Friday, October 31, 2008
No Socialists Here!
Who are these scofflaws, these drains on the country's welfare? Children. They contribute nothing and demand everything. And tonight they will go from house to house, demanding that the homeowner give them the sugary fruits of their hard labor. Did these "children" earn that candy? No! They simply will take it from you, redistributing your candy from your own front porch or living room into their own pockets. They might even bring sacks to carry away the spoils of their thefts. Don't let it happen to you. Tell those little socialist bastards to buy their own candy, or go live in Europe!
The Master Shows How It's Done
There's one final point worth making here as well. Before the bailout, [Stephen] Pearlstein's writing during the prior year on the looming housing and credit crises was actually quite good, at times even prescient. Everything changed when he turned himself into the chief defender of the original Paulson plan and thus became the target of substantial criticism from bloggers and their readers. Once that happened, the comment sections to his columns and his weekly chats became filled with negative feedback -- most of it substantive, some of it pure invective -- while Google searches of his name now produce conspicuous and aggressive critiques of his work. After that, Pearlstein became single-mindedly fixated on railing against bloggers and proving them to be ill-informed cretins, even at the expense of minimal coherence and consistency.
That happens quite frequently. People like Pearlstein are entirely unaccustomed to hearing widespread criticisms of their work, especially from the lowly masses (also known as his "readers" or, more distasteful still, from prize-less "bloggers"). When thin-skinned establishment mavens encounter such criticisms for the first time, they often develop resentment over their treatment and devote themselves to a crusade against those whom they blame for their terrible plight (nasty, disrespectful "bloggers"). Behind virtually every vocal establishment critic of "blogs" is some episode in the past where they were widely criticized by bloggers and their readers, and their lashing out -- though masquerading as devotion to high-minded, well-informed and civil discourse -- is, in reality, nothing more than self-absorbed and inextinguishable fury over being mistreated (i.e., criticized or opposed).
As these recent Pearlstein columns illustrate, those crusades almost always reflect far worse on the crusader than on anything or anyone else. People like Pearlstein have influential platforms. Criticisms of their arguments and behaviors are part of the price for that influence, and those criticisms ought to be engaged, not resented as improper disruptions of the proper social order.
These words apply to so many people who think they're above criticism, self-reflection, and improvement.
"a term for a malicious, spiteful, domineering, intrusive, or unpleasant person, especially a woman"
Barack Obama will break 90%--or do really well, with third-world dictator
But by the second time, you know it's deliberate.
This is not particularly urgent, since my voting "options" were New York
and DC; in both places, the question is not who will carry the state, but
whether Obama will get a mere 80% or so of the vote, or achieve Saddam
Hussein-like vote totals*. *Before you say it--no, not by fixing the
election, by being so popular that he achieves fairly what Saddam achieved by
You stay classy, McArdle.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Let Them Eat Rental Housing
I'm glad you asked.
On the other hand, it [the plan Megan recommends] wouldn't do what a lot
of people want, which is to help people with unaffordable mortgages stay in
homes above their pay grade.
"Above their pay grade." Charming. Getting above themselves, were they? How dare the little people forget their place?
Why Is Hackdom Dangerous?
On his radio show yesterday, far right talker Bill Cunningham — who Sean Hannity
considers a “great American” — claimed that people who are poor in America are
not poor “because they lack money.” “They’re poor because they lack values,
morals, and ethics,” said Cunningham.
This is the second day in a row
that Cunningham has verbally attacked the poor. On his Monday show, he declared,
“Among the so-called noble poor in America…[b]irth control is not used so
illegitimate children can be brought into the world, so the mom can get more
checks in the mail from the government.”
At The Corner, Jonah Goldberg approving posts e-mails that carefully explain that helping the poor is good, but being forced by the government to help the poor is bad. (Therefore if your church demands that you tithe, they are stealing from you and violating the Ten Commandments.) However, Jonah would post e-mails suggesting everyone stuff and roast their mothers instead of Thanksgiving Day turkeys if it would make him a buck. Only the gullible take Jonah seriously. The Atlantic, Reason, and The Economist took McArdle seriously, and so do a lot of bloggers.
Does it really take nothing but a university degree and a carefully cultivated upper-class accent to fool people into taking an immoral dilettante seriously? Does an overpriced pair of shoes transform one into a caring person? Does a Land's End dress confer intellectual heft?
Look at this. Look at how lovingly McArdle describes the lives of herself and her friends. Look at the disgust she shows, the disdain and absurd, insulting assumptions she makes about people on welfare.
It is undoubtedly easier to stay thin if you have nicely cooked low-calorie
prepared food at easy disposal, a shiny gym with a personal trainer to go to,
some control over your schedule so that you can use it, and lovely clothes to
show off a well-toned figure. The life of a welfare mother affords few pleasures
beyond television, comfort food, and whatever entertainment she can get up with
friends on a $0 budget.
The nice (morally superior) meals, shiny (clean) gyms, the lovely (slender) flowing clothes. Versus the cheap, common, low-life pursuits of television and fatty food and desperate search for entertainment. The cheap, nasty, brutish, immoral, obese life versus the moral, refined, slender, sophisticated, educated life. Could it possibly be any more obvious? Why would anyone listen to these people?
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Which Came First, the Callousness Or the Libertarianism?
I haven't mentioned it until now, but I'd like to urge California voters to support Proposition 2, which bans excessively confining situations for farm animals. It is not perfect, but it does provide some protection for animals from the most grotesque penning practices.Megan McArdle's feelings about the poor:
I've lived on a very tight budget, but even in my most impecunious student days, I wouldn't have freaked out if my eggs had suddenly cost 5 cents more apiece. I'm sure I could have found a few beverage containers to return for the deposit. If there are really people so poor that paying 50 cents more for a dozen eggs will push them into starvation, then they need an increase in their food stamps.Somehow I doubt McArdle spent her college days wondering how she was going to be able to pay for groceries for her kids and the gas to go buy them. Eggs have already increased in price the last year from about $1/dozen to almost two dollars. Megan thinks it's fine; just return soda bottles or get an increase in food stamps to help the poor, confined chickens.
Say, didn't Megan downplay torture of human beings? And didn't she say that people shouldn't get more food stamps because they'll just buy more food? I don't understand how someone can have compassion for cows, chickens, and pigs, yet can't dredge up an ounce of concern for her fellow man. A bird kept in a cage is far more important to her than a man hooded, bound, tortured, and kept in a cage. Maybe if he laid eggs Megan would care, but I'm not sure even that would do it.
