Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Friday, January 30, 2009

More K-Lo

Kathryn Jean Lopez on Mel Gibson on women: In a day when “Take Your Rosaries Off My Ovaries” is an often-heard chorus in mainstream abortion debates, Mel Gibson’s understanding of women and his articulation of their unique mission could have remarkable repercussions. This new—or old, inasmuch as it is natural and commonsensical—kind of feminism, a focus on the different contributions of men and women and the different ways they live their missions, should make us all rethink how we live and love."

Mel Gibson on women: "What are you looking at, sugar tits?"

The Scent of Stupid Is In The Ether

Since my brain is too sluggish today to finish my League of Extraordinary Bloggers, how about a little hit-and-run?

Andrew Sullivan loves him some Jesus.

What I meant by the lack of choice [in belief] is that there have been moments in my life when I have indeed sensed the loss of faith or its slackening or, at one moment, its inversion. But even in its inversion - fifteen interminable minutes when I didn't wonder if God existed, but if God really was evil - the despair was lifted by a force greater than my own.
What has kept me believing is not, as I have experienced it, a conscious act of will. It is more an acceptance of God's grace. My experience of Jesus will not let go of me, however much I would like to let go of it. This element of faith - its involuntary pull as well as its voluntary push - is how I have found it.
One can only describe here and say: this is what human life is like.
I mean no more than that, but the internal wrestling never ends. The search for truth must always be first; and religion is nothing if it is not true. Which is why doubt can never be a danger. Banishing doubt is the danger.


Sullivan believes that belief is not a choice because he chooses to believe that God is giving him belief. Sigh. No wonder he's been so wrong about so much.

But thanks to Sully I saw this by Kathryn Jean Lopez:

After a morning of “Obama!” chants, I would have loved to hear some of the crowd — or the president-to-be — join Warren in praying the Lord’s Prayer.

Alas.

The crowd got into the Rev. Joseph Lowery’s much more entertaining (and controversial) closing prayer, which invited affirmation rather than supplication from those gathered. That prayer went down easier than Warren’s. But we’re not always that into Him when we’re thinking about us.

In a town of doers, it’s easy to forget Him, especially when your daily schedule is all about you — your campaign, your vote, your speech, your award.

But we need to be. Washington ought to take to heart not only the unintentional act of humility we witnessed surrounding the oath of office during the inauguration of the 44th president of the United States, but some of the parting words of the 43rd.

During his final press conference, President George W. Bush, reflecting on his time in office said: “The phrase ‘burdens of the office’ is overstated.”

“Oh, the burdens,” he mocked. “Why did the financial collapse have to happen on my watch?” He dismissed the “Why me?” question. Bush dismissed that question as “self pity.” “It’s just — it’s pathetic, isn’t it?”

Such a manly statement of responsibility and gratitude — and if you heard the whole thing, you know that he knew it was a great privilege to serve — should be an admonishment and a warning to a city of people who stand proud, but should also be willing to drop to their knees asking for forgiveness and, always, humility.


Yes, it is patheic. She believes what she wants to believe, just like Sullivan. The only difference is Sullivan is a bit smarter than Lopez. But then, aren't we all.

Well, maybe not. Peggy Noonan:

And there's a broad feeling one detects, a kind of psychic sense, some sort of knowledge in the collective unconscious, that we lived through magic times the past half-century, and now the nonmagic time has begun, and it won't be over next summer. That's not the way it will work. It will last a while.

There's a sense among many, certainly here in New York, that we somehow had it too good too long, a feeling part Puritan, part mystic and obscurely guilty, that some bill is coming due.


It's just something in the ether, not Bush's policies and Bush's Fed and Bush's party. Who could have known?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

K-Lo Goes To Confession

X All Tied Up

K-Lo: Bless me Father for I have sinned. It's been two days since my last confession. But before I confess I have a question to ask. Father, I'm confused. Is it immoral to torture your enemies, like the Nazis did?

Father: Yes, of course, Kathryn Jean.

K-Lo: But were the Nazis really so bad? Nazis are always bad in the movies but Jonah says that Hitler wasn't really so bad and he liked puppies and kittens.

Father: Of course they were; they committed many, many atrocities while trying to wage world war.

K-Lo: But the pope was a Nazi so that means they were good.

Father: He was forced to join the Hitler Youth, Kathryn Jean, it's not the same thing.

K-Lo: But Jonah said that if you call yourself socialist you are socialist. So if you call yourself a Nazi doesn't that mean you are a Nazi?

Father: (firmly) No, Kathryn Jean, it doesn't. Didn't you study WWII in history?

K-Lo: I took history at Catholic U. but we never made it to the Enlightenment I'm asking because Mark Theissen said that if a country needs to kill people it is ethical to kill and torture them. You know, the just war theory. It's okay to torture the Iraqis because Saddam attacked us first and leaving him in power would be worse than invading. Mark said if you torture someone for a good reason it's not only okay, but it's moral and ethical.

Father: That's not exactly--look, Kathryn Jean, the pope frowned very heavily on our invasion of Iraq. He said it was a threat to humanity.

K-Lo: (coldly) What?

Father: He said---.

K-Lo: You take that back!

Father: Kathryn Jean, those are the pope's words.

K-Lo: The pope loves George Bush! And the war!

Father: No, Kathryn Jean. The late pope and the present pope are and were against the war for moral reasons. Only God may take a life.

K-Lo: Father, this is horrible.

Father: Kathryn Jean, I know you are against abortion because it is the taking of life. Surely you are against the death of other innocents as well?

K-Lo: No, no, not that, Father. It's---well, I might have done something wrong.

Father: I'm sure that whatever it is, you meant well. What did you do?

K-Lo: Father I just wanted to to help!

Father: Help whom?

K-Lo: See, there was a woman going into an abortion place that I was picketing....

Father: And...?

K-Lo: She works there, killing little babies, Father. She's a bad, evil woman. So I just asked her to come over to the car.

Father: To...?

K-Lo: Talk to me about her work.

Father: Then...?

K-Lo: I hit her with a blackjack and put her in the basement.

Father: Where...?

K-Lo: I kind of tied her to a board and poured bottled water on her face.

Father: And...?

K-Lo: Made her promise to never go to that horrible place again.

Father: (hopefully) Then you let her go?

K-Lo: Ah, no. If I released her she'd just kill again.

Father: Where is she now?

K-Lo: I tied her to a chair and left her in the basement. But it's okay, I gave her a soda with a straw and put my "Bibleman" tape on the tv for her to watch.

Father: Kathryn Jean, you go home right now and release that woman. The judge is going to be very angry with you.

K-Lo: Father, do we have to tell him? I promise I won't do it again. He'll have to forgive me if I confess, right?

Father: God forgives, Kathryn Jean. The justice system doesn't. You'd better call your lawyer.

K-Lo: (Sigh) Oh, well. Maybe the policemen will be single and he'll admire my morals and ethics and ask me to marry him and have his children for the greater glory of God.

Father: Or it's God's plan for you to make helping the helpless your life's work, Kathryn Jean. Perhaps being childless is God's plan for you after all. As well as a way of protecting children.

K-Lo: I just want to obey somebody, Father. I don't really care who. It's so hard to figure out the right thing to do.

Father: Very true, Kathryn Jean. Sometimes we just have to do what we think is right and hope for the best.

K-Lo: We have to think? I thought we just have to obey. Nobody told me we have to think, too.

Father: Suddenly everything has become perfectly clear.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

I Thought We Are Adults

Shorter David Brooks: Authoritarianism is good.

Money quote: "Institutions do all the things that are supposed to be bad. They impede personal exploration. They enforce conformity. But they often save us from our weaknesses and give meaning to life."

That's strange. I find my own meaning for my own life, and assume responsibility for correcting my own weaknesses. I don't need another adult or "institution" of adults to do it for me. But I don't think Megan McArdle is a brilliant econoblogger either, as Brooks does, so what do I know?

So Very Tiresome

Megan McArdle thinks she can school the late Tanta of Calculated Risk on cramdowns.

