. But I am very good at missing the forest for the trees. Sorry for that. I also deleted the comments, given that peo...
Terrorists Would Never Harm Dick Cheney (19 Oct 2013 09:22am)
60 Minutes claims that Dick Cheney had his defibrillator altered to guard again a terrorist attack. According to the story that will air this Sunday, his doctor "had the device's wireless function disabled so a terrorist couldn't send his heart a fatal shock." I find this odd. It has been my underst...
God Doesn't Have a Sense of Humor (19 Oct 2013 08:39am)
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On Becoming Ex-Straight (18 Oct 2013 07:06pm)
I saw over on Crooks & Liars today that the anti-LGBT activist Peter LaBarbera was pushing the alleged success stories of ex-gay people in the media. His idea is that since Fox News has been so good about distorting demographics by highlighting the few black Republicans, the network should do t...
Good Movie (18 Oct 2013 04:37pm)
I just finished watching If I Were You, a charming movie about Madelyn, a middle-aged woman who discovers her husband is having an affair with a young European woman. Then a bunch of stuff happens and soon after her mother passes away. It's much lighter than it sounds. The only reason I'm even men...
On This Day in History: October 18 (18 Oct 2013 01:32pm)
1867 The United States took formal possession of Alaska from Russia. [Two places I will probably never see, and I'm okay with that.] 1892 The first long-distance telephone line between New York and Chicago was officially opened (it could only handle one call at a time). [Kind of like AT&T today.]...
You Never Can Tell With Chuck Berry (18 Oct 2013 12:38pm)
It's a big day for literature. Moby-Dick was first published on this day back in 1851 under the name The Whale. And almost as quickly, it was disparaged and forgotten and not long after Melville pretty much stopped writing until shortly before his death. It's sad. There are a lot of similarities bet...
Someone Turns 21 Today! (18 Oct 2013 09:24am)
On this day twenty-one years ago, my one and only son, emerged into the world and posed for his one and only mug shot. Today he is a bona fide man, planning his very first beer run. He will not be drinking and then driving as he has more sense than his mother used to. To clarify, I do not drink an...
Support the BART Strike (18 Oct 2013 09:12am)
The BART strike that started this morning is a major inconvenience for me—totally screwing up a work project. Still, I support the workers in this conflict. Sadly, I think that most American workers look at strikes from the standpoint of management and this is perverse. I see it as akin to a S...
About Those Treasury Bills... (17 Oct 2013 11:11pm)
Something I hate as a reader of political and economic news is how stories just disappear. I was thinking about that this evening because a week and a half ago, I reported on an article by Neil Irwin that highlighted the fact that 30 day treasury bill rates had gone up from 0.03% before the governme...
Don't Talk About Delaying Obamacare (17 Oct 2013 10:07pm)
Jonathan Chait has an interesting idea about Obamacare. It is also really dangerous. He suggests that if the websites for the healthcare exchanges are not working properly by December, the federal government should delay the individual mandate for the first year. His argument is that the government ...
The Problem with Religion (17 Oct 2013 05:34pm)
The memory of my own suffering has prevented me from ever shadowing one young soul with the superstition of the Christian religion.—Elizabeth Cady Stanton ...
Welcome, the Patron Saint of Comedy! (17 Oct 2013 04:49pm)
I think Catholicism may be the most OCD religion in the world. I know, with the rosaries and Hail Mary's and huddled masses it isn't shocking, but that they have so many, very specific saints is pathological. For example, Saint Genesius of Rome, the Patron Saint of Comedians.[1] He must have kille...
Republicans Think They're "Winning!" (17 Oct 2013 01:48pm)
I was very interested to see that the very definition of Washington conventional wisdom, The Hill, called the goverment shutdown a rout of the Republicans. In Winners and Losers of the Debt-Limit Fight, Bob Cusack listed ten winners. Of them, seven were Democrats, one was a mix (women lawmakers), on...
Saint Sebastian, Patron Saint of Sports (17 Oct 2013 01:32pm)
Catholics seem to have a saint for every occasion. Today we are taking a look at Saint Sebastian, Patron Saint of Sports of sorts.[1] My religious background having been in the protestant camp, I know very little about saints (other than Francis of Assissi), so I knew nothing of Saint Sebastian. To...
Arthur Miller (17 Oct 2013 12:04pm)
On this day in 1725, the great political radical John Wilkes was born. At that time, a radical believed in things like democracy. Also of note, he supported the American rebels. But as he got older, he became conservative. I think of him as the 18th century version of Christopher Hitchens. Actor Ir...
Republicans United in Ideology (17 Oct 2013 10:26am)
This morning, Ed Kilgore asks, What Lesson Was Learned? It follows off an article by Ross Douthat, A Teachable Moment. But as Kilgore notes, the only lessons that Douthat thinks the Republicans should have learned from the shutdown debacle is that they should use better political tactics. Kilgore n...
I Like to Keep Things in Perspective (17 Oct 2013 08:21am)
I find this oddly comforting. My triumphs (learning to walk, etc.), my colossal failures (let's not get into that right now), all my hopes and dreams — pretty much everything that keeps me awake at night — are insignificant. No need to worry about nothing....
OMG! Create Your Own God (17 Oct 2013 07:53am)
Finally, intelligent design! Mix and match your own gods with our OMG magnetic dress up set and turn your refrigerator into a shrine. Includes the following mix-and-match gods: God (Judeo-Christian-Islamic) Ganesha Neolithic Goddess Cocijo Tlinglit Eagle Jesus Flying Spaghetti Monster Burning Bus...
St Sebastian: A Stitcher's Little Helper (17 Oct 2013 07:18am)
On yet another circuitous route to a point of interest I have yet to find, I found a truly useful martyr. Personally, I'd rather not have him forever suffering and relentlessly judging me as I sew together some little trifle to brighten up a chair, but I'm weird that way. But it gets even better!...
The Most Frustrating 25 Minutes Ever (17 Oct 2013 12:54am)
Watching the video below was one of the most frustrating things I have ever done. It is a clip of Sam Seder on the Majority Report talking to a libertarian. It is not the first time I have seen Seder talk with a libertarian. Like me, he finds libertarians endlessly fascinating. But for some reason, ...
Anderson Cooper and Bunny Sex (16 Oct 2013 11:13pm)
I haven't enjoyed a Republican this much for a long time. In the video below, Alex Castellanos tries to explain Ted Cruz to Anderson Cooper. It has something to do with the snowshoe hare, which apparently has such a good time fucking (TV safe: bunny sex) that it creates a population explosion. I thi...
Partisan Hacks at National Review (16 Oct 2013 10:22pm)
Gregory Koger at Washington Monthly alerted me to the fact that conservatives might be deficit hypocrites. That's sarcasm; of course they're hypocrites. We all are to one extent or another. But it does seem that conservatives rate a lot higher on the scale. DePaul University political scientist Way...
The Importance of Being Oscar Wilde (16 Oct 2013 09:50pm)
On this day in 1758, the great lexicographer Noah Webster was born. He is best known for the dictionary he started that eventually became the excellent modern Merriam-Webster Dictionary. But he really should be known as one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Most people today don't unders...
Fox News Fails to Bum Me Out (16 Oct 2013 07:23pm)
If I could be anywhere later tonight, it would be out drinking with John Boehner after the vote. It's congenital: I'd always rather hang out with the losers. But in his case, there would be special benefits. First, I would ask him about the tanning. Look: it's just us. The color is kind of weird. I'...
What's With "Democrat Party"? (16 Oct 2013 04:52pm)
One of the rudest things that people do is call other people by names they don't like. In general, this is the kind of thing one generally only sees on grammar school yards. But there is one other area where it is common and the maturity level is similar. Conservatives love to call the Democratic Pa...
Early For Halloween, But... (16 Oct 2013 03:40pm)
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Maria Bamford's Publicist Responded! (16 Oct 2013 01:39pm)
I wonder if this puts me within six degrees of Kevin Bacon? Hi Andrea, Yes, you may send non-lethal mail to Maria at: Maria Bamford c/o Omnipop Talent Group 4605 Lankershim Blvd. Suite 201 Toluca Lake, CA 91602 Best, Jess Jess Guinivan VP, Publicity Omnipop Talent Group www.omnipop.com...
Texas Paper Regrets Cruz Endorsement (16 Oct 2013 01:03pm)
The Houston Chronicle has published an editorial saying that they regret endorsing Ted Cruz for Senate in 2012. And look, I do feel a certain amount of schadenfreude about it. But the article is more a call for what passes for moderation in politics, Why We Miss Kay Bailey Hutchison. Well, the Chron...
You Should Listen to Your Cat (16 Oct 2013 12:09pm)
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Erickson's Plan for a Democratic House (16 Oct 2013 11:43am)
Erick Erickson is angry. I know what you're thinking, but it has nothing to do with his frozen pig-face. He's angry because the Republicans are caving. And even more than that, he's angry at Mitch McConnell for not being smart. Early this morning, he wrote, "Reid used the Senate's rules to toss asid...
If You're Bored Then You're Boring (16 Oct 2013 10:16am)
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The Power of False Lessons (16 Oct 2013 09:48am)
All indications are now that the the current government shutdown and Debt Ceiling crises will be over shortly. At least they will for three months when the whole thing starts over. The Republicans have been chastened. It seems the Abba Eban's comment applies especially well to the House Republicans,...
Maria Bamford (16 Oct 2013 09:31am)
I like Maria Bamford. She seems like a nice person who's trying really hard to keep it together. Her quirky humor gives off a vague aura of discomfort that I can easily relate to. Even her voice sounds a bit strangled and slightly panicked, as if she's standing up at bird fetish meeting for the firs...
The End of the Bagel Exception (15 Oct 2013 11:09pm)
As many of you may know, I have a problem with Whole Foods. I'm all in favor of natural foods sold at exorbitant prices. But I have a real problem paying these prices when the workers who sell me these expensive goods are poorly compensated. At Whole Foods, staff members are paid so badly that recen...
Jeeves and Wodehouse (15 Oct 2013 07:33pm)
Oh but when it rains, it pours. Some days have no one really interesting. Others have too many. Today is the latter kind of day. On this day in 1844, the great philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche was born. I'm not a great fan of his, but it isn't really his fault. The problem is that young men tend to ...
House Still Not Serious About Deal (15 Oct 2013 12:30pm)
One of the few conservatives really worth reading, Ramesh Ponnuru, offers us a look at The New House Plan. And it is ridiculous, as expected. As I noted earlier, the Senate bill is good because it is the result of an actual negotiation: Republicans get something they want in return for something Dem...
Republicans Hold Wake for Shutdown (15 Oct 2013 11:42am)
This morning during their meeting, the House Republicans broke into a rendition of "Amazing Grace." Representative Michael Burgess was particularly impressed that they all knew the words of all three verses. I suspect that's because they have all spent a whole lot more time in church than they have ...
House Tries, Fails, Tries Again (15 Oct 2013 09:51am)
At some point, you just have to learn to stop worrying and love default. And I think I may have reached that point. This morning at around 7:18, I got an email from the New York Times, House Outlines Alternative to Senate Deal on Spending and Debt Limit. It said that the House Republicans had been ...
You Say Jesus, I Say Jebus (15 Oct 2013 08:47am)
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Panetta Wants to See More "Leadership" (14 Oct 2013 10:30pm)
I'm not sure how I'm supposed to take today's column by Ruth Marcus, Panetta Rebukes Obama's Handling of Shutdown. My experience is that when I read something so intellectually oafish that it must be satire, it turns out to not be satire. It is a thing to behold. Now that Leon Panetta is not in the ...
Family Guy Does the Tea Party (14 Oct 2013 09:43pm)
I just watched the "Tea Peter" episode of Family Guy from the tenth season. In general, I'm not that happy with the series when it does politics. Like most shows, it tries to have things both ways. Plus, I don't think I've ever fully forgiven the producers for allowing Rush Limbaugh to whitewash his...
Birth of Lillian Gish (14 Oct 2013 07:12pm)
On this day in 1644, the founder of Pennsylvania, William Penn was born. He was well known for his humility. Oh, I'm kidding! He was a great man. At the time of the Revolutionary War, Philadelphia was the biggest and most prosperous city in America. And why? Because Penn was a champion of democracy ...
The GOP Problem Is Not Messaging (14 Oct 2013 04:33pm)
David Corn wrote an article that sounded like it was going to be great fun, In Shutdown and Debt Ceiling Showdown, GOPers Ignore Their Party's Own Advice. But it wasn't really fun, because I think he has misjudged what the Republican Party has been doing. It is about the Republicans' Growth and Oppo...
Think Happy Thoughts (14 Oct 2013 03:37pm)
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A Little Bit About My Journey to Atheism (14 Oct 2013 01:59pm)
Atheism has been on my mind a lot lately. Partly because it keeps popping up in SPAN (stuff-passing-as-news) and in some part because it's an interesting distraction from aspects of life that have me at a standstill. In brief, here's how I came to be an atheist. My mother occasionally raised my br...
Political Theater and the Debt Ceiling (14 Oct 2013 01:08pm)
This is delicious! Ed Kilgore over at Washington Monthly went looking for a way to provide the Republicans with an out for the terrible situation they have put themselves and the country in, Template For Dem Aid to Republican Leaders. And he found it in a perfectly reasonable (and hilarious) place: ...
This Changes Everything! (14 Oct 2013 10:32am)
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Trust Issues (14 Oct 2013 09:56am)
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What a Friend We Have in Jesus (14 Oct 2013 09:49am)
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Does God Really Have a Plan for You? (14 Oct 2013 09:06am)
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Does GOP Even Care About Wall Street? (14 Oct 2013 08:55am)
I guess we will need to watch the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) for the next couple of days. The first thing this morning, it dropped about 70 points and has pretty much stayed there for until now. In a fundamental sense, the DJIA doesn't mean much. But in this case, it is a gauge of how nerv...
Lenny Bruce and the Fucking Hypocrites (13 Oct 2013 10:14pm)
On this day in 1908, the great political cartoonist Herbert Lawrence Block was born. He was better know as Herblock. He started creating political cartoons in 1929. By the 1950s, he was established at the Washington Post (you know, when it was a good newspaper). He is best known for coining the term...
God Likes Squids More Than You (13 Oct 2013 05:24pm)
Take the human eye, one of the creationist's favorite examples. Some people see dark spots on their eyes when staring at very bright light (or sometimes even the blue sky). Those spots are caused by the fact that the blood vessels serving the eye are positioned in front of the optical nerves. This i...
Forget Your Bucket List! (13 Oct 2013 03:18pm)
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The Greeks Were So Gullible (13 Oct 2013 03:08pm)
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From Conception, God Loves Children (13 Oct 2013 02:34pm)
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"Redskins" Apologetics Getting Strained (13 Oct 2013 12:11pm)
As you probably know, the Washington Redskins have been at the center of a controversy over their name. Many people say that the name is offensive but the owner of the team, Daniel Snyder, refuses to change the name. I've been thinking about the issue. It occurs to me that the term "redskin" is like...
Brown vs Blue: UPS, the Last Straw (13 Oct 2013 10:35am)
VS Some read "UPS" as the plural of "up," but it is correctly read as "oops." There are a few things to note about UPS. OK, one of them is I really don't like them. I think it's only fair to begin with that statement, since it is not really my plan to try giving them an unbiased review, in this wr...
Aerospace, Newsgroups, and Sports (13 Oct 2013 03:30am)
I think it’s only natural to be drawn to some things. Most things we find alluring, we are supposed to feel guilty or ashamed of…. Mostly, I am referring to common vices. Al Gore, whether he was a contributor to the advent of the internet or not, was not likely a player in the elements which really...
Where Have All the Channels Gone? (13 Oct 2013 02:34am)
As consumers increasingly turn away from cable, cable tightens the noose on those skating by... -By "cable" I specifically mean Comcast. -By "those skating by" I mean those who have the most basic internet access at home and somehow, by default, have a very limited access to cable service (called ...
Hitchens Destroys Straw Man? (12 Oct 2013 11:01pm)
As I was watching Jane Siberry videos, YouTube recommended one named Galloway tries to justify 9/11 and gets destroyed by Hitchens. I don't off hand know who Galloway is, but I get the picture. Did he "justify" 9/11? Who knows? He may have just tried to explain why it happened. To the neocon crowd, ...
Claying Around with Art Clokey (12 Oct 2013 10:14pm)
On this day in 1872, the great British composer Ralph Vaughan Williams was born. He is a very distinctive composer that I've never really been able to peg. Wikipedia quotes John Alexander Fuller Maitland as saying, "One is never quite sure whether one is listening to something very old or very new."...
Conservatives Eager to Hate Obama (12 Oct 2013 02:44pm)
Even by Fox News standards, this is incredible. And note, this happens all the time in conservative media. But last Saturday, Fox News reported a satirical news story on National Report as real news. (See the video below.) What's going on is that conservatives really do believe their own rhetoric. ...
Baby Goes Gay (12 Oct 2013 01:40pm)
The Onion • ISSUE 49•22 EDMOND, OK—Following weeks of deliberation during which he carefully considered what sort of life he wanted for himself, 4-month-old baby Nathan Reynolds announced Wednesday that he had decided to be homosexual. “I thought about it for a long time,” said Reynolds, who took...
GOP Negotiation Feint Ends (12 Oct 2013 11:05am)
The House negotiations with Obama have broken down. Despite everything that people have been saying, this really isn't a surprise. The standard narrative was that the NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll freaked out the Republicans and caused them try to end the crisis that they've created. I agree tha...
Wind Power Heats the Earth (12 Oct 2013 09:40am)
Wind is God's way of balancing heat. Wind is the way you shift heat from areas where it's hotter to areas where it's cooler. That's what wind is. Wouldn't it be ironic if in the interest of global warming we mandated massive switches to energy, which is a finite resource, which slows the winds down,...
The Conspiracy Theory Mind (11 Oct 2013 08:08pm)
This last week I haven't written as much as usual, because I've been helping my father who had surgery last week. As a result of that, I ended up in the emergency room on Wednesday. At that time, I met a very chatty man in the waiting room. He was interesting and intelligent. He seemed like the kind...
Creationism vs Evolution (11 Oct 2013 01:51pm)
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David Morse Slaughters All Roles (11 Oct 2013 01:42pm)
On this day in 1872, the women's rights activist Emily Davison was born. But it's not that uncommon for women of that period. In my research for this article every day, I come upon them all them time. Sometimes I mention them and sometimes I don't. I bring up Davison because she was wonderfully, her...
Josh Barro's Mean Tweets (11 Oct 2013 10:57am)
You know what they say: hell hath no fury like a gay man shamed. That man would be Josh Barro. And it is totally great. Yesterday, Niall Ferguson wrote the third part of his series of articles on why Paul Krugman is a great big meanie and why everyone should ignore the fact that Ferguson is not onl...
No Contradiction in Genesis Eve Creation (11 Oct 2013 08:40am)
I was thinking about Genesis today. It's part of my normal thing to think about different parts of the Bible. I think about it because, it's silly to take it seriously. But it is even more silly when atheists think they've found little "gotchas" in places where the Bible contradicts itself. I hate t...
Atheist Faith Eaters! (11 Oct 2013 08:14am)
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Plan 9 from Ed Wood (10 Oct 2013 03:08pm)
This is quite a day for birthdays. And frankly, I threw a bunch of people into "other birthdays" that I normally would have highlighted. So don't take offensive. Not that you would. On this day in 1917, the great jazz pianist Thelonious Monk was born. I am not often in the mood to listen to him, be...
It's a Christian Thing (10 Oct 2013 01:09pm)
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In Which I Am Tested for Personality Disorders (10 Oct 2013 12:19pm)
Last night, I came upon the word "schizotypal." I have come upon the word in the past, but I didn't know exactly what it meant, so I entered it into Google and was offered up "schizotypal test." I love tests! So I made my way to Personality Disorder Test at 4degreez.com. Given my mood, I can think l...
Principled GOP Stand (10 Oct 2013 09:39am)
As the Republican demand for not destroying the economy continues to change, I am curious. If the government had to be shut down because Obamacare would otherwise destroy the very fabric of our society, how is it that they would accept something else for returning to regular order? First it was just...
Atheist Among Us (10 Oct 2013 07:57am)
According to CNN's Belief Blog, there are six types of atheists: 1) Intellectual atheist/agnostic: This type of nonbeliever seeks information and intellectual stimulation about atheism [and] like debating and arguing, particularly on popular Internet sites. They're also well-versed in books and ar...
Frank Made Me Do This (10 Oct 2013 06:39am)
According to this highly scientific analysis of my personality, I'm only almost certifiable. DisorderRatingParanoid Personality Disorder:LowSchizoid Personality Disorder:ModerateSchizotypal Personality Disorder:ModerateAntisocial Personality Disorder:LowBorderline Personality Disorder:LowHistrionic...
Grimm Mike Peters (09 Oct 2013 05:34pm)
On this day in 1835, the great French composer Camille Saint-Saens was born. Over time, I have come to think of myself as a francophile. That's certainly true of music. As you probably know, I'm not a fan of Romantic period music. But somehow the French do it better. Of course, Saint-Saens was compo...
GOP Craziness May End Crisis (09 Oct 2013 03:19pm)
Jonathan Chait wrote what I think is a very insightful article today, even if the title is a bit deceptive, House Republicans' Ransom Demands Falling. What I would say is that their demands are changing, not falling. He provides some important history about the current standoff. The House Republica...
Janet Yellen Is Plutocrat Approved (09 Oct 2013 01:32pm)
Everyone is reporting that later today Janet Yellen will be officially nominated to be the new Federal Reserve Chairman. That's overall good news. Listening to NPR this morning, I was kind of annoyed to hear people talking about what a monetary dove she is and how she will focus on unemployment. I h...
The Apocalypse Has Begun (08 Oct 2013 07:54pm)
At Wonk Blog, Neil Irwin writes, What's Happening in the Treasury Bill Market Today Should Terrify You. "Terrify" is not a common word in the Wonk Blog lexicon. And if you are like most people, "treasury bill" is not common to your lexicon. If you know them at all, it is because you've seen them lis...
Keeping Balanced with Le Chatelier (08 Oct 2013 06:37pm)
What a boring day for birthdays. This one's gonna be short. Two actors I rather like have birthdays today. First is Sigourney Weaver who is 64 today. She's been in a lot of really fun movies. Two I especially like are Galaxy Quest and Heartbreakers, which is almost a perfect film for me: a very swe...
Hollywood is Such an Attention Whore (08 Oct 2013 03:48pm)
Have you ever gone the theater and then had to sit through so many previews for coming soon movies that you actually forgot which one you had come to watch? Please tell me I'm not the only one… Now there is a more insidious and slightly sadistic trend in movie promotion: get in the middle of real p...
The Terrible Bargain (08 Oct 2013 01:47pm)
The last week, I've been hearing a lot more about the lauded Grand Bargain. This is the Holy Grail of centrists throughout Washington. Basically it would be a law that both cut entitlement spending and raised taxes. Obama even alluded to it at today's press conference where he said, "And whenever I ...
Return of the Son of the Night of the Reasonable Republicans (08 Oct 2013 09:51am)
Jonathan Chait calls out Ross Douthat on his recent column, Debt-Ceiling Extortion Isn't So Bad, Really. Douthat is arguing that forcing a Debt Ceiling crisis isn't that bad. According to him, the problem with the Republicans is that they are asking for something that is unreasonable, the defunding ...
Sherlock (07 Oct 2013 11:02pm)
I've just been introduced to the British television series Sherlock. Netflix estimated a ranking of 5 out of 5 stars for me. I think the only time that happened before was based upon an Akira Kurosawa film, and of course, it was right. So last week, I sat down and watched the first episode. It was g...
Feds Can't Prioritize—and Shouldn't! (07 Oct 2013 06:18pm)
On Friday, I wrote about something that is really bugging me, Debt Ceiling Crisis Options. I hate the idea that is being pushed by many conservatives that the Debt Ceiling is no big deal. On Bloomberg TV, John Boehner said, "Those who have loaned us money, like in any other proceeding, if you will&m...
Why Democrats Aren't an Extremist Party (07 Oct 2013 04:25pm)
Chris Cillizza over at the The Fix blog has an interesting article with one of those terrible Washington Post style headlines, Want to Know Why the Government Is Shut Down? This Chart Explains it. The chart in question is not very useful. Basically it shows (The shock!) that most members of the Hous...
Yo-Yo Ma and the Existence of Evil (07 Oct 2013 01:54pm)
On this day in 1892, the great film producer Dwain Esper was born. He produced Reefer Madness. The story is interesting. A church group had produced a film called Tell Your Children about the evils of cannabis that they wanted to show to parents to alert them of the threat to their children that was...
The Onion Nails Tea Party (07 Oct 2013 11:36am)
A couple of weeks back, I wrote, Republicans Are a Cult More Than a Party. What I meant was that it operated very much like a new religion: the elites have reasons for their beliefs, but they tell the flock appealing stories that have little if anything to do with what the elites believe. For exampl...
Still Waiting on the GOP (07 Oct 2013 10:45am)
Who's tired of the government shutdown? It really is boring. All we see is Republican talkers repeating the same old talking points, "They won't negotiate!" On the left, it is a bit more nuanced, but the truth is, it seems to be mostly the Republicans doing the talking. And it's amazing that the Dem...
Let Me Sell You a Thing or Two... (07 Oct 2013 10:10am)
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Pay Attention to Me! (07 Oct 2013 07:46am)
What's the point of dumping my random thoughts into the abyss of cyberspace if no one is going to acknowledge me? I mean, can I get a little validation up in this bitch?[1] [1] I hope I've used that expression correctly, otherwise it might draw attention to my overall distance from popular cultur...
The Artist Is Silly and Wonderful (06 Oct 2013 10:34pm)
I just saw The Artist for the first time. I haven't avoided it; tonight was simply the first chance I got to see it. A number of people have recommended it to me. And let me be blunt: it is my kind of film. People like me love films about film. And The Artist is charming as hell. If for no other rea...
Americans Never Listen! (06 Oct 2013 06:00pm)
For obvious reasons, I am behind on my writing about the various outrages that result from even a cursory attention to the news. So you will forgive me if I dig back a bit into my collection of current events. Over a week ago, Glenn Greenwald brought my attention to a bit of mainstream media propaga...
Oh, Not to Be With Carole Lombard (06 Oct 2013 01:25pm)
On this day in 1897, the great biochemist Florence Seibert was born. She isolated a pure form of tuberculin which is an important part of tuberculosis tests. You have to remember that a hundred years ago, tuberculosis was a terrible disease that killed many people in a very painful way. There is suc...
How The Shutdown Ends (06 Oct 2013 10:05am)
Following up on my afterword in the last article, Matt Yglesias has an interesting (very short) article about how the government shutdown will resolve itself. He is riffing on a tweet by the front man for everything House Republican, the National Review's Robert Costa, "The theater of the standoff i...
Discharge Petition Is Very Bad (06 Oct 2013 08:39am)
I was amazed on Friday to see that Rachel Maddow was again pushing the discharge petition as though that is going to solve all of our government shutdown problems. She even showed a rather long clip from Legally Blonde 2: Red, White & Blonde, which she claims explains the process really well. Ex...
It's Encyclopedia Day! (05 Oct 2013 10:51am)
On this day in 1712, the great Venetian painter Francesco Guardi was born. The Venetian school emphasized the use of color over line, in contrast to Mannerism. But Guardi worked at the very end of the movement and so his link to the movement is somewhat tenuous. Still, in many ways you can see a cle...
Business Is Not Turning Against GOP (04 Oct 2013 07:36pm)
You know me. I'm not inclined to agree with the world view of many publication with "business" in the title. And I'm even less inclined to agree with anything that related to Michael Bloomberg. Still, I read Bloomberg Businessweek all the time and often find it informative. Yesterday, Joshua Green w...
Debt Ceiling Crisis Options (04 Oct 2013 05:44pm)
Yesterday, Adam Liptak wrote an interesting article in the New York Times, Experts See Potential Ways Out for Obama in Debt Ceiling Maze. It discusses three ideas—two of which you have probably heard before. And the one new one is kind of dumb. Still, I think it is important to discuss them. ...
Gerrymandering Didn't Make GOP Extreme (04 Oct 2013 11:49am)
I was very disappointed to see that yesterday, Nate Cohn had written Quit Blaming Gerrymandering for the Shutdown. I was not disappointed because he was wrong; I was disappointed that he beat me. On Wednesday, as I waited around at the VA for my father's surgery, I wrote in my notebook, "Gerrymander...
Buster Keaton (04 Oct 2013 09:59am)
The first artificial earth satellite Sputnik 1 was launched on this day in 1957. I just love it because it is a great example of American hubris. We have such a tendency to think that we are the only people who can do anything. Except when our government is trying to frighten us into war or at least...
Conservative Talks to Conservative (03 Oct 2013 08:56pm)
The 40 second [Update: video changed; now 60 second.] video below is really great. What's going on is Ron Paul and Mitch McConnell discussing how the government shutdown is going. They were mic'ed, but they didn't know. They both agree that it is going well for them because they think it sounds bad ...
Moderate Republicans Really Are Extreme (03 Oct 2013 08:20pm)
Josh Marshall asks, Just Where Is The Center of Gravity Here? It follows up on this idea that Byron York has floated (I discussed it on Monday) that there really aren't that many crazy Republicans in the House and most of them want to vote for a clean continuing resolution. Marshall concludes, "The ...
Republican Party's Practical Nihilism (03 Oct 2013 07:38pm)
Ed Kilgore brought my attention to an article by Ross Douthat, Why the Right Fights. I try to avoid Douthat, just like all the supposed moderate conservative pundits. But there is something especially annoying about him. Almost all of his writing is simply conservative apologetics. Whenever I read h...
GOP Losing Government Shutdown Battle (03 Oct 2013 06:33pm)
As I was waiting around at the San Francisco VA, I picked up a copy of the SF Examiner and I was very surprised to see the political cartoon above. It isn't the cartoon itself—I know of lots of liberal political cartoonists. But what was the Examiner publishing it for? And then right next to ...
Once Young and Beautiful (03 Oct 2013 10:40am)
The Three-Faced Who calls her two-faced? Faces she has three; The first inscrutable, for the outer world; The second shrouded in self-contemplation; The third, her face of love, Once for an endless moment turned on me. --Robert Graves (1895-1985)...
Gore Vidal (03 Oct 2013 09:24am)
I am still out of town so not much blogging today either. On this day in 1898, the great film writer and director Leo McCarey was born. He is mostly known for his comedies like Duck Soup, The Awful Truth, and My Favorite Wife. He also directed An Affair to Remember, which you may remember was also ...
Mutlifaceted as a Piece of Paper (03 Oct 2013 08:11am)
Being as multifaceted as a single sheet of paper sounds pretty pathetic, and it is, but that's typically how I see myself: useful, but blank. If I could be represented as an origami creation, this is what I would like to be: a complex, but beautiful distillation of order. But this is a more acc...
Graham Greene (02 Oct 2013 09:18am)
This is going to be it until late at the best. I have to take my father to the hospital for a surgery and then help him after that. It's a planned surgery, so it isn't a big deal. But it will take up the day. On this day in 1452, King Richard III was born. He was the last English king to actually d...
The Daily Show Does Shutdown Right (02 Oct 2013 08:06am)
Monday night, The Daily Show presented a great segment on the government shutdown. Luckily, this clip cuts off the start where Jon Stewart provides a lame comedic apologia for why he allows Bill O'Reilly on the show. And of course, Bill O'Reilly got two broadcast segments where he did his "this is a...
Paul Krugman Has a Crush on Lydia DePillis (01 Oct 2013 07:29pm)
One thing that is nice about having a fairly small readership: I don't have to worry too much about what I say. So I can just say what I think. And what I think is that Paul Krugman has a crush on Lydia DePillis. Krugman, as you should all know, is the brilliant economist who is today better known f...
Day One of Government Shutdown (01 Oct 2013 05:59pm)
I haven't had much to say about the government shutdown, because, hey, there isn't a lot to say. But after today, there are a few things. I have to admit to being a bit concerned about how the shutdown is playing in the press. Ed Kilgore provided a number of headlines from this morning that, intent...
Someone Left Richard Harris in the Rain (01 Oct 2013 02:12pm)
On this day in 1888, the card magic innovator Charles Jordan was born. I have long known him because of the "Jordan Count," which is a way of counting four cards while only showing three of them. It is the logical opposite of the "Elmsley Count." That is to say that performing an Elmsley Count follo...
Nine Month Democratic Super-Majority Destroyed California Film Industry 7 Years Ago! (01 Oct 2013 12:34pm)
Another great catch from Jonathan Chait, California Democrats Hurting Rob Schneider. The comedian has decided to become a Republican. And the reason is really great, "We need to break this super-majority that isn't helping with jobs. The last time I made a movie in California was seven years ago, an...
Just Vote! (01 Oct 2013 11:43am)
I have a notebook right next to my keyboard and in it, I write (among other things) ideas for articles. I get around to writing maybe half of them. One from last Sunday night is, "Plea to vote." This has to do with something that has been weighing heavily on my mind. It doesn't seem to matter how ba...
Sad Result When Libertarians Get Practical (01 Oct 2013 09:59am)
Jonathan Chait made an excellent catch this morning, Confused Libertarian Demands Obama Become Strongman. The "confused libertarian" is Nick Gillespie who has been running Reason Magazine basically his whole life. But Chait is a little wrong in saying that Gillespie wants Obama to become a strongman...
Other Voices of Truman Capote (30 Sep 2013 08:07pm)
On this day in 1882, the physicist Hans Geiger was born. He is remembered today as the co-inventor of the Geiger counter. But he is actually important for the Geiger–Marsden experiment which showed that atoms are kind of like planetary systems with a big nucleus and electrons spinning around outside...
Great Political Analogy, Terrible Film (30 Sep 2013 04:23pm)
You may remember two weeks ago, I compared John Boehner to General Hummel in The Rock. The point was that Hummel threatened to kill 80,000 people in San Francisco, but when his bluff was called, he was unwilling to do it. In the film, he is killed and his subordinates try to do it anyway. Although B...
If It Happened There... (30 Sep 2013 02:53pm)
Slate has introduced a new feature, "If It Happened There..." It is reporting on things happening in the United States the way we would report on them if they were happening in some other country. It's a great idea, but I'm not sure that Slate is quite the right outlet for it, because as good as the...
When Is Not Yielding to Extortion as Bad as Extortion? (30 Sep 2013 01:19pm)
Jonathan Chait has an excellent article about recent Republican history that has brought us to this moment, The House GOP's Legislative Strike. In it, he talks about the Republican retreat after the Fiscal Cliff fiasco. The result was "The Williamsburg Accord." It basically said that the Republicans...
The End Is Near! (30 Sep 2013 11:36am)
I was thinking about Elvis Costello's "Waiting for the End of the World" this morning. With the government shutdown coming and all, it just seems natural. But I'm especially focused on the lines, "Dear lord, I sincerely hope your coming; 'cause you really started something." Christianity is an apoc...
Yet Another Woman's Worst Nightmare (30 Sep 2013 08:56am)
Dove is sending mixed messages. One commercial implies that my face may actually be more attractive than I think it is. Talk about a morale booster! Watching the reaction of those women as they saw how attractive a forensic artist would imagine them as he drew their missing person posters gave me re...
Don Cervantes (29 Sep 2013 06:01pm)
On this day in 1571, the great Italian Baroque painter Caravaggio was born. He was only 38 when he died, but he was hugely influential on the path of painting. Yet he was all but forgotten after his death. It has only been in the last century that he has been given his due. He was a wonderful painte...
CEOs Know Nothing of the Economy (29 Sep 2013 03:37pm)
Paul Krugman is unhappy. Lydia DePillis at Wonk Blog wrote another one of those horrible interviews with people no one cares about, "Shame on us": How Businesses Brought the Debt Limit Mess Onto Themselves. It is with Paul Stebbins, who we are supposed to care about because he is the CEO of 74th com...
Republican Obamacare Corruption (29 Sep 2013 11:45am)
As I point out a lot, conservatives are against Obamacare because it raises taxes on the rich. There is no more to it. One of the main ones is a new excise tax on certain medical devices. Companies that make and import medical devices hate this 2.5% tax. So they have been lobbying Congress hard. And...
Fred Henhouse, RIP (29 Sep 2013 10:21am)
On or about Sunday morning 29 September 2013, our favorite chicken Fred Henhouse died. Her mangled body was found in the next door neighbor's yard. Only last night, I heard her make her nightly trip to the truck where she had taken to sleeping on top of the muffler. I was concerned because she made...
Amigo John Sayles (28 Sep 2013 10:09pm)
On this day in 1901, the television host Ed Sullivan was born. Like many of the people who made it big in the early days of television, he didn't have much of a resume. He was a journalist in New York, writing mostly about the theater scene and the gossip associated with it. That led him to doing a ...
Inequality for All (28 Sep 2013 02:34pm)
Robert Reich has a film out, Inequality For All. It looks really good. But I'm afraid it will be a while before I get to see it. Unlike John Dies at the End, Inequality For All is not available to stream. It is, however, getting better distribution. If I could get to Berkeley or San Francisco, I cou...
Bill O'Reilly Kills Jesus (28 Sep 2013 12:42pm)
If there is one man alive who I associate with the Prince of Peace, it is Bill O'Reilly. But I associate him as more the anti-Christ. I don't say that because he is such a bad guy, even though he is. It is just that he is the most prominent rageaholic in America. At the same time, I know he consider...
GOP Demands Are Extortion (28 Sep 2013 10:12am)
There is big outrage from Republicans after White House Communications Director Dan Pfeiffer said Thursday that the White House was all for budget negotiations, "What we're not for is negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chest." Republicans claimed that Pfeiffer was saying they were...
When Extreme Isn't Extreme Enough (27 Sep 2013 07:21pm)
Guess who said the following: "Congress consistently brings the government to the edge of default before facing its responsibility. This brinkmanship threatens the holder of government bonds and those who rely on Social Security and veterans benefits." Ronald Reagan. But as David Horsey says, "The ...
Media Could Make Default Much Worse (27 Sep 2013 04:48pm)
Jonathan Chait wrote a really good article this morning, The Debt-Ceiling Showdown Is the Fight of Obama's Life. In it, he argues that Obama cannot negotiate on the Debt Ceiling. Even giving the Republicans nothing but a symbolic concession would be catastrophic, because it would just set up another...
The Greatest Story Ever Sold (27 Sep 2013 03:34pm)
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The Killer Inside Jim Thompson (27 Sep 2013 01:57pm)
Two of the 20th century's greatest magicians had a birthday on this day. The first is Harry Blackstone who was born in 1885. He was the last of the long line of the big magic shows. These were huge touring companies with large scale illusions. People like Harry Kellar and Harry Houdini. You can see ...
The Rich Are Supposed to Be Evil (27 Sep 2013 11:59am)
Paul Krugman has long argued that the reason the rich will brook no public criticism has to do with the needs hierarchy. Since they have everything that money can buy, they've moved beyond that. Now their need is to have all the nation worship them as demigods for their brilliant successes. He wrote...
Ira's Brother George (26 Sep 2013 07:59pm)
On this day in 1774, the proto-environmentalist Johnny Appleseed (John Chapman) was born. I didn't know he was an actual person. It turns out that he didn't wander around planting seeds, however. He started nurseries and later orchards as a business. And much of the production of those nurseries wer...
Megan McArdle Humiliates Eric Alterman (26 Sep 2013 06:05pm)
Eric Alterman is no wonk. He is an English professor, after all. And although he is perhaps better described as a historian, he is no mathematician. So you can imagine just how humbling it is when he starts making calculations. Like back in 2003, shortly after the invasion of Iraq, he predicted, "Ge...
Rapist Stacey Rambold. Winning! (26 Sep 2013 02:47pm)
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Ridiculous GOP Debt Ceiling "Plan" (26 Sep 2013 01:39pm)
There hasn't been much news recently—at least on the national level. I think this is because everyone is waiting around to see just what the Republicans do to fuck everything up. The Republicans work as the equivalent of Iago in politics. Or perhaps a better analogy would be Worm from Rounders...
We Cannot Reason With the Rich (26 Sep 2013 11:30am)
I've long argued that the big problem with the deficit hawks is not so much their desire to reduce the size of government, although that itself is short sighted. The big problem is that these deficit hawks only want to reduce the size of government on the backs of the poor. Thus we get calls for cut...
Joel LaGrou isn't on Facebook (25 Sep 2013 09:42pm)
In my late teen years, my girlfriend Edy and I were not allowed at each others homes. Make of that what you will. So, we spent most of our time hanging out alongside a jogging path and workout course that wound around one of the urban creeks of Rohnert Park. Among those we met there were Linda and ...
Republicans Are a Cult More Than a Party (25 Sep 2013 04:42pm)
Jonathan Chait wonders if any positive information about Obamacare can get through the conservative media blackout, Someone Tell Ted Cruz the Obamacare War Is Over. He isn't alone; a lot of people wonder how it can be that in conservativeworld, all the news is bad. But this is just more of liberal c...
Obama's Milquetoast Presidency (25 Sep 2013 02:38pm)
Digby asked a good question, Who Are the Austerians Anyway? She never really answers the question, but does point out one very prominent austerian: President Obama. She takes us back to February 2009—Just one month after taking office—Obama was already talking about cutting entitlement p...
Neoliberalism's Attack on Democracy (25 Sep 2013 01:04pm)
A vibrant political culture needs community groups, libraries, public schools, neighborhood organizations, cooperatives, public meeting places, voluntary associations, and trade unions to provde ways for citizens to meet, communicate, and interact with their fellow citizens. Neoliberal democracy, wi...
The Very Giving Shel Silverstein (25 Sep 2013 11:55am)
On this day in 1683, the great Baroque composer Jean-Philippe Rameau was born. He was also a music theorist. This did not get in the way of the art of his work. But it did allow him to push the bounds of the music of the time. A good example of this is the second Trio des Parques in Hippolyte et Ari...
Republicans Really Were Gaming Intrade (24 Sep 2013 09:54pm)
We are coming up on the one year anniversary of the last presidential election and so we are at least getting a bit of clarity on some of the political shenanigans that took place during that consequential event. Earlier this month, two researches Rajiv Sethi and David Rothschild presented a paper t...
Fred the Chicken (24 Sep 2013 07:05pm)
I have a chicken. Her name is Fred—after Super Chicken's lion sidekick. But maybe it is more correct to say that Fred has me. It all started two weeks ago. I was working in my room with the window open, because it faces south and so is very hot even on relatively cool days. And I thought I he...
Tender Is F. Scott Fitzgerald (24 Sep 2013 04:05pm)
On this day in 1936, the great puppeteer Jim Henson was born. For someone like me, there is nothing better than The Muppet Show. I love puppets, but it is more than that. It is the zeitgeist of the whole show. The fact that it is a collection of marginally talented characters who decide to "put on a...
Democrats Aren't in Trouble in 2014 (24 Sep 2013 12:37pm)
Should we be worried about the Democrats' chances in the 2014 elections? Charlie Cook thinks we should. He has been looking at the polling from NBC News/Wall Street Journal. And he is right that it isn't a slam dunk for the Democrats regardless. But I think he's overstating the problems. Most of hi...
Hip Reporter Tells Powerful What They Want to Hear (23 Sep 2013 09:02pm)
Ah, the education of young people: there is nothing quite so edifying! I love watching as the light of understand burst into their brains destroying the dark ignorance that they had previously mistook for wisdom. And that is especially true when the young person is brilliant, because their dark igno...
How GOP Loses Shutdown Fight (23 Sep 2013 05:08pm)
Jonathan Bernstein wrote a really great article over at The American Prospect, The Day After Shutdown. Although he doesn't think there will be a shutdown, he has put together an overview of how a shutdown would get resolved. Based upon it, I can see why he doesn't think a shutdown will happen. The w...
Typhoid Mary Didn't Kill John Coltrane (23 Sep 2013 01:56pm)
On this day in 1800, William Holmes McGuffey was born. He is known for writing the McGuffey Readers. For their time, they were undoubtedly quite good. What I find most interesting about them is how conservatives since then—Even today!—love these books. It doesn't make sense. There has be...
We Can't Report on GOP's Hatred of SNAP (23 Sep 2013 11:20am)
My head is filled with all the House Republican madness about defunding SNAP, the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program. The whole thing is such a clear demonstration of what the Republican Party has become. In his column this morning, Paul Krugman wrote, "Even some conservative pundits worry ...
Ideologically Driven Policy (22 Sep 2013 07:55pm)
The biggest political theory of the last 30 years is supply side economics. It was the basis of the policies of all Republican presidents from Ronald Reagan onward. The idea is that if the rich are given more money, they will use it to invest in business and thus create jobs. According to the theor...
I Was a Middle Class Food Stamp Kid (22 Sep 2013 06:09pm)
When I was a little boy, my family was on food stamps. My father, however, would tell you this is a lie. He would say that our family was never on any welfare program—most especially food stamps. And technically, he'd be right. The government never gave us food stamps that we could exchange fo...
Sane Conservatives Not So Sane (22 Sep 2013 12:14pm)
I will admit that there are some conservative commentators that are not completely loony. Examples are: Josh Barro, Ross Douthat, David Frum. Another is Norm Ornstein. I just saw him on Up with Steve Kornacki. And he said something that I hear from these kinds of conservatives all the time. The pane...
Of Cages and Michael Faraday (22 Sep 2013 11:02am)
According to legend, 190 years ago Joseph Smith found those golden plates from which he translated the Book of Mormon. There is no doubt that there were no golden plates. But that still leaves an important question: was Smith delusional or was he just a charlatan? I tend to think the latter. What re...
Chuck Jones' Looney Tunes (21 Sep 2013 10:19pm)
On this day in 1866, the great writer H. G. Wells was born. One of the holy trinity of early science fiction (with writer Jules Verne and publisher Hugo Gernsback), he is best known for novels like The Time Machine, The Island of Doctor Moreau, The Invisible Man, and The War of the Worlds. As he got...
The Beautiful Costa Concordia (21 Sep 2013 10:43am)
On 13 January 2012, the cruise ship Costa Concordia hit a rock off Isola del Giglio and basically fell over. It was sad—mostly because 32 people died. But I've never been that interested because as tragedies go, it wasn't much of one unless you are a shareholder of the Carnival Corporation. B...
Government Policy Led to Inequality (20 Sep 2013 11:14pm)
Colin Gordon over at the Center for Economic and Policy Research annotated this great graph of the income share of the top one percent (from data by Emmanuel Saez). He says that the events are meant to be "representative rather than exhaustive." Of course, the pattern is clear, "The share of the top...
Upton Sinclair Tried to Save Us from the Jungle (20 Sep 2013 08:05pm)
On this day in 1902, the great poet Stevie Smith was born. She was also a novelist, but I haven't read anything but her poetry. In fact, I most know of her from a really great film Stevie—which you should watch if you get the opportunity (it isn't available on DVD). Her work is simultaneously ...
GOP Votes to Starve the Poor (20 Sep 2013 06:06pm)
Yesterday, the House Republicans finally got around to dealing with the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP), generally known as "food stamps." Traditionally, food assistance to the poor was linked to farm subsidies in the Farm Bill. But this year, the Republicans just couldn't do it, ...
Presidential Ideology (20 Sep 2013 12:58pm)
Earlier this week, I discovered a great website, On the Issues. It provides quite detailed information about the positions of politians at various times in their careers. I've found it really useful. One thing that isn't so useful—But very interesting!—is their use of the political philo...
GOP Loses on Government Shutdown (20 Sep 2013 11:42am)
The Republicans really are divided. But it isn't between the crazy and non-crazy. It is between the nihilists and the extremists. What are normally referred to as the Tea Party are just conservatives who aren't interested in the political process and so want to send "messages." As a result, those wh...
Lord of the Adam West (19 Sep 2013 09:08pm)
On this day in 1907, Supreme Court Justice Lewis Powell was born. He is a good object lesson in how political the conservative judicial movement has become. Richard Nixon nominated him, even though he was a Democrat. He was considered a moderate at the time, but today, he would probably be more libe...
Americans No Better Off After 24 Years (19 Sep 2013 06:09pm)
This week, the Census Bureau released data on the median family income in the United States. They found that it is lower than it was in 1989. That's a big deal because the US economy has seen huge increases in productivity since 1989, but none of it has trickled down to the people. That isn't really...
Theresa Vail vs Female Stereotypes (19 Sep 2013 04:08pm)
Despite the heroic efforts of 22-year-old Miss Kansas, Theresa Vail, Miss America's stereotypes are still firmly in place. Not only is Theresa the first woman ever to join the National Guard, she took on the male-dominated world of archery with her femininity intact. How many beauty queens have tho...
GOP Bad Faith Obamacare "Replacement" (19 Sep 2013 04:07pm)
The always great Austin Frakt and Aaron Carroll at The Incidental Economist have provided a summary of the new Republican plan to replace Obamacare, The Republican Study Committee Has a "Replace" Plan. Their take on it is very much the same as what I wrote yesterday, Republicans New Healthcare Distr...
Rich Get Great Returns on Their Taxes (19 Sep 2013 01:28pm)
The Urban Institute recently put out a video on the big Romney line that 47% of Americans don't pay any federal income taxes. The video itself is okay, but more important, it provides some really great information that is worth stressing. What's more, it gets to a problem with the way that Americans...
Is God Speaking Through Pope Francis? (19 Sep 2013 11:31am)
I have long had a desire to be a member of a church. Being an atheist, I know that the kingdom of God must be here on earth if it is to be anywhere. It is only through our connections with others and our work for a better world that we can be whole. And I really would like to be part of an organized...
American Acceptionalism (19 Sep 2013 10:08am)
Congratulations to Nina Davuluri. Her genetic lotto ticket really paid off! She and loser Theresa Vail are both stunning examples of American Exceptionalism. They both encapsulate our country's obscene attraction to all things superficial and its tacit acceptance of implicit misogyny. As for the...
Jeb Bush Is an Extremist Like All in GOP (19 Sep 2013 12:46am)
Steve Benen called Jeb Bush to task for all the politicking he has been doing with some offensive characters, apparently in his pursuit of the Republican nomination for president in 2016. It got me thinking, "Would the country really vote in a third Bush as president?" There seems to be a bit of a c...
Greta Garbo Wants to Be Alone (18 Sep 2013 06:25pm)
A couple of important scientists were born on this day. The first is Adrien-Marie Legendre, who was born in 1752. He was actually a mathematician, but that's close enough. He did a lot of great work. For example, his work on polynomials led to Galois theory. And he proved Fermat's last theorem for n...
Dems Look for Reasons to Move Right (18 Sep 2013 04:13pm)
Ezra Klein wrote an article this morning, The White House Doesn't Think it Can Prevent a Government Shutdown. It is all about how the White House is ringing alarm bells for business interests that the Republicans really are crazy enough to close the government and throw in a nice default sweetener. ...
Republicans New Healthcare Distraction (18 Sep 2013 12:36pm)
I've been waiting a while for Steve Scalise's press conference, but I don't think I need to wait any longer. This afternoon, he is gong to present the Republican Study Committee's "alternative" to Obamacare. The reason I don't have to wait is that I've always known what their alternative is: the sam...
Companies Maximize Profits—Period (18 Sep 2013 10:30am)
Matt Yglesias is a curious fellow. Yesterday he wrote, Post-Ballmer Microsoft Announces Plan To Become Much Lamer. By "lamer" he means that instead of doing something interesting with its cash flow, Microsoft is doing a stock buyback and paying more dividends. Instead, he thinks that Microsoft shoul...