How can this be? Is there anything even resembling a logical explanation for this?
Monday, October 27, 2008
K-Lo Goes To Confession
K-Lo: Bless me father, for I have sinned. It's been three hours since my last confession, and I just want to say Father that it's been a great honor to tell you my sins, and my only regret for the future is that I won't have any more sins to tell you so we won't get to have these little chats anymore.
Father: What? Kathryn Jean, for the love of Heaven, what's wrong? What's happened?
K-Lo: It's okay, Father, don't be sad. We'll be in the arms of Baby Jesus.
Father: Is there a bomb?!? Where is it?? Kathryn Jean, what have you done?
K-Lo: No, Father, it's the Rapture. The R-A-P-T-U-R-E. The Second Coming.
Father: Oh, thank God. Now, what is this about the Rapture?
K-Lo: It's coming, Father, on November fifth. Jesus will descend and lift us all to heaven and the unworthy will remain, and boy will they all be sorry then.
Father: Kathryn Jean, you promised me you would stop reading those Left Behind books. Remember, the nightmares? The crying? The ice cream binges? The theology is dreadfully unsound as well. Those Protestants think they can pull any nonsense out of their--uh, please continue.
K-Lo: Father, when Barack "Hussein" Obama wins the election, the--the--colored men will riot in the streets and hippies will fornicate during daylight and Jesus will finally return to carry me--I mean us--in his soft yet manly arms to Heaven, to sit by his side and hold his hand for all eternity. (Sigh.) Amen.
Father: Kathryn Jean, perhaps you are taking an unduly pessimistic view of the future. There is no evidence that Mr. Obama will bring on the Second Coming. Try to have faith.
K-Lo: Always, Father, always. And there's so much to be hopeful for. Gov. Palin finally is telling the world that Obama is a commie, Andy McCarthy talks about Ayers--gosh--all the time, Mark Steyn is reminding everyone that Obama is a crook, and Mark Krick--Krakrak--Mark K. said Palestinians love Obama. If that, and the hopes and prayers of our Conservative Nation Under God, don't work, nothing will! (Sings.) The sun'll come up tomorrow/bet your bottom dollar that tomorrow, there'll be sun....
Father: Kathryn Jean? Calm down, please. Kathryn Jean, can you hear me at all?
K-Lo: ...I pick up my chin, and grin, and say:/Tomorrow, tomorrow, I love ya, tomorrow/ you're only a day awaaaaaaaay!
Father: Kathryn Jean, is your mother waiting outside?
K-Lo: Yes, Father.
Father: Good girl. I'm glad to see you're obeying the judge. Send her in, will you dear? We need to have a few words.
In Which Megan Is A Hack--Again
All of this seems like a pretty stinging rejoinder to the notion that the problem is simply a failure of regulatory stringence. The problems have spread across regulatory regimes, currencies, and banking systems; besides Canada, not a single large economy has escaped. Perhaps the problem is Basel II--having a unified standard may have left us more vulnerable. But there's something here deeper and more frightening than a lack of adequate rules.
Nobody is saying the problem "is simply a failure of reguatory stringence." It's a failure with multiple sources, including and especially lack of regulation. Not just stringence--actual existance of any regulation of the shadow financial system. It's a stupid strawman argument, like so many others of Megan's, and why her words cannot be trusted. You never know if she speaks out of training and knowledge or out of ideology. Some pundits like Jonah Goldberg always slip in ideological nonsense because that is their job, but McArdle is supposed to be more independent than a National Review lackey and bootlicker. Of course she is not, and she's too poor of a writer to disguise it.
While defending Alan Greenspan Megan states:
The alternative question for the liberals: if regulation is so great, how come one guy, or one fairly minor bill, can apparently single-handedly destroy the most heavily regulated industry in America that doesn't actively involve radioactive material? If your preferred system is really that fragile, then maybe we should be looking into alternatives.Again, nobody says one thing caused the crash. Unless McArdle can back up accusations with facts she can't be taken seriously. To continue her theme, McArdle calls corruption at the Long Island Rail Road "Regulatory capture at its finest," criticizes "social spending" in Venezuela. She also lowers herself to say that Naomi Klein is an idiot and Matt Taibbi is ignorant. Such personal attacks make her look very petty and self-indulgent, and McArdle might want to take care that she doesn't wander further into Ann Althouse territory.
Her output is impressive in quantity, if not in quality. She seems to have spontaneously decided that the mere fourteen posts she made last week were an insufficient output.
Sunday, October 26, 2008
Jesus "Barack Obama" Christ's Lost Years
Jesus' neighborhood newspaper, the Bible, has a longstanding tradition of opening its pages to apostles, prophets, and rabbis. Jesus himself, as a rabbi, wrote much of the New Testament. Read in isolation, Jesus's words tell us little. Placed in the context of political and policy battles then raging in the Middle East, however, the young rabbi's dispatches powerfully illuminate his political beliefs. Even more revealing are hundreds of sermons not only of the Bible, but also of Biblical Fan Fiction.
Jesus moved to Nazareth in order to place himself in what he understood to be the de facto "capital" of Jewish Romans. For well over 100 years, the Bible has been the voice of that capital, and therefore a paper of national significance for Jewish Romans. Early on in his political career, Jesus complained of being slighted by major media, like the Old Testament. Yet extensive and continuous coverage in the Bible presents a remarkable resource for understanding who Jesus is. Reportage is particularly significant because Jesus's early political career-the time between his teenage years and his thirtieth birthday-can fairly be called the "lost years," the period Jesus seems least eager to talk about, in contrast to his formative years in Bethlehem. The pages of the Old Testament thus offer entrée into Jesus's heretofore hidden world.
What they portray is a Jesus sharply at variance with the image of the thunder-and-brimstone savior familiar from Biblical prophecy. As details of Jesus's early political career emerge into the light, his associations with such radical figures as Mary Magdalene, Lazarus, Mary and Martha, lepers, and Samaritans look less like peculiar instances of personal misjudgment and more like intentional political and religious partnerships. At his core, in other words, the rabbi chronicled here is profoundly religion-conscious, exceedingly liberal, money-hating even in the face of widespread poverty, and partisan. Elected King of the Jews, this man would presumably shift the country sharply to the left on all the key issues of the day-culture-war issues included. It's no wonder Jesus has passed over his middle years in relative silence.
