Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The essence of the modern Republican party:

Marco Rubio says it out loud:
Except for the Reagan Administration, to be quite frank, both Republicans and Democrats established a role for government in America that said yes we will have a free economy, but we will also have a strong government, which through regulations and taxes will control the free economy, and through a series of government programs, will take care of those in our society who are falling behind. That was the vision crafted in the 20th Century by our leaders. ...

These programs weakened us as a people. You see, almost forever, it was institutions in society that assumed the role of taking care of one another. If someone was sick in your family, you took care of them. If a neighbor met misfortune, you took care of them. You saved for your retirement and your future because you had to. We took these things upon ourselves in our communities, our families, and our homes, and our churches and our synagogues. But all that changed when the government began to assume those responsibilities. All of a sudden, for an increasing number of people in our nation, it was no longer necessary to worry about saving for security because that was the government's job.

For those who met misfortune, that wasn't our job to take care of them. That was the government's job. And as government crowded out the institutions in our society that did these things traditionally, it weakened our people.
Weak vs Strong. Spartan values. It's Ayn Rand's vision and the Republicans are 100% in favor of it.

If you are in trouble, you'd better have relatives or neighbors to help you out. If you don't have people to help you, tough.

Jonathan Chait and Conor Friedersdorf comment on Rubio's speech.


Saturday, August 20, 2011

On collective-action:

This week Warren Buffett said that he thought taxes should be raised on wealthy people like him. In response, may on Fox News have derided that stance and asked why Buffett doesn't write a check for "his" amount and be done with it.

Mark Kleiman wrote an excellent post on this issue. Here it is reproduced in its entirety:
Why I want to pay higher taxes

by Mark Kleiman

Megan McArdle is extremely smart, but this post is hilariously wrong, both logically and empirically.

Megan claims, if I understand her correctly, that no one wants his or her own taxes raised, only taxes on others, because if you really wanted more money spend on something you’d just make a contribution. She acknowledges the collective-action argument, but somehow seems to think that since the amount of tax paid is a continuous, real-valued variable rather than a binary variable that problem somehow goes away. But it doesn’t.

Take me, for an example. I’d like to see the National Science Foundation budget double, from the current $6 billion to $12 billion. (In the long run, I’d go much higher.) And I’d prefer to pay for that increase entirely out of increased income taxation on people making more than twice the median family income, a group into which I fall. I don’t have the figures handy, but my share of that additional taxation might come to something like $300 per year. ($6B is about $60 per household, but if the increase were financed entirely by taxing high-income households then each high-income household would have to pay considerably more than $60.)

So, says Megan, why don’t I just write a check for $300 to some outfit that finances the same sort of research the NSF does? (There’s no mechanism that would allow me to make a contribution directly to the NSF, as opposed to the General Fund.)

But that question answers itself: it’s easily worth $300 to me to increase spending on basic science by $6 billion, but it isn’t worth $300 to me to increase spending on basic science by $300. So I’m willing to vote for the tax but not to make the contribution.

Collective action problem. End of story.


Friday, August 19, 2011

One of John Stewart's better moments:

About Warren Buffett and Fox News' relentless campaign to insulate the rich and attack the poor.



link(s) corrected

Though Stewart scores, in the end it's depressing when you consider how much pull Fox News has in shaping our political discourse.


Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Poetry corner:

There once was an Obot named Ray,
Firebaggers he'd verbally flay,
and Paul Krugman he hates,
for the truth that he states,
"Hail the Prez" is all you should say.



Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Shorter Rick Perry:
If that treasonous Ben Bernanke ever shows up in my town, we'll organize a necktie party for the Fed chairman.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Today is the day!

It's National Relaxation Day.

Avoiding stressful activities today is the rule. For example, if golf is your favorite hobby, yet it can cause you stress, then make plans to play golf another day. Spending the day in a hammock is a far more appropriate activity.

