Political Ranting 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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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 ...
"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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
"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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
"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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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....
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...
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...
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...
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...
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'...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
"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...
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. ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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!"...
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...
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...
The Next Trayvon Martin (17 Feb 2014 08:06pm)
Via Metro Hussein Jerry: ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
"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...
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...
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...
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'...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
"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 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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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....
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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, ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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. ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
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...
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...
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? ...
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. ...
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, ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 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...
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 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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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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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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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,...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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: ...
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...
"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...
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, ...
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. ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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. ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
"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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 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...
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...
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...
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,...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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. ...
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...
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: ...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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. ...
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 ...
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...
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....
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, ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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'...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Waco 20 Years On (17 Apr 2013 07:27pm)
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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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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,...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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, ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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. ...
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. ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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 ...
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 ...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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. ...
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...
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, ...
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...
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...
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...
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. ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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;...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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 ...
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...
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 ...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
"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...
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....
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
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...
Government Austerity Hurting Economy (30 Jan 2013 03:05pm)
There is a blogging problem that I've only really noticed the last few months. There is a constant feeling that you've written about "this" (whatever it is) before. Because you have. Because the same old bullshit comes up time and time again. Case in point: the size of the economy shrunk last quarte...
Wasteful Border Security Spending (30 Jan 2013 02:06pm)
There are some things that America just can't get enough of. There is always money for the military. There is always money for prisons. There is always money for border security. Yet there is almost never any indication that this money is well spent. Quite the opposite, actually. Let's talk border s...
Republican House Racial Polarization (30 Jan 2013 09:08am)
Scott Bland has provided an amazing graph over at National Journal in an article, Why Immigration Reform Could Die in the House. The article itself shows that getting immigration reform through the House of Representatives could be harder than many people imagine. Of the Republicans in the House, 11...
Wacky Argument Against Same-Sex Marriage (29 Jan 2013 05:08pm)
Jonathan Chait reported something today that was so unbelievable that I had to look into it. Conservatives were at the Supreme Court the week before last trying to both get California's Prop 8 (gay marriage) overturned and force the White House to enforce the Defense of Marriage Act. As Chait rightl...
Tom Tancredo's Reefer Madness (29 Jan 2013 01:50pm)
Let me lay the whole story on you because (1) it hasn't been the well reported and (2) I'm a hip cat who wants to lay it on rather than just write it down. In the lead up to Colorado's shocking vote to make cannabis legal—Just to get high, if you can believe it!—Tom Tancredo promised tha...
Non-Crazy Conservatism (29 Jan 2013 11:44am)
Daniel Larison wrote a short article last week, Bobby Jindal and the "Party of Growth." As I read it, I found that I was very much in agreement. But how could that be? It was published in The American Conservative. It was not that the ideas were solid. I often agree with sensible conservatives. Ram...
What David Mamet Knows That Just Ain't So (29 Jan 2013 10:05am)
David Mamet is not a great writer. But he has a good sense of story and character, as well as very unusual dialog. Thus it is strange that he is a conservative. But not a very thoughtful one. And this is probably why Newsweek decided to run a cover story written by him, Gun Laws and the Fools of Che...
Immigration Reform Fracturing (29 Jan 2013 09:24am)
As I reported yesterday, Don't Get Excited About Immigration Reform. Greg Sargent reports this morning, Confusion Envelops Senate Immigration Plan. Basically, the eight senators can't quite agree about what exactly they mean by the Southwestern border commission. The Democrats claim that this will j...
Don't Get Excited About Immigration Reform (28 Jan 2013 10:42am)
This morning, an immigration reform framework was announced by 8 senators. There are two big reasons why we shouldn't be excited by it. First, it is primarily a huge giveaway to corporate power. It specifically calls for making it easier for high tech and farm workers to be giving a quick route int...
Occasionally Principled Thoughtless Assholes (28 Jan 2013 09:47am)
This weekend Republicans had yet another get together where they planned to figure out how to stop being a minority party without, you know, actually changing the party in any meaningful way. And I think it is important to remember that some of their great ideas are really not going to work. Recentl...
We're #1... On Healthcare Costs (27 Jan 2013 04:55pm)
Ezra Klein wrote another one of those "chart" articles that he's so fond of, Two Charts That Should Be in Every Health-Care Discussion. (What is it with everyone thinking "healthcare" is not a word?) The second graph is not very interesting. It shows how much more the United States pays for private ...
Republicans Are a Christian Party (27 Jan 2013 01:17pm)
Conservatives are so cute! At least when they try to figure out why no one likes their party. It just never occurs to them that it might be, you know, their policies. Look: conservatives like their policies. It is the party of the rich that does the work of the rich. And a bunch of Christians and ra...
Mary Jo White: Business As Usual (27 Jan 2013 11:54am)
Ah, Mary Jo White! Obama has nominated her to run the SEC. There are good things to say about her. And Obama has said them all. And there are bad things to say about her and I will talk about them shortly. But all you really have to know is that Obama nominated her. Therefore: she will not do anythi...
TED Talks Elitist (27 Jan 2013 08:58am)
I happened upon a page for the TED Talks where they try to answer the question, Is TED Elitist? The thing about elitism is that those who suffer from it don't normally understand what the issue is. And TED is no exception. Here is their answer to the question: "Is TED elitist? In a nutshell, no. It ...
Republicans Caused All Filibuster Abuse (26 Jan 2013 09:44am)
As we say goodbye to filibuster reform, let us take a moment to get really clear on where the blames lays for turning the filibuster into a weapon of mass destruction. More and more when I talk to conservatives, the best they can say about how badly their party acts is the centrists' lament: both si...
Republican Tax and Spending Bind (26 Jan 2013 08:57am)
Matt Yglesias tries to get to the bottom of the Republican position of taxes and spending. But I'm afraid he's being a bit too clever. Or something. He correctly points out that Republicans don't want to raise taxes and also don't want to cut Medicare and Social Security. But as he says, the questio...
No Recess Appointment Make Filibuster Worse (25 Jan 2013 04:06pm)
Tired of hating on Harry Reid? Then click away, because I have something all new to bitch about. Today, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit came down with a sweeping interpretation of the Constitution that will basically end recess appointments. These are temporary appointments...
Torture Worse Than Torture Disclosure (25 Jan 2013 03:29pm)
Does irony still exist in the United States? I doubt it. Former CIA officer John Kiriakou was just given two and a half years for leaking classified information. In the end, all of his charges were reduced to giving the name of one covert operative to a reporter. (Why does that sound familiar?) But ...
Revolutionary Politics and the Filibuster (25 Jan 2013 09:35am)
Greg Sargent interviewed Tom Udall this morning. Udall is one of the main proponents of filibuster reform. He is one of what Harry Reid called, "two young, fine senators" when Reid first called for reform. Before he folded like a card table. During the interview, Udall said, "The Senate is now a gra...
Republican Half Measures in Virginia (25 Jan 2013 05:24am)
Kevin Drum over at Mother Jones is wondering what the Republicans are doing in Virginia. As you have probably heard, the evenly divided Virginia state senate waited until one Democrat was out of town so that they could ram through a new redistricting plan for the state. But that's not what Drum is t...
"Hero" John McCain (24 Jan 2013 06:56pm)
Yesdayday, Martha Jackovics of Beach Peanuts wrote, It's Time To Stop Pretending John McCain Is A "Hero." She is talking about his political career and how he once was a hero, but he isn't anymore. It's a good article. I have one minor complaint, however: I'm not so sure that John McCain was even a ...
Flipping and Flopping with Harry (24 Jan 2013 12:25pm)
Flipping: 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. What a shame… If there were anything that ever needed changing in this body, it's the filibuster rule, because it's...
Harry Reid Fucks America (24 Jan 2013 11:42am)
The Democrats completely folded on filibuster reform. I had been figuring that this would be Harry Reid's last term as a senator. And I was fine with that. He could step aside and allow a younger Democrat to take his seat. But now, I hope that doesn't happen. I hope that Reid just dies. It doesn't ...
The Atlasphere: Rape for Everyone! (24 Jan 2013 10:02am)
Last night on the Colbert Report, I was introduced to The Atlasphere, a dating service for devotees of Ayn Rand's novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead. Colbert did a funny bit about the website. He said, "The Atlasphere is the best place for Randians to find the one they love, other than their...
Hilary Clinton 2016! (23 Jan 2013 08:11pm)
I love this woman! I've never thought as highly of Hilary Clinton as I do now, having watched her take on these ridiculous Republicans. As more and more information has come out, the Republican position on Benghazi has become so narrow that it could fit through the eye of a needle. And Clinton calls...
Ryan Budget is Back (23 Jan 2013 04:57pm)
The Republican leadership seem to have listened to Obama's claim that they mustn't crash the economy because, you know, we have to pay our bills. The budget is the time to cut costs, not afterwards when the bills come due. As a result of this realization (or at least the realization of the bad polit...
Boehner's Weakness is America's Strength (23 Jan 2013 12:09pm)
Just for the record, John Boehner is still a very weak Speaker of the House. The House of Representatives voted to suspend the Debt Ceiling through 18 May. This in itself is a chickshit move. Boehner had decided that he didn't need to make his caucus have to vote to raise the Debt Ceiling; instead, ...
The End of History (23 Jan 2013 10:00am)
Last night on The Last Word, Lawrence O'Donnell presented a rewrite where he attacked conservatives—Bill O'Reilly in particular—about the one thing that makes them conservatives. The clip is below and it is worth watching. He says that conservatives always think that however things are, ...
Guns and Fetuses (22 Jan 2013 11:36am)
This morning, Jamelle Bouie at The Plum Line blog wrote, GOP Isolated on Abortion, Too. It notes that overall, Republican voters are pro-choice, but the party is aggressively anti-choice. The newest NBC/Wall Street Journal poll (PDF) shows that 70% of the nation support upholding Roe vs. Wade. In a...
I'm Not Krugman (22 Jan 2013 10:14am)
Paul Krugman coined a new acronym this morning. He was discussing an article by Larry Summers that argues that we are focusing too much on the deficit. The question is: if this is how Summers feels (and it is; Summers is a White Hat) why does he spend the first two paragraphs talking about how terri...
C.G.P. Grey Explains Debt Ceiling (22 Jan 2013 08:45am)
Here is a good video on the Debt Ceiling from the great C.G.P. Grey: ...
Filibuster Reform Now—Or Not (21 Jan 2013 07:47pm)
We are on filibuster reform eve. Three weeks ago, Harry Reid recessed the Senate, so when the Senate comes back into session tomorrow, it will still technically be the first day. And so, they can reform the filibuster with a simple majority vote. The question is whether they will. It is looking more...
Martin Luther King, Jr. (21 Jan 2013 01:38pm)
I am not a great follower of history, but Martin Luther King, Jr. is one of the few names that comes to mind when I think of people who gave of themselves to make this a better society. Being white, I am naturally ignorant of the true struggles of any other race. I know my world; I hear rumors of o...
Is Inequality Holding Back the Recovery? (21 Jan 2013 09:26am)
Big happenings over the weekend. (You can take that as a joke if you like, but I'm quite serious.) Joseph Stiglitz wrote an extended OpEd over at the New York Times, Inequality Is Holding Back the Recovery. He presents four reasons for saying this. First, he notes the deleveraging problem: the middl...
Injustice System (20 Jan 2013 01:40pm)
Liberal Viewer posted a great video, Aaron Swartz Tip of Iceberg in Justice System. The point is that what happened to Aaron Swartz happens to thousands of people every day. In Swartz's case, the federal prosecutors were apparently going to offer him a six-month sentence plea deal. If that's the cas...
Hooray for Hagel? (20 Jan 2013 12:15pm)
I think it is time again to discuss Chuck Hagel. I've been reasonably positive about Obama's nomination of Hagel for Secretary of Defense. My main problem is just that I don't like the optics of it: Republican presidents always have Republicans at this post, but this will be Obama's second of three ...
David Brooks' Little Brain (20 Jan 2013 11:00am)
There was a flurry of writing on Friday about David Brooks' column, The Next Four Years. Jonathan Chait sums up the column well, David Brooks Now Totally Pathological. And Ezra Klein asks, Is the Republican Party Obama’s fault? Answer: no, but a lot of Republicans want to think so. They are both re...
How Depression Works (19 Jan 2013 11:40am)
I noticed something very troubling about the reporting on Aaron Swartz's suicide. Among his friends and supporters, there was little understanding of depression. The great Lawrence Lessig was on Democracy Now! to talk about Swartz on Monday. He presented more or less a hagiography. But he also said,...
Ezra Klein Gets Angry (19 Jan 2013 09:11am)
Ezra Klein hosted The Last Word last night. It is always interesting to watch him when he hosts an MSNBC show. Since he is part of my primary reading (see the links on the right), I know what he's going to talk about. But whereas he tries really hard (too hard) to be in the reasonable center in his ...
The Real Notre Dame Tragedy (18 Jan 2013 11:09pm)
This is probably only the first video I'm going to embed from this evening's The Last Word. This is an outrage, of course. ...
Parody Trailer: Zero Dark Thirty (18 Jan 2013 10:09pm)
While making dinner, I was watching The Rachel Maddow Show. A commercial came on for the film Zero Dark Thirty, which readers of this site will know is a torture apologia and what looks like a typical Hollywood action film. It has also been attacked by three Senators as being "grossly inaccurate." ...
Gone! The Republicans Fold (18 Jan 2013 01:20pm)
Eric Cantor would like you to know that he isn't giving up. It is just that they can't solve all the country's budget problems in one month. But four months? No problem! And you know that he's serious: he included the new Republican catch phrase, "No budget, no pay." I've got shivers. For those of ...
Krugman on Social Security Paradox (18 Jan 2013 12:15pm)
I've written before about the Social Security Paradox. This is the claim of supposed budget hawks that Social Security benefit cuts may be necessary in the future so we must cut future Social Security benefits now. If that sentence sounded kind of circular and meaningless, that's the point: it's a p...
Thank You John Mackey! (18 Jan 2013 11:02am)
I am very happy with John Mackey. You may have heard that the Whole Foods CEO said that he was wrong when he said that Obamacare was socialistic; he meant to say that it is more fascistic. And here's the thing: he's right! And do you know why it is we're stuck with a fascistic healthcare insurance s...
Most Shameful Moment on The Daily Show (17 Jan 2013 12:50pm)
The Daily Show annoyed me again last night with the most shameful deception I have ever seen on the show. Andrea tells me I'm just angry at Jon Stewart over his treatment of the platinum coin idea. This is not true. I am often bothered by how The Daily Show deals with issues and bends over backwards...
Republican Hostage Plans Going, Going... (17 Jan 2013 12:08pm)
More cracks in the Republican hostage plan. Yesterday, Glenn Kessler destroyed Amy Kremer's claim that, "It is pure baloney to say we have to pay the bills for things Congress has already approved." And today, Kremer's group Tea Party Express responded, claiming that they really do think that the De...
Plan 9 from Republican House (17 Jan 2013 09:05am)
Greetings, my friends. We are all interested in the future, for that is where you and I are going to spend the rest of our lives. And remember my friends, future events such as these will affect you in the future. You are interested in the unknown—the mysterious. The unexplainable. That is why...
Humble David Brooks (17 Jan 2013 08:39am)
Broadly speaking, there are two kinds of conservative pundits. First there is the bloviator that we all know from right wing radio. Rush Limbaugh is the best example of this. In fact, if you do a Google search on "bloviator," Google offers, "Searches related to bloviator: Rush Limbaugh." Seriously. ...
Pity the Rich (16 Jan 2013 04:36pm)
This image comes via Matt Yglesias. Apparently, the Wall Street Journal is highlighting the plight of those poor souls with six-figure incomes. Because of the Fiscal Cliff deal, they are paying more in taxes. Here is their infographic: Note here that the single woman and the single mother are payi...
Conservative "Economists" on Debt Ceiling (16 Jan 2013 01:21pm)
The University of Chicago's Booth School of Business did a survey of top economists on the issue of the Debt Ceiling. They asked whether those surveyed agreed or disagreed with the following statement, "Because all federal spending must be approved by both houses of Congress and the executive branch...
Debt Ceiling Crashing Down (16 Jan 2013 10:35am)
As I posted last night, the House voted to fund Hurricane Sandy relief with only 49 Republicans. The Fiscal Cliff deal passed the House with only 85 Republicans. Both of these votes violated the "Hastert Rule," which says that the Speaker of the House should only bring a vote to the floor if a major...
House Hurricane Sandy Relief Vote (15 Jan 2013 09:55pm)
When it came to the Fiscal Cliff, 85 House Republicans voted for the deal. (Understandably, given that it was a much better deal than they could have reasonably expected.) Today, the House voted on the remaining Hurricane Sandy relief: $50.5 billion. And only 49 Republicans voted for it. Note that i...
Why Are More Kids Graduating High School? (15 Jan 2013 09:34pm)
Brad Plumer at Wonk Blog tells us, High-School Graduation Rates Are Rising—But No One Knows Why. He is reporting on a paper by Richard Murnane of Harvard who looked at graduation rates from 1970 to the present. In general, graduation rates declined until 2000 and since then, they've be going u...
Paper Tiger James Yeager (15 Jan 2013 08:27pm)
I don't care as much about gun legislation as a lot of liberals. The reason is simple: guns kill about 25,000 people each year in the United States. Income inequality and the recession kill a lot more than that. For example, a Harvard Medical School study found that lack of health insurance caused a...
Jon Stewart's Unfortunate Clown Defense (15 Jan 2013 09:54am)
Last Thursday, The Daily Show did a segment on the trillion dollar coin. It wasn't very good. Saturday, Paul Krugman—a big booster for the idea—wrote an article, Lazy Jon Stewart. I was glad. The truth is that Stewart usually does a good job of explaining what is going on in the world of...
Evil Betsy McCaughey (14 Jan 2013 08:24pm)
Betsy McCaughey is one of the most evil people in America. She is a big part of why healthcare reform died under the Clinton administration. She is also a big part of why we didn't get a public option in Obamacare. Can you say, "Death panels"? Yeah, that was her. I remember seeing her on The Daily ...
Really, Colin Powell? (14 Jan 2013 07:20pm)
Colin Powell is getting all kinds of plaudits in the liberal world today. He was on NBC, being interviewed by David Gregory. And he is oh, so disappointed in his party. If I had one thing to say to the general, it would be this: fuck you! I'm sorry, but I am sick to death of this man and the many ...
Pessimism on the Debt Ceiling? (14 Jan 2013 02:14pm)
Earlier today, I wrote, Optimism on the Debt Ceiling? I noted that some people who I admire and generally agree with were trying to be at least a little optimistic about the upcoming Debt Ceiling crisis—people like Greg Sargent, Jonathan Cohn, and to a lesser extent Jonathan Chait. By this aft...
Optimism on the Debt Ceiling? (14 Jan 2013 11:57am)
Some people are very worried about the Debt Ceiling crisis. I am one of them. I'm finding it very hard to think of anything else. But there are a lot of people out there who are trying to comfort us all with rosy deconstructions of what's going on in Washington. Greg Sargent's Morning Plum had the c...
National Income Accounting (14 Jan 2013 10:40am)
About a year and a half ago, Dean Baker posted an article about national income accounting. It sounds boring, but it isn't. It's a little bit mathematical, however, so if you want, just skip down to What This Means. Let's look at the nation's total income, which we will represent as Y. It is equal ...
Aaron Swartz (13 Jan 2013 10:52pm)
Aaron Swartz killed himself on Friday. For those of you who don't know, he was a good guy: a technology savant who co-developed RSS when he was still a teenager. But most of all, he was an activist against our broken and evil intellectual property system. At 26, he was facing up to 35 years in jail ...
Republicans Have Nothing to Fear (13 Jan 2013 09:53pm)
This morning, John Sides wrote a guest article over at Wonk Blog. It had a very cheerful sounding title, How Congressional Dysfunction Could Hurt House Republicans. I was looking for something to raise my spirits, because I'm pretty down about the Republicans in Washington. In fact, today I describe...
Saddam Hussein and the Debt Ceiling (13 Jan 2013 08:58pm)
I had a thought about the Debt Ceiling crisis. But first, let's think about Iraq. After Saddam Hussein was deposed and Iraq got a new government, they still owed all the money that Hussein borrowed when he was in power. Many nations forgave some or all of that debt, but there was never any doubt tha...
Drugs for Us and Guns for Them (12 Jan 2013 09:47am)
Other than the fact that I don't like the comment about how many troops died, because modern warfare normally kills a lot more civilians than troops, this is a very good cartoon. It explains the economics of our relationship with Mexico: they send us drugs and we send them guns. We get the better of...
Plutocrats (12 Jan 2013 09:31am)
I just read Chrystia Freeland's new book Plutocrats. I know her from her repeated appearances on Up with Chris Hayes. And I have to say, my reaction to the book is the same as it is to her: what a muddle. Plutocrats really isn't clear what it is trying to say. Intellectually, it can see that the ris...
Jerry Brown's Liberal Bona Fides (12 Jan 2013 07:51am)
Yesterday, Reuters reported the next California budget will be in surplus. The article goes out of its way to make Jerry Brown into a hero. Not only has he balanced the budget, but he is fighting those spendthrifts in the legislature who want to to bring spending back up as much as possible. Now, th...
Assault Weapons Ban? (11 Jan 2013 12:07pm)
Greg Sargent's The Plum Line blog is quickly becoming my favorite Washington Post reading, which is to say I turn to it more often than Ezra Klein's excellent Wonk Blog. Sargent just seems to write more about the stuff I'm interested in. Klein writes a lot more about economics, but I'm afraid i read...
12 Questions for Mr. Lew (11 Jan 2013 09:30am)
John Nichols gives us twelve reasons to pause over the Jack Lew nomination for Treasury Secretary, in his The Nation column yesterday. I've already said that I'm fine with the Lew nomination, although I haven't looked into it that much. But my thinking is generally that the president should be able ...
Massive Debt (And Yachts) (11 Jan 2013 08:46am)
You have probably seen the commercial below for Merit Gold. I am not putting this ad here because I think you should invest in gold. For the normal investor, gold is always a stupid investment. It is just one bubble after another. You would be as smart to invest in some ponzi scheme. It isn't becaus...
Scary Jack Lew (10 Jan 2013 05:10pm)
Let us give a little thought to Jack Lew. Obama has nominated him to replace Tim Geithner as Treasury Secretary. The Republicans are afraid—very afraid. How can Obama choose Jack Lew?! And he is a scary guy, I can tell you that. Last year, Eric Cantor told Politico, "No one was more prepared ...
Free Market Fail (10 Jan 2013 02:56pm)
Eduardo Porter is an economics writer for the New York Times. He wrote an amazing article on Tuesday, Health Care and Profits, a Poor Mix. Despite the title, it is not only about healthcare. It is more about how the United States has embraced the idea that markets work "magic" and if you want to red...
Obama Sets Scene for Economic Disaster (10 Jan 2013 10:10am)
There is a lot of talk about minting platinum coins. And an increasing amount of talk about the Treasury issuing IOUs (Krugman calls them Moral Obligation Coupons). Jonathan Chait gives a good overview of these ideas. He notes that the coin option solves the debt ceiling issue forever, but it will s...
Man Doesn't Tip to Prove He's a Dick (10 Jan 2013 08:17am)
I found this on Joey deVilla. It was reportedly found by a waiter. I'm inclined to think that it is the real deal because it includes the bit about Prop 30 in California. What I think it most interesting is how petty this is. All those years of reading Shakespeare warped my mind into thinking that...
More Republican Immaturity (09 Jan 2013 10:06am)
James C. Capretta wrote in the National Review on Monday, The Budget Battles Ahead. He said that the Republicans are not going to do any negotiating with President Obama. Instead, they are just going to let the budget deficit get completely out of control and then blame it on Obama. "Future generat...
Opportunity Costs of Torture (09 Jan 2013 03:34am)
Yesterday, I listened to Michael Krasny's excellent Forum show. It featured a debate between Glenn Greenwald and Mark Bowden on the issue of torture, especially as it applies to the appointment of John Brennan as CIA Director and the movie Zero Dark Thirty. It was interesting. Greenwald really went ...
Robert Reich Whistling in Hell (08 Jan 2013 06:38pm)
I really value optimistic people. But I don't pay much attention to them. Two of my favorite political writers are Dean Baker and Eric Alterman, or as I think of them, the Depressing Duo. Or "Pessimistic Pair" if you prefer. Alterman perpetually looks like his first girlfriend just dumped him. Baker...
ACA Incentivizes Two More Asshole Companies (08 Jan 2013 04:59pm)
Ah, incentives! Economists love them, people respond to them, and politicians fuck them up. MSNBC is reporting that Wendy's and Taco Bell franchises are cutting work weeks down to 28 hours to avoid penalties for not providing healthcare. This is understandable, of course. These are just business dec...
Once More: Government Is Not Business (08 Jan 2013 11:40am)
Meet Greg Walden, the Republican representative from Ogegon. He is an idiot. But he has lots of company. Like our "liberal" president. Do you remember when Obama said, "After all, small businesses and families are tightening their belts. Their government should, too." Well, Greg Walden is using the ...
Bernanke's Impotence Problem (08 Jan 2013 09:47am)
Matt Yglesias ended his reporting from American Economics Association conference yesterday with a discussion of, Romer and Romer on Monetary Policy Complacency. It is really important work, but I think that Yglesias is being a little too cool for school. I guess he just figures that anyone who knows...
Public Sector Job Decline (08 Jan 2013 08:50am)
Yesterday, I saw the following graph that shows cumulative public and private job losses and additions. What it shows is that the there was a big loss in private sector jobs, but we've gained them all back. This doesn't take into account the people who have been added to the workforce, but it does i...
Nutjob Alex Jones Wants to Deport Piers Morgan (07 Jan 2013 08:54pm)
Okay. This is interesting. Alex Jones started a petition to "deport Piers Morgan." This is because Morgan has spoken about banning some guns. So Morgan invited Jones onto his show. The results are below: So Alex Jones is insane and should certainly not be allowed ever to have a gun. But the bigger...
Depressing Rape Statistics (07 Jan 2013 03:42pm)
This came from Dylan Matthews at Wonk Blog in an article that says it all, The Saddest Graph You'll See Today. The main thing to notice are the two little men in the lower left hand corner. Those represent the falsely accused men. Notice also that even in the very small number of cases that go to co...
Political Capital is a Myth (07 Jan 2013 11:09am)
This morning, Jonathan Chait metaphorically scratches his head, Nominating Hagel Most Un-Obama Thing Ever. He can't understand this nomination given that (1) Hagel will be a hard sell and (2) Obama doesn't much listen to his advisers anyway. It is interesting speculation, but I wouldn't have even th...
Obama Can Have Hagel But... (07 Jan 2013 09:43am)
My colleague Michael J.W. Stickings over at The Reaction makes what I think is the strongest case against Obama's pick of Chuck Hagel as secretary of defense, Obama Misses Opportunity With Hagel Nomination. Basically, the optics are all wrong on this. Why is our Democratic president yet again pickin...
Matt Yglesias Whitewashes Economic Dispute (06 Jan 2013 02:09pm)
There was a big fight in San Diego this weekend, but it wasn't even on pay-per-view. It was on the effects of government stimulus between Paul Krugman and UC San Diego professor Valerie Ramey at the American Economics Association conference. Unfortunately, the only coverage I've read of it comes fro...
Media More Conservative Than Public (06 Jan 2013 11:02am)
For years, I've been arguing that journalists are centrists in their political orientation. What's more, those that identify as liberal are generally only socially liberal; on economic issues, they are conservative. Up to now, I have based this on my observations; it wasn't based upon research. But ...
Barely Progressive (05 Jan 2013 07:04pm)
This is a copy of Gover Norquist's Taxpayer Protection Pledge. I had never looked at it until today when it was mentioned on Up with Chris Hayes. Check out the text: this is all about income taxes. The reason this is interesting is that poor people don't pay much in the way of income taxes. Poor p...
Republicans Fight to Kill Medicare (05 Jan 2013 11:14am)
Do you remember the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB)? It is what Sarah Palin famously called "death panels." It is necessary for not only making more affordable Medicare and Medicaid, but all healthcare in the United States. Of course, conservatives hate it. They wouldn't have hated it, had...
State Department Mocks Fox News' Clinton Reporting (04 Jan 2013 08:06pm)
I like this discussion of Hillary Clinton on The Young Turks, because it goes along with my thinking. As I wrote back at the end of last year in response to Jonathan Chait's claim that liberals would have done the same thing to a conservative in Hillary Clinton's place, "I would have thought the Rep...
It's the Jobs, Stupid (04 Jan 2013 10:57am)
In December, the economy added 155,000 new jobs. As usual, the private sector job growth was better (168,000), but we lost government jobs (13,000). These are not great numbers. The government really ought to do something about this. And contrary to what many people believe, there is much that the g...
Debt Ceiling "Negotiations" (03 Jan 2013 12:01pm)
Greg Sargent at The Plum Line reports this morning that media are already covering the upcoming raise in the Debt Ceiling in Republican terms, Media Shouldn't Get Rolled by GOP Debt Ceiling Spin.[1] He refers to Politico reporting on Mitch McConnell's new demands, "Democrats now have the opportunity...
The Right to Dweezil Your Kid (03 Jan 2013 11:14am)
The Associated Press is reporting with some relish that Iceland limits the names that people can have. If you have a baby, you are limited to 1,712 boy names and 1,853 girl names. So if you want to name your baby son "Snorri," you can just forget it! Actually, I'm kidding: "Snorri" is on the list. T...
Boehner's Mature Negotiating (03 Jan 2013 10:33am)
The Hill reported yesterday that Boehner is angry at that weasel President Obama. The article says that Boehner "spent weeks shuttling between the Capitol and the White House for meetings with the president in hope of striking a grand bargain on the deficit." Horrors! He must be exhausted! All that ...
Fiscal Cliff Deal Inequity (03 Jan 2013 08:53am)
Yesterday, Matt Yglesias posted the very ugly graph below from the Tax Policy Center. What it shows is the increase in taxes at different income levels. The main point is that taxes have gone up on everyone because payroll taxes have gone back up to their regular levels. I'm fine with that. However,...
Eric Cantor as Iago (02 Jan 2013 07:39pm)
This is interesting for two reasons. One is that there are "serious" rumors that John Boehner is going to step down as Speaker of the House. Boehner claims that this is not the case. I would love to see it, as I wrote earlier today. For one thing: it would be good for Boehner. It might turn him into...
Fuck You, Ezra. The White House Lost. (02 Jan 2013 02:48pm)
Or perhaps more accurately: the White House won a pyrrhic victory. But Ezra Klein is telling us, Calm Down, Liberals. The White House Won. Part of the problem here is that in some ways, Ezra isn't really a liberal. The main point of his article is that the Fiscal Cliff deal sets up the situation whe...
America's Broken Healthcare System Calculator (02 Jan 2013 01:29pm)
In the past, I've written about little economic tools that the Wonk Blog people put up. They are fun and even enlightening. But they aren't that great. For example, the Fiscal Cliff Calculator only allowed you to try discrete binary budget items: you repeal the defense sequester or you don't. Of cou...
In Praise of Earmarks (02 Jan 2013 11:18am)
Matt Yglesias wrote an article yesterday that goes along with my long held beliefs, Why I Miss Pork-Barrel Politics. This really came to me several years ago when there was this explosion of media coverage saying that earmarks were a bad thing. Earmarks and pork are not bad things—at least not...
Boehner's Choice (02 Jan 2013 09:49am)
Why did he do it? Why did John Boehner allow a vote on the Diving Off The Fiscal Cliff deal? And then vote for it himself?! There isn't much reporting on this issue, because few people other than me thought much about Boehner's upcoming Speaker of the House vote. All I have is speculation. Those wh...
Fiscal Cliff Apocalypse (01 Jan 2013 09:00pm)
For weeks now, Dean Baker has been sarcastically noting the apocalypse that news agencies like the Washington Post were predicting. Today, as I walked to the grocery store, I saw kids playing at the skateboard park—it was a nice day. And yet: we had gone over the Fiscal Cliff! The sun shine?...
Reliving the Recount (01 Jan 2013 04:47pm)
There were certain liberal commentators during the first decade of this millennium who really pushed the idea that George W. Bush was smart. I tended to side with them—at least against those who said that Bush was stupid. It is clear that Bush was not stupid. But over time, I began to see that...
These Are Not Very Bright Guys (01 Jan 2013 12:35pm)
I love this clip from All the President's Men. It seems to sum up so much, "The truth is, these are not very bright guys." Deep Throat says this about the Nixon White House, but this last few weeks I've thought it applied equally well to the Obama White House: I think this can generally be said ab...
Prelude to a Catastrophe (01 Jan 2013 09:25am)
For the record, the Senate Fiscal Cliff deal is worse than indicated early yesterday. It doesn't raise capital gains tax rates as high as thought: only up to 20% and only on incomes above $450,000. It does not tax dividends as regular income. The estate tax was not raised as high as it should have b...