Most perniciously, factoring in the risk of house price depreciation will not
focus bankers on whether lenders can make their payments; it will focus them on
whether the neighborhood is likely to appreciate. Bankers will strenuously
attempt to avoid lending into "marginal" neighborhoods, which is where, any real
estate agent will tell you, prices fall farthest during a bust. That means
some exurbs, and a whole lot of cities. The more they factor in home price
risk, the less your qualities as a buyer matter--ultra-responsible yuppies
buying in a gentrifying neighborhood still look like an awful risk if you know
that house prices might fall, and your principal might at any time be written
down by 10%. And, of course, that's a self-fulfilling prophecy--if banks won't
lend on houses that have recently spiked in value, the value of those houses
will fall back to the level where banks will lend. It's hard,
in fact, to imagine a deliberate policy that could more effectively
halt the urban renaissance that has taken place in neighborhoods like
mine.

Subsidized crack in schools, maybe.

Among many other things, McArdle is ignoring the multiplying effect of securities. It's not just about her ability to get a loan to buy a house that will increase in value. That ship has sailed for a while.

The key problems here are bank capital and mortgage foreclosures. Foreclosed
mortgages are approaching about 10% of total mortgages, with an average recovery
rate of only about 50% of the mortgage value when the foreclosed home is sold.
The resulting loss of value, approaching 5% of the U.S. mortgage market, has
thrown the economy into disarray, because the losses have been borne by highly
leveraged institutions. For many institutions, each $1 of their own capital
(equity contributed by the company's own shareholders) has often supported $10,
$20, or even $40 of loans, security investments and other assets. As a result,
wiping out a few percent of their assets completely wipes out their own capital,
leaving customers and depositors without a “capital cushion” and triggering
withdrawals. This process started with the most egregiously leveraged companies
like Bear Stearns and Lehman, and continues to put stress on enormous but capital-thin institutions like Citibank.
As always, it's all about her. I don't know enough about economics to refute McArdle properly, but I know the dfference between thoughtful analysis and bullshit.

Death Shall Have No Dominion

Taylor Marsh criticizes Juan Cole for criticizing Barack Obama's bombing of Pakistan. Marsh says Cole is aiding the enemy. Cole says he's stating facts.

Bombing Pakistan unilaterally is illegal in international law where Pakistan has
not attacked the United States or where there is no United Nations Security
Council resolution authorizing such an attack. Please see the Charter of the
United Nations, to which the US is a signatory. If the US had a formal treaty
with Pakistan, signed off by the legislatures of the two countries, that
permitted hot pursuit of militants from Afghan territory, that would bestow a
basic legality on it. But the only warrant for the US to shoot Hellfire missiles
into Pakistan and kill Pakistani women and children along with militants, is the
Bush Doctrine, which I want to be abolished and which I had understood Obama and
his team to object to, as well. Contravening US treaty obligations and
international law is a war crime.
Marsh is in the wrong here. Every bomb dropped and life lost is a failure of morality, intelligence and leadership. Every single one.
The danger of Obama becoming mired down in Afghanistan and Pakistan is very real, and is obvious to anyone who knows the history of imperial interventions in the former. Warning Obama that he started out on a bad foot in Pakistan and suggesting that he take some time to consider charting his own, original course, is not injurious to Obama. Blind support for whatever he does is what would harm him.
Most people are authoritarians, in varying degrees--about 67%. They might argue or quibble or parse, but in the end they do what they are told and support their leader with very few questions, or none at all. That includes intelligent people who should know better, but who refuse to acknowledge that they are looking for something Obama can't give them, something they never had in childhood, or never had enough of. When parents demand obedience and reward or punish their children by giving or withholding love, the child grows up and continues this pattern. It is the foundation for his relationship with his religion and country as well, as they are often substitutes for parents in people's minds. God the Father and Uncle Sam are personified for a reason; we are familiar with the family unit, so we tend to think in those terms. Our country is our Fatherland, God is our father, and if the father demands obedience in exchange for love and acceptance, the authoritarian will act the same way towards God and his president that he does towards his father. We are human, and we will do anything, anything, to feel loved and accepted.

Even kill.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Would You Want This Man In Your Back Yard?

Via Think Progress:

"Fox Shows Photos Of Muslim Men: ‘Would You Want A Guy Like This Living In Your Backyard?’": Since President Obama’s announcement last week that he would shut down the Guantanamo Bay detention center within one year, Fox News has done its best to frighten its viewers about the rule....
This is one of the photos they should show. He's from the area, wears a beard and strange clothes, and keeps talking about overthrowing the old order. He could be violent and he travels with a pack of dangerous associates. Death to heathens!

Kathry Jean Lopez Is Racist

I just wanted to point this out:
Obama is—or appears to be—something blacks don’t see all that often—an
affectionate and loyal modern husband.
Blacks are not modern--they are uncivilized. Obama is--no, wait, appears to be a good husband. Obama, it seems, doesn't sleep around like all the other black men. Obama is affectionate--I have no idea what that means, except that Lopez shies away from sex. Conservatives love spouting crap like this because they want to initiate a debate in which they examine the sex lives of minorities in excruciating detail, while denouncing every aspect of their lives. They want to drag out AEI statistics and misinterpret data and say over and over, "But you do admit that the rate of illegitimacy among blacks is so high because of their inferior culture? Don't you? Don't you?"

It is how they prove their superiority to themselves and each other. If it weren't illegitimacy it would be immigrants or the "welfare state" or "entitlements." There will always be a scapegoat for people who take no responsibility for their actions.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Nobody Expects the Papal Inquisition!

Although elevating of the leader of what used to be the Inquisition to pope was a big hint.

Pope Benedict XVI, acceding to the far-right of the Roman Catholic Church,
revoked the excommunications of four schismatic bishops on Saturday, including
one whose comments denying the Holocaust have provoked outrage.

The decision provided fresh fuel for critics who charge that Benedict’s
four-year-old papacy has proven increasingly focused on appeasing
traditionalists who are hostile to the sweeping reforms of the Second Vatican
Council in the 1960s that sought to create a more modern and open church.

A theologian resigned to the church’s diminished status in a secular world,
Benedict has favored a smaller church of more ardent believers over a larger one
with looser faith. But his focus on doctrinal debates has come at a
cost


So the pope wants fewer, more obedient Catholics, and doesn't mind alienating Jews, Muslims, women and rich liberal Americans to get it. I'm the last person to argue with the Church choosing to become poorer, smaller, and less relevant to the present.

Okay, That's Just Creepy

Mark Steyn, lover and former critic of musical comedy theatah, has something to tell us about himself and President Obama.

“Oh, yes, yes, yessssssss, we can!” I whimpered, as his smoldering eyes bored deep into the very core of my being and our souls met and I knew he was the only man who would ever win my heart, a heart beating so fast and loud I could barely hear what he was saying—something about executive orders, I think. “Oh, yes, give me one right now!” I cried, as my palpitating bosom burst the ties of my bodice causing my leg to vibrate so much my bustle fell off.

“Aye, you’re a comely lass,” said Squire Barack, as my tresses tumbled over my stays and his riding crop fluttered teasingly up my thigh. “But I don’t need to go a-wenchin’ in the White House Press Room.”

“No, please, good sir,” I begged, as he glided past me and gave a saucy wink to the chamber maid from the Washington Post.


Mark Steyn has a very, very strange approach to political matters. It begins and ends behind his zipper. For him, it's all about the penis, and lest you think I exaggerate or am merely using a metaphor, just read on--.

Here’s my favourite example [of global instability] from the last couple of years: in 2003, mass hysteria swept Khartoum after reports that foreigners were shaking hands with Sudanese men, causing their penises to vanish. According to the London paper Al-Quds Al-Arabi, this guy came into some fabric merchant’s shop and ‘shook the store owner’s hand powerfully until the owner felt his penis melt into his body’. He was taken to hospital. Announcing a special investigative committee, the ‘Chief Criminal Attorney-General’ told the local press that ‘the rumour broke out when one merchant went to another merchant to buy some Karkady [a popular Sudanese beverage]. Suddenly the seller felt his penis shrivelling.’ Also, don’t accept any combs from infidels: according to another victim, ‘At the market, a man approached him, gave him a comb, and asked him to comb his hair. When he did so, within seconds, he said, he felt a strange sensation and discovered that he had lost his penis.’

The detail that caught my eye in the vanishing-penis hysteria is this: it was spread by text messaging. You can own a cellphone yet still believe that shaking hands with an infidel will cause you to lose your penis. That’s a state-of-the-art primitive. Sudan is an economic basket-case with a 27 per cent literacy rate that nevertheless has half a billion dollars’ worth of top Chinese weaponry imported via Iran. What if it started importing other kinds of technology from Iran? Or North Korea? What happens when the infidel-handshake-fearing chap is given not just a cellphone but a suitcase nuke?