Possible Outcomes of Debt Ceiling Crisis (17 Sep 2013 11:08pm)
What if the United States government shutdown and the House Republicans didn't care? I mean, really: even after a month they didn't care. They thought it was great! Maybe it would be a good chance to shake up those 47% senior citizens living the easy life with their $1,000 monthly pensions! I really...
Three Great Williams: Will, Carlos, Hank (17 Sep 2013 09:11pm)
If I had to name the greatest songwriter of the 20th century, it would be Chuck Berry. But the second best would have to go to Hank Williams who was born on this day in 1923. Of course, I have a soft spot for people like Williams who are great artists but not so good at life. In his case, though, I ...
Fox News Is Destroying Democracy (17 Sep 2013 05:13pm)
I just watched the end of today's Special Report with Bret Baier. For those not familiar, the show ends with a discussion amongst commentators. The star is Charles Krauthammer. And it is clear why he is such a big deal among conservatives. Compared to the knee jerk Obama haters, he comes off like a ...
In 1787 I'm Told Our Founding Fathers Did Agree (17 Sep 2013 01:03pm)
Okay, it is Constitution Day, which celebrates the adoption of the United States Constitution in 1787—that's 226 years ago! I know that there are a lot of people who think that the Constitution is frozen in time because life today is so very similar to life 226 years ago. And a lot of other p...
America's Terrorist Gunpowder Keg (17 Sep 2013 12:23pm)
If America has the seeds of home grown terrorism, it is not in the form of radicalized Muslims. It is in the form of our gun culture—specifically, those at the far edge of it; those who consider themselves "libertarian" and "constitutionalist." I don't see there being any problem with your ave...
Krugman Does Magritte! (17 Sep 2013 11:24am)
This morning, Paul Krugman posted an article, This Is Not a Crisis. What he's getting at is the claim by conservatives that we must do something about our "out of control spending!" As I am always quick to point out: Republicans Don't Care About Economy. They only use it as an excuse to cut social p...
Pretty Woman Ugly Tweets (16 Sep 2013 10:40pm)
I know that not all conservatives are racist. And not all racists are conservative. But it's fair to say that most racists are conservative. What's more, if it weren't for white racial resentment, Republicans would not be an important force in national politics. And I understand: we all have our dem...
Put Your Lips Together and Blow (16 Sep 2013 09:01pm)
On this day in 1386, King Henry V was born. He died of dysentery at the age of 36. It wasn't always so good to be king. The truth is that what the conservatives say is true: it is better to be poor in America today than it was to be King of England in the 14th century. The problem is, if we followed...
America Doesn't Care About Shooting Sprees (16 Sep 2013 05:42pm)
You know how no major media outlet ever reports on people dying of malaria? It is, as they say, "dog bites man." It isn't news. It would be like publishing an article, "President uses bathroom multiple times per day." Yet when someone goes out in public and kills a large group of people, it is all o...
Chris Christie is Conning New Jersey (16 Sep 2013 04:51pm)
I was just reading an article by Ed Kilgore over at Political Animal, 'Twas a Famous Victory. It is about how a lot of liberals are making a big deal of the fact that Pennsylvania has more or less agreed to join in Obamacare by accepting piles of federal money for a Medicaid expansion. Kilgore right...
Americans for Whatever Barack Obama Wants (16 Sep 2013 03:51pm)
Those people over at Second City have put out a very funny and astute video, Help Kickstart World War III! It plays with the idea of the Obamabots. Now, I don't think such people actually exist. But there certainly are people who work far too hard to agree with Obama. I don't want to mention anyone...
UN Says Chemical Weapons Used in Syria (16 Sep 2013 01:35pm)
It does now look as though there really was a chemical weapons attack in Syria on 21 August. My skepticism has always been based on the Yellow Rain incident. This involved supposed attacks by the Vietnam and Laos governments against the Hmong who live in the mountains of that region. Something bad c...
Just Nominate Janet Yellen! (16 Sep 2013 10:55am)
When I saw the headline last night, I was pleased, Summers Withdraws Name for Fed Chairmanship. As I wrote about only Saturday, there are lots of reasons why Summers should not get the job. So it is good he is stepping back. Of course, I'm sure that he is only doing so because the White House counte...
Another Great Song From Bobby Short (15 Sep 2013 08:50pm)
Please note: I am drinking a second beer tonight. That means I am well past my comfort zone for alcohol. What am I drinking? Our own great local Lagunitas' The Censored Rich Copper Ale. It's a damned fine beer. On this day in 1254, it is possible that Marco Polo was born. There is a 1 in 365 chance...
Jokes to Tell Grandma (15 Sep 2013 12:34pm)
This has been on my mind for some time. I come upon jokes now and then that are both amusing and sweet. And so I've been thinking that I should package them up as jokes you can tell at family gatherings. There is something else about the jokes. Most of the jokes I really like are very meta. For exam...
Slightly Less Crazy Is Still Crazy (15 Sep 2013 11:42am)
ABC News reported this morning that Obama will not negotiate with Republicans over the Debt Ceiling. He said, "If we continue to set a precedent in which a president... is in a situation in which each time the United States is called upon to pay its bills, the other party can simply sit there and sa...
A Good Idea (14 Sep 2013 11:47pm)
This is a good idea, although this design may not be the way to go. Also, the economics are a little trick. That's why the government should get involved. Perhaps I'll talk more about that later. ...
More Resistance to Larry Summers (14 Sep 2013 11:42pm)
Last night, the Wall Street Journal reported, For Summers, Path to Fed Job Gets Bumpier. It is primarily about an announcement yesterday from Senator Jon Tester that he will not vote for Larry Summers if Obama nominates him to head the Federal Reserve. A spokeswoman said, "Senator Tester believes we...
Liberal Hawks Need to Get a Clue (14 Sep 2013 10:43pm)
Kathleen Geier over at Political Animal wrote an article I very much agree with, Syria and the Return of the Liberal Hawks. She rightly notes that liberals normally have good intentions for the policies they support, but that doesn't mean that it leads to the right decisions. As she wrote, "Such imp...
The Closing of Allan Bloom (14 Sep 2013 05:46pm)
On this day in 1737, the composer Michael Haydn was born. He was the brother of Joseph Haydn. I'm not at all sure why Joseph has become such a staple of classical music while Michael has not. He's very good as you can see in his Symphony No. 41: Italian Romantic composer Luigi Cherubini was born i...
Republicans Don't Care About Economy (14 Sep 2013 11:05am)
Most people in the mainstream press claim a level of obtuseness that I just don't buy. And that includes a lot liberal commentators. Imagine a German journalist in the lead-up to World War II. He writes, "The Nazis have really turned the economy around. Why do they continue to vilify the Jews and wh...
... Add Cheese (13 Sep 2013 11:31pm)
I am mildly curious about my recent 'fast food' encounters. Twice, recently, I have been at the final stages of a transaction at a fast food counter... fumbling for those last few coins or an additional bill to pay the total. The first of the two events occurred at Taco Bell, across from Walmart in ...
Will Political Elites Finally Follow the People? (13 Sep 2013 09:12pm)
I was a little bothered to see that Peter Beinart had written, The Rise of the New New Left. My concern was that he had scooped me, because I have been working on book about the New Democratic movement. But there was nothing to fear. For one thing, Beinart seems to buy the existing narrative that th...
Roald Dahl and the Classics Factory (13 Sep 2013 08:29pm)
On this day in 1601, the Flemish Baroque painter Jan Brueghel the Younger was born. Clara Schumann (wife of you-know-who) was born in 1819. Here is her Pianoconcerto in A Minor: Good guy plutocrat Milton S. Hershey was born in 1857. As rich guys go, he was one of the best. But there was an amazing...
Republicans Must Be Held Accountable (13 Sep 2013 01:54pm)
Jonathan Bernstein wrote a really interesting article earlier this week, If Obama Wants the GOP's Help in Syria, He Must Deal with Torture First. His argument is that the Republican foreign policy establishment has never been able to repair itself because the Republican Party has never be required t...
Boehner Wants Help (13 Sep 2013 10:44am)
Depending on my mood, I find the whole John Boehner Debt Ceiling government shutdown soap opera amusing or infuriating. I haven't yet had my tea, so this morning I am angry, but I can still see the farcical elements to it. As I discussed yesterday, Boehner can't even get his caucus to vote for a con...
James Clapper Hates You (12 Sep 2013 08:30pm)
Director of National Intelligence James Clapper spoke to a "defense and intelligence contractor trade group" on Tuesday. And he said something that I thought was very interesting about the Edward Snowden leaks, "I think it's clear that some of the conversations this has generated, some of the debate...
The First, the Last, Barry White (12 Sep 2013 07:29pm)
On this day in 1688, the sculptor Ferdinand Brokoff was born. Inventor of the rotary press, Richard March Hoe was born in 1812. The inventor of the Gatling gun, Richard Jordan Gatling was born in 1818. And so was Romantic composer Theodor Kullak. Here is his Piano Concerto in C Minor: The great H....
Chipotle's Scarecrow (12 Sep 2013 05:26pm)
The following commercial for Chipotle Mexican Grill is really great. I say this in terms of pure entertainment; it is a work of art: sweet, sentimental, smart. But it is also great advertising. Look: I understand. It is actually an ad for some Chipotle game, which is itself an ad for the restaurant....
The Coming Domestic Crises (12 Sep 2013 03:40pm)
The crisis is over, long live the crisis! Jonathan Chait reminds the world that now that the Syria crisis is fading into the background of negotiations that don't make for great headlines, we have the old crises that I've been quite actively fretting about since a couple of days after the last elect...
North Carolinians Get to Rue Vote for Three and a Half More Years (12 Sep 2013 02:01pm)
Pat McCrory is the current governor of North Carolina. He is a Republican and of course, North Carolina is not an especially liberal state. But it is not Mississippi either. In recent years, it has become known as a purple state. As a result of that, when McCrory was running for office, he appealed ...
Disingenuous Technocrats (12 Sep 2013 10:09am)
I think Paul Krugman is being coy this morning. He talks about various technocratic institutions—European Commission, Bank for International Settlements, OECD—that have pushed policies that go entirely against standard economic models. These are theories like, "Cutting government spendin...
Whitman, Schopenhauer, and Old Man Pictures (11 Sep 2013 10:21pm)
Rachel Maddow did a short segment tonight on remembering 9/11. She quoted Walt Whitman. That's all fine. I like Whitman, but I do have this general idea that people who quote Whitman don't like poetry. But whatever. It was fine. What struck me was that almost all the pictures that they used for the ...
The Surprising Ending of O. Henry (11 Sep 2013 08:49pm)
It is, of course, the 12th anniversary of 9/11. And it is now "Patriot Day," which is an especially stupid name because we already have "Patriots' Day," which celebrates the Battles of Lexington and Concord. But it is an offensive holiday even still. It became a holiday immediately after 9/11 during...
The God Argument (11 Sep 2013 03:30pm)
Recently, I picked up a copy of A. C. Grayling's The God Argument. Normally, I wouldn't have. But for one thing, I think he is a good writer and thinker. And for another thing, I read a review that just savaged the book, so I thought it would be worth reading. It was okay, but nothing especially wor...
Obama Diversity Problem Goes Deep (11 Sep 2013 02:07pm)
About two weeks ago at the New York Times, Annie Lowrey wrote what I think is a very important article, In Obama's High-Level Appointments, the Scales Still Tip Toward Men. It is based on an important fact: women are no better represented in the Obama administration than they were in the Clinton adm...
Obama Tries to Claim Moral High Ground (11 Sep 2013 11:43am)
This morning, Jonathan Chait wrote what I thought was a pointless article about President Obama's speech last night. But he offered up a great subtitle, "The East Room wouldn't give him his deposit back." That about sums it up. While watching it I wondered what the hell he was doing on prime time. H...
Gateway SX2802-07 DVD Eject Button (11 Sep 2013 11:19am)
What we've got here (is failure to communicate! sorry) ... is the uncooperative DVD (optical drive) button on a Gateway SX2802-07, which can be easily fixed. This unit does not want to eject a DVD and it has nothing to do with the functionality of the drive itself, it has to do with the way the ...
Short Entry of Tech Thoughts (11 Sep 2013 11:17am)
If your OS loads from CD only part way (yes, some of us still use discs), then hitting several errors about loading drivers or files...... very often it is a mismatch of Master-Slave relationship on the optical drive(s). CS (Cable Select) option is an easy way to set these up, sometimes.... but som...
Copyright: Forever Less One Day (11 Sep 2013 09:34am)
I write a lot about copyright around here because the system is out of control. As a writer, I like to get paid for my work. But as Dean Baker has pointed out, there are various ways that society can encourage creative work. And now, copyright does not work to do that; instead, copyright is used by ...
Hypocrisy, Obama, and War (10 Sep 2013 08:19pm)
Steve Benen rightly points out that there is a great deal of hypocrisy on the right regarding Syria. He quotes Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Steve Israel as saying, "Does anyone truly believe that if Mitt Romney had been elected president and had asked House Republicans for ex...
Republican White House Advantage (10 Sep 2013 05:49pm)
Paul Krugman reminded me of an old theory of mine. I'm afraid that Krugman looks at as a kind of conspiracy, but it isn't that at all. At least, it isn't a conspiracy that anyone responsible is aware of. Basically, it is a way in which Republican presidents are almost guaranteed re-election, while m...
Colin Firth and Mr. Darcy (10 Sep 2013 04:30pm)
On this day in 1659, the British Baroque composer Henry Purcell was born. Here is his In vain the Am'rous Flute: Architect John Soane was born in 1753. The father of pragmatism Charles Sanders Peirce was born in 1839. Expressionist painter Marianne von Werefkin was born in 1860. Physicist Arthur C...
Working Kitten (10 Sep 2013 01:27pm)
Last night, The Daily Show discussed the New York mayoral election by looking at the Republican candidates. But the only issue involving the Republican mayor's race that anyone outside of New York has even heard of is the kittens. This happened two weeks ago when two kittens in the subway shut down ...
Belligerent Rhetoric Didn't Help in Syria (10 Sep 2013 11:26am)
Over at The Guardian, Mark Weisbrot reminds us of something important, If There's a Syria Diplomatic Deal, Thank Congressional Resistance to a New War. The article is mostly about all of the uncertainties in the case for war that liberals and conservatives in Congress have been pushing. The point is...
Michael Bloomberg Was No Moderate (10 Sep 2013 10:20am)
Jonathan Chait wrote a very interesting feature about Michael Bloomberg over at New York Magazine, The Dashed Dreams of President Bloomberg. It gets at a very important point to me. A lot of pundits (most notably Thomas Friedman) think that what America really wants is a moderate president. What is ...
War and Tolstoy (09 Sep 2013 09:45pm)
On this day in 1657, the German Baroque composer Johann Caspar Ferdinand Fischer was born. He is thought to be one of the best composers of his time. Unfortunately, very little of his work has survived. Here is Chaconne, a very impressive piece for harpsichord: The great scientist Luigi Galvani wa...
Rainy Days and Mondays (09 Sep 2013 06:24pm)
It is in the 90s even as I write this. And what song has been going through my mind all day? The Carpenters' "Rainy Days and Mondays." I don't think much about The Carpenters. They certainly created finely crafted music with Karen Carpenter's beautiful voice. And boy did they work with great people....
Will US Back Syria Deal? (09 Sep 2013 04:06pm)
Most people don't know it, but the original phrase was, "Be careful what you wish for US Secretary of State John Kerry, you might just get it." Okay, it wasn't really, but it should have been! While in London, a reporter asked if the Assad government could do anything to avoid an attack. Kerry took ...
Journalism: Where Truth Does Not Matter (09 Sep 2013 01:45pm)
Have you heard about the free Amazon smart phones? On Friday, Jessica Lessin (the temporary location of a new technology news website) published a story, Amazon Wants to Offer Its Smartphone for Free. Who Will Follow? That's not a totally ridiculous idea. Amazon doesn't seem particularly interested ...
Florida Arrests All... Except for Murder (09 Sep 2013 12:51pm)
George Zimmerman was arrested on some domestic assault charge. Whatever. I've always felt he was kind of an idiot. But I was very interested in what the Lake Mary police spokesman Zach Hudson said about Zimmerman's detention. "Anytime we have anybody suspected of doing anything, we place them in inv...
New Van Gogh Sunset at Montmajour (09 Sep 2013 12:26pm)
The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam unveiled a recently discovered Vincent Van Gogh landscape painting from 1888—two years before his death. The painting is named Sunset at Montmajour and it is entirely typical of Van Gogh's generic landscapes. I think the discovery is really interesting, becaus...
The Well Regulated Blind Militia (09 Sep 2013 10:39am)
Yesterday, the Desmoines Register published, Iowa Grants Permits for Blind Residents to Carry Guns in Public. It is a fairly long article, but there really isn't much more information in article than there is in the headline and the subtitle that reads, "Sheriffs and advocates are divided on whether...
America Is That Guy... (08 Sep 2013 10:35pm)
You know that guy? He's rich. Everyone knows it, but that doesn't stop him from boasting about all his money and his great car. He also boasts about how generally great he is. But he also complains. He complains about every way that every person in his life has harmed him. In fact, if it weren't for...
Majestic Equality of Opportunity (08 Sep 2013 09:05pm)
Matt Yglesias caught something in President Obama's speech for the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington. As with most professional liberals, Obama can't make a speech without attacking his base. In this particular speech, he said, "And what had once been a call for equality of opportunity, t...
Debra Milke Released on Bond (08 Sep 2013 08:01pm)
There is a small amount of good news. I have written several times about the tragic story of Debra Milke, the woman who was convicted of murdering her 4-year-old son over 20 years ago. She has been on death row since that time. The evidence against her was terrible, to put it lightly. Mostly, it all...
Always Love Ann Beattie (08 Sep 2013 07:05pm)
On this day in 1588, the "father of acoustics," mathematician and music theorist Marin Mersenne was born. The French Baroque composer Francois Francoeur was born in 1698. Here is his very fun Allegro Vivo: Portrait miniature painter Ozias Humphry was born in 1742. The Mesoamerican ethnographer Cha...
Two-State Solution Unlikely Anytime Soon (08 Sep 2013 02:26pm)
I'm very interested in the Israel-Palestine conflict, but it is such a mess that I rarely hazard an opinion about it. So I was very interested to see an article this morning in Al Jazeera America, Analysis: Israelis Not Ready for Two-State Solution. It is by an Israeli journalist, Dimi Reider, and i...
Australia Tests the Conservative Waters (08 Sep 2013 12:10pm)
Max Ehrenfreund is running the Political Animal blog this weekend. He's a smart young man. But he is a bit wrong in his thinking about the recent Australian election that threw the Labor Party out of power and put the conservatives in power. The situation there is quite interesting. The Labor Party ...
Politics in the Bedroom (08 Sep 2013 11:04am)
At the Pacific Standard, Shanna Pearson-Merkowitz is freaked out, The Big Problem With Online Dating: It's Making the Country More Politically Polarized. Her theory is that if you meet people the old fashioned way—blind drunk after last call—then you are more likely to hook up with someo...
The Third Act of Wag the Dog (07 Sep 2013 11:46pm)
The reason I was so late getting the birthday post done today was that I decided to watch Wag the Dog. I've been aware of the film since it came out. How can anyone interested in politics and film not be? But I never saw it, probably because I figured that it wasn't that good. The idea behind it is ...
Grandma Can Paint! (07 Sep 2013 10:25pm)
On this day back in 1705, Rococo painter Matthaus Gunther was born. He did a lot of work; I'm not that fond of any of it, but he was definitely a great artist. The composer Francois-Andre Danican Philidor was born in 1726. Here is a bit from his opera comique version of Henry Fielding's Tom Jones: ...
Was There Really a Chemical Weapons Attack? (07 Sep 2013 06:24pm)
I haven't given much thought to the intelligence that supposedly shows that the Assad government launched a chemical weapons attack or even that there was a chemical weapons attack. Certainly I've noticed that the words coming out of John Kerry's mouth sound very much like what the Bush administrati...
GOP's Continued Debt Ceiling Demands (07 Sep 2013 10:04am)
I've begun to think about trillion dollar platinum coins again. In particular, I've been wondering if President Obama is thinking about them. This is the idea that rather than raise the Debt Ceiling, the government can just mint platinum coins of arbitrary value. It is just an accounting trick, but ...
Another Conservative Atheist? (06 Sep 2013 08:35pm)
I really like Robert M. Price as a New Testament scholar. He does good work and I've learned a lot from him. But by listening to his lectures and reading his blog, it is clear that when it comes to politics, he isn't a very clear thinker. For example, during one interview, he mentioned that he thoug...
Comfortably Roger Waters (06 Sep 2013 07:55pm)
The Italian Baroque composer Isabella Leonarda was born in 1620. Here is her Twelfth Sonata in D Minor for Violin: German Baroque composer Sebastian Knupfer was born in 1633. Here is his Was Mein Gott Will, das G'Scheh Allzeit: Jewish Enlightenment philosopher Moses Mendelssohn was born in 1729....
We've Always Been Idiots (06 Sep 2013 06:26pm)
I just finished reading Charles Pierce's Idiot America. It is an easy and funny read. It perhaps helps that I agree with Pierce on all the specifics. Saddles on dinosaurs are indeed funny. Why else would they have done that in The Flintstones? And I will even yield part of what he's getting at: Amer...
Alcoholics Anonymous is Not Like the Washingtonian Movement (06 Sep 2013 03:37pm)
I just watched the Ken Burns: Prohibition documentary. I'm going write about it more generally in a moment, but I just want to address a minor point here. The documentary gives the obligatory shout out to Alcoholics Anonymous at the end. And it notes that the founders of AA did not know about the 1...
Bad Jobs Report So Let's Play Frisbee (06 Sep 2013 10:25am)
All this week, people have been very hopeful about today's jobs report. It was gonna be good—green shoots, turning corners, whatever handy platitude that was available. And then the jobs report came out and it was bad: the economy added only 169,000 jobs. Neil Irwin did a great job of putting ...
Reactions About Recent Snowden Revelation (05 Sep 2013 11:44pm)
There is a depressing new article over at The Guardian today by James Ball, Julian Borger, and Glenn Greenwald, US and UK Spy Agencies Defeat Privacy and Security on the Internet. It contains more revelations from the Edward Snowden files. I'll be writing about it more, but basically it means that t...
Don't Bomb Syria (05 Sep 2013 10:44pm)
Senator Boxer / Senator Feinstein / Representative Thompson: This one is pretty simple. It is a tragedy. But it doesn't seem like our government has tried very hard to get a negotiated settlement to the civil war. Now would be a good time for us to work with Russia on this. I very much want to see...
Good News on Obamacare Won't Change Conservatives (05 Sep 2013 10:07pm)
Sy Mukherjee wrote one of the funniest headlines I think I've ever read, Major New Study on Obamacare Premiums Should End the "Rate Shock" Hysteria Once and for All. Let me provide some background here, because I don't cover it much. On the right, people have been fear mongering that because of Obam...
Loudon Wainwright III for Will (05 Sep 2013 09:00pm)
On this day back in 1667, the Italian monk and non-Euclidean geometrist Giovanni Girolamo Saccheri was born. The great composer, Johann Christian Bach was born in 1735. He was the only clearly Classical of the Bach boys. Here is his Concerto for Flute in D Major: Scottish poet Robert Fergusson was...
Syria Is an Entry to War with Iran (05 Sep 2013 07:08pm)
It is clear that John McCain wants a full out war in Syria with ground troops and the like because he wants a war with Iran. He is not alone in this. I believe that this is largely why most conservatives favor the war. And it is most certainly why all the neocons are on board with this. All of the A...
The Rich Lack Empathy (05 Sep 2013 01:01pm)
A good person never bargains with his kindness. We are all rightly disgusted by quid pro quo corruption. "If you're nice to me, maybe I'll approve that zoning change you've been asking for." Such behavior, though common, is reprehensible. That's why when it goes on, it does so in private. Even the ...
Conservatives in Libertarian Clothing (05 Sep 2013 10:51am)
This morning at Political Animal, Ed Kilgore wrote an excellent article, Rand Paul's "Bible-Thumping" Nothing New. It discusses perhaps my biggest problem with Rand Paul and to a lesser extent his father Ron. Rand Paul is a social conservative. So how is it that also has this reputation as the liber...
Bill de Blasio Is Mean to the Rich (04 Sep 2013 10:42pm)
Matt Yglesias brought my attention to this really bizarre article at Bloomberg, Wealthy New Yorkers Call De Blasio's Tax Plan Offensive. Yglesias says much of what needs to be said, but I wanted to add a couple of things. In New York, Bill de Blasio wants to raise taxes on incomes over a half milli...
NBC Affiliate Whitewashes Police Beating (04 Sep 2013 09:50pm)
You may have heard about the video of the Long Beach police officers beating a prone man. Well, last night, NBC Los Angeles came to the rescue... of the police department. In a story that is shocking in its bias toward the LBPD, reporter Kim Baldonado does everything but accuse the victim, Porfirio ...
Answering Chris Hayes' Syria Question (04 Sep 2013 07:07pm)
Chris Hayes asked a question. Am I a liberal who just throws up the possibility of a negotiated settlement to the Syrian civil war so that I don't have to deal with it? It is a good question that I'm sure Hayes is asking of himself as much as liberals in general. I can't speak for him or any other l...
On Edward Dmytryk (04 Sep 2013 04:58pm)
On this day in 1824, the Austrian Romantic composer Anton Bruckner was born. Here is a bit from his Symphony Number 8, which is quite powerful and pleasant compared to most work of that period: Inventor Lewis Howard Latimer was born in 1848. Horror film director Roy William Neill was born in 1887....
Food Stamps or Voting—It's Your Choice! (04 Sep 2013 03:31pm)
There is a point at which villainy becomes humorous and that happened today with a report at Huffington Post, Food Stamp Fliers Threaten To Name People On Government Benefits. According to the article, someone in Portland, Oregon has put up fliers that read, "There are twenty seven people in this ne...
Corporations Already Control Both Parties (04 Sep 2013 11:47am)
Everybody's talking about what I think of as a pretty pathetic New York Times article by Eduardo Porter, Business Losing Clout in a GOP Moving Right. Ed Kilgore notes, "Even if Corporate America does lose a few political battles, it is doing quite well in the war." Jonathan Chait writes, Republicans...
The Austerity Ruse (04 Sep 2013 09:13am)
This morning, Paul Krugman correctly noted, The Austerian Mask Slips. In it, he referred to an article yesterday by Simon Wren-Lewis, France and the Commission. The European Union has a Fiscal Compact that requires all countries to reduce their budget deficits to 3% in the next two years. France is ...
Digging to Enlightenment (03 Sep 2013 10:59pm)
I'm going to discuss the whole plot of El Topo in this article. I assure you, it does not matter. The plot of the film is not the point. But if you want to watch the film before knowing what happens, don't read on. I finally got around to watching Alejandro Jodorowsky's film El Topo. For those of y...
Eileen Brennan (03 Sep 2013 08:22pm)
On this day in 1695, the Baroque composer Pietro Locatelli was born. Here is his Trio Sonata for Flute, Violin and Double Basso Continuo in G Major: Biologist Abraham Trembley was born in 1710. Canadian painter Paul Kane was born in 1810. Villain of 19th century business George Hearst was born in ...
Conservatives Can't Admit Reagan Was Racist Because They Are (03 Sep 2013 07:24pm)
Harold Pollack has a great article over at Ten Miles Square, The Butler and Ronald Reagan's Race Problem. The film is loosely based upon the life of Eugene Allen, who retired as White House butler. Some of the film depicts Ronald Reagan when he was in the White House, and he is presented sympathetic...
The Evil Reason for Attacking Syria (03 Sep 2013 12:09pm)
I am not a pacifist. But on a practical level, I might as well be. The truth is that pretty much no country ever goes war because of any just cause. As we've seen very clearly here in the United States, wars are sold as surely though less explicitly as toothpaste and laundry detergent. This morning,...
Kerry's Dangerous Rhetoric (03 Sep 2013 09:48am)
Our Secretary of State is one class act, ain't he? During his conference call yesterday, he said that the United States faces a "Munich moment." That's a reference to the Munich Agreement between Neville Chamberlain and Hitler. I don't even know what Kerry means by this. The situations are not at al...
Dave Rubin Hates Poor People (02 Sep 2013 08:08pm)
I like The Young Turks and I check in on them as much as I can. But there is much about them that I find really annoying. If it weren't for Cenk Uygur, it would be useless, but I connect well with his anger, even if I often disagree with him. My issue is mostly with the others. The biggest problem w...
MSNBC Cheer Leading for War—Again (02 Sep 2013 07:10pm)
Is liberalism dead? It is if you get it from MSNBC. Yesterday, Alan Grayson was on Weekends with Alex Witt. And it seemed like he was on a Fox News. Really, it was quite a spectacle. It was almost to the point of Witt saying, "Surely you're joking, Mr. Grayson!" First she wanted to know how much pu...
Song for Horace Silver (02 Sep 2013 05:10pm)
On this day back in 1661, Baroque composer Georg Bohm was born. He isn't bad but he wrote a great deal for the organ, and I just don't much care for that instrument. English poet William Somervile was born in 1665. Economist Henry George was born in 1839. There was a man working 150 years ago who wa...
We Should Negotiate an End to Syrian Civil War (02 Sep 2013 11:34am)
I came upon an amazing article this weekend. It was from McClatchy back on 3 June 2013, Assad Backers Reportedly Make Up 43 Percent of Dead in Syria. It is based upon work by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) which is based in London. The article claims that, "The observatory... is cons...
Debt Obsession and Labor Day (02 Sep 2013 09:51am)
On Saturday, Dean Baker wrote an interesting article, Labor Economics 101: Few Jobs Means Bad Jobs. In it, he shows that bad labor markets lead to bad jobs. This isn't hard to understand. If there is a big surplus of workers, employers have no incentive to pay well, it is easy to find qualified peo...
Unions, Civil Rights, and Walter Reuther (01 Sep 2013 07:33pm)
On this day in 1566, the great English actor Edward Alleyn was born. He was considered the greatest actor of his time, but unlike Richard Burbage, he had little association with Shakespeare. Christopher Marlowe wrote plays specifically for him: Faustus, Tamburlaine, and The Jew of Malta—all of...
Government Money Pushes Innovation (01 Sep 2013 03:39pm)
For the past several months, I've been working with a remarkable young man on yet another high tech start-up. In general, I avoid such projects like the plague. But I've worked with this guy before and he has two things you rarely see in high tech: the ability to actually get things done and a total...
How About Negotiating Peace in Syria? (01 Sep 2013 11:10am)
I don't feel that comfortable discussing war and that kind of thing. To me, it is obvious that our interventions normally do as much harm as good. What's more, the reasons we go to war are rarely the reasons we claim. But other than these general guidelines, I am not plugged into what people in the ...
Sunday War Mongering (01 Sep 2013 09:57am)
Won't you look at that! Joe "War Is a Hell of a Lot of Fun!" Lieberman was on Fox News Sunday this morning. He is not happy that we aren't bombing Syria right now. He told Chris Wallace, "I'm sure that our enemies are cheering now as a result of this decision because they realize it's not clear the ...
Rocky and Bullwinkle (31 Aug 2013 11:02pm)
As you may know, I am a huge fan of The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show. It is one of my primary comedic influences and probably explains the very high level of silliness in my writing. Of course, the show was very silly. But like most great comedy that we enjoy as children, I didn't get a lot of the joke...
No. 17 on Nixon's Enemies List (31 Aug 2013 08:06pm)
On this day in 12, the crazy emperor Caligula was born. The French Classical composer Jean Paul Egide Martini was born in 1741. Here is his Plaisir d'Amour, which sounds a lot like The Magic Flute to me: German physicist Hermann von Helmholtz was born in 1821. Italian composer Amilcare Ponchielli ...
Prognosticator Steve Kornacki (31 Aug 2013 02:12pm)
Why do we love Steve Kornacki? Because he doesn't believe his own bullshit. Sure, he's pleased that he said that Eliot Spitzer might not cruise to an easy victory over Scott Stringer for New York City comptroller, and that looks to be at least partly correct. But he was quick to point out how he is ...
Obama Wimps Out, Does the Right Thing (31 Aug 2013 12:22pm)
Good news on Syria. Really! Obama is backing out. For some time, he has claimed that legally he can do whatever the hell he wants. When he was a candidate, however, Obama had a very different opinion. Note how that works. It isn't that Obama got into office and finally had a chance to read the Const...
Cory Booker and the New Democrat Failure (31 Aug 2013 10:41am)
It is the weekend, so barring war, I'm going to try to get some of my backlog posted. And right now, that brings me back to Thursday when Chris Hayes had his big interview with Cory Booker on All In. As you may know, I'm not a fan of the major. He is New Democrat all the way. He's fine on social iss...
Chris Matthews Never Saw a War He Wouldn't Cheer Lead for (30 Aug 2013 08:18pm)
I've been really busy this week, so I haven't been doing much cooking. And cooking is the only time I watch television. But tonight, I had to cook because I had some Spanish rice and corn tortillas that really needed to be used or they were going to go bad. So I found myself in the kitchen trying to...
Robert Crumb and the Obnoxious Truth (30 Aug 2013 07:33pm)
In this day in 1748, the great French Neoclassical painter Jacques-Louis David was born. How great was he? All you have to do is check out Mars Being Disarmed by Venus and the Three Graces from about a year before he died. Perhaps the greatest Romantic period English author, Mary Shelley was born i...
Wagging the Republican House (30 Aug 2013 12:46pm)
Since speculation seems to be the word of the day, I thought I would offer up some more. Is it possible that President Obama is trying to use Syria as a kind of "wag the dog" scenario? You may remember the modestly successful 1997 comedy Wag the Dog. It told the story of a president who is caught ma...
Machine Guns, Starvation, and Chemical Weapons (30 Aug 2013 10:44am)
There is a single report from one of South Korea's biggest daily papers, Chosun Ilbo, that singer Hyon Song-wol was arrested and executed along with 11 other members of the Unhasu Orchestra and Wangjaesan Light Music Band. Hyon was once Kim Jong-un's girlfriend, but his father put a stop to that. Th...
Democrats Bad Debt Ceiling Strategy (30 Aug 2013 09:33am)
It seems that budget negotiations between the White House and Senate Republicans have broken down. This is part of the effort to avoid a government shutdown and then default. It's kind of funny when you think about it. Why is the White House negotiating with Senate Republicans, when it is the Democr...
Disrepecting Henry Bergh (29 Aug 2013 09:08pm)
On this day in 1632, the father of classical liberalism, John Locke was born. He had a lot of good ideas, but many of his very bad (and wrong) economic ideas are still with us today. But I suppose that he can be forgiven. After all, conservatives would make up the ideas if they had to. And there was...
What Starbucks and Whole Foods Have in Common (29 Aug 2013 07:28pm)
If I have to take a $10 per hour job, I do hope at least the title is something like "grunt," "shitheal," or the more accurate "serf." Please don't let it be something like "barista," which sounds vaguely European and thus respectable. The issue comes up because Will just sent me an article in the H...
De Facto Cannabis Legalization? (29 Aug 2013 03:40pm)
There is amazing news out of Washington today. The Huffington Post reported that the Justice Department is going to stop prosecuting cannabis laws in Colorado and Washington, at least for now. There are, of course, exceptions big enough to drive a SWAT team through. But this is amazing because it is...
Conservatives Behind Every Curve (29 Aug 2013 12:32pm)
Yesterday, Mark Kleiman wrote a great article over at Ten Miles Square, Martin Luther King vs. Today's Conservatives. It is written as a letter to conservatives. And what he is addressing is the conservative resentment that the celebration of the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom isn't presen...
Syria Intelligence "Undeniable" but Not "Slam Dunk"? (29 Aug 2013 09:58am)
This morning, the Associated Press reported, Intelligence on Weapons No Slam Dunk. And it's first sentence is a doozy, "The intelligence linking Syrian President Bashar Assad or his inner circle to an alleged chemical weapons attack is no 'slam dunk,' with questions remaining about who actually cont...
Goethe and Wimping Out About Faust (28 Aug 2013 08:56pm)
On this day in 1814, Irish mystery writer Sheridan Le Fanu was born. Russian architect and engineer Vladimir Shukhov was born in 1853. Nature photographer Vittorio Sella was born in 1859. Late Romantic opera composer Umberto Giordano was born in 1867. Here is a bit of his opera Fedora: Actor Charl...
Ben Carson's Ill Informed Conservative Claptrap (28 Aug 2013 07:00pm)
Ben Carson, that great truth teller whose truth seems always to say what the power elite want to hear, had a special article for the 50th anniversary of the "I Have a Dream" speech. And what truth does he have to tell? Nothing but the same old conservative line that Martin Luther King Jr would be ve...
Our Failed Copyright System In Not MLK's Fault (28 Aug 2013 10:37am)
Today is the 50th anniversary of Martin Luther King Jr's "I Have a Dream" speech. And apparently, tonight, Chris Hayes will use All In to rebroadcast it and then discuss it. That will be at 5:00 Pacific Time. It ought to be good. But it is something of a big deal because the speech itself is under c...
Chait's Careful War Mongering (28 Aug 2013 09:10am)
Jonathan Chait wrote an amazing article about Syria yesterday. I do not mean that in a good way. He tells us that, Syria Isn't Iraq. Everything Isn't Iraq. Fair enough. But listening to him over the last oh so many years, it is hard to conclude that Chait doesn't think that just about any military ...
Syria Was on the List So Let's Attack (27 Aug 2013 09:39pm)
All I've been hearing today is that we have to strike Syria in order to "send a message." I don't think this is because people think we really need to send a message about the use of chemical weapons. I think it is because the argument for protecting the Syrian people doesn't make much sense. After ...
Hegel, Popper, and the Right (27 Aug 2013 06:43pm)
On this day back in 1730, the proto-Romantic philosopher Johann Georg Hamann was born. One of the founders of mathematical logic, Giuseppe Peano was born in 1858. Novelist Theodore Dreiser was born in 1871. Composer Rebecca Clarke was born in 1886. Here is her Morpheus, which is beautiful: One of ...
MSNBC Still Losing the War (27 Aug 2013 04:13pm)
Steve Benen is something of a legend as a blogger. And now he pretty much single-handedly writes Maddow Blog. He is really good, but I often have problems with him. They are usually the same problems I have with Rachel Maddow and the whole of the MSNBC nighttime lineup. First, they are too actively ...
Film Blunder Blunders (27 Aug 2013 01:51pm)
I found a YouTube account CinemaSins, which produces a series of videos with titles that start, "Everything Wrong With..." It sounded like fun, so I watched Everything Wrong With Jurassic Park In 3 Minutes Or Less. Some of it is remarkably observant and often funny. But it is wrong at times. For exa...
Loser Superheroes (27 Aug 2013 12:09pm)
I was surprised to see that Netflix gave me a "best guess" rating of 4.1 stars for Mystery Men. I recalled watching it a long time ago. I really wanted to see it because it looked like the kind of silly madness that I very much enjoy. But the film turned out to be only okay. There are obvious proble...
Syria Skepticism and Informed Opinion (27 Aug 2013 10:23am)
There was something interesting on The Rachel Maddow Show last night. The Washington editor from The Atlantic, Steve Clemons, was on the show to explain how he believed the government is correct that Syria has been using chemical weapons. He said that in the past he's been skeptical of government cl...
Ashton Kutcher Works Hard for the Money (26 Aug 2013 10:30pm)
My colleague Richard Barry over at The Reaction brought my attention to a little speech that Ashton Kutcher gave last week at the Teen Choice Awards. He told the teens (and all of us, really, because Kutcher is just that kind of a guy), "I've never had a job in my life that I was better than. I was ...
Long Before Your Mother Was Born: the Songs of Leon Redbone (26 Aug 2013 09:11pm)
On this day in 1728, the Swiss mathematician Johann Heinrich Lambert was born. He proved that Pi was an irrational number. Joseph-Michel, the older of the Montgolfier Brothers was born in 1740. They invented the hot air balloon. The "Father of Modern Chemistry" Antoine Lavoisier was born in 1743. Pl...
Continued Iraq War Apologia (26 Aug 2013 04:17pm)
Speaking of how presidents and pundits keep spinning us into war, I just fond this from February: Norman Solomon had a debate with Lawrence Wilkerson on the tenth anniversary of Colin Powell's infamous UN speech on Iraq's supposed weapons of mass destruction. I knew it would be good. Wilkerson is so...
We Must Act in Syria Just Like Always (26 Aug 2013 02:41pm)
So John Kerry wants to get medieval on Syria's ass. Isn't this the guy who was so prominent in Vietnam Veterans Against the War after he came home from Vietnam? Look: I'm not accusing him of hypocrisy. No. I'm accusing him of being a human. And an American human at that. According to the Washingto...
Isabelle Eberhardt (26 Aug 2013 01:37pm)
My friend Bob introduced me to a 1991 film Isabelle Eberhardt. It is kind of like "Isabelle of Arabia." It tells the story of the real life title character and the end of her life as a journalist and advocate for the people of Algeria during the French occupation at the beginning of the 20th century...
Leonard Bernstein and Others (25 Aug 2013 08:41pm)
You know it is a good day when it is exactly 483 years since the birth of Ivan the Terrible. Was he really so terrible? Overall, he seems to have been good for Russia. Of course, in a fit of rage, he did kill his brilliant son (and heir apparent), leaving the throne to his mentally retarded son. So ...
Humor Attempt Turns Racist (25 Aug 2013 04:54pm)
Humor is great. I agree with Elizabeth Bennet when she said, "I dearly love a laugh." But humor is dangerous as a writer. You can inadvertently says something that you don't mean. Even worse: you can say something that you do mean. Patrick Howley is a writer for The Daily Caller, the supposedly lib...
Surveillance States' Newest Propaganda Campaign (25 Aug 2013 03:11pm)
The Independent published a remarkable story on Friday that hasn't gotten much coverage, Exclusive: UK's Secret Mid-East Internet Surveillance Base Is Revealed in Edward Snowden Leaks. If you have heard about, it has probably only confused you. The biggest news has been that Edward Snowden released ...
Washington Post Budget Propaganda (25 Aug 2013 11:27am)
Dean Baker is like Jesus Christ, suffering for the sins of the press. In this specific case: he reads the Washington Post so the rest of us don't have to. Unfortunately, after he brought this most recent "reporting" outrage to my attention, I was forced to read it myself. The article was the Post's ...
Commence Conformity Protocol (24 Aug 2013 10:24pm)
In many ways, after almost 50 years in this universe, I am still insecure. But I'm fine with who I am. I don't feel that I have to fake my opinions or tastes. That doesn't mean that I think they are objectively right. But I am confident in myself and I trust in my opinions. If you really think that ...
King on Meet the Press (24 Aug 2013 09:32pm)
Over at the website for Up with Steve Kornacki, MSNBC put up a number of videos featuring Martin Luther King Jr. The following video with him on Meet the Press is amazing. In many ways, this bit of television is exactly what we would see today. King gets a number of probing and even offensive questi...
A Bit of Stephen Fry (24 Aug 2013 07:38pm)
On this day in 1552, the great Mannerist painter Lavinia Fontana was born. Romantic composer Theodore Dubois was born in 1837. Here is the first part of his Piano Concerto No. 2: Writer and caricaturist Max Beerbohm was born in 1872. Hal Smith was born in 1916. He is best known for playing the tow...
The Great GOP Healthcare Idea: Nothing (24 Aug 2013 02:58pm)
For a long time, I've been arguing that the Republican Party has painted itself into a corner with regard to Obamacare. The linchpin of the law is the individual mandate and it is what was put forth by the Heritage Foundation and enacted in Romneycare. It was the great conservative healthcare idea t...
Big Tech Companies Won't Bring Innovation (24 Aug 2013 10:25am)
Paul Krugman foolishly waded into the Apple-Microsoft wars this morning, On The Symmetry Between Microsoft And Apple. He really is pretty clueless about this stuff. Normally, I wouldn't have even read it, but he started by noting, "There is... a remarkable symmetry between Microsoft's strategy in it...
Matt Yglesias Is Right: Outdoors Sucks (23 Aug 2013 09:51pm)
Sometimes, Matt Yglesias makes me proud to be a nerd. That was the case last week when he wrote, The Case Against Eating Lunch Outside. (Note: I believe his original title was, "Eating Lunch Outside Sucks; Stay Inside.") He's completely right, of course. I am definitely an inside person. There are...
Stalin, Not the Bomb, Defeated Japan (23 Aug 2013 08:14pm)
All Americans know this story: World War II ended as a result of us dropping the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. Some argue that the bombing of Nagasaki was not necessary, but pretty much everyone thinks that if it weren't for Hiroshima, an American invasion of Japan would have killed hundreds of thousand...
The Next Fed Chair Should Be Good at Golf (23 Aug 2013 04:15pm)
There is more pushing from the White House to make Obama's golfing buddy Larry Summers the next Federal Reserve chair. Dean Baker wrote a very interesting article over at the Chinese content provider (sort of like the Associated Press, as far as I can tell) Caixin Online, Will Obama Rewrite History ...
Gene Kelly and Marian McPartland (23 Aug 2013 02:26pm)
Before we get to birthdays, I want to discuss a death. On Tuesday, jazz musician Marian McPartland died at the fine old age of 95. She is best known as the host of Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz, an NPR show she hosted for almost three and a half decades. The thing about her was that she wasn't just...
The Racism of Reverse Racism (23 Aug 2013 11:24am)
Whenever my father mentions news to me, red flags go up. It usually means that Fox News is pushing something hard. I assume this not just because he watches the network. He generally only watches Shepard Smith. There's always one or more outrages on Bill O'Reilly each night, but Smith can often be m...
Collectivist Pro Sports in Land of the Free (23 Aug 2013 09:43am)
I'm not much of a sports fan. I rather like baseball, but even with that I'm just as happy watching the minor leagues or little league. And given this, I don't claim to speak for anyone. But Jonathan Chait wrote something this morning that really needs to be addressed. He is pushing back against the...
Clair de Bussy (22 Aug 2013 10:53pm)
On this day back in 1647, the inventor of the pressure cooker, Denis Papin was born. British tool inventor Henry Maudslay was born in 1771. Writer James Kirke Paulding was born in 1778. American astronomer Samuel Pierpont Langley (Yes, that Langley) was born in 1834. The painter of The Spirit of '76...
The "Populist" Power Elites (22 Aug 2013 01:22pm)
Ed Kilgore made a great catch this morning. Andrew Stiles at the National Review wrote, "The liberal media are obsessed with Texas senator Ted Cruz." As Kilgore correctly points out, the mainstream media[1] may be somewhat interested in Cruz, but it is nothing compared to the simultaneous orgasms th...
Karate Punches and Baby Pratfalls (22 Aug 2013 12:42pm)
Comedian Paul Day tweeted out this rather old video last night. It is very funny, but even more, it is just adorable. I especially love the timing of the falls. ...
Republican Crisis Mentality (22 Aug 2013 12:24pm)
Regular readers will remember that for the few months on either side of the new year, I was pert near hysterical about the Debt Ceiling. And there is a reason for that: it is really important. If the United States defaults on its debts, this will cause our borrowing costs to go up. People (conservat...
Empathy and Socially Acceptable Cynicism (22 Aug 2013 09:12am)
Slate has an advise columnist Emily Yoffe who writes a column Dear Prudence. As advice columns goes, it isn't bad. And I have to admit, I get drawn into the articles more than I would like. Today's was fairly typical, Help! My Father Is Dying of Lung Cancer From Smoking. Didn't He Get What He Deserv...
A Woman's Work Is Never Done So You'd Better Pay for Dinner (21 Aug 2013 08:40pm)
I am entering dangerous waters. You see, I am a man. And other than the whole testicle thing (Bad design, God!) I'm fairly happy being a man. You see, as much as I may not be some kind of testosterone fueled idiot, I am, in my way, quite dominant in relationships. Or more to the point, in the only ...
One O'Clock Count (21 Aug 2013 06:35pm)
I like the birthday posts, but they are a pain to do. On a normal day, it takes two hours or so to do. I do enjoy checking out a new painter, listening to music, trying to figure out what some obscure mathematician was on about. But time is precious and most days I don't feel like I have the time to...
Jeffrey Toobin and the War on Couriers (21 Aug 2013 02:31pm)
I just read a Dylan Byers article about Jeffrey Toobin's claim that David Miranda was acting like a "drug mule" for classified information that Greenwald had. I'm not going to go into that; Toobin is a typical government apologist. What he says in the article is more or less, "Of course I'm for free...
Bad Obama and Hurricane Katrina (21 Aug 2013 01:39pm)
If you are still laughing from my previous suggestion that Peggy Noonan might be in favor of single payer healthcare reform, get ready. Talking Points Memo had Public Policy Polling (PPP) conduct a survey of Louisiana Republicans. Most of the poll was pretty standard stuff. For example, we find that...
Conservative Obamacare Bait and Switch (21 Aug 2013 12:03pm)
There's been a bit of discussion of a blog post from Peggy Noonan last week, The High Cost of ObamaCare. Ezra Klein has a full take down of it. Basically, Noonan doesn't understand how part of Obamacare, Community First Choice, works. So she complains that Obamacare is not doing what Obamacare does ...
Jonathan Chait's Convention Wisdom Shocker (21 Aug 2013 09:11am)
Jonathan Chait wrote a really annoying article yesterday. It isn't that I disagree with him necessarily. Rather, it is that he puts forth the commonest of common wisdom as though he's being an iconoclast. His big insight: the Republicans will keep control of the House. He's really put himself out on...
The Call of Lovecraft (20 Aug 2013 07:51pm)
On this day in 1561, Renaissance composer Jacopo Peri was born. Unlike most composers of that period, his work is still quite listenable. Here is his Tu Dormi, e 'l Dolce Sonno: Mathematician Thomas Simpson, inventor of the numerical integral solution the Simpson's rule (shockingly simple), was bo...
If Movie Posters Were Honest (20 Aug 2013 12:57pm)
From Classic Taco, here is what I think is the best If Movie Posters Were Honest: ...
Stop & Frisk and Liberal Delusion (20 Aug 2013 11:46am)
I haven't written much about "stop and frisk" because it is so clearly unconstitutional and I've gotten so used to clearly unconstitutional laws being upheld by our courts. But I was very pleased when Judge Shira Scheindlin wrote her opinion finding that the program was unconstitutional. How it took...
Centrism on Filibuster is Extremism (20 Aug 2013 10:38am)
In Politico this morning, Richard A. Arenberg wrote an incredibly ignorant, but Serious sounding centrist defense of minority obstruction, Save the filibuster! As I've been predicting, the Republican minority in the Senate is refusing to confirm any of the existing DC Federal Circuit Court vacancies...
Conservatives Define "Equality of Opportunity" Out of Existence (19 Aug 2013 09:29pm)
I just read a really insightful article over at the Heritage Foundation website, What Does Equality of Opportunity Mean? The article is by David Weinberger and he explains that to conservatives like him, "equality of opportunity" means "no equality of opportunity." According to him, it is all about ...
Paris Street; Rainy Day; Caillebotte Was There (19 Aug 2013 07:48pm)
Before getting to birthdays, we should sit back and savor an anniversary today. Given what's happening with Glenn Greenwald and his crew, it just makes sense that 60 years ago today, the CIA managed to overthrow the democratically elected prime minister of Iran, Mohammad Mosaddegh. The CIA did it at...