Republicans Hate You (01 Jan 2013 12:05am)
Just a quick note. Everyone in Washington is happy to let the payroll tax holiday expire. This includes (probably especially) the Republicans. That will be a rise of 2% in total wages taken in taxes. There are no deductions. Nothing is returned at the end of the year. Yet the "reasonable" Republic...
Quick Outrage (31 Dec 2012 06:41pm)
I keep hearing and reading that a deal may be in the works that will avoid the Fiscal Cliff. No! Let me say that again: no! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! No! Nooooooooo! There is a deal that the Senate may pass tonight. There is a deal that the House might take up tomorrow. (But I seriously...
Will the Senate Be Stupid Tonight? (31 Dec 2012 04:11pm)
What a day! It is an amazing combination of actual news happening and almost no coverage of that news. CBS News has reported, No "Fiscal Cliff" Vote in House Monday. But the story indicates that they don't really believe the House Republicans. They imply that backroom dealing could still pull this o...
The Fiscal Cliff Deal That Can't (31 Dec 2012 11:24am)
Reuters is reporting, Tentative "Fiscal Cliff" Deal Emerges in Senate. The devil is in the details, but it is at least not as bad as I had thought. In fact, dare I say it: it looks pretty good. If the Republicans were willing to take this all the time, what was the problem? The problem, I fear, is t...
More on Chained-CPI (31 Dec 2012 10:58am)
I've been confused about Social Security and how Chained-CPI affects the program in the long term. Starting benefits are calculated by adjusting all of your top 35 years of work into current dollars. For example, the Social Security Administration says that your income in 1951 should be multiplied b...
Obama is Hopeless (31 Dec 2012 10:34am)
The Wall Street Journal is reporting that Biden is negotiating with McConnell. First the bad news, and then the worse news. Biden asked for income taxes to rise on incomes over $250,000. McConnell countered: $550,000. Biden shot back: $450,000. Where do you think that ends? A half-million, right? B...
Jonathan Chait's Subtle False Equivalence (31 Dec 2012 08:59am)
There was a lot of talk the last day about whether Fox News is going to admit now that Hillary Clinton really did have a concussion, now that we know she really did. But then Jonathan Chait, always trying to be an iconoclast, tweeted, "If a Republican claimed concussion before testimony over controv...
Consider Hagel (30 Dec 2012 10:18pm)
The most surprising criticism that I've heard against Chuck Hagel as potential Secretary of Defense is that he is to the left of President Obama on the issues of foreign affairs. I don't even know that this is true. I suspect it is just that Hagel is to the left of the president in some ways and tha...
Tea Party Idiot (30 Dec 2012 06:55pm)
Howdy folks. I saw something on the TV machine today that was too much. I don't get to see a lot of Tea Party lunacy, because I avoid regular TV. But there was one of them on Up with Chris Hayes. Her name is Amy Kremer and she is with the Tea Party Express. And I can see why the group puts here out ...
BTW: We're Good They're Bad (30 Dec 2012 01:32pm)
Several people sent me to the most informative tweet I have ever seen. Marco Rubio explains the Republican Party in two short sentences: Republicans don't want to cut Social Security. And by the way, the Democrats do. There is something to be said for this. It's true: the Republicans aren't for cut...
Have a Nice Filibuster! (30 Dec 2012 01:06pm)
People are wondering about the Fiscal Cliff deal. If Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid can't agree on anything, Reid will propose a "little budget deal." This will consist of only tax cuts for incomes under $250,000 and an extension of unemployment benefits. If this happens, the proposal would probably...
Dogbert DID Write That (30 Dec 2012 11:54am)
I remember reading an introduction to a Calvin and Hobbes collection. It was by Charles Schulz, and he was arguing that what really mattered in a comic was that it was funny to look at. At that time, I disagreed. Actually, I didn't really even understand. But since then, I have definitely learned. T...
Wonky Awards Disappoint (30 Dec 2012 11:16am)
Wonk Blog presented their second annual Wonky Awards on Friday. I like the idea of it. I appreciate policy wonks a great deal. And I heartily agree with many of the awards. But others? In particular, the top two awards are ridiculous. First let's look at some of the well picked awards. They named T...
Will Republicans Protect Their Constituencies? (29 Dec 2012 08:00pm)
Robert Reich seems have come over to my way of thinking. As I wrote back in November, bipartisanship can bite me! The point I was making was that this idea that congressional Republicans should go along with Obama just because he won a national election is madness. They should do what is right for t...
The Irony of Manifest Destiny (29 Dec 2012 12:59pm)
In The Irony of Manifest Destiny, William Pfaff argues for a return to realpolitik—basing our foreign policy on our own interests rather than an ideology of "improving" the rest of the world. I am torn on this question, as I dare say most people are. On one hand, I really do hate the massive a...
Revolutionary Republicans (29 Dec 2012 11:36am)
I've been wondering about the 2011 budget deal: why didn't the Republicans take it? I've argued in the past that they were gambling on an Obama loss. In fact, all the evidence points to a Republican Party that was convinced that Obama would be defeated. It is all part of the echo chamber effect, whe...
Drinking with Boehner (28 Dec 2012 07:42pm)
Look. I've heard that John Boehner is a chain-smoking drunk. And that's why I want to have drinks with him. Other than his politics, he sounds like my kind of guy. That's why we should spend an evening drinking together. Don't misunderstand. I don't think I'm going to change his mind about anything....
Chris Matthews' Bouncing Ideology (28 Dec 2012 02:55pm)
I have long had major problems with Chris Matthews of MSNBC. Listening to him now, he really comes off like a real liberal. But I remember back when MSNBC was conservative and Matthews was right there with it. In addition, he seems to have been the major push behind MSNBC firing Phil Donahue in 2003...
Stupid and Evil Deficit Scolds (28 Dec 2012 10:57am)
Krugman posted an article that I quite agree with, A Double Shot of Misunderstanding. Basically, he says that there are two kinds of deficit scolds: stupid and evil. He doesn't put it that way, of course; he writes for the New York Times, after all. But I feel sure that late at night he turns to Rob...
The Danger of Coming Together (28 Dec 2012 01:08am)
It is always a problem when I watch Ezra Klein host The Rachel Maddow Show. This is because I read Wonk Blog every day—just look at the list on the right. But every once in a while, he will put together some really great television that goes beyond what he's already written online. He did that...
Spending Cuts Are Real (27 Dec 2012 10:06pm)
Two days ago, I reported on Ezra Klein's contention that Republicans think that they lose out in budget deals because the tax increases are real but the spending cuts are not. This is curious, because the evidence indicates exactly the opposite. For example, President Clinton and the other Democrats...
Wonk Blog Forgot Dean Baker (27 Dec 2012 03:11pm)
Wonk Blog put together the favorite graphs from the last year of various policy wonks. It has some great graphs. Most I've seen, but some were quite new to me—especially about the environment, because frankly, I don't keep up on it enough. They did, however, not ask Dean Baker of the Center f...
Tsarist Russia Less Unequal Than America (27 Dec 2012 01:21pm)
Matt Yglesias writes today, Inequality in Pre-Revolutionary Russia. He is reporting on the work of two economists: Steven Nafziger and Peter Lindert. They've been looking at income inequality in Russia under the Tsar at the turn of the 20th century. What they find is that Russia was about as unequal...
A Tale of Two Indexes (27 Dec 2012 10:37am)
Are you worried about the Fiscal Cliff? I am! I'm worried that I will have to read another hysterical article about how we are going to go into recession if we don't reach a deal this week. And I'll tell you this: I won't even go into a Starbucks until this is over. I don't want to see "come togethe...
When Everyone's a Terrorist (26 Dec 2012 04:55pm)
Glenn Greenwald sent me to a CNN article from 1 July 2008, Mandela Off U.S. Terrorism Watch List. The first sentence of the article reads, "Former South African President Nelson Mandela is to be removed from a U.S. terrorism watch list under a bill President Bush signed Tuesday." You've got that rig...
Causes of Violent Death (26 Dec 2012 03:16pm)
The following chart was put together by Todd Lindeman at the Washington Post. It shows the top causes of violent death by age group in the United States. The most striking thing is that for people over 35 years old, gun suicide is by far the most common cause of death. And for adults and teens less ...
With Friends Like Democrats... (26 Dec 2012 11:24am)
With friends like the Democratic senator from North Dakota, Kent Conrad, do progressives really need Republicans? On Fox News Sunday, Conrad said that everyone should just agree to a Fiscal Cliff deal that averages the last deals of Obama and Boehner. But Ezra Klein notes that this gives the advanta...
Danger of Balanced Budgets (25 Dec 2012 01:00pm)
Yesterday, Ezra Klein posted an article that surprised me, For Republicans, It's Not About Deficit Reduction. In it, he says that Republicans don't like budget deals because they claim that the tax increases are real while the spending cuts are just chimera. I'd never thought of this because, of cou...
Be Polite While Shopping (25 Dec 2012 11:00am)
The St. Louis CBS affiliate reported last Friday that a 61-year-old Best Buy employee was bludgeoned by a couple in their late 30s leaving the story after the employee asked to see their receipt. I'm glad to see that everyone is getting into the holiday spirit. You know: Christmas. Christian. And wh...
Sanitized News Coverage Provides Distance (24 Dec 2012 10:22pm)
[As anyone who reads this blog knows, the people who comment around here and very smart and knowledgeable. And opinionated. One of these people is Mike Blottin. And I am proud to offer the following as the first article here by an outside writer. Mike makes an interesting argument about how the (und...
Christmas Eve Party Shooting (24 Dec 2012 07:27pm)
Back in the early 1990s, Tom Tomorrow published a cartoon with a series of people in different situations, all with guns in hand. He was making fun of the saying, "An armed society is a polite society." In each panel, this was indeed the case. The last panel was a man standing over a dead man on the...
Happy Holidays vs. Merry Christmas (24 Dec 2012 02:30pm)
For years I've thought that there was something very obvious under the complaints of (mostly conservative) Christians when people say "happy holidays" rather than "merry Christmas." But I never took the time to work it out. Well, I spent some time this morning. And it turns out to be about as awful ...
NRA Killing Our Kids (23 Dec 2012 10:44pm)
This image is from the Eh... Not so much tumblr. I still don't know exactly what Tumblr is. Click on the link to go to the posting: ...
Boston Globe Whitewash of Romney Loss (23 Dec 2012 07:28pm)
Michael Kranish has written an amazing post-election analysis of the 2012 presidential campaign, The story behind Mitt Romney’s loss in the presidential campaign to President Obama. I do not mean that in a good way. It does nothing so much as apply the Romney family narrative on top of the facts of ...
More Guns Does Not Mean More Safety (23 Dec 2012 02:50pm)
David Atkins posted this over at Hullabaloo. All I've done is turn it into a playlist so that you can watch it all together. This is a really good test to show that having anyone (much less everyone) armed when a shooter comes along is a bad idea. It is a bit less than 15 minutes and well worth watc...
Social Security: the Phony Crisis (23 Dec 2012 02:03pm)
Thirteen years ago, Dean Baker and Mark Weisbrot wrote a book, Social Security: the Phony Crisis. I just read it. The most amazing thing about the book is that nothing at all has changed. They could have written the book this year. I still hear people calling for Social Security privatization. I sti...
Don't Fear the Fiscal Cliff! (23 Dec 2012 12:10pm)
Ryan Grim has written the best article I have yet read on the Fiscal Cliff, Fiscal Fail: Government Agencies Plan Few Significant Changes For January, Despite Cliff Hype. He starts by explaining what readers of this site already know: nothing happens on 1 January. The stock market won't freak out. T...
Hope and Poverty (23 Dec 2012 11:21am)
Yesterday, I wrote about workers at UPMC who were trying to unionize because of the low wages. UPMC responded by starting a food bank. And I talked about how poor people have just as much self-respect and dignity as the rich. I explicitly put myself in that category of poor person. But there are var...
UPMC Avoids Responsibility for Workers (22 Dec 2012 07:55pm)
The non-medical staff at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) are not making enough money to get by. Like workers at Walmart and elsewhere, they have to depend upon welfare programs and private charities like food banks. As a result, they are trying to unionize under the Service Employ...
Christian Nationalism and School Shootings (22 Dec 2012 11:55am)
The poem below was sent to me by my Christian Conservative aunt. If she's sent it out, it must be viral among the Christian crowd on the internet. It is a parody of Twas the Night Before Christmas. As poetry, it shows about as much skill as I've come to expect from ChristiProp. There is a total lack...
Lesser Bargain (22 Dec 2012 10:29am)
As I reported before, changing how the government adjusts for inflation to the chained-CPI would affect both Social Security and income taxes. But the main thing that has been covered in the media is the effect on Social Security. I think this is mostly because while running for re-election, Preside...
We Need a Federal Agent at Every... (21 Dec 2012 06:19pm)
In an update for a post earlier today, I noted that Jim Naureckas tweeted, "If only an armed guard could be placed next to every state trooper." Well, it has become a thing. David Frum has now similarly tweeted 14 times. First, dental clinics: We need a federal agent at every dental clinic abcloca...
Still Worried About Kerry (21 Dec 2012 12:56pm)
Jonathan Bernstein at The Plum Line blog encourages us, Don't Worry Too Much About John Kerry’s Senate Seat. I not exactly worried about this, but I have been opposed to it. Of course, that was when Kerry was going to be moving to the Pentagon. Moving to State seems like a better deal, but I still t...
Tim Scott and the Future of the Republican Party (21 Dec 2012 11:08am)
In his farewell address to the Senate, Jim DeMint said, "If we can win the hearts and minds of the American people with these ideas, I know we can engage and enlist them to convince all of you here to set the politics aside, the parties aside, and to adopt those ideas that work." It has a certain ch...
NRA Calls for Militarizing Schools (21 Dec 2012 09:58am)
The crazy just gets crazier. Yesterday the Republicans staged a real fiasco where the House passed a bill to cut aid to the poor and elderly but couldn't even manage to increase taxes on incomes over a million dollars. I thought it couldn't be out done. But riding the crest of crazy, the NRA surpass...
Pete DeFazio on the Fiscal Cliff (20 Dec 2012 08:18pm)
H/T Dean Baker ...
Thursday Night Schadenfreude (20 Dec 2012 08:10pm)
John Boehner seems like a nice enough guy. The truth is, I feel kind of sorry for him. He doesn't seem like a ideologue. It's possible that over the years, he's come to realize that his party has no ideas other than the commitment to stay in power. Every time I see him, he looks like he would much r...
Fiscal Cliff Calculator (20 Dec 2012 04:00pm)
Dylan Matthews over at Wonk Blog has a remarkable little interactive budget calculator, Choose Your Own Fiscal Cliff Adventure! It is interesting to play around with. The main thing that you will notice is that liberal policies tend to improve the economy and help the budget deficit. Conservative po...
Their Children Die Too (20 Dec 2012 12:18pm)
The single political issue that I care most about—the only one that really even exists—is out-group vilification. It is what allows us to have some people starve to death while others have dozens of servants waiting upon their every need. It is what allows us to deny healthcare for tens ...
"Plan B" May Have Votes Thanks to Grover (20 Dec 2012 11:15am)
CBS News reports, House GOP: We have the votes for "Plan B". This does not come as a surprise. All the Republican authoritarian followers got the word from Grand Poobah Grover Norquist that it is okay to vote for this bill, so they will. I hope you weren't all thinking that previous Republican resis...
Senate Letter Condemning Zero Dark Thirty (20 Dec 2012 10:48am)
A remarkable thing happened yesterday. Dianne Feinstein, Carl Levin, and John McCain sent a letter to Michael Lynton, the CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment. It was regarding the portrayal of torture in the new film, Zero Dark Thirty. Feinstein does it as the chairman of the Senate Select Committee ...
How to Not Survive a Shooting (19 Dec 2012 09:22pm)
Charlotte Allen over at National Review Online has interesting ideas for how we might be able to stop mass shootings in the future. They mostly have to do with having more men at elementary schools. I am so not kidding. And not just that, "Think of what Sandy Hook might have been like if a couple of...
The President Has Already Agreed to a Deal I Don't Like (19 Dec 2012 06:31pm)
I saw a bit of The Ed Show tonight as I was making dinner. Ed Schultz said something that shocked me. I don't have the exact quote, but it was more or less, "I know that the president isn't going to agree to any deal that we don't like." I could hardly believe it. Did he really just say that? After ...
Post Hit Piece on Hagel (19 Dec 2012 12:25pm)
I've had my problems with the idea of Chuck Hagel as the new Defense Secretary. Why is it not possible to have a liberal? Why does Obama continue to try to court the right by having Republicans in his cabinet? But the Washington Post has a different take on this in an editorial, Chuck Hagel Is Not t...
2011 Negotiations Hurting 2012 Negotiations (19 Dec 2012 11:33am)
This morning, Ezra Klein discussed one of the real problems with the budget negotiations. Because Obama agreed to so many discretionary cuts in 2011, there is very little to give up now. He notes that after winning the 2010 elections, the Republicans demanded that the budget deal go entirely their w...
Obama Weakens Hand on Fiscal Cliff (19 Dec 2012 10:30am)
It's beginning to look a lot like 2011. John Boehner is holding the football, Obama runs toward it, and just as he is about to kick it, Boehner pulls the ball away, and "Aaugh!" I've long argued that these Fiscal Cliff negotiations are all for show. No deal that Boehner gets will be acceptable to hi...
What Could Have Been: Robert Bork (19 Dec 2012 09:52am)
It is a sad day. Robert Bork died this morning. But that's not why it's sad. It's sad because of the great opportunity we missed. One incident in Bork's career explains everything about him. During the Watergate scandal, Richard Nixon wanted Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox fired because, you know,...
Obama Buys a Guitar (19 Dec 2012 09:12am)
I was talking to the president. It seems that Malia wants to learn to play guitar. I offered to sell him my American Stratocaster. He asked me how much I wanted for it. It's worth about a thousand dollars, but I didn't want to tell him that. "Make me an offer," I said. He looked it over carefully an...
Pete DeFazio Explains Chained-CPI (18 Dec 2012 09:05pm)
This is a speech by Pete DeFazio from last year during the debt ceiling debacle. It explains the chained-CPI pretty well. DeFazio does make some statements for effect, but it is all fundamentally correct: H/T Digby ...
Obama's Debt Ceiling Bluff Revealed (18 Dec 2012 01:30pm)
I was bothered all last night after seeing somewhere (The Ed Show?) that a two year elimination of the debt ceiling might be part of the Fiscal Cliff agreement. What happened to President Obama's resolve that he wasn't going to allow the Republicans to extort the United State in this way in the futu...
Chained-CPI Madness (18 Dec 2012 12:18pm)
[Part of this is wrong. Initial Social Security benefits are based upon wages. They aren't set and then adjusted upward by the CPI. Sorry for this error. -FM] I'm getting sick of having to talk about this stuff. The chained-CPI change is even worse for future retirees than it is for current retiree...
Too Soon to Talk About Presidential Succession? (18 Dec 2012 11:33am)
Yesterday, the long time senator from Hawaii, Daniel Inouye, died. He was 88 and had been in a wheelchair for the last year. So it is not of much surprise. He was a good guy—a reliable liberal voice in the senate. The most famous story about him—which to some extent informed his career&m...
Obama to Sell Out Social Security? (18 Dec 2012 08:34am)
Ezra Klein is again reporting that a Fiscal Cliff deal is almost done. And once again, I don't get this deal. He says that we will see the 39.6% tax bracket but only for incomes over a million dollars. There will be something less for incomes over $250,000 amount. In return for this, the president g...
Fiscal Cliff Tax Options (17 Dec 2012 06:32pm)
On Friday, Dylan Matthews wrote an article that mostly just included the following graph. The first line is what would happen if we just allow the taxes to go back to their Clinton levels. That would be a very regressive tax increase! But really, the only one that is really progressive and—giv...
Presidential Words Mean Little (17 Dec 2012 02:21pm)
Today, Jonathan Chait wrote his only article about the shooting thus far, The Bracing Political Reality of Gun Control. He notes that there is one good thing to come out of this tragedy: we woke up to the fact that the conservative appeal that we not politicize mass shootings is itself politicizatio...
Be a Real Man (17 Dec 2012 01:13pm)
Yesterday, I had a conversation with a friend about self-confidence. I am a nervous wreck about what people think of me. If I'm at a club, I find it almost impossible to dance. Or in my work, I've created a number of videos that even I think are rather good, but I can't quite bring myself to post th...
Enlightened Self Interest (17 Dec 2012 11:44am)
As regular readers know, I used to be a libertarian. But I was never that comfortable with it. A good example is how I used to bristle at a phrase that Ayn Rand used quite a lot, "enlightened self interest." So she would say something like, "Sure it is in your best interest to kill everyone and take...
We Have No Budget Problem--Really! (17 Dec 2012 10:55am)
You probably remember Dr. Evil of the Austin Powers films. Both characters had been frozen (or something) in the 60s and so they are a little out of touch. So when Dr. Evil hatches his evil plan he says that he will ask the United Nations for, "One million dollars!" Then he does his evil little fing...
God Is the Real Victim (17 Dec 2012 09:41am)
Billy Bob Neck sings, "Hey, little Tommy: if you believed in God you wouldn't be dead." This is satire of highest form, but I think even Paul Day (the actor) knows he is really pushing against people's revulsion tolerance on this one. To make it clearer, he throws in a clip of Bryan Fischer saying, ...
Larry Summers Offers Good Tax Reform (16 Dec 2012 09:16pm)
Larry Summers has written a remarkable and short editorial over at the Financial Times, How to Fix Costly and Unjust US Tax System. He starts by noting that all this talk of closing loopholes is stupid because it will raise very little money and it will leave us with an overly complex tax system. On...
America's Gun Lunacy (16 Dec 2012 06:15pm)
There is something very much wrong with us. You've probably seen the graph on the left (click on it to see it at full resolution). The green line at the top is the murder rate in the United States over the last 50 years. The red lines at the bottom is the murder rate in the other OECD countries. It ...
Situational Ally David Frum (16 Dec 2012 12:07pm)
As regular readers know, I have problems with David Frum. A lot of problems. A whole lot of problems. But he's so right about gun regulation. He's written a number of good articles in the past two days. The Myths that Enable Gun Tragedies. Every Day is the Day to Talk About Gun Control. And a numbe...
HSBC Travesty Crosses Partisan Lines (16 Dec 2012 11:15am)
The choice of the Justice Department to not prosecute HSBC for their criminal money laundering is the kind of thing that should cross all political lines. And indeed, we are seeing a bit of it. Marcy Wheeler at Empty Wheel has reported, Democratic and Republican Agreement: Prosecute HSBC. Chuck Gras...
Why is Zero Dark Thirty Wrong? (15 Dec 2012 09:04pm)
There is a bit of disagreement about Zero Dark Thirty among those who are completely in agreement about the politics. Let's start with the agreement. First, torture is wrong. I am so angry I even have to write that, because when I was a kid, that was a given. Anyway. Second, torture is not effective...
Guns Cheap, Mental Health Expensive (15 Dec 2012 05:34pm)
I've already written about how I think the primary lesson of the many recent mass shootings is that we need to do something about the easy availability of guns. But I still think much more needs to be said about mental health and anyway, I'm not sure that I have a lot to add on the gun situation. Go...
Schizophrenia and Psychopathy (15 Dec 2012 05:04pm)
I've heard a lot of loose talk about schizophrenia and (much more) psychopathy. They are not the same thing. They aren't even all that similar except that they are both pathologies and people suffering from both can be dangerous but in completely different ways. Schizophrenia is a broad term, but in...
Conservative Answers for Shootings (15 Dec 2012 12:04pm)
Yesterday, I reported on the obsession of Wall Street Journal reporters Tamer El-Ghobashy and Devlin Barrett regarding how the shooter got through the security system at Sandy Hook Elementary School. It was otherwise a good and informative article, but really: how did he get in? As I wrote, "This is...
Idiot Savant Pete Peterson (15 Dec 2012 11:14am)
People imagine an idiot savant to be someone like Raymond in Rain Man: a guy who can memorize the location of every card in a deck or tell you how many toothpicks have fallen on the ground. But I think of idiot savants much more broadly. For example, many excellent film directors exhibit an astonish...
Theater of the Austere (14 Dec 2012 11:55pm)
We could use a bit of levity, could we not? Paul Krugman posted a short play that apparently one of the commenters posted somewhere at The Irish Economy. If you know anything at all about what has been going on in Europe or even just a little about who Paul Krugman is, you will find this quite amusi...
Crazy Everywhere, Well Armed Here (14 Dec 2012 11:10pm)
Everyone wants to know why it is we have so many mass shootings—one every five days on average. Most of all, I want to know. Brad Plumer wrote what turned out to be a disappointing story over at Wonk Blog, Why Are Mass Shootings Becoming More Common? It was disappointing, because it turns out ...
Gun Are at Least Part of the Problem (14 Dec 2012 10:23pm)
Here is a graph from The Rachel Maddow Show based upon data put together by Ezra Klein. There is no doubt that this has something to do with gun availability: I'm afraid that I will have more to say on this later. ...
Rich Drug Criminals Not Prosecuted (14 Dec 2012 05:05pm)
Recently, the government found out about this big drug laundering enterprise. They'd laundered $9 billion over the last decade. So the feds got their paramilitary unit together, busted down the doors, and arrested everyone. Now they are all rotting in jail—for years. In fact, some of them will...
It Wasn't Sandy Hook's Security System (14 Dec 2012 01:29pm)
I just found out about the shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut. I saw a bunch of chatter about gun control on Twitter. It actually made me feel good, because I thought that it was about the Portland shooting. I've been bothered by the lack of coverage of that shooting, b...
John Boehner's Position on the Gaming License (14 Dec 2012 12:07pm)
This is how I imagine the budget negotiation going. Boehner looks Obama in the eye and says, "My final offer is this: nothing. Not even the fee for the gaming license, because... I don't know what that is!" The one thing that we see coming from every source is that despite the negotiations, the Repu...
Good Dick, Bad Dick (14 Dec 2012 10:59am)
I've been giving a lot of thought to the question of just how tolerant I am of people being dicks. I know that to some extent, I admire dicks. Bill Maher is a dick, and I generally like him. Of course, he's funny, so there's that. But I'm thinking more of the people from Americans for Prosperity who...
Don't Balance That Budget! (14 Dec 2012 09:55am)
Robert Reich was the first person I heard make the argument for not balancing the federal budget. The argument is simple. Imagine that you have a business partner. You work very hard to save the company money and collect payments from customers. But every time you take a couple days off, your busine...
Nice Things Like Susan Rice (13 Dec 2012 10:02pm)
I don't care about the politics. I don't care who "won" in this fight regarding Susan Rice. Her decision to take herself out of contention for Secretary of State is the perfect example of why we can't have nice things. And this fits very well with my last article about the apocalyptic conservatism o...
Thiessen's Last Stand (13 Dec 2012 08:53pm)
David Frum has written two articles in as many days about what he calls "doomsday conservatism." Both relate to a column by conservative nutjob and Pillsbury Doughboy standin Marc Thiessen. He is the part of the Republican Party who think of themselves as The Little Party That Could. If they are jus...
We Need More Than the Fed to Save Us (13 Dec 2012 10:50am)
Yesterday, I responded to the Fed's decision to tie interest rates to unemployment. Although I think this is good, it is the least they could do, and they are doing it much too late. My biggest problem was that the Fed's new unemployment target is 6.5%, which is nowhere near full employment. I noted...
The Obama-Boehner Conspiracy (12 Dec 2012 08:35pm)
There has been a lot of reporting on the fact that there isn't anything to report about the Fiscal Cliff negotiations. John Stanton makes a big deal of this in his almost fun article for BuzzFeed, The Fiscal Cliff Is Boring Washington To Death. Everyone seems to agree that the lack of leaks indicate...
Thought Crime in London (12 Dec 2012 07:32pm)
Ah, justice! The London bomb plotters are in jail, but the English court system isn't done yet; they have thought crimes to punish! Ruksana Begum is the sister of one of the plotters. She downloaded a copy of Inspire, al-Qaida magazine in order to understand what was going on with her angry brother....
Fed Does a Little Late (12 Dec 2012 05:50pm)
Earlier today, I was surprised that people were surprised that reality TV was staged. This is different. Then it was surprising that people didn't already know what was obvious. This time, it is surprising that we have had our expectations lowered so much that we are surprised when the Federal Reser...
Boehner: Obama Must Reveal Mythic Bad Government (12 Dec 2012 02:12pm)
Pollsters are constantly asking Americans how much the government spends on foreign aid and how much it ought to spend on foreign aid. The numbers never really change in any substantial way. In a poll in 2010, Americans thought that the government spends about 25% of its budget on foreign aid and th...
More Libertarian Right-to-Work (12 Dec 2012 12:37pm)
As much as libertarians drive me crazy, there are some who are smart and serious. You will get the best thinking on libertarianism from Reason Magazine, which I once subscribed to. Still, it is mostly all the usual theoretical, trapped in our own minds kind of nonsense that is libertarianism. But so...
Racism at KTBS-TV (12 Dec 2012 10:29am)
File this one under, "What southern racism?" Rhonda A. Lee is a meteorologist at KTBS-TV, in Shreveport, LA. She's pictured on the left and I think you can see the problem: that hair! Can you say "colored dyke"? Maybe you can't, but keen viewer Emmitt Vascocu could. He wrote on Facebook, "The black ...
How to Shit on the Little People (11 Dec 2012 09:27pm)
Sarah Kliff at WonkBlog reported yesterday, White House to States: on Medicaid Expansion, It's All or Nothing. This hasn't been well reported, even though it is kind of interesting. But I suspect this is because it is yet more data showing that Republicans are all basically dicks. As you probably h...
Boehner's Gerrymandered "Mandate" (11 Dec 2012 08:32pm)
John Nichols over at The Nation explains, John Boehner Has No Mandate. This comes from the fact that Boehner is on his whining tour, complaining to Fox News that the White House, "must have forgotten Republicans continue to hold a majority in the House." I'm very sympathetic to that line of argument...
With Gun Rights Go Responsibilities (11 Dec 2012 07:49pm)
I used to live in Portland, and I remember the Clackamas Town Center being the most festive shopping mall I had ever visited. It had a ice rink where I saw Tonya Harding practice—a big attraction in the early 1990s. So I was shocked to read that there was a shooting rampage at the mall this af...
Why the Debt Ceiling is No Problem (11 Dec 2012 05:41pm)
Have you stopped thinking about the Fiscal Cliff and moved right on to the brewing debt ceiling fiasco? You are not alone. I haven't talked much about it recently, but this has been weighing heavily on my mind as well. I liked what I was hearing from the president. Last week at the Business Roundtab...
The Case for Cliff Diving (11 Dec 2012 04:53pm)
Noam Scheiber over at The New Republic makes the case, To Save His Second Term, Obama Must Go Over the Fiscal Cliff. He counters the standard thinking that while it may be tactically smart to go over the Fiscal Cliff, it is bad strategy. He quotes a number of people who argue that if Obama wins this...
Another Modest Proposal from Jonathan Chait (11 Dec 2012 11:11am)
Those Very Serious white guy business reporters Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen over at Politico report on the breaking news that CEOs are whining about the lack of certainty in the market. I discovered the article through Jonathan Chait where he attacked the insularity that allows reporters to think th...
Movie Torture (11 Dec 2012 10:07am)
There is a bit of buzz about the upcoming blockbuster Zero Dark Thirty. It is already getting rave reviews, which goes to the heart of my problem with film "critics": they aren't critics, they are ombudsmen. But it is a big mistake to listen to them. They tend to be too pretentious for most movie go...
Quien es mas macho? (10 Dec 2012 10:50pm)
On The Last Word today, Lawrence O'Donnell asked, "Quien es mas macho?" between presidents Reagan, Bush Sr, and Clinton and Speaker Gingrich. I have many problems with O'Donnell, but he is at his best when doing this kind of thing. And in this case, he's right. Basically Newt Gingrich destroyed Wash...
Ten Ideas to Fix the Economy (10 Dec 2012 08:12pm)
I have this strange idea that I don't care for Dylan Matthews over at WonkBlog. But I just looked at my writing over the last year, and I find I am always very impressed with his work. I know that from time to time, he falls into false equivalence and splitting the difference fallacies. But mostly, ...
Letter to President Obama on Fiscal Cliff (10 Dec 2012 07:08pm)
Dear Mr. President: I am very concerned about the "Fiscal Cliff" negotiations. I don't understand why you would offer a smaller increase on the top tax rate than the one that will happen automatically on Jan 1 in exchange for raising the Medicare eligibility age. Unfortunately, I don't know what to...
Right-to-Work Limits Employer Freedom (10 Dec 2012 06:05pm)
All this madness about right-to-work in Michigan got me to thinking. About libertarians. I'm not sure about the intricacies of the Michigan situation, but what right-to-work normally means is that unions can't have a contract with employers to have a union-only shop and that non-union (non-dues payi...
The Sound of Waiting (10 Dec 2012 11:20am)
Do you hear it? It's the sound of waiting. There's only one thing on most pundits' minds (Oxymoron?) and that is the dreaded fiscal cliff. This morning, Ezra Klein continued to push his "Obama's gonna screw his base, ain't that keen?!" theory. John Waggoner of USA TODAY complains that the markets ar...