Any rounded treatment of Jesus's early career has got to give prominence to the issue of religion. Jesus has recently made efforts to preemptively blunt discussion of the religion issue, warning that his critics will highlight the fact that he is Jewish. Yet the question of religion plays so large a role in Jesus's own thought and action that it is all but impossible to discuss his trajectory without acknowledging the extent to which it engrosses him. Obama settled in Nazareth with the declared intention of "organizing Jewish folks." Understanding Jesus's thinking on religion, for example, is a prerequisite to grasping his views on spending and taxation. Thus, we have no alternative but to puzzle out the place of religion in Jesus's broader political outlook as well as in his career.
A Night Before The Election
All the eyeballs were rolling at poor Ann Althouse.
All the bloggers were nestled all snug in their beds
While visions of linkfests danced in their heads.
When in The New Yorker there arose such a clatter
The bloggers all sprang to see what was the matter.
When what to their wondering eyes did appear
but a drunken law teacher and eight tiny "hear, hear!"s
She was blond with a page-boy, a right jolly old prof
And I laughed when I saw her in spite of myself.
She spoke many words, going straight to her work
And filled all her posts with ideas from jerks.
And then tipping her wineglass to empty last drops,
she blogged that Obama will persecute sops.
And I heard her exclaim as she faded from sight,
Obama is wired! I saw with my sight!
Ah, not well, which is why Althouse is so much fun. In her first blog post about the Packer post, which demands to be reproduced in its entirety, Althouse says:
Friday, October 24, 2008
I am shocked at the substandard ethics displayed by The New Yorker's blogger
This New Yorker blogger, George Packer, names me and slams me, but doesn't link,
so there's no way for readers to see the context. The context is here.
I didn't "push the plastic-device story," I genuinely thought I saw
something, something that wasn't a "story" anywhere else -- I took my own
freeze-frame photograph. Within 5 minutes, I looked more closely in the
surrounding frames and decided it wasn't there and said so. That's all my post
was. So what the hell is George Packer talking about?
Shame on you, George Packer! That is truly sleazy! You are so eager to push
your little theory that you have lost sight of ethics and fairness. Packer
The problem isn’t lack of education—it’s that of a self-isolating political
subculture gone rancid.
Look in a mirror, man. Look in a damn mirror, loser.
ADDED: What Packer seems to have done is to have adopted another blogger's
summary of what a lot of bloggers, including me, have done over the course of
the election season. That other blogger paid no attention to my year of balanced
blogging, under an explicit vow of cruel neutrality. And Packer, I bet, did not perform an independent check to figure out what my blog is really like. It is this failure,
even more than the failure to link to the particular post he purported to
describe, that is really a failure of ethics. What absurd irony that he behaved
like this to reach the conclusion that the other side of the blogophere is
"self-isolating" and "rancid"!
Packer, I demand an abject confession of your self-isolation and
ADDED: Thanks to Instapundit for linking. There's also a separate post called "I got so mad at George Packer last night."
No boxed wine was safe that night, I bet.
Ms. Althouse has published in the New York Times and is often linked to by Instapundit. Her postion give her authority before the public. Yet her emotional, capricious posts, written to elicit attention and sympathy from anyone needing to rescue an ageing damsel, are meddling and snide, albeit not exactly dangerous. The last thing Althouse should do is demand further exploration of the content of her posts, but of course she does, since one of the first ways she attempts to fight back is to say that she is misunderstood or her words are being twisted. In the comments, she and Jon Swift exchange words about just that excuse.
Jon Swift said...Ann must have passed out at that point, for there are no further posts from her in that thread. No doubt any day now she will decry her "enemies" for their sexism.
Well, he does link to my story, which is what his post is about, and I had the
courtesy to link to you, so readers can in fact see the context.
Ann Althouse said...
Yes, you're a [loser and a] shithead too, Swift, but thanks for the tip. Are you saying Packer didn't bother to read the original source, that he just poached off your lame-ass post?
Ann Althouse said...
"The problem isn’t lack of education—it’s that of a self-isolating political subculture gone rancid."Swift's comment underscores my point about Packer's observation. You
folks have been stewing in your own juices too long.
Ann Althouse said...
And Swift distorts to suit his purposes too. Congratulations for being a less devious than Packer.
Jon Swift said...
I'm saying, in fact, the opposite, Ms. Althouse. Since I linked to you in my story he most likely did see your story and still reached the same conclusion.
Ann Althouse said...
Swift, I get the point that you linked
and that he linked to you, but as a matter of the most basic blogger ethics, he
needed to put a link where he made an assertion about what I said, particularly
since what he said was completely distorted. He libeled me in The New Yorker,
one of the most important magazines. The fact that the link is on your little
blog is insufficient. You know the readers aren't going to find their way back
to my site via that circuitous route.And you got it wrong too, so if you have
any decency, you would fix your twisted post. You are not concerned with
fairness and accuracy. You should see the ridiculous irony of your post. YOU are
doing the very thing you are supposedly shedding light on. Hypocrite!
Jon Swift said...
I would be most interested to know Ms. Althouse what specifically was inaccurate about my post and how what he wrote and what I wrote rises to the level of libel.
Ann Althouse said...
Swift, I haven't read your post other than the sentence I emailed you about. Read my email. I said that Packer libeled me when he said I "pushed" a story after I posted a photograph of a freeze-frame and then in 5 minutes said it wasn't what it had originally looked like to me. That is not pushing. It is not true. And he went on to slime me and insult me in The New Yorker. That is harmful and shameful and I'm extremely angry about it. As for what you do on your blog, I don't bother to read it, and I didn't call it libel. I can't be bothered to read it, frankly. I think you're boring, but you do apparently appeal to people in your "self-isolating political subculture gone rancid." Good for you. Asshole.
Jon Swift said...
How did you manage to read only one sentence of my post, Ms. Althouse, while skipping all the other words? And which sentence was that? Your emails contain no mention of a specific sentence. I did not email you a specific sentence, only a link, which you must have clicked on because I did not describe the piece in my email and no one had linked to it when I emailed you as a courtesy, not even Mr. Packer. And I'm not sure why you feel the need to claim that you haven't read my piece and then
proceed to characterize it and me. Wouldn't that be unfair and in fact what you
accused Mr. Packer of doing?
Ann Althouse said...
"Wouldn't that be unfair and in fact what you accused Mr. Packer of doing?"I had read the sentence that had my name it it after seeing a Google alert. YOU emailed me to point out your work, and I responded to you by email based on the one sentence I had read. Then you came over here to talk about yourself -- I get it, you do self-promotion like mad -- and I responded here. It was never my idea to write about you on my blog, because I wasn't interested in reading what you had to say, since I could see from the sentence about me that you were being unfair. I'm not going to comb over what you said about everyone else, and I'm not going to write a post about you. I don't like you, and screw you. The idea that I'm doing anything to you that is comparable to what Packer and you did to me is flat-out bullshit. But
you are not interested in honesty. So pimp your posts to Sullivan and Packer and
get your traffic. Good for you, you little prick.