More on Police State Abuse of David Miranda (19 Aug 2013 05:55pm)
Today, the Guardian had a live feed of information about yesterday's detainment of Glenn Greenwald's husband David Miranda. When I reported on it yesterday, I was a bit concerned that as the facts came out, the situation might get a bit more cloudy. After all, why would the United Kingdom government...
Lessons from Other Countries' Minimum Wages (19 Aug 2013 03:06pm)
After the recent fast food worker organizing, Business Insider decided to look at minimum wages all over the world. And when you compare us to, you know, comparable countries, we don't look too good. Australia (those rugged individualists) have a minimum wage that is $1.88 higher than the wage the ...
Hoping Won't Make Chamber of Commerce Hate GOP (19 Aug 2013 02:03pm)
I doubt that in 1945 anyone said, "In 1944, the Nazis wanted to kill all the Jews, but this year actually takes us into new territory because they want to kill all the Jews this year." You see, it's pretty much the same thing; it is just a slightly different business plan: kill all the Jews in the ...
It's All About You—Or Mostly Anyway (19 Aug 2013 11:40am)
Paul Waldman is a writer for The American Prospect and I quite like him even if I disagree from time to time. And this morning, he wrote a cheeky little article, Seven Reasons You Will Click on This Article about 2016. Basically, it is an apologia for writing about elections that are far in the futu...
Racist Apologetics and Voter Suppression (19 Aug 2013 10:03am)
This morning, Jonathan Chait flags three voter suppression apologias. Rich Lowry at Politico accuses Hillary Clinton of playing the "race card" in her criticism of the recent voter suppression law in North Carolina. Jonathan Tobin in Commentary claims that these voter ID laws are not a civil rights ...
Facebook Fucks Another Loyal User (18 Aug 2013 07:45pm)
Here's a fun story. Facebook has a "white hat hacker" program where they give money to hackers who report security problems. Well, a guy named Khalil Shreateh found such a bug. But despite repeated attempts to get through to Facebook reps, he was unsuccessful. In fact, a rep told him, "I am sorry th...
Antonio Salieri (18 Aug 2013 06:45pm)
On this day back in 1657, the Italian architect Ferdinando Galli-Bibiena was born. Mathematician Brook Taylor was born in 1685. The last member of the House of Lords to be put to death, Laurence Shirley was born in 1720. No wonder England has gone to hell since then! Wildlife painter Carl Rungius wa...
Welcome to Your New Police State (18 Aug 2013 01:27pm)
Welcome to your new police state! There isn't a lot of information at this point, but Glenn Greenwald's boyfriend was detained at the Heathrow airport for no apparent reason other than that Greenwald has been investigating the surveillance state. The man, David Miranda, was detained under schedule 7...
Faith Based Economics (18 Aug 2013 11:35am)
Last week, I discussed how ideology blinds conservative thinking to the full range of possible economic solutions to problems. In particular, I was talking about Milton Friedman and how his insistence on avoiding Keynesian solutions caused him to come up with some very clever economic tools—ev...
Margaret Sanger Was a Racist So Birth Control Is Bad (17 Aug 2013 09:46pm)
JoyfulA retweeted a really disturbing twitter conversation. It amazes me what many conservatives say online. I have to admit, they sound a whole lot different from the conservatives who I have actual conversations with. Online, the people come off as rigid and hateful. But I guess that makes sense. ...
Fermat's Last Birthday (17 Aug 2013 09:12pm)
On this day back in 1578, the Italian Baroque painter Francesco Albani was born. He specialized in a kind of idyllic religious work that is not widely appreciated but which I rather like. Baroque composer Nicola Porpora was born in 1686. Here is a little bit from his opera Semiramide Riconosciuta th...
Bring Back Glass-Steagall (17 Aug 2013 09:14am)
"The repeal of Glass-Steagall did not cause the financial crisis." This is a common claim made by conservatives in defense of doing absolutely nothing to fix our financial industry. And like much conservative wisdom, it is true enough to be dangerous. Glass-Steagall was the depression era law that s...
Lanhee Chen and Conservative Apologetics (16 Aug 2013 10:29pm)
Lanhee Chen is a research fellow at the Hoover Institute. And he had some advice for his fellow Republicans this morning, On Republican Priorities, Obama May Have a Point. That title makes Chen sound far more reasonable than he is. He starts by claiming that Obama has "lost almost all credibility" d...
Waltz for Bill Evans (16 Aug 2013 08:14pm)
On this day back in 1557, the Italian Baroque painter Agostino Carracci was born. He was also a printmaker. I'm not that fond of his work, but he is rather good. One of the earliest astronomers to make observations of "deep sky objects" (e.g. galaxies) Pierre Mechain was born in 1744. The Russian op...
Limits of Ideological Economics (16 Aug 2013 04:24pm)
Paul Krugman is continuing his discussion of the legacy of Milton Friedman with a discussion of why conservative economists—many of them great at the science itself—are resistant or even impervious to contrary information. This round started with yet another terse and impenetrable Brad D...
The GOP Disintegration in Real Time (16 Aug 2013 12:21pm)
To me, "Reince Priebus" sounds like a vegetable that I don't like. But in fact, he is just the head of the RNC. And although I don't like him, he is entertaining. But I only say that because I'm not a Republican. If I were, I would feel the same way toward him as I did when Joe Lieberman said, "The ...
Data Implies Its Misuse (16 Aug 2013 10:41am)
So what are you wearing? Nothing?! You dirty girl! Wait! Is this online? Well, I guess it doesn't matter given that everything I say or write is taken down—just in case it is ever necessary to use to convict me of a parking violation. I don't want to get too conspiratorial, but I wouldn't be s...
Establishment Republicans Still Don't Get It (16 Aug 2013 09:16am)
I'm no fan of Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei. They are are ultimate "inside the beltway" and "conventional wisdom" guys and I usually want to throttle them. But the fact that they are so plugged into Washington means that they can be believed when they report about what "people" are saying in Washingto...
Imagine the 50s Without a Theremin (15 Aug 2013 09:18pm)
On this day back in 1771, the Scottish novelist Walter Scott was born. He is still quite worth reading, although people tend to forgetting him in favor of all the stars like Dickens, Eliot, and Austen. His work is nothing like theirs. Perhaps the most famous opium addict in history, Thomas De Quince...
Annoying Warning Links (15 Aug 2013 03:13pm)
In my last article, I pasted a 39 word sentence from an article in the Financial Times, "[He] said the greatest concern of the business lobby was the low level of investment in the German economy, with the share of investment in GDP falling from 20 per cent in 1999 to just 17 per cent in 2012." It i...
Austerity Won't Be Disproved (15 Aug 2013 08:54am)
I am often annoyed at the thought that in two decades no one will be able to deny global warming. All the oil companies will be fully diversified in renewable energy and we will finally be doing something about the problem. Better late than never. That doesn't bother me. What bothers me is that all ...
Put Away Corporate Robot Things and Love the Tap (14 Aug 2013 04:58pm)
According to the Water Information Program, the human body is more than 60% water. Blood is 92% water. The brain and muscles are 75% water. An average human can survive for a month or more without food, but only perhaps a week without water. Water rocks! According to the United Nations, 11% of the w...
The State of Wim Wenders (14 Aug 2013 03:36pm)
The great French landscape painter Claude-Joseph Vernet was born on this day in 1714. Interestingly, his son Carle Vernet—also a painter—was born on this day in 1758. (The grandson, Horace Vernet was the best painter of the the bunch, although he was born on 30 June 1789.) The Austrian C...
Karl Rove and the Politics of Impotence (14 Aug 2013 09:00am)
I think I may understand why Karl Rove sounds like the voice of reason in the Republican Party these days. Unlike most of the Republicans in Congress, he's practical. To him, it is very simple: blocking everything that Obama proposes does not lead to Republican policy. Nor is it the case that just s...
Eric Holder Cares Too Little Too Late (13 Aug 2013 10:49pm)
Don't get me wrong, I'm glad that Eric Holder has decided that in the fifth year of our cocaine sniffing, cannabis smoking president's term that he ought to make a policy decision to do less harm to people who are, if anything, victims of our current system. If you haven't heard, he's calling for fe...
A Question for My Canadian Colleagues (13 Aug 2013 05:17pm)
I have a question for my colleagues in Canada, "Why do you care about the United States?" I understand that it is kind of hard to avoid the United States. For one thing, as a country, we are kind of like evangelical Christians: we get into everyone else's business. But still, if I lived in Canada, I...
TV Begins (13 Aug 2013 04:07pm)
The great Sweedish physicist and one of the founders of the study of spectroscopy Anders Jonas Angstrom was born in 1814. The angstrom is now a standard unit of measure: about the size of a hydrogen atom. Abolitionist and suffragist Lucy Stone was born in 1814. Physicist George Stokes, known for his...
Most Don't Know Deficit Is Falling (13 Aug 2013 09:32am)
Paul Krugman has been wondering what percentage of Americans know that the deficit has been falling fast since 2009. It reminds me of a conversation I had with my father and his girlfriend about five years ago. We were talking about the government and one them said that the federal government would ...
Apple Stealing from Employees (12 Aug 2013 11:21pm)
Another article that I've been waiting to write about is Apple's theft from their employees. It amazes me that Apple has such a good reputation among young, liberal minded people. They are, in fact, a horror of a company. After all, Walmart may treat its employees poorly, but at least they hire a lo...
Outrage Addiction (12 Aug 2013 08:56pm)
Given the lack of political news, I have the opportunity to get caught up with some older articles that I haven't gotten to yet. One of them is another article by Kathleen Geier, The Right's Latest Candidate for History's Greatest Monster: Jeff Spicoli. For those of you who aren't so old, Jeff Spico...
Where Schrodinger's At (12 Aug 2013 05:37pm)
The great violinist and composer Heinrich Ignaz Franz Biber was born on this day in 1644. I guess he is technically a Baroque composer but his music doesn't really sound like it. Of course, it also doesn't sound like Renaissance either. Regardless, it is beautiful stuff. Here is his Mystery Sonata N...
Rodney Alexander: Crazy Hypocritical Opportunist (12 Aug 2013 02:08pm)
Regular readers know where I stand on switching parties. It makes perfect sense for Republicans to switch to the Democratic Party. For one thing, the modern Democratic Party really is a big tent. But more to the point: the Democratic Party has moved aggressively to the right. If a Republican had jus...
Eric Cantor Now Outside GOP Mainstream (12 Aug 2013 10:05am)
It is a funny old world. It seems upside down. It is as if the drunk dozing in an alley has more wisdom to offer that the local pastor. (Which may be true!) And that is the sense that I have today, at least in politics. When Eric Cantor starts sounding reasonable, anything seems possible. But it isn...
Music for Spies (11 Aug 2013 09:16pm)
Matt Yglesias wrote a great economic deconstruction of the film Goldfinger, Economics of Goldfinger: James Bond as the Enforcer for Harold Wilson's Doomed Austerity Policies. In it he argues that Goldfinger is basically a good guy, pushing against the bad gold policies of the western powers and Jame...
The Politics of Niceness (11 Aug 2013 06:40pm)
Jonathan Bernstein made a great point over at his blog about the naming of the Washington Redskins, The Question Is Etiquette, Not "Racism." The title says it all: it doesn't matter whether or how the term "redskin" is offensive, if our native American brothers and sisters don't like the term, we sh...
Washington Post Continues Jeff Bezos Whitewash (11 Aug 2013 02:20pm)
As you've probably heard, Jeff Bezos has purchased the Washington Post. And I've had nothing to say about it because, really, could the Washington Post get any worse? I like Ezra Klein and Greg Sargent, even though they often irritate me. But that isn't primarily what the Post is. When it comes to ...
Transforming Otto Blathy (11 Aug 2013 11:01am)
The early Classical period composer Joseph Schuster was born on this day back in 1748. He was mostly known for his operas, but he also wrote a lot of music for small string sections. In fact, his Milan Quartets were long thought to be by Mozart. Here is his String Quartetto No. 5: Actor Lloyd Nola...
Modern Conservatives Are Different (10 Aug 2013 06:20pm)
Kathleen Geier does not hold with all this hand wringing about modern conservatives, or so she claimed in What's Different About Today's Conservatives? As she wrote, "When people, usually liberals, compare today’s conservatives unfavorably to conservatives of previous generations, I often get annoye...
Anton Losenko (10 Aug 2013 12:32pm)
Renaissance composer Hieronymus Praetorius was born in 1560. He is actually quite interesting. Here is Tota Pulchra Es: French mathematician Gilles de Roberval was born in 1602—shortly before the invention of calculus, which he really could have used. Light opera composer Samuel Arnold was b...
Conservatives Would Kill Rather Than Accept Obamacare (10 Aug 2013 11:14am)
Adrianna McIntyre wrote a very good article over at The Incidental Economist, Read the Fine Print Before You Burn Your Obamacare Card. It is a response to FreedomWorks and other conservative groups who are trying to undermine Obamacare by getting young people to refuse to sign up. This is beyond cyn...
What's Wrong With Jason Richwine? (09 Aug 2013 11:01pm)
It is logical to ask what is wrong with Jason Richwine because in a column today in Politico he asks what is wrong with the reporting on intelligence testing. It is disappointing, but no more so than the reaction, if I can judge based upon Steve Benen. Benen dismisses Richwine out of hand and I thin...
Using a Teleporter Is Suicide! (09 Aug 2013 09:36pm)
Last week, Matt Yglesias brought my attention to some work by a group of scientists on the potential for human teleportation. The article (That I had to look up myself because Yglesias didn't provide it!) is, Travelling by Teleportation (pdf) by D. Roberts, J. Nelms, D. Starkey, and S. Thomas. The q...
P. L. Travers Was Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious (09 Aug 2013 11:49am)
The Italian mathematician Francesco Barozzi was born on this day back in 1537. Like many mathematicians then and now, he was a bit of a mystic. This caused people to accuse him of sorcery. Eventually, the Inquisition went after him and found him guilty. Twice! The second time it was for apostasy and...
Milton Friedman's Two Legacies (09 Aug 2013 10:56am)
Paul Krugman posted a really good article yesterday, Milton Friedman, Unperson. Mostly it is about how Friedman is absent from the current debate about the financial crisis and our continuing economic doldrums. Krugman thinks this is because Friedman tried to straddle two worlds with his essentially...
Paul Dirac Is Waving Relatively from Heaven (08 Aug 2013 10:04pm)
Before we get to the birthdays, it is the 50th anniversary of the Great Train Robbery. In 1963 on this day, a 15-man gang stole what is equivalent to about $100 million off the Royal Mail train. Although most of the men involved where captured, most of the money never was. The most famous of those m...
Seniors Trending Liberal (08 Aug 2013 01:31pm)
According to an article in in The Carville-Greenberg Memo yesterday, older citizens are turning against the Republican Party. Part of this is not surprising. As Digby noted this morning, older more conservative voters die off to be replaced by younger less conservative voters. But the results of rec...
American Hypocrisy on Extradition (08 Aug 2013 10:13am)
Glenn Greenwald wrote a very insightful article yesterday on the hypocrisy of the United States government and and media. It circled around this business of Obama calling off the summit with Vladimir Putin. The White House gave a number of reasons for this including the fact that Russia is persecuti...
The News from Garrison Keillor (07 Aug 2013 06:39pm)
Hungarian countess and serial killer Elizabeth Bathory was born on this day in 1560. She was never convicted of her many murders because she was never charged. She was above the law, just like the rich of today. The great geographer Carl Ritter was born in 1779. Expressionist painter Emil Nolde was ...
Giving Up on America in God Bless America (07 Aug 2013 05:04pm)
Last night, I had a curious reaction to a recent Bobcat Goldthwait film, God Bless America. For those unfamiliar with it, it is a "black comedy." But that hardly captures the essence of the film that pushes the limits of even that very broad category. It tells the story of Frank Murdoch, a quiet and...
Clueless Atheists (07 Aug 2013 02:33pm)
On one of the commentary tracks of The God Who Wasn't There, the films producer Brian Flemming interviewed The Raving Atheist. Within about a year of that interview, he had turned himself into The Raving Theist, having not only found God but an Abrahamic one at that. The change was interesting but h...
Populist Rhetoric Elitist Policy (07 Aug 2013 09:38am)
Last year, I applauded Rick Santorum's middle class rhetoric. In particular, I liked his speech at the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference where he blasted the RNC for its long line of business owners who came up on the stage and proclaimed that they did, in fact, build that. He said, "One after an...
Todd and the Book of Pure Evil (06 Aug 2013 11:32pm)
Netflix highly recommended a Canadian television series to me, Todd and the Book of Pure Evil. I was skeptical, but I figured I would give it a try. After all, Netflix has a good track record with me. Plus, it was recommending the series because on my interest in John Dies at the End. And I was plea...
Alexander Fleming Saved My Life! (06 Aug 2013 08:33pm)
Before we get to birthdays, I'd like to talk about war. On this day in 1915, the final push by the British at Gallipoli, the Battle of Sari Bair started. Gallipoli has an earned reputation for being a pointless battle within a pointless war. There were roughly a half million casualties at Gallipoli ...
The Press and Public Opinion (06 Aug 2013 02:48pm)
In the development of opinion, newspapers play an indispensable part. Without them, democracy could not endure in large countries like the United States and Canada, for, aside from local areas of small population where events become a matter of common knowledge through the personal intercourse, peop...
Surveillance Data Use Creep (06 Aug 2013 11:15am)
What did I say? You remember: back in June. I was angry at Lindsey Graham telling Fox News that we shouldn't be upset about the NSA spying on us because they were just going after the terrorists. He said, "I'm a Verizon customer; I don't mind Verizon turning over records to the government, if the go...
Trust Funds, Hedge Funds, and Slampieces (06 Aug 2013 10:00am)
Yesterday, I was in a pretty good mood. But this stopped suddenly for an odd reason: the Jezebel article Banker Bro Now Hiring Frat Dudes with Hot 'Slampieces'. If you aren't familiar with it, the article is very much "dog bites man." It contains a letter from one fraternity guy to all of his "broth...
A New Pippin Production (05 Aug 2013 10:28pm)
Before Andrew Lloyd Webber destroyed Broadway with his tuneless operas, there was Stephen Schwartz who wrote the songs for two iconic musicals of the early 1970s: Godspell and Pippin. Then he more or less disappeared from Broadway until 2003 when it seemed he shocked the theater world with Wicked. ...
Huston's Honor (05 Aug 2013 06:32pm)
Renaissance composer Guillaume Dufay was born on this day in 1397. Italian opera composer Antonio Cesti was born in 1623. And another Italian opera composer Leonardo Leo was born in 1694. Although not as celebrated in his day, he is much more interesting to a modern ear. Here is his Cello Concerto N...
Opinions for Sale (05 Aug 2013 03:33pm)
After two years, Neil Irwin looks back on the Standard & Poor (S&P) downgrade of the United States government from AAA to AA+. And he finds no evidence for it having affected the borrowing costs of the United States. But I'm afraid that Irwin is taking the whole thing too seriously. Even at the time...
Benghazi Still Not a Scandal (05 Aug 2013 01:20pm)
So what is this stuff about Benghazi I wrote about earlier? Last Thursday, CNN broke a story suggesting that the CIA was running guns from Libya to Syria out of the Benghazi proto-embassy. This, supposedly explains the administration's "cover up" of the attack. The big problem I see here is that the...
Elder Abuse on Fox News (05 Aug 2013 11:22am)
Yesterday, I talked to my father and he expressed his concern about the Benghazi attacks and that no one was ever going to be punished. I probed him a little to find out who exactly should be punished. I wanted to know if he was talking about the attackers or the government officials. It was the lat...
Republicans Have Been Very Very Good to Social Conservatives (05 Aug 2013 09:57am)
I have a bone to pick with Paul Krugman. His column today is quite good, Republicans Against Reality. The first half of the article is about Republican dysfunction. He highlights last week's transportation bill fiasco. It's an old story. Talk to any conservative (and sadly many liberals as well) and...
Gwyneth Paltrow's Unusual Malady (05 Aug 2013 08:32am)
It is widely accepted that Gwyneth Paltrow is one of the most slappable people in Hollywood. I, of course, am an iconoclast, but even my powers of contrariness are not great enough to like her. In fact, I dislike her so much that I even fast forward through "He Plays the Violin" in 1776 because I ha...
Sunday Afternoon with Tomatoes, Mushrooms, and Peaches (04 Aug 2013 08:55pm)
I've always wanted to be one of those people who could just take whatever food is on hand and make it into something wonderful. Today, I sort of did that. I had about a pound of mushrooms that were getting close to that slimy state. The next door neighbor gave me a bunch of tomatoes and one was alr...
What a Wonderful World it Was (04 Aug 2013 06:53pm)
On this day in 1792, one of the greatest English language poets Percy Bysshe Shelley was born. And he did right by the Romantic ideal by dying young. I rather like his poetry, but it exhibits a worldview that is now little more than a joke we associate with adolescent angst. All that really means is...
America's Elite Pretend as America's Poor Suffer (04 Aug 2013 03:14pm)
There is a fundamental problem in the United States. I think it comes from the fact that we have been such a rich country for so long. When you are rich, you are afford to be delusional. But the poor have to face facts. And as the vast majority of Americans get poorer and poorer, we are forced to se...
Blacks Getting Educated, Then Forgotten (04 Aug 2013 10:11am)
Janelle Jones and John Schmitt of the Center for Economic and Policy Research have written a number of papers recently on how African Americans are doing in the modern American economy. I was expecting bad news, but it is even worse than I had thought. The main report (in PDF form) is Has Education ...
Matt Yglesias Destroys Rick Wilson (03 Aug 2013 08:01pm)
I don't watch Up with any consistency anymore. I think Steve Kornacki is good—one of the best people that MSNBC has. But he lets a lot of nonsense go by that Chris Hayes never would have. For example, this morning Republican strategist Rick Wilson was allowed to go on at length about things th...
Fighting William Proxmire with Golden Gooses (03 Aug 2013 05:52pm)
[One of the primary examples used in this article (quoted in our usual box) has been updated. One of the winners, Wallace Coulter, declined the award because the Foundation could not document that the work was done with government money. Having worked on numerous government contracts, I don't think ...
Dolores del Rio: Bird of Paradise (03 Aug 2013 12:20pm)
There isn't a lot to do in an elevator so if you're like me, you've read everything on the walls. And that means you have seen this: Otis Elevator Company. It was founded by Elisha Otis who was born on this day in 1811. He didn't invent the elevator, of course. But he did invent a mechanism that sto...
Jesus and Troy (03 Aug 2013 10:57am)
The other day, I discovered that a BBC documentary series that I really liked was available online. It is Michael Wood's In Search of the Trojan War. What I didn't know before watching the series was that people thought that The Iliad told the story of a real war. And indeed, 150 years ago, it was c...
Friday's Conservative Idiot Pundits (03 Aug 2013 09:33am)
Last night, I was watching All In and Chris Hayes interviewed Michael Steele about something. I forget what it was exactly. The main thing is that Steele, as usual, had nothing insightful to say. Of course, that is his purpose on MSNBC: to act like a Republican who isn't totally insane. But that's h...
James Baldwin Next Time (02 Aug 2013 07:47pm)
Before I get to the birthdays, I think we should deal with a bit of history. On this day in 1934, Adolf Hitler became Fuhrer of Germany. Don't you just love those 20th century despots? They could never use a regular word like "president" for a title. They always had to come up with something specifi...
Senate Likely Remains Democratic After 2014 (02 Aug 2013 03:10pm)
With all the talk of 2014 being a big year for Republicans, it is easy to lose sight of what the coming election really looks like. Thankfully, Jonathan Bernstein has put together a useful primer on the next collection of Senate races. Up to now, I've just vaguely figured that the Republicans had a ...
Stronger Unions Make Everyone Richer (02 Aug 2013 12:29pm)
This morning I was having a discussion about income inequality. It still amazes me that the power elite don't see the problem. Of course, I'm expecting too much; the power elite are as shortsighted as anyone—maybe even more so. The problem is that as fewer and fewer people have all the money, ...
IRS Scandal and Mainstream Media Failure (02 Aug 2013 10:55am)
Steve Benen has written an excellent article about media coverage of the supposed IRS scandal, When the Media's Attention Span Turns Reckless. As we all remember, the media was all over the story originally when the Republicans were making big allegations about the supposed scandal and how it reach...
The Great White Melville (01 Aug 2013 09:36pm)
On this day in 10 BC, Roman Emperor Claudius was born. Almost everything I know about him I learned from watching I, Claudius. So most of what I know is that he looked a lot like Derek Jacobi. But it does seem that the basic story is correct. Because Claudius limped due to a childhood illness, the f...
How Much Could McDonald's Pay Workers (01 Aug 2013 05:23pm)
On Monday, the Huffington Post published an article claiming that McDonald's could double its wages and it would only increase the price of their offerings by 17%. So instead of a McDouble being $1.29, it would be $1.51. The understandable response to this was, "That doesn't sound that bad to provid...
Hummingbirds, Turkeys, and Hawks; Oh My! (01 Aug 2013 03:14pm)
Matt Yglesias has a knack for great headlines. I subscribe to his RSS feed, but try as I might, I find it pretty near impossible not to click on his stories. Such was the case this afternoon when he offered up, Turkeys vs. Hummingbirds in Contemporary Central Banking. I really had no idea what he wa...
Who Cares Fake Scandal Hurt IRS? (01 Aug 2013 12:58pm)
The video below is from the Democrats on the House Oversight Committee. It makes fun of Darrell Issa and his minions for all their hysterical (and untrue) allegations that the White House had requested the IRS to go after Obama's political enemies. Of course, there was nothing to this. The video sh...
Defining GDP Up (01 Aug 2013 11:15am)
Yesterday, Jared Bernstein and Dean Baker published a great OpEd in the New York Times, What Is Seinfeld Worth? The Bureau of Economic Analysis (BEA) recently made a change to how GDP is calculated and quite suddenly, the American economy is $560 billion bigger. That's 3.6%. So the question is: what...
Filibuster Deal Crumbling? (31 Jul 2013 08:29pm)
In case you were wondering about that filibuster deal that John McCain made with Harry Reid, well, it looks like it is crumbling. And this is the first vote after the critical seven that Reid said must be approved. Earlier this afternoon, the Senate was anxiously waiting for Senator Heidi Heitkamp t...
I happen to have Mr. Suebsaeng Right Here... (31 Jul 2013 07:08pm)
This comes from Digby who clearly reads a lot faster than I do. Let me provide a little background. In the film Annie Hall, Woody Allen is in line to see the movie (apparently for the umpteenth time) The Sorrow and the Pity. In back of him in the line is some other New York intellectual spouting off...
GOP Base Is Not Getting Better (31 Jul 2013 06:05pm)
There is a new Pew poll out that asked Republican voters about their Republican leaders. And the results will undoubtedly cause a lot of people in the mainstream press to claim that it is good news: about half as many Republicans want there party to moderate as want it to become more conservative. A...
Pernicious Milton Friedman (31 Jul 2013 04:16pm)
Baroque sculptor Alessandro Algardi was born on this day in 1598. Cuban composer Ignacio Cervantes was born in 1847. You can get an idea of the kind of stuff he wrote by listening to his Adios a Cuba. French modernist Jean Dubuffet was born in 1901. Actor Michael Biehn is 57 today. Wesley Snipes is...
People Will Notice If GOP Goes Crazy (31 Jul 2013 09:37am)
Yesterday, Jonathan Chait wrote a provocative article, Are House Republicans Voter-Proof? In it, he argued that the Republicans likely have nothing to worry about in going full tilt Michele Bachmann. After all, most people don't even know which party is in control of the House of Representatives. Wh...
Fox Zealot Vs. Mainstream Aslan (30 Jul 2013 07:28pm)
The Fox News interview is Reza Aslan was interesting and fun. (For those that haven't seen it, it is embedded below.) He was on to hock his book, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth. And basically, the entire interview was about why a Muslim would write a book about Christianity. I under...
Celebrate Emily by Reading Wuthering Heights (30 Jul 2013 02:20pm)
On this day in 1511, art historian Giorgio Vasari was born. Pianist and Wolfgang's sister, Maria Anna Mozart was born in 1751. Poet Samuel Rogers was born in 1763. Automaker and antisemite Henry Ford was born in 1863. The half-sister of Marilyn Monroe, Berniece Baker Miracle is 94 today. I bring it...
Obama's Economic Clique and the Summers Pick (30 Jul 2013 12:19pm)
When Obama and Clinton were running for the Democratic nomination for president, I tended to side with Obama. The reason was not one I've heard anyone else mention. My fear was that Clinton would be another George W. Bush, just on the left. By that I mean that she would have been too insular. I thou...
Politics of the Not-So-Grand Bargain (30 Jul 2013 11:11am)
Obama will be unveiling a Not-So-Grand Bargain at a speech today. The new deal would cut corporate income taxes down from 35% to 28% (and a special 25% rate for manufacturers). This would be made up by closing loopholes. The deal would also create a temporary windfall that would be used for infrastr...
Voter ID and the Self-Destruction of the GOP (29 Jul 2013 08:42pm)
Ross Douthat wrote a really good article last Thursday, The Politics of Voter ID. On one hand, the article is another in a long line of Republican pundits trying to convince the Republican establishment that all the self-destructive things they are doing are, you know, self-destructive. On the other...
When There Was Democracy in America (29 Jul 2013 11:56am)
On this day in 1817, the great Romantic seascape painter Ivan Aivazovsky was born. Writer of The Magnificent Ambersons and other classics, Booth Tarkington was born in 1869. Journalist and creator of "Archy and Mehitabel," Don Marquis was born in 1878. Fascist Benito Mussolini was born in 1883. Oper...
Five Reasons GOP Shutdown Is Suicide (29 Jul 2013 10:39am)
Whenever I read Ramesh Ponnuru I wonder why it is the conservative movement can't be more like him. After all, it isn't like he is exactly reasonable. I can't usually read more than two paragraphs without being forced to sit through silly Republican talking points. For example, he never misses an op...
How Authoritarian Are You? (28 Jul 2013 03:32pm)
With all my recent thinking about authoritarianism, I decided to take a test to see just how much of an authoritarian I am. The truth is, I didn't know. I suffer from a weird kind of psychological hypochondria. When I was reading about psychopathy, for example, I began to think that despite everythi...
What Would Karl Popper Think Today? (28 Jul 2013 12:40pm)
The German philosopher Ludwig Feuerbach was born on this day in 1804. He is most famous for theological work, the main piece of which George Eliot (Yes, that George Eliot!) translated into English as The Essence of Christianity. He took an anthropological approach to religion. It seems to me a weak ...
Not So Long Road to GOP Authoritarianism (28 Jul 2013 09:18am)
Last week, Robert Reich wrote an article trying to explain, Why Republicans are Disciplined and Democrats Aren't. Basically he argued that this is because of the kind of people who are attracted to the two parties. Republicans tend to lean toward authoritarianism, and thus it isn't surprising that t...
In Which Matt Taibbi Is a Prude (27 Jul 2013 08:09pm)
I have tried my best to avoid coverage of the Anthony Weiner scandal, but I made the mistake of clicking on a link to a Matt Taibbi article that I thought might give an interesting perspective as he often does, Electing Anthony Weiner Isn't as Funny as it Sounds. It was really disappointing—su...
Comedy, Politics and Norman Lear (27 Jul 2013 02:28pm)
On this day in 1667, one of the great Bernoullis and teacher of Euler, Johann Bernoulli was born. Neoclassic and Romantic painter Joseph Anton Koch was born in 1768. He's an important painter, but I don't care much for his work. Italian composer Mauro Giuliani was born in 1781. During his lifetime, ...
Democrats Continue to Screw Their Base (27 Jul 2013 10:58am)
I'm proud of my "Fuck America Vote Republican!" bumper sticker. But I also agree with the statement "Fuck America Vote Democrat!" I wouldn't display it, because it would give the wrong impression. The Democrats are not fucking America anywhere near as much as the Republicans are. What's more, there ...
Pathetic GOP Jobs Plan (27 Jul 2013 09:20am)
Reed Richardson had a great catch last week. He wrote, "To be fair, the House GOP's website also has a whole button solely devoted to its jobs plan, which entices you to click it with a promise of 'Get all the details here.' That's true, if by 'details' you mean one sentence each of talking points ...
Econocentric (26 Jul 2013 08:14pm)
I coined a term today that I think I will find lots of uses for in the future. So I figured I would formally define it here: e·con·o·cen·tric     adjective     \ˌe-con-ō-ˈsen-trik\ a tendency to view other economic classes from the perspective of one's ...
6 Angry Women (26 Jul 2013 11:21am)
Michael Stickings over at The Reaction alerted me to the fact that we have finally heard from the last Zimmerman juror—the one who wasn't white. Later, I got to see some of the actual interview that she did via a video from The Young Turks, that I've embedded at the bottom of this article. I'...
The Mythical Political Center (26 Jul 2013 10:21am)
Yesterday on the cover of the New York Times, Jonathan Martin wrote one of those stupid Villager articles we all know and despise, Some Democrats Look to Push Party Away from Center. This is an issue I've been ranting about for years. There is no "center." All the mainstream press does is define the...
Shaw and Mozart's Son (26 Jul 2013 08:44am)
On this day in 1782, the Irish composer John Field was born. He's fairly good. But the much better composer Franz Xaver Wolfgang Mozart was born in 1791. He was, of course, Mozart's son. I assume that he was named after Franz Xaver Sussmayr, Mozart's student and assistant. I have a great fondness fo...
Like Really Terrible! (26 Jul 2013 07:51am)
Is it just me, or is this, like, a really terrible commercial? Like, sure! No problem! ...
Sexism and the Double Helix (25 Jul 2013 08:51pm)
One of the greatest American artists ever, Thomas Eakins was born in 1844. A lesser, but still fine painter Alexander Rummler was born in 1867. Neoclassical illustrator Maxfield Parrish was born in 1870. Italian composer Alfredo Casella was born in 1883. Here is his Toccata per Pianoforte: Charact...
Faith Based Conservatism (25 Jul 2013 07:50pm)
I got a YouTube message from someone at an account named "Green Power." From the video preview, he looks like a teenager. I don't know, because I'm not going to give the guy even my one view. Let me explain. He sent what is doubtless a generic message, "I am a born again Republican. Please vote repu...
Rand Paul Imagines There's No Racism—It Isn't Hard to Do (25 Jul 2013 05:17pm)
The smart bigot's argument against affirmative action is that the very idea is racist. As George Will is fond of saying things similar to this, "If you want to stop racism, stop being racist." It all sounds so great. According to this theory, all we need to do is stop thinking in racial terms and ev...
Most College Teaching Is Horrible (25 Jul 2013 03:11pm)
Jonathan Chait wrote an interesting article this afternoon, College Professors Are About to Get Really Mad at President Obama. It involves Obama's new push to lower the cost of college by using more "massive open online courses" (MOOCs). As a result of this, Jonathan Rees wrote an article arguing th...
No Tea Party Rift (25 Jul 2013 12:44pm)
This morning, Ed Kilgore reflected on the fact that the only real ideological divide in the Republican Party is over national security. That is true, although even Rand Paul has shown himself to be nothing is not malleable when it comes to ideology. But it is true that yesterday, a large bipartisan ...
Conservative Inflation Hysteria (25 Jul 2013 09:33am)
This is a very interesting catch by Dean Baker. He created a Google Trends report that shows that searches for the keyword "hyperinflation" are back down to where they were before the financial crisis. As Baker noted, this is good news. But the whole thing disturbs me. Why would the financial crisi...
Our Minimum Wage Economy (24 Jul 2013 09:43pm)
One of the first jobs I had was as a baker for the pretentiously titled Cafe Des Croissants. And I remember that one of the owners had worked for the post office. He told me that he believed as his old employer that wages should go up only as productivity increased. I thought that sucked, because I ...
The Count of Alexandre Dumas (24 Jul 2013 07:44pm)
The wonderful Russian portrait painter Vladimir Borovikovsky was born on this day in 1757. Venezuelan revolutionary Simon Bolivar was born in 1783. Composer Adolphe Adam was born in 1803. At the very end of my career as a music student, I was introduced to the great American composer Ernest Bloch. ...
GOP and Democratic Governors Are Not Equal (24 Jul 2013 11:11am)
Beth Reinhard has written quite an amazing article. It is a thing to behold—but not in a good way. The basic argument is that it isn't just Republicans who are getting extreme, it's Democrats as well. This is Villager Think at its most basic. As I've long argued, politicians should do what the...
Crack Babies and Bill O'Reilly (23 Jul 2013 11:11pm)
And one last thing. On All In, Chris Hayes did a great segment about the same old racist ideas about blacks all being a bunch of drug addicts and that's why the inner city is so messed up. And he mentioned a study about "crack babies" that he mistakenly claimed shows that being born poor is worse th...
Two Things I Don't Care About (23 Jul 2013 10:44pm)
I have no interest in the royal baby. In general, I have no interest in a royal family—at least until the sons start killing each other in order to become king. To me, we had a war so we wouldn't have deal with this bullshit. And then when we created this country, we specifically didn't create...
Lyrics of "Watching the Detectives" (23 Jul 2013 09:52pm)
Elvis Costello's first album My Aim Is True was released 36 years ago yesterday. And that got me thinking about one of the songs on that album "Watching the Detectives." So I got my guitar out and fiddled around with it. Soon I checked online for the lyrics, which are fairly complicated; I certainly...
Raymond Chandler (23 Jul 2013 08:17pm)
On this day in 1777, the German painter Philipp Otto Runge was born. Much of his work is typically Romantic. But his religious painting seems to me more neoclassical. And it is much more interesting. Romantic composer Franz Berwald was born in 1796. His work is not bad, especially for a saw mill man...
The Next Three Election Cycles (23 Jul 2013 06:56pm)
I've been thinking what the coming elections will bring. And I'm going to present them now, although obviously they are highly uncertain. In 2014, I expect the Republicans to make small gains in both the House and Senate. I figure they have about 50% chance of retaking the Senate. (On the other hand...
Elderly Increasingly Democratic (23 Jul 2013 06:36pm)
Charlie Cook wrote a really interesting article over at National Journal yesterday, Both Parties Need to Keep an Eye on Older Voters for 2014 Elections. Most of the article is stuff that we all know. As I've been arguing for a long time, the Democrats need to stop focusing on the mythical "moderate"...
Liberals Finally Wake Up: GOP Will Destroy Economy (23 Jul 2013 03:20pm)
"It's almost as if spoiled children seized control of part of the federal government and don't appreciate just how much damage their recklessness can do." That was written this morning by Steven Benen. He is one of the prominent members of the Happy Horseshit Caucus (HHC), a group of liberal pundits...
Automation Reduces Unionization (23 Jul 2013 12:04pm)
Sheva Diagne at the Center for Economic and Policy Research (CEPR) wrote a really interesting article on social scientist Tali Kristal's recent paper, The Capitalist Machine: Computerization, Workers' Power, and the Decline in Labor's Share within U.S. Industries (pdf). There are many aspects to exp...
Black Nails Hammered Down (22 Jul 2013 08:50pm)
Boys will be boys. I really believe that. People should be allowed to be themselves as long as no one is directly harmed. What that means to me in practice is that people should be allowed to take what drugs they like, fuck what people are willing, and say just about anything that comes into their l...
Bride of James Whale (22 Jul 2013 07:54pm)
On this day in 1651, the Austrian composer Ferdinand Tobias Richter was born. I'm not that fond of him. But 51 years later Alessandro Besozzi was born in 1702. He was one of the great oboists of his time. In addition, he was a fine composer of Classical period music. Here is his Sonata Number 4 for ...
The Color of Magic (22 Jul 2013 02:49pm)
After my experience of watching the wonderfully entertaining Terry Pratchett's Going Postal, I decided to read some of his work. So I picked up The Color of Magic, which is the first of the 39 book series (the 40th book will come out in a few months). At first, I was not disappointed. Pratchett is a...
Law Should be Interpreted by Yesterday's Mores Not Today's! (22 Jul 2013 12:15pm)
Justice Antonin Scalia was in Colorado over the weekend, doing his thang. He gave a talk titled, "Mullahs of the West: Judges as Moral Arbiters." What strikes me about this is how clueless Scalia is about what he (or any other judge) does. According to the Aspen Times, he said that what led to the N...
Edward Snowden and US Hypocrisy (22 Jul 2013 09:58am)
Glenn Greenwald mentioned an interesting bit of American hypocrisy over the weekend that relates directly to what is going on with Edward Snowden. In 2001, Muslim cleric Abu Omar was granted asylum by Italy because he was being persecuted by the Mubarak government in Egypt. Then, two years later, a ...
Christianity Stifles the Search for God (21 Jul 2013 09:05pm)
In the following 12 minute conversation (really more of a monologue), Richard Carrier explains why he is not a Christian. One of the reasons that I really like Carrier is that he isn't an idiot. Unlike most atheists, I feel that he would understand where I come from. I'm an atheist but I understand ...
Marshall McLuhan Is the Message (21 Jul 2013 08:18pm)
French astronomer Jean Picard was born on this day in 1620. I bring this up only because I never understood why Star Trek's Jean-Luc Picard had a British accent. And that includes the episode where he goes home and we find that his brother had a French accent. And what did the family do for a living...
Free Markets Won't Fix Monopolies (21 Jul 2013 12:26pm)
There is big news this morning. At the New York Times, David Kocieniewski has written an article about how Goldman Sachs has used its effective control of aluminum warehouses to increase prices on the metal by an estimated 7%. Now I understand that 7% doesn't sound like that much. And in the grander...
America Accepts Police Power Abuse (21 Jul 2013 10:47am)
The video below is quite interesting and worth watching. But let me give you an overview. The police have a woman in handcuffs and are searching her and her car. A man who lives across the street yells at the cops that they are Nazis and similar taunts. The police are in the process of letting the w...
NSA Data Recovery Program (20 Jul 2013 10:07pm)
I was emailed the following image, which I think is pretty clever. I have two reasons for thinking it is almost certainly created by a conservative. First, the line about it costing Republicans more. Only conservatives think that they alone are the targets of government intrusion. That was what the ...
How We Treat Real American Heroes (20 Jul 2013 09:39pm)
I just watched Outbreak with my father. He was interested in it, because he had heard that they used the little California town of Ferndale as the primary location. He has fond memories of the town and I figured he would like the movie anyway. So we watched it and he did indeed like it—a lot m...
What We Inherit from Gregor Mendel (20 Jul 2013 06:56pm)
On this day in 356 BC, Alexander the Great was born. Or maybe it was tomorrow. It was a long time ago. Memories fade. I've never thought much of him and his pointless life. His was a very typical story: conquered a bunch of stuff, die, and it all falls apart. I don't mean to say that had his accompl...
Snowden Causing Distrust of America! (20 Jul 2013 01:24pm)
It's a funny country, America. You can launch a destructive, expensive, self-defeating and dishonest war that (predictably) leads to hundreds of thousands of senseless deaths, millions of refugees, trillions of wasted dollars, an explosion of global hatred, etc, and apparently everything's still coo...
Christian Left? (20 Jul 2013 12:14pm)
Steve Benen brought my attention to a report by the Brookings Institution and the Public Religion Research Institute. What it found was that there is a growing Christian Left movement. Not surprisingly, it is younger and more diverse compared to the old white Christian Right movement. A Christian Le...
Why Screenplays Suck (20 Jul 2013 10:47am)
I was on Slate this morning, and I saw a link to another article asking the question, "Why Does Every Movie Released These Days Feel Exactly the Same?" I had to click. For one thing, I thought I already knew. The link brought me to an article by Peter Suderman, Save the Movie! Its thesis is that mov...
Russell George Lies About IRS and Nobody Cares (19 Jul 2013 10:41pm)
When a man tells me that he was a Democrat in the 1980s, but that he "saw the light" and became a Republican, it doesn't make me feel better about him. It isn't because I'm a liberal and he is moving against the light so to speak. It is that since the 1980s, the Republican Party has been making a be...
Ballerinas and Degas (19 Jul 2013 07:05pm)
Composer Richard Leveridge was born on this day in 1670. Founder of the gun company, Samuel Colt was born in 1814. He was a deeply moral man—moral in the sense that he didn't believe in anything but a buck. He sold guns to both the North and South in the lead up to the Civil War. But he died y...
It Was Unions Who Forced Business to Pay More (19 Jul 2013 04:03pm)
Matt Yglesias is showing real signs of cognitive dissonance. He wrote a very perceptive but confused article this afternoon, Companies With "Cash on the Sidelines" Should Pay Their Workers More. Let me explain what he's talking about before getting to the dissonance. Corporations are currently sitti...
Why That Town Sucks (19 Jul 2013 01:07pm)
Washington insider Mark Leibovich has written what is apparently a breezy and funny indictment of the insular political culture, This Town. And it is apparently stirring things up. Yesterday, Mother Jones reported that Politico—more or less the official news source of insular Washington politi...
Paper Has a Great Future (19 Jul 2013 09:53am)
William sent me the commercial below called "Emma." It deals with the idea of the "exciting" paperless future. I'm agnostic on this issue. I'll read anything in any form. Just the same, being agnostic tends to put me off the chart in terms of our new technological frontier. For a very long time, I h...
Nelson Mandela at 95 (18 Jul 2013 06:29pm)
The great French Baroque painter Hyacinthe Rigaud was born on this day in 1659. He is one of the best painters of that era. You really should check him out. The anti-Hegel, philosopher Immanuel Hermann Fichte was born in 1796. See if you don't think he looked a lot like Denholm Elliott. The great sa...
Is Outrage at Rolling Stone Cover Racist? (18 Jul 2013 04:30pm)
I like checking out the MSNBC prime time lineup on the computer. As much as I like Chris Hayes, Rachel Maddow, and even Lawrence O'Donnell, I find that I can miss vast swaths of their programs without being deprived of any insights or entertainment. And so it was as I skimmed through The Last Word. ...
More Bad Bradley Manning News (18 Jul 2013 02:30pm)
In the trial of Bradley Manning, Judge Colonel Denise Lind has ruled that the most series charge of aiding the enemy cannot be dropped. She said, "He was knowingly providing intelligence to the enemy." That statement shocks me on two levels. First, she seems to have already convicted him. Second, re...
The Real IRS Scandal (18 Jul 2013 12:18pm)
Michael Tomasky wrote a good summary of the recent news about the IRS non-scandal at The Daily Beast, The Nature of the Beast: the Breathless Press and the Phony IRS "Scandal." (What is wrong with editors? It wasn't necessary to put scare quotes around "scandal" when "phony" precedes it.) Like most ...
Filibuster Reform Unstable (18 Jul 2013 10:03am)
Something has been bothering me since Tuesday. Richard Cordray was allowed to go to a vote because a number of Republicans voted in favor of cloture. So it wasn't that Cordray wasn't filibustered, it was just that the Senate voted to end the filibuster. But that had been going on since before the re...
Devil in a Blue Dress (17 Jul 2013 10:45pm)
The film Devil in a Blue Dress was recommended to me. It is freely based upon the Walter Mosley novel. And it manages to do something that it quite interesting. It is a very funny comedy pretending to be serious film noir. In that way, it really brings back memories of The Big Sleep. But that film ...
Why Obamacare Is So Complex (17 Jul 2013 07:16pm)
Jared Bernstein wrote a very insightful article over at the Economix Blog, The Path to Complexity on the Health Care Act. As a member of the administration during the development of Obamacare, he accepts a lot of the blame for it being complicated. Well, perhaps "blame" is not the right word, becaus...
P. D. Q. Bach (17 Jul 2013 06:07pm)
On this day in 1698, the great French mathematician Pierre Louis Maupertuis was born. He invented the principle of least action. This later led to one of my very favorite things: the Hamiltonian formulation of mechanics. But because I am nothing if not merciful, I will spare you any further mention ...
GOP See No Lead Paint Problem (17 Jul 2013 12:28pm)
As you ought to know, lead is a very dangerous chemical. Children exposed to it—mostly due to lead paint—have lower IQs, greater learning disabilities, and more behavioral problems. As Kevin Drum reported in February in Mother Jones, America's Real Criminal Element: Lead. The reason that...
Immigration Reform Is Dangerous for GOP (17 Jul 2013 10:42am)
John Stanton wrote a very interesting article over at Buzz Feed, No, Congressman, You Probably Won't Lose Your Job for Voting for Immigration Reform. But I think he has missed the larger issue. He argued that that there isn't going to be big money in the Republican primaries against House members wh...
Are the Rich Above the Law? (16 Jul 2013 09:36pm)
When I was first introduced to the Magna Carta when I was in school, it made no sense to me. I just couldn't get my head around the idea that at one point, the King of England was literally beyond the law. Because that's basically all that the Magna Carta says: you can't just kill us. ("Us," of cour...
Wikipedia's Larry Sanger Page Is Unimpressive (16 Jul 2013 08:59pm)
Before getting to the birthdays, we need to stop and note that this is a different kind of birthday. Sixty-eight years ago, the nuclear age started. That happened in the form of Trinity, the first nuclear explosion in the history of the world. I'm not keen on the nuclear age, but I am especially dep...
Ed Kilgore and Rational Cynicism (16 Jul 2013 03:59pm)
I have a normal evolution regarding political writers. At first, I am in their thrall. Slowly, I begin to disagree with them more and more. And eventually I reach the point where they annoy me more often than not. The most recent example of this is Greg Sargent. With regards to policy, I think we ve...
Space Garbage Found Orbiting Neptune (16 Jul 2013 11:48am)
This morning, NASA announced that another moon was discovered circling Neptune. And that's cool. But you have to ask, "Didn't we go there?" Indeed we did. And why didn't we noticed it? Because it is tiny! This is Neptune's 14th moon, and just like with each new child Michelle Duggar pops out, you ha...
Reid Backs Down from Compromise of Compromise (16 Jul 2013 09:07am)
This is how Democrats work. First they compromise. Then they back off. Then they come back with more compromises. Then they back off again. Again they come back with yet more compromises. And finally they compromise some more. And that's what we're getting with filibuster reform. We couldn't have c...
The Way Dorothy Fields Looks Tonight (15 Jul 2013 10:21pm)
Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn, a man so great we know him by his first name, was born on this day in 1606. Under normal circumstances, I would have given the day to him. But it is hard to do that when Google has spent the whole damned day hocking their doodle of him. He is unquestionably great, and...
"Fact" Checking Moves to Australia (15 Jul 2013 07:36pm)
There's a great scene toward the end of The Matrix where Agent Smith is talking to Morpheus. He says that humans are like a virus. This is actually a shockingly stupid argument. The truth is that all creatures bread to the point where they exhaust all resources and then either die out or move onto g...
Fox "Straight" News Fear Mongering After Zimmerman (15 Jul 2013 04:59pm)
Since there were none of the riots that Fox News was predicting, they had to go elsewhere with their fear mongering and racist coverage Monday's broadcast. I just caught a little bit of Shepard Smith's show and it was quite the thing to watch. As I try to explain to fans of Fox News, the problem is ...
Gang of Umpteen (15 Jul 2013 01:43pm)
Politico reports this morning, Reid digs in as Senate Nears Nuclear Option Showdown. While it is good that Reid is indeed moving forward, that isn't what the article is about. Rather, it seems that some Republicans are trying to pitch a new "Gang of Umpteen" to Reid. I am not in favor of this. Righ...