If US Land Were Divided Like US Wealth (10 Dec 2012 09:25am)
This is from High Noon in the Garden of Good & Evil. It is called If US Land Were Divided Like US Wealth. ...
Why Does PSY Hate Us? (09 Dec 2012 10:04pm)
I don't read Glenn Greenwald every day, I quote Glenn Greenwald every day. He is a great writer who really gets to the core of political issues in a way that is rare indeed. Yesterday, he asked a question, "Which of these two stories is causing more controversy and outrage in the US?" And then he of...
Death Penalty for Shoplifting (09 Dec 2012 09:00pm)
Shelly Frey, a 27 year old girl was shot to death by a Houston Walmart security guard. Let's cut through all the journalistic niceties and just admit: she had been shoplifting. That is the worst thing you can say about her—we know this because that is what Walmart and the cop are saying about ...
DeMint is Dead; Long Life Rubio (09 Dec 2012 12:49pm)
Earlier this week, I wrote about Marco Rubio's pathetic excuse for moderating the Republican message at the Jack Kemp Foundation dinner. Basically, he didn't change anything about his speech, he just claimed that things he would normally say helped "job creators" now helped the "middle class." But R...
Avik Roy is Trying to Kill Me! (09 Dec 2012 11:51am)
A political science professor once told me about a friend of his who claimed that Richard Nixon killed his father. Every time Nixon appeared on television, this guy would start shouting. "That lying bastard!" And so on. Well, one time Nixon came on the TV, the man started shouting at it, had a heart...
Tax the Rich Fairy Tale (08 Dec 2012 03:54pm)
As agitprop goes, this little cartoon, Tax the Rich: An Animated Fairy Tale, from the California Federation of Teachers is quite good. I disagree with some of it. In particular, it greatly understates how much the middle class self-oppresses. I'm well aware of how the Tea Party was largely a marketi...
Sheldon Adelson Social Liberal (08 Dec 2012 11:05am)
Sheldon Adelson says, "I'm basically a social liberal." You better believe it. The only thing that is surprising about this admission is that he thinks this will shock anyone. Rich people understand better than anyone else that the only thing that matters in life is your own happiness. In fact, I w...
Going Along to Get Along (08 Dec 2012 10:39am)
Yesterday, Charlie Crist made it official: he's a Democrat. Earlier this year at the DNC, he said, "Half a century ago, Ronald Reagan, the man whose relentless optimism inspired me to enter politics, famously said that he didn't leave the Democratic Party; the party left him. I can certainly relate....
Republican Strategy (08 Dec 2012 12:02am)
I had a thought tonight about how Republicans see their position. The Republican focus is on ideology. It's strange, but if you look closely, they are united in a weird kind of thinking that is based on the idea that how things are is almost perfect. From this we get the libertarian talk that keeps ...
Is Obama Selling Us Out—Again? (07 Dec 2012 09:27pm)
Ezra Klein reported this afternoon and then again this evening on The Rachel Maddow Show, that a debt ceiling deal is all but done: the president will take a top marginal tax rate of 37% and raise the retirement age to 67. It sounds outrageous, but Klein makes a compelling case, even though it is ve...
Corporations Game Obamacare (07 Dec 2012 01:08pm)
Here's a question for you: am I wrong to say that companies that care only about profits, and not about employees, are assholes? Before you answer: no I am not. Companies that care only about profits, and not about employees, are assholes. This is at the core of my hatred of the existence of corpora...
Trade Agreements Not So Effective (07 Dec 2012 12:16pm)
This morning, Paul Krugman maked a general argument following from what was, frankly, a rather technical article that Dean Baker posted yesterday. It has to do with the widely held belief that free market treaties are just great for the economy. For the record, my belief has always been that these t...
Good Jobs Report Because Obama Was Re-Elected (07 Dec 2012 10:12am)
The jobs report was released this morning. The headline is good: 146,000 jobs were created and unemployment dropped to 7.7%. But you really can't trust the headline. I start most mornings by reading Paul Krugman, but this morning, I went directly to Dean Baker. In a sense, Baker is the most importan...
DeMint Don't Change a Thing (06 Dec 2012 07:56pm)
Increasingly, I have very fond thoughts about Ezra Klein. But he is still capable of driving me crazy! Today, he did so with, Jim DeMint and the Death of Think Tanks. His basic argument is that Jim DeMint going to head the Heritage Foundation is indicative of some kind of trend. Specifically, it me...
No Rights at Work in Michigan (06 Dec 2012 07:18pm)
I'm thinking of starting a weekly rundown of the best writing I find online, because a lot of it doesn't get mentioned here because I have nothing to add. That is very much true of John Nichols at The Nation who manages to write brilliantly on the local and national level. This evening, he wrote an ...
A Tale of Two Votes (06 Dec 2012 09:23am)
Steve Kornacki provides us with a tale of two votes, What the Republican Party Has Become. In 1990, the Senate voted to approve the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and yesterday, it voted to approve a nonbinding United Nations treaty to encourage other countries to pass their own version of th...
Republicans Still Aren't Changing (06 Dec 2012 12:14am)
Yesterday afternoon, E. J. Dionne wrote, The Conservative Learning Curve. He claims that all the talk about the middle class from the likes of Marco Rubio and Paul Ryan is an indication that the Republicans are taking their first baby steps toward changing their party. This is the kind of wishful th...
Rand Paul Doesn't Know His State (05 Dec 2012 10:01pm)
James Carter made a marvelous catch today. Rand Paul was interviewed on WMAL-AM, out of Washington DC. And he got to bitching about what's on everyone's mind: Ashley Judd. She's kind of like the modern Al Franken; everyone wants to know how events of the day will affect her, Ashley Judd. Thinking of...
The Bluing of Alaska (05 Dec 2012 09:01pm)
Bill Maher has more followers on Twitter than anyone else I follow. Guess who has the second most? Nate Silver. I know what you're thinking, "The election is over; who cares about Nate Silver?" Everyone who ever cared as far as I know. Plus a few odd people like Dick Morris and Karl Rove. And the r...
Same Ol' Rubio Plus "Middle Class" (05 Dec 2012 05:52pm)
David Weigel posted an article on Slate earlier today, Marco Rubio Mentions the Middle Class 35 Times in One Speech. But that's not really what it's about. But it does get to the heart of the matter. You see, Rubio mentioned the middle class, but never really engaged with the concept. As I've noted...
The Bipartisan Crowd (05 Dec 2012 10:20am)
This morning, Jonathan Chait published an article, Obama's Refusal to Deal Paving Way for a Deal. It starts, "Most of the news coverage of the 'fiscal cliff' has come from the perspective of soothing bipartisan centrism, a point of view dramatized most explicitly by CNBC's hysterical countdown to Ja...
Night of the Simpson-Bowles (04 Dec 2012 02:43pm)
I don't mean to scare you, but I found out some stuff this morning. Man! I don't even want to tell you guys. It's just so horrible. Ezra Klein writes, 11 Shocking, True Facts About Simpson-Bowles. See your home interest deduction vanish! Feel capital gains cuts taxed as income! Scream at defense bu...
The Price of Inequality (04 Dec 2012 01:14pm)
Joseph Stiglitz's new book The Price of Inequality is a great book. Unlike the books of Paul Krugman, which are also very good, Stiglitz goes into much depth. In fact, the book is kind of like taking a short course on what has been going on in our economy. It is as good as Winner-Take-All Politics, ...
Protection When You Least Expect It (04 Dec 2012 12:10pm)
This sign that has been posted all over New York City, reads "NYPD Drones: Protection When You Least Expect It." It is an excellent example of urban art which makes a difference. And thus, it has to be stopped! The NYPD held a weeks long manhunt for the artist. They finally arrested Essam Attia a...
Screw Rich a Little, Poor a Lot (04 Dec 2012 10:33am)
I try not to read David Brooks, but last night, Matt Yglesias tricked me into reading him with this tweet: I don't understand what David Brooks is proposing here or why:nytimes.com/2012/12/04/opi…— Matt Yglesias (@mattyglesias) December 4, 2012 So I went ahead and read The Truly Grand Bargain...
Business and Public Politics (04 Dec 2012 09:28am)
Matt Yglesias sent us to a YouGov BrandIndex article by Ted Marzilli, Anti-Obamacare rhetoric and restaurant Buzz. It provides data for what I've always said: it is a big mistake to bring your politics into your business—especially when your business isn't a necessity, like dining out at low q...
Gay Republicans (03 Dec 2012 09:29pm)
There aren't a lot of openly gay Republicans, but there are some. This is not as surprising as it may seem. David Brock in his book Blinded By the Right talks about what it is to be gay inside movement conservatism: they accept it silently. At least they do until you stray from the fold and then the...
Clown of New York Takes a Fall (03 Dec 2012 08:11pm)
Prachi Gupta reports today in Salon, Scottish farmer trumps Trump. It tells the story of Michael Forbes, a salmon fisherman in Scotland who stood up to Donald Trump and his project to build the "world's greatest golf course" and amenities costing more than a billion dollars on over a thousand acres ...
Robert Reich Explains Fiscal Cliff (03 Dec 2012 01:42pm)
Robert Reich has made another of his ticking clock videos where he explains something complicated in a short period of time. This time it is the fiscal cliff in two minutes 30 seconds: ...
Republicans Are Dicks Even Without Power (03 Dec 2012 12:01pm)
Peter Baker wrote a good article for the New York Times yesterday, Criticized as Weak in Past Talks, Obama Takes Harder Line. It is very evenhanded, of course, but just in reporting the facts, it makes the Republicans look very bad. The Republicans claim, for example, that they have changed: they ...
When is 75 > 250? (03 Dec 2012 09:35am)
Dean Baker noted something in a post late last night. He was talking about the latest Robert Samuelson column over at the Washington Post, Who's Not Bargaining in Good Faith? Baker does this at least once a week. It seems that Samuelson can hardly open his mouth without making him apoplectic. And wi...
Bruce Bartlett Walks Like a Duck (02 Dec 2012 08:55pm)
After Bruce Bartlett's amazing performance on Up with Chris Hayes today, it is hard to complain much about him. Just the same, I found much to dislike in his The American Conservative article, Revenge of the Reality-Based Community. The biggest problem is that Bartlett spends half the article justi...
A Speculation Tax to Ignore (02 Dec 2012 08:03pm)
Ralph Nader has written a very good OpEd in the Washington Post on taxing stock trades. I fully expect that Dean Baker will write about this tomorrow, because this is one of his big issues. But I thought Nader laid out the case very well. The basic idea is that the government would levy a 0.5% tax o...
Bradley Manning's Crime (02 Dec 2012 07:30pm)
There are things that make me so angry that I tend to not even write about them. I suspect that some readers will find this amusing, because I seem to be angry much of the time. And that's true, so what I just said should be given the proper amount of weight. One of those things is the pretend Bengh...
Smart Ignorant Conservative (02 Dec 2012 05:40pm)
Something really interesting happened this morning on Up With Chris Hayes. One of the guests was Veronique de Rugy, who was repeatedly referred to as a researcher at George Mason University, but who seems more correctly called an adjunct scholar at the CATO Institute. She is clearly a smart woman&md...
Dean Baker Paints a Picture (02 Dec 2012 12:46pm)
Dean Baker, like any great thinker, has certain ideas that he pushes. (More on that later today.) One of those ideas is that an aging population is not bad for retirement programs. The common refrain from people, who are not nearly as smart and knowledgeable as Baker, is that fewer workers for each ...
John Brown Was Right (02 Dec 2012 10:18am)
One hundred and fifty-three years ago they hanged John Brown in Charles Town, Virginia. On that morning before his execution, he wrote, "I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land will never be purged away but with blood. I had, as I now think, vainly flattered myself th...
Filibuster Reform (02 Dec 2012 12:31am)
There was a good discussion of filibuster reform on Up with Chris Hayes. But some of it was confusing. There were two pro-filibuster guests on the panel. Richard Arenberg and Alan Frumin who both argued energetically for the filibuster. But I found their arguments strangely uncompelling. I was expec...
Thomas Jefferson's Entitlement (01 Dec 2012 08:40pm)
Paul Finkelman has written a most striking OpEd in the New York Times about that great writer of God given liberty, Thomas Jefferson. The title of the article will give you some idea: The Monster of Monticello. I have to admit, I have tended to give Jefferson the benefit of the doubt over the years....
Socialism? Yes! (01 Dec 2012 07:55pm)
John Nichols discusses some shocking results from the latest Gallup Poll on economic and ideological terms. Almost one-quarter of all Republicans have a favorable opinion of the word "socialism." It has been well know that for a while, the "S" word had lost its scare power. But in the last two years...
Media Push Conservative Ideas (01 Dec 2012 06:36pm)
There is a question that is always floating around the minds of liberals: why don't perfectly respectable progressive policy ideas get any media attention while wacky conservative ideas get promoted like journalists are being paid by marketing companies? Earlier today, Paul Krugman posted a really g...
Old Republican Ed Rendell (01 Dec 2012 11:25am)
Ed Rendell is the prototypical New Democrat. Or as I like to think of him: an Old Republican. He is a good example of what I'm talking about when I say that any Republican of 40 years ago who really believed in what his party stood for would now be a Democrat. Any person still a Republican is either...
War on Christmas Garbage (01 Dec 2012 09:54am)
I'm a big fan of Liberal Viewer (see the link on the sidebar below). Still, I don't think he has ever created as good a video as he did yesterday on Fox News' coverage of the "War on Christmas." Check it out: ...
Andrew Sullivan Doesn't Like Obama Any More (01 Dec 2012 08:35am)
You may remember Andrew Sullivan. He is a conservative Obama supporter. And after the first presidential debate, Sullivan had a very public freak out. That was understandable, a lot of liberals were similarly concerned, although he was much more ridiculous than most. Now that Sullivan has got the p...
Vague Republican Promise are Worse Than Vague (30 Nov 2012 07:25pm)
This morning Ezra Klein wrote, The Reality of Tax Reform: Less Charity, Smaller Homes, Higher State Taxes. It gets to the heart of politics, but most especially Republican politics. It's all about vagueness of proposals. The reason I associate it with Republicans is that their policy prescriptions ...
Reasonable Republicans = New Democrat (30 Nov 2012 11:27am)
Richard Barry over at The Reaction writes, How the Republican Party Could Save Itself. In it, he discusses a Time magazine article by Mike Murphy, Can This Party Be Saved? Barry, like most liberals, holds out some hope that we might some day get a reasonable opposition party. And Murphy's idea does ...
Republican Foolishness on Negotiations (29 Nov 2012 10:38pm)
I tend to think that Republicans are more evil than stupid. But sometimes I wonder. Take today: Republican operatives have leaked Obama's initial offer to deal with the "austerity bomb" (which is a much more accurate term than "fiscal cliff"). That's fine, but their reason for doing it is foolish. T...
Cliches for David Petraeus (29 Nov 2012 07:29pm)
For much of the media, the David Petraeus story never gets old. In fact, it seems that some of them are still hoping that they can convince the country that he has been unfairly victimized. There have even been calls to put him back in charge of the CIA. You see: he's blackmail proof. (Did you know ...
Why Conservatives Accept Discredited Ideas (29 Nov 2012 01:10pm)
Paul Krugman wrote a blog post this morning, Varieties of Error. In it, he highlights two kinds of predictive failures: those that indicate the fundamental thinking (or "model") is wrong and those that just show that predictions are predictions. Think of football, for example. The Texans is a much b...
Present "Fixes" for Future Problems (29 Nov 2012 12:16pm)
I first really took notice of Robert Reich many years ago when he said he was no longer for a balanced federal budget. He had been Labor Secretary under President Clinton, and he had seen how it was to work with Republicans. The way he saw it (I think this was in 2003), what was the point of Democra...
Global Thinker Paul Ryan (29 Nov 2012 11:15am)
Alec MacGillis at The New Republic has now written about, Paul Ryan, Global Thinker? In the article, he alerts us to a new list from Foreign Policy, 100 Top Global Thinkers. Such exercises are always stupid. Earlier this year, I wrote about The Rolling Stone 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time, Path...
Metaphorical Fellatio (28 Nov 2012 08:16pm)
Matt Taibbi took one for the team; he read All In, Paula Broadwell's biography of General Petraeus. He referred to the book as "slobberific"—a new word worth repeating. The point of his article—One Interesting Thing About Paula Broadwell's Petraeus Biography—is that it is perfectl...
Warren Buffett Still an Asshole (28 Nov 2012 05:37pm)
We have very low expectations of the rich. If they aren't complete assholes, we heap praise on them like they were curing lepers in Calcutta. Take Warren Buffett, for instance. Liberals just love him because he thinks maybe he shouldn't pay less income tax on his billions than his secretary pays. Ho...
Old Ideas from Young Republicans (28 Nov 2012 03:30pm)
Last night on Colbert Report, there was Reihan Salam explaining how the Republicans are going to win the hearts of the working class. And he had the book he wrote with Ross Douthat, Grand New Party: How Republicans Can Win the Working Class and Save the American Dream. Ah yes, the Grand New Party. T...
Why Republicans Hate Filibuster Reform (28 Nov 2012 11:36am)
For a long time, my position on the filibuster is that we should do it to them before they do it to us. The main liberal argument against filibuster reform is that at some point (likely soon) the Democrats will be in the minority and thus will rue the day when they limited the use of it. This is typ...
House Committee Chairmen (27 Nov 2012 09:03pm)
This is via The Rachel Maddow Show: the very white male House Republican leadership. ...
Protecting the "Simply" Rich (27 Nov 2012 11:00am)
This morning Paul Krugman posted an article, The Stiffs and the Players. This is a reference to a speech by Gordon Gekko in Wall Street. In it, he explains to Bud what they are working for. He says that Bud doesn't want to be some Well Street working stiff making $400,000 per year and flying first c...
It's the Turnout, Stupid (26 Nov 2012 09:37pm)
Tonight on The Last Word, Lawrence O'Donnell made the case that the reason that Obama won the election was that he was an outstanding candidate. Karen Finney and David Corn backed him up. I like all of these pundits, but they are wrong. Obama was certainly a very good candidate. But it's the turnout...
Picturing Reed Richardson (26 Nov 2012 07:37pm)
I think of myself as kind of public nuance rather than a stalker. And no one really seems to care. For example, Brad DeLong continues to ignore my helpful suggestion on cleaning up his very ugly blog. And Corey Robin (who is more than willing to correspond with me about history and politics) is sile...
Thomas Ricks Blasts Fox News (26 Nov 2012 06:43pm)
This is amazing. I can't say that I blame them, but Fox News quickly got rid of Thomas Ricks after he blasted the network over its Benghazi coverage. Jon Scott interviewed Ricks. He is what Fox News claims is a "straight news reporters." I've always felt that these were the most dangerous people on ...
More Attacks on Obamacare (26 Nov 2012 10:01am)
The fucktards at Liberty University are trying another attack on the ACA (Obamacare). Actually, this is an old case, but it is now going forward. The college has two problems with the healthcare reform law: employer mandate and birth control coverage. This is a scattershot approach to destroying leg...
Ross Douthat Wants a Fight (25 Nov 2012 08:41pm)
You all know how much I admire reasonable Republicans. Or at least, you know how much I would admire them if they existed. For the record: any Republican who is reasonable has already become a Democrat. The people like David Frum are not reasonable. This is very simple, people! "Not crazy" does not ...
Fake Skills Gap (25 Nov 2012 09:06am)
A couple of weeks ago, my father asked me about a 60 Minutes segment in which some manufacturing executive complained that he couldn't find skilled workers who knew trigonometry. My father didn't know exactly what trigonometry was, but it seemed like some advanced math. So he was confused why a job ...
Progressive Ideas Get Media Coverage (24 Nov 2012 11:12am)
The House Progressive Caucus has long had a lot of good ideas. But in general, they get little coverage. For example, while all the media were going gaga over Paul Ryan's budget, the Progressive Caucus released the People's Budget, which was ignored except when it was used to ridicule its name. Wher...
Real Entrepreneurs Don't Fear Inflation (23 Nov 2012 07:50pm)
Earlier this week, Suzy Khimm (the only member of the WonkBlog staff to respond to my request for a WonkBlog twitter account) wrote, The Inconvenient Truth Facing Deficit Hawks. In it, she noted that for all of the squawking of the deficit hawks—"Any day now, bond interest rates will skyrocket...
Bill O'Reilly Is Not a Racist (23 Nov 2012 06:04pm)
On Monday, Bill O'Reilly went after some of the people who complained that his comments on the changing demographics of the country were racist. I don't actually think that Bill O'Reilly is a racist. He's just a dick—to everyone. He is an angry and hateful man who seems to be very sure that, a...
President Pardons Turkeys Not Humans (22 Nov 2012 08:10am)
I am very fond of turkeys. They are nice animals. So I'm glad that President Obama pardoned not one but two turkeys yesterday. But this reminds a bit too much of Charlie Costello in Seven Psychopaths—the guy who will kill another human without a thought, but who dearly loves his Shih Tzu. As ...
Charlie Brown Get Pilgrims All Wrong (21 Nov 2012 09:47pm)
With Thanksgiving comes not one, but two Charlie Brown specials. As I was cooking in preparation for tomorrow's thang, I watched them—mostly. The first one was the traditional A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. This is an interesting film because Lucy is not in it. As a result, it seems that Charli...
Words Have Consequences (21 Nov 2012 11:19am)
I don't know that much about Lincoln. But I do know a fair amount about his assassin. This is primarily because he was the brother of the great Shakespearean actor Edmund Booth. And knowing what I know, the flaming rhetoric of people like Ted Nugent concerns me greatly. Most people pass off the rig...
Ezra Klein Is EXACTLY Right About Retirement (20 Nov 2012 10:31pm)
Ezra Klein says pretty much exactly what I think and generally say here all the time. Watch it! ...
Unskewed Polls Reinvented (20 Nov 2012 09:14pm)
Nate Silver tweeted this morning that we should not give Dean Chambers of Unskewed Polls any of the attention he so clearly craves. But this is like crack—it's hard to resist. Chambers has started a new website, Barack O'Fraudo. On it, he offers up the following graph (thanks for Digby): Thi...
Republicans Waiting for Superman (20 Nov 2012 07:05pm)
Look! Out in the right wing echo chamber! It's a tax cut proposal?! It's a birth control ban?! No! It's another appeal to conservatives to seem reasonable without changing a God damned thing! Yes, the "let's all speak nicely about Latinos": argument from a fantasy land far away, come to reality hop...
John Metz: Idiot and Fucktard (20 Nov 2012 05:21pm)
Matt Yglesias has been writing a bit about about these business owners who are whining that the ACA (Obamacare) is just going to destroy their businesses. In particular, he highlighted John Metz, owner of more than 30 Denny's restaurant franchises, he said he was going to add a 5% "Obamacare surchar...
Topless Car Wash Crack Down (20 Nov 2012 12:25pm)
Derrick Belcher claims to be a libertarian. If I could, I would get rid of the word "libertarian" because it is just a meaningless word that conservatives use. Sure, there are libertarians who hate the Republican Party as much or more than they hate the Democratic Party. But such people are very rar...
Rubio's Young Earth Fantasies (19 Nov 2012 08:30pm)
Marco Rubio has made a bit of a stir with comments about his young earth belief. It isn't so much the beliefs; they are standard fair in the conservative movement. What is most appalling is his relativistic statement in support of these beliefs, "At the end of the day, I think there are multiple the...
Treating Workers Better Costs a Bit (19 Nov 2012 02:00pm)
Ezra Klein tells us that we shouldn't laugh when John Schnatter of Papa John's Pizza tells us that the ACA will cause pizza prices go up by between 11 and 14 cents. It's nice to have such understanding people like Klein around. And the argument he makes isn't bad, "The Affordable Care Act isn't help...
Grow the Social Safety Net (19 Nov 2012 12:16pm)
We need a bigger social safety net. Yesterday, Paul Krugman pointed this out by noting our modern economy where everyone is just supposed to get used to the fact that you will have a new job every three years and that insecurity is now normal so get over it. This kind of dynamism requires some kind ...
Republican Moderates Not So Moderate (19 Nov 2012 10:55am)
There was an amusing bit on Real Time last Friday. The panel was talking about Romney's recent conference call and how the adults in the Republican Party needed to take control. Maher said that one way they could do that was to stop all this nonsense about Benghazi. Given that Real Time is at base a...
A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Copyright Reform (18 Nov 2012 03:38pm)
Behold: the principled conservatives! Behold how they stand up to powerful interests in the name of free markets and free minds! Behold how they fold like a cheap card table the moment those powerful interests open their mouths! The House Republican Study Committee released a report on Friday calli...
Income Inequality Declining in Latin America (18 Nov 2012 07:50am)
The Young Turks reports that the leftist economies of Latin America are growing: ...
Michael Hastings Ruining Journalism... Again (17 Nov 2012 08:59pm)
I really like Michael Hastings. Like most people, I learned about him when he published his explosive The Runaway General in Rolling Stone. I didn't give the article itself that much thought. A reporter had a good scoop. It was the reaction to the article that made me take notice of him. It seemed y...
Jonah Goldberg Calls for More Lying (17 Nov 2012 06:52pm)
Jonah Goldberg has written the kind of article that liberals just love, Compassionate Conservatism Redux. In it, he admits that this election has taught him a valuable lesson: as much as he and the other evil men at National Review may love their "Give me low tax rates and give them death" ideology,...
Jerry Nadler Pushes Tired Gaza Narrative (17 Nov 2012 05:22pm)
Jerry Nadler was on Up with Chris Hayes where he got to spout the official United States line regarding Israel: Here's the critical part: We were reminded of one thing that we knew, which is the utter hypocrisy of the UN and the non-aligned movement when it comes to Israel and the Middle East tha...
Tex Reform: One Good, One Bad (16 Nov 2012 08:38pm)
Today, the WonkBlog staff went full tilt against the crazies on the right. First, our favorite nerd Ezra Klein took on crazies in Congress who claim that "tax reform" will solve all our problems. It's sad that we even have to talk about this—that Klein even has to write an article. Their claim...
A Toast to Twinkies (16 Nov 2012 07:58pm)
I know what you're thinking, "What's the point of reading another blog post when soon there will be no more Twinkies and we will all starve?" I hear you. But I have good news! It is very possible that Twinkies will live on, coming out the same factories, albeit, under a different name. And maybe for...
Mitt Romney's No George Foreman (16 Nov 2012 11:34am)
If you are as old as I, then you remember The Rumble in the Jungle. This was a boxing match between Muhammad Ali and George Foreman, the heavyweight champion at that time. This is documented in the excellent film, When We Were Kings. It is an amazing story. Ali was an aging boxer who was neither as ...
Bipartisan Consensus Can Bite Me (16 Nov 2012 10:13am)
On last night's The Daily Show, Al Madrigal talked to Third Way, the folks who want to stop partisan gridlock. This brought to mind something that has especially been bugging me this last month and a half of election coverage: the fetishization of bipartisanship. I hear it from liberals and conserva...
Don't Trust Elliott Abrams on Israel (15 Nov 2012 10:20pm)
I understand that it must suck to be Israel. That's a hell of a place to be Jewish. Of course, at this point, I think at least a large part of the area's hatred of Israel comes from the country being an asshole and a bully. But that's understandable. If I lived there, I'd have to be properly medicat...
When Helping the Poor Is Bad (15 Nov 2012 09:30pm)
Ezra Klein was a bit agitated this morning. He is none too pleased with Mitt Romney's recent conference call where he blamed his electoral loss on all the free stuff that Obama gave to his supporters. There is the whole sour grapes aspect of this, of course. I mean, does Romney really think that he...
Age Discrimination and Social Security (15 Nov 2012 01:11pm)
Aaron Carroll, our go to man for healthcare reform and chewing gum swallowing, has written an article over at The Incidental Economist, Zombie Life Expectancy Arguments. In it, he provides five charts that show that it is wrong to say that we should raise the retirement age because people are living...
Ireland's Medieval Abortion Laws (15 Nov 2012 11:51am)
"Another heavenly day." That's the first thing that Winnie says in Happy Days, one of Samuel Beckett's most disturbing plays. Every day is heavenly in Ireland, because they are a Roman Catholic country. And as such, abortion is illegal in that God fearing country. You know what really makes for a h...
Stay Put John Kerry (14 Nov 2012 09:54pm)
There is always a lot more that I want to write about than I have time for. For the last day or two, I've been wanting to write about this rumor that Obama is going to appoint John Kerry as Secretary of Defense. If this is true, I am really worried about President Obama. It seemed that after the deb...
Romney Really Thinks What We Thought (14 Nov 2012 05:46pm)
Jonathan Chait discovers the real Mitt Romney. And guess what?! It's exactly what we thought: "The real Romney is indeed a sneering plutocrat." This comes from an article in the Los Angeles Times by Maeve Reston, Romney Reflects on His Loss in Call With Campaign Donors. The article is about a confe...
Inequality: the Monopoly Analogy (14 Nov 2012 03:12pm)
Regular reader and sometimes writer Mack brought my attention to a PBS documentary, Independent Lens Park Avenue: Money, Power & the American Dream. It is about the two ends of Park Avenue: the part in the Upper West Side and the part in Harlem. It is a way of looking at income inequality in a ...
Thomas Friedman's New Syria Metaphor (14 Nov 2012 10:54am)
Yesterday, paste eating pundit Thomas Friedman told us that the Middle East is about to explode. In fact, he claims that Obama could be facing all the Middle East conflicts suffered by presidents from Eisenhower on. "Does that mean Egypt is going to nationalize the Suez Canal?" you ask. Don't take F...
Pay Your Damn Taxes (13 Nov 2012 08:39pm)
Foreign Policy is a pretty serious magazine. But when Texas last talked about secession, Annie Lowrey at the magazine took notice and had a good laugh about it. At that time, Rick Perry was publicly calling for secession—something she called, "A piece of asinine political rhetoric." But she di...
Southern Whites Want Inequality (13 Nov 2012 07:24pm)
Paul Krugman posted an article today, Identity Voters. In it, he discusses a Pew research poll that showed that five demographic groups did not vote as their incomes would indicate. Those groups were: Black, Hispanic, Jewish, Asian, and Southern Whites. As you have probably already guessed, the fir...
100% Romney Nope (13 Nov 2012 10:34am)
Philadelphia is an interesting place. It is cut up into 1,687 voting divisions. Of these, 59 voted 100% for President Obama. That's right: in 59 divisions, Mitt Romney did not get a single vote. This is the kind of information that makes even the staunchest Democratic partisan suspicious. Not one vo...
Laugh and Crying with Victoria Jackson (13 Nov 2012 09:42am)
There is something in the water over at SNL and it ain't LSD. Or maybe it is. That would kind of explain the likes of Dennis Miller, Jon Lovitz, and especially Victoria Jackson. On election night, she had a bigger meltdown than most conservatives, claiming that she couldn't stop crying. And for good...
David Brooks Compromise Lie (12 Nov 2012 10:04pm)
I thought I was done for the night, but I made the great mistake of reading David Brooks repugnant column, Obama the Dealmaker. In it, he says that Obama shouldn't use his leverage against the Republicans. Why? Because that will cause them to not make deals later on in Obama's second term. At best,...
Stop Celebrating! (12 Nov 2012 08:23pm)
I think that liberals are being a bit optimistic about the future. It is still very likely that the Republicans will kick our asses in 2014. They will keep the House and take over the Senate. To me, the most important thing for us to do is work on increasing voter registration and getting all regist...
PolitiFact's Tweet Patrol (12 Nov 2012 07:30pm)
This is a good example of a fact check from PolitiFact: "Michael Moore [s]ays during George W. Bush’s administration 'we were losing millions of jobs per month,' while under Barack Obama we have 'three years of gaining hundreds of thousands of jobs per month.'" Their verdict, "False: Tweet, later c...
The Pandering Wars (12 Nov 2012 07:04pm)
Jonathan Cohn wrote an excellent, punchy article today on the conservative meme that says that Obama won re-election because he promised "free stuff" to all those lowdown no goodnicks, Stuff White People Like. Forget all of the racism, Cohn says. The conservatives just aren't making any sense. (Ima...
It's a Mad Mad Mad Mad Libertarianism (12 Nov 2012 03:49pm)
After the election, libertarian Republican Eric Dondero got really mad. He has severed ties with all Democrats—apparently just because his party lost the election. This doesn't make a lot of sense. If three million more people had voted for Romney, he'd be fine with the 100 million plus Democr...
Rich Kids for the Rich (12 Nov 2012 02:34pm)
Over on (I don't know) Matt Yglesias' corner of ThinkProgress a couple years ago, Ryan McNeely wrote a really good article, Will The Debt Commission Listen to Young Americans Who Didn’t Go to Phillips Academy? It is about the group Concerned Youth of America who seem to now be called The Can Kicks B...
Ideology is Biggest Republican Problem (12 Nov 2012 09:06am)
Kevin Drum has written another of those "Republicans need to be nice" articles over at Mother Jones, The GOP's Immigration Problem Goes Way Beyond Immigration. He specifically discusses the small amount of movement from conservatives on immigration. Drum doesn't mention this, but it is amusing that ...