Top Ten ideas to enjoy on Relaxation Day:
  • Do nothing today
  • Go to a Spa
  • Go fishing
  • Play a round of golf(caution: not always relaxing)
  • Lounge around in a hammock
  • Take a bubble bath
  • Spend the day at the beach
  • Go to the movies
  • Do a little gardening (no heavy duty work, though)
  • Have a picnic in the park


Credit cards:

After about a two year period of getting no credit card offers in the mail, I now find myself receiving about one a week. Many from Chase. I've yet to receive what Kevin got but I'm hoping it shows up! I should have thrown them out, but instead, placed them neatly in a pile. I've just now opened them.

From Chase, 16 offers - some redundant and therefore excluded in the table - for a blue Freedom credit card in the last 9 months:

cash back, teaser 0% APR until, after which

$100, 11/1/11, 11.99%
$100, 01/1/12,  9.99%
$100, 02/1/12,  9.99%
$150, 02/1/12, 11.99%
$150, 03/1/12,  9.99%
$200, 04/1/12, 11.99%
$150, 05/1/12,  9.99&
$150, 06/1/12,  9.99%
$200, 07/1/12,  9.99%
$250, 08/1/12, 12.99%

This is for real, and I've got to say I'm surprised at the trend.


Saturday, August 13, 2011


There once was a guy named Pawlenty;
thought that Ames was the optimal entry,
for a race to the top,
but it turned out a flop,
now he'll never be head of this country.


Friday, August 12, 2011

Making sense of the London/English riots:

Probably not too different from the 1992 Los Angeles riots, as explained in the 1994 rap-mocumentary Fear of a Black Hat.


Poetry corner:

There once was a Texan named Perry,
whose brain was considerably airy.
Thought he'd win in a race,
with a white Christian face.
But he lost, and the country was merry.


Probably the most effective display of who Michelle Bachmann is:

Nine years ago she was combating curriculum standards that in her view strayed from Christian truth. You can see her in a short film of a presentation she made on that topic. It's xenophobic, Enlightenment-phobic, and contemptuous of any government that's perceived to be operating on secular grounds.

She complains that mathematics would be presented as "arbitrary and man-made, contrary to common sense". She probably believes that Euclidean geometry is the only one possible and that Riemann work's on the zeta function should never be mentioned. Nor Cantor on infinity. There's a lot of mathematics that doesn't comport with common sense and a lot that is "other worldly".

Just like when Fox News strayed into science to declare that the First Law of Thermodynamics proves CO2 can't cause global warming, Bachmann's foray into mathematics exposes the literally insane nature of the person.


Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Tom Friedman's worst. column. ever.

Dave Weigel tweets:
Good lord this is horrible.
That's being too kind. Friedman spends the entire column imagining a pre-Grand Bargain cooperative environment which involves two brief speeches from Boehner and Obama.

He has Obama say this:
I have asked Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson to revive their deficit commission and to use their recommendations for how to cut spending and raise revenues as the starting point for our negotiations. But it will now be called ‘The National Commission for American Renewal.’ Because in addition to the original Bowles-Simpson members, it will include Senator McConnell, Speaker Boehner, Senator Reid and Congresswoman Pelosi, and its goal will indeed be a comprehensive plan for American renewal.
Wow, just wow.


Fox Nation headline writing:


Jeb Bush tells us how to get back on track:

In the WSJ:
Achieving strong growth requires the free flow of capital, goods and ideas. We have world-class products and services to sell to the growing middle class in emerging markets. We must find our voice to resist the rising tide of economic protectionism and recognize the job-creating benefits of our pending free trade agreements with South Korea, Colombia and Panama.
Panama! We can sell tons of stuff to that nation of less than 4 million.

Thanks, Jeb.


Probably the best example of Fox News Channel putting out complete garbage:

There's a lot of wiggle room in political and economic debates, but not in science. Yet Fox News Channel goes ahead and promotes a complete charlatan on the issue of global warming. This is no surprise coming from the Murdoch cult. And they get away with it because no prominent organizations or individuals call them out.

Fox News Channel viewers must have a sixth-grader's understanding of science, if that.