Ann Althouse said...
I don't mind people attacking me for doing that post itself, which was done at the end of a long session of live-blogging. But what angers me are these broad statements about how insular and narrow-minded I've been, when I have spent the last year (and more) being incredibly balanced, to the point where my readers really didn't know which candidate I was going to vote for. You know, I'm going to vote for Obama (94.67% chance), but these assholes make it a really distasteful exercise.
Ann Althouse said...
Now I feel like voting for McCain... and pushing the inside the ear transmitter theory...
Jon Swift said... Isn't it a wee bit hypocritical, Ms. Althouse, to complain of Mr. Packer's not linking to you, and then to refer to me and my piece and not link to me or even name me?
(edited for redundancy)
God, Damn Us To Hell
Ta'i's sentiments appear to be widespread in Iraq, right down to the exaggerated estimate (it is usually put at 500,000, not 2 million) for the number of Iraqi children that were killed by US and UN sanctions (the interdiction of chlorine made it
impossible to do water purification, which in turn caused infant and toddler deaths from gastrointestinal diseases and consequent dehydration). Yep, the Neocons called that one, about Iraqi gratitude to the US, right on the money, they did. [My bolding-s/t]
Friday, October 24, 2008
Kathleen Parker: The Petite Mort of John McCain
As my husband observed early on, McCain the mortal couldn't mind having an attractive woman all but singing arias to his greatness. Cameras frequently capture McCain beaming like a gold-starred schoolboy while Palin tells crowds that he is ‘exactly the kind of man I want as commander in chief.’ This, notes [writer Robert] Draper, ‘seemed to confer not only valor but virility on a 72-year-old politician who only weeks ago barely registered with the party faithful.’
It's all about McCain's manhood. Everything, from Palin to Iran to "that one." It was taken away in Vietnam, and he can't rest until he erases the past.
Neither do I, but evidently Moanin' Charen does.
Yes the figure of $150,000 is eye-popping, but don't forget it that it included the whole Palin clan. And finally, I cannot escape the suspicion that one reason everyone is so exercised (other than the obvious, i.e. that she's a Republican) is that she is so gorgeous in those clothes. There is simply no other woman in political life to match her. The green-eyed monster strikes! [My bolding-S/T]
Isn't that sweet, in a slightly creepy way, as Jonah Goldberg would say? Palin is the prettiest, coolest girl ever, and Charen, with her spare frame and sensible haircut, is in looooove.
And people in love do foolish things, such as tell America that they just ponied up their donations to the Republican party to buy expensive maternity dresses for teenaged Bristol Palin.
Thursday, October 23, 2008
Less Tall Megan
If you ignore the actual definition of libertarianism and let me make shit up, libertarianism isn't dead at all!
Your Daily Hack Attack:
Nor is there any particular proposal for preventing that institution from falling prey to the same forces that grip the regulated industry. I have said it before, but it is worth repeating: the regulators became overconfident in the same way, and for the same reasons, that the bankers became overconfident. Just as a long and unusually rosy period in the housing market convinced the bankers that they had gotten better at pricing credit risk, a long period without a large bank failure persuaded the regulators that they had gotten better at regulation. They believed that their computer models, and an improved understanding of how markets and the economy worked, would allow them to see problems in time and halt them. Obviously, they were wrong.
This paragraph encapsulates why McArdle is so useless. Her banking friend told her that banks have become better at pricing risk, so she believed him. But what makes it even worse is she ignores the fact that the problem arose from the shadow financial institutions that were not regulated because she wants to undercut any possible future regulations. The banks are suffering because of the mortgage-backed securities, not just the mortgages, which were divided up according to risk and sold. Everyone said that spreading risk would eliminate risk, and nobody really cared if that was true as long as people were making money in the financial sector.
Always remember, several people warned the world that the current practices would lead to ruin. They were called doom-and-gloomers and generally dismissed, including by McArdle. She'll throw in caveats and hem and haw, but in the end she serves her Wall Street masters, both from ideology and elitist inclination.
Wednesday, October 22, 2008
No Megan McArdle Report Today
We Are a Joke
More on Biden vs. Palin [Ed Whelan]
In this NRO essay today, Michelle Malkin gets Biden right:
Biden’s erratic and gaffetastic behavior is the least of America’s worries. He’s worse than a blunderbuss. He’s an incurable narcissist with chronic diarrhea of the
mouth. He’s a phony and a pretender who fashions himself a foreign-policy expert, constitutional scholar, and worldly wise man. He’s a man who can’t control his impulses.
10/22 10:21 AM
Replace "Biden" with "Malkin" and she's absolutely right. Projection ain't just a way of showing movies.
Item the Second:
Kathryn Jean Lopez writes an article entitled "Black Like Me." That's like dangling Junior Mints in front of me. Junior Mints offered by George Clooney. In a tuxedo. With flowers and a limo.
I'm sorry, what was I talking about?
Oh, yeah, K-Lo. She says that if black people support a black candidate, it is because he is black, not because they think he'll do a good job. She can't believe that someone would choose Obama over McCain when McCain wants to save blacks from the evil abortion doctors, and give vouchers to students who go to inner-city schools. You see, America is conservatives, as she and Jonah and the other conservatives keep saying. No black man or woman reads, thinks, and decides that Obama is better than McCain. No, it's all about identity politics. For them, of course. Not for conservatives. No, sir. Nope. Never. After all, look at Miss Lopez herself. She's Hispanic and a woman and still wants McCain to win with every unsatisfied bone in her body. If she can ignore reality in favor of ideology, why can't everyone else?
Item the third.
Michelle Bachmann, (R-Idiot), admits that Chris Matthews is far smarter than she is.
That's all. This report is humiliating enough exactly as it is.
Item the forth, and my personal favorite.
Here's a story you probably already heard.
The Republican National Committee has spent more than $150,000 to clothe and accessorize vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin and her family since her surprise pick by John McCain in late August.
According to financial disclosure records, the accessorizing began in early September and included bills from Saks Fifth Avenue in St. Louis and New York for a combined $49,425.74.
The records also document a couple of big-time shopping trips to Neiman Marcus in Minneapolis, including one $75,062.63 spree in early September.