Don't Balance the Budget That Way (11 Nov 2012 10:42am)
This morning, Paul Krugman has an article, Squirming Hawks, about a Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget report fear trolling over the upcoming fiscal cliff. The problem with people like this is that for years they've been claiming that the federal debt burden is going to destroy our economy, ...
Look Who Didn't Vote for Romney (10 Nov 2012 08:04pm)
Tom Scocca over at Slate created the graph below in an article, Eighty-Eight Percent of Romney Voters Were White. It is a shocking collection of data. Of course, it goes along with my argument that the minority issue the Republicans have is much bigger than toning down the rhetoric. Another interes...
Poor Minorities Must Wait to Vote (10 Nov 2012 05:33pm)
The following graph comes from Up With Chris Hayes of data from the AFL-CIO. Part of this is just that America is a racist country. But another big part of this is the result of Republican efforts to stop Democratic leaning voters. It is disgusting. ...
It's the Poor, Stupid (10 Nov 2012 01:01pm)
I just read Andrew Gelman's excellent Red State Blue State Rich State Poor State. You have to like statistics, because it's kind of a dry read. But the data! I can boil down the information in the book in one surprising sentence, "Rich vote Republican, poor vote Democrat, and this divide is most ext...
Secession Delusions (10 Nov 2012 09:14am)
Over the years, I have seen the leaders of many regions call for separating themselves from the mother country. But this is always rich regions wanting to take their money and run. For a while Scotland wanted to leave the United Kingdom because they liked all their oil money, thank you very much. Tr...
American Hero Gives Andrea Mitchell the Vapors (09 Nov 2012 07:14pm)
You have to forgive her, I think. After all, she is married to Alan Greenspan. But Andrea Mitchell is getting the vapors over General David Petraeus. Rachel Maddow asked if she was sure that the affair was the real reason he resigned from the CIA. She was! David Petraeus?! Why he's an American hero!...
Conservatives Fear "Fiscal Cliff" (09 Nov 2012 10:08am)
You remember how I've spent much of the last year ranting about how unserious Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan are about dealing with the budget deficit? My main argument: you don't start a discussion of the budget deficit by making it worse. Tax cuts may be a great idea, but that's a different issue. You ...
Increasing Poor Bodes Poorly for Republicans (08 Nov 2012 08:02pm)
Matt Taibbi has been writing some strange things recently. On election day, he wrote that it was going to be bad regardless of who won. Later that night he admitted that the evening was actually pretty good. Like a lot of us progressives, I think it was just nerves. He wanted to reassure himself tha...
MSNBC Winning Battles, Losing War (08 Nov 2012 11:53am)
It bothers me that supposed liberals don't see how they assure long term defeat by accepting the conservative framing of issues. The Republicans, by moving very far to the right, still get conservative policies even when Democrats win. The ACA—Obama's signature healthcare reform—is far m...
Letter to CA Re: Legal Murder (07 Nov 2012 05:23pm)
Okay California, you get to keep your fucking death penalty. The repeal proposition failed with 46% of the vote. I just want to say for the record that you people disgust me. Let me describe a conversation I recently had. It explains how you think—in as much as you do think. I asked a friend ...
Don't Mess With the Nerds (07 Nov 2012 08:54am)
Monday evening, Nate Silver released his final predictions for the presidential race. The most remarkable aspect of the prediction was that Florida, which two weeks earlier had been solidly in Romney's favor, slipped into a slight lean towards Obama. How slight? Silver predicted that Obama would win...
Tea Party Helped Liberals (06 Nov 2012 02:09pm)
Ezra Klein notes the irony of the Tea Party. They have helped the Democratic agenda in three ways. First, they pushed Arlen Specter into the Democratic Party. And even though he was voted out of office soon after that, he was a Democrat long enough to stop the filibuster on the ACA. We would not ha...
The Case for Obama (06 Nov 2012 12:17pm)
While voting, I went ahead and voted for Obama. I think the popular vote is important even though it probably wouldn't mean a thing to Republicans in the event of an Obama win. Cenk Uygur lays out the case. It is interesting that we agree on Rocky Anderson; I didn't know that. ...
Machine Gives Obama Vote to Romney (06 Nov 2012 10:57am)
Oh please! Don't let this happen. There is no excuse for this. These machines should be error proof. This is what you get when you let the miracle that is private enterprise profit (directly and perhaps indirectly) from elections. This is disgusting: ...
Why the Electoral College Will Continue to Suck (06 Nov 2012 10:45am)
The wonderful C. G. P. Grey has made a lot of great videos, but today it seems important to revisit The Trouble with the Electoral College. In this video, he shows that it is possible to win the electoral college vote by winning only 22% of the popular vote. Clearly, this is unlikely to happen. But ...
My Votes (05 Nov 2012 09:11pm)
I could easily write another 5 articles tonight, but I figure I've already written a good deal too much. But before going to bed, I wanted to list how I'm most likely going to vote tomorrow. President: Jill Stein (But I still support President Obama for re-election and I may vote for him in the end...
Pundits Always Say Race is Tightening (05 Nov 2012 05:26pm)
I just read the following campaign intel from James Pethokoukis, "I just talked to one of my best Team Romney sources who told me that heading into today all the key battleground polls were moving hard and fast in their direction. The source, hardly a perma-optimist, thinks it will be a long night, ...
Yglesias' Romney Stimulus Articles (05 Nov 2012 12:35pm)
Back on Friday, Matt Yglesias wrote that Mitt Romney will probably be better for the economy in the short term than Obama will be. This is really not an outrageous statement. This is pretty much what I think. Republicans always campaign about getting rid of the deficit, but once in power, they spend...
House Reps Threaten to Not Work With Obama (05 Nov 2012 11:19am)
House Republicans have called the presidential race: Obama is re-elected! I know this because Politico is reporting that Republicans are already complaining about forcing rich people to pay a little more in taxes, House GOP Warns Obama to Think Twice on Tax Hikes. But that title makes it sound like...
Proposition 37 (05 Nov 2012 09:08am)
Proposition 37 in California is the Mandatory Labeling of Genetically Engineered Food law that would require that genetically modified (GMO) food be labeled as such. In general, I don't think that GMO foods are that big a deal. But they could be and I don't think that the science is all in on this. ...
Steve Schmidt Another Republican Lackey (04 Nov 2012 10:39pm)
I just saw Steve Schmidt on The Rachel Maddow Show. They were talking about the internals of the campaign. Mostly, I thought it was a lot of nonsense. Schmidt claims to know a lot of things that I don't think he does. But I can give him the benefit of the doubt. Then they discussed the polls. Schmi...
Still Indications of Intrade Gaming (04 Nov 2012 09:20pm)
About two weeks ago, I wrote about how it seemed that Intrade was being gamed by Republicans. The Intrade Exchange Operations Manager, Carl Wolfenden, commented that I was wrong about a particular trade that had looked fishy. It turned out to be a statistical fluke that worked itself out. Still, I h...
Obama Calls for Reparations (04 Nov 2012 09:01pm)
According to the ONION, President Obama has made a major announcement, This May Not Be The Ideal Moment Politically, But It’s Time To Talk Reparations. It's a funny OpEd. The President does not bring the issue up lightly, but he isn't going to lie, either: Now, Americans have grown accustomed to h...
White Guy Reporters Claim White Guy America (04 Nov 2012 11:14am)
This is shocking. But maybe it shouldn't be. Politico is a pathetic publication. Digby (who either reads 3000 words per minute or has some kind of magical power) directed me to Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen's new article, Lessons learned from 2012. Not everything they have to say is wrong, much less ...
Chicago Bubble Economics (03 Nov 2012 10:18pm)
Casey Mulligan has a new book out, The Redistribution Recession: How Labor Market Distortions Contracted the Economy. It is another attempt by a "Chicago Bubble" economist to explain that we shouldn't pay attention to any of the economic data about this recession. You see, Mulligan has a model so pe...
More Thomas Friedman Bullshit (03 Nov 2012 06:59pm)
I know that Thomas Friedman doesn't exist just to piss me off, because he pisses a lot of other people off too. But at the moment, I'm feeling persecuted, because I was tricked into reading his most recent column. It is all Matt Yglesias' fault. He tweeted, "Everyone is going to hate this Tom Friedm...
That Special First Time (03 Nov 2012 05:30pm)
I think everyone would agree with this young woman that the first time should be with someone special: ...
David Frum: Reward Misbehavior (03 Nov 2012 12:59pm)
"When President Obama took office in January 2009 the US was plunging downward into the worst recession since World War II. By summer 2009, the US had begun a weak but real recovery, which at last seems to be accelerating into an expansion that more and more Americans can feel. "President Obama gav...
It's No Toss-Up! (03 Nov 2012 11:36am)
Nate Silver is not the kind of man to make brash statements. He doesn't even defend himself when people dismiss his work because he is "thin" and "effeminate." But there is one thing that seems to bug him: people saying that the presidential race is a toss-up. Don't misunderstand. He isn't saying t...
A Bridge Over Troubled Water: Senator Sam (03 Nov 2012 11:20am)
Senator Sam Ervin was an interesting guy. There are things to like. He was against prayer in school. He opposed "no knock" searches. And he was instrumental in taking down Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon. He is now something of a liberal hero because he was a big defender of Jim Crow during the 50...
Christie Wanted to be VP (03 Nov 2012 09:34am)
Maybe the reason I like economics and statistics (polling, modeling—my almost hysterical love of Monte Carlo simulations) is that I am, at base, an extremely naive person. This was well on display this morning when Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei at Politico reported that Chris Christie really did...
Romnopoly (03 Nov 2012 08:02am)
American Bridge has created the following anti-Romney ad, "Romnopoly." As a political ad, it is as honest as any, and by the standards of the Romney campaign, it is a shining beacon of light. There are two things I really like about the ad. First, it has the Monopoly dog riding on top of the car (bu...
Media Allow Presidential Misconduct (02 Nov 2012 10:12pm)
We all like President Obama, because he is, after all, as good a president as we could get. But he isn't as good a president as we deserve. And I say that knowing full well that as a society, we don't deserve very much. By industrial nation norms, we are distinctly on the bad side of average. But yo...
Comments on Ohio Romney Rally (02 Nov 2012 09:20pm)
Chase Whiteside of New Left Media is an amazing young documentary filmmaker. I came upon the video below over at Hullabaloo: Ohio Romney Rally—Interviews with Supporters. It is just amazing. I know there are ignorant fools of all political stripes. But Whiteside is hardly asking "gotcha" quest...
Friday Night Nate Silver Update (02 Nov 2012 07:51pm)
Tonight, Nate Silver's model has again increased President Obama's chances to winning the electoral college to 81.4%. He predicts that he will also win the popular vote 50.5% to 48.4%. Perhaps most striking, he predicts that Obama has roughly a 38% chance of winning 332 electoral votes or more. A wi...
Romney Could Take New York (02 Nov 2012 10:25am)
As everyone knows, this election will all come down to the independent voter. So I decided to do a poll of the most independent voters in New York. Well, the most independent vote: Donald Trump. We know he's independent because sometimes he's a Republican, sometimes a third party candidate, and even...
Conservative Affirmative Action (02 Nov 2012 08:57am)
Mustang Bobby over at Bark Bark Woof Woof has a fun snarky article about George Will's attempt to speak for the beau monde in all his bow tied crustiness—you know that Barack Obama is just a working class kid?! Of course, George Will is only part of the privileged class because of all the mone...
Effective Bad Policy (01 Nov 2012 09:15pm)
We haven't heard much from Paul Krugman recently. According to his sporadic blogging, he and his wife (Robin Wells) have been trapped in their house by a downed power line. He has apparently been blogging from his phone. Tonight came his first column since Hurricane Sandy hit. And it shows that he's...
Media for Big Government Suddenly (01 Nov 2012 08:00pm)
Matt Taibbi is angry—at a lot of different people, but mostly the media. He's been watching how they have reacted to the storm. Before, the main thing was that Big Government was baaad. Small government was the way to go. I've written about this: journalists are almost all in the upper or uppe...
Yet Another Article About Ezra Klein's Adorableness (01 Nov 2012 04:37pm)
Ezra Klein wrote a fairly typical article over at WonkBlog today, The Tax Report Senate Republicans Don’t Want You to See. It discusses the Congressional Research Service report that looks at whether top marginal tax cuts help productivity. They don't. It also looks at whether top marginal tax cut i...
Scientists Fighting Back on Global Warming (01 Nov 2012 12:05pm)
There is a very good article in Bloomberg Businessweek by Paul M. Barrett with the shocking title, It's Global Warming, Stupid. It talks about a number of issues other than global warming, but the main point of the article is that storms like Sandy do tell us something about climate change. Barrett...
Unskewed Polls Goes Bold (01 Nov 2012 10:25am)
And I thought the crying child would be the best thing of the day. How wrong I was! Here is the Unskewed Polls projection of the presidential race: All you need to know here is that every state that Romney has even the slightest chance of winning is given to him. So even in Minnesota where Obama l...
New Romney Narrative (01 Nov 2012 09:48am)
There have been a few tweets the last couple of days speculating that in the event of a Romney loss, the Republicans will offer a new narrative. Most recently, this comes from Ben Smith at BuzzFeed, "Top Republicans are already hinting that if Romney loses, his people will blame the storm for stalli...
Bored With Polls (31 Oct 2012 08:15pm)
This is just getting boring. Like all good liberals, I check Nate Silver's blog several times a day. (It's a Good Liberal Club rule!) But now it is just getting predictable. Let's think about this for a moment. It must suck being Mitt Romney. Here you are working your campaign strategy of never ans...
Econ4 Explains the Economy (31 Oct 2012 06:24pm)
For some reason, people think I know about economics. I kind of do. Mostly, it is just that I read really smart people like Dean Baker. The group Econ4 (4 people, 4 the planet, 4 the future) is attacking the problem of our national crisis in economic thinking. Here is their video. It pretty much is ...
Sandy to Rescue Our Economy—a Little (31 Oct 2012 09:14am)
The economy is crazy. The stock market is even more so. Tom Lee of JP Morgan told CNBC that Hurricanes are normally good for the stock market. How can that be? After all, hurricanes cause some much damage; wouldn't that mean that the economy has less value? In a fundamental sense, no. True, capital...
Undecideds Unlikely to Affect Presidential Race (31 Oct 2012 08:29am)
Dan Hopkins at The Monkey Cage takes the idea of polling bias for independents more seriously than I do: Polling Biases and Their Potential Impacts. This is in reference to Jay Cost's claim that the independents are going to break hard for Romney. Frankly, I don't see the problem. Over half of all ...
Des Moines Register Spreads Consumer Confidence Lie (30 Oct 2012 11:26pm)
On Saturday, the Des Moines Register endorsed Mitt Romney for president. It is kind of a big deal, because Iowa is a swing state. But this is not why the endorsement is getting a lot of news. Mostly, people are focusing on the weakness of the case the paper has made for Romney. Michael Tomasky at Th...
David Brooks and the Republican Deficit Hawk Myth (30 Oct 2012 10:52am)
I don't normally write about David Brooks. He just makes me too angry. He is Paul Ryan in a Bill Clinton mask. In today's column, The Upside of Opportunism, he compares an Obama second term to a Romney first term. Spoiler: Romney's term rocks and Obama's sucks! What Brooks proposes is Romney's main...
Useless Inside Information (30 Oct 2012 09:43am)
In the lead up to the Iraq War, I was working at home and listening to a lot of NPR. At that time, I wasn't really a partisan. This was the period where I was transitioning from libertarian to what I am now. (Anarcho-syndicalist?) But it was a very frustrating time because it was obvious that the Bu...
Block Granting is Backdoor Destruction (30 Oct 2012 08:24am)
Don't get a nerd mad. You won't like him when he's mad. And Ezra Klein is mad this morning in an article over at Wonk Blog, Mitt Romney’s Voodoo Spending Cuts. In it, he goes after Romney, and conservatives more generally, about their ridiculous claims that "block granting" is the answer to every f...
RCP Embarrassing Final Calls for 2000 (29 Oct 2012 04:31pm)
Listen up my little ones, because I have a story to tell that I was pointed to by Dave Weigel! You certainly know about the website Real Clear Politics, where they put together all of the major polls and provide an average, even though the polls are not all of equal value. But still, that's not a ba...
Niall Ferguson Says Obama Wants War (29 Oct 2012 11:20am)
I have long thought that Niall Ferguson was an idiot, but I think that may be the wrong way to think about him. Ferguson is just evil. I understand being partisan. I certainly am. But to be only partisan is to be only interested in power. Today Ferguson has written an article over on The Daily Beas...
What a Difference a Word Makes (29 Oct 2012 08:39am)
There is a meme that Romney has closed the gender gap. It is almost exclusively coming from conservatives, but they are speaking with such unanimity that it seems real. The implication is that it is because the Democrats are talking down to women. "Women care about economics, not lady parts!" Of co...
Republican Racism (27 Oct 2012 08:55pm)
This week John Sununu continued his campaign to be the most vile man in American politics by saying that Colin Powell was endorsing President Obama because they were both black. You know those two modern day black panthers with their shuck and jive shtick. They've got that whole deep-seated hatred f...
The Ballot (27 Oct 2012 05:53pm)
If you don't know about The Ballot, you should really check it out. While I think that reelecting Obama is very important, the stuff further down the ballot is also really important. Here is California, there a number of important ballot initiatives, of example. The Ballot takes you address and cre...
Dean Baker Talks to Big Think (27 Oct 2012 12:56pm)
Here is Dean Baker in 2009 doing this thang, which is, you know, seeing the economy more clearly than anyone else on earth: Afterword I like Baker's ideas about new taxes. He is not for raising the top marginal rate very much. He seems to think it could up as high as the low forties, but after th...
This Morning in Polling (27 Oct 2012 09:25am)
The big news is that Obama's poll numbers keep improving. On October 4, Nate Silver predicted that Obama had an 87.1% chance of winning the electoral college vote. This was his highest chance during the campaign because the first presidential debate happened on October 3. (Actually, the causality is...
"Moderate" Republicans (26 Oct 2012 08:17pm)
When it comes to Republican pundits, I'll take an extremist over a moderate any day. At least I know what the extremist believes. The moderate is as likely as not to be a Trojan horse. Read the likes of David Brooks or Michael Gerson. If we went by what they claim to believe they would be conservati...
The President Votes (25 Oct 2012 08:50pm)
Illinois does not have Voter ID laws for regular voting. But early voters in the state must show photo ID. This is why President Obama was asked for ID when he voted today: ...
Fed Swings Elections for Republicans (25 Oct 2012 12:15pm)
This is totally not surprising. Two researchers at the University of Michigan have looked at what the Fed does regarding interest rates when a Republican is the incumbent versus when a Democrat is. As we all know, if the economy is doing better coming into an election, the President is far more like...
Republicans Gaming Intrade (25 Oct 2012 09:16am)
In Blinded By the Right, David Brock talks about conservative operatives buying huge numbers of conservative books in New York City. They did this (and presumably still do), in order to game the New York Times Best Seller List. If a book makes this list, the author will be invited on talk shows and ...
Bill Maher and False Equivalence (24 Oct 2012 02:13pm)
Last week Bill Maher pitched in to help out with the false equivalency nonsense coming from the mainstream media and the right. Ever since the last debate, the Romney campaign has been pretending that it is winning in order to convince the chattering class. The Obama campaign is too. The problem is...
Obama's "Grand Bargain" Idiocy (24 Oct 2012 01:01pm)
Most of my liberal friends get mad about how much I complain about Obama. I understand this. Obama is a damn good President by historical standards (which doesn't say much) and he is infinitely better than what the Republicans have on offer. Yet I can't shake the idea that Obama doesn't much believe...
Third Party Debate (23 Oct 2012 08:08pm)
Free & Equal put on the 3rd Party Presidential Debate, which was broadcast by NBC. Just kidding. It was Al Jazeera English, of course. When you need real news, you really need to go outside the country. There were four candidates debating: Jill Stein (Green Party), Gary Johnson (Libertarian Par...
Would You Jump Off a Cliff? (23 Oct 2012 04:28pm)
You may remember back many months ago, Greg Smith wrote a high profile OpEd in the New York Times as he stepped down as a VP at Goldman Sachs. This last weekend, he was on 60 Minutes in a plug for this new book, Why I Left Goldman Sachs. Matt Yglesias, for one, doesn't really care about all that. "B...
Yes on 30 (23 Oct 2012 03:32pm)
Proposition 30 in California would levy a temporary quarter percentage point increase in the sales tax and a 1 to 3 percentage point increase in the top marginal tax rates (on money made above $250,000 per year). Initially, I was concerned about this proposition, because of the sales tax increase. T...
American Influence is Way Up (23 Oct 2012 02:08pm)
Last night at the debate, Mitt Romney claimed, "Nowhere in the world is America's influence greater today than it was four years ago." That sounds like a typical vague statement that a politician might make because they know it can't be countered. It's a matter of opinion, right? Well, maybe in a wo...
Mitt, Cheney, and the Auto Rescue (23 Oct 2012 10:19am)
Jonathan Cohn of The New Republic has a very evenhanded column about Romney's position on the GM rescue, What Romney Wants You (and Ohio) to Forget About the GM Rescue. The title makes the article sound a lot more critical than it is. Let me briefly lay out Cohn's argument. Romney's New York Times ...
Thank You China! (22 Oct 2012 01:07pm)
In the past, I have complained a bit about Chinese currency manipulation. The problem is that China has pegged its currency to the dollar, and this hurts US manufacturing, even as it subsidizes US consumers. This is a problem because pretty much everyone agrees that it is better to have a job than t...
LGBT Americans for Obama (22 Oct 2012 09:50am)
This is a really good ad for Obama. He isn't perfect, but I think he deserves this: ...
Eastwood's Daughter Falls Far from the Tree (21 Oct 2012 11:52am)
Who knew Clint Eastwood's daughter was so cute? And smart! But this doesn't mean I want to see Francesca talking to an invisible Romney in a chair. ...
Defense Spending Projection (21 Oct 2012 11:11am)
On today's Up With Chris Hayes, they presented the following graph of proposed military spending under Obama and Romney: Yet another reason to vote for Obama. Not that it will be enough. Not nearly enough. ...
Canadian Supreme Court Rules Right (21 Oct 2012 11:04am)
From Friday's The Globe and Mail: "Workplace computers contain so much personal information nowadays that employees have a legitimate expectation of privacy in using them, the Supreme Court of Canada said in a major ruling Friday." Imagine the American Supreme Court finding this way! It won't happe...
Government Is Not Business (21 Oct 2012 10:51am)
Adam Davidson has an interesting column over at the New York Times, Do Good C.E.O.'s Make Good Presidents? Mostly, the article is about the differences between running a state and running the federal government. The truth is that governors have very little effect on how well their economies improve....
Pity the Billionaire (21 Oct 2012 09:41am)
In the introduction to The Great Unraveling, Paul Krugman discusses Henry Kissinger's PhD dissertation. In it, Kissinger deconstructs revolutionary movements. One thing that defines these movements is their rejection of political norms. Krugman talks about it in relation to the Bush Administration. ...
Sad Morning (21 Oct 2012 08:33am)
It's a sad morning. First I get news that George McGovern died after only a couple of days in hospice. Then Michael Stickings over at The Reaction reports that the new PPP poll of likely voters in Ohio gives Obama only a 1% lead over Romney. It seems like liberalism has died today. The 1972 electio...
Chicken Hawk Down (20 Oct 2012 04:01pm)
I have long thought it curious that conservatives are drawn to the language of Republicans about small business and self-reliance. These are shown to be myths by their actual policies. But now I am more inclined to think these conservatives only believe in the Republican bellicosity. So the conserv...
Schumer on Tax Policy (20 Oct 2012 11:59am)
Ezra Klein has a really good interview with Chuck Schumer over at WonkBlog. Schumer is wrong about a lot of thing, of course; but he makes some excellent points. He is clearly a thoughtful guy. It's too bad he is such a New Democrat. Still, his heart seems to be in the right place (in his chest as o...
More on Political Harassment (20 Oct 2012 11:18am)
The terrible thing about this is that Romney is right: it is perfectly legal for employers to "inform" their employees in this way. Check out my article on Political Harassment in the Workplace....
All Good Ducks Go To Heaven (20 Oct 2012 09:16am)
The Lester & Charlie Review send us to the Huffington Post and a story about the results of home schooling, New Zealand Teen Proclaims 'Ducks Could Take Over The World' If Gay Marriage Is Approved. But before I get to the letter, I want to tell you why it makes me so happy. New Zealand! It's no...
Uh? No! Fiscal Cliff Doesn't Work Like That! (19 Oct 2012 08:09pm)
Jonathan Chait has noticed something important: the finance fucktards do not understand what the fiscal cliff is—or claim not to anyway. You, dear reader, may be forgiven if you are a little vague on it. So let me explain. Because of the Republican "debt ceiling" debacle, unless something is ...
The Young Turks on the Debate (18 Oct 2012 09:34am)
I have to go out of town again. Nothing much for the rest of the day. This is a good break down of the debate by Cenk Uygur: ...
Greece Pushes Back (18 Oct 2012 08:38am)
The BBC reports that there is a general strike in Greece over yet more austerity from their Europe Union partners. This stuff tends to be reported in the United States as though the Greek people are a bunch of ill behaved children who don't want to take their necessary medicine. Most of that is corr...
Clinton Explains Romney Tax Lie (17 Oct 2012 07:40pm)
Will sent this to me. It is great and Clinton looks fabulous: ...
Fred Barnes' Conservative Wisdom (17 Oct 2012 12:45pm)
Fred Barnes used to be a centrist on The McLaughlin Group. That's what made that show so vile: Barnes is a conservative extremist. The McLaughlin Group was the first time I noticed that the news could distort without lying. Barnes works for that bastion of moderation The Weekly Standard. And today h...
Arizona to Spanish Speakers: Vote Two Days Late! (17 Oct 2012 10:40am)
This is the ballot in Maricopa County, Arizona. (Click on the image to see it full size.) In English, it gives the correct date of the election: 6 November. In Spanish, it gives an incorrect date of the election: 8 November. The ballot has been fixed and elections officials claim that it was an hon...
Obama Kills at Second Debate (16 Oct 2012 08:20pm)
This is what I wrote from The Reaction Quasi-Live Blogging of the Debate. I have to post it here. Today was really hard on me, because I feared that the President wouldn't do well. I was wrong. I have 5 pages of notes. But who cares? It was pretty much the same thing over and over: Romney mislead; ...
Justice for Salim Hamdan? (16 Oct 2012 04:59pm)
Remember Osama bin Laden's driver, Salim Hamdan? The Bush administration used to love talking about him. He was an example of an important catch in the War on Terror. They were not being ironic. At the time, I remember thinking that we were doing a pretty fucking bad job if the best thing we could c...
Romney Not Bipartisan (16 Oct 2012 04:02pm)
Do you remember the first debate where Romney hammered Obama about not reaching across the isle and creating bipartisan consensus? If you are like me, you were angry because working with Democrats in Massachusetts is a hell of lot easier than working with Republicans who have publicly stated that th...
The 12 Million Job Myth (16 Oct 2012 03:07pm)
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Debates Would Be Meaningless Even If They Were Debates (15 Oct 2012 07:12pm)
The New York Times has an article by Brian Stelter about the presidential debates, Memo Outlines Format and Rules for Candidate Debates. It basically demonstrates the the debates are a sham. The most important part of the article is a quote from George Farah, "An anti-trust lawyer who runs Open Deb...
Andrew Sullivan: Don't Be Like Me (15 Oct 2012 01:05pm)
Ah, the blogger's life! Most of it is one long anxiety attack: staying up on the news and writing something fast that doesn't suck too much. But now and then, something comes along that makes it all worth while. I imagine it is like a great hitter watching an anemic fast ball heading toward the plat...
Romney Will Explode National Debt (15 Oct 2012 10:16am)
According to the new Washington Post / ABC News poll, Obama has bounced back a bit. He leads Romney in almost all of those sub-questions like, "Is Obama or Romney better on the issue of Medicare?" But the one big place that Romney is leading is on the deficit. By a margin of 8%, the people think tha...
RIP: Democrat Specter (14 Oct 2012 01:33pm)
Do you remember the end of I Was a Teenage Werewolf, when Tony dies having reverted to human form again? It may be bad for science, but isn't it great that his parents don't have to bury a monster? That's how I feel about the death of Arlen Specter: at least he died a reasonable man—a Democra...
Political Harassment in the Workplace (14 Oct 2012 11:48am)
On Up with Chris Hayes today, they discussed employer coercion. This is in reference to people like David Siegel who sent his employees a letter telling them that if Obama is reelected, he will have to fire many of them because his taxes will go up.[1] As the panel discussed why we don't do somethin...
Roseanne Barr 2012 (14 Oct 2012 11:19am)
In O Brother, Where Art Thou? the trio decide to vote on who should be the leader. After both Pete and Ulysses vote for "yours truly," Delmar says, "Okay. I'm with you fellas." Delmar, of course, is a lovable idiot. I am neither. But I am with Noam Chomsky. He has said it makes sense to vote for Ob...
Best Democrat Debate: Tie (12 Oct 2012 07:40am)
There was one dynamic of last night's debate—any debate in this campaign—that I completely missed. There is no way anyone would have said that Biden was the clear winner. The reason is that half of the political commentators were going to say that Ryan won, because they are Republican. ...
Debates Not Important (11 Oct 2012 10:00am)
Jonathan Chait has written a scattered article that has one interesting thing to say: the differences in polling between the swing states and the nation as a whole are not mysterious. Chait claims that this is just because in the swing states, voters couldn't get away from the campaign. As a result,...
Social Security Paradox (10 Oct 2012 01:23pm)
Do you know the Social Security Paradox? It comes up all the time regarding reform of the program, but almost no one notes the paradox. Here it is: in order to stop future benefit cuts we must cut future benefits now. The worst case scenario is that at some point in the next 50 years, Social Securi...
Unions Protect Us, We Must Protect Them (10 Oct 2012 11:25am)
When people think of unions, they think of salaries and benefits. And indeed, unions do improve wages for union and non-union employees alike. But have you ever wondered why a lot of companies are willing to match union pay in order to stay non-unionized? If the company is going to pay the same, why...
Woodward Hates Obama—For Now (09 Oct 2012 01:52pm)
Noam Scheiber at The New Republic has a really good review of Bob Woodward's new book, The Backscratcher—Bob Woodward’s Anti-Obama Bias. More than just a review of The Price of Politics, it is a good refresher on the debt ceiling debacle, which has made me rethink my harsh criticism of Obama. But mo...
IMF Vs. Austerions (09 Oct 2012 10:52am)
Everybody—in the sense of "economic geeks"—is buzzing about the IMF World Economic Outlook report (PDF). In it, they explain that they've been underestimating the economic multiplier effect. Don't click away! Really: this is interesting, and simple, and important. I promise you! Just g...
Romney's Foreign Policy Speech (08 Oct 2012 08:21pm)
Fred Kaplan has a devastating article about Romney's foreign policy speech today, Mitt Romney’s Most Dishonest Speech. You can get some idea of where he's coming from in the subtitle, "When it comes to lies and half-truths, Romney saves his best stuff for foreign policy." Kaplan goes point by point...
Problem With Debate Coverage (08 Oct 2012 04:51pm)
Matt Taibbi has an interesting take on the debate. He thinks that both Obama and Romney lost. But I suspect that he sees it pretty much the way everyone else does, because he spends most of the article attacking what Romney actually said. The main point of the article is that the media should not e...
Unhappy About Defending Obama (08 Oct 2012 03:57pm)
This is how the presidential race works. We start with a policy of Obama's that I don't like. Then Mitt Romney, who very much likes the policy, lies and says the policy doesn't exist. And then Obama defends doing something that I don't like. Meanwhile, of course, the media are at the point where Mit...
The Moderation of Romney (08 Oct 2012 10:37am)
Ezra Klein discusses Moderate Mitt isn’t so moderate. In it, he notes that what was once a Republican extremist is today called a Republican moderate. I've sort of come to terms with this by noting that while Republicans may not have been this extreme in public, this was always who they were. You kn...
Winners Always Win (08 Oct 2012 09:02am)
Our intellectual property system has been broken for so long that most people can't even see the problem. I remember back in the early 1990s, my friends and I often talked about software patents and how they were killing innovation. Things like the GIF image format and the XOR cursor could make me a...
Media Bias Against Chavez (07 Oct 2012 08:44pm)
Question: How many US newspapers does it take to predict the Venezuelan presidential election? Answer: Predict it wrong? All of them! Maybe it's just because I'm some godless socialist, but I think Hugo Chavez has been pretty good for Venezuela. There is no subject on which the mainstream media ar...
Time Weighs the News (07 Oct 2012 08:06pm)
Peter Hart over at the excellent Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting (FAIR) has an amazing catch. In the most recent Time magazine, Michael Scherer present a cover story that is supposed to get past the campaign lies, Blue Truth, Red Truth. But it is, of course, just another exceptional example of ...
