Paul Krugman Has a Crush on Lydia DePillis

Lydia DePillisOne thing that is nice about having a fairly small readership: I don’t have to worry too much about what I say. So I can just say what I think. And what I think is that Paul Krugman has a crush on Lydia DePillis. Krugman, as you should all know, is the brilliant economist who is today better known for being a great big meanie to conservatives. And Lydia DePillis is (and I regret that my life is so devoid of anything of real interest that I don’t even have to look this up) the most recent person to join Ezra Klein’s Wonk Blog. So how do I know that the grand ol’ man of economics has a crush on the young Ms. DePillis? I’m getting to it…

But first you need to understand how Wonk Blog is organized. The simple answer is: I don’t know. But it does seem to me that Ezra Klein gets the best articles to write. As a result, Lydia DePillis seems to very often get stuck with really boring topics, even though she very often transcends them.

Given this, why would Paul Krugman post two articles in three days dealing with pieces by DePillis? I’ll grant you, yesterday’s article was a fun one, Remember When Republicans Were worried About “Economic Uncertainty”? But before that, she wrote what I called “one of those horrible interviews with people no one cares about,” “Shame on us”: How Businesses Brought the Debt Limit Mess Onto Themselves. Krugman trudged through that out of general interest?! I just don’t think so.

Add to that that fact that Krugman has been dieting recently. Sure, he might be doing that because his life is so great that he wants to live as long as possible. And certainly, those of us who read Krugman get alerted to every great thing that happens in his life, even if I’m not too keen on standing room only gigs. But as we now know, being slightly heavier is actually healthier and Krugman must know that. (I think I first read about it in Wonk Blog before DePillis joined.) So the question is, “Who you trying to impress Krugman?!”

Finally, just look at this young lady: she’s cute as a button! To me, that’s the final strike. Krugman is in love. But I would advise caution. Krugman is 60. DePillis looks early 20s. That is way creepy. What’s more, an affair could well kill the great man—regardless his weight. As for the other side of the affair, Krugman’s wife, Robin Wells could definitely take DePillis in a fight. It’s not worth the risk.

But Krugman definitely has a crush.

Update (2 October 2013 2:30 pm)

The crush continues, “Lydia DePillis continues her informative series of blog posts…” Oh, how he tries to cover!

Day One of Government Shutdown

Shutdown Terrorists

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, intentional or not, feed the Republican narrative. The most obvious partisanship came from Fox News, of course: “Partial Shutdown Begins: Can Congress, White House Compromise?” That one’s fun because it pushes the Fox News idea that is everywhere in their coverage that this isn’t a real shutdown but only a “slimdown.” If only Newt had had the help of Fox News in 1995!

What’s more generally worrisome about these headlines is that the Republican position is simply that they want compromise. But the issue here is not one of negotiation. This is extortion. It is wrong to say, “The parents don’t want to pay any money and the kidnappers want two million dollars; why can’t they just compromise?!” That’s what’s going on. None of the other headlines use the word “compromise,” but they are all have similar “both sides now” coverage. For example, the Washington Post headline was: “In Shutdown Blame Game, Democrats and Republicans United: It’s the Other Side’s Fault.” Because each side says that they are right, the good “objective” reports can’t look at the actual facts and determine who is right. Our mainstream press is fully in the grip of postmodern analysis, “Who can say which side is right? It’s just a matter of opinion!”

Meanwhile, in the trenches, we have Ted Cruz pushing the idea that we should just break up the Federal budget and fund the things we really like. You know, it’s really sad that Yosemite is closed on its birthday, so let’s open that. Of course, as Matt Yglesias correctly points out, the whole purpose (on both sides) is that a government shutdown is supposed to be painful. I’ll go further: Curz’s idea is a typical conservative gambit. The idea is to restart programs that might hurt the rich and middle classes (e.g. the national parks) to take off the pressure to ever start back up programs that help the poor. He is an evil little man.

In a separate article, Yglesias has an much better idea, Democrats Should Reject a “Clean” CR. He says it is madness to just restart the government, only to have another crisis two weeks later. So the Democrats should finally start making some demands of their own. Truly, this would have been a good idea a long time ago. As discussed above, there is some pressure from the press to push the Democrats to make some concessions to the Republicans. With a demand for a repeal of the Debt Ceiling, there would be some room to negotiate. In that case, the Republicans might be very lucky to get out of this with a clean continuing resolution (CR).