Libertarian Populism Still Bunk After Tim Carney (15 Jul 2013 11:47am)
Speaking of libertarians, Timothy P. Carney is over at the Washington Examiner today. He wants to explain to us, Libertarian Populism: The Economic Prescription for the Right. It is a list of policies that he claims constitute libertarian populism. He even complains about Paul Krugman calling the wh...
My Rich Uncle Won't Help (15 Jul 2013 09:41am)
Nancy Folbre is an economist at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. And last night, she wrote an article over at the Economix Blog, Let Your Rich Uncle Pay for College. It is about a pilot program that will allow students go to their state university system in exchange of a 3% tax on their inc...
Guthrie and Bergman (14 Jul 2013 08:24pm)
On this day back in 1743, the great Russian poet Gavrila Romanovich Derzhavin was born. But what do I know? I don't read Russian. The inventor of the theory of the Aryan master race, Arthur de Gobineau was born in 1816. Who would have thought that a Frenchman would give the Nazis their philosophical...
Happy Bastille Day! (14 Jul 2013 06:05pm)
So It's Bastille Day. Although it isn't technically a celebration of the storming of the Bastille, I still think of it that way. And thus it is the perfect holiday from my standpoint. First, it involves the people attacking the aristocracy. And regardless of what Edmund Burke thought, that's general...
Republican DREAM Act Ruse (14 Jul 2013 10:59am)
Last Thursday, The Hill reported that the House Republicans are putting together some kind of DREAM Act like bill. It is coming directly from Eric Cantor's office, although his spokeswoman says it is in the early stages of development. There are a few things to say about this—none of them good...
George Zimmerman Was Never the Issue (14 Jul 2013 10:07am)
Now that George Zimmerman has been acquitted of culpability in the death of Trayvon Martin, I think I should provide my thoughts. Most notable, of course, is all the rioting that went on last night. I tell you: that black community! What a bunch of uppity people! Oh, that's right. There were no riot...
Is Michelle Bernard Really an Independent? (13 Jul 2013 09:41pm)
Let's take a moment to consider that great species of political animal the independent. The independent is such a strange creature that I had long thought it mythical. Every independent I've ever met has been either a liberal or a conservative and not a moderate as you might assume. In fact, many in...
Portrait of the Economist at 55 (13 Jul 2013 05:43pm)
The great mathematician and mystic John Dee was born on this day in 1527. The poet John Clare was born in 1793. On the one hand, he was a typical Romantic idiot. On the other, he really was a pretty good poet. One of the pioneers of ethnography, Stewart Culin was born in 1858. He was very interested...
Ethnocentrism and KTVU SFO Pilots Prank (13 Jul 2013 12:32pm)
KTVU, who have done some excellent reporting of last week's SFO plane crash, got pranked yesterday. They thought that the names of the pilots had been released to them: For those of you who missed it, they are: Captain Something WrongWe Too LowHoly FuckBang, Ding, Ow What's most interesting is ho...
Problem with Funny Business Names (13 Jul 2013 11:29am)
I hate "funny" business names. They are usually puns. For example, here in the Bay Area, we have Site for Sore Eyes Optical Store. Look: I get it. When I first saw there was an eye doctor named "site for sore eyes," I thought it was amusing. And there are other ones that I've thought were fairly cle...
Unacknowledged Media Bias (13 Jul 2013 09:40am)
Paul Krugman has posted a couple of articles on his blog defending France. You see, "people" say that France's unemployment rate is high. "They" say that Fance is on the verge of becoming another Greece—or at least Portugal. "They" say that the French are just all screwed up. The truth is tha...
Amedeo Modigliani (12 Jul 2013 08:52pm)
On this day in 1817, Henry David Thoreau was born. He seems like he was an all right kind of guy: against slavery, and all. But that's always struck me as kind of an easy issue to be on the right side of. At least it was if you didn't have any economic interest in it. Thoreau did not. Mostly, he's a...
A Better Lethal Injection (12 Jul 2013 05:45pm)
There is another one of those "Should we kill mentally retarded murders?" cases. Now it is Warren Lee Hill Jr, who the state of Georgia wants to kill. I'm against the death penalty regardless. However, it has never been made clear to me how intelligence matters in these cases. I understand with kids...
Grand Obstruction Party (12 Jul 2013 03:18pm)
Americans United for Change made the following ad highlighting GOP obstruction in the Senate. It is well done. But it doesn't go into the kind of depth that I would like. What is so annoying about what has happened in the Senate is that for the first time—Let me say that again: for the first ...
Joe Fleherty and Ancient Messages (12 Jul 2013 12:42pm)
You probably remember Back to the Future Part II—certainly the weakest of the franchise. But the end was good: a Western Union messenger shows up to give Marty the 70 year old letter from Doc that tells him what has happened and sets up the last movie. Well, that courier was played by a person...
Megan McArdle Ridiculous Anti-Filibuster-Reform Argument (12 Jul 2013 10:12am)
Megan McArdle decides to start this morning by arguing in favor of keeping the filibuster just the way it is. It's really keen, you see. She likes "its broad use against as many laws as the minority likes." And she would. She's a conservative. In theory (that is, while liberals are in the White Hous...
Business Week's Penis Graph (11 Jul 2013 10:24pm)
Via Matt Yglesias, Business Week used an unfortunate graphic to argue that hedge funds were not the great investments that most people think they are. But that wasn't what I thought when I saw the image. I thought was Yglesias wrote, "BusinessWeek has a new cover story out by Sheelah Kolkhatar about...
Farm Bill and Big Government Conservatism (11 Jul 2013 07:01pm)
A lot of people wonder what a liberal like Dean Baker means when he writes a book like, The End of Loser Liberalism. He means a lot, of course, and you should read it because that link provides the book in various electronic formats that are free. But mostly what he means is that the whole paradigm ...
Elements of E. B. White (11 Jul 2013 01:48pm)
On this day in 1274, Robert the Bruce was born. He was the guy who gained Scottish independence from the English. The Elizabethan playwright Robert Greene was born in 1558. He is best known for Greene's Groats-Worth of Wit, a rant he wrote on his deathbed. In it, he took a swipe at Shakespeare as an...
Mark Takano and Good Political Theater (11 Jul 2013 10:46am)
This is fun. Some GOP members in the House have written a draft letter to John Boehner asking him to break up the immigration bill. The supposed reason for this is because doing comprehensive immigration reform will "ensures that little will be done right." Well, Riverside, CA Democratic Representat...
What Bipartisanship? (11 Jul 2013 09:44am)
There was much rejoicing yesterday as a bipartisan group of Senators allowed the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA) to move through the Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions Committee. That's good, of course, but does it really matter. There is so much about all of this stuff that strikes m...
Demographic Doom Still Awaits GOP (10 Jul 2013 10:59pm)
In general, I've always thought that Sean Trende is a smart guy and I will always been impressed with this discussion of the sixth year curse. And I've thought that his arguments that the Republicans can continue to win some elections as a white man's party were pretty strong. They weren't strong in...
Tesla and the Good Life (10 Jul 2013 08:18pm)
On this day back in 1509, the religion reformist John Calvin was born. There are actual theological distinctions between Calvinists and Lutherans, but they are mostly lost to time. My biggest problem with modern day Christianity is that it has lost its theological basis; it is all about culture now....
Abortion and Sharia Law Are the Same Thing (10 Jul 2013 12:19pm)
As you may have heard, in North Carolina last Friday, the Republican legislature amended a bill that prohibited the recognition of Sharia law. The ammended bill would also greatly restrict abortion rights. The folks at The Rachel Maddow Show have been doing good reporting on this. But there is one a...
Slow and Measured Filibuster Reform (10 Jul 2013 11:05am)
It is filibuster time again. And you know what that means: time to be disappointed! You may remember last year around this time, we were talking about complete filibuster reform. And then only a month ago, we were talking judicial and executive nominee filibuster reform. Well, I knew something was w...
Pundits Still Hoping for Immigration Reform (10 Jul 2013 09:53am)
There was a time not long ago when all the liberal Washington pundits were clucking about immigration reform. They said that if there was a big bipartisan vote for it in the Senate, then the House would just have to give it a vote. I felt very lonely in saying—time and again—that everyon...
Don't Mistake Oliver Sacks for a Hat (09 Jul 2013 07:19pm)
Let's start this day with two of the early masters of the Gothic novel. First is Ann Radcliffe who was born on this day in 1764. Second is Matthew Lewis who was born in 1775. Elias Howe was born in 1819. He invented the sewing machine. The Italian composer Ottorino Respighi was born in 1879. Althou...
Disloyal Democratic Party (09 Jul 2013 04:28pm)
I am very glad that Eliot Spitzer has decided to re-enter politics by running for New York City comptroller. And right on cue, Matt Yglesias has said what had to be said, Eliot Spitzer Never Should Have Resigned in the First Place. Mostly, his article was an excuse to point out that Spitzer most lik...
California, Eugenics, and the Drug War (09 Jul 2013 01:30pm)
Ah, yes! The good old days in California when a man could argue for forced sterilization with words like race and purity without having those meanies in the PC police get all over him. How far we've come! Now, there is no such thing. People know not to talk about it. They just move right past discus...
Negro Cocaine Fiend Myth Alive in Zimmerman Trial (09 Jul 2013 09:50am)
I haven't been following the George Zimmerman trial. I don't have strong opinions about the man. What I do have strong opinions about is the screwed up "stand your ground" laws that even make this trial necessary. But I heard something yesterday that really angered me. The judge in the case decided ...
It Was Never About Credibility (08 Jul 2013 09:02pm)
The always interesting, occasionally brilliant Matt Yglesias published one of the best headlines ever, S&P Legal Defense—No Reasonable Investor Would Take Us Seriously. (For the time, I will ignore his outrageous misuse of the em-dash; it should have been a colon.) The article is about the...
Decapitating Generals for Fun and Profit (08 Jul 2013 07:21pm)
French fabulist Jean de La Fontaine was born on this day in 1621. The inventor of Coca-Cola, John Pemberton was born in 1831. Injured in the Civil War, he became addicted to morphine. In order to cure himself, he came up with Coca-Cola. I don't know how successful the cure was for him, but the tempe...
Google Space Alien Game (08 Jul 2013 02:47pm)
I have a fair amount of respect for conspiracy theorists. But I often have big problems with specific conspiracy theories. I most hate the JFK assassination conspiracies. But a close second are the Roswell conspiracies. In fact, pretty much all UFO conspiracies are based on the belief that the milit...
Odd Thomas Odd (08 Jul 2013 12:08pm)
I got to watch a new film that has thus far only been making the festival rounds, Odd Thomas And this is strange, because it is a major production by Stephen Sommers, who directed The Mummy and other blockbusters. It is based upon the Dean Koontz novel of the same name. And the the film stars Anton ...
Who Cares About SFO Hotels Gouging Weekend Travelers? (08 Jul 2013 09:47am)
Last night, my sister called me. She said that on the local news, she had seen that hotels in the SFO area were raising their prices exorbitantly because of the increased demand created by the crash. Even a day afterward, departing flights were delayed by a minimum of five hours. Price gouging is an...
Umberto D. Sica (07 Jul 2013 10:49pm)
The great composer Gustav Mahler was born on this day in 1860. Truthfully, for years, my main interest in him was a line from Educating Rita. Rita's roommate Trish says, "Wouldn't you just die without Mahler?" She was a very expressive intellectual. Over time, I've come to agree with her. Mahler is ...
Media Bias and 22 Years on Death Row (07 Jul 2013 12:01am)
I keep waiting to hear something about Debra Milke, the women who was wrongly convicted of having her son murdered 23 years ago. But I guess Maricopa County hasn't decided if they are going to retry her yet. Regardless, The Daily Beast published an article a bit more than a month ago that showed a l...
A Blue Moon with Nanci Griffith (06 Jul 2013 09:52pm)
Our Mr. French from Family Affair, Sebastian Cabot was born on this day in 1918. Even when I was a kid, I thought those children were annoying. But Mr. French was cool. The great game show creator Merv Griffin was born in 1925. He also had his talk show too. Whenever I see a modern talk show, I thin...
On Being an Asshole and Possibly Right (06 Jul 2013 09:14pm)
I know when I'm being an asshole, but I often don't know why. Such was the case when I saw this tweet: Is it me, lots of Bay Area tweeters going on about their day, tweeting stupid stuff. A plane crashed, lots of people impacted.— Joanne Bradford (@dmjoanne) July 7, 2013 To some extent, this...
Neither Populism Nor Libertarianism (06 Jul 2013 07:31pm)
Look, I'm not a fool. I know that when I lavish praise on a conservative like Sean Trende, he will soon disappoint me by saying something stupid. Hell, in Trende's case, he was being stupid even while being smart. What I mean is that his analysis was right: the Republican Party could still win elect...
Clueless Resentment Politics (06 Jul 2013 11:28am)
Jamelle Bouie is one of people I read every day. So I was interested to see the clip below from All In. Bouie got some email that was, well, if not racist, at least the kind of conservative claptrap that claims that the black community is all screwed up and that it is all their own fault. I remember...
Take a Load Off Robbie (05 Jul 2013 10:41pm)
The captain of the HMS Beagle when Darwin did his research, Robert FitzRoy was born on this day in 1805. He's been portrayed as a bad guy because he didn't accept Darwin's theories, but FitzRoy was a good, if not a great man. He was an important meteorologist and a publicly minded man, if limited by...
Broken Links and the Little Blog (05 Jul 2013 06:03pm)
Earlier today, I was looking for statistics on the number of gun suicides in the United States. This is an issue that I've written about a lot. So I looked there for a link. And I found one! It was to the Illinois Council Against Handgun Violence (ICAHV) website. But don't click on that link, becaus...
Turtles and Clueless Atheists (05 Jul 2013 02:51pm)
Damon Linker has written something over at The Week, Where Are the Honest Atheists? It starts off as a review of A. C. Grayling's latest book, The God Argument. And that's why I read the article, because I think Grayling is an insightful thinker, and I've ordered the book. So I was interested to hea...
Quixote Vs. Kowalski (05 Jul 2013 11:44am)
You all know what a Don Quixote fan I am. What you probably don't know is that I've been trying to write my own take on the tale. To some extent, I've been inspired by Graham Greene's Monsignor Quixote. I am trying to do something quite different, however. I want to stay much closer to the original....
Paul Krugman Is Depressed (05 Jul 2013 09:27am)
I was reading a post by Paul Krugman this morning, and I thought I was reading my own writing. He sounded downright despondent. The article is, On the Political Economy of Permanent Stagnation, and it speculates about how things may not get better. It was the first time I realized that in general, K...
Koko and the Nature of Communication (04 Jul 2013 07:59pm)
As I was researching today's birthday post, I came upon Louis-Claude Daquin who was born on this day in 1694. But on Wikipedia, it said that he was "a French composer of Jewish birth writing..." That stopped me right in my tracks. What, pray tell, is "Jewish birth writing"? But after a moment, I fig...
Facebook and the Perfect Employee (04 Jul 2013 02:32pm)
I feel sorry for young people today. Throughout my life, I have done many stupid things. But mostly, they only reside in my flawed memory. Today, young people have to suffer what has long been an unfortunate aspect of being a celebrity: the permanent documentation of every silly idea, poorly chosen ...
Four Independence Days (04 Jul 2013 10:00am)
This is the fourth time that this blog has celebrated Independence Day. As you all must know by now, I don't dig on holidays. They disrupt my life. And Independence Day is particularly bad for a few reasons. First, and probably most important, is the fact that I have a neighbor who sets off loud fi...
In GOP Land America is 89% White (03 Jul 2013 08:57pm)
Benjy Sarlin has a great article about the New Southern Strategy that I've been writing about, How the GOP Stopped Worrying About Latinos and Learned to Love the Base. It lays out the best statistical counter argument to Sean Trende that I've read. As you know, I don't think any of this really matte...
Creepy Christian Mingle Girl Not So Creepy (03 Jul 2013 08:03pm)
You may remember that earlier this year, I made fun of the Chtristian Mingle ad on the left. I wrote of the model, "She looks like she is either the unfortunate victim of an evil plastic surgeon or the resident of a galaxy far far away." Even Andrea told me that I was being mean, but the photo is su...
Tom Stoppard and Julian Assange (03 Jul 2013 01:31pm)
German Nazarene movement painter Johann Friedrich Overbeck was born on this day in 1789. The great Czech composer Leos Janacek was born in 1854. Danish painter Albert Gottschalk was born in 1866. Franz Kafka was born in 1883. Bluesman Mississippi John Hurt was born in 1893. Actor George Sanders was ...
Accents and Star Trek Into Darkness (03 Jul 2013 12:57pm)
In order to escape the heat yesterday, I snuck away to the cheap movie theater and watched Star Trek Into Darkness. I was none too pleased with the first "new old" Star Trek. In particular, I don't buy most of the characters. The only one who manages to make me believe he's the real guy is Karl Urba...
White Party Strategy More Than Demographics (03 Jul 2013 11:49am)
I have basically been in agreement with Sean Trende about the Republican Party's option regarding being a white party. But there is a very big difference. Trende seems to think it is a good idea; I think it is just the Republican Party's only option given that they are unwilling to do anything to mo...
The Door Opens Outward (02 Jul 2013 09:59pm)
I just read a short essay by David Foster Wallace, "Some Remarks on Kafka's Funniness From Which Probably Not Enough Has Been Removed." It really made me think how much we are prisoners of our brain chemistry. Because Wallace gets it. He really understands what life is all about. And yet he chose to...
Marshall v. Board of Education (02 Jul 2013 09:15pm)
On this day in 1714, the great German composer Christoph Willibald Gluck was born. I have a great fondness for him because his Flute Concerto in G was one of the first real pieces of music I ever learned. He composed during one of my very favorite periods: the transition from Baroque to Classical. H...
The Fuck You Party (02 Jul 2013 01:37pm)
Steve Benen revisits an issue that he and I have both discussed a lot. Back in March, I wrote about Rob Portman. He is the anti-gay rights Republican who suddenly became pro-gay rights when he learned that his son was gay. The point is not that there's anything wrong with this. It is natural. But mo...
Meaning of Blondie's "Rapture" (02 Jul 2013 10:51am)
Yesterday was Debbie Harry's birthday and I was shocked to see that I had not written about the meaning of the song "Rapture." Or at least I hadn't written about it here. I did write a discussion of the song over at Song Meanings. So let me expand on that a bit. To me, the song is very clear. This i...
Chris Kluwe Better Punter Than Writer (02 Jul 2013 09:43am)
Chris Kluwe is a punter for the Oakland Raiders. When I was a kid, I was fascinated by punters because their kicking legs went up so high. You've got to be flexible to do that kind of thing. And in a game as unrelentingly boring as football, the punters and kickers are kind of cool. But I had never ...
Divide and Conquer (01 Jul 2013 08:28pm)
I came upon this exceptional video of Tim Wise talking about white privilege. His basic thesis is that the power elites of this country use racism to keep the poor from getting their rightful share of the rewards of this country. He tells the story that I know from Michelle Alexander's excellent The...
Calculus and Leibniz (01 Jul 2013 06:22pm)
Early Baroque composer Claudio Saracini was born on this day in 1586. Modern master of projective geometry, Jean-Victor Poncelet was born in 1788. Female French novelist who wrote under the name George Sand was born in 1804. Grammarian William Strunk Jr was born in 1869. Silent film pioneer Alice Gu...
Childbirth Is Dangerous; Abortion Is Not (01 Jul 2013 04:12pm)
There is a great deal of pretending in public life. For example, people pretend to care about children who float away in balloons. But they don't really. They like the drama. But they don't know the kid or the parents. The kid is probably a brat and the parents, as we now know, are assholes. This si...
GOP Will Pay No Price for Current Bigotry (01 Jul 2013 01:48pm)
This afternoon at the Plum Line, Jamelle Bouie provided, Yet Another Reason to be Skeptical That the GOP Will Reform. Bouie is a "glass half full" kind of guy. But that doesn't make him naive. Still, that headline is almost sweet; I can't but smile at the thought of us needing another reason to be s...
Can't Two Puppets Cuddle? (01 Jul 2013 10:39am)
After The New Yorker published their great "Bert and Ernie" cover celebrating the recent same sex marriage decisions from the Supreme Court, there was understandably much debate. Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association called it child abuse. And he has been somewhat supported by the Childre...
They Might Be James Goldman (30 Jun 2013 10:11pm)
On this day in 1917, actor Susan Hayward was born. Ed Yost, the inventor of the hot air balloon was born in 1919. And magician Harry Blackstone Jr was born in 1934. Economist Thomas Sowell is 83. Musician Stanley Clarke is 52. And actor Vincent D'Onofrio is 54. But the day belongs to playwright Ja...
Sluts Should Suffer for Sex (30 Jun 2013 08:25pm)
I've been having major computer problems today. I think it is the heat. It was 106 today and it is supposed to be—I am not making this up—118 on Tuesday. So if I'm not blogging it is because my internet connection is down or I've died of exposure. The latter case is my preference, but it...
Dean Baker and Perry Hotter (30 Jun 2013 04:18pm)
Last week, Dean Baker wrote More Thoughts on Patents and Copyrights. In it, he mentioned that it wasn't just a matter of how long a copyright was; its scope can be even more harmful to the free market. For example, it isn't just that J. K. Rowling's books will be under copyright protection for at le...
Conservative and Liberal Lies About Each Other (30 Jun 2013 02:39pm)
Yesterday, Paul Krugman wrote about why it is that conservatives so hate Acela Express. Of course, it is all about culture. Geoff Nunberg gets it exactly right in the subtitle of his excellent book, Talking Right, "How Conservatives Turned Liberalism into a Tax-Raising, Latte-Drinking, Sushi-Eating,...
Intellectual Jokes (30 Jun 2013 12:27pm)
A Reddit user recent asked a question, "What's the most intellectual joke you know?" The only joke that immediately came to mind was the classic, "How many surrealists does it take to screw in a light bulb?" Answer: "Fish!" There is also a line from Woody Allen during his stand-up days, "My ex-wife ...
The Little Prince (29 Jun 2013 11:54pm)
One of the founders of the Mayo Clinic, William James Mayo, was born on this day in 1861. Singer Nelson Eddy was born in 1901. And the great, great, great special effects master Ray Harryhausen was born in 1920. Harryhausen only died last month. He is best remembered for his films Jason and the Arg...
Lagunitas and Computer Crashes (29 Jun 2013 08:46pm)
People complain. They say, "Do you know that your website was down for over two hours today?" And I tell them, yes. My provider totally sucks! But they suck at less than half the price of my old provider. (Actually, my provider is great and they offer the best customer service I've ever gotten. If y...
Global Warming in Perspective (29 Jun 2013 02:33pm)
I know it's not global warming. Weather is not global warming. But here is the seven day forecast for my hometown of Santa Rosa, California: 106, 106, 106, 106, 95, 97, 91. Three days ago it was in the 60s and pouring rain. This is not typical weather for this place at any time. The truth is that in...
What Choice Do Republicans Have? (29 Jun 2013 12:52pm)
Steve Benen is a smart guy, but he suffers from a common tendency among liberals to misunderstand conservatives. He has entered the discussion that I wrote about earlier this week, Sean Trende's belief that the Republican Party can continue to win elections by pandering only to white voters. Benen h...
I'll Take Richard Rodgers (28 Jun 2013 07:07pm)
On this day in 1577, the great Flemish Baroque painter Peter Paul Rubens was born. He was named after Pee-wee Herman. Oh, I kid the great Flemish painters! But I do wonder if the great actor was named after him. John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, was born in 1703. The great philosopher Jean-Jacq...
There Will Be No Discharge Petition (28 Jun 2013 06:15pm)
Have you noticed the change in coverage today about immigration reform? I sure have: all those people who were so optimistic that somehow the House would take up the "gang of eight" immigration bill are strangely silent. And now a lot of people are coming out and saying what I've been saying, "Why w...
More Idiocy from the Deer Lady (28 Jun 2013 03:36pm)
I've been away visiting family, so it has been hard keeping up with my usual reading. And now I feel really behind. I started to panic, "What am I going to write about?" And then I had a thought, "What about the deer lady?" By that, I mean, Kathleen O'Brien Wilhelm, the woman who thought that deer s...
The Myth of Objective Journalism (28 Jun 2013 09:09am)
The primary difference between Fox News and MSNBC is not ideology; it is that Fox pretends to be objective. Yes, in general, MSNBC does a better job of reporting actual facts and doesn't go out of its way to mislead. But they are both advocacy groups: one for the Republican Party and the other for t...
Helen Keller Saw Clearer Than We (27 Jun 2013 09:12pm)
French composer Napoleon Coste was born on this day in 1805. Check out his Andante in D-Minor for a good example of his work. The anarchist political philosopher Emma Goldman was born in 1869. And poster artist Paul Colin was born in 1892. Social activist Grace Lee Boggs is 98 today. Ross Perot is ...
Immigration Reform Still Unlikely (27 Jun 2013 07:17pm)
I'm sure you've heard that the Senate managed to pass their little immigration reform bill with a vote of 68-32. Let's think about that for a second. That means that 32 of the 46 Republican Senators voted against the bill: 70%. This is what passes for a huge bipartisan compromise. And notice: the bi...
Rand Paul Thinks Dog Marriage is Next (27 Jun 2013 06:05pm)
As you all know, I have major problems with real libertarians—to a large extent because most of them have a good understanding of the problems of governing and I don't see why they don't recognize their very clear blind spots. But people who claim to be libertarians who don't understand the ph...
Lessons of Zimmerman's Defense (27 Jun 2013 04:37pm)
It is said that the Florida "stand your ground" law is confusing. And I can see why based upon the little that I've seen of the George Zimmerman trial. Today, Rachel Jeantel, the girl who was talking on the phone with Trayvon Martin moments before he was killed, was on the stand. The defense were re...
Sean Trende is Right: Republican Is a White Party (27 Jun 2013 02:19pm)
There have been a number of articles responding to Sean Trende's articles over at Real Clear Politics where he has been arguing that Republicans don't need to make any changes; they just need to get more white people out to the polls and get a larger percentage of the white vote. For example, yester...
No Conspiracy on Inflation (27 Jun 2013 09:14am)
There is a line of argument that I hear all the time from conservatives. It states that inflation is totally out of control but that it isn't taken into account with regular measures because they weed out volatile items. In other words, "Have you seen what is happening to the price of milk?!" This i...
Ingrid Michaelson Will Love Me When I'm Sixty-Four (26 Jun 2013 10:10pm)
Somewhere in my Pandora listening, I came upon the Ingrid Michaelson song "The Way I Am." I had never much paid attention to the lyrics. I think it shows up on my Jacques Brel station, and so most of the songs are in French, and I don't know much French. I do, however, find some songs are so compell...
Drug War Martyr (26 Jun 2013 06:05pm)
One this day in 1817, Branwell Bronte was born. He was the underachieving brother of the Bronte sisters. But he was accomplished in his way. He was apparently addicted to alcohol and opium at various times and had a bit of a gambling habit. All of that hard living is usually said to be responsible f...
Glenn Greenwald is a Pornographer! (26 Jun 2013 03:41pm)
It looks like a couple of newspapers are interested in Glenn Greenwald's past. In particular, they want to know about his history as a pornographer. This is the kind of thing that makes me want to say, "You can't make this stuff up." But that's not true. This is exactly the kind of thing that I writ...
TV Machine (26 Jun 2013 10:45am)
I just saw an article over at Maddow Blog, Rachel Maddow on the TV Machine All Day. "TV machine"? I thought that was my phrase. I thought that I had come up with it independently. It is, after all, my kind of jokey philosophy. The Luddites, after all, were the Android programmers of their day. So I ...
Environmentalism Good for Economy Right Now (26 Jun 2013 09:05am)
I'm glad to see that Obama made his big speech and that he is now going to take executive action on climate change. I do, however, wonder why it took so long. The standard answer is that the president can only do so many things at once. While that is certainly true of me, I don't think it applies to...
Stare Decisis My Ass (26 Jun 2013 08:13am)
Steve Benen wrote an excellent article yesterday on the Supreme Court's Shelby County v. Holder ruling (which effectively struck down Section 4 of the Voting Rights Act), In Need of a Constitutional Rationale. You see, the majority did something that is highly unusual, but telling I think: they prov...
Let the Empire Burn (25 Jun 2013 09:38pm)
I have stopped myself all day from writing about the Voting Rights Act case. I will write about it in the morning. But I wanted to briefly explain how much this bothers me. It isn't like it is a surprise; it is what I was expecting. But it seems more and more that the Supreme Court majority is nothi...
Grammar Bullies (25 Jun 2013 08:39pm)
The following video by Matthew Rogers and Stephen Fry rather sums up my approach to writing. It reminded me of a time long ago when I allowed my father to read the first five chapters of my first novel. He gave it to his girl friend who considered herself quite erudite. She also hated me for reasons...
1948 (25 Jun 2013 06:47pm)
On this day in 1709, the Italian composer Francesco Araja was born. We don't know exactly when he died. And by that, I mean that all we know is that he was alive in 1762. And we know he was dead in 1771. But other than that, we really can't say. The problem is that although he was born in Italy, he ...
Superstars Are Replaceable (25 Jun 2013 01:23pm)
I have long argued against the idea that we must pay successful people excessive amounts of money because they would otherwise just sit on their duffs and produce nothing. There are many things wrong with this way of thinking. The main thing is that the argument can only be made by non-creative peop...
Shameful Content on The Last Word (25 Jun 2013 11:19am)
I don't have a lot to say here—it largely speaks for itself. The gang on last night's The Last Word discussed Edward Snowden in the most dismissive way. Joy Reid seems to think that if the United States just asks for anyone in China, the Chinese government has to hand him over. There is no sub...
Classification and the Attack on Democracy (25 Jun 2013 10:13am)
The purpose of classifying documents is to protect the country. Or at least that's the idea. In fact, according to the Senate Select Committee to Study Government Operation, something classified as "top secret" is supposed to mean that disclosure "reasonably could be expected to cause exceptionally ...
Gold Is Not a Good Investment—At Least for 500 Years (25 Jun 2013 08:38am)
Matthew O'Brien brought my attention to the graph below which shows the inflation adjusted value of gold over the last 8 centuries. What it shows is that gold is a really terrible investment. Gold does not hold its value. Since about 1500, it has been going down in value steadily. And there are only...
Democrats, Media Allow Republicans to Abuse Scandals (24 Jun 2013 10:48pm)
Last time I discussed the IRS targeting of Tea Party related groups, I wrote, What If There Was No IRS Scandal? I was especially interested in a comment made by Holly Paz that "tea party" was a generic term for obviously partisan political groups who were trying to get non-profit and non-disclosure ...
Immigration Reform Still Loser for Republicans (24 Jun 2013 09:09pm)
Earlier this month, I asked a rhetorical question, Why Should Republicans Support Immigration Reform? It was rhetorical because I knew there was no answer. As I've argued again and again since this silly issue came up on the evening of 6 November 2012: the Latino aversion to the Republican Party is ...
Bierce and Reich (24 Jun 2013 07:41pm)
When I was first introduced to unix in 1988, a big part of the experience was that whenever I logged in, I got a "message of the day" in the form of a little program, typically named "motd." All the program did was pick randomly from a text file of quotes. I'm sure it was added to over the years by ...
Obama bin Lyin' (24 Jun 2013 05:35pm)
I just saw this bumper sticker in the parking lot of Trader Joe's. As you probably know, I have major problems with the "What Do You Think of Obama Now?" bumper stickers. This one is even worse. It goes right to heart of what it means to be the loyal opposition. The conservative movement has long b...
Vague Patent Trolling (24 Jun 2013 11:02am)
Timothy B. Lee has been doing a lot of excellent reporting at Wonk Blog about our broken intellectual property system. At first, I was highly skeptical of Lee. Maybe it was unfair, but he used to work at the Cato Institute and my experience is that most libertarians have a blind spot when it comes t...
Good Change at SEC—Maybe (24 Jun 2013 09:00am)
Mary Jo White, the new chair of the Securities and Exchange Commission, is urging an end to the practice of settlements with businesses where they admit no wrongdoing. I agree with Matt Yglesias that this is a good change. For too long we've allowed companies to avoid any reputational stain for thei...
NASCAR Culture and Sport (23 Jun 2013 10:26pm)
I spent today at the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series at Sonoma. I have never been to a NASCAR race and I doubt I will ever go again. But it was a great opportunity to see what it was all about. As you may remember, I wrote about auto racing less than a month ago and questioned why people like watching...
Apologies to Alan Turing (23 Jun 2013 07:12pm)
On this day in 1894, the iconic sex researcher Alfred Kinsey was born. He was trained as an entomologist, which I suppose is as good a form of training as anything to study human sexuality. Kinsey's great insight was simply that if you wanted to understand human sexuality, you just needed to ask hum...
Unstable Weirdos and Business Success (23 Jun 2013 08:39am)
Dave Logan over at CBS News explains why so many geniuses don't have jobs. He has a broad definition of the word "genius": anyone who is brilliant at something or other that the business world might find useful. The problem is that people who are really good at one thing are usually very bad at othe...
The Private Life of Billy Wilder (22 Jun 2013 10:54pm)
On this day back in 1903, John Dillinger was born. What I've always found so interesting about him is how he and Baby Face Nelson hooked up. Compared to Nelson, Dillinger seems almost aristocratic. Or at least not a total psychopath. Anyway, Dillinger had just turned 31 when he was killed. That seem...
Matt Yglesias Impersonates Basil Smikle (22 Jun 2013 12:35pm)
I knew that Matt Yglesias was a smart young man, but I had no idea he did impersonations. You may know him just because I write so much about him here. I often think he is too clever and provides conservatives with policy cover on some economic issues. In particular, like most intellectuals of his a...
Jesus Reborn as Superman (22 Jun 2013 10:34am)
Despite my better judgement, I went to see Man of Steel yesterday. Comic book heroes are silly. I mean, really? You have super acrobatic abilities and can echolocate so you dress up in a red costume with DD printed on the chest? Really?! It makes no sense, especially given that both the bad guys and...
Pressure on Republican House?! (21 Jun 2013 10:16pm)
I've been skeptical of the idea that if 70 senators vote for the immigration bill it will put so much pressure on House Republicans that they will have to pass it. If 70 senators vote for it, that means (given likely unanimity or near-unanimity among the Democrats) that a strong majority of Senate R...
Problem with Unenforced Laws (21 Jun 2013 08:16pm)
Over at Marginal Revolution, Alex Tabarrok discussed how No One is Innocent. He referenced Harvey Silverglate's book, Three Felonies A Day: How the Feds Target the Innocent. As the title indicates, Silverglate thinks that people commit three felonies per day on average. Taborrok doesn't think it is ...
Scary Birthday! (21 Jun 2013 06:08pm)
On this day in 1732, Johann Christoph Friedrich Bach was born. He was the ninth son Johann Sebastian Bach. Was that the last of his sons? I don't actually know. Johann Sebastian had two wives. The first gave him seven children before she died for unknown reasons but I figure it was simply exhaustion...
Dot-Blog Won't Save the World (21 Jun 2013 09:57am)
The newest Wonk Blog member, Lydia DePillis wrote an interesting article on the future of domain names, but I think she is fundamentally wrong. The first half of the article is rather amusing. At the end of every day Wonk Blog publishes a feature that provides links to four or five almost random ar...
Vive la Resistance! (20 Jun 2013 09:34pm)
The Egyptian Caliph Ali az-Zahir was born on this day in 1005. And he died just shy of 31 years later. What I think is interesting about him is how one can take a ruler that young seriously. That's not to say you can't be an idiot at an older age. Just look at the United States Congress. Or Rick Pe...
Liberals Do NOT like Spurs (20 Jun 2013 08:05pm)
So I'm minding my own business, waiting for the final Spurs-Heat game, trying to get a little work done to make up for the fact that I got so little done earlier today. And then a tweet pops up from the brilliant but slappable Matt Yglesias. I'm always amazed by these young political nerds who claim...
Farm Bill: Perfect Republican Policy (20 Jun 2013 05:10pm)
The first thing you need to know about the farm bill is that the only reason that it failed in the House was that some of the Republicans didn't think it was horrible enough. So don't get the idea that its failure was some kind of indication that the House conservatives were evolving hearts. Taking ...
Bernanke's Stupid and Dangerous Move (20 Jun 2013 04:27pm)
Paul Krugman wrote a good article on his blog this morning. It is about all of this talk of tapering the Fed's quantitative easing (QE) program. All this week I've been wondering what the hell is up with Bernanke. Whatever happened to keeping interest rates low until at least the end of 2014? Whatev...
Dodd-Frank and the AR-15 Movie Ban (20 Jun 2013 08:30am)
I was just imagining what would happen if the government decided that violence in film had a really pernicious effect on society. Congress would get to work on a bill and outlawed on-screen shooting deaths. But while they were working on the bill, the lobbyists from Hollywood came in and argued for ...
Gena Rowlands' Hair (19 Jun 2013 08:36pm)
On this day in 1623, the great physicist (and much, much more) Blaise Pascal was born. In particular, he did a lot of work in fluid flow and invented the hydraulic press and the syringe. In addition to all of his work in science and mathematics, he was also quite an interesting theologian. Unlike Ne...
Conservative Assault on Families (19 Jun 2013 05:37pm)
When I was a kid growing up during the Cold War, there was one thing that most disturbed me. It was the same thing that disturbed everyone. Political systems, economic systems, those are important, but they aren't personal. What was personal was how the power of the state was used to pit children ag...
Grammar Problems Persist at Washington Post (19 Jun 2013 10:34am)
For a long time, I said nothing. I hid my true feelings. I resisted the impulse to scream, "Doesn't the Washington Post hire copy editors?!" Or even decent IT professionals, because the problem that most bugs me is more a technical problem than a grammar problem. And it is the kind of thing that oug...
What If There Was No IRS Scandal? (19 Jun 2013 09:38am)
At the beginning of the IRS scandal, I was really angry when the White House forced the resignation of IRS chief Steven T. Miller. Even at that time, it was well known that Miller was not in charge when the scandal was going on. It was Shirley Sherrod all over again. Our current president has no tol...
Jack Lew's New Signature (19 Jun 2013 08:54am)
As I've reported before, Treasury Secretary Jack Lew has an odd signature. Essentially, it is just a bunch of circles. When he was nominated Treasury Secretary, there was much discussion about how horrible his signature would look on our currency. Given that we have a pyramid topped with an eye on o...
Noise as Censorship (18 Jun 2013 08:44pm)
Noise becomes a cover. I would say that the ideology of the censorship through noise can be expressed, with apologies to Wittgenstein, by saying, "Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must talk a great deal." The flagship TG1 news program on Italian state television, for example, is a master of thi...
The Critic and the Songwriter (18 Jun 2013 07:45pm)
On this day in 1511, the Italian sculptor and architect Bartolomeo Ammannati was born. I think his sculptures are beautiful but they aren't held in high regard because he so much copied Michelangelo. But if you are going to copy someone, copy the best. Anyway, I really like Michelangelo, so it makes...
A Great Loss: Michael Hastings (18 Jun 2013 06:53pm)
As you have probably heard, Michael Hastings died this morning in a car crash. Rolling Stone has a good obituary for him that you ought to read. I noticed that last November I wrote what could have stood as it's own obituary in an article, Michael Hastings Ruining Journalism... Again. "I really like...
Welfare Reform Kills the Poor (18 Jun 2013 03:07pm)
You should know by now that the welfare reform was a crock. Clinton was right that we were ending welfare as we know it, although it would have been more accurate to say simply "ending welfare." It is often claimed (especially by Clinton himself) that the 1996 welfare reform law lifted many people o...
Rush Limbaugh's Good Immigration Question (18 Jun 2013 12:08pm)
Rush Limbaugh asked a very good question: if immigration reform is so great for Republicans, why are Democrats in favor of it. And Jonathan Chait provided an answer: because Democrats will still get more credit for it than Republicans. And if it fails, Democrats have to be in the position to say tha...
Hope Is Not an Environmental Plan (18 Jun 2013 08:52am)
Hope is not a good environmental plan. For years I hoped that James Lovelock was right and that the earth is its own kind of super-organism that wouldn't allow itself to be perturbed by a little radiative forcing this way or that. But that hope came to nothing as the earth most clearly got hotter an...
From the Middle Out (17 Jun 2013 08:40pm)
Everybody's been writing about Alan Krueger's talk at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Who is Krueger? The original drummer of the Jimi Hendrix Experience? The guy who wrote "Wild Thing"? A rock historian? No, no, and no. He is the chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers—the ki...
Birth of a Chocolate Chip (17 Jun 2013 05:27pm)
On this day in 1691, the Italian painter Giovanni Paolo Panini was born. He is known for his view painting: very large scale painting of cities. In his case, it was Rome. It's interesting stuff, but I would prefer more people. He clearly had a gift for historical or mythical material, but he did ver...
Good News on Filibuster Reform? (17 Jun 2013 02:14pm)
Greg Sargent wrote an article this afternoon that really has me scratching my head, Do Senate Dems Have the Votes for the 'Nuclear Option'? The word on Capital Hill is that the Democrats may not have enough votes to enact the "nuclear option"—the move to abolish the filibuster on judicial nomi...
Global Warming and Budget Analogy (17 Jun 2013 11:05am)
In his column today, Paul Krugman argues that we need to stop worrying about the long term budget. Basically, he thinks the opportunity costs are too high. We are in no position to judge what policy ought to be 20 or 30 years from now. What's more, legislators today can't constrain what legislators ...
Beyond Patent Protection (17 Jun 2013 09:25am)
One of the big arguments against libertarianism is the threat of monopolies. If there is no government, what will stop all markets from becoming noncompetitive? What stops a big company from using its resources to sell below cost for long enough to drive the competition out of business? The answer t...
Why Conservatives Hate the Government (16 Jun 2013 07:15pm)
I've got a great way to make a group of people think that the government is complete corrupt and without any accountability. It's really easy. Have the people on TV tell them every day about some terrible scandal. Of course, there is no actual scandal. The news readers just report things that indica...
The Wealth of Adam Smith (16 Jun 2013 05:34pm)
On this day back in 1792, the British naturalist and painter John Linnell was born. He is best known today for not being the guy in the band They Might Be Giants who has the same name. What I find remarkable about painters like Linnell and John Constable is that their art has been so thoroughly inte...
Edvard Grieg (15 Jun 2013 07:24am)
The great French painter Nicolas Poussin was born on this day in 1594. His work is both Classical and Baroque. He paints mostly historical or mythical scenes. It's all very crowded and intense and beautiful. The great German musical theorist Georg Joseph Vogler was born in 1749. Arranger and "diffic...
Supply Side Dogma (15 Jun 2013 12:40am)
I came upon two excellent articles yesterday that attack supply side economic dogma. But before I get to that, I want to run through a small thought experiment using my friend Will. He has built a company from the ground up, Dirt Cheap Computers. Basically, it is him (along with me at times) and he ...
It Takes Junior Walker (14 Jun 2013 08:38pm)
On this day in 1726, the father of modern geology, James Hutton was born. He proposed the idea that the surface of the earth was slowed formed by processes such as erosion and sedimentation. I never think of geology as an especially theoretical subject. This undoubtedly is based not on any great und...
Matt Yglesias Blames Spanish Workers (14 Jun 2013 03:55pm)
Speaking of enfant terrible, Josh Barro's counterpart on the left is Matt Yglesias. (It says much about our screwed up political system that these guys largely agree on policy matters.) Today, Yglesias wrote an apologia of sorts for the contention of the European Union elite that Ireland is some kin...
What Josh Barro Hasn't Figured Out Yet (14 Jun 2013 10:34am)
I can see why Republicans increasingly don't see enfant terrible Josh Barro as a conservative. He will go on! Yesterday at Business Insider, he wrote, There Is Still No Conservative, Pro-Middle Class Agenda. It is primarily an attack on Utah Senator Mike Lee, but Barro is quite clear that he means i...
Rich Santorum Is Right About Labor (14 Jun 2013 08:56am)
Many will be surprised, but those who read me closely will know that I have a certain fondness for Rick Santorum. Yes, his conservative Catholicism is ridiculous. And generally his policy positions are terrible. But his economic rhetoric is quite compelling. He has a strong populist streak in him&md...
How to Watch Pride and Prejudice (13 Jun 2013 06:20pm)
I just watched the 2005 film version of Pride & Prejudice. It's the one with Keira Knightley. When it comes to filmed versions, most people mention the 1995 BBC version with Colin Firth. And I agree that it is quite a good version. But although it is well done, it is still typical of such versio...
Maxwell Said... And Then There Was Light (13 Jun 2013 03:08pm)
On this day back in 1865, the great poet William Butler Yeats was born. I've never taken the time to really appreciate him. Perhaps someday. With all due respect (not much) to Robert Downey Jr, the ultimate and forever screen Sherlock Holmes, Basil Rathbone was born in 1892. A whole bunch of actors...
Roger Waters Is Not Antisemitic (13 Jun 2013 12:11pm)
I am deeply confused about the Israel-Palestine conflict. I feel for both groups of people and I truly feel that other than the extremists on each side, the people just want to live their lives in peace. Unfortunately, one side of extremists have an incredibly powerful and effective military at its ...
Republicans Have No Healthcare Ideas (13 Jun 2013 10:43am)
This morning, Jonathan Chait attacked the conservative movement for its delusional belief that Obamacare is going to be such a terrible thing that even liberals will soon call for its repeal. We always see an outbreak of this kind of triumphalism with each new poll that comes out that shows that mos...
Fixing the Unfair Mortgage Interest Deduction (12 Jun 2013 10:54pm)
Two months ago, the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) released an amazing report, Mortgage Interest Deduction Is Ripe for Reform. It argues that the mortgage interest deduction is a bad way to encourage home ownership. Now, this is the kind of talk that normally makes home owners freak ...
Whores Hawk Reverse Mortgages (12 Jun 2013 03:10pm)
A reverse mortgage is not necessarily a bad thing. Under the right circumstances it can really help a retiree. Basically, it is a way to sell your house while being allowed to live in it until you die. The estate of someone who gets a reverse mortgage doesn't necessarily lose the home in the end. Bu...
Remembering Medgar Evers (12 Jun 2013 12:21pm)
Before we get to the birthdays, we need to discuss a death. Early in the morning 50 years ago today, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated by white supremacist Byron De La Beckwith. But that was not the first attempt on his life. Others had tried to run him over and fire bomb him. It is ...
Michael Bloomberg Wants to Destroy the Democratic Party (12 Jun 2013 10:26am)
This morning at the Plum Line (which is no longer free), Greg Sargent reported on Holding Dems Who Vote Wrong Way on Guns Accountable. It explained that Michael Bloomberg has sent out a letter to Wall Street fat cats telling them not to give money to four red state Democratic Senators who voted agai...
Snowden Isn't Traitor Not That it Matters (12 Jun 2013 09:09am)
This morning, Dylan Matthews at Wonk Blog (which is no longer free) explained, No, Edward Snowden Probably Didn't Commit Treason. You see, Dianne Feinstein isn't the only high profile idiot saying—based upon no evidence, I might add—that Snowden is a traitor. But it turns out that treaso...
In Which I Stare at a Woman's Breasts (11 Jun 2013 08:21pm)
So I decided to finally get off my duff and go check out the local Democratic Party that meets just around the corner from me. And they were a nice group—lively and friendly. Afterwards, I was talking to a guy and he explained how it all worked. I told him that I wasn't very interested in voti...
Dai Vernon (11 Jun 2013 04:53pm)
Italian Baroque composer Giovanni Antonio Giay was born on this day in 1690. And Portuguese Baroque composer Carlos Seixas was born in 1704. English Romantic painter John Constable was born in 1776. Photographic innovator Julia Margaret Cameron was born in 1815. Refrigeration technology inventor Car...
Drunk Driving Hysteria (11 Jun 2013 12:04pm)
I am not much of a drinker. But I really hate the modern abstinence movement that is best represented by MADD. And look: I understand! The negative effects of alcohol are big and obvious. I don't even much think of drunk driving. Alcohol makes a lot of people total assholes. But here's the thing. Am...
Americans Don't Care About Anything Important (11 Jun 2013 11:00am)
Steve Benen provided this graph that shows a fair bit of hypocrisy in how both Democrats and Republicans think about the surveillance state. But Benen is much more of a partisan than I am. His whole point of showing the graph was to push back on the "Democratic hypocrisy" narrative that is forming....
Dianne Feinstein Is a Traitor (11 Jun 2013 08:42am)
It's hard to know what to think about Edward Snowden, the young man who leaked NSA information to the Guardian and the Washington Post. On the surface, it is all good and he looks like a hero. But I will admit that the story seems a little weird and so I will wait for more information. What can't be...
Global Warming and American Leadership (10 Jun 2013 07:58pm)
This afternoon, Steve Benen was writing about Obama's meeting with Chinese President Xi Jinping. They sort of agreed that maybe they kind of ought to think about someday considering the possibility that there could at some point in the distant future might be an agreement that could conceivable lead...
Timing Lightning Strikes (10 Jun 2013 05:19pm)
Last night, I had my bedroom window open because even with the recent cooling, the room gets little circulation and stays very hot very late. So I was suddenly awaken at around 2:00 am, when a lightning storm rolled in. It was very cool with nothing between me and it. As I watched the storm and list...
Somewhere Over the Rainbow (10 Jun 2013 03:17pm)
Let's get right to the obvious stuff. Last year, Maurice Sendak died shortly before his 84th birthday. Having been born in 1928, he would have been 85 today. He was an author and illustrator of what he refused to call children's books. His best known book is Where the Wild Things Are though he wrote...
Like it or Not Venezuela Is a Democracy (10 Jun 2013 11:26am)
America does not believe in democracy. Remember the 2006 Palestinian elections when Hamas won? There was a total administration freak out over that one. Democracy is only valid if people vote for what the United States government wants. That's in the Constitution. Look it up! For a decade and a hal...
S&P and Anti-Meritocracy (10 Jun 2013 09:16am)
How people continue to think that America is even moderately a meritocracy amazes me. Look at the banks. The Federal Reserve loans them money at low interest rates and allows them to lend it out at high interest rates. It would be like if Apple gave only you and your close friends the right to buy i...
Bill O'Reilly Corrects Himself—Kinda (09 Jun 2013 06:47pm)
Fairness and Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) published a good article on Bill O'Reilly's "evolution" on one part of the IRS scandal. As you may recall, the Daily Caller published an article in which they claimed that former IRS Chief Douglas Shulman visited the White House 157 times while Obama was pre...
Maybe a Democratic Surveillance State? (09 Jun 2013 05:28pm)
I think of Mike Konczal as an economics writer, but he is usually just as illuminating when writing about other things. Yesterday at Wonk Blog, he wrote, Is a Democratic Surveillance State Possible? In it, he described work by Yale law professor Jack Balkin where he argues that there are two kinds o...
Car Shows and White Power (09 Jun 2013 03:22pm)
As many of you know, my familial obligations require me to do things that, in a social vacuum, I would never do. The best example of this is attendance at action films with my older brother. But another example of this is my going to car shows with my father. All of my childhood—which included...
Get a Kick Out of Cole Porter (09 Jun 2013 10:49am)
On this day back in 1812, the discoverer of Neptune, Johann Gottfried Galle was born. By "discoverer" I mean that he was the first person to see it and know what it was. The planet was already theorized and Urbain Le Verrier had predicted roughly where it would be. Still, Galle's achievement is nota...
Reagan Today (09 Jun 2013 09:23am)
On Real Time last Friday, Bill Maher claimed that Ronald Reagan was the original Teabagger. It's a funny bit that's worth watching. It highlights some problematic liberal mythology. But it doesn't actually attack what many people mean when they say that Reagan wouldn't fit into the modern Republican...