Tuesday, August 09, 2011

Virtually speaking:

This Sunday digby & Avedon Carol talked about Obama and politics for an hour. It was good, and well worth your time (unless you've got better things to do with your time, like taking a vacation).


Monday, August 08, 2011

Geithner is on message:

CNBC transcript:
JOHN HARWOOD: You said a moment ago that Congress owns the credit rating. John Kerry, Democratic Senator, said today, "This is the Tea Party downgrade." Is that right?

TIM GEITHNER: Well, I wouldn't-- I'm not going to do politics, John. And I think if we've learned anything these last few months it's-- it's time to put the economy ahead of politics. Again, these are challenges facing the country of the United States, not-- not facing one party or the other. We both have some responsibility for coming together to dig our way out of this stuff.

And, again, this was-- you know, it's a big down payment on our fiscal challenges. Very strong bipartisan support for it. Our challenge is to build on that support and try to take the next steps that make some longer term progress. You know, we need to reform our tax system to help the middle class make this a stronger place to invest. Obviously we need to reform entitlement to secure Medicare for the next generation. And we've got to do some additional things to make the economy strong.
Some have argued that Obama shouldn't engage in name calling, but leave that to surrogates like cabinet secretaries. Yet as we see here, even that's not happening.


Saturday, August 06, 2011

Obama's birthday party joke:

From Variety:
Obama got some of his biggest laughs with this line: "It's true that I turn 50 tomorrow, which means that by the time I wake up, I'll have an e-mail from AARP, asking me to call President Obama and tell him to protect Medicare."


The downgrade:

Looks like the Tea Party is getting what it has long desired, a return to the financial situation at the time of the Tea Party in 1773: Poor credit standing by the government(s), a preference for "hard money", hostility to debt of any kind, and economic thinking suitable for small farms and firms operating in villages. It's simple and works fairly well if you have a family-based social services culture, although growth is severely constrained.

Faced with the realities of modern capitalism's atomized and dispersed work force along with occasional disruptions within the system, both Bismark and Keynes advocated for (a) a substantial government-run safety net, and (b) counter-cyclical spending. Both involving debt and taxes. And - most important - it requires a citizenry that agrees to the social contract and does not have callous disregard for those in distress and needing aid (usually people, but can be firms, e.g. General Motors).

Republicans are practicing myopianomics. If they, and their supporters, still have jobs, then that's as far as they care to look. Therefore, it's easy to propose elimination of whatever policies that might help the "other guys". And so they have. And here we are.


Rick Perry's prayer rally today:

Or more properly, The Response. Here's the schedule:
Doors open and pre-event worship

Opening remarks and direction for the day
Focus: Personal Repentance
Prayer for personal repentance

Focus: Corporate Repentance
Prayer: Repentance for the Church’s Idolatry
Rapid Succession Prayer
Small Group Prayer
Prayer: Repentance for the shedding of innocent blood
Rapid Succession Prayer
Focus: Prayer for America
Rapid Succession Prayer
Small Group Prayer
Focus: Prayer for Israel
Rapid Succession Prayer

Focus: First Commandment
Rapid Succession Prayer
Small Group Prayer
Focus: Generational Blessing
Small Group Prayer

Focus: Revival
Rapid Succession Prayer
Small Group Prayer

Closing remarks
Lots of interesting stuff at the website. A list of Honorary Co-chairs that's a Who's Who of evangelicals. And in the Why? section, under Historic Precedence for National Prayer, a list that's all 18th Century events (most pre-Constitution) with one exception. That called by President John Tyler, who later ended up siding with the Confederacy (and was a delegate to the Confederate Congress). Weird.

Check out the live-stream webcast.


Friday, August 05, 2011

Pretty remarkable stuff:

Eric Cantor, Republican House Majority Leader on Medicare: (emp add)
U.S. House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R., Va.) on Wednesday suggested that Republicans will continue a push to overhaul programs such as Medicare ...