But these days we’re the ones who’ve lost our penises. The wise old foreign-policy birds insist that nothing can be done — Islam and democracy are completely incompatible, old man; everybody knows that, except these naive, blundering Yanks who just don’t have our experience, frankly. If that’s true, it’s a problem not for Iraq this weekend but, given current demographic trends, for France and Belgium and Holland and the United Kingdom a year or two down the line. But, as it happens, it’s not true. The Afghan election worked so well that, there being insufficient bad news out of it, the doom-mongers in the Western media pretended it never happened. The Iraqi election will be imperfect but more than good enough. OK, that’s a bit vague by the standards of my usual psephological predictions, so how about this? Turnout in the Kurdish north and Shia south will be higher than in the 2001 UK elections.

But, beyond the numbers, when you look at the behaviour of the Shia and Kurdish parties, they’ve been remarkably shrewd, restrained and responsible; they don’t want to blow their big rendezvous with history and rejoin the rest of the Middle East in the fetid swamp of stable despotism. The Shiites, for example, have adopted a moderate secular pitch entirely different from their co-religionist mullahs over the border. In fact, they sound a lot less loopy than, say, Senator Barbara Boxer of California did accusing Condi Rice of being a liar last week and then going all weepy and a-waily and claiming victim status because Condi declined to agree with her.
[bolding is mine]

Steyn has made a career of attempting to whip up hysteria over the number of Muslim births. He seems to take it very, very personally. Notice how he begs for mercy before the masterful Brown Penis, yet cannot fight back. Could this man really be nothing but a pathetic, vicious creature who is ashamed of the size and performance of his penis? Is it really so small that he obsesses, indeed, makes his life's work, fear of the size and fecundity of the penis of the dark-skinned man?

And so is history made. Poppy was disappointed in Bush, and Bush wanted to prove him wrong. Cheney's ill health pushed caution to paranoia. The American people wanted to cling to their self-appointed exceptionalism. Steyn perhaps has a small penis. And people--other people, of course, usually browner people--die.

Friday, January 23, 2009

The Atlantic's New "Business Channel"

The Atlantic has created a business channel, a sort of pasty copy of Bloomberg's site. The new site's design matches the rest of the Atlantic's on-line sites; it is just arranged into a one-stop supermarket of business articles and columnists. Their mission statement includes the following:

Edited by Megan McArdle, who has been lauded by The New York Times' David Brooks as a "brilliant economic blogger," Atlantic Business delivers analysis and commentary from Megan and her team of outside experts, including professors, researchers, entrepreneurs, and journalists. The channel also features commentary from Andrew Sullivan, Marc Ambinder, James Fallows, and other Atlantic writers covering Washington and business. The channel's assistant editor, Conor Clarke, blogs here about economics and also maintains some of the site's standing features, including What We're Reading, our collection of the best business stories on the Web today.


One gets the feeling Megan is part of a nexus of experts that provide superior analysis to discerning readers. One would be wrong, for Megan has proven that she views economics and journalism as a way to promote her self-interest, instead of conducting analysis and promoting understanding.

The Secret Word Is...

Barry Ritholtz at The Big Picture links to Robert Proctor's new word: agnotology.

Agnotology: Culturally constructed ignorance, purposefully created by special interest groups working hard to create confusion and suppress the truth.

I guess that would make Megan McArdle an agnotstic.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Wrong Again

The Cornerites don't care about facts and routinely misuse or deny them. Obama is inclusive towards atheists, so Yuval Levin scurries to note that so were other presidents.

I couldn’t tell you when it started, but I know that George H.W. Bush certainly spoke this way, Bill Clinton did it all the time, and it was an utterly routine element of George W. Bush’s references to American religion.

He "knows" that George H. W. Bush "certainly" spoke this way. Except he is certainly wrong.
Sherman: What will you do to win the votes of the Americans who are atheists?

Bush: I guess I'm pretty weak in the atheist community. Faith in God is important to me.

Sherman: Surely you recognize the equal citizenship and patriotism of Americans who are atheists?

Bush: No, I don't know that atheists should be considered as citizens, nor should they be considered patriots. This is one nation under God.

Sherman (somewhat taken aback): Do you support as a sound constitutional principle the separation of state and church?

Bush: Yes, I support the separation of church and state. I'm just not very high on atheists


Did he lie or just assume that he knew the truth because he believes whatever he is told?

Greenwald and McArdle

FMM and I do our part to point and laugh and mock at Megan McArdle, but for true evisceration you need to go to the master, Glenn Greenwald. We can point out the flaws in logic and often fact; he can provide the proof to utterly refute and destroy bad argument.

This is what happens constantly -- ill-motivated and/or ill-informed people spout the most blatant falsehoods, using their venues and credentials to mislead others on these sorts of issues. I would love to know how many readers of right-wing journals continue to believe that a federal appeals court last week "vindicated" Bush's NSA warrantless spying activities even though that judicial decision (as even favorite GOP Law Professor Orin Kerr acknowledges) had nothing whatsoever to do with the principal controversy of whether a President has the right to violate Congressional statutes when spying on Americans. It really isn't that hard to refrain from writing about things or making statements about matters that you know absolutely nothing about, or at least to spend a small amount of time finding out before using a platform like The Atlantic or a large blog or a law degree to spout whatever pops into your head.

Just beautiful. Bravo, sir. Bravo. Read, as they say, the rest.

Megan Thinks. Village Idiots Wince.

Megan has decided to discuss the stimulus! How wonderful! How much wisdom we will gain!


The Obama team has made much of the fact that the stimulus bill will not contain any earmarks. But the prohibitions are getting weirder by the minute, as Tim Carney points out at Culture 11: [quote follows]. By the standards of stimulus, these are, frankly, bizarre. The logic of Keynesian stimulus is that the government borrowing and spending are itself the medicine that will jolt the economy out of a contraction of aggregate demand, aka "animal spirits". He famously suggested that, in the absence of better projects, the government might profitably pay people to dig holes, and then fill them up again. The point is to get money moving quickly. This is one of the major issues with the Obama plan's emphasis on infrastructure: big construction projects simply take time.

Less than half the money dedicated to highways, school construction and other infrastructure projects in a massive economic stimulus package unveiled by House Democrats is likely to be spent within the next two years, according to congressional budget analysts, meaning most of the spending would come too late to lift the nation out of recession.
Gosh, that sounds confusing, as if nobody could possibly figure it out. And quite foolish. What could be the point of these pointless, meaningless, unconnected acts of stimulus? I guess we''ll never know and will have to wait and see with Megan. Who no doubt will be surprised to be disappointed.

Wait--didn't Megan say something about a government web site the other day? Let's take a look. Hmmm. [strokes chin] I think I'll google "white house economic stimulus." Then click on "economy." And there you are--a summary and Obama's speech on his economic stimulus plan. The summary shows the stimulus is supposed to both provide jobs and modernize our neglected infrastructure. In other words, instead of filling potholes and emptying them again, Obama will invest in expanding internet access, decreasing our reliance on oil, and updating neglected federal buildings, including schools. It actually sounds quite sensible, instead of "bizarre," as Megan says.

Oh, these next eight years are going to be fun, as conservatives attempt to deny that the last eight years actually happened, restore their reputations, cling to their jobs, and constantly attack Obama's attempts to clean up the mess Bush left.

If Only You Believe In Miracles, Baby

Kathryn Jean Lopez spent the inauguration at the March for Life, but did she have an alternate reason??

[...]I was over at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, on Catholic University’s campus late last night[...]

Sorry, honey, not gonna happen. You're going to have to find a guy like everyone else.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Less Mature Megan

Shorter Megan: Being a grown-up is boring. Let's talk about university. Again.

Irrelevancies

Bonddad Blog: The government is attempting to prevent a broad-based financial meltdown.

Calculated Risk: National Association of Home Builders: Prices to Fall 29% in 2009

Bloomberg: Roubini Predicts U.S. Losses May Reach $3.6 Trillion


Megan McArdle: A drinking age of 21 is an embarassment to a supposedly liberty-loving nation.

Remember, Megan was arrested for underage drinking and ignored the punishment, which finally caught up with her over a decade later. No doubt that is why she can't manage to blog about the economy during the biggest crises of the past 70+ years.

If Megan had been blogging in the '30s she would have spent all her time complaining that her favorite dressmaker went out of business and that the apple sellers are taking away business from people with overhead.