Speaking of the Debt Ceiling, this morning, Dean Baker answered a question that has been gnawing at me for a couple of weeks, October 17th and a Government Shutdown Don’t Mix. Before the government shutdown, Jack Lew said that the government would run into the Debt Ceiling on 17 October. But doesn’t the government shutdown move that date further out? Indeed it does. As Baker notes, “Depending on how much spending goes out the door, it is possible that the government is not even borrowing at all during the period of shutdown.” Regardless, it means that at most the Debt Ceiling crisis will come a couple of weeks after the government reopens. So Yglesias’ idea still makes a lot of sense.

Finally, a lot of people are reporting that most of the House Republican caucus has long wanted to vote for a clean CR. In fact, the number sits at 175 Republicans who would do so. Now is this credible? Is Boehner’s interpretation of the Hastert Rule that a majority of his caucus must vote for a bill before it goes to the floor, but the majority doesn’t necessarily mean it will go to the floor? In other words, the majority can stop action but it can’t start it? Jonathan Bernstein is having none of it. He sums up the House Republican caucus thusly:

True Believers: 30
Primary Paranoid: 20
Fraidy Cat Conference: 175

The True Believers are those people who are crazy—the ones who think that we go from Obamacare directly to gas chambers. The Primary Paranoid (my name) are those who rightfully worry that they will be primaried from the right and thus might as well be considered part of the True Believers. The Fraidy Cat Conference are those who know that the shutdown is bad and who want to tell reporters off the record that they think so. But they don’t want to do it publicly and don’t even want the others in the caucus to know where they stand lest the information get out and tarnish their reputations.

Maybe it is best to say that the caucus is divided in two: the True Believers and all the other people who are afraid that it might come out that they are not True Believers. Regardless, the fact that the vast majority of the caucus secretly wants to end this government shutdown is a good sign. Jennifer Bendery is keeping a list of the House Republicans who have publicly stated that they will vote for a clean CR. It is up to 12 as I write this. A total of 17 is needed for one to be sure to pass the House. But of course, that isn’t the number that will force Boehner to allow a vote on it. Jonathan Bernstein says, “My guess is the line would be some number greater than 25 and fewer than 60.” Whatever it is, I hope to see the number calling for a clean CR increasing over the next few days.

Someone Left Richard Harris in the Rain

Richard HarrisOn this day in 1888, the card magic innovator Charles Jordan was born. I have long known him because of the “Jordan Count,” which is a way of counting four cards while only showing three of them. It is the logical opposite of the “Elmsley Count.” That is to say that performing an Elmsley Count followed by a Jordan Count will return the cards to the original order. The Elmsley Count hides the third card from the top and the Jordan Count hides the bottom card. What I didn’t know until today is that he lived in Penngrove and then later in Vallejo, both towns close by me. It is also interesting that when I was a kid, the local Society of American Magicians meeting was in Penngrove, despite the fact that it is a tiny (population roughly 2,000) town.

Actor James Whitmore was born in 1921. He did a lot of acting work, but I remember him from his one-man shows. I still think such things are about the best kind of theater. Action doesn’t especially work live. But a guy just standing on stage telling stories works remarkably well—at least for me. I love stories as stories. Whitmore was great in Will Rogers’ USA, Give ’em Hell, Harry!, Bully. Unfortunately, none of them are available on DVD. Here he is as Truman:

Jimmy Carter is 89 today. It is easy to look back on his presidency very fondly. He was so much better than everyone who came after him, how can one not? Just the same, he was the leading edge of the New Democratic movement. He was the first Democratic president we got who was much more conservative than we deserved. Look at the men we’ve elected: Carter, Clinton, and Obama. Each one of those elections were going to be won by a Democrat. All the major factors were in the Democrats’ favor. Yet we elected conservative Democrats (moderates in a general sense) and what did we get? Reagan, the end to welfare (as we knew it), and a Republican healthcare plan that is more a giveaway to the insurance industry than anything. Still, Carter is a decent man. Democrats can look back fondly on our recent presidents. Republicans hate the last three of four, and the other they’ve turned into an idol. I’m pleased to call myself a Democrat (even if I am a disgruntled one).