"What we have to be, I think, focused on is truth in budgeting here," Cantor told The Wall Street Journal'sOpinion Journal. He said "the better way" for Americans is to "get the fiscal house in order" and "come to grips with the fact that promises have been made that frankly are not going to be kept for many." ...

... Republicans could make a new push to cut back on Medicare ...

"When we came out with our budget, we said, look, let's at least put people on notice, but preserve those who are 55 and older," Cantor said, referring to a Republican-written budget plan that would turn Medicare, now a fee-for-service program, into a program that subsidizes private health insurance. "The rest of us have got ample time to try and plan our lives so that we can adjust ...


How Fox Nation covers Obama's birthday:



UPDATE: Dave Weigel opines:
There was a DJ ... who spun some hip-hop, but none of the people playing music were hip-hop artists! Look: When I'm promised a "Hip-Hop BBQ" in a headline, I expect nothing but hip-hop stars and enthusiasts eating BBQ. Instead, I learn that a collection of celebrities, some of them black, ate "chicken, ribs, hamburgers, hot dogs, pasta and salad" and then a bunch of pie before listening to Herbie Hancock. Fox Nation could have gone with the "Jazz BBQ Doesn't Create Jobs" hed, I guess, but why not cut to the chase with something like: "Uppity Blacks Eat Soul Food and Laugh While You Hunt for A Job You Can't Get Because of Welfare Queens, Affirmative Action, and Carjackers."


Thursday, August 04, 2011

Tale of two demographics:

The rich (NYTimes) Even Marked Up, Luxury Goods Fly Off Shelves

The rest of us (SLATE) When Dollar Stores Are Too Expensive
You know the economy is in bad shape when customers can't afford to shop at dollar stores anymore.


Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Get ready for a political explosion:

If the White House continues in this way. Ben Smith of Politico reports: (emp add)
Tense moments at Common Purpose meet

Tensions between the White House and its liberal allies came to a head last night at the weekly Common Purpose meeting, where progressive leaders and National Economic Council Director Gene Sperling had a tense exchange about the debt deal, two Democratic sources said.

The meeting is an off-the-record, regular gathering that some on the left credit both with keeping the White House aware of liberal concern and keeping liberal messaging coordinated with the White House. Critics deride it as a "veal pen" aimed at neutering the left.

Yesterday, Sperling faced a series of questions about the White House's concessions on the debt ceiling fight and its inability to move in the direction of new taxes or revenues. Progressive consultant Mike Lux, the sources said, summed up the liberal concern, producing what a participant described as an "extremely defensive" response from Sperling.

Sperling, a person involved said, pointed his finger at liberal groups, which he said hadn't done enough to highlight what he saw as the positive side of the debt package -- a message that didn't go over well with participants.


Windows 7 update:

What a pile of shit. Even worse that Vista.

Right now the Task Manager is reporting that in the last 24 hours my laptop has received 18 quintillion bytes. Or 18 billion gigabytes. And it's sent almost the same amount (but is short 400 million bytes).

This is not the first time it's reported figures like this, and no, there was nothing bizarre going on - like a hard power fail. Just some browsing (with a defective Firefox 5, but that's another story) and one or two instances of Word and Excel.

Kudos for the excellent Q/A work at Microsoft.

I guess all you are supposed to do these days is fire up the browser, go to Facebook, and stay there the entire time. Simple! Nothing complicated. No strain on the OS with multiple socket connections and all that other stuff that had been resolved about 10 years ago. But really, who cares about that nowadays, right? Just build your software with wonderful object-oriented tools that allow the programmer to not know or care about the underlying elements, but add "extra value" with baroque custom fetch-receive components that deliver images or content, because it's too much hassle to actually have the servers present most or all of the information in the first transmission.


Tuesday, August 02, 2011

This is correct:

Dave Weigel writes:
Blackmail: It Works

Why the GOP's debt-ceiling victory was a generational defeat for liberals.
The precedent-setting nature of this cannot be underestimated. Never before has the White House done anything other than demand a clean debt ceiling hike.