One final note--I have to clean up my posts constantly; I correct mistakes, add links, and clean up awkward prose, so I don't worry too much about others' mistakes. But for McArdle to refuse to check her spelling is the height of laziness and unprofessionalism.

UPDATE: Jesus, she's getting even worse. She can't understand what's going on at Guantanamo, Obama's speech was conservative-bashing, liberals are gloating. I can't take her stupidity, pettiness and ego any more. She makes Ann Althouse look deep. What a spoiled child.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

OMB? OMG!

Megan McArdle, Whiner-American, complains that, like, she totally has to click on her mouse twice to look at the President's budget. Like, for real!

Why is government IT so awful? It seems like the first thing people are going to want, when they go to the Office of Management and Budget, is, like, to look at the Budget. Yet the budget isn't even on the OMB servers, apparently--it's hosted at the GPOaccess site. I have, to be sure, seen private websites that were this awful. But not that many, and the companies that had them usually either redesigned them right quick, or went out of business. Instead the government has preserved all the problems with the old site, added new ones, and given us in exchange . . . a glossy photograph of Barack Obama looking solemn.

I am sure that there is some stupid bureaucratic logic behind putting the budget information elsewhere. But I'm not sure my heart can stand finding out what it is.
Geeze, what a drama queen. Maybe her disappointment is affecting her nerves.

It Was A Brief Moment

Megan, 20 Jan 2009 12:04 pm:
I am rooting for Obama to succeed, and if he does, I will look back happily on this moment as a promise of better things to come. And if he doesn't, I will look back wistfully on that one moment when everything seemed all right.

Next Post 20 Jan 2009 12:23 pm
I was disappointed by the beginning of his speech, which seems to have consisted of saying: "There are no tradeoffs, and the people who tell you there are are just big fat HATERS, okay?"

What Megan Won't Tell You

The Big Picture has a concise summary of Time's list of Bush's economic mistakes. There is nothing new here, but it's interesting to see them laid out like this.

1. The Return to Deficits: Bush’s tax cuts and spending increases — and clear disdain for the pay-as-you-go approach that had brought deficits down in the 1990s — brought a return to permanent deficits.
2. Iraq: Even if you think the war did bring benefits to the U.S., they would have to be pretty gigantic to justify the costs of $1-3 trillion dollars;
3. Tax Cuts for the Rich: Bush came to Washington facing almost diametrically opposing economic conditions, yet he offered up the same solutions as Reagan.
4. Financial Regulation: What is true is that most Bush-era financial regulators were less than enthusiastic about the very act of regulating, and that Bush’s “ownership society” push glossed over a lot of potential dangers.
5. Telling Us to Go Shopping: After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, President Bush didn’t call for sacrifice. He called for shopping.
6. Energy Policy: Not much to say here, except that there wasn’t an energy policy.
7. A State of Denial: Every Administration spins and sugarcoats the economic truth. But the Bush White House took this disingenuousness to new levels.8. The Muddled Bailout: The main problem has been the ambivalence with which both Paulson and the White House have approached the financial rescue.


Every item is an example of uncontrolled greed. It's not the greed of a child before a bowl of candy. It is a wild, shrieking thing, that devours with open mouth and flashing teeth, grabbing and clawing through everything it touches, leaving blood and misery in its wake. It destroyed our economy and killed our friends and relatives. For money, and all the things money can buy.

One-Liner

The Corner is looking back on the Bush years. I prefer not to look in the toilet as its contents go swirling down the pipe.

Eyeroll

Shorter Megan McArdle: Because my parents and I wasted money on my education, poor people should not go to college.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Simple Minds Have Simple Thoughts

Shorter Megan McArdle: Why does evil exist? Is it possible that good people could do bad things?

That's our Megan. Ignore thousands of years of debate in philosophy and religion to idly wonder how something could possibly be so.

UPDATE: A commenter inadvertently provides an answer to Megan's question, how could white people have been so cruel to black people in the old, old days? He says the bus driver could have been the reason, who would have been too scared of the law to fight discrimination. This is the authoritarian mind at work. It seeks to excuse away callous behavior and assumes everyone bows cravenly to authority. People do this because they were raised to obey authority unquestioningly, and consequently cut off their own emotions to deal with the difficulty of repressing themselves in the service of others' needs and wants.

Sister Lopez Explains It All

Shorter Kathryn Jean Lopez: Obey the Pope, for he is all you need. Also, I have no life.

Joker

Shorter Bill Kristol: Invading Iraq was so successful we should never leave. Also Bill Moyers is an anti-Semite, for someone could only disagree with me if he were a Jew-hater. And Bush couldn't tear himself away from the searing grief of his victims' families because it soothes his trauma at his sister's death.

Okay, that last part was mine.

"The Brilliant Economics Blogger Megan McArdle"*

Megan notices international shipping has fallen off a cliff, no doubt because of the recession she said wouldn't happen.

International shipping plunge to near nothing That's right: it is now basically free to ship your goods from some ports: [short quote follows].
But why, Miss McArdle, MBA, B.A.? Why?

This is, of course, a reflection of international trade, which has cratered.
Oh, thank you, Miss Megan! Thank you for explaining that when shipping craters it's because the shipping companies' shipping has cratered.

China's economic growth, and its political stability, would seem to be in real danger.
You mean if a country suddenly stops shipping goods their economic growth might be affected? And with economic weakness comes political instability? Mercy me, call the newspapers!

Between Jeffrey Goldberg's heartfelt prayers for the children whose deaths he is otherwise cheering and McArdle's economic wisdom, The Atlantic is just the bestest magazine ever.


*So says David Brooks.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

The Jerk

Megan hates on the post office:

I suspect that the real problem here is that Matt does not remember what
the Post Office was like before FedEx and email--before, in short, the salutary
effects of capitalist competition had made it clear that the organization had
better shape up if anyone who worked for it wanted to continue enjoying their dizzyingly boring, but steady and lavishly benefitted, jobs.

Megan McArdle thinks private companies are always better than public entities because she is a lazy ideologue. She's a lazy ideologue because she's a bitchy snob. That is what this really is. She offers no evidence, doesn't even attempt to be fair, because all she really wants to do is sneer at the poor and middle class. It makes her feel richer and more elite than she really is.

I've got news for you, Megan. These people work harder than you ever thought of working, with your low output and short, ill-thought-out posts. Then they go home and take care of their families while you are out drinking and flirting at your local bar.

And since you've plastered your mug all over the web, people know who you are, including postal workers. Hope you don't need postal assistance soon--or are you planning to yell and scream at them like you do all your other "servants"?

You have no concept of true breeding or manners. Your lack of class bleeds through everything you write. If you really want to look better than you are, keep your mean little mouth shut.

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Megan Cooks

Megan McArdle reposts "the best pancake recipe ever." Back when Megan was Jane Galt, she said the recipe was "[n]ot really hard, or confusing, just time consuming. But, I guarantee you, worth it. Once you've tried these, you'll never go back to Aunt Jemima." For someone who names herself after John Galt, only the best, most successful pancakes will do. Let others make do with mixes; when the revolution comes, they'll be left behind with their short cuts and frozen abominations, like the inferior creatures they are. It'll be just like the Rapture, only you can still have sex with superior, manly men and build superior, manly railroads and have superior, manly babies.

What is Megan's criteria for assessing the excellence of her recipe? We can only speculate, since she doesn't explain her reasons. We must accept them gratefully, since we are not her manly equal. So let's take a look at her recipe, which she took from Betty Crocker's 1950 Picture Cookbook. My comments are in red.

Several hours/night before: Soften 3 tablespoons (a little less than half a stick) of unsalted butter(1) We have something called a microwave oven now, dear. It will do this for you in seconds.

Start by separating 3 eggs (you can use something like this if you don't know how to separate eggs by passing the yolk back and forth between the two half shells. I have a little plastic one that cost $2 or so, which I bought at a kitchen store.) Separating eggs is totally unnecessary. It's a good idea for waffles, which should be extremely light, but overkill for pancakes.

In a mixing bowl, beat the yolks with a hand mixer or whisk.

Add 1 2/3 cup of buttermilk and 1 tsp baking soda. And then what? Let them
sit, while the acid in the buttermilk and the alkaline baking soda release all their carbon dioxide too soon?


With a stand mixer or hand mixer, begin beating the egg whites until they are stiff and glossy.

