Anniversary Post: George Petty

George PettyOn this day in 1894, the great pin-up artist George Petty was born. You certainly know his art, because it copies of it were used to decorate planes used in World War II — most notably the Memphis Belle. His father was a successful photographer of women — so maybe it was in the blood. Or maybe seeing dad’s nudes had an environmental impact on the young man.

He is known for having created a kind of iconic figure: the Petty Girl. It sounds sexist: the women in the images have smaller than normal heads and longer and normal legs. I don’t especially see the smaller head. But the ridiculously long legs are hard to miss. These were created for Esquire magazine when it had centerfolds — the predecessors of those later found in Playboy. I assume they were thought rather racy in their day. Today, they look downright homey.

All right, not quite:

Petty Girl

Happy birthday George Petty!

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Teotihuacan and Dynastic Tendencies

Sergio Gómez ChávezThis last week, The Guardian published, Liquid Mercury Found Under Mexican Pyramid Could Lead to King’s Tomb. This has to do with Teotihuacan — a ruin site in modern Mexico that was a large city starting a few centuries BEC, which may have reached a peak population of a quarter million people around 450 CE. But here’s the thing: we really don’t know that much about the people who lived there. We don’t even know who they were, but it is now assumed they were people who emigrated from the south — at least some from the Mayan empire.

For the last six years, archaeologist Sergio Gómez Chávez has been excavating a tunnel under the ruins at the Pyramid of the Sun. At first, the tunnel was thought to be naturally occurring. But it indeed seems to be man made. The further they go in, the more interesting it becomes. They have now found three different chambers, one going down 20 meters below the temple. Along the way, they have found various artifacts: “jade statues, jaguar remains, a box filled with carved shells and rubber balls.” But most recently, they have found liquid mercury — as opposed to mercury ore. As a result, they believe they are on the verge of finding the first “royal tomb” ever found in Teotihuacan. And that’s important:

The discovery of a tomb could help solve the enigma of how Teotihuacan was ruled…

A royal tomb could lend credence to the theory that the city, which flourished between 100 CE – 700 CE[1], was ruled by dynasties in the manner of the Maya, though with far less obvious flair for self-glorification.

There are many other theories. As I said, we don’t know much about these people. But to my mind: of course it was a dynasty! This is just the way humans work. Consider: this is a major — multi-chamber — tunnel dug under the biggest structure in the city. Flair for self-glorification or not, that is the sign of at least one person with a very big ego and the power to feed it over a long period of time. A dynasty is almost required for that, because nothing other than some kind of god-king or God approved king would provide that kind of stability. Otherwise, there would always be someone trying to take over.

But look at our own society. Never has a country be so deluded about the idea of meritocracy as the United States. If many people don’t actually believe it, you would never know it by us constantly talking about it. Yet we could very easily see this country ruled by three members of the same family in the period of just 25 years. And it sure isn’t because they are so brilliant. George H W Bush was a reasonably competent bureaucrat. George W Bush was either incompetent or uninterested in the job. (Or both!) And Jeb Bush was anything but a stellar governor. Regardless, we would be happy if he was as good a president as his father. Humans just naturally fall for this kind of stuff. This is why we continue to allow unconscionable levels of inequality and don’t even pretend to provide “equality of opportunity” to our children.

So I am betting that within a year or two, we will find a “royal tomb” at Teotihuacan. But regardless, it ought to be fascinating what we do find.


Want to get really angry? WalMart moved into Teotihuacan and acted more or less how the Islamic State would, Teotihuacan Gets Mickey-Moused.

[1] This date is inaccurate. The Pyramid of the Sun — the biggest structure in the city — was built by 100 CE. So the city was doing quite well for a while before that.

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College Education vs College Degree

The End of the RainbowIn recent years, the money preoccupation has trickled upward, shaping our ideas about college as well as K–12 schooling. Not so long ago, private college was a luxury that few could afford. But in the nineteenth century, first Horace Mann and then Charles Eliot led the charge to make ability rather than heritage the price of admission to college. Though the intention was to recognize that wealth or lofty ancestry was no guarantee of intellectual ability, motivation, or academic inclination, it also came from the realization that a college degree opened doors and changed one’s future trajectory. During the same period, the introduction of excellent state university systems provided another avenue for bright and motivated adolescents with no money to get a college education. But as with K–12 education, when college changed from being a luxury for a few to a necessity for all, it redefined itself. Where once it had been a place to expand one’s horizons, read great books, get exposure to new disciplines, and learn how to participate in intellectual discourse, it now became another step toward getting a job or moving up a career ladder. The focus turned from getting a college education to getting a college degree.