Other birthdays: Golden Age Dutch painter Nicolaes Pieterszoon Berchem (1620); pianist Vladimir Horowitz (1903); historian Daniel J. Boorstin (1914); actor Walter Matthau (1920); and actor Julie Andrews (78).

The day, however, belongs to the actor and singer Richard Harris who was born on this day in 1930. He was quite a good actor. I enjoyed him in Camelot and he was even better in the later years of his career. But I am featuring him today because he sang the most maligned song in history, “MacArthur Park”:

Happy birthday Richard Harris!

Nine Month Democratic Super-Majority Destroyed California Film Industry 7 Years Ago!

Rob SchneiderAnother 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, and that’s because we’re not being competitive.” Ah yes, the lack of acting jobs inside the boards of California is an outrage! How could those Democrats have betrayed Rob Schneider like this?! And notice: the Democrats have had a super-majority for only 9 months, yet they are responsible for the lack of films shot (because they are still mostly made here) in California over the last 7 years.

He goes on to explain that he owns a vitamin company. But he is so loyal to the state that made him a multimillionaire that he left because of undisclosed “regulations.” He then goes on to claim that things are really great in Texas because of the lack of regulations, blah, blah, blah. Well, that isn’t true. As Matt Yglesias has pointed out, the reason for the huge growth in Texas is that real estate is cheap. Texas is not seeing increasing productivity. They are only seeing businesses move there because the cost of living is low, which allows them to pay their workers less. But as even Schneider points out: there are reasons that California is a better place to live than Texas and that means it will always be more expensive to live here.

Rob Schneider is typical of a couple of things. First: typical Default Democrat. I see this kind of thing all the time. Most Democrats (Like Republicans!) don’t think much about policy. So they don’t much think about why a strong safety net is important. That allows someone like Scheider to see that there are a couple of bureaucratic obstacles in the way of his making even more money from his vitamin business and so he freaks out and changes parties. Of course, the truth is that the Republican Party isn’t going to do anything for his small business. The Republicans are the party of big business and all they will do is make sure that big companies have big advantages over small companies.

The second typical thing about Schneider is how as a Republican he is only interested in his own welfare. California all by itself is the 12th largest economy in the world. Texas is just over half its size and its per capita income is only three-quarters as high. And why is that? Because only asshole business owners like Schneider move their businesses from California.

The last (and first) good film Rob Schneider was in was Demolition Man, and he didn’t even get screen credit for it. But maybe that has something to do with it. He has been in at least two films with fucktard Sylvester Stallone. Maybe they had a meeting of little minds and figured out that in the last 9 months the Democrats had managed to destroy the film industry for the previous seven years.

Just Vote!

Just VoteI 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 badly the Republicans behave, the people seem not to notice. But the truth is that they don’t have to. If the poor voted as much as the rich, this country would be beyond Democratic, it would be liberal. After all, the poor in Mississippi vote Democratic. That’s Mississippi, folks!

Still, the general public’s lack of interest in politics rankles. Will Brown sent me a really interesting thing earlier. It was this morning’s Yahoo! trending list: the top ten searches at that time. Here it is:

  1. Bikers attack SUV
  2. Rachael Leigh Cook
  3. Ivanka Trump
  4. Badfinger
  5. Woman quits job
  6. Miley Cyrus
  7. Depression
  8. Meredith Kercher
  9. UC Berkeley explosion
  10. Corvette Stingray

Let me give you the run down of what the people think is important this morning. Some bikers harassed a nice suburban family on a trip to New York. Rachael Leigh Cook (Lingerie model?) just had a baby. Ivanka Trump (famous for be Donald Trump’s daughter) is pregnant and won’t tell us the sex of the baby. Apparently a Bandfinger song was used in the last episode of Breaking Bad. A woman announced her resignation with a fairly lame video. I guess Miley Cyrus has a new album out. As many of us have known for years, depression doesn’t worsen cancer and having a “good attitude” doesn’t help. There was no DNA of Amanda Knox at Meredith Kercher’s murder scene. A bomb exploded in Berkeley that injured 4; it seems it happened when someone tried to steal copper pipes. And apparently the Corvette Stingray is designed to please your inner 9-year-old.