Sift together:

1 1/2 cups sifted(2) all purpose (not self-rising) flour1 tsp baking powder1 tablespoon sugar1/2 tsp salt That seems like a lot of salt and not nearly enough baking powder.

Add sifted dry ingredients to the liquid. What about the butter?

Check your eggs. If they're stiff and glossy, and a scoop stays on the spoon even when it's tilted vertical, they're done. Be careful not to overbeat, as they'll separate.

Don't add the egg whites yet. Instead, beat in the softened butter and
1/2 tsp vanilla. No, you should beat the butter into the yolks so they emulsify properly and eventually mix evenly into the batter.

Once all these ingredients have been harmoniously blended, you
gently fold in your egg whites. Folding means you don't stir; you ever so
delicately bring liquid from the bottom of the bowl and pull it over the egg
whites, repeating until the egg whites have blended with the rest. The object is
to keep the air beaten into the egg whites where it belongs: in your batter,
making it light and fluffy. Air is something of an escape artist, but as long as
you're gentle, you should be fine. (Even if you're not gentle, the pancakes will
taste fine; they just won't be as fluffy.) Oh, now you're worried about losing air.

Cook the way you would normally cook pancakes, but be aware that the batter is very thick, and the pancakes will surprise you with their height. Don't worry about this. The inside is light and fluffy, and soaks up an amazing amount of syrup. For best results, use a stainless steel or aluminum pan, which may require you fry them in butter, but will give you a crisper exterior than you can get with nonstick. Yeah, go ahead, cook them in an aluminum pan, the worst possible type.

(1.) If you don't have unsalted butter, you may use salted butter, and omit the salt later in the recipe And end up using much, much less salt. Which, on second thought, might be an improvement.


(2.) i.e. you sift a couple of cups of flour, and then scoop 1 1/2 cups of flour into the sifter to sift together with the other dry ingredients

The funny thing about our modern era is that anyone interested in food and cooking probably watches food tv and knows everything Megan is trying to teach, and maybe more. She's not educating the unsophisticated rabble who must depend on her wisdom and good taste to develop beyond boxed mixes and supermarket ground beef, she's reprinting a 60-year-old recipe from her mother's cookbook. Badly.

K-Lo and Faith

I kid a lot about Kathryn Jean Lopez, editor and writer for National Review. I portray her as naive, good-hearted and simple-minded, but the truth is that she's just fucking crazy.

For all the "Bush lied, people died," hysteria, there is something of St.
Joseph in George W. Bush. St. Joseph plays a key part in the Christmas story. If you're a believer, you know -- you have faith -- that he wasn't Jesus Christ's biological father. But he was a loving, hard-working man, who out of all men the Creator trusted with his Son. St. Joseph had a faith that allowed him to follow divine requests that couldn't have made a whole lot of sense. He was a model of masculine faith. While all men are not called to act as a father to the most important man in human history, Christian manhood involves providing, protecting and obeying, not just when it comes to family life, but also in the Church. What would any religion be without a few good men?

Even if you're not a believer, St. Joseph was a carpenter who protected
the reputation of the woman he loved and provided for his family -- including
going so far as to take his family to Egypt to save his son's life. In the
bible, James describes him as a "doer."

And it's not just "The Decider" that seems to channel a little bit of
Joseph. The moving and shaking of St. Joseph brings to mind so many men I've
encountered over this past year. I know some of them as fathers of a
less-traditional sort, united in purpose with St. Joseph. I think of the founder
of the conservative movement -- and the magazine where I work -- who fought the
Cold War and built a freedom revolution. He was a man who was deeply in love
with his wife, even after she left this world. I think of his current successor,
who works daily to protect the legacy with which he has been entrusted. And I
think of a talk-show phenom who never forgets to invest in human capital,
fathering the movement by teaching for three hours a day and supporting his
fellow happy warriors, no matter where they are on the totem pole.


Only K-Lo could twist reality into a combination of a fairy-tale and Christian mythological world that she can crawl into to hide. That's Rush Limbaugh she's calling a saint. George Bush. William F. Buckley. In Lopez we can see and identify the traits that betray conservatives into harming themselves and everyone else around them. She is so extreme that the traits that are easy to overlook and excuse away in others are too glaring to dismiss.

Lopez utterly believes in faith. She sees it as a goal in itself instead of as a philosophy. Therefore it doesn't matter what she believes in. Lopez simply believes in it all. She believes in saving herself for marriage and that her sexuality belongs to her father and then her husband, because that is what her religious leaders tell her . She believes that her president is Godly because he says he is and therefore whatever he does is right and Godly, because she was brainwashed to be an authoritarian. The more outlandish the situation the better; they require more belief and demonstrate more holiness through belief. Some middle-class housewives like to pretend they are saints and martyrs, some truly are. Lopez lives and breathes and sacrifices for her beliefs, and what a narrow, fearful, worshipful life it is.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Sick Death Propagandist Speaks

Shorter Mona Charen: Kill the Palestinian dogs.

It makes me sick to see Jewish people do this. I was so proud and pleased when I found out I might be part Jewish, and now it doesn' t mean the same thing to me. Serves me right for forgetting that the first step to committing horrors is thinking that you're special.

ADDED: And now I finally realize why so many Americans identify with Israel; we recognize the exceptionalism in which we also indulge.

Ugh

From the Daily White House press briefing:

Q Ed, you're with him every day. What's the President's mood? Is he sentimental? Is he tired?

MR. GILLESPIE: You know, it's -- he's not tired. I mean, he is -- you know, he just has a ton of energy. But he is -- you know, I would say that he's gotten a little more winsome. I remember somebody asking me back in, like, September, you know, things must be -- things must be getting winsome. And I thought, you know, those of us who work here wish it were a little more winsome sometimes.
It's gotten a little more winsome. And I think that he is looking back as we've gone through these series of lasts. And it's a -- I wouldn't say emotional time, but it's obviously -- it's a moment -- look, when you work here, you work with colleagues like, you know, my friends here. You go through a lot together. And the President, I think, is thinking of all that we've been through and all the people who have been through it with him. And there's a great deal of a sense of appreciation for those people.
Winsome:
1 : generally pleasing and engaging often because of a childlike charm and innocence
2 : cheerful , lighthearted

And people wonder why I am sure there is no god.

There Are No Words

Advice For Liberals Jonah Goldberg
I'll be on NPR's Weekend Edition tomorrow for a segment on giving advice to
liberals now that they're in power. It's going to be light-hearted, I hope.
Suggestions from readers welcome.

Need-To-Work Shorter

M. McArdle, MBA, B. A.

When I said last month that GM was too screwed up to be helped by a temporary
cash infusion, I was called an anti-union hack who just wanted to see good union
jobs destroyed so that all the workers would have to become footmen in the
houses of my rich patrons.
::spittake::

You were called an anti-union hack because you supported bail-outs for bankers but not for workers.

Tell the truth and shame the devil.

Sun Rises, Earth is Round, Jonah Is Stupid

Puddin'head Jonah* Goldberg pulls out his Mead Composition notebook, steals a pen from K-Lo's purse, and reluctantly writes an essay on the law. Since Puddin'head Jonah is stupid from laziness as well as lack of mental capacity he freely admits he knows nothing about the law. But he has a living to make and conservative ideas to flog, so after a bunch of nothing he gets to his point.


One answer—really the only answer—you hear about why we should treat criminals with more respect is that it’s the only way to make government respect the rights of the innocent. I’m all for respecting the rights of the innocent, and I think police should be required to follow strict rules, have warrants, and all the rest. But I don’t see why cops who break the rules intentionally or unintentionally should be “punished” by having objectively guilty criminals let loose on society. I don’t think zookeepers should abuse their animals, but nor do I think a zookeeper’s abused polar bear should be set free in Midtown Manhattan. If Special Forces troops break the rules while capturing Osama bin Laden, I don’t see why that should require letting bin Laden go and giving him a do-over.


Jonah doesn't understand that the police searched the car in good faith, and therefore their actions are legal. They didn't break the rules to get their evidence. He babbles on for god-knows-how-many words about irrelevancies just so he can stroke his metaphorical guns.


Bennie Dean Herring was “no stranger to law enforcement,” according to Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts. That’s Roberts’s understated way of saying that when Herring walks into a room, reasonable people could be forgiven for hearing the theme music to Cops in their heads....

Some might say that when a law enforcement officer’s first reaction upon laying eyes on you is to check for outstanding warrants, you’ve made some poor life choices....