—Susan Engel
The End of the Rainbow: How Educating for Happiness (Not Money) Would Transform Our Schools

Excerpted at Salon, We’re Teaching Our Kids Wrong: Steve Jobs and Bill Gates Do Not Have the Answers.

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Republican Political Fail on Foreign Policy

Ted CruzJames Gibney wrote a very interesting article following of a recent Gallup poll, Everyone Likes Obama’s Foreign Policy Except Americans. It seems that the world is actually quite keen on American leadership. And contrary to what pretty much every Republican will tell you, our allies are the most positive of all. The one exception to this is Israel, which thought that the US foreign policy was great under George W Bush. I think we can disregard any group of people who think that the high point of American foreign policy was the Iraq War. In addition to our friends being very happy with us, our enemies (at least as most would define them) are very unhappy with us. In Russia, the United States gets an amazingly low 4% approval rating. (I assume this is a reflection of the fact that Russian media is as biased and jingoistic as the American media is.)

But it is wrong to say that Americans don’t like Obama’s foreign policy. Right now, Americans aren’t that keen on foreign policy as a thing. But their opinion has improved steadily since Obama took over the presidency. So clearly, the Republicans who are shouting about America’s standing in the world are just preaching to the choir. (Gibney seemed strangely a bit confused on this point.) American approval of our own foreign policy reached a nadir at the end of Bush’s presidency with less than 30% and now it is almost 40%. And this is for a poll taken “even as Russia was annexing Crimea, Islamic State was beheading its way across the Middle East, Ebola was taking its toll in West Africa, and Europe was dealing with an unprecedented crisis in Greece.” If the poll were done today, I’m sure the numbers would be better.

But should we pay much attention to what Americans think in a general way about foreign policy? After all, we are the people who gave Bush a 51% approval rating the week before 9/11 and an 86% approval rating the week after. Even more stark, his disapproval rating went from 39% down to 10%. This is after he oversaw the worst attack on American soil ever — where his initial reaction was to sit there reading, The Pet Goat. (Although I will admit: goats really are charming animals!) Similarly, approval of our foreign policy went up after the Iraq invasion — the very thing that now makes Americans sad about foreign policy in general.

The main thing to consider here is that Americans are unhappy with the idea of intervention altogether. Since 1964, the Pew Research Center has been asking Americans if the United States should “mind its own business, internationally.” In 1964, only 20% said we should. The number went up quite a bit in the decades after that. But in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion, it dipped back down to 30%. And as of 2013, it is at an all time high: 52%.

So I don’t think it means much when Ted Cruz rants, “Today, the consequence of the Obama-Clinton foreign policy is that our friends no longer trust us, and our enemies no longer fear us.” The truth is that he is completely wrong on the facts. Our friends do trust us. Our enemies fear us even more. But most of all, the American people just don’t care.


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Fanciful Libertarian Ideas on Information

Tyler CowenA week and a half ago, David Auerbach wrote a very good and detailed article, Buyer Still Beware. It is in response to an article by libertarian economists Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen, The End of Asymmetric Information. In that, they argue that the internet and other information delivery systems have greatly reduced the asymmetry of information, which has long been known to distort markets. So basically, we don’t need regulation, because people can just check Angie’s List. Auerbach makes a compelling case that having more information doesn’t help much given that it increases both good and bad information. The question is still how to find good information.

I would take it a step further — although Auerbach does imply this. All increased information does is create a kind of information arms race. People want more and better information about the products they buy. Sellers do not want this. It is much better for businesses to be able to control what people think and feel about products. And here is the main thing. Control of information is a major part of what businesses do. Consumers do not have the time or inclination to become fully informed about every product they buy. And I think this the critical issue.

On a practical level, libertarian ideas always lead to neoliberal policy. And this results in our getting worse systems. I understand that Obamacare might be better for a small number of healthcare consumers who have the time and inclination to really research all the insurance options. But for the vast majority of people, having a single-payer system is better. Overall, they would get a superior form of health insurance. But apart from that, their lives are easier because they don’t have to worry about something that really doesn’t improve their lives. Most people have the experience of just shifting through two or three insurance options at their employers — it’s a pain. The situation is just madness when it is 20 or 30.