Scalia On the Right Side for a Change (08 Jun 2013 08:40pm)
In the Supreme Court case Maryland v. King, Justice Scalia is a hero. This is the case where the Court found that we really aren't innocent until proven guilty. Anything that the police want to do with someone arrested is just fine as far as the majority is concerned. In recent years, it has seemed ...
Frank Lloyd Wright (08 Jun 2013 06:18pm)
On this day back in 1625, Giovanni Domenico Cassini was born. The name probably sounds familiar because of NASA's Cassini–Huygens spacecraft that they sent to Saturn. That's because Cassini did some important early observations of the planet. He discovered four of its moons and also the division of ...
Karen Finney's Disrupt Looks Pretty Good (08 Jun 2013 02:33pm)
I've long anticipated Karen Finney getting her own show on MSNBC. In fact, for a while, I thought it might be some kind of political version of The View with Finney, Goldie Taylor, Joy Reid, and some conservative affirmative action case—almost certainly a blond. But today, Karen Finney started...
McConnell's Court Shrinking (08 Jun 2013 12:21pm)
I just saw Jonathan Alter explain something really interesting about this whole fight involving Obama's three simultaneous nominations to the DC Circuit Court of Appeals. A couple of weeks ago, I mocked Chuck Grassley from claiming this was "court packing." As I explained, that's not what the phrase...
Conservative Goals and the NSA (08 Jun 2013 10:27am)
Yesterday, I happened to hear David Brooks on NPR. He was asked about the huge NSA surveillance program. He said, "I'm somewhat bothered by the secrecy, but I don't feel it's intrusive. Basically, they're running huge amounts of megadata [sic] through an algorithm. That feels less intrusive to me th...
iRadio Will Not Destroy Pandora (07 Jun 2013 10:23pm)
It looks like Apple is going to get into the internet radio business. You'll never believe what their going to call it. Yeah, I know: iRadio. Pretty fucking obvious. But it isn't just the name that's obvious. The idea is obvious. Apple will only be about the hundredth company to enter the field. And...
Beauty and the Dirty French Painter (07 Jun 2013 07:40pm)
Arbiter of men's fashion in the early 19th century (one of the reasons they dressed so silly) Beau Brummell was born on this day in 1778. He is usually "credited" with introducing the modern suit and tie. People have speculated that was gay. Who would have thought such a thing?! Some have even specu...
Why Democrats Must Stand Firm on Immigration (07 Jun 2013 03:26pm)
This afternoon, Greg Sargent wrote, Dems Vow Hard Line in Immigration Reform's Next Phase. It is about John Cornyn's amendment to make the bill "stronger" by increasing border security. People in Washington are claiming that by appealing to conservatives with the amendment like Cornyn's, they might ...
Citizens: the New Enemy of the State (07 Jun 2013 02:42pm)
I didn't see Enemy of the State until 2003. I was over at my sister's and it came on TV. The film grabbed me instantly. It's directed by Tony Scott, with all of his wonderful excesses. And then there was Gene Hackman taking another turn at the reasonable paranoia of Harry Caul in one of my very favo...
What Politicians Should Respond To (07 Jun 2013 11:31am)
Remember yesterday when I reported on Ezra Klein's most recent false equivalence? He rightly noted that the Republicans are not changing their position on the budget deficit even though the situation has changed substantially. But since he attacked the Republicans, he had to attack the Democrats. So...
Media Responsible for Debt Hysteria (07 Jun 2013 09:40am)
There is something that Matt Yglesias wrote that I quote all the time. In it, he talks about how those running around screaming about the federal debt are not really interested in it. He compares them to a hypothetical group of Quakers claiming that we must cut spending on the military in order to r...
Diego Velazquez (06 Jun 2013 07:37pm)
On this day in 1755, Nathan Hale was born. He is know for his death. When he was being hanged by the British as a spy, he said, "I only regret that I have but one life to give for my country." Maybe he didn't actually say it. But after people die, they become mythical. "When the legend becomes fact,...
Gas Mileage Ain't All You Think (06 Jun 2013 05:12pm)
Brad Plumer presented a fun math problem this morning. But instead of using it to discuss why math makes everything better, he insisted upon discussing policy. Environmental policy, in fact. Now I'm all for that. You can decide for yourself if the article is worth reading from its title, Want to Boo...
Gabriel Gomez Can't Win (06 Jun 2013 12:54pm)
David Bernstein wrote a good overview of last night's Massachusetts Senatorial debate.If you're interested in the race, I recommend clicking over and reading the whole thing. All I'm interested in here is the way that politics really does make a reasonable discussion impossible. Current House repre...
Why Should Republicans Support Immigration Reform? (06 Jun 2013 10:57am)
I've been trying to figure something out. How does immigration reform help Republicans? I mean, I understand if Republicans actually embraced it. They could changed their tune and say, "Of course we are for immigration reform. Immigration has made America great. People who risk death to come to Amer...
Facts Have Not Changed Regarding Budget (06 Jun 2013 09:05am)
This morning, Ezra Klein tells us that both sides do it. He notes that the budget deficit has been greatly reduced and yet the Republicans are pushing even harder for cutting the budgets. And in a little bit of false equivalence, he says that the Democrats are doing the same thing by not coming to t...
Josh Barro Phenomenon (05 Jun 2013 07:42pm)
Let me coin a term: the Josh Barro Phenomenon. It is a special form of conservative affirmative action where just by being something other than a stupid troll, a conservative can be held in high esteem among liberals. And Barro has received more than his fair share of compliments by us on the left. ...
Sinning Against Keynes (05 Jun 2013 01:28pm)
On this day in 1878, Mexican revolutionary Pancho Villa was born. Growing up, I always thought he was like the Mexican Billy the Kid. But if he was any kind of outlaw, it was Robin Hood. I think it's all about racism. This morning, I was wondering about all of this immigration reform. Why is it that...
Alberto Alesina Wasn't Right (05 Jun 2013 10:46am)
I guess Wonk Blog is trying to brandish it conservative credentials. This morning, Jim Tankersley wrong one the lamest economic articles I've read in weeks, The Era of 'Uncertainty' May Be Over. Will a Growth Boom Begin? It seems designed to give the austerity folks cover. It argues that all the sig...
Should ITC Stop Protecting Patents? (04 Jun 2013 09:37pm)
According to Wonk Blog, Bill Watson over at the Cato Institute is unhappy that the International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled that a number of Apple products infringed on Samsung patents. He rightly notes that there is duplication in the patent law system. But I have a problem with this kind of appr...
My Girl Rosalind (04 Jun 2013 07:05pm)
On this day back in 1738, King George III was born. You know, the king we Yankees whooped? The crazy King? I don't know much about him—there aren't many kings who are worth studying. But I did see The Madness of King George. And I didn't much like it. But I did like one line from the film. (In...
Why Reagan but Not Bush? (04 Jun 2013 05:33pm)
This morning, Jonathan Chait reported on a feud that is going on in the Republican Party. One one side is the establishment George W. Bush force, represented by Peter Wehner. On the other is the Tea Party force, represented by Laura Ingraham. They've been going back and forth at each other. Wehner a...
Racism in Drug Laws (04 Jun 2013 02:27pm)
Dylan Matthews presents this morning, The Black/White Marijuana Arrest Gap, in Nine Charts. But why wade through so many charts unless you have some unusual chart mania? His "nine charts" come from a new report from the ACLU, The War on Marijuana in Black and White (pdf). And I've taken two of the g...
False Lessons of the New Democrats (04 Jun 2013 11:48am)
I have been working on a longer argument against the New Democratic movement. The standard explanation of how the Democratic Party has changed over the last several decade is wrong I think. The narrative says that the party became too liberal in the 1960s. I don't think this is correct, but it is tr...
Erick Erickson Don't Need No Stinking Reform (04 Jun 2013 09:58am)
Early this morning, Erick Erickson posted a lame critique of the conservative reform movement over at Red State, On Conservative Reformers. Mostly it is just an excuse to savagely attack Josh Barro. He describes him as a "late twenty-something gay male." Until reading that, it had not occurred to me...
Lawrence Lessig on Campaign Finance (03 Jun 2013 10:44pm)
This is one of the happiest things I've seen in a while. You really should watch it: ...
Allen Ginsberg (03 Jun 2013 10:24pm)
On this day in 1808, Jefferson Davis was born. He lived to be an old, rich, and respected man—despite the fact that he was a traitor. Because, you know, he was a rich white man. We don't do anything to people like that. After the Civil War, he got a slap on the wrist and then he was pretty muc...
Fuck Monsanto! The Kids Are Alright! (03 Jun 2013 08:50pm)
On my way out of Armstrong Redwoods State Natural Reserve last week, I came upon this car. And I knew I had to get a picture of it. I agree with the sentiment, but that isn't the reason I was photographing it. I have a great interest in people who are ostentatious about their political beliefs. As ...
David Frum's Five Essential Tasks (03 Jun 2013 04:25pm)
David Frum has announced that he going to discontinue his blog at The Daily Beast at least through the summer for personal reasons—among others, his father's recent death from metastatic lung cancer. But in signing off, he presented "five essential tasks" that conservative reformers must comme...
Bernanke's Hypocrisy for the Kids (03 Jun 2013 11:18am)
Ben Bernanke went to Princeton to talk to the graduates. And he said some interesting things. He took on the notion of meritocracy. I thought he hedged way too much. For example, he said, "Putting aside the reality that no system, including our own, is really entirely meritocratic." Did he really ha...
No, Conservative Reformers Don't Exist (03 Jun 2013 10:22am)
Over the weekend, Jonathan Chait wrote yet another article defending his new thesis, Yes, Conservative Reformers Exist. In this installment, he argued that the issue is one of tactics: some try to reform from the inside and some from the outside. This is missing the fundamental issue. Regardless of ...
Hardy the Not So Obscure (02 Jun 2013 11:05pm)
On this day in 1740, Marquis de Sade was born. He was quite an interesting and twisted guy. He was clearly into torture and humiliation—the kind of thing that is associated with his name. On the other hand, he wasn't a murderer, as many men who followed in his footsteps. He managed to spend al...
Ibragim and the Gun or Knife or Broom (02 Jun 2013 06:22pm)
This is Abdulbaki Todashev holding up a photograph that he alleges is his son Ibragim, who an FBI agent recently killed during an interrogation. Here in the United States we don't generally believe that law enforcement officers take people into custody and kill them in cold blood. And indeed, in t...
War on Terror With No Name (02 Jun 2013 05:36pm)
Terry Adams wrote a really good overview of the Glenn Greenwald-Andrew Sullivan debate about the definition of terrorism, Aren't Religion and Politics Both to Blame for War on Terror? Although he tries to be scrupulously fair, I'm afraid he comes down pretty far on the Greenwald side. This reminds ...
Reform Social Security App (02 Jun 2013 12:01pm)
The Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget (CRFB) is not one of my favorite groups. But they are a smart and reasonably honest group. They've created an interactive tool that allows the user to change the benefits and revenues for Social Security. It is way cool and a whole lot of fun. But it is...
Carnot and Stapleton (01 Jun 2013 09:57pm)
Before starting, we have to do a death of note. Jean Stapleton died yesterday at the age of 90. She was very big in musical theater from the late 1950s. She was something there has traditionally been too few of: a female character actor. Most of the time, she played rather different kinds of charact...
Wittgenstein's One Armed Gambit (01 Jun 2013 04:11pm)
Paul Wittgenstein was one of the many talented Wittgenstein children, the best known being his brother Ludwig. He was a concern pianist. According to Wittgenstein in 90 Minutes, he wasn't even the best pianist in the family. That sounds to me like family mythos; perhaps he was not the best in his te...
Few Tax Expenditures for Poor (01 Jun 2013 02:56pm)
Mike Konczal is a very good economics writer who I regularly read. This morning, he was at Wonk Blog talking about, The Tax Break State. In it, he went over the main tax breaks that the federal government gives to individuals. For example, people don't think of it as a tax break, but when a business...
Newest Misleading Attack on Obamacare (01 Jun 2013 12:08pm)
Last night, Will sent me a link to an article and asked, "Would you like to explain this to your readers?" The article was from Thursday in Forbes, Rate Shock: In California, Obamacare To Increase Individual Health Insurance Premiums By 64-146%. After reading just a couple of paragraphs, I knew that...
Obama's Judicial Nominees (01 Jun 2013 10:32am)
Paul Waldman over at The American Prospect wrote, Not Too Shabby So Far: Obama's Judicial Legacy. It puts Obama's judicial nominations in perspective by comparing them to other recent presidents. What it looks like is that Obama is on track to make as many appointments as Clinton and Reagan. Of cour...
Leaves of Walt (31 May 2013 07:47pm)
On this day in 1754, neoclassical painter Andrea Appiani was born. The inventor of the Petri dish, Julius Richard Petri was born in 1852. Google created a cool little doodle for the occasion of his 161st birthday today. Check it out! Pseudo-impressionist Walter Sickert was born in 1860. "Positive th...
157 Visits, Oh My! (31 May 2013 06:25pm)
You know me: I have a love-hate relationship with libertarians. But I have a hate-hate relationship with what I call "pretend libertarians." These are people like Rand Paul who use libertarian rhetoric, but who are just conservatives. Another one of these people is Tucker Carlson. Don't get me wrong...
History of Austerity (31 May 2013 01:04pm)
I just got around to reading Mark Blyth's Austerity: the History of a Dangerous Idea. It is something of a revelation because it puts the modern economic debate into historical perspective. He starts way back at John Locke and his fear of the tyrannical state. Then he moves on to Hume and Smith who ...
No More Confederate General Bases! (31 May 2013 11:08am)
Last weekend, Jamie Malanowski wrote an amazing OpEd over at the New York Times, Misplaced Honor. I didn't know this, but 10 United States Army bases are named after Confederate generals. Look, I don't have it out for the south. In fact, I have almost nothing but fond memories of my time in the sout...
All Still Doing Bad, Especially the Poor (31 May 2013 10:04am)
Ezra Klein presented some bad news this morning. Before the financial crisis, Americans had a total worth of $67.4 trillion. And as of the end of last year, this number had shrunk to $66.1 trillion. Given that the wealth trough was in 2009 at $52.4 trillion, Americans have made up 91% of their losse...
Bing Has More Images! (30 May 2013 10:57pm)
I swear, this is the last time I'm going to write about Bing. But they advertise so much, it is hard to keep it out of my mind. And one thing I noticed was that whenever they showed a screen shot in a commercial, the side that won (the Bing side, of course) had a lot more images. That got me thinkin...
Killing Lincoln Again (30 May 2013 10:16pm)
I saw this sign a couple of months ago at our local movie theater. At the time, I didn't know what to think. Did the theater management think that it was was cute: putting Bullet in the Head right below Lincoln? Or were they just clueless? At this point, I lean toward "clueless." I'm curious if an...
Bringing Up Howard (30 May 2013 08:44pm)
That humanitarian award guy Irving Thalberg was born on this day in 1899. Voice actor Mel Blanc was born 1908. Benny Goodman was born a year later. Playwright Joseph Stein was born in 1912. Planet of the Apes director Franklin J. Schaffner was born in 1920. Star Trek guest star, Michael J. Pollard ...
Another Republican, Obama? (30 May 2013 07:27pm)
I have had major problems with the nomination of James Comey to head the FBI. But now I'm not sure. You see, today Glenn Greewald wrote, "James Comey is far from the worst choice to lead the FBI." That's probably about equivalent to most people saying, "James Comey is the best person we could realis...
Real Corporate Tax Reform (30 May 2013 02:39pm)
Ah, corporate tax reform! Pundits all around love to talk about it. Those on the right love to shout about how we have the highest corporate income tax in the advanced world. (They never tell you that we have one of the lowest effective corporate income taxes in the advanced world, but we'll leave t...
Sardoodledom (30 May 2013 01:23pm)
Ladies and gentlemen: Victorien Sardou. He was a very popular playwright of the end of the 19th century in France. I have not read any of his plays, but as far as I can determine, he was good at his craft. But I can well see why other playwrights might not like him. He understood the art form perhap...
Family Guy Rush Limbaugh Whitewash (30 May 2013 12:31pm)
I recently came upon a 2010 episode of Family Guy, "Excellence in Broadcasting." It tells the story of Brian (the dog) and his transformation from a liberal atheist to a Rush Limbaugh sycophant. What most offended me at first was the whitewash of Limbaugh himself, who does the voices for his own gue...
End the Filibuster Now! (30 May 2013 11:29am)
There is a story that is probably apocrypal that The Clash drummer Topper Headon told Joe Strummer, that if he (Headon) weren't in the band, he might be able to kick his heroin addiction. So Strummer fired him.[1] The point of the story is something along the lines that Headon was asking for some bi...
Reinhart and Rogoff Whac-A-Mole Game (30 May 2013 10:19am)
Back in April, I reported on the best work yet regarding the famous Reinhart and Rogoff (R&R) paper that purported to prove that government debt over 90% was catastrophic for economic growth. The work was done by the brilliant young economist Arindrajit Dube. He took the R&R data for high government...
New on IRS Scandal (29 May 2013 11:21pm)
This is the best thing I've seen on TV news in a long time (of course, I really haven't been watching much). This is on the IRS scandal, which as I've been long arguing is turning out to be nothing: ...
Cigarettes and Booze (29 May 2013 10:15pm)
This afternoon, Dylan Matthews reported on some recent research that looked at the depiction of smoking and drinking in the movies. Since 1998 when cigarette companies were forbidden to purchase product placement in movies, smoking in films has gone down dramatically (exponentially, actually). But d...
Thanks for the Memories, Bob (29 May 2013 09:32pm)
You probably know the quotation, "Is life so dear, or peace so sweet, as to be purchased at the price of chains and slavery? Forbid it, almighty God! I know not what course others may take; but as for me, give me liberty, or give me death!" It was said by that great lover of liberty Patrick Henry wh...
Lincoln Chafee Becomes a Democrat (29 May 2013 07:57pm)
Have you heard the news? Rhode Island Governor Lincoln Chafee will become a Democrat tomorrow. You probably don't care, but stick with me because this is interesting. He used to be a Republican. And then he became an independent. I'm still not sure what the hell that is. When a regular person is an ...
Federal Government Out of Drug Policy! (29 May 2013 04:43pm)
Over at Wonk Blog this afternoon, Harold Pollack presented, The Most Embarrassing Graph in American Drug Policy. I was shocked at that headline. "You mean America has a drug policy?" I said. It seemed always just to have a "lock up poor minorities and militarize the police" policies. It took me a mo...
Avik Roy Says Republican Reform Just Branding (29 May 2013 11:23am)
Supposed conservative reformer Avik Roy wrote an article over at the National Review on Monday trying to get in on all of discussion of the Republican apostates. What he's trying to do is push back against the argument that many of us have made that these supposed reformers are doing nothing but tin...
My Crush on Isabelle Carre (28 May 2013 07:55pm)
On this day back in 1779, the great Irish songwriter Thomas Moore was born. James Bond author Ian Fleming was born in 1908. Most people aren't aware of it, but Fleming wrote the children's book Chitty-Chitty-Bang-Bang. It was published in three small volumes, but is basically one book. Fleming died ...
Friendship Vs. Society (28 May 2013 05:06pm)
Matt Yglesias has some insights into the Fast and Furious films. I've only seen the original one, but that's all that's really necessary. The film has an interesting theme that I have always found compelling: friendship trumps all. The question the film raises is whether the main character owes more...
The New Season of Arrested Development (28 May 2013 02:13pm)
Peter Queck and Bhaskar Sunkara provided me with my first review of the fourth season of Arrested Development. And they managed to put just about everything I hate about "criticism" into one article. Their fundamental problem with this recent material is that the producers of the show have changed i...
Low Taxes Exacerbate Inequality (28 May 2013 01:03pm)
Dylan Matthews reported today on research by Alvaredo, Atkinson, Piketty, and Saez on taxes and income inequality. They looked at the change in the top income shares since 1960 and compared it to the change in the top marginal tax rate. And not surprisingly, they found a very strong correlation. For...
Money Does Hurt Politics (28 May 2013 11:01am)
Recently, Ezra Klein has been on a tear over at Wonk Blog, arguing that the effect of money in politics is overblown. He's been getting a lot of push back on this, and today he answered his critics. Mostly, the article was kind of a retreat. All of the points he made were minor, because I think that...
Obamacare Polls a Little Positive (27 May 2013 10:58pm)
Jonathan Bernstein has words of wisdom for us: Ignore Those Polls! Those being the recent CNN poll that show that over half of the people don't like Obamacare: 43-54. Apparently, Republicans are claiming that the poll proves them right: the people hate Obamacare! But then liberals have pushed back. ...
Rachel Carson's Silent Spring (27 May 2013 08:16pm)
The writer of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic," Julia Ward Howe was born on this day in 1819. She was an interesting woman. I recommend checking out the This American Life episode Lost in America. The third part of it is "Teacher Hit Me with a Ruler," which is a history of "Battle Hymn" by Sarah Vo...
Remembering On Memorial Day (27 May 2013 07:21pm)
Happy Memorial Day everyone! I've been looking for ways to ruin the holiday (it is the tradition of my people), but it is so hard to do it without offending people. For example, I hate the bumper sticker that reads, "If You Like Your Freedom Thank a Vet." I agree with the basic sentiment: it really ...
Bush 2.0 (27 May 2013 04:20pm)
In general, I like caveats. The world is not a simple place. But that can be taken to extremes, especially by supposedly liberal politicians. The best description I've ever heard of Obama is by Roger Hodge in The Mendacity of Hope, "Obama presents a dizzying series of hands—on the one and then...
More Evidence No IRS Scandal (27 May 2013 10:23am)
This morning, the New York Times reported that at least some of those Tea Party groups the IRS targeted were anything but pure. It noted, "But a close examination of these groups and others reveals an array of election activities that tax experts and former IRS officials said would provide a legitim...
Why People Like Auto Racing (26 May 2013 07:26pm)
It's Memorial Day weekend, so there are auto races. Some time ago, my brother-in-law told me that people only watch auto races for the crashes. I thought that was just ridiculous. I don't watch auto races for the crashes. In fact, one reason that I'm put off on racing is the possibility of crashes ...
Miles Davis and Migrant Mother (26 May 2013 05:20pm)
French Baroque painter Philippe de Champaigne was born on this day in 1602. Blackface singer Al Jolson was born in 1886. The great depression era photographer and social activist Dorothea Lange was born in 1895. She is best known for her 1936 photograph "Migrant Mother." It is often hard to say why...
Pirini Scleroso (26 May 2013 01:04pm)
I don't much care for American sketch comedy because of the generally poor writing. The typical skit is some funny idea that the writer (although the actor is often more important than the writer) riffs on for a while and then just stops. For example, Julia Sweeney's androgynous Pat character. Pat e...
Jamelle Bouie on Immigration Reform—and More! (26 May 2013 12:06pm)
Jamelle Bouie decided to answer questions on Tumblr last night. It was really cool. I've never before known what Tumblr was other than a kind of sub-blog that bloggers used with Twitter. But it has a device that allows people to ask questions to a Tumblr user that can then be answered in a permanent...
Arrested Development Season 4 First Look (26 May 2013 12:52am)
The fourth season of Arrested Development came out this morning on Netflix. I watched the first episode. They seem to be structuring the episodes differently this time. Each one focuses on one character. This first episode was on Michael. In the original series, it took quite some time to realize th...
Igor Sikorsky and Angular Momentum (25 May 2013 09:14pm)
Philosopher and writer Ralph Waldo Emerson was born on this day in 1803. I tend to accept a lot of his thinking, but his religious thought (understandably) is stuck in the early 18th century. Of course, that thinking is still far in advance of most religious people today. (Does that sound snarky? I ...
Go Nuclear Harry Reid! (25 May 2013 06:10pm)
Harry Reid really needs to go nuclear. Mike Konczal has an excellent article over at Wonk Blog about what is going on with the nomination of Richard Cordray to head Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB). Just look at that face! How could anyone say no to him? Well, as Konczal explained, it isn...
Bernie Sanders on Labor Markets (25 May 2013 02:34pm)
Dylan Matthews just posted a great, short interview with Bernie Sanders. It is about the Gang of Eight immigration bill that most everyone is so excited about. Sanders is not and it looks like he will vote against it. What really struck me was that his position is almost identical to mine: we need ...
Reformish Republicans Want Party Invites (25 May 2013 11:55am)
Apparently there is a push going on to highlight "reasonable" conservative writers. Yesterday, I wrote about Jonathan Chait's article on Josh Barro. And earlier this month, Ryan Cooper wrote an article, Reformish Conservatives. That's a good term: reformish. In general, there are no reformers; there...
Citizen Koch (25 May 2013 12:11am)
PBS is censoring Citzen Koch, a documentary about Citizens United, money in politics, and the billionaire Koch brothers. You may remember back in November, I wrote an article about an Independent Lens documentary Park Avenue. Apparently, the film made a lot of rich people very angry, including at le...
Economic Confusions: Canned Goods Pricing (24 May 2013 11:03pm)
Most people I meet who think they know something about economics are clueless. What I'm thinking about right now are people who think that companies set prices based upon their costs. A standard (incorrect) observation is, "If we raise the minimum wage, the companies will just increase their prices....
Tangled Up in Bob (24 May 2013 09:38pm)
The great Italian Mannerist painter Jacopo Carucci (generally know simply as "Pontormo," I guess because he was from Pontorme) was born on this day in 1494. His religious work generally involved crowed, but beautifully composed scenes. His portraits similarly have an other world quality to them. All...
Debt Ceiling Still Major Threat (24 May 2013 07:38pm)
I have a bone to pick with Greg Sargent. I appreciate his effort, but how long can the man go on spouting happy horseshit without realizing that it has become discouraging. At least a few times per week, he writes something along the lines of, "Boehner has already admitted Republicans won't allow de...
Let the Starving Gays Marry (24 May 2013 05:33pm)
Gallup reported today, Fewer Americans Identify as Economic Conservatives in 2013. I looked at the article because I wanted some good news. But I didn't really find it. I'm not sure what people think when asked where they stand on economic issues. Right now, 41% of Americans say that they are econo...
Josh Barros' Journey from the Dark Side (24 May 2013 12:38pm)
Wednesday, Jonathan Chait over at The Atlantic published an article about the problems of Josh Barro of all people. Regular readers will know that I am of two minds about Barro. On the one hand, he is a smart and insightful guy—one of the best conservative observers around. On the other hand, ...
Prime Numbers and Random Assumptions (24 May 2013 10:50am)
Jordan Ellenberg over at Slate reported on Yitang Zhang and the big goings on in the field of prime number theory. There are two stories. One is that Zhang managed to prove some thousands of year old questions. The other is that he is in his 50s. As I hope you know, a prime number is any natural n...
Categorizing Carl Linnaeus (23 May 2013 08:59pm)
On this day in 1883, swashbuckler Douglas Fairbanks was born. Actor, dancer, and musician Scatman Crothers was born in 1910. The great meteorologist and Chaos Theory pioneer Edward Norton Lorenz was born in 1917. And singer Rosemary Clooney was born in 1928. Actress Joan Collins is 80 today. Chess ...
Chuck Grassley on Court Packing (23 May 2013 04:04pm)
During the Great Depression, Roosevelt was very angry that the Supreme Court kept blocking his reforms. A slim majority on the Court was very conservative. (Sound familiar?) What could the president do? Well, he could pack the court. The number of people on the Supreme court is not stated in the Con...
God's Twitter Wisdom (23 May 2013 12:30pm)
Last week, God tweeted out the following: Any atheist who retweets this is going to hell for eternity.— God (@TheTweetOfGod) May 18, 2013 Thus far, it has almost 10,000 retweets. Clearly, this is an example of retweet trolling. God knows how arrogant most atheists are. I am not, however. My ...
Rand Paul's Scary Numbers (23 May 2013 11:18am)
Steven Dennis over at Roll Call goes after Rand Paul's use of old talking points. Paul is going around saying, "We are now borrowing $40,000 a second. We are borrowing $4 billion a day." Oh. My. God! Did he say "$4 billion a day"?! That's a Very Large Number! And as normal with these kinds of pronou...
Strangest Square Mile of Ocean (23 May 2013 10:18am)
This is a remarkable video. It is beautiful. And it is proof that God is not good! H/T: Brad Plumer ...
Tea Partier: Louder Shouting Republican (23 May 2013 09:54am)
Yesterday, Ed Kilgore wrote, Please Listen Up, Political Reporters: What Ted Cruz Means When He Says He Mistrusts Both Parties. In it, he took on Ted Cruz and his habit of claiming that he doesn't trust either political party. As Kilgore noted, "Does it mean, as political reporters often blandly rep...
Hamlet, Mary Cassatt, and the Robot Monster (22 May 2013 11:04pm)
The great French landscape painter Hubert Robert was born on this day 1733. Inventor of the electromagnet and electric motor William Sturgeon was born 1783. Composer Richard Wagner were born in 1813. Sherlock Holmes creator Arthur Conan Doyle was born in 1859. The great Laurence Olivier was born in...
Ryan Cooper Educates Michael Kinsley (22 May 2013 09:13pm)
Over at Washington Monthly, Ryan Cooper wrote a nice, easygoing response to Michael Kinsley. As you may know, last week, Kinsley wrote, Paul Krugman's Misguided Moral Crusade Against Austerity. In it, he tried to argue that the pro- and anti-austerity forces weren't that much in disagreement. There ...
Fed Might As Well Have Single Mandate (22 May 2013 05:03pm)
Matt Yglesias is very insightful about the Federal Reserve. Last year, he asked an incredibly important question, "If the unemployment and inflation rates were reversed, would the Fed do something about it?" The point is that the Federal Reserve has a dual mandate to keep both inflation and unemploy...
"You Gotta Thank the Lord, Right?!" (22 May 2013 03:15pm)
"You gotta thank the Lord, right?!" Am I right?! Really! The Lord! You gotta thank him?! Right?! Right?! As the tornado was bearing down on Moore, Oklahoma, Rebecca Vitsmun and her infant son were waiting it all out in their bathtub. But as Vitsmun watched the coverage on her laptop computer, she b...
Racist Election Officials (22 May 2013 01:21pm)
I've heard it said that we are the world. I've even heard it said that we are the children. And lest we forget: we are the ones who make a brighter day, so lets start giving. The problem is that this is total bullshit. We are parochial; we act like children; we are the ones who make everything worse...
Inhofe's Hypocrisy Not Subtle (22 May 2013 12:10pm)
Yesterday over at Post Politics, Rachel Weiner and Matt DeLong reported on the difficult position of Oklahoma's two Republican Senators with regard to aid for the victims of the Oklahoma City suburb tornado. The problem is that both James Inhofe and Tom Coburn voted against aid for the victims of Hu...
Ezra Klein's Pollyanna Act (22 May 2013 10:19am)
This morning, the Washington Post's own Pollyanna, Ezra Klein cautiously asked, A Thaw in the Senate? He claimed that two "remarkable" things happened yesterday. I am not so sanguine. Remarkable Thing Number One: the immigration bill came out of the Senate Judiciary Committee with a vote of 13-5. L...
Heckler Not About Hecklers (22 May 2013 12:59am)
Netflix kept pushing a documentary named Heckler on me. So I finally watched it. I'm curious about the phenomenon. It is very strange to me that people go out to see a comedian and then decide to interfere with the show. I understand they are usually drunk, but I still don't get it. So I was quite i...
Why We Prosecute Leakers (21 May 2013 08:16pm)
Over at Mother Jones, Julian Sanchez provided an overview of what's going on with the most recent case of the Obama administration going after whistleblowers. It is very hard not to accept the most intense critics' contention that this is not about national security or even embarrassment. This is ab...
Glenn Curtiss Flying High (21 May 2013 07:25pm)
Poet Alexander Pope was born in 1688. He is best known for not being Pope Alexander. In fact, since Pope burst onto the English literary scene in the earth 18th century, the Vatican has stopped naming popes Alexander. The last such pope was Alexander VIII, who was born in 1610. I have no evidence th...
What Can Republicans Talk About Besides Scandals? (21 May 2013 04:42pm)
After reading John Dean's take on the recent scandals, I noticed that another of my favorite conservatives, Ramesh Ponnuru had waded into these waters, 'Obama Scandals' Could Actually Hurt Republicans. I love those scare quotes in the title. The truth is that these aren't really Obama's scandals, bu...
John Dean: Not Worse Than Watergate (21 May 2013 04:05pm)
Over at Bloomberg View, I saw that John Dean had written an article, Obama's Not Nixon, He's Harding. I knew immediately what he was talking about: Teapot Dome. Normally, I would not have clicked through. But I really like John Dean, and I couldn't believe that he was really comparing Obama's scanda...
Wingnuts and the Power Elite (21 May 2013 01:38pm)
Yesterday, Cass R. Sunstein wrote an interesting article, How to Humble a Wing Nut. He reported on some research by Philip Fernbach at the University of Colorado. He found that by asking test subjects to write down everything they know about a controversial policy, he got them to moderate their view...
Best Spam Yet! (21 May 2013 01:01pm)
I just got what is probably the best spam comment ever. It is postmodern! It is self referencing! It is gut bustingly funny! Unfortunately, it is also just spam. But it deserves attention. Ladies and Gentleman, I give you "ares gratis": Hi, i read your blog occasionally and i own a similar one an...
Fluoridation Wars Continue (21 May 2013 12:27pm)
About five years ago, I was talking to my father's girlfriend Louise. She was a big Glenn Beck fan who died shortly before his implosion, so she never found out that the revolution would not, in fact, be televised. Obviously, I was used to some strange ideas coming out of her mouth. But one day she ...
Neuroses of Winnie the Pooh (20 May 2013 10:54pm)
I saw a charming tweet today concerning A. A. Milne's excellent Winnie the Pooh books. I have a special fondness for those books. When I got my first group of networked computers, I named them after Pooh characters. Also, I think a whole theory of psychological types could be created based upon the ...
The Utility of John Stuart Mill (20 May 2013 09:55pm)
What is it about French novelists making a career out of one novel that never ends? I don't know. But on this day back in 1799, the great Honore de Balzac was born. Collectively called The Human Comedy, in consists of 91 essays, novels, and short stories. But he wasn't done. It also included 46 unfi...
What IRS Scandal? (20 May 2013 04:44pm)
I hate to find myself in the position of being an apologist for the government. But there is an important issue: by focusing on minor and even meaningless stories, we distract from very real issues. We have yet more news about our government's attempts to keep the public ignorant and intimidate gove...
Morality, Economics, and Car Repair (20 May 2013 03:51pm)
Paul Krugman recently wrote an excellent article over at the New York Review of Books, How the Case for Austerity Has Crumbled. It is ostensibly a review of three books: The Alchemists: Three Central Bankers and a World on Fire by Neil Irwin; Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea by Mark Blyth;...
Of Course Republicans Don't Care About Budget (20 May 2013 10:46am)
Over at The Plum Line, Jamelle Bouie argued that we've already gotten a Grand Bargain. He noted that the combination of the 2011 Budget Control Act, the Fiscal Cliff deal, and the Sequester accomplished what the Grand Bargain was supposed to do. He went further and argued that since the Republicans ...
Morality Without God? (19 May 2013 09:23pm)
I just read a nice little book, Morality Without God? by Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. Ostensibly, he argues that we don't need God to have an absolute moral code. But more important, he argues against divine command morality. This is the idea that morality comes from something like the Ten Commandments...
Pete Townshend Refuses No River (19 May 2013 05:41pm)
On this day back in 1870, one of the best arguments against the divine commands argument of morality, serial killer Albert Fish was born. Shockingly, Malcolm X and Pol Pot were born on the same day back in 1925. Pol Pot, being one of the great evil men of the 20th century, managed to live 33 years l...
More Anti-Venezuela Propaganda (19 May 2013 01:14pm)
When I was just in college, I worked for a conservative small business owner. He knew I was liberal, even if I didn't talk about it. So one day he told me that he understood that our standard of living depended upon the exploitation of people in poorer nations but that he was fine with it. I simply ...
Rethinking Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US (19 May 2013 11:24am)
In the past, I've given George W. Bush a pass on the 6 August 2001 President's Daily Briefing (PDB) Bin Ladin Determined to Strike in US (pdf). My thinking revolved around two issues. First, fighting terrorism is like house cleaning: no one notices what isn't there. There will always be failures and...
Second Filibuster Letter to Boxer (18 May 2013 11:54pm)
Dear Senator Boxer: Thank you for your automated response. I know that the Senate made changes that now allow the majority to bring bills to the floor faster where the Republicans will filibuster them. (Admittedly, not always successfully.) My letter regarded the rumored July "nuclear option." I g...
Politics of Bulworth (18 May 2013 10:42pm)
Last week, the New York Times published a story in which they said that Obama fantasizes about "going Bulworth." By this, he means to just say what he feels rather than being political. I saw Bulworth in the theater back in 1998. I thought it was okay but it didn't particularly stick with me. But 19...
Peggy Noonan Rides the Crazy Train (18 May 2013 06:46pm)
On Thursday, Peggy Noonan wrote a column where she said that the IRS was going after individuals because they were conservatives. Her evidence? She's heard of four different conservatives who were audited last year. I'm serious! That's her claim. But it is even sillier than that. Take for example, t...
Tom Clancy Combat Concepts (18 May 2013 02:36pm)
No one amongst those people had served in combat, but Colin Powell, Lawrence Wilkerson and his staff were all the combat personnel. And it's funny, they were shuffled over at the State Department and the civilian ideologues were put over into the Pentagon and they were the people who came up with wh...
We Make Too Big a Deal of Terrorism (18 May 2013 01:18pm)
According to the Washington Post, the administration thinks that the "war on terror" will go on and on. "Given the way al-Qaeda continues to metastasize, some officials said no clear end is in sight." And on Thursday, the Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on whether we should continue t...
Loan Harry Reid Your Testicles (18 May 2013 11:39am)
At the Washington Post, two writers I admire, Greg Sargent and Jonathan Bernstein, are excited about the prospect of filibuster reform. First, Sargent broke the news that Harry Reid plans to go for the "nuclear option" in July if the Republicans filibuster three upcoming nominees: "Richard Cordray t...
It's a Wonderful Capra (18 May 2013 10:46am)
Birthdays are not created equal. Yesterday, I almost gave up having a winner. Today, I have four easy winners who did not win. On this day in 1048, the great Persian mathematician Omar Khayyam was born. He's winner number one. Another great mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell was born in...
Modern Chess with Wilhelm Steinitz (17 May 2013 09:20pm)
This is kind of crummy day for birthdays. I'm not Tarzan but Maureen O'Sullivan was Jane, and she was born on this day in 1911. Watergate prosecutor Archibald Cox was born in 1912. Songwriter Bob Merrill was born in 1921. Heaven's Gate cult leader Marshall Applewhite was born in 1931. If he's alive ...
Space Cowboys Crashes (17 May 2013 07:19pm)
Last night I watched Space Cowboys, Clint Eastwood's film about a group of old men who finally get their chance to go into space. It reminds me of something Andrea said after the very similar movie The Crew came out. "These films about old men reliving their glory days are really interesting. I wond...
The Cause Briefly (17 May 2013 03:04pm)
I have a very bad habit of reading a great book but having so many things to say about it that I put it aside for a while. And then, despite the fact that the text is now full of my comments, I have next to no idea what it was I wanted to say. Such is the case with Eric Alterman's The Cause. It is b...
Death, Teapot Dome, and Benghazi, Cuba (17 May 2013 11:38am)
According to Public Policy Polling (pdf), 74% of Republicans think that the Benghazi scandal is worse than Watergate. But I wonder: do these people even know what Watergate was about? That scandal has come to be a blanket term for a whole lot of presidential malfeasance. The Watergate break-in was j...
Affinity Bias and the White House Scandals (17 May 2013 10:16am)
I've been thinking a lot about why so many journalists I follow went so wrong on the supposed White House Scandals this week. I think it has a lot to do with affinity bias. And that does not speak well for the state of journalism. A lot of people wonder why, for example, conservatives often hold op...
Studs Terkel and Fine Red Wine (16 May 2013 10:30pm)
On this day back in 1831, the co-inventor of the microphone, David E. Hughes was born. He also invented a number of other things by himself, most notably the spark-gap transmitter and the crystal radio. The latter was a very popular radio in the early days because it requires no battery, which is, I...
Mainstream Media Freak Out More Than Fox (16 May 2013 07:07pm)
I caught a few minutes of Fox News this afternoon. Supposedly straight news anchor Bret Baier explained that the resignation of acting IRS chief Steven T. Miller was just political theater because he was going to step down in June anyway. And then Charles Krauthammer added that it just wasn't credib...
Matt Yglesias Wishes Republicans Better (16 May 2013 02:33pm)
Matt Yglesias has this tendency to apologize for behavior even as he demolishes it. He published a great example of this earlier this morning, AEI Chief: To Win Latino Votes, the GOP Needs an Agenda to Help Poor People. That sounds fantastic and almost unbelievable. The head of the conservative Amer...
Rich Distract from Real Social Security Reform (16 May 2013 01:37pm)
Investment banker Jim Roumell has proposed a great idea over at the Washington Post. After 9/11, "strong" young men signed up with the military to defend America against... Well, I actually don't know. At the time it seemed like an outburst of jingoism that had very little (if anything) to do with k...
Dance with the Rhino (16 May 2013 11:41am)
I picked up Wittgenstein in 90 Minutes and wanted to see if I could read it in 90 minutes. But I got stuck on page 14 for well over 90 minutes. It was a logic problem. In Principles of Mathematics, Bertrand Russell argued that the foundation of mathematics was logic. But he ran into a nice little pa...
IRS More Powerful Than the Military? (16 May 2013 09:26am)
This IRS scandal is going from irrelevant to enraging. What bugs me most is that everyone is running around acting like it is a proven fact that some terrible thing was done. We've been through this time and time again. Even thus far in this scandal, the more information that comes out, the more ben...
How to Make War Bipartisan (15 May 2013 07:54pm)
Recall back in 2008 that the CIA prepared a secret report (subsequently leaked to WikiLeaks) that presciently noted that the election of Barack Obama would be the most effective way to stem the tide of antiwar sentiment in western Europe, because it would put a pleasant, happy, progressive face on t...
Obama Wimps Out on IRS Scandal (15 May 2013 07:14pm)
In the past, I've been really disappointed with President Obama. But now I'm really angry. He forced the resignation of acting IRS chief Steven T. Miller. This wasn't done because Miller is culpable. Sure, you will hear that he testified before Congress that the organization wasn't targeting groups ...
The Wonderful Wizard Frank Baum (15 May 2013 06:42pm)
Revolutionary proto-Baroque composer Claudio Monteverdi was baptized in 1567. Why does that matter? If you've ever listened to Renaissance music, you probably didn't like it very much. And no, the music you heard at the Renaissance Faire was almost certainly not Renaissance music. That music is high...
Scandal?! (15 May 2013 04:21pm)
This morning, Jonathan Chait reported, The Strange Creation of the Obama Scandals. And Glenn Greenward reported, The Major Sea Change in Media Discussions of Obama and Civil Liberties. Indeed, Obama does seem to be experiencing a perfect storm of bad sandal-like news. And most of the coverage of it ...
The Charm of Star Trek (15 May 2013 02:55pm)
I'm not much into science fiction except in as much as it is about the nature of consciousness or is just well written. It is rarely either. I am more or less a Star Trek fan, but that has nothing to do with science fiction. Just because a melodrama is placed in space doesn't make it science fiction...
Netflix Knows How to Hire More Workers (15 May 2013 01:01pm)
I have long complained about what feels like the constant drum beat for more technology workers via the H1-B visa system. The idea is that high tech companies just can't find American workers with the skills they require. But the truth is, if high tech companies really were desperate for workers, th...
The Debt Outrage Will Continue (15 May 2013 09:38am)
This is the most unimportant graph of the day: It comes from the Congressional Budget Office, but I got the graph from Paul Krugman. What it shows is that we have stabilized our debt. This should make all deficit scolds very happy. Ha ha ha! What a kidder I am! It won't matter in the least. You s...
One More Filibuster and Harry Reid Will Take Republicans to the Cleaners! (14 May 2013 08:36pm)
You can tell if a dog has been castrated, because it has no testicles. You can't tell this with humans because they wear pants. So I'm just guessing, but I think Harry Reid has been castrated. It may just have been done for the public good. The last thing we need are a whole lot more unwanted Harry ...
Shock and Awe at The Onion (14 May 2013 06:38pm)
I read two excellent articles on The Onion today. One shocked me and the awed me. Hence the title. The first was Adidas Unveils New Running Shoe For Fleeing From Mass Shootings. It is a pretty standard Onion story. At least, it is until the last sentence: NEW YORK—With the launch Tuesday of ...
Blue for Thomas Gainsborough (14 May 2013 02:57pm)
Photorealist Robert Bechtle is 81 today. Bass player and lead singer of Cream Jack Bruce is 70. Ridiculously overrated director George Lucas is 69. Another blockbuster director, Robert Zemeckis is 62. Pain in the ass and narcissistic Talking Heads front man, David Byrne is 61. Actor Tim Roth is 52. ...
GOP Latino Outreach Director Turns Democratic (14 May 2013 02:01pm)
I laugh pretty easily, but I very rarely guffaw. But I did today when I read the following, "In Florida, the GOP's state director of Hispanic outreach, Pablo Pantoja, has resigned his position, left the Republican Party, and changed his party identification to 'Democrat.'" I'm not quite sure why I f...
Cold War Politics in Hogan's Heroes (14 May 2013 12:01pm)
When I was a kid, I loved the show Hogan's Heroes. What's not to love? In the middle of an unpopular war, we got comedy about the most noble war in our history. Plus: zany Nazis! What I didn't understand at the time were all the politics. Some of this was quite good. The lovable Sergeant Schultz, fo...
Benghazi, IRS, and the Associated Press (14 May 2013 10:23am)
I tend to think that the new IRS scandal is much less than it appears to be. The more facts that come in, the most reasonable the actions of the IRS seem to be. But most reporting on it is shockingly superficial: the government targeted conservative groups! Yes, the allegation is of concern and I'd ...
Of Polar Bears and Patents (13 May 2013 10:03pm)
The USA Today reported earlier this evening, Cute Kali: Orphaned Polar Bear Cub Prepares for Move. It told the story of the preparations to move young bear to the Buffalo Zoo. And yes, it is cute as a button. All mammals are cute before they get big enough to eat you. But there was something about t...
The Gertrude Stein Scandal (13 May 2013 07:37pm)
I can't believe all this talk of Benghazi and the IRS targeting of conservative political groups. Has Washington lost sight of what a real scandal looks like? I am talking about plagiarism, of course. Yes, the president is cool. He sounds just like he's making up the words as he goes along. But no!...
Anti-Smoking Ads Disappear (13 May 2013 07:10pm)
If I were in a Broadway musical, I would break out singing: Isn't it bliss? Could it be true? Anti-smoking ads are gone I can safely view. Send in the Post, I can read the Post![1] For many weeks, you could not visit the Washington Post website (or a lot of others as well) without seeing a horrify...
IRS Scandal: Crossroads GPS (13 May 2013 05:09pm)
Alec MacGillis has written a great article over at the magazine Andrew Sullivan almost destroyed. All right, The New Republic! Called The Real Scandal Behind the IRS Controversy, it simultaneously puts the IRS "scandal" into perspective and presents what is a real scandal. Why did the IRS group in ...
Don't Smear Dr. Papanikolaou (13 May 2013 03:46pm)
On this day back in 1842, composer Arthur Sullivan—one half of Gilbert & Sullivan—was born. One of the fathers of cubism, Georges Braque was born in 1882. Composer Ken Darby was born in 1909. Boxer Joe Louis was born in 1914. Bea Arthur was born in 1922. Director Herbert Ross was bor...
If Unions Are Too Powerful America Is Ignorant (13 May 2013 01:43pm)
Gallup released a poll where they asked Americans which entities have too much power. There is good news and bad news. The list includes some notable bad guys: lobbyists (71%), major corporations (67%), and the finance industry (67%). But it also listed the federal government (58%) and unions (43%)....
Monsanto Shall Not Be Held Accountable (13 May 2013 11:01am)
Apparently, it doesn't pay to be a clever farmer. Vernon Hugh Bowman had a brilliant idea. He bought a bunch of soybean seeds from a grain elevator. He figured that some subset of those seeds would contained the Roundup Ready gene, a patent of Monsanto. He planted the seeds, sprayed them to Roundup,...
Rubio: Fire That Guy Who Resigned (13 May 2013 09:53am)
This whole IRS controversy seems much ado about nothing. The IRS is generally interested in looking at political nonprofit organizations because regardless of their political stripes, they ought to be paying taxes. Most of these groups aren't working for the public good; they are pushing their own a...
Ads Don't Matter in Presidential Elections (12 May 2013 09:06pm)
John Sides is a very smart political science professor at George Washington University. But sometimes, he's kind of boring. Like today, when he was over at Wonk Blog and explained, Four Reasons It's Hard to Campaign Your Way to the Presidency. I have to assume that he was trying to counter the idea ...
Coup d'Etat and Economists (12 May 2013 04:58pm)
If I found myself in charge of a new country after a coup d'etat, and was limited to a single economist to help me build the new country, I wouldn't want some Nobel Prize winner—not even someone like Paul Krugman. The reason is that those who win such a prize are brilliant in certain ways, but...
Bill Maher Spouts Anti-Muslim Racism (12 May 2013 01:51pm)
This is an amazing bit of video from Friday's Real Time with Glenn Greenwald really taking Bill Maher to task on his anti-Islam rhetoric. Greenwald is making a kind of Some People Push Back argument. He is saying that it is outrageous for Americans to be shocked at the violence in the Middle East wh...
Florence Nightingale and Soviet Spies (12 May 2013 12:22pm)
On this day in 1918, Julius Rosenberg was born. He was very clearly spying for the USSR, and our government put him and his wife Ethel to death to 1953. I hate this whole episode. First, it is far from clear that Ethel had anything to do with this case. Also, all the other conspirators were given pr...
Surely It's Richard Feynman! (11 May 2013 07:57pm)
On this day back in 1824, French academic painter Jean-Leon Gerome was born. English illustrator Walter Goodman was born in 1838. The great American songwriter Irving Berlin was born in 1888. Choreographer Martha Graham was born in 1894. The great Salvador Dali was born in 1904. Comedians Phil Silve...
Republican Expectation Mistakes (11 May 2013 10:37am)
Josh Barro made an excellent point a week and a half ago, How Conservatives Are Helping Obamacare. It isn't the focus of the article, however. He noted that the Republicans are managing expectations about the implementation of the new healthcare law. So if next year comes without riots and a syphili...
Hillary Killed Foster and Stevens! (10 May 2013 09:46am)
This morning, Greg Sargent returned us to the glory of the 1990s when we were treated to the delights of mainstream media sources seriously discussing allegations that Hillary Clinton had Vince Foster killed. What is particularly tragic is that Foster killed himself, largely as the result of all the...
I Kind of Like Donovan (10 May 2013 08:56am)
On this day back in 1838, problem brother and assassin John Wilkes Booth was born. Movie composer Max Steiner was born in 1888. Fred Astaire was born in 1899. Film producer David O. Selznick was born in 1902. Electronic composer Milton Babbitt was born in 1916. Nancy Walker was born in 1922. And Sid...