Tea Party Report (06 Oct 2012 04:56pm)
I've always found Susie Sampson amusing, but I think this most recent Tea Party Report is particularly good. Or maybe I'm just drunk: ...
Avik Roy: Charlatan (06 Oct 2012 01:01pm)
Romney economic adviser Avik Roy was on Up with Chris Hayes today. He pooh-pooh the carried interest loophole, saying, "Carried interests—I can't remember the exact numbers—but what I think it raises for the government is something like $15 billion dollars or 4 billion—some tiny nu...
I Miss Reagan: Obama 2012! (06 Oct 2012 10:03am)
Dave Weigel made a funny about having found Andrew Sullivan's car. But you don't have know that Sullivan is one of that growing group of conservatives who are starting to wake up to the fact that the Republican Party is nuts. This picture paints about 10 Sullivan columns. Or David Frum: ...
Employment Has Improved Over Last Year and a Half (06 Oct 2012 09:12am)
Paul Krugman has a really interesting article this morning where he presents a new formulation for reporting unemployment. As everyone should know, the unemployment rate is deceptive because it only counts people who are actively looking for work. As a result, a lot of people prefer the employment t...
Thank God It's Friday (05 Oct 2012 10:08pm)
I've had a thought all night long. I don't claim that it is original. In fact, it seems kind of obvious. Romney supposedly won the debate. And yet the only really memorable line from the debate is a clear blunder, and it was by Mitt Romney. Obama didn't have a bad performance so much as he had a bor...
Mitt's Excuse for Killing Big Bird is Wrong (05 Oct 2012 01:15pm)
First things first: I don't like Big Bird. I never have. Nor am I fond of those metrosexual cohabitors Burt and Ernie. But that doesn't mean I wouldn't fight for Sesame Street. If only for the sake of Grover, we must protect Sesame Street. Romney's comment about Sesame Street roiled me, but not abo...
Krugman's Wrong: Obama Did Fight Back (05 Oct 2012 10:51am)
Paul Krugman has a good article on Mitt Romney's biggest lie of Wednesday night's debate, Romney's Sick Joke. He points out the usual stuff: Romney's "plan" is to simply go back to what we had before—unemployed people who can afford the outrageous COBRA fees can keep their coverage. He also a...
George Will: Protector of Brainless Babies (05 Oct 2012 09:11am)
Frankly Curious' favorite economist, Dean Baker, takes a bite out of conservative affirmative action case George Will. Following the presidential debate, Will is screaming, "Healthcare rationing!" This isn't even a canard; it's a lie. There is no way that George Will is this stupid or ignorant. As ...
A Tale of Two Romneys (04 Oct 2012 03:18pm)
Via Andrew Kaczynski at BuzzFeed, Romney Contradicts Himself On Cutting Taxes Of The Wealthy From Earlier Debate: Romney also said the rich would not get a tax cut at all. A tale of two Romneys? Does it matter? If this country votes for this fucktard then they deserve him. Of course, lots of inno...
The Mitt Romney Show with Guest Stars Obama and Lehrer! (04 Oct 2012 12:34pm)
Did you see the Mitt Romney Show last night? It was great! Romney spun a lot of tall tales and made all kinds of promises to good little American citizens. It might not have been such a good show had Romney's co-stars Barack Obama and Jim Lehrer not been so passive. Luckily, many people in the press...
Voter Suppression New Mexico (04 Oct 2012 11:38am)
It is hard to get excited about voter suppression efforts. After all, it is much the same as screaming, "Republicans exist!" But here is another example, and frankly, I am shocked at how endless the endeavor is. I know: the Republicans don't have a real popular base. They explicitly do the bidding o...
Romney Campaign Walks Back "Moderation" (04 Oct 2012 09:01am)
This is brilliant. While all the pundits can't get enough of how Romney transformed himself, the Romney campaign is quietly going back on all of his "moderation." You may recall that Romney claimed that his healthcare plan would cover people with pre-existing conditions. Obama countered that this wa...
Romney's Santa Routine May Hurt Him Long Term (03 Oct 2012 09:07pm)
I spent the debate "live blogging" over at The Reaction. You can go over there to see my reactions as they occurred in real time. My initial thinking was that Romney did better than I had expected—and I expected him to do fairly well. But I didn't think that Romney necessarily "won" the debate...
Even Fox Covering DHS Senate Report (03 Oct 2012 10:35am)
A new Senate report slams the Department of Homeland Security. It seems that the fusion centers created in every state aren't fighting terrorism so much as just militarizing local law enforcement and infringing on the civil rights of Americans. If you're think Quelle surprise! you're not alone. A lo...
Right Wing Lies About Libyan Attack (02 Oct 2012 10:50pm)
It's hard to keep up on what's happening in the conservative media echo chamber. Sure, I here this and that. I even occasionally read articles in the National Review, although these tend toward the most reasonable of the conservative commentators. I've only been vaguely aware of the push of Darrell ...
Democratic Movement in House Polls (02 Oct 2012 09:45pm)
I've been one of the people saying that despite what those like Nancy Pelosi have claimed, there is basically no chance of the Democratic Party winning back the House of Representatives. I still feel this way. However, Real Clear Politics' Battle for the House, just made a change—and they don'...
New Romney Tax Plan: "Trust Me!" Pt. 2 (02 Oct 2012 07:10pm)
I am so tired of Mitt Romney, but I've got to write about this. The Serious Set are all a titter about Romney's announcement that he is going to cap deductions at $17,000. I don't know exactly what this will do to middle class income taxes. But this is more or less the same old song: Romney wants to...
Schwarzenegger Spouting BS (02 Oct 2012 02:27pm)
The last two years have been really great in California for political junkies. There has been a stark contrast between the governorships of Jerry Brown and Arnold Schwarzenegger. I'm not completely happy with Brown, but he has done a great job as governor under the worst of circumstances. Schwarzene...
Chomsky, Obama, and Swing States (02 Oct 2012 01:58pm)
As I've said, I won't be voting for Obama this year. This is because I made a promise to the President about something. I don't quite remember what it was. I think it was over the debt ceiling debate where he was, as usual, willing to abandon liberal principles in the name of "bi-partisanship" that ...
What's the Point of Being President if You Can't Enrich Your Friends? (02 Oct 2012 12:31pm)
You know its going to be a good column when Ezra Klein starts with, "Ryan... called the Tax Policy Center study 'thoroughly debunked' when it's not even been dented." When I saw the Chris Wallace interview, I wasn't sure if Ryan was talking about TPC study when he said that. Could it be? I thought i...
We've Been Sacrificing for Decades (01 Oct 2012 10:19pm)
Steve M at No More Mister Nice Blog writes Is Frank Bruni Now the Worst Op-Ed Columnist at the New York Times? He starts by noting that the competition is fierce: David Brooks, Ross Douthat, Tom Friedman. Frank Bruni has mostly been off my radar, but I do remember he's annoyed me a few times recentl...
We Really Are Number One! (01 Oct 2012 03:17pm)
Matt Yglesias reports on a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research on the quality of mail service in 159 countries. They sent international letters to nonexistent addresses and measured how quickly the letters came back. Many countries have systems that are so dysfunctional that none of th...
Incoming: Romney Zingers (01 Oct 2012 11:39am)
According to the New York Times, Romney has been memorizing "zingers" since August. They will be his secret weapon at the debates. Is this absurd? I don't know. Ezra Klein tweeted last night, "Who would bet a campaign on Mitt Romney's sense of comic timing?" The obvious response is: Mitt Romney! Th...
Liberal Talks to Conservative (30 Sep 2012 10:13pm)
This is nice to see: a liberal talk show host—Sam Seder—talking to a conservative caller. A couple of things I noticed. First, Seder is much nicer to the caller than conservative hosts are to the few liberal callers who make it past their screeners. Second, I love this entitled caller. H...
Conservative Desperation (30 Sep 2012 03:30pm)
I feel old, but that isn't always a bad thing. One of the benefits is that I have a long memory. And whether it is on the national level or the micro level, I know desperation when I see it. Michelle Goldberg uncovers some startling goings on deep in Conservative World, With 'Dreams From My Real F...
A Double Mystery (30 Sep 2012 12:37am)
First, there was the strange case of the Romney-Ryan direct mail campaign, Doing more to fight the spread of Lyme Disease. The pamphlet claims that Lyme Disease is a, "Massive epidemic threatening Virginia." Massive? I don't know. I guess that it sucks if you get it, but only about 900 people get it...
Matt Yglesias Too Busy Tweeting to Care About American Workers (29 Sep 2012 08:56pm)
Matt Yglesias is a writer for Slate. He mostly writes about the financial industry. (Although last night he was on a plane and so sending out a long string of the most banal tweets I've ever seen.) And he's good; I read him every day. But he definitely has his blind spots and often falls ill with Se...
Paul Krugman Cracks a Joke (29 Sep 2012 02:12pm)
On his blog today, Paul Krugman discusses three current Republican misconceptions. The first is how Romney is a bad candidate. Krugman notes that this may be true, but he's not as bad as everyone else who ran. It is much the same argument that Saturday Night Live presented last week: Interestingly,...
Majestic Equality of Law (28 Sep 2012 11:02pm)
The law, in its majestic equality, forbids the rich and the poor alike to sleep under bridges, to beg in the streets, and to steal bread. —Anatole France This is a great quote that cuts to the heart of conservative thought. This is exactly the thinking behind the flat tax. It is also why cons...
Ayn Rand and Indians (28 Sep 2012 01:04pm)
The first year I was in graduate school up in Oregon, I drove back and forth to the Bay Area a large number of times. One of the things I remember was hearing conservative talk radio. It was surprising to me just how often people would mention John Galt. For those of you who have not read the novel...
The Wily Undecided Voter (28 Sep 2012 11:16am)
There's been a bit of push back against the deification of undecided voters. For election cycle after election cycle, I've been wondering who these people are who can't decide. After all, these are people who are supposedly in the middle. I can understand that a socialist would have a hard time deci...
Do We Need Better Candidates? (27 Sep 2012 12:54pm)
Matt Taibbi wrote a provocative article on Tuesday, This Presidential Race Should Never Have Been This Close. In it, he argues that Obama should have a huge lead, even if Romney were a good candidate, which he isn't. This goes completely against the conventional wisdom (especially among conservativ...
It's the Great Pumpkin, Angela Merkel! (26 Sep 2012 07:48pm)
There continue to be major protests in Spain—one on Tuesday resulted in clashes with the police, ending in at least 22 arrests and 28 injuries. The people are rightly unhappy about the recent austerity deal. It's very simple. The Spanish government—like most governments—has debt. B...
A Feather in Scott Brown's Cap (26 Sep 2012 11:19am)
After seeing some of the debate Thursday night between Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown and Elizabeth Warren, I was angry. Brown said something that was so racist, I was stunned. He wasn't claiming to have special insight into Warren's family history when he claimed, "She checked the box claiming s...
Dean Baker Destroys Romney Low Tax Claim (25 Sep 2012 09:03pm)
I'm been thinking very hard (You know: frown, furrowed brow.) about this question of double taxation. The idea is that capital gains taxes should be lower because the money has already been taxed at the corporate level. I know that Paul Krugman accepts this, but I can't find the article. I still hav...
Obama's Plan on 60 Minutes (25 Sep 2012 01:11am)
This is an update on my article about 60 Minutes. In it, I talked almost exclusively about Romney. There was part of the Obama interview that made me cringe. It wasn't that I didn't know it already, but I hate to hear it. Despite the hysterical conservative claims that he is a socialist, President ...
Property Rights (24 Sep 2012 05:57pm)
A few years back, Romney explained why productivity increases, although painful, are good. This is simple stuff. He gives a hypothetical: a country with 200 people in it. Half of them farm and half of them build houses. Someone invents the plow and suddenly, all the country's food needs can be met ...
Push Me Pull You Economics (24 Sep 2012 04:39pm)
A standard conservative belief is that we must lower taxes on the wealthy because they are Job Creators. I've written much about how this is nothing more than a myth. Put simply: businesses hire when their businesses have to because of their work requirements. This stuff is not rocket science, and a...
Romney Gets One Thing Right (24 Sep 2012 11:01am)
Once upon a time, 60 Minutes did actual journalism. Last night, they devoted their episode to interviews with President Obama and Mitt Romney. It wasn't terrible. I thought that the Obama interview was the more aggressive of the two. But it was clear why this was: Romney isn't up to a probing interv...
Romney Didn't Ask Teacher a Question (23 Sep 2012 06:12pm)
I caught this via Crooks & Liars. The video contains a lot of information, mostly documentation that Romney has the standard Republican ideas about education: public schools baaad, private schools goood; teacher's unions baaad, vouchers goood. These are the same ideas they had 30 years ago. If t...
Greed is a Religion (22 Sep 2012 06:52pm)
Digby speculates that for Mitt Romney, "Charitable giving to a church that primarily operates highly successful commercial businesses is just another tax dodge." I think this is true. Romney doesn't strike me as a particularly spiritual person. He seems incredibly materialistic, and I just don't bel...
"Equality of Opportunity" is Killing Our Kids (22 Sep 2012 11:49am)
Last week on This American Life the episode was called Back to School. It was very good—as always. It discussed non-cognitive skills and how they are perhaps more important to how well a student does in life than cognitive skills. In fact, one expert noted that the modern testing fascination i...
Romney's Master Chicanery (21 Sep 2012 11:26pm)
I really don't like Josh Barro. It's not just his politics. There is something visceral to my disdain. It could be that in some fundamental way, he's too much like me. I don't like to think these things. But whenever I dislike someone more than is strictly reasonable, I have to consider everything. ...
Republicans Abuse Poor Coming & Going (21 Sep 2012 11:57am)
I'm tired of the all the discussion about Mitt Romney's 47% remarks. But I want to say one (hopefully) last thing about it. Earlier this week, Ezra Klein published the graph on the left (click on it to see it at regular size). I know that I've been talking about Klein a lot recently, but as I said, ...
Male Knitting (20 Sep 2012 03:28pm)
I just read a really interesting, thought provoking, and humane article An Open Letter to My Fat Father, From His Fat, Trans Son: Or, Fatherhood, Fatness, and Family. It is about coming to accept ones weight. But there is a wrinkle: it is by a transgender man. On one level, I identify with the tran...
I [Heart] Ezra (20 Sep 2012 02:12pm)
As you all know, I've have found Ezra Klein to be a trial at times. But recently he has been really good. I don't say this just because I agree with him. I say it because he's been thought provoking. I haven't thought that much about Romney's 47% remarks. To me, the comments come as absolutely no s...
Leon Wieseltier on the Far Right (20 Sep 2012 01:06am)
"The far right combines the pity of the minority with the power of the majority." —Leon Wieseltier This is according to Ari Melber on an internet-only bit from The Last Word, who I think may have the wording wrong. Perhaps that should be "self-pity"? Update (22 September 2012 9:43 am) I gue...
The Most Corrupt Attorney General (20 Sep 2012 12:42am)
I'm not sure if I agree with Lawrence O'Donnell here, but this is powerful and insightful. There are many things to recommend it. For one, there is some Nixon administration history, and I love Nixon stuff. I really want to go to his library! And there is more about the now infamous Romney 47% video...
A Tale of Two HQs (19 Sep 2012 10:52pm)
Last weekend, I was walking around the Santa Rosa downtown, on my way to Treehorn Books to see if they had any new copies of Don Quixote that I don't already have. This is a fools errand, because I think I already have every English translation of the book except for three minor quasi-translations f...
The Job Creator Myth (19 Sep 2012 04:57pm)
I caught this on The Young Turks. Joe Scarborough on Morning Joe said, "I believe conservative policies help 100% of Americans. I don't believe it helps the 1%. I really do believe that you don't help the waiters and waitresses, who want to get a better job, by raising taxes on the job creators. " ...
Is Mitt Romney a Psychopath? (18 Sep 2012 02:34pm)
This seems to be floating around the internet: It is funny, of course, but I think there may be a darker truth underlying it and all the jokes about Mitt "The Robot" Romney and Mitt the Clueless. Could Mitt Romney be a psychopath? It's entirely possible. We know, for example, that while only 1% of...
Around the World in Gay Marriage (18 Sep 2012 11:16am)
Via Back2Stonewall, this interactive map over at France24 is really telling: What I find most interesting is that we are surrounded by same sex marriages: Canada and Mexico have them. I really do think that we are a small minded people—even in a relative sense. ...
More Than a Little Liberal (17 Sep 2012 06:01pm)
I was over at the Christian Science Monitor, and I got tricked into taking their Are you more (or less) conservative than Mitt Romney quiz. My result was: "You're more than a little liberal. You're a lefty! You might even be more liberal than President Obama. You won't be voting for Romney come Nov...
It's Bad the Poor Don't Vote (17 Sep 2012 04:16pm)
Ezra Klein (I know, I know: another WonkBlog post!) has an article debunking the conservative media meme that poor people are coming out to vote for Obama in big numbers because he's bribed them with luxuries like food stamps. The problem, as Klein notes, is that, "Poor people actually don’t vote t...
Two Points About Libertarians (17 Sep 2012 01:10pm)
This always bugged me when I was a libertarian. Libertarians, almost to a man, hate unions. I, on the other hand, always thought that strong unions were absolutely essential to a libertarian utopia. If the work force could not organize themselves the same way companies do, there could be no justice....
Bad News for Romney's Healthcare Plans (17 Sep 2012 10:45am)
Sarah Kliff has a very provocative article over at WonkBlog called Romney's Health Care Plans Don't Exempt Today's Seniors. As usual for the WonkBlog staff, she bends over backwards to be fair. (Fun Fact: before working for Ezra Klein, all staff must have worked for at least a year as a circus conto...
Sam Seder Ups Reputation (16 Sep 2012 01:02pm)
I'm not a big Sam Seder fan. It isn't that he's bad, I just don't find him all that insightful because he isn't especially smarter or more informed than I am. That does not mean he isn't really good and vastly superior to pretty much everyone else you see on the TV or internet. This weekend, he's b...
NPR Provides Platform for Rentier Class Apologist (15 Sep 2012 08:04pm)
This is unbelievable. I fully admit that economics makes my brain hurt and that I find it profoundly confusing. But I understand the fundamentals. The same cannot be said of Jeffrey M. Lacker, the president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond. In its infinite wisdom, NPR put this idiot on the a...
Republicans Have No Ideology (15 Sep 2012 11:55am)
This morning, Paul Krugman notes that Mitt Romney has come out against QE3, with Romney saying that the economy "doesn't need more artificial and ineffective measures." He goes on to say that we shouldn't be "printing dollars." It is ridiculous, of course. This is the same kind of nonsense that we a...
Party Better Than iPhone? (14 Sep 2012 09:18pm)
This morning's New York Times column by Paul Krugman discussed a J.P. Morgan research note that said that the release of the new iPhone could stimulate the economy over the next quarter by up to a half of a percent of GDP. Krugman then went on to explain that if you accept this concept that a bunch ...
Romney to Webmasters: Update Your Sites! (14 Sep 2012 11:58am)
You can always tell when someone doesn't believe his own bullshit: his story keeps changing. And that is the case with Mitt Romney and this nonsense about Libya. Romney's line about his premature and untrue attacks on the president is now pathetically trivial. First, according to Romney, Obama shoul...
Save the Lawyers (13 Sep 2012 10:07pm)
The video below is an excellent attack on the Humane Society of the United States. Watch it and then I'll add a little extra information: I agree that we should not support the HSUS, but your local "shelter" may be no better. As I wrote in my article Arms of a Death Angel, most shelters do little ...
Don Cheadle Isn't Political (13 Sep 2012 08:55pm)
Apropos of nothing except that I like Don Cheadle. This is nice: ...
The Liberal Side of Block Grants (13 Sep 2012 03:24pm)
I am no fan of so called welfare reform. On the large scale, it sucks because we make it very hard for the poor to get welfare even as we make it easy for the rich to get it. For example, there is the trivial paperwork required to get billions under TARP. And on the small scale, there are countless ...
We Are Our Own Investors (13 Sep 2012 02:08pm)
Robert Reich has taken on the fiscal cliff and Moody's statement that they might downgrade the United States government credit rating. I know: we've seen this before. But there is something different. When S&P downgraded us, it was because we weren't dealing with our debt problem. That was bullshit,...
Fragile Conservatives (13 Sep 2012 11:35am)
According to Reuters, hundreds of protesters stormed the American embassy in Yemen. I have a slightly different take on this than most people. The United States kills innocent civilians all the time. In fact, our government has now defined the enemy so that anyone within shouting distance of a bear...
Dick Morris Reverse Man (11 Sep 2012 12:16pm)
The Young Turks note how wrote Fox News commentator Dick Morris has been thus far in the Presidential race. It is really good: Sorry that I haven't been around much recently. I've been on vacation, and since getting back, I've been working on other things. I will be posting more soon. ...
The "Principled" Conservatism of George Will (09 Sep 2012 10:45pm)
George Will annoys me more than most conservative pundits. Most commentators on the right can be dismissed as ignorant dittoheads, but Will has a reputation—largely undeserved—as intelligent, knowledgeable, and even thoughtful. Worst of all, he has developed a great capacity to sound rea...
1,000 Years of Darkness! (04 Sep 2012 07:24pm)
Okay, I know it comes as no surprise that Chuck Norris and his wife are freaks. But really, this is over the top: I think it will be really bad for our country—and perhaps the world—if Mitt Romney becomes President. But I don't think it will be apocalyptic. I don't think it will lead t...
Obama 7-Election (03 Sep 2012 11:31pm)
Will sent me this today. I assume there is a red cup for Romney (but they may be waiting for him come back from the vacation he started after the RNC). But who cares? This is great: We have been good enough that we really do deserve better than Obama, but we haven't been anywhere near bad enough t...
"Reasonable" Republicans (03 Sep 2012 10:02pm)
I watched last Friday's Real Time with Bill Maher. As regular readers know, I'm not that keen on Maher—he's a bit too much the arrogant libertarian (and a kind of atheist that might amuse me sometimes, but is mostly annoying). On this episode, I was very much in sync with Maher. Also on the sh...
California Beats New Jersey (03 Sep 2012 11:57am)
This via Crooks & Liars. Governor Brown challenges New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to a three mile race: I think there may also be a jab at Paul Ryan who recently claimed to have run a 3 hour marathon. For those of you that don't know, that would be a really fast marathon. In fact, 100 year...
Catch My Breath (03 Sep 2012 12:35am)
I really like Melissa Harris-Perry. But I haven't paid much attention to her MSNBC show. She's clearly thrilled to have the show, and I've thought that after she calmed down, the show would be worth watching. For the time, she was just too damned chipper. Well, perhaps it is time to take another lo...
They Did Build the Debt (01 Sep 2012 01:43am)
I'm busy doing busy guy stuff. But yesterday, The Big Empty posted this great photograph: Yes, they did! ...
The Man With No Clue (31 Aug 2012 01:12am)
This was him tonight: And this was him less than a year ago: People think death is something sudden, but one doesn't die of old age that way. It takes decades as you notice your entire being fade away. I'm only 48 and I already feel it happening. It is sad to see this happening to Clint Eastwood...
Serious Centrist Saletan's Selfishness (29 Aug 2012 10:53pm)
Two weeks ago, Paul Krugman blasted William Saletan for his adoring love letter to Paul Ryan. Now, Saletan wants his letter back. He was blinded by his (typical) desire to find that mythical beast, the Reasonable Republican—just as Krugman said. And now that Saletan is repudiating his love, Kr...
Greed and Debt: The Mitt Romney Story (29 Aug 2012 05:54pm)
Matt Taibbi has written a cover story for Rolling Stone called, Greed and Debt: The True Story of Mitt Romney and Bain Capital. You really ought to read it. It is filled with wonderfully truthful and snarky passages like this one: [Mitt Romney has] been right with [the other banksters] on the front...
Interest Not Debt Matters (29 Aug 2012 04:12pm)
In reference to the wonderful debt graph that Ezra Klein presented yesterday, Dean Baker presents an even better graph. This one is not on debt, because as Baker notes, the issue is not debt; it is interest on the debt. He notes sarcastically, "We don't get back to the same devastating interest burd...
The Graph the RNC Won't Allow (28 Aug 2012 10:34pm)
Ezra Klein has again posted the following federal debt graph on WonkBlog, and I thought it was a good idea to put it up here. It is from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities. The main thing that it shows is that the Republican obsession over debt and deficits is completely hypocritical. The o...
2016: Obama's America (28 Aug 2012 02:07am)
I found this great review by Simon Maloy of the ridiculous right wing attack documentary on Obama, 2016: Obama's America. It is by wingnut Dinesh D'Souza. I had heard about the film from my wingnut brother, who I assumed heard about it from Rush or Sean. Anyway, Maloy should be canonized for not on...
Evil Republican Plan (27 Aug 2012 11:29am)
Jonathan Chait was on vacation, but he's back this morning. And what is he doing? Depressing the hell out of me. Chait has been pushing this idea—that I mostly accept—that demographics are soon going to crush the Republican Party. This is funny when you consider the strength of the argu...
TED: Megaphone for Elite (26 Aug 2012 01:02pm)
Sarah Silverman did a TED Talk that wasn't released and it got me thinking. I've written before that as good as these talks often are they have a pernicious philosophical basis. In particular, they imply that they are just "telling it like it is." They claim to be objective. This in itself is a big ...
John Fugelsang on Mitt Romney (24 Aug 2012 11:40pm)
John Fugelsang explains that it is the Republican base that has flip-flopped, not Mitt Romney: ...
The Age of Niallism (24 Aug 2012 10:13pm)
Matthew O'Brien wrote A Full Fact-Check of Niall Ferguson's Very Bad Argument Against Obama earlier this week. It was in reference to Niall Ferguson's disgusting counterfactual Newsweek article Obama’s Gotta Go. It seems everyone has written about this at some point during the week—even me. Bu...
Todd Akin Comes Clean (23 Aug 2012 08:24pm)
At The Onion, "America's Finest News Source" is not just a slogan; it is an indictment of the entire mainstream media industry. A couple of days ago, they "published" an oped from Representative Todd Akin with the title, I Misspoke—What I Meant To Say Is 'I Am Dumb As Dog Shit And I Am A Terrible Hu...
Abortion Demographics (22 Aug 2012 05:58pm)
This is from Sarah Kliff at WonkBlog in an article Who rejects abortion in the case of rape? It tells you all you need to know about abortion politics. If you are very religious in a fundamentalist way, you're for rapists getting to keep their babies. If you are very ignorant, you are for rapists ge...
It's Romney's Big Chance! (22 Aug 2012 02:43pm)
Obama is temporarily allowing Americans to send aid to Iran to help in the aftermath of its earthquake that killed hundreds. Quick Romney: get a political ad out! I can just see it. "Obama wants Americans to support Iran. Can real Americans support Obama?" You know, an issue ad: ...
On Hating Women (22 Aug 2012 11:12am)
The anti-choice movement is anti-woman. They hate women. When I wrote about Todd Akin, I got a little push back regarding my insinuation that Akin was some kind of a sexual deviant. I want to be clear: I do think that Todd Akin is a sexual deviant. I think that all the fundamentalist religious peop...
Ari Melber Describes the Republican Party (22 Aug 2012 01:31am)
Lawrence O'Donnell interviewed Ari Melber of The Nation today. I thought what he had to say about Paul Ryan and the Republican Party was very good: Paul Ryan was for earmarks before he was against them. He was for deficits before he was against them. And he's part of a political party that inherite...
Shame, Shame, Shame (21 Aug 2012 07:50pm)
Stephen Marche just wrote an article about the whole Niall Ferguson brouhaha, The Real Problem with Niall Ferguson's Letter to the 1% at Esquire. He notes that Ferguson charges $50K+ for public speeches, and that this is the audience he is going after: the super wealthy and corporation who can affor...
Two Who Pay Close Attention (21 Aug 2012 01:02pm)
Do you remember this bumper sticker? It has always made a lot of sense to me. Just the same, I try to keep calm. In recent years, this has been more and more difficult. There are two political commentators who I think of when I reflect on, "If You're Not Outraged, You're Not Paying Attention!" The ...
Out of the Mouths of Romney and Fools (20 Aug 2012 12:47pm)
Dylan Matthews over at WonkBlog has a very good article looking at the current crop of Presidential campaign ads. One is the Americans for Prosperity "Has President Obama Earned Your Vote?" ad: Matthews correctly notes: The deficit critic in the ad continues, "I've seen zero interest in reducing ...
Rape and Ha Cha Cha (20 Aug 2012 11:21am)
Ladies (or as I like to think of you, baby vessels), Representative Todd Akin wants you to know that he's got your back. Or your vagina, he didn't get into specifics. By being against the right to abortion even in cases of rape, he isn't saying that you should have to give birth to the rapist's chil...
We're Not Screwing You (19 Aug 2012 01:57pm)
On today's Up with Chris Hayes, he deconstructs the right wing claim that they will not change Medicare for anyone over 55. I've been complaining about this for years, but especially last week. As I wrote then, "In other words: if you are young you probably won't vote for us anyway, so fuck you!" T...
Existential Threats (19 Aug 2012 12:43pm)
There are existential threats all around these days. In the long run, I believe the rich are facing one. In the short run, I am. And the poor always are. Here are a few thoughts on modern American. Class Warfare If there really were class warfare between the 99% and the 1% (actually, more like the...
The People's Touch Not People's Interests (19 Aug 2012 12:31am)
As much as I have problems with his policies and the way that he dealt with the Republicans, the President it great on the campaign trail. He really has the people's touch. It makes me want to follow him. But then I remember that he was going to sell out Social Security and Medicare for a tiny tax w...
My Boy Chris Hayes (18 Aug 2012 04:42pm)
Chris Hayes was fantastic today. He discusses how Paul Ryan's biography betrays his philosophy. He also notes the hypocrisy of Ayn Rand and other conservative icons, but puts it in context. "It's not hypocrisy that bothers me so much as the ridiculous self-serving selective vision of those who have ...
Paul Ryan's Holy Trinity (17 Aug 2012 01:30pm)
I was just writing to Reed Richardson, Eric Alterman's unpaid lackey over at The Nation. Without trying, I think I wrote something semi-brilliant—which is my normal approach to brilliance. Reed just wrote an article Brilliant Disguise. This in itself is a disturbing development because it mean...
Matt Taibbi Acts Like a Man (16 Aug 2012 10:03pm)
It's true. I want to be Chris Hayes' father. On good days (like today), I want to be Ezra Klein's foster dad. But never have I admitted to having a man crush—until today. There are men who I think are ideals of male perfection: George Clooney and Antonio Banderas come to mind. I'd like to look...
Ezra Klein Gets Pissed (16 Aug 2012 12:12pm)
I tell you, this young man is angry. I don't think people understand the significance of this. Despite my recent attempts at humor, Ezra Klein is a sober, careful policy expert. He is not prone to hyperbole. Yet the Romney campaign seems to be driving him over the edge. It is interesting to watch R...
The Entitlement Class (16 Aug 2012 12:47am)
This video will go viral if it hasn't already. Natalie Morales asks about releasing more tax returns and Ann Romney almost jumps out of her seat and attacks the reporter. She is clearly angry, but I don't think this is the most important thing: What comes across most clearly is Ann Romney's sense ...
Conservatives Stop the Vote (15 Aug 2012 11:18pm)
I want to explain why conservatives want to limit the number of people who vote—and I do mean conservatives and not specifically Republicans, because libertarians feel this way too. It all goes back to Plato (or Pluto, the Disney dog—conservatives aren't that clear on the difference). Yo...
He Smiles in Paul Ryan's Face (15 Aug 2012 02:53pm)
If I could talk to Paul Ryan, I would tell him, "He smiles in your face, all the time he wants to take you place." I am speaking, of course, of Ezra Klein. I'm sure you've noticed it. What's he doing? He's getting downright hysterical. Oh, I know what you're thinking: we're all hysterical about Pa...
You Don't Look a Day Older than 76 (15 Aug 2012 10:26am)
This comes via Crooks & Liars. Happy birthday Social Security! ...
Ayn Rand Was NOT a Philosopher (14 Aug 2012 08:42pm)
I thought this was a rather good discussion of Ayn Rand as philosopher. All you need to know about her supposed philosophy is that she claimed it could be boiled down to this: Metaphysics: Objective RealityEpistemology: ReasonEthics: Self-interestPolitics: CapitalismPerhaps you've noticed these kind...
Fuck Me, Please! (14 Aug 2012 12:13pm)
Soledad O'Brien does the most amazing thing: she counter's Romney apologist Barbara Comstock's ridiculous comments about Obama cutting Medicare.[1] The argument the Romney campaign is making is that Obama has cut $700 billion from Medicare and that it is very, very bad. Seniors, be afraid! Be very a...
Gold Stand Gooood; Inflation Baaaad! (13 Aug 2012 01:00pm)
This morning, Brad Plumer writes about Paul Ryan's bizarre ideas about how raising the Fed funds rate would get the economy moving. You see, by making bank credit more expensive, people would start investing more. You know how it is: if you go to the store and lettuce is one dollar, you might buy on...