The RNC also spent $4,716.49 on hair and makeup through September after reporting no such costs in August.
The cash expenditures immediately raised questions among campaign finance experts about their legality under the Federal Election Commission's long-standing advisory opinions on using campaign cash to purchase items for personal use.
But hours after the story was posted on Politico's website and legal issues were raised, the campaign issued a new statement:"With all of the important issues facing the country right now, it's remarkable that we're spending time talking about pantsuits and blouses. It was always the intent that the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign," said McCain-Palin spokesperson Tracey Schmitt.The campaign's position is that Palin couldn't dress herself appropriately for the high profile position of someone campaigning to be VP, so they shelled out some dough. That makes sense, having "the clothing go to a charitable purpose after the campaign" doesn't.
Page Six says:
One source familiar with Palin's primping posse told us, "They do not want the American public to know that Palin is using stylists or that she is paying for expensive clothes this early on in the campaign."
We spoke to someone on Palin's styling team, who told us, "I did a little bit of personal styling, but I can't discuss anything I've done with Sarah Palin. I'm not sure which designs she wore . . . anything related to working with her is confidential."
Presidential nominee John McCain's wife, Cindy, recently took some heat after Vanity Fair itemized the cost of her wardrobe during her RNC speech with Laura Bush to a whopping $300,000 worth of designer wear and diamonds.
A representative for Valentino confirmed Palin wore one of his designs during her convention speech, but said she did not buy it from a Valentino store. Palin's reps had no comment.
But she's one of the people, just like Joe The Plumber. What we have here is some basic psychology at work. Palin must be expensively dressed, to show she is an Authoritarian Leader to the other leaders, while at the same time she must declare herself jus' folks, so the tribe feels like she is one of them. It ain't working. The elite think she's a hick, although the followers love her "aw shucks" routine.
The Corner has suffered from this dichotomy.
[David Frum]: A reader writes:
I wonder if you are aware to the extent of the alienation and frustration (at you, Peggy Noonan, David Brooks, Doug Kmiec, Chris Buckley, etc…we’re still cutting Krauthammer some slack) that has recently occurred among those (of us) who would normally be your customers?
We have a strong feeling that there now exists a “Heartland conservatism” - in the Reagan tradition - and an “East Coast conservatism” that is seen as increasingly “elite” and out of touch with our values. The message you are trying to send to us, to change our message, we are reflecting back at you (all). Here’s the problem, our numbers area far, far greater.
Most of this alienation and frustration, I believe, has been exasperated by the very public criticism, from “conservatives”, of Gov. Palin, who “out here” is very well liked. We “get” her David, but we don’t “get” you (all) anymore, it’s that simple.
David, if you alienate “your base”, who will be left to buy your books?
Nothing like bare-assed threats to put the apostates in their place, as Kathleen Parker well knows. The reader reminds Frum that liberals aren't the only ones who can be persecuted. But the readers don't pay Frum. They might buy some books, but Jack Fowler, editor of NR, buys more. Regnery pays the author, and the publicity gets the author on tv, which leads to speaking gigs. The man of the people can scurry back to his Heartland hole, because in the end the only thing that matters is obedience to the leaders. If Frum doesn't play the game well enough, there are a million little Liberty and Catholic U. graduates to take his place.
So this is what we've come to. The wealthy one percent set up two candidates like little Rock-'em Sock-'em Robots and get the media to start wildly pressing the buttons. The elite shove and maneuver to get themselves close enough to the winner to catch the crumbs falling from his table. The media suck up to the elite, the elite bloggers suck up to the media, the peon bloggers suck up to the elite bloggers, and the "customers" (formerly citizens) of the United States suck up to the peon bloggers, when they are not threatening them.
Jefferson and Washington would be so proud.
Later: Who put the speed in Jonah's Cap'n Crunch? He's actually moving and
What Other Explanation Could There Be?
A reader sent me this gem from our old buddy Dave Neiwert:"So why do Republicans hate democracy? Maybe because they are the party of Oligarchical White Privilege. And democracy is about to kick them in the ass."
Why, it's almost as if he thinks the white man is the Jew of liberal fascism.
So stupid. So Jonah.
Tuesday, October 21, 2008
[Christopher] Cox and [Phil] Gramm, in particular, are often accused of being in the pocket of the securities industry. That's not entirely fair; these men took the hands-off positions they did because of their political philosophy, which holds that markets are always right and governments always wrong to interfere. They share with Greenspan, the only member of the trio who openly calls himself a libertarian, a deep aversion to any infringement of the right to buy and sell. That belief, which George Soros calls market fundamentalism, is the best explanation of how the natural tendency of lending standards to turn permissive during a boom became a global calamity that spread so far and so quickly.
The best thing you can say about libertarians is that because their views derive from abstract theory, they tend to be highly principled and rigorous in their logic. Those outside of government at places like the Cato Institute and Reason magazine are just as consistent in their opposition to government bailouts as to the kind of regulation that might have prevented one from being necessary. "Let failed banks fail" is the purist line. This approach would deliver a wonderful lesson in personal responsibility, creating thousands of new jobs in the soup-kitchen and food-pantry industries.
The worst thing you can say about libertarians is that they are intellectually immature, frozen in the worldview many of them absorbed from reading Ayn Rand novels in high school. Like other ideologues, libertarians react to the world's failing to conform to their model by asking where the world went wrong. Their heroic view of capitalism makes it difficult for them to accept that markets can be irrational, misunderstand risk, and misallocate resources or that financial systems without vigorous government oversight and the capacity for pragmatic intervention constitute a recipe for disaster. They are bankrupt, and this time, there will be no bailout.
Megan wanted the bailout. She called Republicans who interfered traitors. She is not a Libertarian. She is an opportunist.
Best Jonah Goldberg Line Ever
By the way, out on the road, Peter and I get asked about "What's Your Problem?" all the time, which amazes (and flatters) us since we didn't get a sense that many people were watching.
Jonah, when someone asks you "What's your problem?", he's not asking you about your show.
Compare and Contrast.
On the other hand, expanding jobless claims to 52 weeks seems like a no brainer--not because it's awesome stimulus, but because it would be nice if people who can't find jobs in a severe economic contraction don't have to take up a second career as bank robbers.
Bankers are not criminals. As a class, they are exactly as self-interested, self-destructive, and short-sighted as other classes of people that liberals want less highly regulated, such as unions and community organizers. I don't view the purpose of regulation as punishment, or protection against a malevolent class. I view it as an attempt to make our institutions more effectively channel self-interest into collectively welfare-enhancing activity. Thus you can see why I might be somewhat uncomfortable with those who seem to view the crisis as an exciting opportunity to put those uppity bankers back in their place.