Alex TabarrokWhat Tabarrok and Cowen are up to here is just libertarian fantasy. They want there to be no need for regulation, so they have gone out looking for something to justify it. It isn’t a coincidence that their paper just happened to find what they were looking for. If they had come to some other conclusion, I question whether they would have written the paper. And I know that if they had, the Cato Institute wouldn’t have published it, because it has been very upfront about its lack of scientific ethics. (They are not in the business of publishing information that pushes against libertarian solutions.)

Auerbach also documents how libertarian information systems become, in real life, little fiefdoms. He mentioned the whole Silk Road debacle. I wrote about it earlier this year, How the Libertarian Dream Dies. But he also goes into some depth about Reddit, and how moderators on subreddits actually ban articles. For example, Simon Owens wrote an article, Should Reddit’s Powerful Mods Be Reined In? It was banned from the technology subreddit.

This, I think, is the fundamental problem with libertarianism. It would have us get rid of government because of its fairly minor oppression of us, and replace it with totally unaccountable private parties that could and would oppress us far more. It is just a matter of incentives. There may be a great macro-level incentive for all of us to follow the law, but we don’t all follow the law. The same is true in markets. There will be some who will not do well — or at least not as well as they think they should — and they will use whatever advantage they have. And the fact that this makes everyone else worse off doesn’t matter in the least.

I know what libertarians say in response to this. But it is no less fanciful than the notion that everyone will get along just fine and no one will try to game the system. It all depends upon perfect judicial systems. Or even worse: it is dependent upon voluntary judicial systems. There could not be a more perfect political philosophy for those that already have economic power. It’s the ultimate con, “Just get rid of the one thing that is stopping you from enslaving yourself and then you will be able to do whatever it is you want, without anyone to tell you what to do!”

Does the fact that I don’t believe everyone can get along perfectly in a libertarian utopia mean that I am cynical? I don’t think so. Basically what the libertarians are saying is that we don’t need government in a world where everyone gets along. And I agree: in that kind of world, we wouldn’t need a government. But that is not the kind of world that we live it. It is because of human imperfections that we have governments. And yes, governments are a mixed blessing. But “no government” isn’t mixed at all: it is just bad.

It’s sad that two respected economists like Alex Tabarrok and Tyler Cowen write such rubbish. Or not. Maybe it is sad that people who put forth such rubbish are respected. But they both write smart things a lot of the time. It is like libertarianism is a kind of disease. More than most ideologies, it fries the brain, making proponents think they are being smart and deductive when they are just being fanciful. They so want to believe. And there are rich people around with so much money to pay them to believe…


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Morning Music: La-Le-Lu

Wenn der Vater mit dem SohneDo want to have a good cry? Then listen, my friends, to the story of Wenn der Vater mit dem Sohne (I don’t really know what it mean: “When the father with the son”?) — the 1955 directorial debut of Hans Quest. It stars Heinz Rühmann who plays Teddy, a man who runs a joke shop who has raised his landlady’s foster child — Ulli — as a son, since the boy was abandoned by his mother at birth. One day, Ulli comes upon a clown suit and Teddy explains that once upon a time, he was a famous clown who performed with his son. But after his son died, Teddy lost the ability to laugh and started the joke shop. Ulli convinces Teddy to begin performing and joins him on the stage. Happily ever after? Not at all! We aren’t even half way through the movie.

The mother returns — now married. She wants to take Ulli back with her to America. So Teddy and Ulli run away together. But alas, there is nothing to be done and the mother eventually takes Ulli back with her, leaving Teddy emotionally destroyed for the second time in his life. Now if this were some piece of garbage like Kramer vs Kramer, the mother would return Ulli to Teddy. But thankfully, this is not a piece of garbage. So the film ends with Teddy as a sad clown, performing “La-Le-Lu Nur Der Mann im Mond Schaut Zu” (Only the Man in the Moon Watches).

Here is a video with three times that the song is performed in the film. It’s very sweet:

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Anniversary Post: SS Ideal X

SS Ideal X

On this day in 1956, the SS Ideal X was launched. It was the world’s first successful container ship. Actually, before that, it had been an oil tanker from World War II. But it was purchased by Pan-Atlantic Steamship Company and converted into a container ship. It carried 58 containers. Compare this to the biggest container ships today that carry in excess of 10,000 containers. It is truly remarkable.