Stephanopoulos 1; Pawlenty 0 (12 Aug 2012 10:05pm)
Is Tim Pawlenty scared or what?! This is truly amazing: Just in case you aren't as up on all this stuff as weirdos like me: Pawlenty obviously gave Romney more than 2 years of taxes. Why did Romney require more years of taxes than Romney thinks he himself should have to share with the voting publi...
Reagan 2.0 in 2016! (11 Aug 2012 10:04pm)
I've read a lot today about Mitt Romney's pick of Paul Ryan for the VP spot on his ticket. The best was Paul Krugman referring to them as Gekko and Galt: the "greed is good" character from Wall Street and the demigod from Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged. But overall, nothing I read sounded correct. To me,...
Fox News Blond Z-294 (08 Aug 2012 11:31am)
I'm not the only person who is bothered by the conservative blond automatons. Last night, Stephen Colbert discussed the coverage of the lack of patriotism at the Olympics in a segment hosted by, "Fox News Blond Z-294, Alisyn Camerota": The Colbert Report was very funny last night. The second segm...
Economic Apologetics (08 Aug 2012 12:28am)
Apologetics is the defense of a particular doctrine. It is a noble endeavor. But as with most things, it can be done poorly or well. Most people think of apologetics with regard to Christianity. But I think we all see it more often in the field of politics—especially economics. It is just tha...
Assumptions Assumptions Assumptions (07 Aug 2012 01:55pm)
Jonathan Chait is at it again, getting laughs while demolishing right wing idiocy. Today, it is fucktard (accent on the tard) Jennifer Rubin and her willful (?) misunderstanding of the Tax Policy Center's analysis of Mitt Romney's tax plan. This is the analysis that showed that even if you accepted ...
Usain Bolt: Spammer (07 Aug 2012 11:33am)
As though he is not busy enough at the Olympics winning every race he is in (he got the gold in the 100 m—of course—and was first in the first round of the 200 m), I got spammed by him this morning. Well, I got spammed by someone with the same name. What are the odds? You would think Bol...
Good Christian Man (06 Aug 2012 06:57pm)
This morning, Pat Robertson was speculating about why people are always shooting up "houses of worship"—as though people shot in movie theaters don't count. He wondered aloud, "What is it? Is it satanic? Is it some spiritual thing, people who are atheists, they hate God, they hate the expressi...
Republican Whining (06 Aug 2012 02:04pm)
Jonathan Chait has a good article this morning about how Romney's entire campaign is based upon a lie. He starts by noting that Obama's campaign is not exactly snow white: his attacks on outsourcing as simplistic and perhaps even misleading. I would add that they are somewhat hypocritical, because O...
Pepper Spray But One Problem at UC Davis (03 Aug 2012 03:33pm)
I guess I'm glad that Lt. John Pike (Pepper Spraying Cop) has been terminated. But as with all such things (e.g. Abu Ghraib), it seems that Pike was a scapegoat. I'm not saying that he shouldn't have been fired—just that his firing will be used to avoid making structural reforms that are at t...
The Dangers of Ideological Purity (02 Aug 2012 06:55pm)
I recently read Violence: Six Sideways Reflections by Slavoj Žižek. I'll have more to write about it later. But there was one line that really struck me. The great thing about Žižek is that he can write a book titled Violence without talking all that much about violence. In the fourth movement, "A...
More Evil Blondness! (01 Aug 2012 01:11am)
I've written about this before. I overheard another evil blonde conservative woman and I had to post this: Susan Del Percio. ...
Let Buchanan Equal Colmes (29 Jul 2012 03:09pm)
FAIR has long reported on Fox News "liberals"—who are generally nothing more than conservatives in liberal clothing. The other side of this is not much discussed: conservatives on "liberal" shows are generally very conservative. Take Pat Buchanan's longtime association with MSNBC. It was only...
ALEX Exposed (28 Jul 2012 11:38pm)
I'm a big fan of Schoolhouse Rock. In fact, in Otherwise Nice Guys, we used to do the Preamble of the Constitution as an encore—not that anyone ever requested an encore. Here is one of the Schoolhouse Rock videos called "I'm Just a Bill" that shows the traditional route from idea to federal la...
Friedman Embarrasses Us in New Zealand (25 Jul 2012 11:25pm)
Thomas Friedman was in New Zealand late last year and he did a radio interview with Kim Hill. She beats the shit out of him. From his first word Friedman is on the defense, I assume because he already knew who Hill was. It is nice to hear someone go after him. In the United States, I've only ever he...
EU Break Up and War (25 Jul 2012 11:53am)
This morning, Paul Krugman speculates about how the impending Eurozone disaster will affect the political climate. In particular, since all of the "reasonable center" parties have been on board with the disastrous austerity program, once the end comes, the only political parties that won't be soiled...
Your Next President (24 Jul 2012 12:16am)
William Saletan of Slate created a video documenting Mitt Romney's journey regarding reproductive rights. It is appalling (6:43): ...
Capitalism is Not Meritocracy (20 Jul 2012 08:30pm)
I was just listening to a lecture by Slavoj Žižek where he quoted (of all people) Friedrich Hayek. In it, Hayek says that capitalism necessarily rewards some unworthy people and that this is good. If it were only the meritorious who made it to the top in capitalism, people on the bottom couldn't dea...
All The People Who Died (20 Jul 2012 07:32pm)
Maybe I'm just a crude little man. After 9/11, when people talked about the tragedy to the families of victims, I always thought, "I'm sure glad my mother wasn't killed by a drunk driver on that day." Death is death, right? If 3000 people die unnecessarily, that is more tragic than one person simila...
First as Tragedy, Then as Farce—Why Tea Party and OWS Can't Just Get Along (20 Jul 2012 02:48pm)
A reader suggested that I check out Slavoj Žižek. So I grabbed a copy of First As Tragedy, Then As Farce, his attack on modern liberalism from a leftist persepctive. These are my kinds of books. Part of it is just that I'm an iconoclast. I've already researched libertarian theory about as far as one...
The Great Tax Graph Rant (19 Jul 2012 08:47pm)
Ezra Klein sends me to a graph by Naomi Robbins, who is clearly a very smart woman (scientist, grapher). She has created this excellent graph that compares the Obama and Romney federal income tax plans. The main thing about this graph is that it does not distort how much Obama plans to raise taxes t...
Businesses Fleeing to Capitalist Canada (19 Jul 2012 01:58pm)
You've got to see this. I found this new blog Reading is for Snobs via Atrios. The video is queued up at exactly the right place, so there's only about 15 seconds to watch: I can't find this video anymore, but I explain it in the text. John Sununu claims that the rich are fleeing to Canada, that gr...
Ezra's Very Big Problem (19 Jul 2012 12:50pm)
In an article The debate we should be having over ‘you didn’t build that', Ezra Klein says we should really be discussing something other than what we are discussing. This in itself is deceptive. It is only Fox News and colleagues who are discussing President Obama's statement that entrepreneurs did...
John McCain is a Generic Republican (19 Jul 2012 01:31am)
I just tuned into the beginning of The Rachel Maddow Show. She was talking about tests of leadership and mentioned that John McCain passed his test of leadership in this 28 second video clip from the 2008 campaign: I am so tired of McCain getting credit for this. He said this on 10 October 2008. B...
Conservative Definition of "Liberal" (18 Jul 2012 02:21pm)
Suzy Khimm over at WonkBlog reports that Harry Reid read an Ornstein and Mann OpEd on the floor of the Senate this morning. It was about Republican obstruction in Congress. You know: the kind of thing that no serious person could contest. But that doesn't mean a silly (or evil) person couldn't cont...
Paul Ryan Shrugged (18 Jul 2012 12:39am)
Back in 2009, Jonathan Chait wrote a substantial article about Ayn Rand for The New Replublic. In particular, he discussed how Rand has changed the modern conservative movement, even as say was never a part of it. As most people know, Paul Ryan is an Ayn Rand devotee. On the surface, this seems kin...
Romney: Do What I Say Not What I Do (17 Jul 2012 12:05pm)
In a widely quoted passage from The Real Romney, Kranish and Helman explain that when Romney was asked to take over Bain Capital, he first demurred. It was only when he received guarantees that if the Bain Capital venture went bad he would not lose any money and that his reputation would be protecte...
"They" Have Been at It Again (16 Jul 2012 11:46pm)
My schedule is kind of chaotic, so I'm posting in clumps. This one just caught my eye. It is a catch from Media Matters in an article, Fox's Carlson: Obama Is 'Apologizing To Foreign Nations All The Time,' But Won't Apologize To Romney. It is less than one minute: What I find interesting about thi...
Aaron Carroll Get a Bit Annoyed (16 Jul 2012 11:19pm)
Aaron Carroll is a doctor and a healthcare blogger. I wrote to him about a year ago about trend changes in healthcare. He was nice enough to write back that he didn't know what the hell I was talking about. Ah, the trials of a PhD scientist![1] Anyway, he takes on Tyler Cowen's column in the New Yor...
America the Out of Tune (14 Jul 2012 02:49pm)
It has been hard to listen to Mitt Romney sing. Certainly, the fact that I am not tone deaf has something to do with this. But this is not the main reason. It is my intense feelings of pena ajena—the Mexican Spanish phrase for the embarrassment you feel watching someone else’s humiliation. Bu...
Don't Drink the Water, Ezra! (13 Jul 2012 02:55pm)
I don't enjoy talking about Ezra Klein, especially now that my article Ezra Klein Gets "Serious" got so much attention, thanks to the kind and wise people at Crooks & Liars. But Klein hit a new low today in an article 14 reasons why this is the worst Congress ever. In it, he claims that the 112th Co...
Give 'em Hell, Harry! (13 Jul 2012 01:12am)
My father sent me to this. Who would have thought Harry Reid and he would ever agree on anything? ...
I Remember... (13 Jul 2012 12:22am)
I'm no big fan of the Democratic Party, but this November I don't see how any thinking person can not support them. And if I were to dream: Obama reelected with a Democratic Congress might do some very good things—things they could have done in 2009 if they hadn't been too chickenshit to get r...
Stupid Petulant Schoolgirl (12 Jul 2012 10:58pm)
Did you know that on average, blondes are more intelligent than brunettes? And yet, we think of blondes as being stupid. I don't know how this started, but I know a big factor in perpetuating this myth: blonde conservative female pundits. Now, I'm not thinking about people like Gretchen Carlson. I ...
Temp Employment Not Up (12 Jul 2012 12:03pm)
On Tuesday, I wrote about how we all are job creators when we buy anything and that because the poor spend all of their money just to get by, they are better job creators than the rich: A Million Poor Job Creators. In that article, I discussed this ridiculous idea that conservatives love to throw ar...
Robert Reich Being All Smart and Shit (11 Jul 2012 08:35pm)
Robert Reich is at it again being all smart and right and shit. He says that the Progressives want to pull our country into the future whereas the Regressives (represented by a party that starts with "r" but frankly also a lot of the people in a party that starts with "d") want to drag the country b...
Of Puppets and Marginal Tax Rates (11 Jul 2012 10:10am)
The puppet on the left is George. He looks friendly, doesn't he? Well, he's not. If you close his mouth, you can see him for the grim misanthrope that he is. But angry though he may be, we still love George for all the joy that he, as a puppet, provides for all the world, even if he would prefer it ...
A Million Poor Job Creators (10 Jul 2012 08:32pm)
Paul Krugman has an excellent post regarding the incentives of marginal tax rates. He shows that marginal tax rates are highest on low income people trying to wean themselves off welfare programs. I wrote about this before: Catch-22 for Poor in America. Krugman also talks about how the rich don't do...
The Great Divergence (07 Jul 2012 09:20pm)
Ever noticed how you don't hear much about economic inequality? Sure, you'll hear about poverty and how to employ more people. But when it comes to structural inequality, forget about it. And the reason is that it is the rich who determine what is discussed in the public square and they do not like ...
Ezra Klein Gets "Serious" (06 Jul 2012 12:17pm)
Ezra Klein has an interesting article about the jobs plans of Obama and Romney. But as usual, he is maddeningly "even handed" in a case that is not even. He claims that each have four main items. First, he gives Romney's: Expand domestic energy productionTrade agreements with Latin AmericaTrade pol...
Happy 4th: American Imperialism (04 Jul 2012 12:36pm)
You can't love an object you don't really see. See America, and then we'll talk. We're number one! We're number one!...
Libertarian Pets (03 Jul 2012 09:05pm)
I'm away visiting family so I won't have much to say here. I did come upon this great cartoon over at Patheos, in a discussion of bleeding heart libertarians that is well worth reading. ...
Who Mourns for Governor Yells-At-People? (03 Jul 2012 12:53am)
Watch this video and see if you can't managed just a little sympathy for Governor Yells-At-People: I have almost no capacity to stay mad at someone who is not actively being a dick. So I could take Christie's side in a second, if only he would stop being a dick. The problem is that he never does s...
Reich on Romney (02 Jul 2012 12:57pm)
Robert Reich has written a very interesting article for The Nation called Mitt Romney and the New Gilded Age. It discusses how it came to be that one of the two major political parties in the United States nominated a man for president who epitomizes everything that is wrong in our country. It was o...
God Bless Naive Fools (01 Jul 2012 11:28pm)
For about three and a half years, I've really hated the bumper sticker on the left. There are a lot of reasons. The first was that I saw it within a week of his taking office. Clearly, people were putting "So how do you like Obama now?" on their bumpers because you just couldn't fit, "I'm an asshole...
SCOTUS Sasquatch Uphold ACA! (01 Jul 2012 10:49am)
Just so you don't think that I'm hiding from my incorrect prediction regarding the SCOTUS ACA ruling, I'm bringing you Avedon Carol's correct prediction: Carol is right: it is all about corporate profits. I don't buy all the discussion to the effect that Roberts is trying to save the legitimacy of...
Killing Device 13417670 (30 Jun 2012 12:35am)
This is the serial number of a piece of debris from a drone strike in Pakistan that allegedly (but almost certainly) killed civilians. Your tax dollars at work. This was reported tonight on The Rachel Maddow Show. In general, I'm not fond of Maddow's coverage of war because it is too America-centere...
Antonin Scalia's Mental Degradation (29 Jun 2012 09:43pm)
Despite my reminder, I'm not sure what I wanted to write about. It may have something to do with the fact that I drank a beer and I am a light-weight in the Teetotaler's Drinking Olympics. But I'm not so far gone to forget to mentioned that the word "teetotaler" has nothing to do with "tea" as is co...
Ben Bradlee and Integrity (29 Jun 2012 04:45pm)
I'm posting this to remind myself of something I want to write later today. But it also happens to be great. In an excellent column on Wednesday, Eric Alterman wrote Attack Dog Jennifer Rubin Muddies the Washington Post's Reputation. He tells the story of the Washington Post and their search for a ...
Daily Show Triples Down on "Fast and Furious" (28 Jun 2012 11:23am)
The Daily Show often annoys me. Unlike The Colbert Report, Jon Stewart seems to have at least a couple of "conservative" comedians. Or his otherwise liberal comedians really have to strain when trying to produce comedy from a conservative standpoint. For various reasons, The Colbert Report feels no ...
Harry Reid Gets Mad (27 Jun 2012 01:53am)
It is somewhat heartening to know that men like Harry Reid are in positions of power: I'll update regarding what comes of this. Update Today, the Senate passed the Flood Insurance bill without Rand Paul's amendment. You go Harry! ...
The Devil Wears Robes (26 Jun 2012 11:22pm)
Scott Lemieux has an excellent article over at The American Prospect about yesterday's ruling on Arizona's SB 1070—the "Show me your Papers!" law. He spends most of the article talking about Scalia's angry dissent. I don't pay enough attention to the Supreme Court, but even I've noticed that S...
Kittens Are People, My Friend (25 Jun 2012 02:45pm)
Corporations are things owned by people. This is what Mitt Romney meant when he said, "Corporations are people, my friend!" (Don't you love the condescending tone of that "my friend"?) I don't accept this, of course. Another example of how wrong this is, is that we can't set up our cats as employees...
Forget the Policy: They Just Hate You (25 Jun 2012 01:46pm)
Jonathan Chait says what few in the mainstream media will: the GOP think healthcare is a privilege. He writes [Bold is mine. -FM]: This is why it’s vital to bring yourself face-to face with the implications of mass uninsurance — not as emotional manipulation, but to force you to decide what forms o...
Post-Truth Politics (24 Jun 2012 09:26am)
I was kind of hard on Chris Hayes yesterday about his book Twilight of the Elites. But he is still an exceptional political observer. He is great at the beginning of this clip: ...
Twilight of an Elite? (23 Jun 2012 07:50pm)
As my regular readers know, I like Chris Hayes. He's smart. He's knowledgeable. And he's cute as a button. If I had a son, I'd want him to be just like Chris Hayes, even though I know he would be much more like Ezra Klein. I was really looking forward to his new book, Twilight of the Elites: America...
Ha-Joon Chang's Excellent 23 Things (22 Jun 2012 12:51pm)
Last week I read Ha-Joon Chang's exceptional 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism. Frankly, I'm smitten with Chang. Andrea claims I have some kind of man-crush on Paul Krugman. There is no doubt that I am very impressed by this ability to make economics[1] understandable, his insightful ex...
Bennie and the Fed (21 Jun 2012 02:10pm)
Lots of politics today. Matthew Yglesias asks a very smart question, "If the unemployment and inflation rates were reversed, would the Fed do something about it?" You see, the Federal Reserve has a double mandate: minimize inflation and maximize employment. Right now, the inflation rate is less than...
CEO: Romantic Hero Archetype (21 Jun 2012 01:27pm)
Melissa Harris-Perry—who is Beautiful, Intelligent, Learned—had a nice segment on her show last weekend. She discusses this idea that a business career is a great (or even) good background for someone becoming the POTUS. It is a good discussion: One thing that isn't discussed is an ide...
Income Distribution - Perceptions and Truth (21 Jun 2012 12:24am)
This amazing graph is taken from The Rachel Maddow Show. It is based upon work from the two academics listed on the graph. The bottom chart is the distribution of income that Americans think would be right. The yellow line is the top 20% of earners, the orange line is the next 20%, and so on. The mi...
Conservative Energy Priorities (18 Jun 2012 11:35am)
Brad Plumer over at WonkBlog is writing about activists calling for an end to the $775 billion per year spent to subsidize the oil, gas, and coal industries. In the United States alone, it is over $11 billion per year. It really is shocking, because these industries are hugely profitable. Contrast ...
The Other Evil (13 Jun 2012 10:07pm)
There were several things that I was going to write today, but it is too darn hot.[1] So I'm going to just quickly note that Colin Powell is on a book tour hocking what looks to be a real POS, It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership. On The Daily Show he said the book can be summed up by the first...
You Say Potato and I Say Genetically Modified Food Product (10 Jun 2012 02:54pm)
There is something unethical at the core of conservative thought. I even saw it in myself when I was a libertarian. At that time, I really did not want a lot of people voting because I knew that they would not vote along with my Loony Tunes ideology. This came to my mind this morning, reading Eric ...
Heterodox Economics (10 Jun 2012 12:53pm)
I just finished Bad Samaritans: The Myth of Free Trade and the Secret History of Capitalism by Ha-Joon Chang. It is refreshing to read an economist who attacks the free trade movement. I've long said that I look forward to a time when I disagree with Paul Krugman. The truth is that we disagree about...
Ha-Joon Chang (09 Jun 2012 10:28am)
As I wrote yesterday, I'm reading University of Cambridge economist Ha-Joon Chang's Bad Samaritans and I'm waiting for his new book 23 Things They Don't Tell You About Capitalism. Here is a taste of his thinking: ...
Vive la république! (05 Jun 2012 12:39pm)
I was talking to Will this morning and he asked how I was going to vote Prop. 29, the California cigarette tax. I told him that I thought it was a good idea. He countered that he didn't like the idea of making smokers, who are generally poor in more than one way, pay this tax. If he could tax the ci...
A Tale of Two Stories (05 Jun 2012 10:51am)
This morning, Will sent me two stories from the Press Democrat that are revealing. Sunday, we have A flurry of flipping. It tells a glowing story of Blue Mountain Realty: In an unprecedented effort to buy and flip distressed properties in Sonoma County, a Vacaville company has purchased more than $...
Conservative Foolishness on Electric Cars (03 Jun 2012 12:05pm)
Liberals can be silly; I've written about this recently. But conservatives are really the kings of talking out their asses. I've been amazed by the recent attacks on funding for solar panels (Solyndra) and electric cars. The argument seems to be that the government should only invest in sure things&...
Sauce Is Good For the Goose! (02 Jun 2012 12:22pm)
Thursday, the Romney campaign sent a bunch of protesters to heckle David Axelrod's event in Boston. When asked about this, Romney said, "Sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander." What's interesting about this is that most commentators (especially on MSNBC) are focusing on the goose line rather ...
Pay No Attention! (02 Jun 2012 12:05am)
Atrios writes: It's just not polite to mention the fact that if they had any decency, all the top people at the Fed would be resigning in shame. There would be public pressure for them to do so, and the press would amplify such pressure. Instead it's just LEAVE BEN BERNANKE ALOOOOOOONE, trust the m...
Krugman vs. Austerians (31 May 2012 03:09pm)
This is great. In this country, I've noticed that people who disagree with Paul Krugman tend to simply ignore his arguments and call him crazy. Last night, he was on the BBC's Newnight, debating vulture capitalist Jon Moulton and conservative MP Andrea Leadsom. The two came out swinging and got blo...
Krauts with Attitude (30 May 2012 11:09pm)
Yesterday, Brad Plumer over at WonkBlog wrote an article called Today in European Stereotypes, which contained some really interesting data from a couple of different sources. Plumer chose to provide the data in stages in order to present it as a mystery story. And he was very effective. I for one c...
End This Depression Now! (29 May 2012 03:20pm)
I hadn't planned to read Paul Krugman's new book End This Depression Now! I read his blog every day and I've read all of his books for lay audiences, so I didn't think there would be much to offer in this book. But I couldn't help myself. The book is a quick read; Krugman writes in a breezy style th...
Restore the Old Top Tax Bracket (25 May 2012 09:39pm)
The graph on the left shows the median family income over the last 35 years. What you notice is that incomes have not increased much over this time period: roughly $5,000 or 10%. That is far far far less than the per capita increase in income over that same time. The reason for this is that almost a...
American Unexceptionalism (24 May 2012 10:26am)
Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman got caught in a brouhaha recently after claiming that he wasn't sure if President Obama was a citizen. This is a big deal because it calls into question the legitimacy of the government by one of its official representatives. This statement didn't really bother me, ...
Pretend Scientist Fred Singer (23 May 2012 10:34pm)
When I was a global change scientist, I had occasion to hang out with Fred Singer. This isn't surprising, because I was an iconoclast in a group of iconoclasts. And the fact is that at that time (the early 1990s), there was a lot to doubt about global warming. The models weren't that good and we had...
NATO Protest: 20 May 2012 (23 May 2012 09:04pm)
Our friend, the photographer George Henry was at the NATO protest on Sunday. And for the kindness of covering the event, he was beaten up and arrested. Of course, that doesn't distinguish him from many people at the event. In the photo below, we see our protectors of order protecting the order. Geor...
Sarah Palin: Stupid and Evil Defined (23 May 2012 12:45am)
I take back anything nice or understanding I ever said about Sarah Palin. She is stupid—at least compared to other people who are around her—people like Sean Hannity, who are not themselves intellectual giants. Ditto for her morality, which at least is no worse than that of those who ar...
The Meaning of Facebook (21 May 2012 12:24pm)
As regular users know, I read Ezra Klein regularly, but I have problems with him. He is too intent on seeing both sides of every conflict, even when he has to strain credulity to do so. Thirty years ago, the truth was somewhere between left and right in this country—more to the left, but the r...
Klan Members for Obama! (20 May 2012 09:03pm)
Jim Lo Scalzo spent last summer in Southwestern Virginia taking pictures of the resurgent Klu Klux Klan. Before we get to the great article he wrote for Bag News, I feel I must tell you that I had no idea the Klan outfits were so beautiful. They are really gorgeous. If they would embrace their inne...
TED Talks Show True Colors (17 May 2012 09:45pm)
There's been much controversy about Nick Hanauer's talk for TED. He made an argument that shouldn't even have to be made: high levels of inequality are not only morally wrong but bad for the rich as well as the poor and middle class. At first, the head of TED, Chris Anderson, would not post the vide...
Conservative "Morality" (16 May 2012 10:17pm)
I'm very fond of Robert Reich, but I think he is fundamentally wrong in discussing how conservatives have public and private morality backwards. Yesterday, he noted that Mitt Romney thinks that banks—in particular, J. P. Morgan Chase—should be allowed to do whatever they want, because th...
"Power Players" on Jeopardy! Out of Touch (16 May 2012 09:42pm)
This week on the game show Jeopardy! they are presenting "Power Players," which is basically media figures. Tonight the show featured evil spawn of an arguably great man, Chris Wallace; proof that anyone can become a doctor and have their own TV show, Dr. Oz; and hardly great but the British press a...
Letter to the Editor (11 May 2012 10:03pm)
I always look forward to Fridays, for many reasons, but especially because Eric Alterman releases his blog post that day where he also has at least one of his own articles and one by Reed Richardson. Last week, I clicked over to The Nation where Alterman keeps his blog, Altercation, and... Nothing! ...
We're Doomed (10 May 2012 08:19pm)
When I was working in the field in the early 1990s, the concentration of carbon-dioxide was roughly 340 ppmv. I knew it was rising, of course; but I was surprised to read today that it is now just short of 400 ppmv. This is worrying enough, but yesterday, that titan of the field, James Hanson, wrote...
Enormous Mustache (10 May 2012 06:57pm)
As I've reported before, Atrios named Thomas Friedman the Wanker of the Decade. Via his site, The Partisan Report has produced Thomas Friedman Is An Enormous Mustache. It is the funniest thing I've seen this week, and that's saying a lot. ...
George Zimmerman and Fernwood 2 Night (10 May 2012 12:26pm)
Is this still funny in the age of George Zimmerman? Yes! ...
Working for the NSA (06 May 2012 09:56pm)
The problem with working for the NSA: That's part of it for sure. Update Just so you know: I think Good Will Hunting is a terrible film—especially coming from Gus Van Sant, who has made a few great films. Of course, what really makes it retched is the script: a child's idea of "deep." But ...
War Monger Apologia (04 May 2012 12:41am)
I was working in Silicon Valley for the last couple of years of the boom. The bust came as no surprise to me. I was working for a real estate investment company up through 2006. The later financial meltdown came as no surprise to me. I was freelancing up through 2003 and so was listening to a lot of...
May Day Reading (01 May 2012 10:26pm)
On this May Day, it seems like a good time to talked about a great American tradition: socialism. I've never thought that much about socialism, because I learned in an introductory course in economics that pretty much every country on earth is a mixed economy: part socialist and part capitalist. And...
Happy May Day (01 May 2012 02:16pm)
Media Matters is reporting on the Fox News campaign to link May Day to Soviet Russia. As they point out, May Day started in 1867 after a week-long strike in response to the fact that "a state law limiting the work day to eight hours was ignored." Later today, I will have more to say about socialism ...
Romney and the Bandwagon (01 May 2012 11:23am)
Jonathan Cohn in writing about Romney's changing opinions on the auto bailout, reprints a number of tweets from Oliver Willis. The idea is that Romney's got a bandwagon problem. He was against going into Pakistan to get bin Laden, at least until it was done successfully. He was against the auto bail...
A Good Cry (27 Apr 2012 03:02pm)
This is the sort of thing that commonly makes me burst into tears. Not because it is awful. It is actually kind of sweet: I don't understand what this guy thought he was doing. He wanted to protect the children from multiculturalism by killing them? Sixty-nine of them? Anders Behring Breivik[1] re...
My Vote for President (23 Apr 2012 11:12am)
Unfortunately, he isn't running in the United States: Francois Hollande. Why, oh why, can't we have a real political debate in this country? Why are we limited to "right" and "far right"? ...
Wanker of the Decade (17 Apr 2012 09:40pm)
Atrios is celebrating a decade of blogging. And despite a maddening number of typos and grammar errors, he is still a good read. By way of celebration, he has been counting down to worst political pundits in a "Wankers of the Decade" series. Well, the time has come. Today, he posted his The One True...
Unlikely Twins: Capehart and Lizza (17 Apr 2012 12:37pm)
Last Night on The Last Word, Jonathan Capehart and Ryan Lizza were talking about the current Romney scandal. But all I could think was, "Do these guys have the same mother? Who dresses them?" ...
Must See TV (16 Apr 2012 10:12pm)
I'm spending almost all my time on a video series and some publishing matters as well as my taxes, where I paid only a slightly less percentage than Mitt Romney, even though he made 1000 times as much. Anyway, that's why there hasn't been much posting. Until I get around to something, you should rea...
Roberts Will Follow Kennedy (06 Apr 2012 11:31am)
I want to put in my prediction of how the Supreme Court will rule on the individual mandate of the ACA. Rube Goldberg Law For the record, I'm not fond of this piece of legislation. It is a huge giveaway to the insurance industry that adds nothing to the system. In the name of getting bipartisan su...
Oil Sands Won't Save Our Economy (04 Apr 2012 11:04am)
I'm sort of on vacation, so just a quick note here. Exxon-Mobile is an evil corporation and Artis Brown, supposedly an engineer, is an evil apologist. In the most recent add, he repeats the widely discredited talking point that the oil sands pipeline could create more than half a million jobs. Why s...
Creepy Cruise (30 Mar 2012 03:18pm)
Recently, I have noticed that The Nation really is a better magazine than The Progressive. For one thing, it comes out weekly and so is able to better keep up on what is happening. However, I don't think The Nation is that great. This morning, I got an email message from Victor Navasky and Katrina ...
Blah Blah Blah... (29 Mar 2012 12:56pm)
Atrios (Duncan Bowen Black) normally writes far too little. He is kind of like Daily KOS, providing an outlet for others to rant. But this morning, he wrote something that made me feel marginally better during a month that has been pretty much all bad. Can We End That Era: For the past couple of de...
Good Lord! (24 Mar 2012 07:18pm)
With all this discussion of the Trayvon Martin murder, various news outlets are dredging up old cases that are similar, like the Bernhard Goetz case. I was very surprised to hear about the Joe Horn in Texas. In this case, Horn, a 61 year old retiree, used the Texas "Castle Doctrine" law to murder tw...
Just Saw Hot Coffee (24 Mar 2012 01:50pm)
Hot Coffee, the documentary about the infamous McDonald's coffee spill lawsuit, is out on DVD. For more, check out my brief article on it from last June. I just watched the film. It is much better than I expected. You should see it. Be prepared, however: it will make you angry; it will make you sad....
Ezra Klein Gives Paul Ryan a Break (21 Mar 2012 11:31am)
I like Ezra Klein; he is very honest and accurate and insightful. But he is too committed to a middle-of-the-road approach to politics. In Wonkbook today, he discusses the new Paul Ryan budget. And as is his way, he dismantles it. Like many other commentators, he notices that the budget can be desc...
The Jewish Question (17 Mar 2012 09:32pm)
When I was growing up, I didn't know what it was to be Jewish. It turns out that I wanted to be Jewish, because all the people I looked up to were Jewish: Saul Bellow, Philip Roth, Woody Allen. I know: what I was actually into was urbane intellectualism. But the point is that I had no idea that they...
The Virus of Reason (15 Mar 2012 11:30pm)
On his show tonight, Sean Hannity said that this clip of Bill Maher... was equivalent to this one of Rush Limbaugh... Amazing. ...
Boycott The Hobbit (15 Mar 2012 12:56pm)
The fucktards associated with Saul Zaentz's production company are trying to shut down a pub in England. Why? Because it is called The Hobbit and the first part of Peter Jackson's film is supposed to come out this December. The pub[1] has been in existence for 20 years, during which time Zaentz has ...
Dennis Moore (15 Mar 2012 10:41am)
If we look at tax policy in the United States, we see that the government works as a kind of reverse Robin Hood. Conservatives like to say that inequality is surging everywhere so: nothing to be done! But of course, even this logic isn't consistent. What's more, the basic facts are incorrect. Inequa...
Conservative Arrogance and Willful Ignorance (13 Mar 2012 03:04pm)
I've talked before about David Harvey's excellent Marxist critique of our current economic crisis. HowTheWorldWorks presented a response video titled Crisis of Capitalism, The Critique. It is offensive in its ignorance or disingenuousness. Noscman1 then presented a response to that video titled "The...
Pee on Me[1] (13 Mar 2012 01:34pm)
Yesterday, I was talking to Andrea and the subject of trickle down economics came up. I said that it should really be called "tinkle down economics" because it is all about urinating on the poor. She countered with something that I don't even like to think about, so I certainly won't repeat it here....
"'Cause you're just like Hillary" (13 Mar 2012 01:16am)
Let's suppose that I didn't have HBO, but really wanted to see Game Change. I know I can't get an online subscription to HBO, because I've tried. And I don't have a TV. That would leave me with two options: find an illegal copy online or go visit a friend who has HBO. Let's just assume I went to vis...