I just don’t understand how Reynolds and so many others get from there to the idea that punishing cops requires rewarding people like Herring. According to the exclusionary rule, a cop who breaks the rules to arrest a serial child rapist should be “punished” by having the rapist released back into the general public....

If zookeepers, soldiers, or cops break the rules, punish them—criminally, civilly, or administratively. But don’t reward the scum of the earth with a get-out-of-jail-free card, particularly when that will result in truly innocent people being punished. Criminals didn’t do anything right just because the cops did something wrong.


So many words, so many ways to call someone a criminal. Yes, he was guilty, but Jonah seems to think only guilty people are arrested. That's a willful denial of reality, retreating into a comforting cocoon of self-regard and smug self-satisfaction. I am good; they are bad. Like a rat pushes a lever to get a pleasurable shock, the Jonahs of the world can't resist the thrill of saying anyone less fortunate than they are is scum.


UPDATE: Jonah prints an e-mail in which a commenter also point out that a person accused of a crime is sometimes innocent. The caveat does not penetrate the Puddin'head, of course, because Jonah is not in the habit of rethinking anything. Why go over old stuff when you're paid to put out new stuff? Jonah informs us, however, that people should be able to sue cops. Because people never have bad motives or make mistakes either, no doubt.

ANOTHER UPDATE: Puddin'head finally bows to the inevitable and accepts correction from a lawyer.

*In Mark Twain's excellent detective story and social commentary, Puddin'head Wilson, the hero is actually quite smart. His stupider neighbors couldn't follow his reasoning and so started calling him a pudding head. Jonah is not that sort of Puddin'head. Think suet in a muslin cloth, cornstarch-thickened milk, or, especially, floating island, which is meringue sitting on custard. That kind.

Door, Kindly Meet Ass

What can one say?

Not a Bad Farewell [Kathryn Jean Lopez]

Bush declares Jan. 18 Sanctity of Human Life Day.


A useless, hypocritical thing too stupid to exist.

The declaration is stupid too.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

For One Low Price

Megan McArdle blogs about infomercials:

I can't explain why the raw hucksterism so appeals to me, but there's something in the combination of honest greed and mutually acknowledged prevarication that is deeply compelling.
I know. I read your blog, and "honest greed and mutually acknowledged prevarication" describes your relationship with your world perfectly.

Megan pretends hindsight is just as good as foresight.

...Who is there with the capital to absorb the struggling operations of BofA and Citigroup?

That leaves nationalization, or liquidation. And a fire sale of two of the country's biggest banks would be, she said with dramatic understatement, very bad for the health of the financial system. It's simply not strong enough to absorb the losses.

In the past few days, I've spoken to a few economics people who are feeling a little perkier about the economy's prospects. I tend to think we're in a lull before the storm gets a second wind.
Before the storm she thought something completely different.

First, the American economy is simply amazingly resilient--1.9% is cause for exultant celebration in a lot of European finance ministries. And second, Barack Obama's campaign team is probably doing some serious rethinking this morning.
But if her bosses at The Atlantic don't care she's usually wrong, why should I?

Jonah Goldberg, Again

I finally read Jonah Goldberg's ode to the Bill Murray movie Groundhog Day, thanks to Sadly, No!. This paragraph stands out:
Ultimately, the story is one of redemption, so it should surprise no one that it speaks to those in search of the same. But there is also a secular, even conservative, point to be made here. Connors's metamorphosis contradicts almost everything postmodernity teaches. He doesn't find paradise or liberation by becoming more "authentic," by acting on his whims and urges and listening to his inner voices. That behavior is soul-killing. He does exactly the opposite: He learns to appreciate the crowd, the community, even the bourgeois hicks and their values. He determines to make himself better by reading poetry and the classics and by learning to sculpt ice and make music, and most of all by shedding his ironic detachment from the world.
Poor Jonah. I want to sneer but it's more sad than funny. Putting aside his thinking (wishful) and definition of postmodernity (confused), he is still wrong. To act according to your wants, to listen to your inner self, to be the architect and engineer of your own life, is practically a sin to Jonah and his ilk. They must do--and want--what their parents want. Despite all they say about the voice of God acting as a conscience, they must never listen to their inner voices. To do so would kill their souls, cut them off from God, sentence them to eternal damnation. So Jonah, who loves popular culture and comedy and anarchy, shuts himself into a little box, twisting and compressing himself into a small corner of his own life, in the service of his conservative parents and world.

What does it cost him to become a person who finds joy in using his talents to make un-funny insults at liberals? To see everything from a conservative lens that demands only one possible interpretation of popular culture? To cut himself off from a world of creative people who could never respect what he has let himself become?

It doesn't matter; Goldberg has found his joy in life by being mama's little man, although sadly without the equipment that greased so many wheels for Lucianne.

Brave, Brave Conservatives Wage Electronic War

I have a new logo for Red State Strike Force:



Tuesday, January 13, 2009

"We're Special"

It begins with American Exceptionalism and it ends with American Exceptionalism.

Ronald Bailey of Reason Online reads about a repeat of the famous obedience tests ran by Stanley Milgrim. Milgram wanted to know how seemingly ordinary people could willingly harm others if they were instructed to do so by an authority figure. He discovered that most people will simply do what they are told if someone in authority gave them permission to do so or insisted that they do so. Yet Bailey still refuses to believe the evidence, and dredges up pathetic excuses why Americas are not as bad as other people. "As obedience experiments show, Americans are not really any better at resisting the claims of authority than other people," Bailey admits, "yet there was no Gulag and no Auschwitz here." He continues:


True, there was the immense moral evil of slavery, the destruction of Native
Americans, Woodrow Wilson's imprisonment of thousands of dissidents, Franklin
Roosevelt's internment of Japanese Americans, and more recently, the Abu Ghraib
cruelties. Leaders at all levels can persuade some Americans to participate in
immoral activities.
Ah, it's the Bad Apple theory of badness, a personal favorite of Donald Rumsfeld. The statistics say that about 67% of all Americans will torture others, yet when Americans torture it's just some bad apples. We're not bad, we're just reported that way. Sure, we killed most of the Native Americans and--what's the word?--concentrated the rest in the armpits of the country. Our Scotch Scots-Irish taught Indians to scalp and would bash out the brains of their babies, but we're not Nazis. We're not German. Well, many of us are and our culture is Anglo-Saxon Protestant like the Germans', according to conservatives, and a damn fine one because of it. And yes, we have a bad habit of persecuting those who don't obey authority or who happen to be on the other side of our guns and therefore make us a bit nervous when we see them on our streets. Abu Ghraib is the Big Bad of Bad Apples of course, and it's a good thing those people were all punished. But it doesn't mean that Americans would plan and implement torture procedures, except when they do which is all their fault because they are not Americans and not Freedom-Loving. Bailey continues:


However, the arc of American history has been toward correcting old evils and
the commissioning of fewer atrocities over time. Why? Because our institutions
of freedom have maintained and expanded the norms that limit the powers wielded
by authorities.

For example, a free press is able to criticize practices
like slavery and racial discrimination and help establish new norms. If Bill and
Joanne down the street send their kids Joe and Kathy to an ethnically mixed
school, in other words, it must be OK. In addition, American governmental powers
are fragmented and in competition with one another. As another Milgram
experiment showed, if two experimenters disagreed about continuing the
experiment, the majority of participants sided with the one who argued for
stopping it. In other words, when people could refer to an authority figure who
agreed with their moral views, they were much more likely to act on them.
Similarly, dividing up governmental power increases the chances that some
authorities will act ethically and thus inspire people to act on the dictates of
their consciences.
So if there is a dissenting voice that matches their moral views and if the system of checks and balances is intact and one branch has not grabbed as much power as humanly possible and if an equal authority is present and equally assertive, than most Americans won't torture other Americans. Otherwise they will, and the same people who quite happily permit relocation centers in the country at this very time will torture on command.

Rod Dreher reads Bailey, agrees with his conclusion, and goes further.


In other words, American culture, society and government are structured in ways
that discourage the kind of thing that led to Nazi totalitarianism. The capacity
to be a Nazi resides within each of us, but there are fundamental aspects of our
culture that keep these potentialities in check. The lesson to draw from this, I
think, is that culture and culture-making institutions matter. A lot. This is a
point similar to what Sam Huntington wrote about how these American institutions
evolved out of an Anglo-Protestant culture, and we would be foolish to give up
on that culture, even as Anglo-Protestants are in relative decline.
Gosh, Rod, weren't the Germans Anglo-Protestants too, at least by your standards? In fact, Rod, you would fit in perfectly with Germany's kirk, kinder, kuchen culture.