Now the Ideal X was not the first container ship. That would be the Clifford J Rogers. But I don’t think that’s quite fair, because it didn’t transport the standard twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEU) containers. And the whole purpose of container ships is that they are standardized. If they weren’t, they wouldn’t be important.

If you are an American and you are out of work, it is probably because of container ships. Well, not completely. There are lots of political reasons. But without container ships, those wouldn’t matter that much. Think of the total crap that comes to this country from China — things like toy rings that kids get in gumball machines. The only reason that this is profitable to make that is that the transportation costs are greatly reduced. Container ships allow that.

All this talk of globalization being about allowing companies to get the cheapest labor is true. But if it was expensive to transport the goods, it just wouldn’t happen. And one thing you will notice is that America still does a fair amount of manufacturing of cheap stuff. It is just that it is on a small scale. It might be reasonable to produce a million plastic rings in China, but if it is only 100,000, the transportation costs make it cheaper to produce here.

I certainly think that container ships have had a far bigger effect on the world than computers. And of course, if resources were shared somewhat equitably, container ships would have been a much bigger benefit to everyone. Instead, they have more or less facilitated taking money from the poorer people in the developed world and giving it to the poor people in the developing world. And that’s overall a good thing. But along the way, it shouldn’t have been that the rich have simply gotten unimaginably richer — largely because of a technological advance that they had nothing to do with.

Happy birthday container ships!

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Constitutional Conservatives Are Neo-Confederates

Steve KingLast week, Steve Benen wrote, Steve King Unveils Radical Court Scheme. It seems that King is proposing a new law, Restrain the Judges on Marriage Act of 2015. It would stop federal courts from having jurisdiction over cases related to marriage. It is actually somewhat funny. This is the ultimate sign that conservatives have lost the same sex marriage debate. But Benen is confused because King claims to be a “constitutional conservative,” and such a law would be outrageously unconstitutional. What gives?

Well, Ed Kilgore responded, Yes, Constitutional Conservatives Are Radicals. He pointed out that what these conservatives mean when the append “constitutional” to their descriptor is just that they want to go back in time — to when the Constitution was new — “before it was ruined by courts and legislators and presidents alike.” And so, in this particular case, King doesn’t see a problem, because this is a states’ rights issue: the federal government should have nothing to say about how states want to deal with issues related to marriage. I have a few things to add.

Note that by this logic, the federal government would have no right to end slavery — much less Jim Crow. The thinking of people like Steve King is so shallow that their philosophy basically gives no guidance regarding policy matters. It is very much like the Stephen Colbert idea of “truthiness” where the the truth is whatever you feel in your gut. They really think this is a good thing. But Rob in High Fidelity is right, “I’ve been listening to my gut since I was 14 years old, and frankly speaking, I’ve come to the conclusion that my guts have shit for brains.” Or more to the point: the gut is just a repository for all our baser instincts, like hating and fearing people who aren’t members of our tribe.

The more fundamental issue is that constitutional conservatives actually are neo-confederates. Because the document that they constantly return to is not the Constitution but the Articles of Confederation. I wrote about this last year with regards to Garrett Epps’ excellent book, Wrong and Dangerous: Ten Right-Wing Myths About Our Constitution, Conservatives on Constitution Are Wrong and Dangerous. The Tenth Amendment has a very distinct change. The Articles said “the powers not expressly delegated to the United States” are given to the states. The Constitution said, “The powers not delegated to the United States…” The difference is in implied powers, and this is huge as Epps explained:

If “implied powers” still sounds like tricky lawyer talk, ask yourself the following question: is the American flag unconstitutional? The Constitution doesn’t make any reference to a national flag. By the “express” argument, states and only states would retain what we might call “the flag power.” The US Army would have to march under the fifty state flags, depending on the origin of each unit. That would be cumbersome, confusing, and dangerous — and more to the point, stupid. Congress can “raise and support armies.” Armies have to have flags — they are required under international law and necessary for military discipline and cohesion. A country that has an explicit power to raise an army has the implied power to designate a flag. Nobody seriously reads a constitution any other way.

If you hang out with hardcore conservatives (including libertarians), you will hear the Tenth Amendment brought up all the time: the federal government is interfering, taking all this power from the states, and it is unconstitutional. This is because their understanding of the Constitution is that it is just following the Articles of Confederation — when this one difference is the primary reason that we needed a Constitution and could not continue on as a confederacy.