Megan assumes bankers are honest and poor people are dishonest. This fits in nicely with her theory that only rich people can be moral, because people are only moral if it benefits them. That may be Megan's belief, but it's not everyone else's.
It's so tiresome to have to constantly fight against immoral, shallow people. Why don't they just stick to little jobs that don't harm anyone, instead of trying to swim with sharks?
A person with such poor ethics and judgement should not be advising others about money.
Monday, October 20, 2008
Jonah Goldberg: If the media were more objective, we’d be hearing a lot more about the racism at the heart of the Democratic Party. (Imagine if the black nominee this year were a Republican!) But such objectivity would cause too much cognitive dissonance for a press corps that defines “racist” as shorthand for Republican and sees itself as the publicity arm of the Obama campaign.
Jonah Goldberg: To listen to most MSM commentators and analysts, you'd think Obama's problem with racist voters is some how the Republican Party's fault. Guess what? Republicans (including racist Republicans) are going to vote for the Republican.
Andy McCarthy: [...T]he always terrific Scott Johnson has nice things to say at Powerline, including wondering aloud (as has our friend John Podhoretz at Commentary) why the mainstream media has ignored the book.
Mark Steyn: Re Joe the Plumber, if I hear another bigshot media correspondent stating that Joe's feeble earnings mean he would not pay more tax under King Barack the Wealth-Spreader and thus has nothing to complain about, I'll pull over, rip the radio out, and stomp it into the shoulder, as Frank Sinatra is said to have done the fifth time he heard "Light My Fire" on a road trip from Palm Springs to Los Angeles.
Byron York: I have a new story up about John McCain's rally Saturday in Woodbridge, Virginia. You've heard all that talk about how angry and hate-filled such gatherings are. And I have to say, there was some anger at the Woodbridge event, but it wasn't, as some erroneous reports from other McCain rallies have suggested, directed at Barack Obama. It was directed at the press. That morning, the New York Times had published a thin and mean-spirited front-page story on Cindy McCain (more on that later), and many in the crowd were still angry over the media's treatment of Joe the Plumber.
Re: Confused Broadcasting System [Mark Steyn]
Attention, crack CBS News Fact Check Unit! The man in this picture claiming to be a Berliner is, in fact, from Massachusetts. Furthermore, as a citizen of the United States, he is not eligible to vote in Berlin municipal elections.
Mark Steyn: Last post of the day, first post of the day. Oh, dear, I hope I haven't chased the last three conservative pundits away to The Plank or The Atlantic. Re Joe*, Jim (Treacher) puts it this way:The whole "He's not a licensed plumber!" non sequitur is really fantastic. So, if you happen to be standing in front of Obama when he publicly reveals his socialism, what does the media do? Demands to see your papers. That's just delicious, is what that is.
Mark Steyn: Back in the glory days of the 2000 New Hampshire primary, his media buddies used to translate "old and cranky" as "maverick", "feisty", and so forth. But let that pass.
And the incessant sniping of conservative pundits is having an effect in the so-called real world. From The Washington Post:
"No, I'm not mad, I'm pissed," said Joan Schmitz, who owns a plumbing company here. She said she was frustrated with polls showing Obama surging, McCain's performance in a Tuesday night debate, Obama himself, the media, and the liberal group ACORN, which she said was registering voters fraudulently.
Noting Obama's connections with Ayers, she said that "if it was a Republican, it would be nonstop," referring to what she said was the media ignoring the controversial acquaintance.
"I can't stand to look at him, I don't trust him. I don't like the circle of friends he keeps, I don't like his policies," Schmitz said of Obama. "I'm pissed off by it. I'm beyond mad. How is he climbing up in the polls?"
On the way into the event, the Republican Party of Wisconsin handed out fliers reading "Your Vote Is Being Stolen," an anti-ACORN leaflet that concluded, "Why is vote fraud allowed? Vote fraud is allowed since it benefits Democrats."
The crowd showed equal disdain for the media, fueled by comments from Palin, who encouraged the Republican supporters to take the campaign's message around the media. "I can't pick a fight with those who buy ink by the barrel," she said. "It's dangerous territory whenever I suggest the mainstream media isn't asking all the questions."
That message was clearly shared among the crowd. Mike Payne, who traveled from Madison, Wis., for the rally, rejected the idea that McCain's supporters are angry, preferring to use the word "frustrated."
"It might have something to do with you guys," he told a reporter.
"It's not anger at all. It's frustration. There's millions of people around the country that think like we do. You guys refuse to acknowledge that, and you insult our intelligence by misreporting the information. You are treating [Obama] like he's Britney Spears and covering him like he's Paris Hilton, instead of the next president of the United States, potentially."
McCain advisers dismissed the crowd's angry tone as an exception and not representative of most of the campaign's events. And they noted that those gathered seemed most upset by the media's handling of the contest, and simply wanted McCain to be more aggressive.
Finally McCain was embarrassed often enough in public to tone down his supporters, but Palin doesn't have McCain's (tenuous) control. If the McCains and Palins will continue to avoid the media, the media will feel free to print drivel like this article on Cindy McCain. And it will continue to print articles like the Post article.
It's a vicious circle, with the weasels at the Corner biting and snarling at the foxes in the media. There's a small entertainment value in watching the fur fly, but it would be really nice if people didn't try to incite hate during difficult times.
Judge Sarah--Jesus Didn't Mean *Me*
PALIN: [I]n my own, state, I have voted along with the vast majority of Alaskans who had the opportunity to vote to amend our Constitution defining marriage as between one man and one woman. I wish on a federal level that that’s where we would go because I don’t support gay marriage. I’m not going to be out there judging individuals, sitting in a seat of judgment telling what they can and can’t do, should and should not do.
You just did. You voted to tell gays that they can't marry because you have judged them ineligible. Saying "I'm not judging." when you quite clearly are judging doesn't change anything. It just shows you're a liar as well as a bigot and bad Christian.
Sunday, October 19, 2008
A Little Knowledge
This is political, opinion driven debate. It is empty and foolish rhetoric that
generates heat but no light. As opposed to a discussion driven by, oh, I don't
know, let's say "facts and data?" It contributes nothing of value in terms
of identifying what actually happened. The focus is not on what went wrong, and
what can we do to fix it. Rather, its how the party in charge takes the blame,
and therefore the acceptance level of their ideology goes down.