Over at Nation Review On-line, Jim Manzil agrees with Rod and Bailey. Manzil goes off into a tangent, however, stating that no American would believe that a university would actually torture anyone, so they went ahead and administered the shocks. If Manzil had read the study or Milgrim's fascinating account of his experiment, Obedience to Authority, he would know that is not true, but Manzil would probably find a way to rationalize that as well.

The reason the Germans went along with the Nazis is because they had been raised to obey authority unquestioningly. Americans are often raised the same way, especially conservative Americans. Obedience to God, president and country are integral to their beliefs.

Not everyone will torture. In Milgrim's study he runs across some people who refused to obey and nobody could make them do otherwise. In Bush's America, most conservative Americans jumped at the chance to support their authorities by supporting torture. They rationalized, pondered, thought and prayed, but in the end they always approved. They are, after all, Authoritarians, and would gladly imprison Hispanics and torture and kill Arabs--and they don't even have to push a button.

Have You Heard of "Oil"?

Megan McArdle manages to discuss the success of the Israeli lobby without once mentioning its geopolitical importance. She thinks that because she drinks green beer on St. Paddy's Day, everyone of European descent in the US is on the side of the Semitic Israelis versus the Arab Palestinians. (Yes, I realize that doesn't make sense.) She certainly doesn't mention this:

“In the night between Thursday and Friday, when the secretary of state wanted to lead the vote on a ceasefire at the Security Council, we did not want her to vote in favour,” Olmert said.

“I said ‘get me President Bush on the phone’. They said he was in the middle of giving a speech in Philadelphia. I said I didn’t care. ‘I need to talk to him now’. He got off the podium and spoke to me.”I told him the United States could not vote in favour. It cannot vote in favour of such a resolution. He immediately called the secretary of state and told her not to vote in favour.”
It's not the American Jews and their fanboys who made that call; it's the man who gave Bush backing in the Middle East.


Oh, Megan. I'm so disappointed in you. Try harder. You'll get there.

And maybe some day you'll discuss the economy? Other than posting a link, that is. That's so Glenn Reynolds, and his audience has the attention span of a mentally challenged cocker spaniel.

It Is To Laugh

Kansas Jackass laughs at Jonah Goldberg, as do we all. Jonah persists in stating that fascism and socialism are the same thing, and that means liberals, who are all socialist, are fascist. And why does Jonah make such a statement? Because the Nazis had the word "Socialist" in its name. That is the level of his intellectual achievement. He even wrote a book about it and no, it isn't a coloring book, although it is close.

One other interesting thing happens. In the comments Kansas Jackass laughs at the conservative antics, and one accuses him of being angry. The same thing happens at Eschaton. Atrios notes the right thinks the left is angry at Joe the Plumber, when we are just laughing at the whole situation. Our Megan McArdle has also remarked on her angry liberal critics, not quite noticing the sound of laughter wafting from their/our blogs. It's an odd use of denial, but it's what happens when people are terrified of being the butt of jokes, of someone seeing through the image of infallible success they try to project. It's why the despise the poor and eccentric; they are losers who are nonetheless threatening because they are different.

Want some proof? Jonah Goldberg found out what the internet was saying about him and elevated a small blog to prominence so he could complain that someone was mean to him and doesn't even know that Hitler was a liberal, the big old stupidhead.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Raison D'Etre

We fight because we have always fought. We fought nature and each other. We fought fate and our fears. We created gods and fought them. Fighting is all we know. If we can't fight we create artificial contests, when we fight over a ball, or man or woman, or handful of dirt.

I am not a Christian, but if I were I would say, "Whatsoever you do to the least of my brothers, that you do unto me."

Friday, January 9, 2009

Happy First Anniversary, Megan McArdle!

Fire Megan McArdle, bless them, notes that Megan McArdle has been blogging for The Atlantic for a year now, and I wish to offer my hearty congratulations. When David Bradley scoured the East Coast for the most talented, intelligent people he could buy for a pony, who knew we would be graced with such as Our Megan? With her English degree from the University of Pennsylvania and MBA from the University of Chicago, she has placed her own special brand on econoblogging. McArdle has an utterly unique perspective as a Irish Lapsed-Catholic Upper West Sider, who spent her entire life on its vibrant city streets and leafy parks. While the life of, basically, anyone else is a mystery to her, she is still able to read the economic tea leaves and distinguish between the Real Americans and the selfish, elite auto workers of the Heartland. Although gifted with the knowledge that comes from growing up in the center of the cultural universe, Manhattan, she does not hesitate to spread its wealth to less fortunate mortals, informing them that New Yorkers routinely use pounds of fat in cooking, prefer meat without freezer burn, and don't drink cooking sherry.

But make no mistake, McArdle is a modest woman despite her accomplishments. She frequently laments the benefits and popularity of people who are very tall and thin, like herself. It worries her that others find her body type to be an ideal. She also has enormous sympathy for the downtrodden, such as Wall Street bankers who find themselves in great difficulty. In fact McArdle is tireless in her devotion to the support of Wall Street bankers, while still able to wag a finger at their more naughty antics. She is also very patriotic, and supports all American endeavors, no matter how reluctantly. Although she forgot to register to vote this year, McArdle even supports the president-elect, and her immediate disappointment in him is very distressing to her.

So congratulations, Megan McArdle, and the best of luck in your future endeavors, as you document the depression from your perch at your neighborhood bar, downing gin and tonics and merrily blogging about torture and porn, for our benefit and edification.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wishful Thinking

Big Hollywood is turning out to be a goldmine for those who like to laugh at conservatives making fools of themselves. Their purpose is to convert Hollywood from liberal to conservative, so Hollywood makes movies that conservatives like, movies that praise Americans, American values, and American actions. Hollywood is obsessed with criticizing America, conservatives say, and they are sick of it. They want movies that show American as heroes, especially when they are killing their enemies, and American life as moral and good. They want to be praised, petted, and told they're always right. They don't want movies that seek new answers, examine motives, or question authority. They don't want to know of America's problems and America's victims. They want to feel good, and they demand that Hollywood make feel-good movies.

As always, they do not actually do anything about the situation but talk. It is rare when conservatives do anything but tell others to change to accommodate them. Creating and building their own conservative Hollywood is quite beyond them because it requires effort and money. Big Hollywood is not hitting up conservative sugar daddies like the Scaife and Olin foundations, they are demanding that liberals write, direct, act and finance conservative movies for them. This basic flaw is eternally overlooked, no doubt because the daddies in question have no desire to sink a hundred million into a vanity production for a conservative failure when he can fund a think tank for much less, and get better results. An American Carol lost 13,000,000.00 dollars, and in the real Hollywood, not the conservative one, that number is the only one that matters.

But this proof of the unpopularity of avowedly politically conservative movies doesn't stop Big Hollywood's Thomas Lifson from writing a business plan to take over Hollywood. The plan has a few problems, starting with a tendency to depend on wishful thinking. Conservatives believe strongly in faith and the efficacy of belief. It shapes their entire approach to the world, and is the source of so many of their problems. Lifson offers no proof; he wishes something to be true, and therefore it is.


Lifson's wishful thinking enables him to depend on conservative cliches to formulate his business plan, dooming it from the start. Garbage in, garbage out, and this post is buzzing with flies. Lifson's first assumption (of many) is that American culture is more conservative than Hollywood. Lifson thinks that he can make Hollywood more like him by "forcing the group culture to change." This can be done "by changing people's internal beliefs." Lifson acknowledges this will be difficult, but lists several ways conservatives can force Hollywood culture to change. Most involve conservatives trying to frighten liberals, telling them they'll lose their jobs when the next new thing comes along.

Deep down, Hollywood’s noisiest enforcers of left hegemony know they are vulnerable to the changing marketplace. And the inherent value the entertainment industry must put on trends argues that after a period of leftist dominance, the next new thing will be something different. Fashion always changes, and Hollywood leftism is nothing more than a fashion that began with the reaction to the 1950s blacklist and HUAC, and has now largely run its course. Because it is so boring by now, all it needs is a little help and knee jerk leftism becomes a laughingstock.