This is also why these kinds of conservatives so often turn out to be racists. This misunderstanding of the Tenth Amendment was using in the nullification campaign of John Calhoun to support slavery. And after the Civil War, it went away — only to come up again in the 1950s in support of Jim Crow. These same people gloss over the far greater powers that the Fourteenth Amendment gave to the federal government. So Ed Kilgore is right that these people are indeed radicals and they want to go way back in time. But they are also neo-Confederates, and the main reason that they are is because they want the right to discriminate.

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Elections Matter: 2012 Edition

Brian BeutlerIf Mitt Romney had defeated President Barack Obama in the 2012 election, a lot of things would be very different today. Had fortunes been so reversed, Romney would likely have come into office with a lock on Congress, and thus the power to pass a big tax cut and repeal (or at least hobble) the Affordable Care Act. When the economy improved and unemployment fell below six percent much earlier than Romney promised, Republicans would have claimed credit and Romney would have faced an easy path to re-election.

Romney’s successes — or his perceived successes — would have rehabilitated the Republican party’s reputation, and the public would have once again presumed that conservatives had effective ideas about economic and fiscal policy. The New Deal consensus would have dwindled, possibly enough for Republicans to shrink, devolve, or privatize parts of the safety net. With time on their side, conservatives would have looked forward to gaining decisive control over the Supreme Court for a generation.

The first black president of the US would have left office humiliated by a white electorate, and the Democratic Party would have regressed, fearful that the country would not stand for long behind minority political leaders, and progressive social policy.

—Brian Beutler
Ignore the Cynics: 2016 Is an Extremely Important, Exciting Election

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Political Correctness Is Not Partisan

Politically CorrectEd Kilgore wrote an interesting article earlier this week, A Whole New Brand of “Political Correctness.” It is about how the coverage of Obama’s low approval ratings, and how they affect Hillary Clinton’s campaign, never discuss racism. He mentioned the Republican “Southern Strategy” is known — from statements by its own proponents — to be racist. “I’d suggest that we are now in an era where ‘political correctness’ has been turned on its head.” I’d suggest that it isn’t turned on its head. I would suggest that the idea of political correctness as some kind of liberal thing was always wrong.

You may remember back a few days, I wrote, Robert M Price and the Limits of Brilliance. In that, I talked about Price’s argument in favor of Mike Huckabee for president was based upon the fact that he would “stand against PC and Islamo-fascism.” Forget the “Islamo-fascism” — the idea that the president would take a stand against PC is just ridiculous. It is impossible in the sense that “PC” is not something legislated, but rather socially enforced. And it is such a trivial issue. Price, after all, was arguing that we don’t need to worry about Huckabee’s homophobia, because we get in return his bold stand against people looking down on Rush Limbaugh calling women whores.

But the truth of the matter is that “political correctness” is just a name for any form of speech codes that the speaker doesn’t like. I don’t ever remember as big a bout of PC as after 9/11 and the way that almost everyone came down on any person who tried to explain why we were attacked other than with the simplistic, “They hate us for our freedom.” But this is never the kind of PC that conservatives complain about. And that’s fine. But to think that they don’t have their own speech codes is just madness.

This idea is not new. Rational Wiki even has a name for it, Conservative Correctness. It provides a classic example, “The rebranding of ‘French fries’ as ‘Freedom fries’ in the Congressional cafeteria after the French refused to support the Invasion of Iraq in 2003.” And to take it to a more official level, there is the still common use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” instead of “torture.” Or “private military contractor” instead of “mercenary.” And, of course, “pro-life” instead of “anti-choice.” There are also concerted efforts at negative PC like “pro-abortion” for “pro-choice” and “Democrat Party” instead of “Democratic Party.”

Now I assume that a lot of people would just say that these are euphemisms. But that is all that PC is. What are the non-offensive words that a group uses for contentious or disturbing subjects. For example, almost everyone uses the term “passed away” instead of “died.” That is language meant to spare the feelings of sensitive people. Can it be taken too far? Like anything else, yes. But the intention is usually good. The truth is that there are very few conservatives today who actually think it is acceptable to use the term “nigger” rather than “African American.” Everyone understands that the former term is offensive to pretty much everyone — but especially African Americans.