TWiB is Back! (12 Mar 2012 08:55pm)
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Dehumanizing Iranians and Jews (11 Mar 2012 09:46pm)
On 60 Minutes tonight, Diane Sawyer interviewed Meir Dagan, former Director of the Mossad. The reason for the interview is that Dagan believes it would be a mistake for Israel (or the United States) to attack Iran regarding its alleged nuclear weapons program. At the beginning of the interview, Daga...
Obama at His Best (06 Mar 2012 07:23pm)
From an article by Jonathan Chait: ...
$57,000 Per Day (06 Mar 2012 09:33am)
According to Think Progress, Mitt Romney's wife Ann, told Fox News, "We can be poor in spirit, and I don’t even consider myself wealthy, which is an interesting thing, it can be here today and gone tomorrow." The couple's total income last year was $20.9 million dollars (they have a total wealth of ...
Fear and Loathing in Politics (04 Mar 2012 12:45pm)
In an article, 2012 or Never, in New York Magazine, the always interesting and often funny Jonathan Chait discusses the long-term (but not long off) trend away from Republican and toward Democratic dominance. This is not exactly breaking news. What's more, there is a counter argument (which Chait di...
Death as Public Good (02 Mar 2012 12:17am)
A lot of people are talking about Andrew Breitbart dying. In general, the script goes something like this: I disagreed with him, but he wasn't who he appeared to be; the private man was different and I morn his death. The problem with this is that no one would be talking about Breitbart if it weren'...
Vote Sideshow Bob (28 Feb 2012 07:21pm)
Jonathan Chait notes that the Republican primary is turning out to be a lot like an episode of The Simpsons: ...
Lysistrata Alive and Well in Virginia (26 Feb 2012 03:36pm)
Regular readers know how much I like Aristophanes—at least English translations of him. Over 2000 years before the Elizabethan playwrights, he knew how to write a comedy. And none of them did. I think we have to get all the way out to the Restoration before we get a really good comedy in Great...
Specter Stood Still (24 Feb 2012 11:21am)
I was thinking about Arlen Specter this morning. It all goes back to my often stated observation that the policies of such conservative icons of the past like Ronald Reagan and Dick Nixon would place them well inside the mainstream of the Democratic Party. There is a caveat, however. Politicians op...
Remix (23 Feb 2012 02:49pm)
I've been working on an internet video series called The Post, Post Modern Comedy Hour. It's kind of a kids' show for adults. And part of it involves a group of people watching TV commercials. It is one of the best parts of the shows. And thus, it has been bugging me because I don't know if we can g...
Apology Accepted (23 Feb 2012 11:56am)
I've been waiting for this. After Pete Hoekstra's "Debbie Spend it NOW" Super Bowl ad that aired in Michigan, I just knew that the actor who played the semi-fluent Chinese woman would come forward. When any job is offered to a young actor, it has to be exciting. It would be easy not to think it thro...
Khader Adnan (21 Feb 2012 08:11pm)
According to various news sources, Khader Adnan has ended his 66-day hunger strike in return for the Israeli government agreeing to release him from "administrative detention"—a phrase the Israeli government gives for holding 309 people indefinitely without charge (one man has been held for ov...
Corporations are Rarely Creators (21 Feb 2012 02:41pm)
Lawrence Lessig's 2004 book Free Culture is even more depressing 8 years later. But it is really worth reading, even (or perhaps especially) now. He starts the book by talking about the Wright brothers' invention of the airplane. I had never read Lessig, so I thought he was going to start talking a...
Doing My Part for Romney (20 Feb 2012 07:13pm)
Just as with gay rights advocates and Rick Santorum's name, animal rights advocates are associating Mitt Romney's name with something unpleasant. Because I don't deal well with scatological matters, I will leave it to you to click on Santorum to find out what it means. However, I am happy to tell yo...
Byron Dorgan’s Crystal Ball (19 Feb 2012 05:06pm)
One of the main things that the Banking (Glass-Steagall) Act of 1933 did, was to separate banks as most of us know them (places where you have a checking account) from investment banks. The act had already been cut back in 1980 with the Depository Institutions Deregulation and Monetary Control Act. ...
Bill Gates, Sr? (18 Feb 2012 12:14am)
This is from Paul Krugman's Playboy Interview: Bill Gates Sr. used to say this: Suppose you were given the choice of being born in America or in Ethiopia. What proportion of your eventual fortune would you be willing to give to be born in America? Given the great good fortune of getting to live and...
Your Authoritarian Brain on Power (17 Feb 2012 11:08am)
Talking Points Memo had an article yesterday: How The GOP Went Back To The 1950s In Just One Day. In it, Evan McMorris-Santoro discusses the three big events that the Republicans, who are amazingly tone deaf for politicians, managed to cram into a single day: First, Darrell Issa's hearing on contra...
Don't Worry Your Pretty Little Heads, We'd Got it Covered (16 Feb 2012 03:31pm)
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Killing Properly (16 Feb 2012 03:09pm)
Before Cicero was murdered, he said, "There is nothing proper about what you are doing, soldier, but do try to kill me properly." When I just tried to do a Google search on Cicero, Google offered me an option: Cicero's Pizza. Cicero's final words came to my mind. There is nothing proper about what w...
Ezra, Ezra, Ezra... (16 Feb 2012 02:22pm)
I really like Ezra Klein. For one thing, he's a hard working guy—he posted the following clip at 3:52 am, his time. But even more important, he knows how to cut to the chase (unlike the people who work for him who are also good just not as). On the issue of what has changed in the Obama admini...
Hate What You Do Not Know (15 Feb 2012 01:22am)
Recently, I read an article (which I can no longer find) that showed that conservative opinion only has a shelf life of a generation. What this means is that after a generation, conservative opinion becomes so abhorrent that no one is willing to claim it. Take, for example, the opinion on civil righ...
Santorum's My Man (15 Feb 2012 12:10am)
I've decided to vote for Rick Santorum. The thing is, I just can't manage my life. I don't know who to fuck, where to fuck them, and how. So Santorum is my man. He'll tell me how to live my life. And isn't that what we all want: a government that looks out for the rights of corporations but greatly ...
He Says it There, it Comes Out Here (13 Feb 2012 10:15pm)
Watch Ezra Klein hosting The Rachel Maddow Show: Or read this blog posting by him: Comparing taxes under Obama’s and Romney’s budgets But don't do both. You see, they are pretty much identical. And you would expect this. And this just shows that if Rachel Maddow had a blog I habitually read ever...
Those Who Receive Most Also Hate Most (13 Feb 2012 10:25am)
Paul Krugman presented a graph of the 50 United States by the ratio the federal taxes they pay to the federal money they receive. It is interesting. Here are the top ten states that pay the most and receive the least (and who they voted for in 2008): Delaware (Obama) Minnesota (Obama) Connecticut (...
It Cannot Last. I hope. (12 Feb 2012 11:05pm)
Today, Paul Krugman posits that the current state of the GOP is due to the fact that while the party's policies are for the very rich, they have gotten elected by appealing to social conservatives and other whack jobs. As an example, he talks about George W. Bush, who won (I dispute this) the 2004 e...
Playing Two Halves is Asking A Lot (12 Feb 2012 01:50pm)
I'm sick, so I don't know that I will post anything today. But I found this ad that I thought was very funny. It is a parody of Clint Eastwood's Halftime in America ad. I'm surprised that there haven't been more of them.[1] It was created by comedian Andy Cobb: From the poster: No, seriously, he ...
Damn You to Hell, Eric Alterman! (11 Feb 2012 08:52pm)
It must be that Eric Alterman doesn't get much mail. Certainly, he is kind of an old-fashioned guy. He doesn't allow comments on this "blog." And he doesn't post all the time. I hate Fridays because it is the beginning of the weekend, and there are lots of reasons to hate the weekend. But there are...
The Devil for Conservatives (10 Feb 2012 11:13pm)
Bill Maher has a great take-down of the conservative obsession with Saul Alinsky. For those who don't know him, Alinsky was a community organizer from the 1930s through his death in 1972. The Right (Reich?) would have you believe that he was some kind of radical, but he was anything but. I think the...
Catch 22 for Poor in America (08 Feb 2012 07:59pm)
Paul Krugman provided some class notes on his site today. In them, he reprinted a graph from The Hefty Penalty on Marriage Facing Many Households with Children. The graph confused me to be honest. As a result, I read the original paper and managed to figure it out. Lucky you because (hopefully) you ...
China Owns America! In Republican Ads (07 Feb 2012 04:21pm)
Laura Berman over at The Detroit News doesn't like Pete Hoekstra's dumber than racist "China owns America!" commercial: With his controversial new Super Bowl commercial and website, Pete Hoekstra seems to think he's got the advertising instincts and guts of Chrysler's Sergio Marchionne. My instin...
The Reasonable Conservative (07 Feb 2012 10:40am)
Liberals like David Frum—they think of him as the Reasonable Conservative. But like any conservative, that doesn't mean much. Yesterday, he wrote an excellent review of racist pseudo-scientist and conservative apologist Charles Murray's ("Blacks are poor because they're dumb!") Coming Apart. (...
Fat Men Can't Run (07 Feb 2012 12:36am)
I keep seeing this clip of Ann Coulter saying that if the Republicans don't run Chris Christie, Romney will be the nominee and they will lose: But when I see Christie, I am appalled. It isn't that Christie is fat. I understand. A person's weight is largely determined by their genetics. I've seen ...
Paul, Niall, and Fareed (05 Feb 2012 10:52pm)
On 8 July 2010, Paul Krugman and Niall Ferguson were on Fareed Zakaria GPS.[1] Niall Ferguson was saying that we have to deal with the budget deficit now. He's been saying this for years. Paul Krugman was saying that we need to stimulate the economy. He also said that eventually, we would need to de...
Conservative Liberals: am I Wrong? (05 Feb 2012 03:55pm)
VoteView has provided the following graph of how much to the right or left all the presidents since World War II are: This is interesting in that it shows very clearly that Obama is the most conservative Democratic president in the post-war period. But it also goes against my often stated contenti...
Kill Your Daughters (03 Feb 2012 12:17pm)
According to MSNBC (and many other sources), "In a reversal of Susan G. Komen For the Cure's funding cuts to Planned Parenthood, the founder and CEO of the nation's largest breast-cancer advocacy agency said Friday that the group would amend the criteria that sparked a firestorm." Despite what Kome...
Why I Like Romney (03 Feb 2012 10:59am)
I remember the 1980 presidential election. I remember that liberal-minded people were thrilled that the Republicans had nominated Ronald Reagan. And then he won, and the United States has been on a constant ride to more inequality that I fear eventually leads to some form of neo-fascism (admittedly,...
Death of the Liberal Class (02 Feb 2012 10:31pm)
I just picked up Chris Hedges' Death of the Liberal Class. It is an excellent book. He argues that the liberal class—basically, the professional class—has traditionally served as a counterbalance to corporate power. Over the past many decades, however, the corporate class has eroded and ...
Lou Dobbs: Ignorant and Evil (31 Jan 2012 03:21pm)
Lou Dobbs (You know: the bigot!) was on The Daily Show last night. I frankly don't understand why Jon Stewart gives vile people like Dobbs the platform. All he did on the show was defend Fox News and attack Obama. But that didn't surprise me. It did, however, surprise me when he said this: It's a l...
Puppet News (30 Jan 2012 01:44pm)
Kermit, of course, is one of my heroes. But the loud-mouthed pig nails it here: ...
Republicans are Wimps (27 Jan 2012 11:17pm)
Laura Ingraham on her radio show (from The Rachel Maddow Show): I was going back on YouTube ... and I was watching some of Reagan's old debates from the 60s—late 60s, early 70s. There wasn't a place he wouldn't go to argue the conservative message and advocate for conservative principles. And...
Copyright is for Wimps (27 Jan 2012 07:59pm)
Dean Baker wrote an excellent article about copyright that goes along with much of what I (as the creator of many copyrighted works) believe. I certainly don't want to go back to the days of Cervantes when publishers alone were allowed copyright of authors' works. But the truth is that today, with a...
PolitiFact Has Sucked for a Good Long Time (25 Jan 2012 10:07pm)
I gave up on PolitiFact a couple of years ago—long before the recent ridiculousness about the claim that House Republicans voted to end Medicare was named their Lie of the Year. The truth is that if you go to PolitiFact (I don't recommend it, so I won't provide a link), you will see that in ge...
The Problem With Iran that I Don't Understand (25 Jan 2012 09:47am)
I would be worried what people would have to say about this article, but no one reads my political writing. So I will go ahead and pretend to be brave. I don't understand all the uproar about Iran's supposed nuclear weapons program. First, of course, there is the issue that the evidence is pretty p...
Power for Its Own Sake (24 Jan 2012 01:44pm)
Paul Krugman provided the following graph of total public and private debt, which I altered with red with the presidents at the different times. The only Republican who doesn't look too bad is George H. W. Bush, who was an old-fashioned conservative. What it shows, as I've discussed before, is that ...
A Really Big Problem (23 Jan 2012 10:09pm)
As regular readers of this blog know, my background is in climate change science. And recently, I have become very angry about continued global warming denial, because now it sounds so much like evolution denial. I think I may have a way to talk to conservatives about it. I just heard Fred Thompson...
RICO Laws and Regulation (23 Jan 2012 01:59pm)
Last Thursday on The Daily Show, Jason Jones did a very funny segment about the over-regulation of the Mob via the RICO laws: I really like this and I think it gets at the heart of what is wrong with the economy: it is largely controlled by thieves. But as usual with The Daily Show, I'm not really...
I'm Not So Bad (23 Jan 2012 11:39am)
Now I don't feel so bad about The Revolution Will Be Televised. In that article I had a vision (Fantasy?) about a time when the people would rise up in this country and exact vengeance for what has become a very unjust country. And in particular, I pointed out that many more or less good people woul...
That Radical Shakespeare! (20 Jan 2012 05:00pm)
Although I would feel sorry for them, I do think that children should be compelled to read the Bible and Shakespeare. Yes, I am an atheist. Yes, I think Shakespeare is overrated in the extreme. But a culture must have a foundation. What's more, I truly believe that any objective reading of the Bible...
Opinions Vary on Value of Wikipedia (17 Jan 2012 01:52am)
Over the years, I've been highly critical of Wikipedia. In general, I have two problems with them: Their utter domination of Internet information to the detriment of other sites Their plagiarization (if not strictly in a legal sense) of other online information providers Their whitewashing of most ...
The Revolution Will Be Televised (09 Jan 2012 11:52am)
I had a vision of Charles Koch standing handcuffed on a platform. His brother, David, was next to him, on his knees, his head secured in a guillotine. The blade was released and fell with lightning speed. David's head tumbled to the wooden planks below while blood gushed from his neck. Looking away...
The Gift That Keeps on Killing (03 Jan 2012 09:39am)
This picture is probably more responsible for turning the tide against the Vietnam War than any other, including the infamous photo of Thich Quang Duc's self-immolation.[1] Like most people, I'm not too fond of guns. True: I would rather be killed by a bullet in the head than flames covering my body...
What's the Matter with America? (22 Dec 2011 01:16pm)
Thomas Frank's What's the Matter with Kansas reminds me of my youth when I was involved with the Rose Bird reconfirmation election. That election was all about the death penalty, and eventually she was removed from office because she had never voted to uphold a death penalty case.[1] This was not, o...
Disappointed in Obama—Again (15 Dec 2011 09:49pm)
I don't suppose it matters because I've already told you I wouldn't vote for you in 2012 because of the debt ceiling debacle, but you've annoyed me even more with your move about not vetoing the defense authorization. The Republican Party only believes in power. The Democratic Party is much better ...
Up with Chris Hayes Goes Down (11 Dec 2011 04:04pm)
Today is the beginning of the end for Up with Chris Hayes. I had wondered recently how long the new show would manage to continue to be unapologetically liberal. This morning, for the first time in its young history (as far as I know), it had two conservative panelists—who just happened to get...
Police Myths (23 Nov 2011 08:56pm)
After Friday's police spraying of non-violent protesters at U.C. Davis, I—like any reasonable person—am very angry and sad. Right now, I'd like to talk about part of my anger: the firestorm of apologia for the police. Only the most evil of people are defending the specific police and the...
Up with Chris Hayes (21 Nov 2011 12:00pm)
As you probably know, I am very fond of The Nation editor Chris Hayes (even if I am less and less pleased with the magazine itself). Thus, I was excited to check out his new MSNBC show. He is an amazing man. He seems to know everything that is going on in politics, even little obscure things. When I...
Politicians Bored with Politics (20 Nov 2011 10:45pm)
All the excitement over Herman Cain not knowing what has been going on about Libby did not surprise me. It reminded me of Sarah Palin in the 2008 presidential election when she was asked to name a Supreme Court ruling other than Roe V. Wade. It has been some time since I have been surprised by an in...
Now I've Written to Senator Feinstein (15 Nov 2011 09:20am)
I was much nicer when I wrote to Senator Boxer—because she isn't such a schmuck. Hi- The deal that looks to be emerging from the Super Committee looks to be very bad. I am determined not to vote for anyone who votes to cut social safety net programs—regardless of how much in tax increa...
Another Letter to President Obama (10 Nov 2011 07:03pm)
The super-committee debate over budget cuts reminds me again of just how angry I am at you for how you handled the debt ceiling issue. And now, to make matters worse, the Democrats on the super-committee seem to be going out of their way to cut even more than is required. And what for? Is cutting t...
Mother Fuckers! (08 Nov 2011 07:58pm)
Mississippi rejects the personhood amendment. Ohio Turns Back a Law Limiting Unions’ Rights. And what is the top story on Google News? Herman Cain: I'd take lie detector test to rebut Sharon Bialek claims. Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? Update An hour after the New York Times repor...
The Mythical Perfect Government Killing Machine (08 Nov 2011 07:37pm)
On September 7, Brian Williams asked a question of Rick Perry at the Republican presidential campaign debate. It was about the 234 executions that have taken place under Perry's governorship. The question itself was not widely covered. What really caused a stir was the audience response to that stat...
Demand the Impossible (04 Nov 2011 10:18pm)
In the October 2011 issue of The Progressive Matthew Rothschild writes a commentary called "Demand the Impossible." In it, he discusses income inequality and how it has affected democracy in the United States. He points out that the rich own those with political power: "Their Republican servants in ...
Mitt Romney's America (02 Nov 2011 08:08pm)
I really need to get back to Don Quixote and my other 17th century interests, but with things like the following Priorities USA Action ad, it is hard not to pay attention. This is fantastic. Check out all of the Priorities USA Action videos over on YouTube. You'll be glad you did....
Tom Brokaw and the False Equivalence Lie (02 Nov 2011 11:55am)
Tom Brokaw was on The Last Word spouting the mainstream media lie of equivalence. He used Rush Limbaugh's ditto-heads as an example of people who are committed to a certain ideology regardless of facts. In his new book, Brokaw writes, "He has earned his fortune by creating an enormous audience of th...
Republican Solution to Debt: More Debt! (30 Oct 2011 06:36pm)
zFacts has a great article on the debt and who is really responsible for it. They also provide this excellent video. ...
Breaking News: Bill O'Reilly is Evil (28 Oct 2011 05:53pm)
I just saw on his show, Bill O'Reilly say that there are many things about President Obama that are "scary." O'Reilly wants people to see him as a reasonable conservative. And indeed, in the current environment of conservatives, he does seem moderate. But calling the President "scary" is the same as...
CREDO Mobile: Fighting for the Liberal Buck (26 Oct 2011 11:00am)
According to UPI, "Protesters gathered outside President Obama's fundraising lunch in San Francisco Tuesday, speaking out on a variety of issues." Many of the protesters were organized by a cell phone company: CREDO Mobile. People talk a lot about companies being good corporate citizens[1], but I do...
Most Dangerous Jobs (14 Oct 2011 11:52pm)
On a Last Word internet exclusive, Michael Moore makes a plea to the police officers of New York to join the Occupy Wall Street protests. Absolutely. He is right about this and I hope that some answer his plea. I have nothing particularly against the police. They are working stiffs just like the res...
Normally I Say There Are No Stupid Questions (14 Oct 2011 10:17pm)
Paul Krugman has an excellent post about Ricardian equivalence. What is Ricardian equivalence? It is an economic model that claims that any money spent by the government will be offset by money not spent by the private sector. Basically, it goes like this: if the government spends $100, the private ...
"Bye, Baby" (08 Oct 2011 01:18pm)
I am working on a book about nice people. Unfortunately, I am having some difficulty finding women and minorities who are known particularly for being nice. I've been reading and watching a lot of stuff about the modern civil rights movement, looking for people who can flesh out what one friend has ...
Interpreting the News (02 Oct 2011 06:21pm)
I was listening to NPR's Weekend Edition this morning. It was the first time I had heard it in some time. It was interesting to compare it to another form of mainstream news: Fox. Although NPR is hardly perfect, I noticed that the stories were presented in as non-judgmental a manner as possible. Int...
Rush Limbaugh: Defender of Oppressed Rich (30 Sep 2011 11:35am)
My father just related something he had heard on the Rush Limbaugh radio show. There was an interview with a fourth grader who stated that he wanted to be President of the United States when he grew up. When asked, the boy said that if he were President, he would take money away from the rich people...
Michael Moore on Democracy Now! (29 Sep 2011 06:34pm)
Amy Goodman has an excellent hour-long interview with Michael Moore. It is well worth watching. ...
Why No One Knows Medgar Evers (29 Sep 2011 06:29pm)
I am doing all kinds of research for a book I am writing. It is just a collection of biographies of a certain kind of person. I won't tell you what it's about, but I'll give you a list of five of the people who will definitely be in it. Perhaps you will be able to figure out what connects them. Mil...
New Robber Barons (28 Sep 2011 12:59pm)
I have been reading Hershey by Michael D'Antonio, a biography of the remarkable Milton S. Hershey, who is known as much for his humane treatment of his workers as he is for the candy company he created. To put Hershey's life into perspective, D'Antonio provides a good picture of life at that time. H...
Rachel Maddow is Making Sense (21 Aug 2011 11:46am)
I have not been watching Rachel Maddow much these last few months, because I haven't found her that interesting. However, she was in good form this Friday, especially when she presented a new take on the Republican Party's presidential nomination process. According to her, it is not about all these ...
A Tale of Two Michelles (17 Aug 2011 08:48pm)
I've never been that fond of Melissa Harris-Perry, because I've never found her very exciting—she has never really been willing to get dirty, in an intellectual sense. It's the sort of thing that would make her a great college professor (which she is), but not a political commentator. However,...
Republican BS (03 Aug 2011 06:49pm)
I was at the Sonoma County Fair today. In the main pavilion, was a booth for the Sonoma County Republican Party. They had a prominent sign that consisted for the acronym RINO inside a circle with a line through it: No "Republicans In Name Only." This was shocking. One expects the teabaggers to promo...
Obama Loses His Soul (01 Aug 2011 09:39am)
Obama has announced that a debt limit deal is in the works that "is a victory for bipartisan compromise, for the economy and for the American people." This is rubbish, of course; but even if it were true, Mark 8:36 comes to mind: for what does it profit a politician to gain the whole center, and for...
The Truth About the Economy in 2 Minutes and 15 Seconds (29 Jul 2011 05:05pm)
It has been hard for me over the past couple of weeks to write much of anything because of my anxiety regarding the debt limit. More and more, I think it is all just hopeless. As it is, even the supposedly good guys are offering only bad solutions. It all means that soon I should be back to doing wh...
Paul Broun Weeps for the Rich (28 Jul 2011 08:35am)
One of the most dangerous myths in the United States is the belief that governing is something anyone can do, and worse yet, something that only the ignorant can do. Thus we get people like Paul Broun who introduced a bill into Congress that would reduce the debt ceiling. But Broun has other things ...
Eric Alterman Nails It (26 Jul 2011 05:43pm)
Eric Alterman often annoys me, but I think he is dead on today. I admit that perusing the back-and-forth news accounts below can make for a somewhat depressing read—they only serve to highlight how little progress liberals have made in shifting the debate on this issue in the last decade and a half...
Not Rocket Science (25 Jul 2011 11:55am)
Robert Reich wrote an excellent article that sums up what everyone should know about the current economy. As he says, this isn't rocket science. The only way out of the vicious economic cycle is for government to adopt an expansionary fiscal policy—spending more in the short term in order to ...
Drop the I Word (08 Jul 2011 12:05pm)
I just heard Monica Novoa of the Drop the I Word campaign on FAIR's CounterSpin. The idea of the campaign is to get people to stop using the adjective "illegal" to modify human beings, as in, "He's an illegal immigrant." Frankly, I thought everyone had long ago given up that construction, if for no ...
I Felt Like a Gringo (04 Jul 2011 01:27pm)
On this 4th of July, I find myself thinking back to the Minutemen's 1983 EP Buzz or Howl Under the Influence of Heat and the song "I Felt Like a Gringo" by Mike Watt: Got a ton of white boy guilt, that's my problem, Obstacle of joy, one reason to use some drugs. Slept on a mexican beach slept in tr...
Paul Krugman is Naive (29 Jun 2011 07:10am)
The only blog I read every day is Paul Krugman's Conscious of a Liberal. I like reading it because I learn a great deal about economics, and that is one area that I know very little about. (I also read Dean Baker over at Talking Post Memo and Brad DeLong's GRASPING REALITY WITH BOTH HANDS.) I'm a ve...
Let Raping Reign (28 Jun 2011 01:18am)
Today I rented a car so that my family could at long last scatter the ashes of my beloved mother—a woman who blessed me with many great virtues and vices like my love for reading and learning, and my contrarian nature (I owe my father much debt in these areas too). As always when I rent a car,...
Hot Coffee (24 Jun 2011 06:16pm)
Remember the story of Stella Liebeck, the woman who sued McDonald's for spilling coffee on her and ended up getting a $2.9 million settlement? Remember how everyone thought it was a joke? Susan Saladoff has produced a documentary for HBO called Hot Coffee about this story and the broader issues of t...
Politics: Healthcare Population Statistics (23 Jun 2011 01:41pm)
I spent a lot of time on The Incidental Economist recently—it was wonderfully informative. One fact from Dr. Aaron Carroll's excellent How Do We Rate the Quality of the US Health Care System—Population Statistics [1] stood out to me, although it wasn't mentioned in the article or the com...
What the Fuck is Krugman on About? (22 Jun 2011 08:58am)
From time to time, Paul Krugman reminds his readers not to use naughty words in comments: Why Your Comment Was Deleted | 1. Gee whillikers, you used an obscenity! It’s clear that many people don’t even realize that they’re using banned words. But that’s by far the biggest reason for rejection. 2. ...
Politics: War Made Easy (20 Jun 2011 11:00pm)
Norman Soloman's excellent War Made Easy contains the following information about the number of civilians killed in recent wars. See if you can spot the trend: Don't you feel proud to be an American?...
Politics: Sudoku in The Examiner (17 Jun 2011 07:35pm)
When reading the likes of Paul Johnson, William F. Buckley, or even David Brooks, it is easy to get so caught up in the eloquence of the writing and ostentatious erudition, that one misses the distortions (and sometimes plain lies) and specious arguments. It doesn't take much of a leap to conclude t...
Politics: Weiner Scandal is Over (09 Jun 2011 11:15am)
Yesterday, I wrote a short article about how his name ought to be pronounced, Anthony Weiner Pronounces Name Wrong. I did not talk about the political aspects of the sexless sex scandal he is now in the middle of. There isn't much I have to say on the subject, except this: the scandal is over. The c...
Politics: Rachel Maddow is Wrong (06 Jun 2011 09:46pm)
First, check out this segment: I think her rankings in the "Post-Bill Clinton Modern American Political Sex-Scandal Consequence-O-Meter" are wrong. In particular, she seems to have a real problem with prostitution and thinks that it alone makes something creepy and prosecutable. For example, she ...
Politics: Rachel Maddow is Silly (03 Jun 2011 09:01pm)
Rachel Maddow is a very silly woman. I don't know how she ever got a news show, but I'm glad she did. ...
Politics: Lawrence O’Donnell is Winning me Over (27 May 2011 12:35pm)
O’Donnell is a very insightful guy. He thinks about politics better than anyone I know of. This is amazing. ...
Who Mourns for Judy Johnson? (22 May 2011 09:01pm)
[Editorial Note: I'm sorry. This really is awful. It is not clear at all what I'm on about. I do, however, think it is a good starting point for a 5000 word personal essay on race in America. Read it at your peril.] Right now, I'm working on the screenplay for the pilot of a TV show called The Post...
Politics: Smart Hate (18 May 2011 06:43pm)
I just watched the full half-hour interview of Jon Stewart on Bill O'Reilly's show. The first half of it is quite worth watchin: Watch the latest video at video.foxnews.com The best you will ever do in a political argument of this type is get your opponent to admit that you make some good points, ...
Politics: I Need My Head Examined (18 May 2011 01:26pm)
I'm late getting to this, but I wanted to comment on something that President Obama said on 60 Minutes: "Justice was done. And I think that anyone who would question that the perpetrator of mass murder on American soil didn't deserve what he got needs to have their head examined." So I guess I need ...
Politics: Trump Wimps Out (16 May 2011 04:03pm)
According to MSNBC, Donald Trump has announced that he will not run for President of the United States. This is no surprise. I don't know any reasonable person who thought he would. But the question remains: why did he pretend he was going to run? I don't think it was to improve the ratings of his s...
Politics: Religiously Evil (26 Apr 2011 07:17pm)
Franklin Graham is an Idiot This is interesting. The only reason that his father wasn't such an embarrassment was that his father didn't talk so much. What evil men—both. Late Breaking News from Mark 17 Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him...
Politics: Thaddeus McCotter Can Play (22 Apr 2011 09:52am)
The Man Can Play! Conservative U.S. Representative Thaddeus McCotter recently did a video interview during which he is playing what looks like an American flag-painted Telecaster. Rachael Maddow has some fun with it, titling the segment, "This is the Worst Music Video I've Ever Seen." I like Maddow...
Politics: Any Film with Keenan Wynn... (21 Apr 2011 12:35pm)
Paul Krugman writes, "There Are No TV Series About Heroic Economists... But there was a so-bad-it-was-good movie about a villainous, murderous chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers." He then provides the trailer for The Internecine Project. "So-bad-it-was-good"? Well, you know how much I hate...
Politics: 20 April 2011 (20 Apr 2011 05:35pm)
McBama Paul Krugman makes an excellent point on his blog today: One thing I guarantee you: if John McCain were living in the White House, these same people would have lots of good things to say about the stimulative effects of deficits in a depressed economy. I know it's an excellent point, becau...
Politics: 16 April 2011 (16 Apr 2011 02:55pm)
My Taxes Are Too High! I just wrote a check to the IRS for just under $2000 for my 2010 income taxes. This seems like a lot, when you consider that I only made about $20,000 last year. And that's just the income taxes; I'm not talking about state and local taxes or payroll taxes or sales taxes (9.2...
Politics: 12 April 2011 (12 Apr 2011 06:56pm)
I just wrote this letter to the president: I am so disappointed with you, but I don't want you to get the wrong idea. When I voted for you, I didn't think that you were going to work miracles. However, I *did* think that you would stand up against the Republicans. Instead, you seem always to be g...
Politics: 7 April 2011 (07 Apr 2011 04:11pm)
Paul Krugman Looks Back On his blog yesterday, Paul Krugman provides a list of things that politics pundits have been largely in agreement about. George Bush is a nice, moderate guy, who will work in a bipartisan way. George Bush is a heroic leader, who has risen to the occasion. The case for i...
Politics: 22 March 2011 (22 Mar 2011 08:00pm)
Eugene Agrees With Me Eugene Robinson seems to be saying exactly what I said yesterday—admittedly better. ...
Politics: 21 March 2011 (21 Mar 2011 08:35pm)
All the Faces of Gaddafi It bothers me how Gaddafi is perceived throughout the developed world—especially in the United States. Once he was a villain. I remember when Reagan bombed him and how it upset me—not so much because I cared about Gaddafi or because I was philosophically against...
The Problem With Wikipedia: Westbrook Pegler Version (18 Mar 2011 10:17pm)
One of many problems with Wikipedia is how it tends to homogenize history and people. Truly despicable people come off as okay because there is one person in the world who thinks he or she wasn't a monster. See, for example, George Heast. Or, more to the point, see Westbrook Pegler. According to Wik...
Politics: 15 March 2011 (15 Mar 2011 10:00pm)
Homophobic Hypocrisy From Max Blumenthal's wonderful Republican Gomorrah: In 1996, Henry Adams, Lester Wright, and Bethany Lohr, psychiatrists and researchers at the University of Georgia, investigated the link between homophobia and repressed homosexuality, surveying over fifty self-declared hete...
Politics: 13 March 2011 (13 Mar 2011 04:01pm)
Inside Job I just saw Inside Job, Charles Ferguson's documentary about the 2008 financial melt-down. It is good—very good. However, it isn't until I got to the deleted scenes with Dominique Strauss-Kahn, that I found the reason this crisis ended in a paralysis of the financial industry: lack ...