Obama Was Never That Into You (09 May 2013 10:41pm)
According to Glenn Greenward, the ACLU was interested in what the White House policy was on intercepting "private" test messages. So they filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. And what you see on the left is the top of what they got back: 15 pages entirely blacked out (pdf). More and mo...
Humor in Iron Man 3 (09 May 2013 10:09pm)
There was one thing in Iron Man 3 that I really liked: Ben Kingsley. When I saw that he was in the film, I figured he was slated to play the bad guy. Those tend to be the kind of roles that he gets. And at the beginning of the film that looks about right. Actually, it sets up a plot with two bad guy...
Escapism in Iron Man 3 (09 May 2013 09:10pm)
During the third act of The Purple Rose of Cairo, Cecilia (Mia Farrow) goes into the movie with Tom Baxter (Jeff Daniels). While in the townhouse, she sees a telephone and exclaims, "I've dreamed of a white telephone!" You see, Cecilia is a poor woman living during the Great Depression. The Purple R...
Physics in Iron Man 3 (09 May 2013 06:16pm)
One of the more interesting action sequences of Iron Man 3 involves the superhero's catching of 13 people who have been blown off of Air Force One. He flies around and manages to get 12 of them. He can't hold on to them all, so he has them hold on to each other, creating a giant chain. He hasn't got...
As Good as James L. Brooks Gets (09 May 2013 09:56am)
On this day back in 1800, abolitionist John Brown was born. And Mike Wallace was born in 1918. Wastership Down author Richard Adams is 93 today. Two of my favorite actors Albert Finney and Glenda Jackson are 77. Candice Bergen is 67. And Billy Joel (meh) is 64. But the day belongs to the great wri...
Down at the Crossroad with Robert Johnson (08 May 2013 06:42pm)
On this day back in 1884, the only person to ever drop a nuclear bomb on a group of humans, Harry S. Truman was born. He did it twice, because that was all the bombs he had at the time. Anti-communist who conservatives still worship even though there aren't any more communists, Friedrich Hayek was b...
Crickett: My First Chainsaw! (08 May 2013 05:49pm)
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Tea Party Myth (08 May 2013 01:41pm)
I was just reading a very good article by Greg Sargent over at The Plum Line about the new Republican push to use the Debt Ceiling to enact policies they don't otherwise have the political power to demand. Sargent believes it is all a game; the Republican leadership has already stated that they will...
Nothing New on Immigration (08 May 2013 11:20am)
Jonathan Chait wrote this morning that immigration reform is different this time. He focused on the conservative push back against the Heritage Foundation paper than said that immigration reform would cost us a trillion dollars and cause us all to die of syphilis next year. As he correctly noted, th...
Un-Mooring of Conservative Economics (08 May 2013 10:20am)
Jonathan Bernstein is curious about what Kevin Drum calls the "Hack Gap." In an article yesterday, he looked at Obamacare. Every time an insurance company announces a rate hike, conservative economists come out of the woodwork to proclaim that it is all the fault of Obamacare and just wait until nex...
Where the People Are (07 May 2013 10:09pm)
This is via Reddit user valeriepieris via Matt Yglesias. I think it speaks for itself: ...
When Government Works (07 May 2013 09:36pm)
Sometimes I am so proud of my culture. A good example was on display this morning in District Court. Judge Edward Korman came down hard on the Obama administration's cowardly limitation of Plan B emergency birth control. The administration's actions show that despite what Democrats like to think, Ob...
Final Republican Casualty (07 May 2013 07:10pm)
Today over at The Plum Line, Jamelle Bouie discussed an issue that is close to my heart, Don't Expect the GOP to Change on Gay Rights Anytime Soon. I think all this talk of the Republican Party moderating itself is nonsense. It is all a kind of mass pundit delusion. Moderates especially really want ...
Heat and Dust of Ruth Prawer Jhabvala (07 May 2013 04:54pm)
On this day back in 1711, the great philosopher David Hume was born. Poet Robert Browning was born in 1812. German composer Johannes Brahms was born in 1833. And Russian composer Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky was born in 1840. Gary Cooper was born in 1901. Night Stalker actor Darren McGavin was born in 1...
Cruz Vs. Reid (07 May 2013 01:47pm)
This is really interesting. Harry Reid wanted to take the budget the Senate passed and go to conference with the House. It doesn't much matter; the House will be against any reasonable budget. But Ted Cruz objected. He says he will only allow it if they agree that whatever comes out of the conferenc...
Transubstantiation of Elvis (07 May 2013 12:51pm)
In 1992, I went to Hong Kong for the first time. I was sitting in the back of a little Irish pub. And I was pretty drunk. And in walks a Chinese Elvis impersonator in a white jumpsuit studded to the ridiculous extreme that we are all accustom to. Holding an acoustic guitar, he performs "Hound Dog," ...
2000 Articles (07 May 2013 11:19am)
I started Frankly Curious back on 10 November 2009. It was intended to be a blog about nothing in particular. I thought that I was such an interesting guy that people would just find whatever I had to say on a subject fascinating. But over time, I found that my interests could largely be found in fo...
Homosexuality Not Factor in Economics (07 May 2013 10:05am)
Last night on the Economix Blog, Bruce Bartlett returned to Niall Ferguson's gay Keynes moment. I wrote about this over the weekend. Basically, Ferguson said that Keynes' economics didn't take the long term into account (not true) because he was gay (largely true) and didn't have kids (true). Most o...
Benghazi! (06 May 2013 08:48pm)
This evening as my flu or whatever slowly fades away, I thought you could use a little cheering up. John Fugelsang and TV's Frank Conniff created a little spoof on all the Benghazi hysteria in the right wing echo chamber. Oh, you don't know what I'm talking about? You probably remember an attack on ...
Tyranny and the End of Gun Culture (06 May 2013 05:34pm)
Ed Kilgore over at Political Animal has a great article, None Dare Call it Treason. It is about the new NRA president, James Porter, and his loose talk of tyranny and violent opposition to it. I know the kind of guy. There is an enormous subsection of the male population who have fantasies about tak...
Should We Care About Immigration Reform? (06 May 2013 04:30pm)
Immigration reform! Why is it that I don't care? Greg Sargent and the guys over at The Plum Line tell me that I should care. They seem to think that something will happen. (They also think that something is still going to happen on gun reform, so decide for yourself.) Today, Sargent reported on a ne...
The Magnificent Orson Welles (06 May 2013 03:25pm)
On this day back in 1856, Sigmund Freud was born. I'm not a huge fan of the man, but there is no doubting his importance. And silent film legend Rudolph Valentino was born in 1895. He died at the age of 31 due to complications from appendicitis. In many ways, I think that's not a bad age to die at. ...
Republicans Don't Care About Debt (06 May 2013 10:58am)
I always look forward to Mondays and Fridays because Paul Krugman has a column on those days. Even after all these years of reading him, he still has much to offer about what is going on in the world. And this morning, he put together a number of pieces about why our economy is in the mess that it i...
Conservative Apologia Economics (06 May 2013 10:24am)
Adam Davidson wrote an article last Thursday that tries to find common ground between economists Larry Summers and Glenn Hubbard. For those of you who don't know it, Summers is a Democrat who was Treasury Secretary under Bill Clinton. Hubbard is a Republican who was the Chairman of the Council of Ec...
Crickett: My First BBQ! (06 May 2013 08:41am)
Crickett, makers of toys that celebrate American traditions, introduces My First BBQ. It's never too young to start your children on the path of patriotic family values! Don't let the government take away your right to choose how to amuse your kids. Let your gut be your guide. ...
Michael Palin (05 May 2013 06:04pm)
On this day back in 1813, Soren Kierkegaard was born. Then, exactly 5 years later, Karl Marx was born. I have much to say about both of these men, but I'm just not up for it. And especially, I'm not up for choosing which of them deserves to win the day, so I decided to give it to neither of them. Yo...
Sick and Laughing (05 May 2013 11:32am)
I swear I am getting worse. In addition, I think I'm taking too much cold medicine. The combination of the nighttime cold & flu and the cough medicine has made it so I can't quite walk straight. Nonetheless, the cough goes on and the nose drips like the bathroom faucet. In order to get though th...
Niall Ferguson's Gay Keynes Moment (04 May 2013 12:53pm)
A funny thing happened on the way through the question and answer session of the Tenth Annual Altegris Conference in Carlsbad. Niall Ferguson claimed that John Maynard Keynes was all wrong about economics. But he said it in a most inappropriate way. Let me back up a bit, because I know most people h...
Getting Soft with Bartolomeo Cristofori (04 May 2013 11:37am)
On this day back in 1852, the model for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Alice Liddell was born. And Audrey Hepburn was born in 1929. Criminal or glorious leader (I tend to think the two are the same), Hosni Mubarak is 85 today. Jazz bassist Ron Carter and surf guitarist Dick Dale are both 76. Cli...
It's a James Brown World (03 May 2013 05:55pm)
On this day in 1469, the great Niccolo Machiavelli was born. The Hundred and One Dalmatians author Dodie Smith was born in 1896. Israeli Prime Minister Golda Meir was born in 1898. Bing Crosby, who for some reason I just hate, was born in 1903. Femme fatale from The Maltese Falcon, Mary Astor was bo...
Economic Crime Kills (03 May 2013 10:31am)
I've been sick and so I've been re-watching some movies. Last night, I put on Terry Pratchett's Going Postal. At one point, Mr. Pump says that Moist Von Lipwig has killed many people. Lipwig counters that he never even drew a sword. Pump responds, "You have stolen, embezzled, and swindled. You have ...
Cherry Picking God's Gifts (02 May 2013 10:33pm)
Who knew Stephen Fry was so smart? Well, I guess we all did......
Hurricane Katrina Looting? (02 May 2013 09:45pm)
This is a remarkable catch by Melissa Harris-Perry on The Rachel Maddow Show tonight. Apparently, one of the scenarios you can play at the George W. Bush Presidential Library in their "decision room" is Hurricane Katrina. But it isn't about helping the drowning and starving people. It is about wheth...
Bewitched by Lorenz Hart (02 May 2013 09:03pm)
Catherine the Great was born on this day in 1729. Gossip columnist Hedda Hopper was born in 1885. Benjamin Spock was born in 1903. And the great Indian director Satyajit Ray was born in 1921. David Suchet is 67 today. And Elizabeth Berridge is 51. But by a nose, the day belongs to the great lyrici...
Pretentious Puppets (02 May 2013 08:23pm)
I just watched what I think of as a deeply flawed but interesting documentary Puppet. It follows the Dan Hurlin production of a puppet play about the photographer Mike Disfarmer. My problem with the film is that it isn't focused. It is kind of about the theatrical backstage, kind of a about the stat...
Two Bits (02 May 2013 05:55pm)
My sister called me the other night to ask about the phrase, "two bits." It is a phrase that I don't hear much anymore, but people of my father's generation used it all the time to refer to a quarter of a dollar. It seems kind of strange for us to use because one "bit" would be twelve and a half cen...
GOP Does Not What to Fix Obamacare (02 May 2013 02:55pm)
Earlier this week, Ross Douthat wrote about the debate that has been going on between Ezra Klein and Ben Domenech about whether or not conservatives actually have an alternative to Obamacare. Douthat thus gave us, The Republican Health Policy Trainwreck. But don't let the title fool you, it is basic...
Happy Birthday Son! Don't Shoot Your Sister. (02 May 2013 12:04pm)
It seems that Kentucky is a place where children are given guns before they can read. An action that is common or traditional does not make it acceptable or wise. Listening to the victim's grandmother, the little girl's death shouldn't be seen as an indictment of children having access to guns, but ...
GOP Hates Judean People's Front (02 May 2013 11:27am)
Paul Waldman wrote an excellent article over at The American Prospect, House of Representatives Now a Scene from "Life Of Brian." It is based upon a Politico article that reported that the House Republicans are divided into two factions. Not moderates and conservatives. No, that would be too reasona...
False Equivalence and the Hero Archetype (02 May 2013 09:52am)
Jonathan Chait thinks that all the calls for presidential leadership to get Congress to, you know, do its job is magical thinking. In an article this morning, he said that there are two kinds analysts: quants and guts. Quants are people who look at the numbers. "The Democrats don't have a filibuster...
9 Is Not a Lonely Number (01 May 2013 10:31pm)
A couple of years ago, when I first saw the movie 9, I thought I perceived in it a new kind of dramatic structure. Having just watched it, I see now that I was wrong. The film is structured as a number of clear sequences—seven or so (I haven't studied the film). And as such, it is a pretty typ...
Hope for Democrats in 2014 (01 May 2013 07:56pm)
Sean Trende over at Real Clear Politics has started the process of looking at the 2014 House elections. The article mostly concerns its title, Congressional Elections and the Sixth-Year Myth. This is the idea that the president's party will lose big in the sixth-year midterm. To me, this myth is a l...
Jamestown Jane and the Cannibals (01 May 2013 05:49pm)
Meet Jamestown Jane. Or as her friends in Jamestown may have referred to her, Juicy Jane. According to USA Today, in a presentation at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History, her reconstructed face was presented as shown in the picture at the left. A lot of reconstruction was necessary...
Small Business Will Love Obamacare (01 May 2013 12:37pm)
The mainstream media are only really interested in big (corporate) business. But it is always put forward as discussion of "small business." There are a lot of definitions of "small business" so it isn't hard for the media to call just about any company "small." In fact, one of the more liberal-frie...
Obamacare Is Bad for Republicans (01 May 2013 12:31pm)
This morning, I was reading Jonathan Chait about, The Obamacare Opposite-of-a-Train-Wreck Scenario. In it, he argued that even though next year's implementation of Obama will likely have problems, these will be trumped by the fact that many millions of people will finally get health insurance. For a...
Something Happened to Joseph Heller (01 May 2013 11:08am)
The essayist and playwright Joseph Addison was born on this day back in 1672. King of Hawaii Kamehameha I was born in 1738. Writer and feminist Judith Sargent Murray was born in 1751. French Realist painter Jules Breton was born in 1827. American portrait painter Cecilia Beaux was born in 1855. Theo...
Selling God (01 May 2013 10:24am)
I just watched Selling God, ironically by Carl Christman. It is an amusing look at religion (primarily Christianity) as a product. What I think is particularly interesting about the film is that it really isn't anti-religious. Over half of the interviews are with Christians of one form or another. I...
Let's NOT Rush to War (30 Apr 2013 04:33pm)
I caught just a couple of minutes of Fox News and Charles Krauthammer was talking about how legalistic the White House was being about the suspected chemical weapons use by Syria. So far as I could tell, his argument was that this is a war zone so we don't have time to be careful. That makes sense f...
Low Probability Greatness (30 Apr 2013 01:23pm)
Gertrude Stein lover (There's lots of there there!) Alice B. Toklas was born on this day in 1877. Actor Eve Arden was born in 1908. Grandpa Munster actor, Al Lewis was born in 1923. Johnny Horton was born in 1925. And actor Jill Clayburgh was born in 1944. Cloris Leachman is 87 today. Willie Nelson...
Protectionism and the Death of Democracy (30 Apr 2013 10:51am)
Yesterday, Paul Krugman posted an article on his blog about why the economic crisis didn't result in more calls for protectionism: tariffs and the like. He proposes a few ideas but decides it is all about our trade agreements. I think he's wrong. It may well be the fact that there are institutional...
Because I Was Not a Terrorist... (30 Apr 2013 09:47am)
Everyone knows Martin Niemoller's "First they came for the communists..." poem. These days, we mostly hear it from conservatives because it is based on the slippery slope argument that is so beloved on the right. But I think the poem is fundamentally wrong; oppression doesn't happen that way. I was...
Hell is Other Family Members (29 Apr 2013 09:34pm)
Stephen Fry tells the story of his close encounter with the Mormon Church. ...
Who Is Obama Playing To? (29 Apr 2013 07:27pm)
I just had a thought. Remember that Pew poll that found that roughly half Americans blame Obama and half blame the Republicans for the flight delays caused by the Sequester? I discussed it earlier today, Democrats Own Sequester Air Traffic Exception. In that article, I argued that Obama should not t...
Duke Ellington's Got That Swing (29 Apr 2013 04:31pm)
The Indian painter Raja Ravi Varma was born in 1848 on this day. The great French mathematician Henri Poincare was born in 1854. Publisher William Randolph Hearst was born in 1863. The Dutch artist and print maker Hendrik Nicolaas Werkman was born in 1882. Japanese Emperor Hirohito was born in 1901....
Democrats Own Sequester Air Traffic Exception (29 Apr 2013 02:08pm)
I just caught a few minutes of Martin Bashir on MSNBC. He had a small panel and they were discussing the air traffic fix to the Sequester debacle. And man, aren't those Republicans bad! They're willing to let old folk go hungry but spring into action when it comes to their own comfort. Apparently, t...
The Death of Gay Culture (29 Apr 2013 01:02pm)
There used to be a large minority of the gay community that never wanted marriage equality. These people didn't want to be like the straight population and they feared that their movement would be co-opted by the corrupt mainstream society. They were right. Recently, it was announced that American ...
My Bipartisan Immigration Plan (29 Apr 2013 10:47am)
I have an immigration plan that should gain wide bipartisan support in Congress. This is because it will appeal to Republicans. Also: Democrats will go along with anything. There are three pillars of my plan: border security, guest workers, and path to citizenship. First, border security. The Canad...
Sympathy for Jamelle Bouie (29 Apr 2013 10:11am)
Our best wishes go out to Jamelle Bouie. We hope he has a speedy recovery. Bouie was a very insightful commentator over at The American Prospect, but he is totally wrong this morning. He wrote an article at the Plum Line, A Small Victory Against Anti-Tax Conservatives. In it, he discussed new legis...
New GOP Debt Ceiling Threat (29 Apr 2013 09:20am)
Over the weekend, Lori Montgomery at the Washington Post wrote, GOP Moves Away From Entitlements and Toward Tax Reform in Budget Deal. In it, she explained that because seniors don't like the idea of entitlement cuts, the Republicans are planning to focus on tax reform. And in the name of this tax r...
Obama at Correspondents Dinner (28 Apr 2013 11:05pm)
If you haven't seen this, I thought it was funny as hell: But it has been a long day. ...
Why is Ezra Klein Helping Republicans? (28 Apr 2013 10:32pm)
Yesterday, Digby asked a sensible question. Why do pundits simultaneously claim that Republicans are more radical than ever but then say that soon they will embrace, for example, Obamacare? She quotes two articles by Ezra Klein—one from last week and another from a few years ago—about ho...
Sin No More Against Bill Forsyth (28 Apr 2013 02:12pm)
I have long been a fan of the Scottish director Bill Forsyth. He is most remembered for two of his earlier films: Gregory's Girl and one of the greatest movies ever made, Local Hero. Annoyingly, after that, few people seemed to care, even though he made three excellent films in quick succession: Com...
An Incomplete Birthday (28 Apr 2013 10:03am)
James Monroe was born this day in 1758. Portuguese painter Jose Malhoa was born in 1855. The lesser brother, Lionel Barrymore was born in 1878. Blues great Charlie Patton was born in 1891. Romance novelist and despot Saddam Hussein was born in 1937. And Bruno Kirby was born in 1949. The great Harpe...
What Is a Labor Reporter? (27 Apr 2013 01:38pm)
Mike Elk is a labor reporter at In These Times Magazine. "A labor report?" you ask. "I thought those weren't allowed in the mainstream press!" Well, In These Times Magazine ain't exactly mainstream. They only have a circulation of about 20,000. Now if they started covering everything from the standp...
Everybody Is a Terrorist (27 Apr 2013 11:40am)
You know how racism works, right? You hate blacks; you think they are violent. You see a news story about some black guy who killed his girlfriend. That's more evidence that blacks are violent. You see another news story about some black guy who helps young people start small businesses. Well, that'...
. . . - - - . . . for Samuel Morse (27 Apr 2013 10:21am)
Ulysses S. Grant was born on this day in 1822. The creator of Woody Woodpecker, Walter Lantz was born in 1899. Jack Klugman was born in 1922. And Coretta Scott King was born in 1927. Casey Kasem is 81 today. Sheena Easton is 54. The poor man's Brad Pitt, James LeGros is 51. Wanker Dana Milbank is 4...
Ken Rogoff Doesn't Tweet His Junk (26 Apr 2013 01:20pm)
Kenneth Rogoff, last year: In a series of academic papers with Carmen Reinhart... we find that very high debt levels of 90% of GDP are a long-term secular drag on economic growth that often lasts for two decades or more. Carmen Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff, today: Nowhere did we assert that 90 per...
Of the 1%, By the 1%, For the 1% (26 Apr 2013 11:50am)
Have you heard? Senate Votes to End Furloughs of Air Traffic Controllers. The House is working on it as I write this and the President is likely to sign it. Are you surprised? Only if you've been living in a cave your entire life. I think we should call this the "Rich People Can't Be Inconvenienced...
On Not Understanding Wittgenstein (26 Apr 2013 11:08am)
Art theorist and painter Gian Paolo Lomazzo was born on this day in 1538. French master Eugene Delacroix was born in 1798. American impressionist Edmund C. Tarbell was born in 1862. And everyone's favorite Nazi Rudolf Hess was born in 1894. Carol Burnett is 80 today! But the day does not belong to...
In the Loop (26 Apr 2013 10:35am)
Last night, I tried to watch two films. I've been putting off watching Three Kings for some time, so I finally sat down to watch it. It seems partly based upon Kelly's Heroes, which I don't much like. But I have to say, Three Kings made me appreciate it more. This isn't because of the film. It is ab...
No High Tech Worker Shortage (26 Apr 2013 09:24am)
Back in February, I wrote about the situation with H1-B visas. These are visas that allow highly educated workers in science and technology (STEM) to come to the United States to work. High tech companies are always pushing for more of these visas. But as I pointed out then, this is not a form of im...
American Politics Ever to the Right (25 Apr 2013 01:13pm)
According to The Hill yesterday evening, House Lawmakers Pull Immigration to the Right. That's to be expected. As Idaho Republican Raul Labrador notes, "There's [sic] a lot of things in the Senate bill that are right, but the reality is that the Senate is controlled by Democrats and the House is con...
Yes Virginia, Obama Hates You (25 Apr 2013 10:59am)
Last night, Obama was speaking to a group of wealthy donors. Unlike Republican politicians, Obama did not tell them what they wanted to hear. Instead, he told them, "Occasionally I may make some of you angry because I'm going to reach out to Republicans, and I'm going to keep on doing it. Even if so...
Low Expectation of Hillman Foundation (25 Apr 2013 09:58am)
The Sidney Hillman Foundation is a liberal organization that gives out prizes that honor "journalists who pursue investigative reporting and deep storytelling in service of the common good." So what did they do? They gave a prize to Andrew Sullivan who is (1) a conservative, (2) not a journalist, an...
Good Night, and Good Luck (25 Apr 2013 09:13am)
King Edward II was born on this day in 1284. It is not known if he was really gay, but Christopher Marlowe certainly thought he was. His play is excellent, and the only reason I've even included the king today. Villain or hero Oliver Cromwell (I lean more toward hero) was born in 1599. The great phy...
How to Build a Bomb (24 Apr 2013 07:28pm)
Tonight, Rachel Maddow had a great opening sequence on conspiracy theorists and the thought that they are becoming more mainstream. I don't know about that. But I have known a lot of conspiracy theorists and I think I know how they think. One thing you have to remember about these people is that the...
Freedom to Overpay for Healthcare (24 Apr 2013 05:27pm)
Back during the end of the Bush administration, Andrew Sullivan and Ezra Klein got into a bit of a pissing contest and I think it bears discussion. Klein wrote an article where he praised (at least) the efficiency of the United Kingdom's actual socialized medical system (the doctors work for the gov...
The Leash is in Your Head (24 Apr 2013 04:31pm)
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If God Exists, He's a Sadist (24 Apr 2013 04:12pm)
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Why Are We Killing Afghani Children? (24 Apr 2013 03:16pm)
Andrea sent me the image above. I've been chasing around the original source. She got it off sodahead.com but it is actually stolen bandwidth off Demotivational Posters but is tagged as motifake.com. Unfortunately, I have no idea who created the image in the first place. I've been in fights with pe...
Why Obama Wants a Grand Bargain (24 Apr 2013 12:41pm)
Last night, Politico reported, Sources: Obama Plans W.H.-GOP Budget Group. In other words, it is Grand Bargain time! Don't worry, that feeling in the pit of your stomach is a normal reaction to the loss of all hope. But maybe it isn't as bad as all that. Regardless, it is an opportunity for me to di...
Bush Kept Us Safe Apart From... (24 Apr 2013 11:47am)
I'm sure you remember the "What Have the Romans Ever Done for Us" scene from Monty Python's The Life of Brian. But if not, here is the best part: All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have...
Castle On Haunted Hill (24 Apr 2013 10:41am)
The Irish portrait painter Nathaniel Hone the Elder was born on this day in 1718. The Russian cubist Lyubov Popova was born in 1889. And the Dutch abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning (who I can appreciate but really don't like) was born in 1904. Action film director Richard Donner is 83 today....
Is the GOP Post-Policy? (24 Apr 2013 10:00am)
Jonathan Bernstein noted something really interesting at Salon yesterday, GOP Quits Public Policy. In it, he explains that in the House of Representatives, they number bill sequentially. So HR 101 comes after HR 100. But for some time, they've reserved the first ten number HR 1 to HR 10 for party pr...
Somebody's About to Get C**t-punted to the Curb (24 Apr 2013 05:55am)
Michael Shannon Reads the Insane Delta Gamma Sorority Letter from Michael Shannon ...
Men Are Just Naturally Attractive (24 Apr 2013 05:46am)
Dove Real Beauty Sketches - Men - watch more funny videos ...
Ted Cruz Zinger Fail (23 Apr 2013 10:08pm)
This is really great. Ted Cruz is one of the Republicans who have been running around whining about the Gang of Eight immigration bill. According to him it is 844 pages and no one could read it in the 5 days he's had to read it (it was actually 6). Of course, reading the bill isn't critical. People...
Jerry Saltz Is an Asshole (23 Apr 2013 09:21pm)
I have a great fondness for serious art criticism. But I don't think you get it by reading newspapers or magazines. What's more, I tend to think that criticism takes time. You need to live with a piece of art for a long time. Otherwise, it is too easy to let your emotions distract you with flashy to...
Conservatives Hate All Immigrants (23 Apr 2013 05:06pm)
There has been much talk about how the Boston Marathon bombing changes the calculus of immigration reform. At first that surprised me. The Tsarnaev brothers were here legally. How does that have anything to do with illegal immigration. But then only last night it hit me: I've been dumb, naive, or b...
Is Bush Back? (23 Apr 2013 02:47pm)
Now is the time for all good men to come to the aid of their last president. Yes, it is reevaluate George W. Bush time! And the pundits are out with their "Bush weren't so bad" articles. (Yes, that was a little grammar humor with the subjunctive.) As you can probably guess, I don't think much about ...
Marginally Bad That Baucus is Retiring (23 Apr 2013 12:22pm)
Max Baucus is retiring. I'm beginning to think that by the time 2014 rolls around that every Democratic senator will have decided to retire. Jamelle Bouie at the Plum Line blog says that even though Montana is a conservative state, the Democrats have a good chance of keeping the seat because former ...
Max Planck (23 Apr 2013 10:35am)
You may have heard that William Shakespeare was born on this day in 1564. But the truth is that we don't know. The same goes for Christopher Marlowe and Miguel de Cervantes. What we know is when they were baptized. And the convention is to assume that babies were baptized on the third day. So really...
Get Away With It (22 Apr 2013 09:37pm)
I'm not quite sure what Justice Banking is, except that it is some kind of social satire group. But you really should watch this video. What I particularly like about it is that it focuses on what I just wrote: bankers are the ones who are supposed to be looking out for their interest; the borrowers...
Kick the Poor Then Jail Them (22 Apr 2013 08:14pm)
Ed Kilgore made a good point over at the Political Animal blog, More Pain For Economic Victims. In it, he talked about the widely reported William Dickens and Rand Ghayad paper (pdf) that showed that employers would rather hire a less qualified applicant who has been unemployed for a short time than...
Samuelson: Economics Is Confusing (22 Apr 2013 04:35pm)
Yesterday was Sunday and that can mean only one thing: Robert Samuelson wrote something stupid in his column over at the Washington Post and Dean Baker destroyed it with mockery and, you know, facts. I really don't like Samuelson; he's the embodiment of the Very Serious Pundit who claims to simply e...
Lesbians, Short Hair, and the Frumpy Years (22 Apr 2013 02:15pm)
Last night, I watched this video 24 Hours of Madness. It is some kind of British celebrity game show. You know the kind where everyone goes on just to show that they are more clever and charming than the Yankees? And I got sucked in. It was loads of fun. But if you are going to watch it, fast forwar...
Miranda and Terror (22 Apr 2013 01:15pm)
The New York Times just reported that Dzhokhar Tsarnaev will be tried in a civilian court. Thank God for small favors. Really, there should have been no question. Unfortunately, there are a lot of people in the United States who are hellbent on destroying the United States Constitution, even while t...
Immanuel Kant Was a Real Pissant (22 Apr 2013 10:38am)
Cool birthdays are not evenly distributed. Some days, it is hard to find anyone to talk about. Look at Friday, for example—and it wasn't even close to the worst. And then there are days like today that are overflowing with interesting people. Let's start with Henry Fielding who was born on thi...
Insulting Ayn Rand (22 Apr 2013 12:22am)
I have major problems with Christopher Hitchens. One of the biggest is that he chose to use his incredible intellect for such trivial pursuits. But when he was right about something, I was on his side. And the fact is that he was right about quite a lot. Unfortunately, he used the last ten or so yea...
Witches and Hippies (21 Apr 2013 09:25pm)
This video parody of Dragnet is very funny with some clever computer effects. But what I think is most interesting about it is the original stuff that sadly very few people in a society can see at the time: how law enforcement is mostly just cultural bias, and in-group and out-group signifying. The ...
Dobson's Negro as Other (21 Apr 2013 08:49pm)
In the complexion of negroes we meet with various shades; but they likewise differ far from other men in all the features of their face. Round cheeks, high cheek bones, a forehead somewhat elevated, a short, broad, flat nose, thick lips, small ears, ugliness, and irregularity of shape, characterize ...
Larry Summers' Last Chance (21 Apr 2013 08:29pm)
Let me tell you about Larry Summers. He's an economist and was the Secretary of the Treasury under Bill Clinton. Before him, Robert Rubin was Treasure Secretary, and Summers, being an acolyte of his, continued his strong dollar policies. Now I know that a strong dollar sounds like a good thing, but ...
Come Back Obama (21 Apr 2013 06:13pm)
Just one more quick note about all the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. I believe that Obama was so quick to call the bombing a terrorist act because, as usual, he's a wimp. I'm sure he is worried that just like in Benghazi, the right wing will attack him for not calling it a terrorist atta...
Racism Toward Muslims (21 Apr 2013 05:29pm)
Ali Abunima at The Electronic Intifada has written an article that I wish all Americans would read (even though I fear their reaction would be no better than it was to Marc Ambinder's article), Obama's Rush to Judgment: Was the Boston Bombing Really a "Terrorist" Act? The basis of his argument is th...
Missing Cat/Dog/People Signs (21 Apr 2013 04:25pm)
I rarely torture you all with my own poetry but this rhymes! And yes, I know what you'll say, "It's bad enough that this is all about death; do you really have to end it by saying that death is a good thing?" Well, yes, as a matter of fact I do. I'm no fan of death, but there are a great many things...
Charlotte Was Not Tenacious of Life (21 Apr 2013 10:53am)
John Muir was born this day in 1838. Filmmaker Marcel Camus was born in 1912. Comedic screenwriter Norman Panama was born in 1914. Anthony Quinn in 1915. And American citizen gunned down without due process of law, Anwar al-Aulaqi was born in 1971. Queen Elizabeth II is 87 today. The great comedian...
We Aren't the Anti-Terrorists (21 Apr 2013 09:28am)
A lot of people in the United States want terrorism to be a major problem—it seems to define us as a people. But apparently, terrorism is an extremely minor problem. How else can we explain the fact that almost every time I read about a foiled terror plot, it turns out that all the tools for t...
Don't Nofollow (20 Apr 2013 10:37pm)
I've come to despise the "nofollow" attribute of links. When a link includes rel="nofollow" in it, search engines are not supposed to follow the link or use it to increase, for example, the linked page's Google ranking. The idea originally was to reduce spam. If spammers knew that their useless blog...
Global Warming and Expansionary Austerity (20 Apr 2013 05:36pm)
When I was doing research in global warming, it was very annoying. The theory was all laid out. And that was most of what we had. At that time, the evidence for global warming was weak. So an iconoclast like me naturally looked for ways that the theory was wrong: negative feedbacks and stuff like th...
Why Dems Aren't Economically Liberal (20 Apr 2013 01:39pm)
I just came upon this short segment from Up with Steve Kornacki. In it, he admits what I've long said: the Democratic Party (at the national level anyway) is just liberal on social issues; when it comes to economic issues, they are as conservative as Republicans were during the Reagan administration...
Common Sense or Nonsense (20 Apr 2013 12:45pm)
Meet Mark Blyth. He is a political scientist who seems to study mostly economics. He has a new book coming out next week, Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, which I've already ordered. In the following video, he explains that the economy is not like a family. If the public and private sect...
Wanted: Serious Right Wing (20 Apr 2013 11:13am)
There are fundamental differences between MSNBC and Fox News, but most of them have to do with degrees. For example, to some extent, MSNBC has become a media arm of the Democratic Party; Fox News is nothing but a media arm of the Republican Party. The biggest and most consequential difference has no...
Safety Last (20 Apr 2013 09:34am)
On this day in 1840, French symbolist painter Odilon Redon was born. Sculpter Daniel Chester French, who created Abraham Lincoln at the Lincoln Memorial, was born 1850. Adolf Hitler who played some part in European history was born in 1889. Lionel Hampton was born in 1908. And Tito Puente was born ...
Third Time with Downton Abbey (19 Apr 2013 08:31pm)
I can't really take anymore of this Boston business. There are things to be happy about, but mostly I'm finding my fellow citizens (including the president) disappointing. So let's talk about Downton Abbey. Finally, I've watched the whole series. But I didn't watch it in order; I watched it in this...
Muslims? Let's Go to War! (19 Apr 2013 06:34pm)
Marc Ambinder wrote a very reasonable article over at The Week, The Insanity of Blaming Islam. In it, he argues that we shouldn't blame Islam if a Muslim commits a crime any more than we should blame Christanity when a Christian commits a crime. This is an excellent point. When Scott Roeder killed G...
Profits Before People (19 Apr 2013 02:54pm)
It looks as though the fire and explosion at the West Fertilizer Company near Waco, Texas was not intentional—no terrorist act as I feared. It seems to be just another tragic industrial accident. And as such, it makes for a good comparison with the Boston Marathon bombing. The bombing killed 3...
Reuters Plans Character Assassination After Soros Dies (19 Apr 2013 01:42pm)
I just love the liberal media in the United States. It is so liberal that when a conservative dies, they provide blanket hagiographic coverage. But when a liberal dies, it is "both sides now" coverage, "On the liberal side of the political spectrum he was consider a champion of worker rights, but on...
Ontological Blindness of Stephen Hawking (19 Apr 2013 10:33am)
Many years ago, I picked up a copy of an astronomy magazine at a dental office. The cover story was about the big bang. It wondered why people didn't accept that big bang in large numbers, even though it was one of the most confirmed scientific theories ever. I know why people don't "accept" the the...
Will You Still Need Me When I'm 116? (19 Apr 2013 07:54am)
It is another weak birthday list. But let's get on with it. Founding father Roger Sherman was born on this day in 1721. Eliot Ness was born in 1903. Darrin number two on Bewitched, Dick Sargent, was born in 1930. Jayne Mansfield was born in 1933. And Dudley Moore was born in 1935. Stanley Fish, who...
It Is Not Immediately Clear If These Are the Young Men (18 Apr 2013 08:38pm)
Following off the journalistic rigor and ethics of the New York Post, I offer you the two young men pictured on the left who are wanted for questioning by the feds about the Boston Marathon bombing. I am not saying that these guys are the suspects, but I have been told that the authorities are circu...
Mirrors and Bad Lighting on Curiously Clever (18 Apr 2013 07:01pm)
Andrea just wrote an interesting article at our other blog Curiously Clever. In it, she discusses the Dove company's attempts to brand itself as "not anti-woman." As we all know, much of the media is focused on making women (and increasingly men) feel bad about themselves and in need of beauty produ...
Happy 25th Convention Against Torture (18 Apr 2013 06:32pm)
It is the 25th anniversary of Ronald Reagan signing the United Nations Convention Against Torture. Ah, the good ol' days, when being against torture was bipartisan! Today, the problem is that one of our political parties is in favor of torture and the other, while not being for it, doesn't think it ...
Slow Economy Causes Government Debt (18 Apr 2013 03:31pm)
You may remember earlier this week, I referenced an article by Mike Konczal and his excellent summary of the problems in the famous Reinhart and Rogoff (R&R) paper. The original paper claimed that high government debt led to slow economic growth. The primary argument against this work was that R&R h...
Perceived Beauty vs Mirrors and Bad Lighting (18 Apr 2013 03:22pm)
It's difficult being a first world woman. I don't worry about where my next meal will come from, but I am concerned about it's probable effect on my waistline. I don't worry about dying at 60, but I dread what I may look like when I get there. We pick ourselves apart from the inside out, with an ins...
Would Jesus Be a Republican? (18 Apr 2013 01:31pm)
I found an amusing little article over at the vile website Rapture Ready, Would Jesus Vote Republican? The answer: Jesus would not have been a Democrat or a Republican, but clearly the Republican Party is far more godly so you better vote Republican. Fun times! The section that discusses why Jesus ...
Don't Primary Red State Democrats (18 Apr 2013 12:51pm)
After a string of clueless attempts to be iconoclastic, Jonathan Chait managed to write something that is both iconoclastic and right, Senate Democrats Wise to Block Background Checks. His argument is very simple: red state Democrats have to make some non-liberal votes to maintain credibility with t...
Once Upon a Time in the West (18 Apr 2013 11:19am)
Longtime reader and insightful commenter JMF had mentioned a few times that he really liked the Sergio Leone film Once Upon a Time in the West. I hadn't thought that much of it, but I'd only seen it once about 20 years ago. So I decided to revisit it. And it was a revelation. One thing I wouldn't h...
Women Beware Middleton (18 Apr 2013 09:11am)
Clarence Darrow was born on this day in 1857. He was a major player in two of the most important trails of the last century: Scopes (evolution and free speech) and Leopold and Loeb (death penalty). He was a truly great man. Japanese screenwriter Shinobu Hashimoto is 95 today. Rock journalist Robert...
Waco 20 Years On (17 Apr 2013 07:27pm)
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Yglesias Cast Out of Appleworld (17 Apr 2013 01:35pm)
This is just sad. I've been reading Matt Yglesias for a long time and one thing I know (And like!) about him is that he's an iconoclast. Just this morning he was making what I thought a very weak but iconoclastic argument against fiscal stimulus. But when it comes to computers, I guess he just has t...
Forgiving Torture (17 Apr 2013 01:02pm)
I am often reminded that I'm not a very nice person. Most recently, this came to mind because Jonathan Bernstein wrote at Post Partisan, How Do We Keep from Torturing Again? This is coming off the Constitution Project report stating unequivocally that after 9/11, the United States, as a matter of go...
Forfeit Today So You Can Forfeit Tomorrow (17 Apr 2013 11:31am)
Any time now, the Senate will vote down the Toomey-Manchin gun purchase background check compromise. I can't say I'm sad about this. Even under the best of circumstances, the law would have been so watered down as to be almost meaningless. And that was very little gain in return for the possibility ...
S'awright? S'awriiight! (17 Apr 2013 09:41am)
The English playwright John Ford was born on this day in 1586. The inventor of baseball (more or less), Alexander Cartwright was born in 1820. J. P. Morgan was born in 1837, and we've been paying for it ever since. The great playwright Thornton Wilder was born 1897. William Holden was born in 1918. ...
Gold Has Little Intrinsic Value (17 Apr 2013 09:09am)
Paul Krugman's last two columns have been about the obsession of conservatives (especially libertarians) with gold backed currency. On Friday, he wrote, Lust for Gold. In it, he discussed the recent fall in the price of gold and how it will not affect the way that goldbugs think about the commodity....
A Tale of Two Studies (16 Apr 2013 09:14pm)
Juliet Lapidos at Taking Note reported yesterday on Defensive Gun Use. In it, she wrote about a new study from the Violence Policy Center (VPC) that counters the claim by the NRA that there are over 2 million defensive uses of guns every year. The VPC finds that there are less than 70,000. The NRA ...
America Tortured After 9/11 (16 Apr 2013 07:13pm)
It is indisputable that the United States engaged in the practice of torture. That's not what I say; that's according to the nonpartisan, independent review performed by the Constitution Project. According to Scott Shane at the New York Times, the group is releasing a 577-page report tomorrow. I un...
Patrick Dollard Doesn't Remember 9/11 (16 Apr 2013 06:01pm)
Blue Texan over at Crooks & Liars brought my attention to the following stupid right-wing tweet. There are stupid right-wing tweets everyday; it is a regular feature on Crooks & Liars. But this one really deserves attention because it highlights something that most conservatives think but th...
Reinhart and Rogoff Shown to Be Wrong—Again. (16 Apr 2013 03:54pm)
There is a bit of economic news today that is wonderfully fun and I dare say it would be a shame for you all to miss out on it just because you don't follow the economics blogs. What's more, in terms of truth, it really matters, even if, in terms of politics, it probably won't. In 2010, Carmen Rein...
How We Feel About Those We Victimize (16 Apr 2013 02:05pm)
Last night, I tried to convey my feeling that we focus (largely because the media profit from it) on big tragic events while we ignore rapid and endless "mundane" tragedies of life in the United States. And I do feel that way. But I admit: it is a provincial view. But there is no one like Glenn Gree...
Athletes Are Not Paid Too Much (16 Apr 2013 12:40pm)
I am not much of a sports fan, but I do rather enjoy watching the game of baseball—although I would rather watch the minor leagues. But one argument I get into with sports fans (and non-fans) is the supposedly unreasonable player salaries. This is nonsense. And I take particular umbrage at the...
Painting to Lose Your Head Over (16 Apr 2013 10:01am)
Wilbur Wright was born this day in 1867. Actor Peter Ustinov was born in 1921. The great arranger and composer Henry Mancini was born in 1924. Jazz flutist Herbie Mann was born in 1930. And Dusty Springfield was born in 1939. Joseph Aloisius Ratzinger (the Pope emeritus) is 86 today. Kareem Abdul-J...
All Today's Victims (15 Apr 2013 11:17pm)
I always have a strange and some would say heartless view of tragedies like the Boston Marathon bombing. It is not that I am not engaged by such events. Rather, it is that I feel that it is wrong to elevate such events above the tragedy that we allow day after day. If this is like most days, 25 peop...
Let's Eat Grandma (15 Apr 2013 07:32pm)
Will sent me a link to this t-shirt vendor that has a shirt that reads, "Let's eat grandma. Let's eat, grandma. Punctuation saves lives." This, of course, is very much in keeping with Lynne Truss' fun book, Eats, Shoots & Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. But as much as I find ...
Hope Alone is Not Audacious (15 Apr 2013 12:03pm)
What is audacious about hope? In general, I think the answer is nothing. There could be something. If you combine hope with a strong will and commitment, then it can be audacious indeed. But I've never gotten the idea that Obama means this. Instead, he seems to offer nothing more than the hope that ...
Glocks for Tots (15 Apr 2013 10:43am)
Steve Stockman is a funny guy, but I am still compelled to go all pedant on his ass. A "fetus" with a gun could shoot it's way out. After which it would be taken to a lab where it would be studied, very carefully. However, Stockman's droll theory is inaccurate. A baby with a gun can't abort an abor...
Leonardo and the Fetus (15 Apr 2013 10:37am)
On this day in 1707, one of the greatest mathematicians ever, Leonhard Euler was born. The great novelist Henry James was born 1843. Muralist Thomas Hart Benton was born in 1889. Nikita Khrushchev and Bessie Smith were born in 1894. The iconoclastic psychologist Thomas Szasz was born in 1920. And El...
Gun Bill Could Be Worse Than Nothing (15 Apr 2013 09:58am)
Have you seen the opening to this weekend's Saturday Night Live? The skit makes fun of what I wrote about last week: The Great Liberal Gun Policy Victory. In the end, I argued, what we would get is a law that is almost useless. I'm never one to avoid accountability, so let me lay it on the line: I w...
If Only a Womb Could Also Holster a Gun (15 Apr 2013 06:36am)
Found this on the Doonesbury site: "Our campaign bumper sticker: If babies had guns, they wouldn't be aborted." —Rep. Steve Stockman Of course not. An armed fetus is a murder-suicide waiting to happen....
Zulu Dawn and Every War Ever (14 Apr 2013 07:47pm)
When I was a kid, I loved the film Zulu. I still do. But as I've gotten older, I've come to be painfully aware of its ethnocentrism. So when I saw that Zulu Dawn, the film about the events that led up to the Anglo-Zulu War, was available for Instant Watch on Netflix, I was very pleased. Cy Endfield,...
The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (14 Apr 2013 05:22pm)
Last night, I finally watched The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Normally, when I see a trailer for a film, I am filled with scorn. Trailers are very predictable and usually turn even good films in a mush of cliches. But that wasn't the case with this film. Probably it had something to do with the cast...
True Friends of the Bible (14 Apr 2013 04:33pm)
When we find we must spend time disabusing students of Christian origins of the red herrings strewn about with gleeful abandon by apologists, we critics of traditional supernaturalism find ourselves in a strange and seemingly ironic position. We view ourselves, contrary to the perspective our own cr...
Light Waves and Birthdays (14 Apr 2013 12:41pm)
Helen Keller's teacher, Anne Sullivan was born on this day back in 1866. I didn't realize it, but Keller outlived Sullivan by 32 years, but I suppose she was more critical at the beginning than the end. The great Shakespearean actor John Gielgud was born in 1904. And you thought he was just the butl...
Jeremi Suri Calls for War (14 Apr 2013 11:55am)
Jeremi Suri wrote a remarkable op-ed in the New York Times on Friday, Bomb North Korea, Before It's Too Late. What I find so interesting is that Suri is not some Fox News shouter. He seems to be more or less a liberal, or at least what passes for one in modern America. He is also a history professor...
We'll Be Right Back (13 Apr 2013 09:18pm)
There's a little bit of a work slowdown here at Frankly Curious. There are a couple of reasons for this. Primarily, I have been having the worst time sleeping, and even though that means I'm awake a lot, I don't feel much like writing. Also, I am doing taxes. I think the worst of that is over. So if...
Happy Days for Beckett (13 Apr 2013 10:32am)
Since I've started doing these birthday posts, I've never come upon a day like this. I wish I could spread out these birthdays, because normally, I would feature any number of these people. The last man to enter Parliament with honest intentions, Guy Fawkes was born on this day in 1570. Thomas Jeff...
Why Obama's Budget Is a Mistake (12 Apr 2013 09:55pm)
Jonathan Chait wrote an interesting article today about how conservative pundits are now attacking Obama from the left, Conservatives Decide Obama Is Too Conservative. It had a particularly good catch from Matthew Continetti of the Washington Free Beacon who now says that Obama shouldn't be trying t...
Two Errors from Matt Yglesias (12 Apr 2013 07:05pm)
It's a burden. You know that, right? Being very smart is a burden. I'm not talking about myself, in case you were wondering, because I'm not very smart. But young Matt Yglesias is, and his intelligence leads him horribly astray from time to time. Like today: two different articles really stood out f...
Post's False Equivalence on Obama Budget (12 Apr 2013 11:56am)
The Washington Post published an editorial this morning, It's the GOP's Turn to be Serious with the Budget. With a title like that, you would think it would be a great read and a strong statement. Instead, it is almost entirely false equivalence, because, I guess, the Post doesn't want to lose its s...
Scott Turow and Novel Theory (12 Apr 2013 09:45am)
The great sculptor Felix de Weldon was born on this day in 1907. Six fingered bluesman Hound Dog Taylor was born in 1912. And ethnomusicologist and wacky performer Tiny Tim was born in 1932. Manuel Neri of the Bay Area Figurative Movement is 83. Dennis Banks of the American Indian Movement is 76. H...
North Pond Hermit (11 Apr 2013 07:41pm)
Meet Christopher Knight. He disappeared in the wilderness of Maine 27 years ago as a 20 year old. And he just came back out. Well, perhaps that will give you the wrong idea. He has been living alone in the woods all these years, but he would go to one of the 300 camps around North Pond and steal th...
Matt Yglesias Is Confused About Songwriting (11 Apr 2013 05:28pm)
Matt Yglesias is upset that Taylor Swift's new Diet Coke commercial perpetuates unfortunate stereotypes about songwriting. He doesn't like that the video shows Swift scribbling lyrics in a notebook. According to Yglesias, that's just not the way it's done in the modern world. He claims that songwrit...
Inside Obama's Budget (11 Apr 2013 01:12pm)
In Jonathan Bernstein's Happy Hour Roundup at The Plum Line last night, he provided links to three articles that argue in different ways that there is much to like in Obama's new budget. I've never argued otherwise, but I have been too focused on the entitlement cuts. Let's be clear though: Obama's ...
Poker, Fraud, and Computer Science (11 Apr 2013 11:16am)
Cartoonist Dale Messick was born on this day back in 1906. The first African-American woman to graduate from Yale Law School, Jane Bolin was born in 1908. The founder of the Church of Satan Anton LaVey was born in 1930. And Stuart Adamson of the band Big Country was born in 1958. Actor Joel Grey, w...
Breaking News: David Axelrod Doesn't Call Us Fucking Retarded (10 Apr 2013 11:08pm)
On tonight's The Rachel Maddow Show, David Axelrod explained that everything Obama has ever done or ever will again do is just right. We actual liberals just don't get it. We don't understand the bigger issues that Serious Democrats understand. We don't understand that "free" trade agreements are gr...
Liberals Are Not Winning (10 Apr 2013 10:07pm)
When I see a bald guy with ear rings who has clearly never been to jail, I think: prison rape fantasies. That's what I was thinking while watching gun rights advocate and overall Republican fucktard Kevin Williamson on All In tonight. But he made a great point: the new "gun control" legislation is b...
Republican Peeing Analogy (10 Apr 2013 06:44pm)
You gotta love Greg Sargent: he really seems to think that it will matter that Republicans are showing themselves to be intransigent when it comes to Obama's new Social Security cutting budget. In an article earlier today, he noted that John Boehner and Eric Cantor immediately came out with statemen...
Is Sarcasm Dead? (10 Apr 2013 12:19pm)
This is amusing. Yesterday, Jonathan Chait wrote an article about Michael Kelly who for less than a year was the editor of The New Republic. Chait worked under Kelly and remembers him foundly as students often remember their mentors. Kelly was apparently very protective of his young writers. But tha...
The Pleasure of Not Hating William Hazlitt (10 Apr 2013 11:53am)
Joseph Pulitzer was born on this day back in 1847. I used to have a cat named Pulitzer. So for the record, it it pronounced poo-litzer, not peu-litzer. And yes: yellow journalism and all that. But it was still better than the pretend objectivity of the modern mainstream press. Playwright Clare Booth...