But here’s the thing. Since when did being polite become contentious? When it comes to our political correctness, it isn’t contentious. It is, in fact, just being polite. It is only when it is their political correctness that it becomes a bad thing. But I don’t recall scores of liberal books decrying conservative political correctness. For liberals, conservative correctness is just silly — not a threat to freedom. But for conservatives like Price, it is very serious indeed. They whine about it even while coming up with new pejoratives to call us.


Remember how Bill Maher’s show Politically Incorrect was canceled because of right wing outrage over him saying something that wasn’t politically correct — as the right wing defined it? In the time since then, left wing political correctness has only waned. But right wing political correctness (largely because it isn’t seen as political correctness) has flourished.


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War on the Cheap Leads to Eternal War

John KasichAs I say quite a lot around here, in many ways, I am a conservative. There are two kinds of conservatives in the world. Imagine you are trying to sleep and your next door neighbor is having a party. If you are the kind of conservative that has now taken over the Republican Party, you are waiting for the slightest sound so they can make angry phone calls, pound on the neighbor’s door, or call the cops. If you are my kind of conservative you just want to live and let live. And this is not just because I don’t like confrontations. In general, people should be allowed to live their lives unless doing so is really infringing on my doing the same. It is probably not hard to see how I managed to be a libertarian for so long.

Daniel Larison at The American Conservative — like most of the staff there when it comes to foreign policy — is my kind of conservative. He highlighted an interview that John Kasich had with Hugh Hewitt. In it, Kasich says a number of things that are wrong, and dangerous. And they all show that despite his reputation, Kasich is just your typical Republican. Well, just like with conservatives, there are two kinds of Republicans when it comes to foreign policy. There are those who want to go to war everywhere and there are those who just want to fund and supply arms to some faction everywhere in the world.

Larison refers to the first kind of Republicans as “expensive hawks” and the Kasich kind as “cheap hawks.” And I don’t think he means that just in the sense that expensive hawks cost the nation more money than the cheap hawks. There is definitely the sense — which I share — that the cheap hawks get their policy on the cheap. It is easier to make war everywhere if there aren’t dead American soldiers and grieving American families. This is a big problem with drone warfare. There isn’t a political price to pay for this foreign policy adventurism. So I would much rather deal with the expensive hawks, because at least they are being upfront about what they want to do.

One of Larison’s great insights about Kasich — and by extension, all the hawks — is that the policies that he’s for will not further the goals he claims to have. “Kasich wants to create the impression that he wants to maintain stability, but everything he recommends doing here is necessarily destabilizing.” As we knew well before the Iraq War, but should be crystal clear since, overthrowing dictators — while potentially good — is hugely destabilizing. To go back to my party analogy, sending weapons to insurgents is like thinking that you are going to make your neighbor’s party quieter by having a few cases of beer delivered.

Of course, other than being a whole lot smarter and less inclined to go everywhere, the Democratic Party is filled with cheap hawks as well. I have been happy that Obama has limited our engagements. But where he hasn’t — most especially in terms of drone warfare — he is cheap hawk all the way. And we are the worse for it. At least as the Iraq War dragged on, people started talking about it. Almost no one in the mainstream media talks about the drone strikes, except when something “notable” happens like an American getting killed. Drone strikes and funding rebels is a very cheap approach to war indeed.

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Morning Music: Not Paul Krugman’s Pick

100 Lovers - DeVotchKaOn Thursday, Paul Krugman did his usual music post a day ahead, Friday Night Music, Early Edition: San Fermin. He wrote, “Yes, I know it’s Thursday — but they have a new record just out…” Well, I had to check out San Fermin. But I was skeptical. Krugman has very definable taste. There is probably a name for it. I think of it as: middle age white guy indie. And San Fermin was no exception.

I’m not saying it is bad. Like all of Krugman’s favorite music, it is professional and relatively creative. But it is never anything really good. It is more style than substance. It is never upsetting. It is the sort of thing that you would think that a modern day Nobel Prize winning economist would listen to. I should be glad he is into it and not middle Romantic Period classical music. And I am!

But what I’m not going to do is pass on this group’s music. I listened to a number of their songs online and I didn’t like a single one. It is possible to do music with this kind of sound and be captivating. DeVotchKa is such a group. I never get tired of them, even though their sound is largely unchanged. But it all has a passion and flavor that I just don’t hear in San Fermin — or most of the music Krugman is interested in. So we will listen to a song I’ve written about before, The Man from San Sebastian from their 2011 album 100 Lovers.


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