What wasn’t on the list was anything about a government shutdown nor is there any concern about the looming government default. But these things are going to matter more than any of the trending articles. Look: I understand. People are always interested in celebrity babies. I don’t know why, but I understand that it is a real thing. And I understand that most people have really bad taste in music and cars. But even the two actual news stories are weak tea. They are not important, but I will allow that marauding biker gangs are pretty cool.

But as I said, obsess all you like about babies, kittens, and copper thieves. It doesn’t matter. What does matter is that you vote. It doesn’t even matter how you vote. The more people who vote, the more liberal the outcome. The numbers are on the side of good policy—at least they are as long as the current situation is so bad. So just vote. It matters to the nation. But if that isn’t enough: it matters to me.

Just Vote!

Sad Result When Libertarians Get Practical

Nick GillespieJonathan 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. Instead, Gillespie is being petulant in, Let Us Be Clear: Obama Deserves Chief Responsibility for Gov’t Shutdown.

Basically, Gillespie’s argument is this: “President Obama claims he can unilaterally kill American citizens, so why doesn’t he just ‘kick some asses’? Huh? What do you got to say to that tough guy?!” The question is whether Gillespie is really that ignorant of how our government is supposed to work. Based upon years of reading him, I would have to say that he is. Most libertarians know very little about our form of government. Just like Christians who never read the Bible, libertarians generally show a shocking lack of knowledge of the Constitution, except in the most limited form of quoting, “Congress shall make no law…”

In his article, he is clearly confused about the budget process. He notes (in very confusing prose) that the Senate only this year passed a budget—something they didn’t do for the four previous years. Well, there are reasons for that. One of them is that budgets are settled these days with continuing resolutions, which say that we will continue funding the government as we have been because we can’t agree on anything else. As Chait notes:

Gillespie’s entire rant is beside the point, because the lack of a negotiated budget is not the cause of a shutdown. Budget conferences are designed to set long-term federal budget policy. Keeping the government open doesn’t require that. You just need to pass a “continuing resolution.” That’s it. Pass the CR, and the government stays open, and then you can either negotiate or not negotiate the federal budget.

But Gillespie’s article is boilerplate. All he is really communicating is that he doesn’t like Obama. He also uses the opportunity to take a swipe at Bush. This is a common libertarian line, “Don’t blame me, I voted libertarian!” These people are making the same mistake that, say, Bill O’Reilly makes when he calls Obama a socialist. Does Gillespie really think that Obama is every bit as bad as Bush? My guess is that he doesn’t, but he pretends that there is no difference and proudly claims that no one he’s ever voted for has won. But all that does is take him outside the political world where he can snipe at the candidates who do win.

And that is all Gillespie is doing in his Reason column: sitting back and yelling at the people who are actually involved in running the government. That doesn’t mean there isn’t an important roll for ideologues in our political process. They do, after all, push and pull the ideological center of gravity in the country. But when they start talking about practical issues like continuing resolutions and government shutdowns, they are just like hecklers at a comedy club or sporting event. And that’s just sad.

Afterword

I just came upon a page where Leonard Peikoff argued for a Romney vote last year. His position was that Obama was more effective at leading us to “tyranny” than Romney would be. He also said that he would vote for whatever Republican was running for the House because it would limit Obama if he were re-elected. This is another ideologue getting into practical politics. If Romney had won, it is certain that the Republicans would have held both houses of Congress. And thus, Romney would have pushed us very very fast toward “tyranny.” But that’s the kind of conclusion you come to when you assume that the two sides are interchangeable.

ADHD Awareness Month

The many faces of ADHD Awareness Month

Today, I got several email blasts announcing October as ADHD Awareness Month! It would be so nice if everyone became more knowledgeable and understand the children that struggle each day with ADD/ADHD.

Celebrities are teaming up with CHADD to raise more awareness, generate positive messages about ADHD and raise funds for ADHD Awareness Month.

Having a child with ADHD you can feel alone, singled out and often discouraged about home, school, organized sports and social gatherings. Finally, something positive about ADHD, it’s about time!