Imagine after a jumbo jet goes down, and someone from the FAA said "We won't bother looking for the black box, we don't play the blame game around here." They would be fired immediately, and then tarred and feathered by the victims families.
Intelligent societies seek to asses blame not for political reasons, but
to avoid future jets from tumbling out of the sky again. In the current
situation, we want to know why this happened, what errors were made, and how we
can avoid it in the future.
There is also an element of cognitive dissonance to the discussion. Rather than look at the factual pattern of changes to the regulatory environment (see these comments in The Economist), it was merely a coincidence of the party in power getting the blame. Why do I suspect that if Al Gore was President, these two would not be discussing the mere coincidence of which party had the White House?
This is a similar approach that has given us one of the dumbest phrases in the
English language: "The Blame Game." (as in "well, I am not going to play the blame game).
My beef is not political, its evidentiary: There are no facts shown, no regulatory historical record dissected, no comprehension of what actually occurred -- just how to duck resposibility. This is why I hate ideologues, politics, and even political discussions of ideology -- it leads to smart people saying dumb things. Cognitive dissonance will do that to you.
So will stupidity. It's so nice to see someone else do the heavy lifting, though. I'm hampered by my lack of knowledge of economics; the development of personality and how it affects the choices one makes is my field of interest. But I read widely, so I also found this:
The Federal Bureau of Investigation is struggling to find enough agents and resources to investigate criminal wrongdoing tied to the country’s economic crisis, according to current and former bureau officials.
The pressure on the F.B.I. has recently increased with the disclosure of
criminal investigations into some of the largest players in the financial
collapse, including Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. The F.B.I. is planning to double the number of agents working financial crimes by reassigning several hundred agents amid a mood of national alarm.
So much for McArdle's plea that bankers aren't crooks; they're just drawn that way.
And for some reason I thought of McArdle when I saw this article about Andrew Lahde's farewell to the hedge fund troops.
Andrew Lahde, the hedge-fund manager who quit after posting an 870 percent gain last year, said farewell to clients in a letter that thanks stupid traders for making him rich and ends with a plea to legalize marijuana.
Lahde, head of Santa Monica, California-based Lahde Capital Management LLC, told investors last month he was returning their cash because the risk of using credit derivatives -- his means of betting on the falling value of bonds and loans, including subprime mortgages -- was too risky given the weakness of the banks he was trading with.
``I was in this game for money,'' Lahde, 37, wrote in a two-page letter today in which he said he had come to hate the hedge-fund business. ``The low-hanging fruit, i.e. idiots whose parents paid for prep school, Yale and then the Harvard MBA, was there for the taking. These people who were (often) truly not worthy of the education they received (or supposedly received) rose to the top of companies such as AIG, Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers and all levels of our government.
``All of this behavior supporting the Aristocracy, only ended up making it easier for me to find people stupid enough to take the other sides of my trades. God Bless America.''
Authoritarians can be depended upon to mindlessly support the Aristocracy at all times, no matter what it might cost them. Afterward they look up to the sky and say, "Why me? What happened? Who will lead me now? Who do I blame?"
It sure won't be themselves.
The Devil's Bargain
How can this be? they ask themselves. Obama is one of those. He's a liberal, and liberals don't follow the rules. That's why they can't be trusted. The rules say that if you are obedient, you'll be rewarded. Your parents will love you and God will favor you and your country will be great and strong. If you aren't obedient, your parents will be mad at you and God will punish you and you won't be safe anymore. The Bad Guys will get you. It's the same old devil's bargain; safety for freedom. When you don't feel safe you give up freedom, but it's weak to give up freedom, so you have to shout Freedom! Freedom! over and over to convince yourself that you still have it. You don't really want it--you just gave it up, remember?--but it makes you feel weak to realize that you want safety so very badly. So you just pretend instead, and shout louder. And just in case someone points out the obvious, that you are afraid and embracing fascism to chase away that fear, you'll call them fascists first.
Just in case.
The Republicans gutted the treasury and trashed the economy and therefore will lose the election. But Authoritarians are incapable of learning from experience, since they can't question anyone or anything. They will lash out in anger instead. It should not be tolerated for one minute. Authoritarians' fears must be exposed for what they are; a desire to be controlled and restrained, to gain the illusion of safety. They need it to survive. We don't.
Friday, October 17, 2008
Megan Explains Herself: The Explaining.
First Megan pins her ire on poor Brian Beutler. Evidently he has gone from being her blogger friend whose injury shocked her to simply another liberal blogger. And what have those naughty liberal blogs been up to?
Several liberal blogs are chortling over this statement I made early in the
year: [etc. etc.]
They "chortled"? There was "chortling"? The merry sounds of chortle were heard through the land? That literary noise must have really discomforted Megan, so, being a empathetic liberal, I did a little search* for anyone who could be laughing at her. I found four sites that laugh or have laughed at Megan, but at the time of her post only two blogs mentioned the "explaining" post; mine and Beutler's. Since I doubt Megan reads this blog, her "several" liberal blogs is really the aforementioned one blog. One blog, that sent her on an orgy of explaining and excusing. Just one. (Has Megan considered teaching? You need a thick skin there too, but at least there isn't a permanet record of one's overreactions.)
And then the insults begin, from the self-professed model of civility named Megan.
This is what comes from not reading economics commentators besides Paul Krugman.
The belief that Paul Krugman is some sort of singularly talented
prognosticator on matters of policy and the economy is almost entirely found
among people who do not spend a lot of time reading the financial press, and
also, have forgotten the many concerns he expressed that did not come to pass.
I do not think it is possible to regularly read those [financial]
publications and reasonably sustain the belief that Paul Krugman has been
uniquely, or even especially, prescient about current conditions. That's no slam
on Krugman. It's a slam on people who are unaware that there are really quite a
lot of smart people out there writing about the economic issues of the day.
So much for the gullible fools who think Krugman is All That. Now, Krugman himself. Do you think he's Nobel material? You fool, you! Megan has plenty to say to help you understand that Krugman isn't so special after all, no matter what everyone says.
Almost every commenter who is not named David Lereah both recognized that we
were in a housing bubble, and expected that when the housing bubble popped, the
economic results would be ugly.
So the idea that Krugman has somehow won
one for the team by predicting something that
libertarian/conservative/free-market commentators didn't see coming is either
misinformed, or lunatic. We all saw the problems with the housing bubble; most
of us thought a recession was getting pretty likely, given America's terrific
overextension of its consumption, the falling housing market, rising commodity
prices, and the simple fact that the longer you've gone without a recession, the
more likely you are to get into one soon.