The Great Liberal Gun Policy Victory (10 Apr 2013 10:51am)
The New York Times (and plenty of other news outlets) has reported that we have a gun control bill that can make it through the Senate. Hoo-fucking-ray! Let's look back on what's happened the last 4 months. Mass murders in America every few days. About 40 gun suicides per day. About 25 gun murders p...
Obama's Childish Budget Gambit (10 Apr 2013 09:43am)
The lady doth protest too much, methinks. Or rather the Obama administration, which is out this morning with their new entitlement cutting budget. Greg Sargent reported this morning, "The administration officials insisted yesterday that Obama does not view Chained CPI as good policy." The thing is, ...
Harlan County, USA (09 Apr 2013 10:01pm)
I've seen scenes from Barbara Kopple's documentary about the Brookside Miners' Strike, Harlan County, USA. But I'd never sat down and watched it—until tonight. I'm very fond of documentaries generally, but this one is certainly one of the best I have ever seen. It was so good, in fact, that as...
Pretend Liberals (09 Apr 2013 06:42pm)
Eric Alterman had a great article in last week's print edition of The Nation, Cuomo Vs. Cuomo (that link it behind a pay wall, but a subscription only costs $9.50 per year—I think The New York Times charges more per month). In it, he talks about the two sides of Cuomo the Younger (Andrew): Soc...
Dramatic Momentum and Third Acts (09 Apr 2013 02:59pm)
I've been thinking about two comedies recently that have what I normally consider problematic third acts. The first film is kind of a classic of this kind of problem, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. The third act is a total muddle. Lothos tries to woo Buffy, she rejects him, he attacks her and is killed i...
End the Corporate Income Tax? (09 Apr 2013 12:51pm)
Matt Yglesias has a modest proposal. He says we should get rid of the corporate income tax. It only brings in 1-2% of federal income taxes. So given how good corporations are at getting out of it, let's just abolish it. As he notes, the main good it does is to provide employment for "a small army of...
In Which the Birthdays Suck (09 Apr 2013 10:07am)
This is by far the worst day for birthday since I started this. But let's get it over with. Carl Perkins was born on this day back in 1932. Hugh Hefner, who I think is a distinctly creepy guy, is 87. Objectivist psychologist and Ayn Rand lover (as in sex, not necessarily devotion) Nathaniel Branden...
How Much Did Race Affect Obama (08 Apr 2013 09:43pm)
Jamelle Bouie wrote an interesting article over at The American Prospect this morning, Did Obama Lose Votes Because of His Race? In it, he reported on some very clever research by Harvard economist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz. He combined regional voting patterns from 2004 with regional Google searches...
Thatcher Gets No Credit for Ozone (08 Apr 2013 07:33pm)
There was a very interesting discussion on All In about the legacy of Margaret Thatcher. I quite agree with what Chris Hayes says at the beginning of the clip below. But at one point, he asks Cass Sunstein if there is anything about Thatcher that liberals should applaud. Sunstein mentions the ozone ...
AAA Hollywood Asshole James Cameron (08 Apr 2013 01:35pm)
I am something on a connoisseur of director commentaries on films. Of course, most are quite awful; generally, I would rather listen to a writer or a historian discuss the films. But directors often tell you a lot about how little they understand the art form they work in. And often, they show what ...
Tramp the Dirt Down (08 Apr 2013 11:12am)
Margaret Thatcher was an evil woman. Now she's dead. At the end of her term in office, Elvis Costello released a song about her, "Tramp the Dirt Down." In it he sang, "And when they finally put you in the ground; I'll stand there laughing; And tramp the dirt down." I agree completely about that sent...
Adieu Jacques Je T'aimais Bien Tu Sais (08 Apr 2013 10:25am)
Mary Pickford was born in 1892 on this day. According to Wikipedia, she was an alcoholic. But if she was, how did she live to be 87? Really. The definition of alcoholic has really gotten out of hand when it is applied to Pickford. The great economist John Hicks was born in 1904. And another alleged ...
The Ethics of Precrime (07 Apr 2013 09:34pm)
I just read the Philip K. Dick short story "The Minority Report." I've seen the film that is based upon it a number of times before. But as with any written story, reading gives you time to think. In this case, I began to think about the metaphysics of precrime. For those of you unaware of the plot,...
Cynical Son of a Bitch (07 Apr 2013 08:04pm)
I am a cynical son of a bitch. I am the first to push emotion aside for the purpose of the greater intellectual good. So I was surprised how much tonight's episode of 60 Minutes struck me. The show brought together a group of parents who lost children at Sandy Hook. The cynical side of me was very c...
Melissa Harris-Perry Calls BS (07 Apr 2013 04:30pm)
Few political commentators can call bullshit as well as Melissa Harris-Perry. In the clip below from yesterday's show, she is talking about the Tennessee bill that would cut welfare funding from families who have children who are not performing well in school. I don't have much to add to what she sa...
Manchurian Speaker (07 Apr 2013 01:36pm)
When I saw that Ezra Klien had written an article titled, The Strange Alliance Between John Boehner and Liberals, I knew just what he was talking about. Basically, over the last couple of years, John Boehner has saved the liberal cause by refusing to accept rather conservative deals on things like C...
Lady's Day (07 Apr 2013 10:21am)
On this day in 1770, William Wordsworth was born. (I named one of my puppets after him—surely there is no greater honor.) The visionary philosopher Charles Fourier was born in 1772. The great sitar player Ravi Shankar was born in 1920 and only died last year. Alan J. Pakula, director of the ex...
Life and Death of Raphael (06 Apr 2013 12:41pm)
Dudley Nichols, screenwriter of Bringing Up Baby, was born on this day back in 1895. The great saxophonist Gerry Mulligan was born in 1927. And Kinch from Hogan's Heroes, Ivan Dixon was born in 1931. The great geneticist James D. Watson is 85 today. Merle Haggard is 76. I like him for songs like "M...
Avik Roy's Nonsense on Disability Insurance (06 Apr 2013 12:14am)
One thing that this last week has shown is that Chris Hayes' new weeknight show All In is certainly as good as his weekend show was. So you will forgive me for writing twice about it in as many days. Last night, there was a discussion of the recent NPR attack on Disability Insurance. And Hayes brou...
Karen Hunter Hates Young Women (05 Apr 2013 09:27pm)
I just saw a very annoying thing on Chris Hayes' new Show All In. There was a panel discussion of Judge Edward Korman's smack down of the Obama administration over their repellent handling of the youth exclusion to allowing Plan B to be sold over the counter. The problem was Karen Hunter on the pane...
Obama's Ideal Budget (05 Apr 2013 07:45pm)
Everyone seems to pretty much agree with me regarding the administration's announcement that they are going to put Chained-CPI into their new budget: bad policy, bad politics. But I've reached a new place with regards to Obama. I now think that there are two things he wants to accomplish in budget n...
Are Republicans Killing Women? (05 Apr 2013 03:02pm)
The remarkable map below is from health researcher Bill Gardner via Sarah Kliff at Wonk Blog, This Map of America's Female Mortality Rates Is Pretty Terrifying. The reason that Kliff refers to the map as "pretty terrifying" is that 43% of US counties are seeing rising levels of female mortality. In ...
Obama's Prized Chained-CPI (05 Apr 2013 10:27am)
I give up! This morning, Obama announced that he will continue to bargain with himself. On Wednesday, Jared Bernstein discussed a number of budget items that we face. The most important of which was his argument that Obama should not put Chained-CPI into his budget. Chained-CPI is basically just a ...
No Calvin All Hobbes (05 Apr 2013 10:00am)
Booker T. Washington was born on this day in 1856. Food safety scientist and advocate Samuel Cate Prescott was born in 1872. We have a bunch of actors: Walter Huston (1883); Spencer Tracy (1900); Melvyn Douglas (1901); Bette Davis (1908); Gregory Peck (1916); Nigel Hawthorne (1929); and Frank Gorshi...
We Need More Politicians (05 Apr 2013 12:31am)
On Tuesday, Daniel Schuman wrote, Congress Deserves a Big Fat Raise. This is something I've long supported. I hate the argument that we should pay our elected officials less. These arguments are, at base, nothing but bitterness. What's more, even if we paid them nothing it would save us a negligible...
Were Women Allowed to Act in the Theater in the Shakespearean Era? (05 Apr 2013 12:06am)
As I was putting together today's birthday post, I came upon Adrienne Lecouvreur, a French actress during the early 18th century. I had no idea who she was, but she was born in 1692 and it got me to thinking about the laws against women actors in England during the Elizabethan theater. As I recalled...
Arrested Development Season 4! (04 Apr 2013 08:57pm)
I know this news will be important to a number of my readers: the fourth season of Arrested Development is coming out next month. Netflix announced that they will be releasing 15 new episodes that will constitute a fourth season. All of the episodes will be released at once at 12:01 am Pacific time ...
In Memoriam: 4 April 1968 (04 Apr 2013 06:26pm)
In 1968 sanitation workers made history in Memphis, Tennessee. Over a thousand workers went on strike to protest unfair wages, discrimination, and unsafe working conditions that took the lives of two of their own. Marching through the streets, they wore signs declaring "I Am a Man." In April, Dr. Ma...
Two Mistakes from Obama (04 Apr 2013 06:07pm)
President Obama screwed up twice in the last day or so. The most recent will probably get the most press. I also don't think it is nearly as important. He said that Kamala Harris from California was brilliant and hard working and all that stuff. And then he added, "She also happens to be, by far the...
What I Learned from the New Quinnipiac Poll (04 Apr 2013 12:35pm)
Those clever devils at Quinnipiac thought to ask people whether they thought the same sex marriage issue should be settled by the Constitution or by the states. The results were: 56-36 in favor of Ye Good Ol' Constitution. Everyone wants the Constitution to decide this one. Except... Are you ready f...
Eric Cantor Is Not for New Taxes (04 Apr 2013 11:21am)
I am constantly amazed at how naive mainstream, even insightful political writers are. This morning, Jonathan Chait made a big deal of the fact that Eric Cantor said "we'll see about additional taxes" after being asked if he would consider taxes if Obama showed he was "serious" about the budget defi...
Mojo Still Working (04 Apr 2013 10:23am)
The great French director Eric Rohmer was born on this day back in 1920. And Anthony Perkins was born back 1932. Overrated, but reasonably good writer Maya Angelou is 85. Record producer Clive Davis is 81. Hugo Weaving is 53. And David Cross and Robert Downey Jr are 49. But the day belongs to McKi...
Good God Y'All (03 Apr 2013 07:28pm)
This song has been going through my head for days. It is a great one at least: Edwin Starr's "War": What a great live version: totally kick ass band. And Starr sounds great— regrettably just a couple of years before he died. ...
The Basis of Sam Harris' Racism (03 Apr 2013 07:17pm)
I don't like the label "atheist" because I'm really not. Just the same, I think theism is ridiculous and not really much worth discussing. It is just that when it comes to cosmology I stand with Hamlet, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy." As a...
Rory Cooper's High-larious Tweets (03 Apr 2013 03:26pm)
Matt Yglesias caught a remarkable series of tweets this morning from Rory Cooper. Cooper is Eric Cantor's Communications Director and as such is committed to idiotic conservative beliefs. Earlier, White House Communications Director Daniel Pfeiffer said, "You don't want to balance the budget for the...
Mona Lisa Now (03 Apr 2013 11:23am)
Giovanni Carmine, an art curator in Switzerland, had an interesting idea. It also turned out to be horrifying. He took a number depictions of women in great pieces of art throughout history and altered them into our modern standards of beauty. That is: he made them painfully skinny. We aren't talkin...
That Jane Goodall Tramp (03 Apr 2013 10:44am)
All my life, I've been disappointed with "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow." It just doesn't make any sense. What exactly am I supposed to get from it? I don't suppose it matters. But back in 1783, Washington Irving was born on this day, so I'll let it pass. Someone else I'm not a big fan of: Leslie Howa...
Conservative Situational Certainty (02 Apr 2013 09:57pm)
I just came upon an interesting article from last June by Jonathan Zasloff in The Reality-Based Community. It is about Justice Samuel Alito's dissent in Miller v. Alabama. That was the case where the court found that it was unconstitutional to provide mandatory life in prison without parole for juve...
Teaching Is Not Testing (02 Apr 2013 08:15pm)
Jonathan Chait can be a very annoying person. Today, he wrote an article about the Atlanta school cheating scandal, Teachers Cheating on Tests: Not a Big Deal. His argument is that cheating is found in every area where people wish to excel, therefore we shouldn't use this scandal as a reason to aban...
Media Accountability (02 Apr 2013 03:40pm)
Yesterday, I wrote about Liz Cheney's insane rant against Obama and Obamacare. The insightful healthcare policy observer Aaron Carroll wrote about the Reagan quote she used that freedom was over because of the evil which Cheney dare not speak its name. That evil, of course, is Medicare. Cheney conve...
With Friends Like David Sheff... (02 Apr 2013 11:26am)
David Sheff is the author of Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America's Greatest Tragedy. It only came out today, so I haven't read it. Of course, I'm not going to. As regular readers could have predicted, I bristled when I heard the title of the book. Who can reasonably say that addiction is ...
What's Going On This Day in 1939? (02 Apr 2013 09:57am)
Charlemagne was born on this day back in 742. Certainly, I could have named him the winner of today's birthday contest, but there is no good video of him. Buddy Ebsen was born in 1908. He only died back in 2003 at 95—outliving Irene Ryan by 25 years! The great actor Alec Guinness was born in 1...
Two Republican Loons (01 Apr 2013 07:31pm)
Last week was a good week for Republican looniness. It was notable because it involved two mainstream figures in the party: Liz Cheney and David Stockman. These are not Tea Party idiots nor are they political neophytes. The are respected establishment figures in the party. And they are, apparently, ...
Gay Rights: When a Son Is Not Enough (01 Apr 2013 04:27pm)
I admit it: I get great pleasure taking swipes at Rob Portman about his own very self-serving position on same sex marriage. But I have been very clear: being for gay rights at least makes you a human being. And that brings us to Representative Matt Salmon. Just like Portman, Salmon learned that hi...
Ayman al-Zawahiri at TED (01 Apr 2013 12:39pm)
Last week, al-Qaeda leader Ayman al-Zawahiri gave a thought provoking talk at TED (sorry, no video yet) about the changing face of global terrorism. In the talk titled "Terror At A Crossroads," al-Zawahiri discussed how terrorists can remain relevant in an increasingly globalized world. It isn't har...
The Need for Maslow (01 Apr 2013 11:01am)
Sergei Rachmaninoff was born on this day back in 1873. Actors Lon Chaney Sr, Laurette Taylor, and Wallace Beery were born in consecutive years 1883 to 1885. And the insanely great D. Boon was born in 1958. Debbie Reynolds is 81 today. Ali MacGraw is 74, which is surprising, because I thought she di...
Authoritarianism, Fear, and Bigotry from Kathleen O'Brien Wilhelm (31 Mar 2013 10:41pm)
Remember Kathleen O'Brien Wilhelm? She's the Deer Sign Lady. I try to check in on her from time to time to see what she's ranting about. It is always a real eye-opener. Most of us living in the real world are not aware of much that is going on in Right Wing Nutjob World. But all you have to do is re...
The Op-Ed Page (31 Mar 2013 08:10pm)
Will asked me what an "OpEd" was—probably because I had used the term in an article that I'd written. It was a good question, because I had been asking myself the same question. Of course, I knew what an OpEd was, just like the Supreme Court knew what obscenity was: I knew it when I saw it. B...
Grapes Sweet and Sour (31 Mar 2013 09:02am)
On this day back in 1878, boxer and civil rights martyr Jack Johnson was born. In 1885, the great artist Pascin was born. Brilliant actor William Daniels is 86 today. Bonnie Bartlett and he have been marriage almost 62 years. I'll mention two people for my mother: author John Jakes is 81 and actor ...
Great Long-Distance Runners (30 Mar 2013 10:42pm)
I got the following information from an article in Popular Mechanics, The Animal Kingdom's Top Marathoners. It lists the six fastest long distance running species. What I find most interesting is the comparison between the speed of these animals in the short and long distance categories. For the ani...
The Gorgeous Mask of Zorro (30 Mar 2013 08:00pm)
There are certain men who define different kinds of ideals of male beauty. Cary Grant and George Clooney are one kind. Another kind of ideal is represented by Antonio Banderas. In addition to being just plain gorgeous, he has a quiet confidence that is irresistible. Like most people, I first noticed...
Idiotic "Freedom" Map (30 Mar 2013 12:40pm)
Regular readers know where I stand on libertarianism. I understand its appeal, but it is a silly philosophy and does not hold up to even a cursory examination. And nothing is quite so silly as the professional libertarian. Enter William P. Ruger and Jason Sorens of the Mercatus Center and their idi...
Oy Vey, Goya Day (30 Mar 2013 10:24am)
The Italian composer Tommaso Traetta was born on this day way back in 1727. Vincent van Gogh was born in 1853. I'm fond enough of him, but I really don't understand his stature among art collectors. Could it be as simple as, "Pretty colors!"? There are remarkable aspects of his painting. I especiall...
Republicans Take Care of Their Own—Only (29 Mar 2013 10:54pm)
I just looked at the voting roles of the Defense of Marriage Act. There were only 14 Senators and 67 Representatives who voted against it. Of those 81 members of Congress who voted against the bill, only one was a Republican. And that man, Steve Gunderson, is gay. Gunderson is an old fashioned cons...
Are Humans Better than Neanderthals? (29 Mar 2013 05:37pm)
I just watched the Nova series Becoming Human. I love these kinds of programs, but increasingly, they annoy me. Again, it is over the issue of the Neanderthals. Somehow, when talking about most species, we have no problem being objective. But when it comes to the one species that we are closest to, ...
Obama's Just Not That Into You (29 Mar 2013 12:56pm)
I've know for a while that Obama just isn't that into me. Actually, I've known that pretty much from the start. Liberalism in the United States is in a death spiral. We nominate moderates to be president in the hopes that they will get elected. When they do manage to get elected, they govern like mo...
Don Young on the Fruits of Productivity (29 Mar 2013 11:40am)
Have you heard about Alaska Representative Don Young? People are having a lot of fun with him today because he said, "My father had a ranch; we used to have 50–60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes. It takes two people to pick the same tomatoes now. It’s all done by machine." Oh so much to unpack here! But t...
Be More like Thomas Coram (29 Mar 2013 09:55am)
It's another one of those days. While looking at lists of birthdays, I've noticed that if a name is listed from the 18th century, then that person really did something. If they are listed from the late 20th century, they are probably just a soccer player. This goes along with our celebrity culture. ...
Call Out the Bigots (28 Mar 2013 06:38pm)
The high point of yesterday's hearings was when Elena Kagan read the Congressional justification of the Defense of Marriage Act. "Congress decided to reflect and honor of collective moral judgment and to express moral disapproval of homosexuality." Ouch! But Paul Clement was quick on his feet and no...
Opportunity Lost (28 Mar 2013 02:40pm)
Matt Yglesias posted something this morning about research by Linda Bilmes that shows that the total cost of of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars is up to $6 trillion and that we haven't even paid for most of it yet. That's not exactly news: five years ago, Bilmes and Joseph Stiglitz wrote The Three Tri...
Complete and Total Dick™ (28 Mar 2013 01:45pm)
Yesterday, The Miami Herald reported, Lawmaker Complains About Getting Out of Speeding Ticket; Trooper Fired. This one is hard for me to take sides on: an entitled legislator and a cop. Let's discuss, shall we? Representative Charles McBurney was screaming down Interstate 10 at almost 90 miles per ...
Way Back to Bartolomeo (28 Mar 2013 10:24am)
Remember two days ago when I wrote, Just Good Enough: Richard Dawkins? Those were the glory days! March 28 sucks, but let's get it over with. Marlin Perkins was people you could count on when the Sunday TV's rough (when I was a kid). And if you don't get that reference: Perkins was the host of Anim...
Christianity Slows Progress (27 Mar 2013 02:48pm)
Over at the Booman Tribune they provided some useful information, Religion and Gay Marriage in the Senate. What it shows is that the only ten Democratic senators who have not come out for gay marriage are all Christians. The article also presents a rundown of the religious affiliations of all the Se...
Spiders Are Hiding Behind Your Food (27 Mar 2013 01:00pm)
While trolling the internet the other day, looking for things to amuse and distract me from my current state of life-shortening stress, I came across this distressing bit of news: hideous, vicious, jumping Indian wolf spiders have invaded Scotland by hiding in a bunch of grapes. The MailOnline artic...
Marriage Isn't For Everyone (27 Mar 2013 11:52am)
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Oh Really O'Reilly? (27 Mar 2013 11:14am)
Bill O'Reilly, mouthpiece of the Great White Male, recently came out, not from the closet silly, but almost pretty much in favor of gay marriage. Apparently he's okay with civil unions and really doesn't care either way. I don't know how old his kids are, so he might end up pulling a Portman someday...
More Background on Debra Milke (27 Mar 2013 11:01am)
As Debra Milke continues to rot in prison, the Arizona "justice" system continues to try to avoid admitting to their wrongdoing. I've previously written about Milke's outrageous conviction for murder 22 years ago as well as the current efforts of the Arizona Attorney General to appeal the Ninth Circ...
Scalia Tries Prop. 8 Case (27 Mar 2013 10:51am)
I don't know how much you've read about yesterday's hearing on the Prop. 8 gay rights case. I'm trying not to read much, because it just infuriates me. But with the little that I've read, one thing really stands out to me: Antonin Scalia's very un-judicial temperament. Time and again, he seemed to b...
Dangerous Sober Drivers (27 Mar 2013 04:51am)
Back in 1990, I was visiting a friend who lived in the Mission District in San Francisco. Shortly after leaving the main bus stop there on 15th and Mission, a car wiped out the bus stop, killing a couple of people and injuring many more. I remember being horrified by the news coverage of the event. ...
Charles Lang Shot a Film You Love (27 Mar 2013 01:45am)
Gloria Swanson was born in 1899 on this day. Carl Barks, creator of Scrooge McDuck (one of the very few good Disney cartoon characters), was born in 1901 (and died only in 2000 at age 99). Budd Schulberg, the great screenwriter but moral coward, was born in 1914. And the wonderful singer Sarah Vaugh...
Constitution Just Happens to Agree with Scalia's Bigotry (26 Mar 2013 03:18pm)
Adam Serwer wrote a great article this morning, Here Are the 7 Worst Things Antonin Scalia Has Said or Written About Homosexuality. Now, we all know that Scalia is a vile human being. But after reading Serwer's list, it was clear to me what I've long suspected: Scalia is no sober justice that his po...
GOP Won't Move on Immigration (26 Mar 2013 01:06pm)
Jamelle Bouie reported this morning, Why Immigration Reform May Not Help the GOP. The point of the article is that the president tends to get credit for policies like immigration reform. Thus Republicans understandably ask, "What's in it for us?" This, of course, is the wrong way to think about it. ...
Why Sarah Jessica Parker is a Bitch (26 Mar 2013 10:11am)
Recently, I've made reference to the fact that Sarah Jessica Parker is not a nice person. I don't actually know much about Parker. I base the statement on an interview with Dolores Fuller that was part of the extra features on a DVD of Plan 9 from Outer Space. Sarah Jessica Parker played the part of...
The Danger of Certainty (26 Mar 2013 09:51am)
Americans are muddled thinkers. People are constantly pointing out how in polls, Americans contradict themselves. I do it myself. But it's not the worst thing that as a nation we are confused. Americans are at their most dangerous when they are certain of things that just aren't so. Generally, I wo...
Just Good Enough: Richard Dawkins (26 Mar 2013 01:00am)
I feel that I should clarify something about my birthday posts. I don't just name everyone I've heard of or everyone who I think is famous enough. For example, it is Utah Jazz superstar John Stockton's birthday, but I won't even mention how old he is because he doesn't make the cut. And that is what...
Imported Honey Likely Fake (26 Mar 2013 12:54am)
One of the most charming things I've ever heard about Prince Charles is his interest in the local food movement. I haven't thought much of it myself. In general, as long as my food doesn't have a bunch of pesticides in it, I'm pretty happy. But a lot of recent reporting about food has made me wonder...
Flannery O'Connor Should Have a Birthday Today (25 Mar 2013 04:34pm)
You probably don't know who Horatio Nelson Jackson was, unless you watched the Ken Burns documentary Horatio's Drive. He was the first person (with his driver Sewall K. Crocker) to cross the United States by car, which he did in 1903. He was born on this day in 1872. The great Hungarian composer Bel...
Goodbye Mr. Chris (25 Mar 2013 03:31pm)
As I've reported, Chris Hayes is leaving his show that will become Up with Steve Kornacki. Below is his farewell address to the Up viewers. It is well done. He even goes out of his way to highlight all of his staff, which he is correct to note that the show simply would not exist without them. But h...
Farewell Gay Liberals (25 Mar 2013 02:33pm)
I'm interested in where the gay rights movement is going. I will always feel a great kinship to my gay brothers and sisters. What's more their cause of gender orientation equality will always be my cause as well. Although this particular cause is definitely liberal, the LGBT community, is not. In fa...
Myth of Meritocracy (25 Mar 2013 01:17pm)
As much as I may complain about Matt Yglesais, I never question that he is a brilliant young man. Now, brilliant can mean a lot of different things. When I use the term, I normally mean: thinks what I do. This afternoon, he wrote a very interesting article, Meritocracy Should Lead to Massive Entrenc...
Yglesias on "Illegals" (25 Mar 2013 12:27pm)
The correct word choice around unauthorized immigration to the United States is, of course, politically contested in the United States. I like to refer to unauthorized immigration or migration because I think it's correct. Talk about undocumented immigrants seems euphemistic, like they just lost the...
More Democrats, Fewer Republicans (25 Mar 2013 11:39am)
Kos provided the following graph of party identification over the past four years. (It's from the Huffington Post, but he doesn't provide a link and I'm kind of mad about what they are becoming, so I'm none too interested in looking for it.) It's remarkable. I was expecting a peak around last Novemb...
Supply Sider Paul Ryan (25 Mar 2013 09:44am)
Not being one to even balance his checkbook, I was completely at a loss when I read Jonathan Martin's article this morning, Paul Ryan's Disappearing Act. In it, he writes, "Ryan's admirers say it's unfair to suggest he's merely a green eyeshade Republican." What the hell is a green eyeshade? Wikipe...
Poor Coverage of GOP Attack on USPS (24 Mar 2013 02:42pm)
According to The Hill, a number of large corporations—most notably Hallmark, the greeting card company—are trying to push back against the shameless Republican attack on the United States Postal Service. It seems that the Postal Service's decision to end Saturday delivery has caught the ...
Epicurus' Trilemma (24 Mar 2013 01:55pm)
(1) If God is unable to prevent evil, he is not omnipotent. (2) If God is not willing to prevent evil, he is not good. (3) If God is willing and able to prevent evil, then why is there evil? —Epicurus Trilemma Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion...
Houdini (24 Mar 2013 12:31pm)
Two cartoonists where born on this day. Co-creator of Mickey Mouse, Ub Iwerks was born in 1901. I'm not fond of those early Disney cartoons, but not because of the art, which was fine. They just aren't written that well. I love when Futurama parodies them! Also born today in 1911 is Joseph Barbera. ...
Nothing Obama Does Matters (23 Mar 2013 09:26pm)
For the second time in one week, Jonathan Chait has annoyed me. Last time, it was his pseudo-apology for being in favor of the Iraq War. This time it is his (unfortunately rather common) reaction to Obama's recent trip to Israel. Basically, he says: Obama did a great job, why didn't he do that four ...
誕生日おめでとう 黒澤 明! (23 Mar 2013 07:59pm)
I've been sick the last two days. Because I write some stuff ahead of time, I can fake it to some extent. But it is only now that I'm getting back to work. Interestingly, I find the process of writing itself has made me feel better. It helps to have a purpose, even if that purpose is a little blog a...
Republicans Can't Moderate (22 Mar 2013 08:30am)
Yesterday. Ed Kilgore confronted some of the more reasonable conservative pundits for their reaction to the RNC's "autopsy report." People like David Frum and Reihan Salam claim that the document doesn't skirt the real issues facing the Republican Party. Instead, they say, such a report should only ...
An Apple, a Piano, and Chico (22 Mar 2013 08:29am)
The great actor Karl Malden was born on this day back in 1912. And he only died back in 2009 at the age of 96. I will always remember his performance of Mitch in A Streetcar Named Desire. He is the only character in that film that I really understand; I feel like I've been in that situation countles...
Conservatives Are Not for Smaller Government (22 Mar 2013 12:05am)
David Dayen wrote a very annoying article over at The American Prospect yesterday, Banks Are Too Big to Fail Say... Conservatives? The problem is that it totally accepts that conservatives care about what they claim to care about rather than looking at what they actually do. In this case, he notes t...
Johann, Son, Rush, and Slovoj (21 Mar 2013 12:32pm)
It is quite a day for birthdays! I'm really going to have to limit today's article to those who are really worthy. The great mathematician and physicist Joseph Fourier was born on this day back in 1768. Theater producer Florenz Ziegfeld of Ziegfeld Follies fame was born in 1867. The great blues man...
Trust and Political Ideology (21 Mar 2013 11:42am)
After years of badgering my father, he has given up watching Bill O'Reilly. Instead, he now watches Shepard Smith. That's a great improvement, and it makes my argument more difficult. There isn't as much outright lying on Smith's show. Its deception is in what the show chooses to cover. (Yes: this i...
Enough with the Iraq Pseudo-Mea Culpas (21 Mar 2013 09:26am)
Jonathan Chait made a mistake earlier this week: he explained why he supported the Iraq War. It was very disappointing. The main argument he makes is exactly the one that Peter Beinart makes in The Icarus Syndrome. He documents all the fear about the Gulf War based on our experiences in Vietnam. Th...
America's Arrested Development (21 Mar 2013 12:10am)
On Tuesday, Michael Cohen wrote a very insightful article called, The First Step. It is about the lessons we should have learned from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. But as the title indicates, the first step of that process is to admit that we've lost these wars. This comes from the old Alcoholics ...
Letter to Barbara Boxer (20 Mar 2013 03:33pm)
Dear Senator Boxer: I am a big supporter of yours. However, it has been hinted that you are one of the senators who blocked filibuster reform. I've written to you about this before: at minimum, we need serious filibuster reform. I'm not a one issue voter. Anyway, you would have to lose half your m...
Harry Reid Can't Fool Me Twice (20 Mar 2013 02:49pm)
Earlier today, Talking Points Memo reported that Harry Reid is upset about the state of the filibuster. He reportedly said, "These two young, fine senators said it was time to change the rules of the Senate, and we didn't. And they were right. The rest of us were wrong—or most of us, anyway. W...
Our Pathetic Federal Spending (20 Mar 2013 09:33am)
As regular readers of this site know: government spending as a percent of GDP has gone down each year the last three years. This, in fact, is the reason that we are very slowly crawling our way to economic recovery. It is an indictment of not just the Republicans but also the Democrats, who managed ...
Bed Bath & Beyond Lie (20 Mar 2013 09:28am)
Ever wonder about all those Bed Bath & Beyond walls of towels? Via Buzz Feed, it is all a lie: ...
Kornacki v. Klein (20 Mar 2013 08:50am)
I was pretty sure that Up would be taken over by either Ezra Klein or Steve Kornacki. They were the only two people I remember guest hosting the show. I figured it would be Klein because Kornacki co-hosts The Cycle. But instead, MSNBC went with Kornacki. I think there are two reasons for this. First...
B. F. Skinner Thinks You're a Terrible Parent (20 Mar 2013 08:40am)
Henrik Ibsen was born on this day in 1828. If it weren't for him being generally a jerk, I would have given the day to him. He was a hell of a playwright though. I really appreciate Russian painter Illarion Pryanishnikov, who was born in 1840. Most people won't care, but I have an unnatural love of ...
Republicans Pushing Debt Ceiling Again (19 Mar 2013 01:50pm)
I haven't been writing about the upcoming Debt Ceiling fight, but it hasn't been far from my mind. The Republicans only pushed it off for a few months to allow them to regroup. They most definitely have not given up on the idea. In fact, their belief that they won the Sequester fight has only made t...
Conservatives Never Learn (19 Mar 2013 11:24am)
This morning, Paul Krugman wrote another article trying to understand why conservatives and moderates who are shown to be wrong time and again never reflect that maybe "all the people they know" just don't know very much. The specific target is John Hinderaker at Powerline Blog. Yesterday, he was ch...
Tobias Smollett Day (19 Mar 2013 09:45am)
Back in 1860, William Jennings Bryan was born on this day. He has a bit of a bad reputation because he was on the wrong side of the Scopes Trial. But the truth is that he was a good strong progressive. I don't doubt that today he would accept evolution. Sadly, he died just after "winning" that trial...
My Hero Phil Davison (19 Mar 2013 08:25am)
This is a blast from the past. I just came upon it. Two and a half years ago, Phil Davison spoke to the Stark County (Ohio) Republican Party Executive Committee. He wanted to be the Republican nominee for Stark Country Treasurer. When I first wrote about this, I did not embed the video for whatever ...
Tricky Apes (19 Mar 2013 05:27am)
I mentioned the song "The Walls Came Down" to a friend of mine. It got me thinking about Jericho and so I did a little research and I found that the wall of Jericho is extremely old: 9,000 BC. That's really interesting, because the events in Joshua are supposedly less than 2,000 BC. What's more, I r...
The US Has Always Been at War with Ghana (18 Mar 2013 03:15pm)
Earlier today, Glenn Greenwald took "reasonable" Republican David Frum to task for his revisionist look back on Iraq, David Frum on the Rhetoric of Iraq. In particular, he demolishes Frum's claim that he was never that impressed with Ahmed Chalabi. But somehow the unimpressed Frum wrote of Chalabi i...
Attorney General to Appeal Milke Case (18 Mar 2013 01:48pm)
As I reported last week, Debra Milke's conviction for the murder of her son 23 years ago has been overturned. So of course the Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne has decided to appeal the ruling to the Supreme Court. The statement from Horne is typical of these people. He doesn't defend the convic...
Bing Still Losing Big to Google (18 Mar 2013 12:17pm)
This is just pathetic. I am inundated with commercials for Bing. As you may remember, I took the "Bing it on" challenge and Google won 4-0-1 (one tie). But with the constant Bing commercial assault, I question myself. Maybe I was unfair. So I've gone back three more time, putting in more and more un...
Republicans Blind to Racism (18 Mar 2013 10:42am)
There was a racist dust up at CPAC on Friday during a K. Carl Smith session sponsored by the Tea Party Patriots on how to get African Americans to vote Republican. Smith's talk was filled with divisive and irrelevant lines like, "I'm not going to join the KKK. The Democratic Party founded the KKK."...
Naive Democrats Make it Easy for Republicans (18 Mar 2013 08:35am)
Ah naivete! If it is authentic, it can be charming. But if it is inauthentic, it is just annoying. Yesterday morning on Up with Chris Hayes, Krysten Sinema was on the panel. She is a member of the "Gang of 32"—the bipartisan group of new House members who are getting together to solve those pr...
Last U-Boat Captain Reinhard Hardegen—See Update (18 Mar 2013 12:11am)
Some interesting if not exactly likable politicians were born on this day. Slavery apologist John Calhoun was born in 1782. Not my favorite president Grover Cleveland was born in 1837. And good man at the wrong time Neville Chamberlain was born in 1869. George Plimpton, a writer I like more than I ...
St. Patrick We Never Knew Ye (17 Mar 2013 04:59pm)
I've waited until late on St. Patrick's Day to ruin it for you. I know: you don't give a shit about the holiday except that it is an opportunity to get drunk and remember that, "Wow! The Pogues are a really good band!" But here's the thing: we know next to nothing about St. Patrick. In fact, 17 Marc...
We Call Them Republicans (17 Mar 2013 04:30pm)
On Friday night's Real Time with Bill Maher, they did a segment with image confessions. It was pretty funny. You can find the segment over on WhoSay. But I thought this one was good enough to share. I think that's pretty accurate. It isn't that I think Romney hates everyone. I think just like Rob P...
Ezra Klein's Useless Correction (17 Mar 2013 01:38pm)
I figure it is almost certain that Ezra Klein will take over Up from Chris Hayes. And that's good. Klein adds a lot of wonkeliciousness to the table. But in his attempts to be taken seriously, he often makes the mistake of getting Very Serious. He was at it again on Friday with a completely unnecess...
No Long Term Budget Problem? (17 Mar 2013 12:21pm)
Late last week, Sarah Kliff brought attention to the new Economic Report of the President. In the article, she notes that healthcare costs over the past few years have only grown at the rate of inflation. If this is not just a recession fluke, there are huge policy implications. As anyone who reads...
Have You Seen This Nigerian Prince? (17 Mar 2013 11:02am)
The Toronto Star reported last week that a man pleaded guilty to defrauding $32 million from North American lawyers. What is great about this story is the scam. Also: it couldn't happen to a nice group of people. But most of all, the culprit is Emmanuel Ekhator—Wait for it!—a Nigerian! ...
Fred Hiatt's Circuitous False Equivalence (17 Mar 2013 10:15am)
Last week, Fred Hiatt over at the Washington Post came out in favor of presidential leadership, Obama Could Get Things Done by Governing Today. It is a wonderful example of false equivalence by a writer who knows that false equivalence is a bad thing. As a result of this, he cloaks the whole thing i...
The Trials of Shoe Shopping (17 Mar 2013 04:44am)
In Springfield, Massachusetts, a group of people were waiting in a line outside the store Expressions. They were waiting for the store to open so that they could purchase the new Nike Air Jordans. What I fool I am! I didn't even know they still made these, much less that people waited in line outsid...
William Gibson in Retirement (17 Mar 2013 01:22am)
Despite what Wikipedia says, this is the birthday of the great British Shakespearean actor Edmund Kean. Since he died in 1833, I know him only from the writings of William Hazlitt. But he made quite an impression on Hazlitt and that's good enough for me. In addition, Kean lived quite a colorful and ...
Portrait of a Villager: Then and Now (16 Mar 2013 09:17pm)
Digby wrote a great article this afternoon, 10 Years On: the Press Reconsiders. In it, she looks at a new article by Villager Extraordinaire Howard Fineman in which he discusses the mistakes the media made in the run up to the Iraq War. To be fair, Fineman calls himself to task. But Digby shows with...
Death Bed: the Bed that Eats (16 Mar 2013 03:55pm)
The other night, I was watching to The Comedians of Comedy. It is pretty good. It features Maria Bamford who is brilliant and hilarious. Overall, it is worth checking out, but it isn't great. The event is hosted by Patton Oswalt. At the end of the show, he does a monologue about writing screenplays...
Macro View of Ryan Budget (16 Mar 2013 11:11am)
On Thursday in the Washington Post, Matt Miller reminded us that "Ronald Reagan ran the federal government at 22 percent of GDP when the country's population was much younger, and health care consumed about 11 percent of GDP." In fact, he reminded us three times! His point is simple: Paul Ryan's bud...
Sydney's Case Against Political Compromise (16 Mar 2013 08:19am)
The American President is a bad film. When I watched it, I was in graduate school researching global warming and I really hated the discussion of the issue in the film; I thought it was trivialized. But that wasn't the main problem. It is just a stupid film, pretending to be for adults when only Jus...
Happy 60th Richard Stallman (16 Mar 2013 03:57am)
Some interesting people were born on this day. Three Nazis: Josef Mengele, Dorothea Binz, and Traudl Junge (Hitler's last secretary—not so much a Nazi). And there are lots of great birthdays. Jerry Lewis is 87—I don't know how many more birthdays he's going to see. Bernardo Bertolucci is...
Speculations on MSNBC Shake Up (15 Mar 2013 09:21pm)
I'm sure you've heard that MSNBC is moving Ed Schultz to weekends and moving in Chris Hayes to do his old time slot. In one way, I'm thrilled about this. Chris Hayes is a good, solid, and articulate liberal. He is the best thing that MSNBC has. I look forward to watching his show while I cook dinner...
Letter to Obama Regarding EPA (15 Mar 2013 08:49pm)
Dear Mr. President: Why is the EPA going to delay regulating greenhouse gases in power plants? Look: 1. The economy is bad. 2. Businesses are sitting on piles of money they won't spend. Thus, now is the perfect time to implement environmental regulations. It will clean up the environment and cre...
The Ides of March (15 Mar 2013 08:11pm)
Why should we beware the ides of March? Certainly we should be concerned about the Romans who counted days in as logical a way as they counted numbers: that is very illogically. Take the ides for example. They are on the 13th of the month. But not in March. In March, they are on the 15th. Why? Becau...
Deep in the Heartlessness of Texas (15 Mar 2013 03:16pm)
Women's healthcare is a mess in Texas. To get the full picture, I recommend you read Jaeah Lee's incredible article, This Is What Happens When You Defund Planned Parenthood. But let me give you just a little taste of what it is like deep in the heartlessness of Texas. For the last two years, Texas ...
Debra Milke and the Injustice System (15 Mar 2013 12:04pm)
This is a picture of Debra Milke. You can see she's a pretty woman but there is a lot of pain in that face. She has suffered a lot. Her 4-year-old son was murdered 23 years ago. And for the last 22 years, she's been on death row of taking part in his murder. She's innocent, of course. Hopefully, she...
More Evidence 47% Video Unimportant (15 Mar 2013 11:26am)
John Sides has a great article in Salon, Romney Likely Loser, Even Without Famous Video. It puts some numbers behind what I've long been saying: the 47% video didn't change the election. My argument is based upon how people think. If the video showed Romney sneaking out of his campaign bus to give c...
Ruth Bader Ginsburg at 80 (15 Mar 2013 10:24am)
The only member of the Grateful Dead who I respect, Phil Lesh, is 73 today. The shockingly great Sly Stone is 70. And Ry Cooder is 66. Lightnin' Hopkins would have been 101 today, but he didn't even come close. A damned good day for musicians. It is also Judd Hirsch's 78th birthday. I'm not much of...
Rob Portman Affected By Gay Bigotry (15 Mar 2013 09:31am)
Rob Portman, who has previously supported employers being able to fire people just because they're gay, has come out in favor of same sex marriage. But don't get too excited. He has changed his position because he learned that his son is gay. Is that a Republican all over or what? This morning, Jon...
Republican's Primary Constituency (14 Mar 2013 07:38pm)
Bernie Sanders offered up the following amendment to the new Senate budget: "This amendment would establish a deficit reduction reserve fund that would seek to ensure that large profitable corporations cannot use loopholes to entirely avoid income tax, and direct savings recovered from closing such ...
Boehner Has Good Reasons for Snubbing Obama (14 Mar 2013 05:10pm)
This is a follow-up to my article, Death Throes of the GOP. In that article, I discussed how Republicans have gone out of their way to snub President Obama and what that said about them being a revolutionary group. Well, we had another example of Republicans snubbing the president for no good reason...
Happy Birthday Albert Einstein (14 Mar 2013 01:06pm)
Quincy Jones is 80 today. Wolfgang Petersen, the director of Das Boot and other quite watchable films since, is 72. And Billy Crystal is 65, so he won't be making anymore pictures. (I kid Billy Crystal!) Horton Foote, who did such a great job with the screenplay to To Kill a Mockingbird, would have...
Collecting Pee for Fun and Profit (14 Mar 2013 12:36pm)
Today, The Post Game reported, Bizarre Location For NFLer's Drug Test. It tells the story of Washington Redskins backup quarterback Kirk Cousins being drug tested during a visit to his grandmother. The article expresses some surprise at such behavior from the league, but is still supportive of it. ...
California Condors Love Puppets (14 Mar 2013 12:07pm)
Puppets make everything better—even in science! At the San Diego Zoo's program to repopulate the California Condor, they are using a puppet to rear the young ones. Why? Because everyone loves puppets! Actually, no. They don't want the little condors imprinting humans as mothers. This will allo...
Does Dislike of Curly Fries Make Me an Idiot? (14 Mar 2013 11:26am)
According to The Young Turks (see the video below), a group of scientists looked at a large group of users' Facebook behavior to determine what it said about them. This wasn't just obvious stuff like who their friends were. They specifically looked at their "likes." For example, suppose someone post...
Obama IS the Compromise (14 Mar 2013 09:33am)
This morning, Jonathan Chait wrote that, Why Obama and Paul Ryan Will Never, Ever Agree. Basically, he claims that with the budget, the two sides are trying to solve different problems. I think it is all rather too complicated. He claims that Obama wants to do three things with the budget: (1) preve...
L. Ron Hubbard (13 Mar 2013 09:40pm)
It's the birthday of a couple of conservatives I find repellent: Charles Krauthammer (63) and Jamie Dimon (57). And yes, I know Dimon is a Democrat, but that doesn't mean he's not a conservative. As I write about a lot: the democratic party is not liberal; America does not have a liberal party. I wo...
Lesson from the 47% Video (13 Mar 2013 07:49pm)
Scott Prouty was on The Ed Show tonight. He's the guy who shot the embarrassing Romney 47% video. Based on the interview, I think there are a whole lot of lesson from the video: 1. Schmooze with the help! Prouty tells the story of working an event where Bill Clinton was speaking. After the event, ...
Fantasy in Reservoir Dogs (13 Mar 2013 01:43pm)
Every day, You Tube sends me a collection of videos that I might like to watch, and they are usually right although I rarely take the time to watch them. Anyway, today they sent me the "Light a Virgin" scene from Reservoir Dogs. I had just been talking to Will about that scene and how I had read tha...
Tax and Entitlement "Reform" (13 Mar 2013 11:25am)
This afternoon, Greg Sargent wrote, Republicans Say They Want Entitlement Cuts. But They Want Dems to Own Them. In it, he shows that all this Republican talk about entitlement reform is just a way for them to trick Democrats into owning Medicare and Social Security cuts so that they can campaign aga...
Paul Ryan Loses His "Seriousness" (13 Mar 2013 10:18am)
Suddenly, Paul Ryan has lost his Seriousness. What happened? In an otherwise repellent editorial, the Washington Post (Fox on 15th) notes something interesting about Paul Ryan's budget. Over half of the cuts in the budget come from Ryan's proposed half repeal of Obamacare. He gets $1.8 trillion dol...
Edward Albee at 85 (12 Mar 2013 10:47pm)
What a day for birthdays! It is Mitt Romney's birthday. And speaking of martyrs to irrational causes, Italian mystic and Catholic Saint Gemma Galgani was born 125 years ago (she's been dead 100 of those years). In 1831, Clement Studebaker was born—I'm sure you can guess what he's know for. B...
Help GOP Step Back from Crazy Cliff (12 Mar 2013 09:42pm)
Earlier today, the second blogger to received the coveted Frankly Curious Artist's Rendering, Jonathan Bernstein, published A Minor Defense of Ryan and the Republicans. His point is that we can't expect Republicans to be anything but Republicans. Obama winning re-election doesn't suddenly mean that ...
Liberal Priorities (12 Mar 2013 07:28pm)
Maybe I'm just a cynical old guy. But Rachel Maddow spent the entire A section of her show talking about gun control. I'm cool with gun control. As I've argued before: by the time we notice that the government is coming for us, our guns won't do bit of good. (It is interesting that those most concer...
Death Throes of the GOP (12 Mar 2013 05:30pm)
Steve Benen at Maddow Blow noted a really telling anecdote over at the New York Times about Obama's GOP outreach. Four months ago, the president invited five GOP congressional leaders to a secret screening of Lincoln with some of the stars of the film. All five people declined. As Benen notes, "Are...
The Krugman Times (12 Mar 2013 04:20pm)
Vincent Woo, who claims to be "a t-shirt hawker at everlane.com[1]" has created quite a zany website, The Krugman Times. You can see a screen capture above. What the website does is grab the front page of the New York Times, replace all the images with pictures of Paul Krugman, the author with Paul...
Hamilton Straightens the Prols Out (12 Mar 2013 03:51pm)
All communities divide themselves into the few and the many. The first are the rich and well born, the other the mass of the people. The voice of the people has been said to be the voice of God; and however generally this maxim has been quoted and believed, it is not true in fact. The people are tur...
Don't Pee at The Flood Zone (12 Mar 2013 12:04pm)
You may have heard the story of Patricia Barnes, the woman who stopped at a roadside restaurant to use the bathroom only to get a bill from the restaurant for $5 in her mailbox a couple of days later. I think the story has caught fire because we've all used restaurants that are "for customers only" ...
Pretend Deficit Hawk Conservatives (12 Mar 2013 10:39am)
I am fond of quoting Matt Yglesias about the Quaker budget hawks. In it, he compares Fix the Debt to a group of Quakers who claim to be for balancing the federal budget but who are against any proposals that don't involve reducing military spending. You would have to say that the Quakers are just pa...
The Starry Night (11 Mar 2013 09:49pm)
This is an image of most of the Orion Constellation. It is without a doubt the most recognizable constellation in the night sky. Everyone knows the Big Dipper, but most can't find it without a lot of work. Orion blazes in the sky; there is no missing it. And I hate it. I go outside most nights and ...
Antonin Scalia (11 Mar 2013 07:26pm)
Antonin Scalia is 77 today. There are other people born today who have made the world better, like the great American composer Carl Ruggles. Scalia has made it worse—much worse. But I can't get past the man today. On one hand, Scalia is a proud iconoclast. I'm an iconoclast. I love iconoclast...
Django Unchained Not Racist But Not Good (11 Mar 2013 01:43pm)
I finally got a chance to see Django Unchained without even indirectly putting any money in Quentin Tarantino's pocket. That's very important to me, because as much as I think that Tarantino is a very talented guy who at times makes fine movies, I am also convinced that he is a total dick—symb...
When Satire Becomes News (11 Mar 2013 10:31am)
We all make mistakes. But the tendency for conservative media outlets to fall for hoaxes and to assume that satire is straight news is amazing. But it is no accident. In David Brock's book Blinded By the Right, he describes himself not so much as a political extremist but as a journalistic amateur. ...
Entitled Rich Boy (10 Mar 2013 11:32am)
I don't know much about Osama bin Laden. But I'll tell what I think of him. Unlike most people, I don't think he was a crazy and evil man. I think he was an entitled rich boy. This allowed him to be just like rich guys all over the world: absolutely certain that whatever stupid thought entered his b...
Self-Defeating Austerity (10 Mar 2013 09:40am)
The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has just put out a paper on austerity. It argues that in the medium term, austerity is self-defeating. This is because austerity causes the economy to shrink by a greater percentage than the debt shrinks. When deficit scolds talk about the national debt, they a...
Meaningless Chess (09 Mar 2013 11:22pm)
It has been a strange and hectic day today, so I am just going to offer up a few thoughts. Mickey Spillane was born today in 1918. I more or less knew that. What I didn't know was that he only died a few years ago—in 2006 at 88. He was a favorite of Ayn Rand, who had a great love for pulp jun...
Martingale Doesn't Depend On Odds (09 Mar 2013 11:22am)
On Facebook someone said he needed $1000 for furniture. He asked what the odds were that he could win it on Lotto. Someone responded, "Go to the casino and put $500 on Roulette. Pick black, if you win, you doubled your money. If you lose, then bet $1000. Sooner or later black will come up..." This ...
Enjoy the Global Warming Jobs Report (09 Mar 2013 09:02am)
Have you noticed something about winter? Every year we have really good jobs reports. People start talking about an economic recovery. And it somehow always evaporates by the time spring is in full swing. That's what I thought when I saw that in February we created 236,000 net new jobs. Ain't that w...