So since liberals in Hollywood have fashions, not principles, and people are bored by the latest (60-year) trend, conservatism is bound to swing back into favor. Lifson offers no proof beyond wishful thinking. He states liberal anti-war movies are unpopular and make little money, and therefore pro-war movies will be successful. He makes no attempt whatsoever to think about the difference between the US of 1943 and the US of 2009, after the Cold War, Nixon, Vietnam, and Bush. He doesn't think about how these events might have affected the public's attitude towards authority and their trust in the government, or the increase in level of knowledge about the world brought about by mass media. He wants the public to love war and movies glorifying war as much as he does, and assumes that if he wishes something to be true, it is true. Most of all, Lifson does not consider making good conservative movies that will make money and garner attention, praise and emulation. Instead he wants to force liberals in Hollywood to pander to people like him out of fear.

Incredibly, Lifson, an academic, advocates using gossip to spread this fear.


The hypocrisy of the Hollywood left is a rich vein to mine. In the current era, hypocrisy is the deadliest sin of all when it comes to public ridicule. Having a platform to expose the internal contradictions (use those Marxist clich├ęs, comrades!) of the lefties makes all the difference. Thanks to the vast popular appeal of gossip about Hollywood, stories which begin in Big Hollywood will travel far and wide. When substantial numbers of people are laughing at leftist hypocrisy, leftists will become more circumspect, and may even begin to notice that it pays to be more tolerant of conservatives, or even back, participate in, or appreciate the commercial potential of products with conservative values.


Lifson's plan for Big Hollywood is to spread as much nasty gossip and innuendo as he and his minions can dredge up, in the hope that the liberals in Hollywood will fear him and make conservative movies.


The fact that there are so many Hollywood conservatives who have to remain private about their beliefs creates a ripe environment for spreading tales of outrageous hypocrisy, nasty behavior, and other real events that can finally reach a public hungry enough for gossip about celebrities that they keep platoons of media professionals employed feeding them. Until now, the foibles of the left have been largely ignored in the mainstream celebrity gossip outlets. But the internet and Big Hollywood are about to change the landscape.


Actually, I'm impressed that Lifson is bravely putting all conservatives in Hollywood in such a precarious position. If conservatives state that they plan to grub through the dirt until they manage to smear and destroy every liberal in Hollywood, he'll pretty much guarantee no conservative will dare reveal his biases and no liberal will hire any conservatives. That's one heck of a plan for taking over Hollywood, there. We will have to wait and see what Lifson means by liberal hypocrisy, as conservatives tend to call anything they don't understand hypocrisy. They're going to be very, very busy, and people like alicublog and TBogg are going to have a field day laughing at them.



UPDATE: I've read most of the site now. Damn, they're dull. But Amy Alkon popped up in the comments so I still have hope.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Hear Our Prayer

Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic (of course), a deeply, deeply moral man, shares a lovely poem with us.

This is a typical Bradley Burston effort, beautifully-written and deeply
moral. He'll get some criticism from the right for this, but he should take it
is a compliment. He's a Jew in full. Here's the link, and here's an
excerpt:

Lord who is the creator of all children, hear our prayer this
accursed day. God
whom we call Blessed, turn your face to these, the
children of Gaza, that they
may know your blessings, and your shelter, that
they may know light and warmth,
where there is now only blackness and smoke,
and a cold which cuts and clenches
the skin. Almighty who makes exceptions,
which we call miracles, make an
exception of the children of Gaza. Shield
them from us and from their own. Spare
them. Heal them. Let them stand in
safety. Deliver them from hunger and horror
and fury and grief. Deliver them
from us, and from their own.

How moral of them to pray for the children. How kind, how sensitive, how exceptional of them to worry about the children of Gaza. Dearest God, they pray, give us a miracle and spare the little children whose lives we are ending, not deliberately mind you, just collaterally, and really not very many at all, considering, and what about Israeli children?

I prefer Mark Twain's sarcastic war prayer. He was a much more honest man.

O Lord our God, help us to tear their soldiers to bloody shreds with our
shells; help us to cover their smiling fields with the pale forms of their
patriot dead; help us to drown the thunder of the guns with the shrieks of their
wounded, writhing in pain; help us to lay waste their humble homes with a
hurricane of fire; help us to wring the hearts of their unoffending widows with
unavailing grief; help us to turn them out roofless with little children to
wander unfriended the wastes of their desolated land in rags and hunger and
thirst, sports of the sun flames of summer and the icy winds of winter, broken
in spirit, worn with travail, imploring Thee for the refuge of the grave and
denied it -- for our sakes who adore Thee, Lord, blast their hopes, blight their
lives, protract their bitter pilgrimage, make heavy their steps, water their way
with their tears, stain the white snow with the blood of their wounded feet! We
ask it, in the spirit of love, of Him Who is the Source of Love, and Who is the
ever-faithful refuge and friend of all that are sore beset and seek His aid with
humble and contrite hearts. Amen.

What You Wished For

Digby reminds us that making life difficult for Democrats isn't just a job for the beltway Villagers, it's also their means of entertainment. When you're a Mean Girl you have to have someone to torment, to show off your power. But I'm going to go out on a limb and say that Obama might surprise them. The Villagers think he's weak because he's a Democrat and a black man, and obviously intelligent. But Obama wasn't weak against McCain, and Obama likes power. A lot.

A president that punished his Republican enemies instead of being mowed down by them would be satisfying to see. But presidential enemies can come from anywhere, and that includes his own party as well.

Not Him Again

Jonah "I'm rubber and you're glue" Goldberg has penned another masterpiece of projection and irony. The man makes a living out of whining that he's called a fascist, yet writes this:



A book in which he calls liberals fascists. And now he writes this:
I think the desire to cast the Israelis as Nazis is fueled, deep down, by the haters’ need to see their own hatreds and ambitions mirrored in their enemy’s actions. Hamas has an avowedly Hitlerite agenda. The only way to make such an agenda defensible is to convince yourself and others that the Israelis deserve it. Hence, Hamas and its allies insist that when they aim rockets at grade schools and playgrounds, they are resisting the “new Nazis.” It brings to mind Huey Long’s reported prophecy that if fascism ever came to America, it would be called anti-fascism. Well, with Hamas, Hitlerism comes to the Middle East wearing the mask of anti-Hitlerism.

What can one say in the face of such obdurate obliviousness and determined stupidity? Calling people Nazis is bad and oh by the way liberals are fascists and Hamas are Nazis. Liberals and Hamas are projecting by saying conservatives are projecting. No doubt little Jonah Goldberg, big and heavy for his age and with the instincts cultivated by his mother, professional ratfucker Lucianne Goldberg, spent his entire childhood accusing other children of hating him because of his principles, not because he ratted to the teacher and bullied them on the playground.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Town and Country

Another day in McArdleland, in which a luxury--loving prat burbles on about art, plays, millionaires' habits, and personal trivia.

McArdle is the poor cousin a rich woman takes along on shopping trips, becasue she tells you everything you want to hear and knows exactly how much you paid for your scarf and watch and stockings and trip to Paris. She oohs and ahhhs and mimics and simpers, anything to be closer to a life of unearned wealth and warm feelings of superiority.

Such people don't do well during depressions. Just sayin'.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Now I Remember Why I Do This

Megan McArdle:

It's easy, in hindsight, to see that we should have stuck with the
tried-and-true wisdom; but there's a reason that evolution has trained people to
overweight recent experience. If you didn't, you'd be in big trouble when
the situation changed....Similarly, housing markets really did change, thanks to
things like zoning and environmental regulations that dramatically slowed the
pace and scope of new development on the coasts. Credit brokers really did get
better at assessing credit risk. it's just that housing didn't get as
difficult to build, or credit risk as easy to assess, as recent experience
showed.

Because we overweight recent experience, we overshoot on the bubbles.
But if we didn't overweight recent experience at all, it would take us 100 years
to notice that FICO scores were pretty good--or that many treasured innovations
in liberal governance hadn't actually caused society to implode. Is there some way to make us
weight only, always, the right things, to never go too
far in rewriting what we know about the world? Somehow, I doubt it.

YOU got it wrong. YOU believed your banker friends. YOU believed what you wanted to believe, supporting unregulated creative financing and derivatives. YOU were wrong and will continue to be wrong because you haven't learned a thing. Now you are trying to convince us that it could have happened to anyone, nobody knew, it was just one of those things? Just becasue you were a fool doesn't mean we are.

And you have absolutely no idea whatsoever of the meaning of the word evolution. Your education was as incomplete as it was ineffective.