Politics: 2 March 2011 (03 Mar 2011 10:55am)
All Charlie, All The Time! It seems as time goes on, Lawrence O'Donnell is becoming more sympathetic to poor ol' Charlie Sheen. But in his fourth segment in three days, O'Donnell has upped his coverage of Sheen to 33 minutes and 19 seconds. Libya is still at one 3 minutes 20 second segment. ...
Politics: 1 March 2011 (01 Mar 2011 03:27pm)
Charlie Sheen Speaks Truth Charlie Sheen is most likely an asshole and certainly has a lot of problems. You would certainly get that impression from this clip from The Last Word: But one thing Sheen is right on about is Alcoholics Anonymous and its many 12-Step off-shoots. He calls it as it is: ...
Politics: 8 February 2011 (08 Feb 2011 06:49pm)
Current TV to MSNBC: "Thanks for the brand! Keith Olbermann has joined with Current TV and will begin broadcasting this Spring. According to Marilyn Sparks, Current TV has been struggling to create an identity. Olbermann will be a great help in that. This whole situation reminds of when the Orlando...
Politics: 7 February 2011 (07 Feb 2011 09:57am)
"All Important Independents I just read NPR's summary of the Obama-O'Reilly interview. It was typical NPR "take no sides even when a child is stomping on frogs" sort of coverage. But one line really hit me, "To further his appeal to the all-important independents, Obama took the opportunity to unde...
Politics: 6 February 2011 (06 Feb 2011 02:05pm)
Bill O'Reilly Disrespectful to President It was amazing to me to have just watched the Bill O'Reilly's interview with President Obama. O'Reilly showed himself to be extremely ignorant, posing questions like, "Many people think you want to redistribute wealth..." This isn't surprising. I expected th...
Politics: 5 February 2011 (05 Feb 2011 12:11pm)
Idiocracy I wrote a very negative review of the film Idiocracy on Netflix, which you can read in my artcile Who is TB 152371?!. Last night Rachel Maddow discussed our modern day Idiocracy, also known as Faux News: She also did an excellent piece on The Death of David Kato....
Politics: 2 February 2011 (02 Feb 2011 11:06am)
Stock Market Back, Republicans Yawn The Vancouver Sun reports that the Dow Jones industrial average closed above 12,000 yesterday. This is a 50% increase from where it closed the last day of the Bush administration. I know, big deal. Except that Republicans continue to claim that Obama is not only ...
Politics: 30 January 2011 (30 Jan 2011 06:33pm)
Stagnation Tyler Cowen wrote an interesting article in the New York Times yesterday called, Innovation Is Doing Little for Incomes. In it, he talks about how much people's lives changed over the course of the first half of the 20th century, but not so much the second half. (That isn't the main poin...
Politics: 27 January 2011 (27 Jan 2011 06:54pm)
Maybe Not a Person There I'm a little late on getting to this, but it's been on my mind since I saw it in real time. During the State of the Union Address, President Obama said, "I know there isn't a person here who would trade places with any other nation on earth." Oh yeah! That's because everyon...
Politics: 25 January 2011 (25 Jan 2011 10:21pm)
Paul Ryan: Liar or Fucking Idiot? I watched the State of the Union Speech and even Paul Ryan's response. They were both pretty pathetic. Obama didn't say anything that was really offensive, but it left me wondering: how can we invest in the future if we can't invest at all because we have to cut th...
Politics: 22 January 2011 (23 Jan 2011 10:52am)
Chris Hayes, You Dog! On Friday's The Rachel Maddow Show, Chris Hayes had the opportunity to lampoon Darrell Issa, and I thought it was funny as hell. Watch: ...
Politics: 21 January 2011 (21 Jan 2011 09:52pm)
WTF?! Keith Olbermann is leaving MSNBC. According to the Los Angeles Times, Olbermann's leaving has nothing to do with the upcoming Comcast merger; this is based upon an MSNBC email announcement. Others say differently. TMZ reports that, "Sources connected with the network tell us ... Comcast honch...
Politics: 20 January 2011 (20 Jan 2011 10:50pm)
Abduction! At around 6:00 this evening, I walked under Highway 101 in Santa Rosa, and I was treated to the following sight: The main thing to notice is the brightly displayed sign in the back. Because I have a terrible phone-camera, you can't make out what it says, but you should be able to tell ...
Politics: 19 January 2011 (19 Jan 2011 06:58pm)
The One Problem With Anthony Weiner I'm sure you've seen this before, but it is so much fun to watch. So watch it again; now! The one problem I have with the Congressman is how he pronounces his last name. Yes, of course, everyone has a right to pronounce their own names however they want. But i...
Politics: 14 January 2011 (14 Jan 2011 12:03pm)
The Middle Ground In today's column, Paul Krugman discusses the fact that while it is a good idea for us all to listen to each other, what we are likely to find is that we really do disagree with each other. He points out that on the one side, we have people that really do think that taxation is th...
Politics: 13 January 2011 (13 Jan 2011 12:26pm)
Jon Stewart Does Have Balls—Today, Anyway The last two nights of The Daily Show were very funny. The 11 January 2011 show was very funny—the best I've seen in a long while. And then, last night's show was also very funny, but even more important, Jon Stewart showed that he actually did&...
Politics: 4 January 2010 (04 Jan 2011 10:53am)
Conservatives' Brains Colin Firth (yes, the actor) was doing a show for BBC-Radio 4 and ended up helping an academic study of the differences in the brains of conservatives and liberals. Firth, a liberal, said, "I just decided to find out what was biologically wrong with people who don't agree with...
Politics: 29 December 2010 (29 Dec 2010 12:40am)
Deja Vu Nothing needs to be said; just watch. ...
Politics: 24 December 2010 (24 Dec 2010 10:31am)
Media Matters gives Sarah Palin Award Media Matters for America gave Sarah Palin The 2010 Glenn Beck Misinformer Of The Year Award: A Message from Mark Fucking Zuckerberg Will was kind enough to send this excellent SNL clip to me. Let's have a look, shall we: It is absolutely brilliant, apar...
Politics: 23 December 2010 (23 Dec 2010 11:37am)
The Mendacity of Hope Roger Hodge has a new book out called The Mendacity of Hope. I haven't read it. I don't even have it, but I will after the holidays and I'm sure I'll write about it. Until then, I bring you a couple of videos of the former editor of Harper's Magazine making a lot of sense abou...
Review of C Street: The Fundamentalist Threat to American Democracy (14 Dec 2010 10:27pm)
Jeff Sharlet’s C Street, the follow-up to his best-seller The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power is a must-read, even though it is not as good as it should be nor what its title implies. The book is not tightly written, and not really about C Street, the $2 million thre...
Politics: 1 December 2010 (01 Dec 2010 10:26am)
John McCain Was Never a Maverick, but He Was Always... For years, I've been saying that John McCain is no maverick. He's vengeful: after losing to George W. Bush, he did what he could to poke him in the eye, and that sometimes meant not holding extremist conservative views—which were and stil...
Politics: 18 November 2010 (18 Nov 2010 10:19am)
Juan Williams: Pure Liberal In an interview with Howard Kurtz, Roger Ailes calls NPR, "the left wing of Nazism." In this, I pretty much agree. This country is not Nazi, but it is highly fascistic, and I mean this literally—so think Mussolini, not Hitler. Political discourse in this country ha...
Politics: 16 November 2010 (16 Nov 2010 09:24am)
Casino Writ Large I just watched part of Martin Scorsese's Casino. There is a very famous scene in the movie where two card cheats are discovered. The casino management break one of the guys' hand with a hammer and tell the other that he can leave with the hammer and the money or with neither. He p...
Politics: 15 November 2010 (15 Nov 2010 10:13am)
Democratic Party Losses: The Real Lesson I am reading all over the Internet that Obama lost the independent voters in this election and similar statements about how this election was some kind of mandate and that people's opinions of Obama have changed. There are so many such articles that I'm not ...
Politics: 14 November 2010 (14 Nov 2010 09:28am)
More on Chomsky The brief clip I embedded yesterday came from a 2009 Commonwealth Club lecture that Noam Chomsky gave. He goes into the topic of the teabaggers a little more. Hearing this and having a night to think about it made me reconsider it. I think Chomsky is wrong. It is not that the teabag...
Politics: 13 November 2010 (13 Nov 2010 06:11pm)
Noam Chomsky and My Dad I remember about twenty years ago, my dad—a radically conservative Faux News robot before there was a Faux News—watched an interview with Noam Chomsky. I was surprised that my father thought that Chomsky had the problems faced by the country totally pegged. It di...
Politics: 12 November 2010 (12 Nov 2010 08:29pm)
Governor George Bush: Murderer Just watch it: ...
Politics: 11 November 2010 (11 Nov 2010 08:41pm)
Veterans' Day It's a Veterans' Day. I don't think so ill of the people in the army. But let's be frank: joining the army is not the best thing you can do for your country. Most of our wars have been wars of choice. By holding up military service as a great thing, unjustified wars are easier for le...
Politics: 6 November 2010 (06 Nov 2010 08:12am)
Looks Like Obama Will Need Some Axe As the ads for Axe Clean You Balls have shown, you need to keep your balls clean. Over the last few days, I thought that Obama would need no such product, but it appears he has balls after all. An Acronym from Paul Krugman THTMAAAIYP: You have too many acrony...
Politics: 5 November 2010 (05 Nov 2010 06:46pm)
The Know-Nothing Party I was over at Fairness and Accuracy in Media (FAIR) where I was reminded of the long history angry right-wing populism. In particular, does anybody remember laughter the Know-Nothing Party? Its members strongly opposed immigrants and followers of the Catholic Church. The maj...
Politics: 4 November 2010 (04 Nov 2010 05:36pm)
It's All About Turn-Out I used a graph from The Atlantic to get the following statistics (I think they are wrong and greatly under-estimate the issue): people over 65 where 16% of the electorate in 2008 and 23% in 2010; people under 30 were 18% in 2008 and 11% in 2010. And so I used these data to c...
Politics: 3 November 2010 (03 Nov 2010 10:45am)
Will says maybe I shouldn't or couldn't stop doing this blog, but I think that is just because he was pissed off last night. This may be it. Following politics really does not improve my quality of life. Half Blue Dogs Out The house went about as I expected, but worse than I had hoped. On the up s...
Politics: 2 November 2010 (02 Nov 2010 02:56pm)
Let The Circus Begin I have little to say. It will be a bad day. I have this image in my mind of watching a teabagger reading his portable Constitution. I still don't understand how people can read the same document over and over and never understand it. Of course, without reading the Federalist Pa...
Politics: 1 November 2010 (01 Nov 2010 09:09am)
We Will All Go Together When We Go Kevin O'Rourke discusses the main economic issue facing Ireland—a country that must undergo fiscal austerity. Basically, he says that the only way such policies will be anything but contractionary is if exports grow. However, exports will not grow, because o...
Politics: 31 October 2010 (31 Oct 2010 05:56pm)
Let's Play Dress Up Gawker discusses this week's Time Magazine cover featuring Meg Whitman, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul, and Christine O'Donnell. The cover proclaims, "How a new breed of Republicans tapped into voter rage and upset the Establishment—but can they govern?" The funny thing about thi...
Politics: 30 October 2010 (30 Oct 2010 12:26pm)
The Rally to Restore Sanity I watched the whole fucking thing. I'm sorry about that. Anyway: Jon Stewart, as usual, said something that really pissed me off. He was talking about hyperbolic language—I'm all for that. But then he said something about just because someone is more liberal than y...
Politics: 29 October 2010 (29 Oct 2010 04:55pm)
Where's Alito Now? Back during the State of the Union address, President Obama said, "With all due deference to separation of powers, last week the Supreme Court reversed a century of law that, I believe, will open the floodgates for special interests, including foreign corporations, to spend witho...
Politics: 28 October 2010 (28 Oct 2010 09:56am)
More on Lauren Valle Attack It bothers me that the attack on Lauren Valle is repeatedly referred to as a "stomping." It was not a stomping, it was an attack, or if you prefer a more legal term: assault. There is more news on the attack, though. According to KTAR, the man accused of tackling her is ...
Politics: 27 October 2010 (27 Oct 2010 11:16am)
No Control of 50 ICBMs: Who Cares? According to the LA Times, a computer glitch caused 50 ICBMs to go "off-line" at a Wyoming Air Force for 45 minutes. Given that the US has roughly ten thousand ICBMs, I don't see why we care. The glitch did not put us in any danger of the missiles being launched. ...
Politics: 26 October 2010 (26 Oct 2010 05:48pm)
Teabaggers Show Their Colors The Rand Paul Campaign showed what they think of dissent last night. Here, Lauren Valle was assaulted by two supporters. One of them is known: Tim Profitt, Bourbon County now former coordinator for Paul's campaign. He's the one stomping on Ms. Valle. The person who tack...
Politics: 25 October 2010 (25 Oct 2010 09:57am)
I Can Be a Writer! I just saw a review on Amazon by one Jon R. Stosser, commenting on S. E. Cupp's Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity. Stosser writes, "I just [saw] Ms. Cupp on RealTime [with] Bill Maher and watched in amazement at her surprise that communism was akin t...
Politics: 23 October 2010 (23 Oct 2010 08:56am)
Obama on the Attempt to Repeal Wall Steet Reform I disagree with this guy so much. He would be conseridered very conserviative in, say, Finland (you know, the best country in the world). But I really like him. He could sell me a Peter Motteux translation of Don Quixote—he's just that good. Th...
Politics: 22 October 2010 (22 Oct 2010 08:24pm)
Chris Coons I've been very busy today. Other than the six-month anniversary of the soil spill (yesterday, actually), there is not a lot going on that needs my attention. Plus, Will tells me I should give this whole thing up. And he may be right. But here is an ad worth watching: ...
Politics: 21 October 2010 (21 Oct 2010 08:42am)
Strange Conservatives In conversations with conservatives where I ask for a justification for their beliefs, they will respond, "I'm just a Republican." I call these Popeye moments: I yam what I yam. I have received this response a number of times. I have never received a corresponding response fro...
Politics: 20 October 2010 (20 Oct 2010 10:53am)
Democratic Surge? Last night I reported on Russ Feingold's recent surge in the polls, and DailyKos reports this morning that in three of the last four polls, Joe Sestak is ahead of Paul Toomey. This is happening all over in Senate and House races. It doesn't mean that these Democrats will win (Fein...
Politics: 19 October 2010 (19 Oct 2010 11:25am)
The Real Issue with Joe Miller Joe Miller won't answer any questions about his past and apparently won't engage in debate with his rivals—he was not present for the Alaska Senatorial debate held last night by the Alaska Dispatch (check out their Palin Watch blog). But then, Joe Miller doesn'...
Politics: 18 October 2010 (18 Oct 2010 02:12pm)
At Least the Banks Are Safe! Reuter's reports, "U.S. stocks advanced on Monday as a stronger-than-expected profit from Citigroup helped financial shares shake off worries that the foreclosure mess could threaten the stability of the housing market." And why not? The Administration has made it clear...
Politics: 17 October 2010 (17 Oct 2010 11:44am)
Lizz Winstead on The Ed Show Lizz Winstead—co-creator of The Daily Show—was on The Ed Show. I don't usually find her that funny, but she had something very funny to say about "Coons v. Crazy Lady." Illegal Foreclosure In Friday's column, Paul Krugman discusses the foreclosure mess t...
Politics: 16 October 2010 (16 Oct 2010 05:03pm)
I don't feel much up to posting today, and it's the weekend, but you know how it goes: I don't have many friends. Tides Foundation CEO Call for Ad Boycott of Faux News Earlier this week, Media Matters for America reported on the important roll that Glenn Beck played in causing Byron Williams to at...
Politics: 15 October 2010 (15 Oct 2010 08:25am)
Sometimes "Whore" is Just a Metaphor As I have talked about before, the Whitman campaign wants to make an issue out of a Brown aide saying that they should call her a whore for her deal with the police union. When Brown countered that Pete Wilson (Whitman's campaign manager) called Congress whores ...
Politics: 14 October 2010 (14 Oct 2010 08:34am)
Condoleezza Rice on The Daily Show Jon Stewart provided another softball interview for a conservative. No shock there. More interesting perhaps was at the end of the interview when Rice said, "This is the most tolerant country in the world when it comes to other religions." Two points here. First, ...
Politics: 13 October 2010 (13 Oct 2010 11:48am)
Wow. This is the first day of the third month of this garbage: I started on 13 August 2010. I still don't know what the point is. Byron Williams: Pawn You may remember Byron Williams as the guy who engaged in a 12-minute shoot-out with the California Highway Patrol in Oakland on 18 July of this ye...
Politics: 12 October 2010 (12 Oct 2010 11:17am)
Aftershock I've heard Robert Reich speak about his new book Aftershock about a half-dozen times. I never tire of listening to him; he's right up there with Paul Krugman. Last night, he was on The Colbert Report and they talked about something that one never hears: if the middle class keeps losing i...
Politics: 11 October 2010 (11 Oct 2010 11:43am)
Chilean Miners Almost Out Far ahead of early estimates, the 33 trapped Chilean miners should be out by Wednesday, according to Al Jazeera English. I have been meaning to check out Al Jazeera English for some time—having heard that their reporting was excellent. Like so many good things, Al Ja...
Politics: 8 October 2010 (08 Oct 2010 01:19pm)
But Whitman is a Whore A Brown aide says that they should call Whitman a whore because she will make any deal with anyone in order to become governor. The Brown campaign promptly apologized, because they know what they're doing. This is in start contrast to Whitman who still hasn't come clean on he...
Politics: 7 October 2010 (07 Oct 2010 06:50pm)
Wall Street I saw the new Wall Street film. It was strange. Oliver Stone chose to add some stupid happy ending to it. It should have ended on "Gordon Gecko is back!" Instead, we get something of a redemption for a man clearly far past redemption. Evil Sam Harris in Letter to a Christian Nation ma...
Politics: 6 October 2010 (06 Oct 2010 09:06am)
Drug Users Supporting Terrorism—Again NPR reporter John Burnett was on The Colbert Report last night saying that recreational drug users are responsible for the gang wars in Mexico. When Colbert responded that maybe this wouldn't be the case if people "bought local" or voted for Prop 19, Burn...
Politics: 5 October 2010 (05 Oct 2010 12:49pm)
The Power of Nightmares I just got the first episode of this series (just like NetFlix to have it on three different one-hour disks when it is sold with all three episodes on a single disk at Amazon) by Adam Curtis about the use of fear to enslave people. It, along with other fun reads like The Sho...
Politics: 4 October 2010 (04 Oct 2010 09:50am)
Physics and Economics Paul Krugman writes in Math, Models, and Mystification about economists who consider the likes of Brad DeLong and him ignorant of modern macroeconomic theory. Krugman's theory about these people is that they understand the math of their models, but not the theory that underlie...
Politics: 1 October 2010 (01 Oct 2010 12:04pm)
My third calendar month of doing this thing. Polly Wanna a Good Economy? J. Bradford DeLong has written a really good article Economics for Parrots on Project Syndicate. In it, he attacks the idea that we are seeing more and more: high unemployment is structural. By this, people mean there isn't u...
Politics: 30 September 2010 (30 Sep 2010 12:02pm)
Whitman Ads I did not start watching the Brown-Whitman debate until just as the first question was asked, thanks to a phone call from Will. The debate was covered only by channels 2 (KTVU) and 3 (KCRA). Will watched the debate on KTVU and tells me that in the half-hour before the debate there were ...
Politics: 29 September 2010 (29 Sep 2010 12:51pm)
Sorry for the few days off. I was going completely frigging crazy. Now that I'm back to just ordinary frigging crazy, the madness continues. Brown and Whitman Last night, Jerry Brown and Meg Whitman, candidates for California Governor, had their first ever debate. Strangely, there has been almost ...
Politics: 25 September 2010 (25 Sep 2010 09:38am)
Stephen Colbert at Congress Stephen Colbert testified before the House Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship and Border Security. Here is his opening statement: During the questions, he was asked why he cared about this issue. It was the only time he really fell out of character. He spoke of ...
Politics: 24 September 2010 (24 Sep 2010 11:57am)
War Heroes I constantly hear of "war hero John McCain" but almost never "war hero John Kerry." But I had never heard anything about what made McCain a hero other than being a POW and passing up early release available to him because of his powerful father. Thus, I looked up his war record. There is...
Politics: 23 September 2010 (23 Sep 2010 08:40am)
A woman in Montana was charged by a black bear while she was in her back yard. Thinking quickly, she picked up the closest weapon to defend herself: a large zucchini, with which she fended off the bear. All I can say is that had she grabbed a zucchini, this story would not have ended so well. I hope...
Politics: 22 September 2010 (22 Sep 2010 07:54pm)
Countdown dedicated half of their show today on the real definition of "small business" as the Republicans are using it to make the case for extending the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. The "small" in "small business" refers to the number of owners. So companies like the Chicago Tribune are ...
Politics: 21 September 2010 (21 Sep 2010 07:34pm)
Ars technica has reported on a study about how skeptics discount scientific consensus by casting doubts on the scientific experts. Basically it says that if an expert says what they want to hear, they go along with it; if not, not. I don't think there is any doubt of this, but I question the study i...
Politics: 20 September 2010 (20 Sep 2010 07:40pm)
Christine O'Donnell ditched appearing on Face the Nation on Sunday—no surprise there! But she also ditched Fox News Sunday with Chris Wallace. You may remember Wallace as the one guy on Faux News that occasionally asks real questions of conservatives. As Media Matters put it, "However, faced w...
David Cay Johnston (19 Sep 2010 05:37pm)
Mr. Johnston has a confusing middle name. It is pronounced "kay" as in "Mary Kay." So I thought I heard people refer to him as "David C. Johnston" and "David K. Johnston"! I figured some people weren't doing their homework, but I did mine and found out so had they. ...
Politics: 19 September 2010 (19 Sep 2010 05:32pm)
I read David Cay Johnston's Free Lunch today, and it made me really angry. The subtitle of the book is, "How the wealthiest Americans enrich themselves at government expense (and stick you with the bill)." That about sums it up. It tells stories of large companies that get huge government subsidies ...
Politics: 18 September 2010 (18 Sep 2010 09:17am)
For three years, Billy Bob Neck has been on YouTube spreading the love and wisdom of Jesus. Before I say any more about him, however, here he is with "The Burn a Koran Song": Okay. Billy Bob Neck is a character created by comedian Paul Day. This is the best satire since A Modest Proposal. He has ...
Politics: 17 September 2010 (17 Sep 2010 11:11pm)
Elizabeth Warren! It amazes me that the Republicans won't allow Obama to have anything he wants. It is clear that Elizabeth Warren should be nominated to head the Bureau of Consumer Financial Protection. But we know that the Republicans will filibuster her nomination, because she might actually be ...
Politics: 16 September 2010 (16 Sep 2010 05:15pm)
I'm really tired and I am cramming for a job interview—a good one that will let me pay off my $100,000 in medical bills and tens of thousands of dollars in back taxes. Plus no one (give or take me) reads this anyway. So here is episode ten of the third season of Elon James White's This Week In...
Politics: 15 September 2010 (15 Sep 2010 07:40pm)
It amazes me looking at the comments on conservative blogs. There are a number of somewhat reasonable old-school Republicans, but at least half the comments are from delusional teabaggers. Here is one such comment: Beautiful thing! O'Donnell will easily draw more democratic support than Castle eve...
Politics: 14 September 2010 (14 Sep 2010 10:37pm)
Alone as usual, but I eat better than you. The Clarifying Chaos William Saletan wrote a wonderful overview of the whole Koran burning episode and how it relates to the Park51 project. I'm afraid it is written at too high a level to be of much use to those who need it most. Basically, Saletan says ...
Politics: 13 September 2010 (13 Sep 2010 08:41pm)
Who would have thought I would still be doing this? Certainly not me. Nor do I know why I continue, except for my addictive personality. Prayer Rooms In World Trade Center Samuel J. Freedman reported in the New York Times on Friday, that there was an official Muslim prayer room on the 17th floor o...
Politics: 12 September 2010 (12 Sep 2010 09:57pm)
Say It Ain't So, John! The Washington Post reports that Idiot Minority Leader in the house, John Boehner, told Face the Nation that he might not oppose ending the tax cuts on the wealthiest 2% of Americans. We'll see where that goes. But here's the thing: the article's lede states, "Congress is ret...
Politics: 10 September 2010 (10 Sep 2010 09:04pm)
I am deeply depressed—it doesn't matter why. But this fact may explain why my entire entry today is a defense of Phil Davison. Yesterday, I posted his speech to the Stark County Republican Party's executive committee. I have watched it a few more times. You can hear people laughing at him duri...
Politics: 9 September 2010 (09 Sep 2010 08:17pm)
Extraordinary Rendition The "liberal" Ninth Circuit Court found 6-5 that victims of extraordinary rendition cannot sue the government because national security concerns trump the rights of the tortured men. I don't have time to go into this and reading the link will not give you nearly enough infor...
Politics: 8 September 2010 (08 Sep 2010 08:06pm)
All the Republican candidates are being told to say "Federal Government Bad! Local Government Good!" This, of course, is just the modern version of "states' rights" which just meant segregation. Think Progress reports on a townhall where Representative-hopeful Jim Renacci makes the argument that the...
Politics: 7 September 2010 (07 Sep 2010 09:51pm)
I read the entire Constitution of the United States today for a regular article that I'm about to write. What I found was that there are a total of 22 references of "citizen." And pretty much without exception, these references have to do with voting: who can be president, senator, representative, a...
Politics: 6 September 2010 (07 Sep 2010 01:00am)
This was a holiday: I should have taken it off. New and many polls show that Americans by and large think the Republicans would do a better job running the country. I don't get it. Are people just not paying attention? I'm still hopeful that the polls are meaningless. It will drive you crazy trying...
Politics: 3 September 2010 (03 Sep 2010 11:17pm)
After spending $104 million, Meg Witless has mostly managed to greatly increase her negative ratings. Jerry Brown is just about ready to start up his campaign. I think we have a very good chance of winning this election. Ideology aside, I think that Whitman would be a disaster as governor. Based up...
Politics: 2 September 2010 (02 Sep 2010 11:01pm)
There wasn't a lot of news that interested me today. But the death of Matthew Dieckmann slapped me in the face as I was running errands. Surely, he deserves more, but this is the best I can do at the moment: And I can't leave without mentioning Hillary Clinton is having a manage a trois with Benj...
Politics: 1 September 2010 (01 Sep 2010 09:11pm)
Signs of the Times Not everything about the Glenn Beck rally was offensive. Watch this wonderful little video: A Perfect Earl Remember back in 1991 when the "perfect storm" hit the northeast of the United States and killed all the men aboard the Andrea Gail? At least you have to remember George...
Politics: 31 August 2010 (31 Aug 2010 09:22pm)
You may have noticed that I have changed the format of this blog. This is due to the fact that most of what is happening on a day to day basis really isn't that interesting or important. I have only two things to talk about today. The first is tragic but fascinating—even funny. The second is a...
Politics: 30 August 2010 (30 Aug 2010 06:40pm)
I don't want to keep hammering this, but the media coverage of the estimates of the attendance of Glenn Beck's rally are really bugging me. Let's look at what ...
Politics: 29 August 2010 (29 Aug 2010 06:21pm)
David Harvey provides an excellent Marxist crique of our current economic crisis. HowTheWorldWorks, provides a critique of this critique that is utterly falacious. Here is the link, but I warn you: it is disingenuous—filled with very familar conservative lies and distortions. You don't need to...
Politics: 28 August 2010 (28 Aug 2010 11:43am)
I will have more to say tomorrow (or even tonight). For now, nothing more need be said. Update There were 87,000 people at Glenn Beck's rally. This compares rather poorly with MLK's 1963 rally that drew over 200,000 without the months of cable advertising. When the readers of NewsOpi read this n...
Politics: 27 August 2010 (27 Aug 2010 07:56pm)
Most of the news is not very interesting. Here are two pieces that are. Thirty years ago, Nettleton Middle School in Nettleton, Mississippi, enacted rules to assure that there was racial diversity in the student council. They did this by doing things like requiring that only white students could r...
Politics: 26 August 2010 (26 Aug 2010 09:36pm)
There's not a lot today. It may be that the more news I read, the more I see that none of it much matters. But I have included to nice videos. Former RNC chairman Ken Mehlman has admitted he's gay. Good for him—kind of. He's moved from using homophobia to help the Republicans win elections to...
Faith and Politics (25 Aug 2010 11:47pm)
Senator John Danforth has written a book, Faith and Politics, which is subtitled: "How the 'moral values' debate divides America and how to move forward together." It sounds hopeful enough. Indeed, had it been a magazine article I would have liked it well enough. As an 80,000 word book, it is a disa...
Politics: 25 August 2010 (25 Aug 2010 09:13pm)
I'm getting tired of doing this. It takes me two to three hours each day to put this together. Admittedly, I would spend the time anyway, but it is a drag knowing that even when I'm tired or sick, I'm still obliged (if only by myself) to determine what is most interesting and important and to write...
Politics: 24 August 2010 (24 Aug 2010 04:12pm)
There isn't much news today. I don't feel like going into all of the political machinations, like John Boehner's ridiculous speech today. I'll include anything really important from today tomorrow. According to Rachel Maddow last night, of the 324 congressional primaries, the incumbent has won 317 ...
Politics: 23 August 2010 (23 Aug 2010 06:41pm)
The level of intolerance in this country is really bothering me. Was I embarrassed through eight years with Bush? Yes. Am I even more embarrassed by the current anti-Islamic dust up? Yep. March of last year, President Obama signed an executive order repealing the Bush restrictions on stem cell res...
Politics: 21 August 2010 (21 Aug 2010 08:17pm)
On Thursday, there was a hijack or bombing threat on American Airlines flight number 124 out of SFO. It came to nothing. But the FBI picked two passengers to escort off the plane in handcuffs. They claimed they were picked randomly. But the passengers seem to have been visiting from Pakistan. So the...
Politics: 20 August 2010 (20 Aug 2010 04:45pm)
Fridays seem always to be slow. In yesterday's column, Paul Krugman equates the "apostles of austerity" to priests of an ancient cult who demand human sacrifices to appease some unseen god. It is, as usual for his columns, well worth reading. The strange thing about Krugman is that time after time ...
Politics: 19 August 2010 (19 Aug 2010 03:45pm)
Why is it that I consistently find the best coverage of events in foreign news sources? Oh, I know! Because the American news really sucks. Take for example, item number 1. The US is withdrawing from Iraq having not completed what we promised. Insurgents are killing an average of 250 people per day...
Politics: 18 August 2010 (18 Aug 2010 07:44pm)
I just finished reading The Man Who Would Not Shut Up, a biography of Bill O'Reilly. It is a very sympathetic depiction of him. It turns out that he is carbon-based. Of course, all the way through it, I kept wondering, "Why am I reading this?" And I'm half-way through a biography of Glenn Beck&mdash...
Politics: 17 August 2010 (17 Aug 2010 08:14pm)
There was a good side to my arguments yesterday. I used the "why do you care?" argument in the Prop. 8 case, and it seemed to work. They agreed that, in fact, whether or not there were same-sex unions made no difference to them. This is the thing about Republicans: most of the time they don't realiz...
Politics: 16 August 2010 (16 Aug 2010 07:12pm)
I had two political arguments today. The first was about the Islamic community center and the second, Prop. 8. I didn't bring up either of these issues; it is telling that these are the two issues most on my local conservatives' minds. Why? Neither actually have anything to do with their lives. It i...
Politics: Happy Birthday Social Security! (14 Aug 2010 08:10am)
Social Security (which included unemployment benefits) turns 75 today—at a time when Republicans are back to pushing for its destruction. This is a good example of why a party of strong ideology (like the Republicans) is bad and a party of pragmatism (like the Democrats) is good. The Republic...
Politics: 13 August 2010 (13 Aug 2010 09:31pm)
It's Friday the 13th, but I don't believe in luck. The current political crisis is not a question of luck. Simply put, the Republicans are eager to sacrifice the good of the country (and the world) just to gain political power. It is repulsive. If they had not gone off the deep end, I would not be s...
Politics: 12 August 2010 (12 Aug 2010 10:37pm)
The Rachel Maddow Show had big news tonight. I owe the first two items here to it. I know how evil she is: she's a prominent member of the Professional Left. But Ms. Maddow is one of the few jewels in corporate medialand. I also wish to thank Canadian Living for the exceptional Snow Peas and Carrots...
And Now a Few Words from a Dead Man (01 Jul 2010 04:15pm)
I am too busy to write anything of much interest here, so I thought I would just provide a few quotes from the late, great John Maynard Keynes. My outside work took me to The New Penguin Dictionary of Modern Quotations (by Robert Andrews) to find for a quotation from Keynes. It was probably his most...
Justice as Commerce (03 Jan 2010 11:41am)
One could say that the justice system in the USA where prosecutors have most of the power and a career/financial interest in convicting the guilty and innocent is nothing but commerce. I will need to think another couple of decades on this issue....

Total Articles: 2275