Rand Paul's Filibuster (08 Mar 2013 02:05pm)
I've been surprised at the reaction to Rand Paul's talking filibuster. By and large, Republicans have been cheering for it, even though the vast majority of them disagree with Paul on the policy. Anything that makes the president look bad, I guess. More concerning, liberals are cheering it on as the...
Mississippi John Hurt (08 Mar 2013 12:13pm)
Other than today being the birthday of The Skipper, the only person who really called out to me was Mississippi John Hurt, the great blues and folk musician. He had a great story. He was a performer in his youth in the late 1920s. With the Great Depression he stopped doing music and became a sharecr...
Economic Libertarianism (08 Mar 2013 10:53am)
The fundamental error of economic libertarians is one of faith, faith in the divine efficiency of the almighty market. And, like chiliastic Christians everywhere, market fundamentalists—no matter how many times events refute their articles of faith—can be relied upon to find some handy e...
Republican Lobbyists Bowles-Simpson (08 Mar 2013 09:51am)
Two years ago today, Damian Paletta interviewed Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson. And in that interview, they said that a destabilizing fiscal crisis was coming in—Wait for it!—two years. Okay, they actually used a weasel word. The exact quote is, "The U.S. could face a destabilizing fisc...
Major Media Are Clueless (07 Mar 2013 08:40pm)
Peter Hart over at FAIR notes an amazing thing: ten years ago, Newsweek published an article, right before we went to war with Iraq, that proved that the whole WMD claim was false. The story is mostly about Hussein Kamel, Saddam Hussein's brother-in-law, who had defected to the United States. The Bu...
O'Keefe Loses Lawsuit But Sadly Not Credibility (07 Mar 2013 07:58pm)
I spend so much of my life angry at various people that it is hard to know how to react when I am angry even by that standard. Actually, I have good news. But buried inside it is an appalling revelation. This all has to do with someone who I think is at the very top of the list when it comes to the ...
Ravel and Bozzetto (07 Mar 2013 02:56pm)
A couple of actresses I like are having birthdays today: Wanda Sykes is 49 and Rachel Weisz is 43. The great Arthur Lee of the band Love was born today but sadly died back in 2006. I saw him that the Filmore not long before that. The great hero of my home town, Santa Rosa, was born on this day back...
Taylor Swift Swiftly Slammed (07 Mar 2013 12:38pm)
As many people (Frank) will tell you, within the realms of poetry, film, and music, I am a philistine. Even so, I think I can tell the difference between true talent and aggressive marketing. Speaking of Taylor Swift, I find her to be a common, typically insipid, overindulged, and overly praised you...
Voters More Liberal Than Politicians Think (07 Mar 2013 12:17pm)
Does this drive you crazy too? You are watching C-SPAN or the news or something else and you see John Boehner's rusty mug saying, "The American people do not want higher taxes!" If you're like me, you scream at the TV machine, "What the fuck would you know about what the American people want?" Okay;...
Browning, Michelangelo, and All That Jazz (06 Mar 2013 10:50pm)
A lot of interesting people were born on this day. The most important to me is probably Elizabeth Barrett Browning who was born in 1806. I tend to prefer her and other Americans (like Poe) to the British Romantic Period poets. I wish that I had one great poem I could offer you here. The problem is t...
Body Language "Expert" Tonya Reiman (06 Mar 2013 06:51pm)
I just caught the tail end of The Ed Show. He had on body language expert Tonya Reiman to discuss Bill O'Reilly's freak out last night. Let me be clear: I think that "body language" is mostly just a pseudoscience. Sure, there is something to it. But human behavior is fairly individuated. I think the...
Authentic Liberalism (06 Mar 2013 05:23pm)
Kevin Drum asks, Who's On the Left's Television A-Team? This comes from Paul Krugman's lackluster performance up against Joe Scarborough on the Charlie Rose Show. Afterwards, even Krugman said it was his Denver debate and, "I was tired, cranky, and unready for the blizzard of misleading factoids and...
Bill O'Reilly and the Rise of Hate Groups (06 Mar 2013 04:29pm)
Today, Alex Seitz-Wald at Salon wrote about, Radical-Right Wing Groups Reach All Time High. It is based upon a new report by the Southern Poverty Law Center. In it, they show that militia and "patriot" groups are at an all time high. According the group, this is due to, "the resurgence on the down e...
Republicans Don't Need to Win (06 Mar 2013 01:44pm)
Ramesh Ponnuru is a smart observer of conservative politics. He is also kind of a conservative freak when it comes to his own policy ideas. But he is worth reading because of his insights into what the conservatives are doing. Earlier this week, he asked an interesting question, Do Conservatives Act...
Handshakes, Assholes, and Idiots (06 Mar 2013 11:54am)
The Associated Press reported this morning, Senate Republicans block Caitlin Halligan, Nominee to DC Appeals Court for Second Time. She got enough votes, of course. It is just de rigueur that Republicans filibuster her. So what was wrong with her? I know: we don't expect there to have been anything...
Obama's Bland Bargaining (06 Mar 2013 10:54am)
This morning, Greg Sargent wrote, Obama Urges Republicans to Take Yes for an Answer. In it, he points back to Ezra Klein's meeting with an unnamed legislator who apparently didn't know what Obama had offered in terms of a Sequester deal. He notes that Obama is reaching out to Senate Republicans: "Ob...
Fucktard in Sign Language (06 Mar 2013 09:55am)
You all know how I love the word "fucktard." Yesterday, I came upon this video that shows how to sign it. And it's fun to do. Enjoy! ...
Barbara Buono (05 Mar 2013 10:42pm)
I've been none too happy with Chris Christie's approval rating in New Jersey. The truth is that he's been an awful governor. I can't believe that the residents of the state have forgotten all about his crony capitalism and grandstanding against the president (Remember the tunnel he killed?!) and are...
Lynn Margulis and Hugo Chavez (05 Mar 2013 07:58pm)
Under normal circumstances, I would tell you that 5 March is the date my younger sister was born. And that's kind of interesting, when you consider what a druid kind of earth mother she is. You see, on this day back in 1938, Lynn Margulis was born. She did some of the most important early work on th...
Northern Europe Must Help Too (05 Mar 2013 03:21pm)
Matt Yglesias reported this morning on Undersecretary of Treasury Lael Brainard speaking to the National Association of Business Economists. She was talking about how to get southern Europe (Greece, Italy, and so on) out of their depressions. She said, "Not only do deficit countries have important r...
There is No Long Term Budget Problem (05 Mar 2013 10:36am)
Alan Blinder is a economics and public affairs professor at Princeton. Recently, he got placed in the middle of the argument between Paul Krugman and Joe Scarborough when Scarborough claimed that Blinder was on his side. Blinder didn't like that much. Yesterday, he wrote a short article in Politico,...
Michelle Obama and Downton Abbey (05 Mar 2013 09:30am)
I just watched the third season of Downton Abbey. It is rather good, and I will have more to say about it from an entertainment angle. But first, there is a political matter that I need to get off my chest. I imagine Michelle Obama watching Downton Abbey and feeling very superior that she would nev...
Happy Birthday Vivaldi (04 Mar 2013 07:39pm)
Sorry for being gone all day, but I had to do some paying work and since then, I have been feeling rather ill. In fact, I still do. But I thought I would do a quick birthday post. On this day in 1678, Antonio Vivaldi was born. I have always loved his work. This started when I was rather young and pl...
Interesting and Stupid on Real Time (04 Mar 2013 08:34am)
I just watched the 15 February episode of Real Time with Bill Maher. There were two notable parts of the show. The first was George Zimmerman's brother Robert. (Not Bob Dylan!) The amazing thing about the interview is just how good he is a public spokesman and apologist. Maher even notes this during...
Paint-By-Numbers Religion (04 Mar 2013 08:33am)
You know I have a love-hate relationship with Sam Harris. Well, in the following short video, he makes an excellent argument. While debating innumerate William Lane Craig, he asks the audience to imagine that Islam is true. He is speaking primarily to Christians. If Islam is true, and the Koran is t...
Conservative Ethics Problems (03 Mar 2013 05:26pm)
Buzz Feed reported Friday that Red State founder and all around fucktard Joshua Trevino was given almost $400,000 to create propaganda for Malaysia and generally slime people in the pro-democracy movement there. In one way, this means very little. As the story makes clear, mostly Trevino just funnel...
Kill the Old in the Name of the Young for the Rich! (03 Mar 2013 01:38pm)
Dean Baker goes after Pew this morning. His problem is with a Pew report that determined how much wealth different age groups had. This has been widely reported and Baker has complained about it before. The problem is not the numbers, which Baker agrees with. The problem is the implication that our ...
Not Bernie Madoff's Birthday (03 Mar 2013 11:56am)
I used to work for a subsidiary of a company that I believed to be involved in a Ponzi scheme. I was never sure and even if it was going on, I didn't necessarily think that they knew it. The truth is that it is really easy for an investment company to work its way into one of these. Shortly after le...
It's the Doctors, Stupid (02 Mar 2013 07:33pm)
Steven Brill has gotten a lot of attention for his big cover story for Time, Bitter Pill: Why Medical Bills Are Killing Us. In general, I don't pay that much attention to healthcare policy. The truth is that the issues are clear. The only things that get in the way of good policy are the installed i...
Ezra Klein Wises Up (02 Mar 2013 04:41pm)
Yesterday, I made fun of Ezra Klein for being naive about a congressional representative who seemed to think that Obama had never offered Chained-CPI in a Sequester deal. According to Klein, it was just failure to communicate. As I pointed out, if the legislator where informed that Obama is offering...
Daily Beast Likes My Video (02 Mar 2013 11:29am)
When I first created my Zero Dark Thirty trailer parody, I was very pleased. For the first time, something I did came out exactly the way I expected. But more than that, I thought this was the parody that the film was begging for. The trumpeting of their good reviews seemed to require replacing them...
Happy Birthday Lou (02 Mar 2013 09:52am)
It is March 2 and some interesting people were born on this day. The wonderful Alvin Youngblood Hart is 50 today. John Irving is 71 today. The genuinely great Mikhail Gorbachev is 82. John Cullum, the fine musical theater actor, is 83. Theodor Seuss Geisel—Dr. Seuss—would have been 109 t...
Adorable and Wrong Ezra Klein (01 Mar 2013 06:30pm)
Ezra Klein was back at it today being totally adorable. And completely wrong. He was in an off-the-record meeting with an unnamed Republican legislator. One of the reporters at the meeting asked the legislator if it would matter to him if the president put Chained-CPI for Social Security on the tab...
Bradley Manning and the War on Whistle Blowers (01 Mar 2013 03:14pm)
These really are the times that try men's souls. And I wonder whether the liberal apologists for this administration will continue to think cheery thoughts while basic levels accountability are abandoned. The sunshine patriot will shrink from holding his country accountable; only those who demand tr...
Mythical Government Waste (01 Mar 2013 11:30am)
Conservatives have a special fondness for government waste. As I pointed out leading up to the Fiscal Cliff, John Boehner seemed to think there were wasteful government programs, he just needed Obama to tell him what they were. This goes along with polls that shows that the American people want to c...
Justin Bieber's 12th Birthday (01 Mar 2013 08:49am)
Justin Bieber turns 12 today. It is the eighth time he has turned 12. He's like Peter Pan: he can't grow up. I don't know why Peter Pan couldn't grow up. In Justin Bieber's case, it would ruin his brand. I am quite serious when I say that Bieber's entire brand is being a cute little boy. This is al...
Shared Delusions of Ross and Ezra (01 Mar 2013 08:22am)
Ross Douthat had some interesting things to say the other day, Rand Paul, Realism and Republican Reform. It is mostly about how Rand Paul, in terms of foreign policy, is a non-interventionist (His best quality!) but is trying to re-brand himself as a realist like Colin Powell. The problem that Rand ...
A Good Day to Die Already! (28 Feb 2013 08:13pm)
There are two contrasting scenes at the beginning of A Good Day to Die Hard that perfectly encapsulate what is wrong with the American action film genre. The first finds John McClane in a taxicab in Moscow. The cabby learns that he is from New York and starts singing "New York, New York." When McCla...
Deficit Opinions Should Change (28 Feb 2013 08:51am)
Michael Tesler, a political scientist over at Brown, wrote a guest post at The Monkey Cage, Who Cares About Budget Deficits? Basically, the entire article is the graph below, which I altered to make display better here. It shows two things. First, it shows that the better informed partisans are, the...
Zero Mostel (28 Feb 2013 08:38am)
Ninety-eight years ago, Zero Mostel was born. I always loved seeing him in movies. He was especially charming in The Producers. And when I read, years later in When The Shooting Stops ... The Cutting Begins, that Mostel and Mel Brooks had a feud going throughout the filming, it only made me love him...
Canoodle (28 Feb 2013 08:34am)
I'm a pretty clueless guy in a lot of ways. So when I saw the following CTV News blooper, I immediately felt a kinship with the poor news anchorman. He was talking to the weather woman and mentioned that they might "canoodle" before she presented her forecast. She was shocked, "We're not going to be...
Is Ben Bernanke This Clueless? (28 Feb 2013 08:30am)
Last year, Matt Yglesias made one of the best political observations I've ever heard, "If the unemployment and inflation rates were reversed, would the Fed do something about it?" The point he was making was that the Fed is overly concerned about inflation. For the last four years, we have lived wit...
Campaigns Don't Much Matter (27 Feb 2013 05:55pm)
After Obama's underwhelming performance at the first general election presidential debate, I was depressed like most liberals. But after two and a half days, I ebullient. What happened? The Jobs Report came out and unemployment had dropped below 8% for the first time in years. You may remember that ...
Moraesesque (27 Feb 2013 02:19pm)
Ben Bernanke spoke before the Senate yesterday. And as much as anyone can tell, given that only people who work at the place can fully comprehend "Fed Speak," he seemed to be saying that we shouldn't worry about the deficit right now and that we could use some stimulus. And you know who that sounds ...
Roberts Has Long Hated the VRA (27 Feb 2013 01:39pm)
Something I really hate is how John Roberts is held up as some model of reasonable conservatism. I'm sure he will go down in history just like William Rehnquist: a man who is extremely conservative but is said to be reasonable because the people who came after him were even more extreme. In the case...
100 Years of Irwin Shaw (27 Feb 2013 10:23am)
One hundred years ago today the great writer Irwin Shaw was born. About a year ago, I spent a couple of weeks with his Short Stories, Five Decades. It reminded me of when I first started writing about 25 years ago. I became obsessed with his short story "The Eighty-Yard Run." I read it again and ag...
Boehner's Paradox of Power (27 Feb 2013 09:08am)
Jonathan Chait came out this morning and said what we all know in our hearts: John Boehner's position on the Sequester is a teeny-tiny jobs program. Or to put it more bluntly: he doesn't care about 700,000 jobs that will be lost if the Sequester stays the law; he only cares about one job: his own as...
Slow & Measured (27 Feb 2013 08:17am)
The night before last, Stephen Colbert said that federal regulations were ruining Hollywood and that the next Fast & Furious film would be Slow & Measured: Although I think that is a really good joke, this movie poster works well as an advertisement for Harry Reid and how he is managing th...
Fats Domino at 85 (26 Feb 2013 10:38pm)
This one never grows old: Happy 85th birthday! ...
In Which I Discuss Gus Van Sant One More Time (26 Feb 2013 08:29pm)
About a year before making Elephant, Gus Van Sant headed out into the wilderness with Casey Affleck and Matt Damon made Gerry—an improvised drama based upon the Kodikian and Coughlin story, which had happened just a few years earlier. Very little happens in the movie. Two guys go hiking. They...
America Training Death Squads in Afghanistan (26 Feb 2013 03:47pm)
On Sunday, I reported on Afghan President Hamid Karzai's allegations of American military torture and murder of civilians in that country. My article mostly discussed the assumption of Americans that Karzai had to be posturing because of course Americans never do anything like that. Since then there...
God and Teen Pregnancy (26 Feb 2013 02:56pm)
This is from Sarah Kliff over at Wonk Blog. The Guttmacher Institute put together this map based upon teen pregnancy rates in 2008. For some strange reason, Kliff spends a whole article talking about how New Mexico has the highest teen pregnancy rate of any state. It turns out that the state doesn't...
Republican Winning (26 Feb 2013 10:08am)
I really like Greg Sargent; I read his The Plum Line blog throughout the day. In particular, his gang (him along with Jamelle Bouie and Jonathan Bernstein) see the world pretty similarly to I.[1] But in his coverage of the Sequester, I'm afraid that Sargent is allowing Republicans to win. The dynam...
What Republicans Do, Not What They Say (26 Feb 2013 09:14am)
Ezra Klein hosted The Last Word last night and he said that he didn't understand what the Republicans were doing regarding the Sequester negotiations (or lack thereof). As he understands it, the Republicans have five basic policy goals in the budget discussion: (1) cut the deficit; (2) cut entitleme...
Stuart Stevens' Bizarre Apologia (26 Feb 2013 12:32am)
Stuart Stevens was Romney's chief campaign strategist. And I have a certain fondness for him, which I've discussed before. But he just wrote a bizarre OpEd over at the Washington Post, The GOP Revival Must Go Beyond Joining Twitter. He does give some lip service to this question. But really: is this...
Kathleen O'Brien Wilhelm (25 Feb 2013 07:42pm)
Remember the Deer Lady? She was the Ohio blogger who thought that deer crossing signs were a waste of money because (1) deer can't read and (2) they wouldn't follow the law anyway. Well, I've been staying up to date on her. And it is really getting hard to believe that she isn't involved in some kin...
Naive Pundit Thinks GOP Cares About Deficit? (25 Feb 2013 04:28pm)
Matt Yglesias wants to know why the Republicans keep holding to their no new taxes pledge, even while rejecting deals that are overwhelmingly in their favor. I can't really believe that he is being serious. Yglesias is a smart guy and in no way naive. If he has a fault, it is intellectual arrogance ...
Contents of Character (25 Feb 2013 12:16pm)
Fifty years ago, Martin Luther King Jr stood on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial and said, "I have a dream, that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character." It is a wonderful sentence, wise in...
Repeal Sequestration (25 Feb 2013 08:51am)
Yesterday's Up with Chris Hayes was really interesting. It was good in the way the show usually is, but that's not what I'm talking about. Through much of the show, Hayes was pleading to the world—including his panel—to have congress pass a "one sentence law saying no sequestration." I s...
Elephant (24 Feb 2013 10:45pm)
Recently, I wrote very negative things about Gus Van Sant while discussing his most recent mediocre film Promised Land. I said that his days as a great director where behind him. I used that film as well as Good Will Hunting and Finding Forrester to make this case. But as long time reader Karl Panic...
Major Media Have Sequester All Wrong (24 Feb 2013 06:28pm)
It is Sunday, so I'm going to explain the Sequester to you and why most of the media have it all wrong. Back in 2011 when it was invented, the idea was to make something so horrible that neither side would accept it. Instead they would replace it with some bipartisan plan that the two sides disliked...
America: We're Like Everyone Else (24 Feb 2013 04:04pm)
Afghan President Hamid Karzai has called for the removal of American troops from the province west of Kabul. He claims that the troops have been involved in torture, some even leading to death of civilians in that area. Here's what I know: nothing. It could just be Karzai playing politics or it coul...
Obama's Evil Secrecy (24 Feb 2013 11:31am)
Glenn Greenwald is one of the most important liberal journalists we have. And of course that means he works for a British newspaper. On Friday he wrote, Obama Officials Refuse to Say if Assassination Power Extends to US Soil. This is the kind of stuff that liberals would be all over if the president...
Catholic Church's Procreation Problems (24 Feb 2013 09:22am)
I read this morning over at the Bilerico Project, Top Papal Candidate Blames Child Sex Abuse Scandal on Gays. In it, John Becker quotes Ghanaian Cardinal Peter Turkson as claiming that there are unlikely to be many pedophilia cases in Africa because the culture there just doesn't countenance homosex...
Five Broken Cameras (23 Feb 2013 08:55pm)
"By healing, you resist oppression." That is what Emad Burnat learned after six years of filming the nonviolent resistance of the people of the West Bank village of Bil'in. They were working to remove an Israeli fence and get back their stolen land. In his film Five Broken Camera, he tells his story...
Obama Talks About Himself (23 Feb 2013 02:37pm)
Most of us are wise to the ways of admen, pollsters, speechwriters, and pundits. We know how high-flying words can be deployed in the service of cynical aims, and how the noblest sentiments can be subverted in the name of power, expedience, greed, or intolerance. —Barack Obama, without a hint...
Avik Roy: Healthcare Apologist (23 Feb 2013 11:35am)
Avik Roy was on Up with Chris Hayes this morning. He is something of a healthcare expert. But you know what "expert" means when it comes to a conservative: effective apologist for the status quo. And he didn't miss a beat this morning. He started right out cherry picking studies that showed that hav...
Political Poetry (23 Feb 2013 09:50am)
I'm not Calvin Trillin, but I've written a couple of political poems recently. The first sums up the Republican Party, and to a lesser extent the conservative movement. As you may recall, reproductive rights were more a Republican issue around the time of Roe V. Wade. And in the 1950s, voting rights...
The Oreo Felon (23 Feb 2013 01:12am)
This is a picture of Penny Winters. I always wonder about these things. It is a "mug shot." And yet, Ms. Winters has been convicted of no crime. But somehow, the "justice" system seems to think it is just fine to release her photo to the world. I present her photo to you as an example of an entirel...
Operator by Jim's Son (22 Feb 2013 10:24pm)
In late 1972, the second single from Jim Croce's first album You Don't Mess Around with Jim was released. It was "Operator" with "Rapid Roy" as the B side. I have a certain fondness for "Rapid Roy" because my father raced stock cars when he was young. But in my experience, everyone likes "Operator."...
"Moderate" David Brooks Still Metastisizing (22 Feb 2013 09:38pm)
You all know how much I like Humble David Brooks: he's a radical economic conservative with some reasonable social beliefs. But he did an interview with Ezra Klein that really surprised me. But before I tell you, let me step back. This morning's David Brooks column was a real winner, The D.C. Dubst...
Marco Cruz (22 Feb 2013 08:10pm)
You can think of handsome devil on the left as Ted Rubio, if you want; I like to think of him as Marco Cruz. He is my pathetic Photoshop attempt to combine Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz in one photograph. But there's something that these two guys have in common. It is pretty obvious, but give that some t...
Ridiculous Deficit Scolds (22 Feb 2013 04:56pm)
Greg Sargent asked a couple of questions of the deficit hysterics, Questions for the "Blame it on Both Sides" Crowd. But I think he may be a little confused about who he's talking to. His first question is reasonable enough, "What is it exactly that you think Obama could do to make Republicans comp...
The Hot l Baltimore (22 Feb 2013 03:51pm)
When I was a kid I loved plays. There were a lot of reasons for this. One of them is that I have a very good ability to imagine the play in my head. I don't need or even particularly want a lot of detail: I've got that covered. Plays are by their nature kind of the Elmore Leonard style of writing; a...
Righting Write (22 Feb 2013 08:11am)
Yesterday, Matt Yglesias wrote a sentence that needs to be shared, "I continue to think that conservatives are write to believe that the tax code should in fact favor the accumulation of production equipment..." I bring it up because Yglesias is a very smart man. He certainly isn't ignorant of the d...
Republicans Try Their Own False Equivalence (21 Feb 2013 04:54pm)
Have you ever noticed how Republicans get apoplectic at the slightest thing that a Democrat does wrong? There could be ten Republicans who murder their wives. Then a Democrat is caught cheating on his wife. And the Republicans are everywhere screaming that this isn't just an outrage; it is perhaps e...
Fecal Tooth Brushing in the Naked City (21 Feb 2013 03:36pm)
There are eight million stories in the naked city, and this is two of them. The water in the Cecil Hotel in downtown Los Angeles was trickling in. Two British tourists, Michael Baugh and his wife, complained. "What kinda country you got here? You don't know about water pressure?!" So the management ...
Is Tebow OK with Fagots Burning in Hell? (21 Feb 2013 01:21pm)
Have you heard the joke about the football player who is an "influential voice for his religion"? Oh, you have? You just didn't know it was a joke? Well it is. It is a big joke about the pathetic state of religion in the United State. The football player? Tim Tebow of course. Over at Yahoo! Sports ...
Palestinian Nonviolence? What a Joke! (21 Feb 2013 12:11pm)
We have met the enemy and he is us. The last several months, Saadiq Long has been bouncing around in the no man's land of the No Fly List. He is a ten year veteran of the United States Air Force. His appearance on the No Fly List has nothing to do with the fact that he is a Muslim. And now, Emad Bur...
Reagan's Liberal Dream (21 Feb 2013 09:42am)
Adam Serwer has a great catch. He compares Ronald Reagan's immigration plan with Obama's, Obama's Immigration Plan Is Far Harsher Than Reagan's. You know Obama's plan: the nonstarter. And you know Reagan: the Grand Poobah of Conservatism; the shining actor on the hill; the man who would solve all o...
Ari Melber on Republican Nihilism (20 Feb 2013 07:42pm)
Last night, while in bed, I watched The Last Word (it was that or more Rocky & Bullwinkle that I've already seen). And as I was falling asleep, Ari Melber said something that shook me. In general, I don't follow Melber, but I have to admit, he's a pretty smart guy. You can take that to mean that...
Villager Is Right But Quickly Goes Wrong (20 Feb 2013 01:14pm)
John Avlon made a great catch over at The Daily Beast, The PowerPoint That Proves It's Not Obama's Sequester After All. And then he went all wrong, but first let's discuss what he got right. This has been driving me crazy the last week or so. All the Republicans have grabbed on to this talking point...
David Corn and the 47% Remark (20 Feb 2013 12:32pm)
I like David Corn. He's a good reporter. But people have made far too much about his article, SECRET VIDEO: Romney Tells Millionaire Donors What He REALLY Thinks of Obama Voters. That was the infamous 47% video. In announcing that Corn had won the George Polk Award for the story, the sponsor said th...
From Joke to Republican Meme (20 Feb 2013 09:41am)
Sure, you've heard that "Friends of Hamas" doesn't exist and so Chuck Hagel didn't give them a paid speech. But what about the "Junior League of Hezbollah"?! Huh? The word is that a reporter asked if Chuck Hagel gave a speech to that group. And that's about as solid a bit of evidence as you can get....
A Tree Fell and Other Wisdom (19 Feb 2013 07:17pm)
Quick philosophical note. If a tree fell in the woods and no one heard it, did it make a sound? No. When the tree falls, it creates compression waves, not sounds. It is only when something with an ear that can interpret those compression waves that a sound is created. Thus: no listener, no sound. O...
Prometheus (19 Feb 2013 04:40pm)
Someone (JMF, I think) recommended that I what Prometheus. But it was one of those "you should probably see this" rather than "this is really good" recommendations. It is a curious film. It is a prequel for Alien but uses a fanciful notion to get there. It uses the Prometheus myth, but in a surprisi...
Return of the Son of the Night of the Simpson-Bowles (19 Feb 2013 01:02pm)
This is from an article this morning in Politico: "Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson are back at it, pushing the White House and congressional Republicans to get off the partisan sidelines and strike a deal that can keep government debt in check." This is why we have major problems in this country. Th...
Bats, Hammers, and Handguns (19 Feb 2013 12:02pm)
Brian Palmer over at Slate takes on a widely circulated myth that I hadn't even heard of before, Baseball Bats and Hammers Do Not Kill More People Than Guns. Apparently, a lot of conservatives run around saying things like, "There are more people killed with baseball bats and hammers than are killed...
The Lesson of Tennessee Virtual Academy (19 Feb 2013 09:54am)
I am really interested in education, but I find it very depressing to write about. It seems to me that it is all tail chasing that passes for educational reform. What's more, most of it comes down to private companies trying to make a buck and politicians (in this case, the Democrats are almost as b...
Cthulhu in New Jersey (18 Feb 2013 09:02pm)
And speaking of George Washington dying from blood letting: the sea lamprey. The photo on the left is apparently of a large sea lamprey from the waters of New Jersey. These things are parasites that latch onto fish and literally bleed them to death—just like the best physicians of the 18th cen...
Washington's Birthday (18 Feb 2013 05:00pm)
You probably think that today was President's Day. But you are wrong: according to the federal government, it was Washington's Birthday. And in keeping with my tradition of ruining holidays, this makes my task much easier. Although note: there is no reason to destroy good holidays like this one wher...
Why Media Pander to the Right (18 Feb 2013 03:23pm)
Last week, Reed Richardson wrote a really good column comparing the Republican and Tea Party responses to the State of the Union address, How the Media Skews its State-of-the-Union Response Coverage. I thought about this before the event. Marco Rubio is a Tea Party darling. He wasn't going to say an...
Deer Can't Read! (18 Feb 2013 11:27am)
I often wonder why people have such a low opinion of bloggers. In my experience, there are a lot of good bloggers out there. It is downright scary just how talented a lot of people are. And then there are the bloggers who never really try. It is surprising how many blogs have one post. But mostly, p...
Cat Scratch Fever (18 Feb 2013 10:10am)
I don't think you appreciated me enough. You see, I suffer to bring you stories here and man did I suffer last night! I listened to the entirety of Ted Nugent's Cat Scratch Fever. Of course, the only reason I listened to it is because Nugent is such a nut. But I kept an open mind, because I don't ex...
Universal Rights (17 Feb 2013 07:07pm)
Matt Taibbi wrote an interesting article about civilian drone killings, At Least We're Not Measles: Rationalizing Drone Attacks Hits New Low. The article generally is an attack on all those (including an embarrassing number of liberals) who have been apologizing for these attacks. In particular, he ...
Bitching About Snickers Satisfies (17 Feb 2013 03:04pm)
My sister directed me to this Liberals4America Facebook page: While you were busy bitching about a guy who bought a Snickers with food stamps, this was happening to your tax dollars! What I find most disturbing about this is the guy bitching about the "abuse" of food stamps. In many cases, he's a ...
FISA: Don't Hold The Phone (17 Feb 2013 11:57am)
You gotta love this. You know the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA)? It's the act that sets up courts to make sure that secret wiretaps of suspected foreign agents were all above board—that law enforcement agencies weren't going crazy just wiretapping everyone. You may remember that...
Minimum Wage and EITC (17 Feb 2013 10:07am)
Mike Konczal recently interviewed economist Arindrajit Dube about the minimum wage. In a blog post after the interview, Konczal explained something that Dube had talked about and it is really interesting. You see, there are people like Matt Yglesias who argue that the best way to help the poor is to...
Needed: More Drunk Witnesses (17 Feb 2013 09:26am)
Sarah Kliff reported yesterday on research that shows, Drunk Eyewitnesses Are Just as Good as Sober Ones. The research was performed by researchers at the University of Gothenberg. They specifically looked at whether people who watch a video of a crime could identify the perpetrator in a line-up a w...
What Sets Prices? (16 Feb 2013 10:13pm)
Dean Baker wrote a very short blog post the other day that gets at an important economic point that most people seem to miss, If Drug Companies Could Charge Higher Prices, Why Aren't They? It refers to a Katie Thomas and Robert Pear New York Times article that claims that the government plans to pay...
Harry Reid Has Soured (16 Feb 2013 01:47pm)
John Nichols is angry at Harry Reid. Of course, who isn't. Let's look back at a little Harry Reid history, shall we? In January 2011, Harry Reid just said no to filibuster reform. (Note: he said no in 2009 too, when he could have changed the rules over a Republican filibuster!) But then Reid changed...
Paradox of Existence (16 Feb 2013 12:17pm)
I was doing a job at a church and I had to be reminded by my partner not to discuss, you know, theology. This is because the Baptists we were working for might mistake the question I raised with some children as anti-religious. The question: if God created the universe, what created God? This is, of...
GOP Could Claim Victory But Won't (16 Feb 2013 09:43am)
Greg Sargent (with the help of Paul Van de Water of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities) has an idea for how Republicans can win the Sequester fight. He notes that winning this fight is all about appearances. Thus far, the Democrats have agreed to $1.5 trillion in spending cuts and the Republ...
O'Reilly Teaches Sam Harris Manners (15 Feb 2013 08:06pm)
This is interesting: Bill O'Reilly has a conservation where he's the reasonable one! I like Sam Harris well enough. He's a pretty good thinker. But there are times... He really became noted as an atheist neoconservative. His rhetoric toward the Islamic religion was shocking. What I think I found mo...
Minimum Wage is a Winner for Democrats (15 Feb 2013 06:54pm)
Bruce Bartlett is one of those Republicans who stood still. But he is still a Republican and still has a real conservative bent. But I'm the first to admit that not all conservative ideas are bad; I just think that all Republican ideas are bad (in as much as they have ideas). Today, in The Fiscal Ti...
My Defense of Comic Sans (15 Feb 2013 10:11am)
A couple of years ago, David Kadavy wrote an article explaining to all the prols why the Comic Sans font sucks. But it is also kind of a defense of the font. As he notes, Comic Sans is very readable at low resolution. So what is the problem with the font? There are some technical matters—mostl...
GOP Still Against Democracy (15 Feb 2013 09:33am)
Nia-Malika Henderson and Felicia Sonmez reported yesterday on liberal and conservative responses to the president's voting rights commission, Obama's Proposed Voting Commission Under Partisan Fire From Both Sides. I've already provided the liberal complain: low expectations and working with anti-dem...
Sullivan on Revolutionary Republicans (15 Feb 2013 08:53am)
No entity in our polity right now is more radical and revolutionary than the current GOP: their contempt for institutional custom knows few bounds when it comes to the short-term tactical possibility of impeding even a newly re-elected president, after losing the popular vote for the presidency, Sen...
H1-B Visas (14 Feb 2013 03:37pm)
Dean Baker wrote a very good (short) article this morning about the call for more highly educated workers. They are called STEM workers, which stands for workers who have skills in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. What Republicans are pushing for are more H1-B visas. And this is be...
Don't Get Ready for a Third Party (14 Feb 2013 02:05pm)
Have you heard about the end of the two party political system in the United States? Let me lay it on you. In 2016, Rand Paul will run for the Republican presidential nomination. He won't win, because, you know, he's Rand Paul. Plus, all the establishment Republicans will be funneling cash and exper...
Play Valentine's Day Well (14 Feb 2013 11:26am)
I have some advice for the men out there, but I think it would be good for the women to read on as well. When I am in love (which I now think of as a kind of virus that should be avoided at all cost), I am very much into buying random little lover's gifts. And I am especially fond of flowers. In f...
Ben Ginsberg No Fan of Democracy (14 Feb 2013 09:53am)
Rick Hasen over at Election Law Blog asks, Will the Bauer-Ginsberg Election Reform Commission Improve Our Dismal Election System? He concludes that it is all very good in theory, but that the commission has such limited goals that in the end it will probably be of no practical value. You see, the co...
Bushonomics Vs. Ryanonomics (14 Feb 2013 08:53am)
I've avoided writing about Marco Rubio. Mostly, it is just pena ajena—it embarrasses me to watch others' public humiliation. But also: what is there to say? His State of the Union response was complete Republican boilerplate: pretend that the president is someone else and attack that guy. Mat...
Corpse Bride (13 Feb 2013 09:15pm)
I know that I'm in something of a rut, but I've watched another Tim Burton film: Corpse Bride. And what a wonderful film it is! It is so rare that I see a movie that is enjoyable from beginning to end. But it is, after all, my kind of film: lots of silliness and a very sweet, even sentimental story....
Pope Stops Theological Innovation (13 Feb 2013 06:00pm)
On Monday, The Onion reported, Resigning Pope No Longer Has Strength To Lead Church Backward. The article says, "According to the 85-year-old pontiff, after considerable prayer and reflection on his physical stamina and mental acuity, he concluded that his declining faculties left him unable to helm...
Rasing Minimum Wage Won't Hurt Employment (13 Feb 2013 03:55pm)
Minimum Wage in San Francisco: $10.55 per hour! So much of conservative economic analysis comes down to, "I kind of paid attention to the lectures that term I got a C in Econ 101." It is certainly true that you can understand a lot of what is going on in the economy by understanding some simple econ...
Rich Protectors of the Rich (13 Feb 2013 11:37am)
Yesterday, Dean Baker wrote two important articles that obliquely addressed the conservative obsession with all the terrible things we are doing to our children's future. You know the kind of thing: "We are mortgaging our children's future!" Or: "Someday our children will have to pay these bills." A...
A Nice Cup of Tea (13 Feb 2013 10:12am)
Every morning I get up and anxiously think, "What am I going to write about on Frankly Curious?" And this morning was no different. There are a few things on my mind. I'd like to counter this reasonable sounding but wrong idea that raising the minimum wage will hurt job growth. And I'd like to discu...
I Feel So Safe! (12 Feb 2013 05:25pm)
I have had a very bad cough for almost three months now. I went to doctor and she told me if it didn't go away in another month, I should come back. I figure I have tuberculosis and there is just a conspiracy of silence because everyone thinks that I don't want to die. The fools! I laugh death. I gu...
American Imperialism (12 Feb 2013 01:06pm)
Cenk Uygur said something on The Young Turk about America that is a common sentiment, especially liberals: people all over the world love our culture and if only we just lived up to our ideals, everyone would love America. I used to believe this. But it is total bullshit. On the show, this is demons...
Rove Can't Change Republican Voters (12 Feb 2013 11:59am)
Nate Silver wrote a very interesting article that goes right along with something I've been thinking, New Rove Group Could Backfire on G.O.P. He goes into a lot of detail, but basically his argument is that lack of money is not the reason that establishment candidates lost primaries. This ought to g...
Silly Pope, Evil Pope (12 Feb 2013 10:32am)
I was raised Catholic, so I have a certain fondness for the church. But it more than this. The truth is that I like the idea of religions being old. So the Catholic and Orthodox churches strike me as more valid. The idea that one would reform these churches but only do it around the edges as happene...
Unreasonable Reasonable Republicans (12 Feb 2013 09:56am)
Do you know who is a real Reasonable Republican? Joe Scarborough. And that pretty much explains why the search for the lauded Reasonable Republican is such a foolish errand. When you find them, they simply have all the stupid policy prescriptions of other Republicans but they don't think that rape v...
Healthcare Inequality and Shotgun Blasts to the Face (11 Feb 2013 08:33pm)
Who is the man who would risk his neck for a brother man? Shaft! Who knows the evil that lurks in the heart of man? Shadow! And who shot his friend in the face with a shot gun 7 years ago today? Cheney! Can you dig it? The victim was Harry Whittington, who has his own Wikipedia page, mostly, it se...
Outlook Ad for Thunderbird (11 Feb 2013 06:41pm)
My friend Will and I discuss computers a lot. This is mostly because Will is only really interested in computers (and for the last couple of months beer brewing). And one thing we discuss a lot is privacy and the fact that after the lives that we have led, we don't worry about it all. We worry about...
Matt Yglesias' Public Shame (11 Feb 2013 01:57pm)
I can't explain why I'm writing this article. Too much caffeine? Maybe. Feeling intellectually insecure? Always. Or is it just that people as brilliant as Matt Yglesias should be spanked publicly when providing the smallest of justification? Yep! I think that's the one. Yglesias is one of my very f...
Debt, Deficit, or Any Old Excuse (11 Feb 2013 01:24pm)
Can you locate the error?! This is from Glenn Thrush this morning: Voters overwhelmingly say they want him to do more to deal with a deficit that is set to exceed $14 trillion by the end of the fiscal year. If you said "$14 trillion" or "deficit" you win! What Thrush means is that the total gross ...
Charlie to the Rescue! (11 Feb 2013 11:08am)
I don't think that someone who goes on a killing spree is necessarily crazy. At least, I don't think they are crazy as we normally define it. After all, we don't call CEOs who destroy the lives of thousands of people crazy. They're just evil. And so too are people who go around killing others. As a ...
The Real Republican Reform (11 Feb 2013 10:24am)
Marco Rubio represents the old Republican Party. Not in the Richard Nixon sense of being kind of a social liberal, because Rubio is anything but. No. He represents the old Republican Party in the Richard Nixon sense of the Southern Strategy: getting enough people who totally disagree with your polic...
Sylvia's Mother (10 Feb 2013 08:04pm)
Dr. Hook & the Medicine Show is best known for the song The Cover of the Rolling Stone, a humorous Shel Silverstein song about the excesses of rock stars. "We sing about beauty and we sing about truth... at ten thousand dollars a show." But Dr. Hook's first hit was almost as popular, and also a ...
Gus Van Sant's Fading Career (10 Feb 2013 04:52pm)
I seem to talk a lot about once great directors losing their edges. Most recently, I mentioned David Cronenberg. Last year around this time, it was the Coen Brothers. Ridley Scott is another example. I could go on and on. Another good example is Gus Van Sant. Like all of the directors I've mentione...
Banking Crises Soaring (10 Feb 2013 01:42pm)
Sal Gentile over at Up with Chris Hayes found a remarkable paper from the Bank of England, Long and Short-Term Effects of the Financial Crisis on Labour Productivity, Capital and Output (pdf). They find that there is a long-term effect on an economy's productivity of 1% per year that the crisis drag...
Celebrity Painters (10 Feb 2013 11:21am)
In general, I'm against artists in one field going into another. Part of it is just that we already live in a winner-take-all society. There are damned few ways for artists to make a living. Does Jeff Bridges really need the extra income from doing voice-overs for commercials? Couldn't he leave som...
Jesus Opens a Laundry (10 Feb 2013 09:26am)
I'm always interested in how Christians perceive the work of Jesus. When Mary Magdalene was sick, Jesus cured her and she stuck by him throughout the Passion and beyond. But Christians are more likely to send their problems away. Out of sight, out of mind. Who needs that compassion nonsense? In the...
Illiterate Howard Jarvis (09 Feb 2013 04:22pm)
This came in the mail today. The Howard Jarvis Taxpayer's Association is a vile organization started by a really vile and ignorant man—a man who has done more to hurt my home state than anyone other than maybe Ronald Reagan. And usually, these mailings that come every couple of weeks offend m...
Bush Self-Portrait (09 Feb 2013 03:00pm)
Guccifer hacked the Bush family emails and all I got was this stupid painting! Okay, not stupid. Let me backtrack, because this hasn't exactly been well covered. Earlier this week, The Smoking Gun reported a hacker by the name of Guccifer got into six email accounts of Bush family members and friend...
Reich on What Obama Should Focus on (09 Feb 2013 12:52pm)
Despite what it says on the right there, I don't read Robert Reich that much. The reason is that generally I agree too much with him. We see politics very similarly. But given that he isn't a blogger, he doesn't have to write about things that aren't his focus. Plus, he never writes about music, fil...
Solar's a Joke (on Fox) (09 Feb 2013 09:33am)
I don't have much occasion to watch Fox News, and that's probably a bad thing. Just like shingles, it is easy to forget just how bad it is if you aren't actively suffering from it. Luckily, Media Matters suffers for us all by continuously monitoring this vile institution. Most of the articles they p...
Presidential Signing Statements (08 Feb 2013 07:09pm)
A political scientist at Florida International University, Kevin Evans explains, Why the Obama Administration Has Issued Fewer Signing Statements. It's quite interesting, because I actually didn't know anything about Obama's signing statements. I remember being really mad about Bush's. But Obama jus...
More Fed Craziness (08 Feb 2013 01:51pm)
A couple of days ago, Ylan Q. Mui at the Washington Post wrote a curious article, Virginia Coin Moves Closer to Reality. I say "curious" because she takes this threat seriously. And this is just plain crazy: every bit as crazy as secession and a whole lot more crazy than requiring ultrasounds before...
John Dies at the End (08 Feb 2013 09:50am)
Tonight at the Shattuck Cinema, Northern California will get its first official look at Don Coscarelli's newest genre defying film John Dies at the End. Spoiler alter: John does not die at the end. He dies about a third of the way through, but that doesn't really matter because death doesn't really ...
Republicans Need to Stop Being Republicans (08 Feb 2013 08:29am)
Jonathan Bernstein has some good advice for Republicans wishing to take the crazy out of their party. He starts by noting that throwing money at the problem will not help. The truth is that a lot of their most stunning crazy failures won primaries will little money. In some cases, this fact helped t...
Republicans Should Hate Sequestration (08 Feb 2013 07:36am)
The House Democrats put out a report on how bad the looming Sequestration is likely to be. It is actually quite frightening. We will see major cuts to air traffic controllers and food safety inspectors and border patrol and Coast Guard. We'll see big cuts to Head Start and nutrition programs. Less m...
Why We Can't Have Nice Things: Liberals (07 Feb 2013 07:02pm)
I was making dinner and I caught the end of The Ed Show. I want to be clear: I think Ed Schultz is an idiot. He is as rigidly partisan as you find in a liberal and he's a blowhard. And we need a lot more of him. We need liberals who can talk to regular guys. Effete intellectuals like me are what peo...
Hugh Everett Alive and Well in Virginia (07 Feb 2013 03:42pm)
When I first started studying physics seriously, Einsteinian relativity really bugged me. It just didn't make sense. So I worked really hard to understand it—harder than I ever worked to understand any other kind of physics. And I never had an epiphany. Instead, I just accepted it. Relativity ...
Rand Paul Is No Hero (07 Feb 2013 11:51am)
You've probably read about Navy SEAL sniper Chris Kyle getting murdered by a comrade at a shooting range. It became a bit of a dust up due to libertarian wackjob Ron Paul tweeting out, "Chris Kyle's death seems to confirm that 'he who lives by the sword dies by the sword.' Treating PTSD at a firing ...
Why We Can't Have Nice Things: NRA (07 Feb 2013 10:57am)
Quinnipiac has released a poll. It shows that when you ask Americans about particular gun law policies, they are very much in favor of (for example) universal background checks and an assault weapons ban. These are positions of President Obama. The NRA, on the other hand, is against universal backgr...
Boehner's Fake Indignation (07 Feb 2013 09:28am)
This morning, Paul Krugman puts a recent John Boehner quote into context. I suspect that you've heard the quote. It one of Boehner's many, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore" rants. He said, "At some point, Washington has to deal with its spending problem. I've watched them kick t...
Dr. Jekyll and President Hyde (06 Feb 2013 07:45pm)
Andrea gets mad at me when I rag on the president too much. To her, Obama is so much better than Bush that we should just be grateful that we don't have a complete fucking idiot in the White House. But here's the thing: I am grateful. I usually defend myself by saying, "I think Obama is the best pre...
Gojira on CNN (06 Feb 2013 05:08pm)
I am a good historian when I get home, plop down in front of the TV, switch it on, see an image of a giant creature smashing Tokyo, and do not infer, "Oh! I must be watching CNN!" Is it because I know darn well that monsters do not and cannot exist? I know no such thing! Cryptozoology tell us we may...
Must Destroy Republican Party (06 Feb 2013 11:40am)
The same day that House Republicans are proposing to save $600 billion in defense spending by cutting 10% of all federal jobs, the United States Postal Service announces that it is cutting delivery of first class mail on Saturdays. These are linked together. You can file them under "stupid things we...
Republicans Push Immigration Rightward (06 Feb 2013 10:57am)
This morning, Greg Sargent over at The Plum Line blog tells us, On Immigration, Dems Hold the Middle Ground, and Republicans Don't. In it, he argues that the Republicans are trying to claim that they are the ones that are staking out a middle ground and that it is the Democrats who are being all ext...
Cantor's Big Speech (05 Feb 2013 07:30pm)
Eric Cantor gave a speech and I think it sucked. What are the odds? Ezra Klein provides a nice rundown of all of Cantor's policy proposals. He isn't too impressed either, but I think that he gives Cantor far too much credit. There is one big way that the Republicans could signal that are changing:...
Debt Interest Burden (05 Feb 2013 12:36pm)
Yesterday, Dean Baker published one of his weekly "Robert Samuelson is an idiot" articles, It's Monday and Robert Samuelson Is Confused. It's a good article. I always look forward to Mondays because Samuelson is a Very Serious Idiot and Baker really does have something to say about him every week. S...
Humor on the Court (05 Feb 2013 09:18am)
Last night, Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor was on Colbert Report to hock her new book, My Beloved World. Because any interview with Colbert is necessarily orthogonal to everything, they spent the first half of the segment talking about bringing more spectacle to judicial hearings. Sotomayor ...
Wrong Again, Bill! (04 Feb 2013 07:10pm)
Bill Maher was at it again this Friday night on Real Time. It is sad to see, but he seems to be listening to a lot of Very Serious People. Last week, he was bashing disability and assuming that Americans were getting lazier. This week, he was bashing old people. He noted that we spend $4 on every se...
From Racist Rhetoric to Electoral Games (04 Feb 2013 04:41pm)
Earlier today, Jonathan Chait wrote, The GOP's Anti-Democratic Panic. In it, he calls out David Frum for his recent bit of "both sides now" reporting. In all the major swing states, Republicans have been looking seriously at changing the way their electoral votes are granted—making them determ...
Cyberpunk and Blade Runner (03 Feb 2013 08:45pm)
I watched Blade Runner this afternoon. I always associate it with William Gibson's Neuromancer. According to Gibson, the book was about to go to press when Blade Runner appeared. There were many similarities, so Gibson went back and changed a number of things in the book. Both works are generally se...
Deficit Morality (02 Feb 2013 03:13pm)
Last week, Neil Irwin over at Wonk Blog wrote an article that sounded really fun, Joe Scarborough, Paul Krugman and the Economist-Pundit Divide on Debt and Deficits. But I really hated it. I like what he is trying to do: explain why these pundits are so focused on the deficit even though the facts a...
Blogging and Narcissism (02 Feb 2013 12:23pm)
For the last day and a half I have been very ill. Actually, I still am, but I'm able to move around. I'm not sure what it is. I though it might be an ulcer, but I think it is now above my stomach. I think it may have something to do with a terrible cough I have. It may be a lung infection or somethi...
Conformity on American Idol (01 Feb 2013 08:31am)
I came down to visit my sister and help her with her taxes. As a result, she tortured me by making me watch American Idol. There was an interesting woman auditioning for the show last night. She wasn't much of a singer. In fact, I couldn't catch the melody of the song that she was singing. In her de...
If I Were Hagel (01 Feb 2013 08:22am)
It has to be hard to be someone like Chuck Hagel. I wouldn't be able to do what he's doing. It is clear that he is extremely well qualified for the job of Secretary of Defense. But all of the Republican senatorial carping at him was too much. The big moment in the hearing was when John McCain wanted...
Bill Maher Bashes Disability (31 Jan 2013 11:13am)
As you all know, I like Bill Maher. I think he is funny and he is right about a lot of politics. But I get very angry at him when he is egregiously wrong. This happened most recently during the presidential campaign. Goldie Taylor was on his show. She claimed that Obama would win 330 electoral votes...
Republican Economic Incoherence (31 Jan 2013 10:29am)
This morning, Greg Sargent writes, We all agree that spending cuts hurt the economy. Right? Right. Right now, the Republicans are claiming that spending cuts will help the economy. Of course, six months ago, they were saying the opposite. But this is nothing new. The truth is that Republicans are in...
Oh My Marriage! (31 Jan 2013 09:19am)
I know that not long ago, I checked Wikipedia to find out if Jim Nabors was openly gay. And as I recall, there was really nothing about it. Of course, I assumed he was. I don't know why. There are those stories about Rock Hudson. Everyone assumed. And maybe it is just that no one cared, Nabors being...
Pray for Ron (31 Jan 2013 09:15am)
I am not a big fan of video porn. But like any American male of my age, I know Ron Jeremy. Accordi