The belief that Paul Krugman
is some sort of singularly talented prognosticator on matters of policy and the
economy is almost entirely found among people who do not spend a lot of time
reading the financial press, and also, have forgotten the many concerns he
expressed that did not come to pass.
Krugman is a great popularizer of
economics, but his writing is not filled with unique insights that cannot be
See, he just thought and said what everyone else thought and said. Nothing special about that.
In fact, Megan herself was frequently just as smart as Krugman! Here is where I realized that I've constantly underestimated Megan McArdle. I thought that becasue she isn't very smart that she can't do smart things. Nothing is further from the truth. You don't need brains to be cunning, you just need a lot of self-interest and a little ruthlessness. I thought Megan couldn't manage to ride the coattails of a man she's often denegrated, but watch carefully what she does here:
What I--and, as far as I know, Paul Krugman--did not expect was the magnitude or
the direction of the problems it would cause. We expected first, consumption
contraction from a reversal of something known as the "wealth effect"--when
assets appreciate, people feel richer, so they spend more; they also sometimes
borrow against the current or future value of those assets.
Did you catch that? It was quite subtle.
What I--and, as far as I know, Paul Krugman--did not expect was the magnitude or
the direction of the problems it would cause. We
There! Megan said she didn't know what Krugman expected, but as far as she knew he agreed with her. Then she jumps straight to "We." Beautiful! I'll give that a 9.4, losing only a fraction of a point for her tactic's inevitible failure.
But wait, there's more!
We also expected that it would hurt bank balance sheets, which would mean
retrenchment and therefore a slowdown in lending to other areas. I, and possibly
Krugman--I don't really have time to comb through every column he's ever written
right now--further expected that it would have deleterious effects on the
government fiscal picture, especially in bubbly areas. And, of course, we
expected that the eventual decline in the construction boom would show up in
GDP, since construction is a major component.
Mind you, she doesn't have time to comb through every column of his. It's not like it's her job, or something.
Megan than throws in a few mistakes for the sake of not looking like an idiot, since her old posts keep popping up, accompanied by more liberal chortling.
What I--and, as far as I know, Paul Krugman--did not expect was the magnitude or
the direction of the problems it would cause.
But I did not foresee how
tightly coupled our financial system would prove to be. I didn't see how far the
problems would spread--I didn't even expect the magnitude of the crackdown in
commercial real estate lending, much less the generalized credit freeze.
Neither, AFAIK, did Paul Krugman. And one of the areas that we were both very
concerned about, the decline of the wealth effect, has proven to be relatively
much less important than expected.
You see, neither of them were 100% right, so they're even, they're equals. Almost.
Krugman also thought we might be about to get into a recession several earlier
times, when I was more skeptical; in that sense, I called it better than he did.
My care about calling a recession earlier in the year was not because I thought
the economy was in fine fettle. Rather, it was because Britain had, against all
theory, dodged a recession despite a popping housing bubble even more impressive
than ours. This even though they'd gone more than a decade without one. Having
watched the British economy in my professional capacity for most of the current
decade, I'd seen it declared on the verge of recession multiple times by various
commenters, for what seemed like good and sound reasons; nonetheless, it never
quite went there. This made me somewhat cautious about proclaiming that a recession was inevitable based on our fundamentals.
Megan is even more right than the sometimes wrong Nobel prize winner.
You know what's next.
I know I saw that recession around here somewhere . . .
31 Jul 2008 11:56 am
The economy grew at 1.9% last quarter. Two thoughts.
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.
I took some flak on liberal blogs for pointing out that Paul Krugman has
been the voice of doom on the economy for nigh on a decade. But there was good
reason to think that there might be a recession, my critics cried.
Here's the problem. What's the one time that Paul Krugman didn't forecast a recession? That would be when we actually had a recession. It just wasn't a recession that could be blamed
on George Bush.
Paul Krugman is voting for doom. It's worth keeping in mind, however, that Paul Krugman has
predicted eight of the last none recessions under the Bush administration.
I think it's obvious we're in a slowdown, and a recession seems likely-ish, but
Britain's skirted recession for over a decade now, so I can't be too
Clearly McArdle thought Krugman was both wrong and too ideological to see the "truth" anyway. Finally, Megan ends with a quotable sop to Krugman's reputation and skill. It's quite the performance. Megan would be perfect for Fox TV, to provide explanations to their viewers on how the Democrats brought about the recession by being right for the wrong reason.
*I checked technorati and google, about five pages in each. Heh, and I found this.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
Megan Explains Herself
Go, read it. You know you want to, even if you feel naughty afterwards.
Megan Discusses Regulation
Her second warning is that regulation can do more damage than good, and gives mark-to-market accounting as an example. Mark-to-market forces transparency on businesses, which is desirable because the credit freeze is largely caused by the mistrust banks feel towards each other right now. Nobody knows exactly how much banks have lost, and how much money they have left. Not everyone thinks mark-to-market is bad at this point. Via Calculated Risk:
"Suspending mark-to-market accounting, in essence, suspends reality."Beth
Brooke, global vice chair at Ernst & Young LLP, WSJ, Sept 30,
"Blaming fair-value accounting for the credit crisis is a lot like going to
a doctor for a diagnosis and then blaming him for telling you that you are
sick."analyst Dane Mott, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Bloomberg
"Suspending the mark-to-market prices is the most irresponsible thing to
do. Accounting does not make corporate earnings or balance sheets more volatile.
Accounting just increases the transparency of volatility in earnings."Diane
Garnick, Invesco Ltd., Bloomberg
But hey, Megan's been right so far, she's probably right here too.
Megan's Good Advice
Standard & Poor's said it may downgrade $280.1 billion of Alt-A
mortgage securities, the most that the ratings company has identified in a
single announcement for bonds backed by the loans. The debt may be cut in part
because S&P has boosted estimates for losses on each foreclosure on Alt-A
loans with at least five years of fixed rates to 40 percent, from 35 percent
...``There has been a persistent rise in the level of delinquencies among the
Alt-A mortgage loans supporting these transactions,'' S&P analysts Scott
Davey and Ernestine Warner said in the statement.
4 August, 2008--"Housing: Are More and Worse Defaults To Come?" The New York Times says possibly, thanks to Alt-A loans that
had generous teaser rates. Those borrowers will take longer to get themselves in
trouble, but without rising home prices, eventually they, too, will find
themselves under water.
I'm a little more skeptical than the Times.
Option arms and other exploding loans became popular in 2005 and 2006, thanks to
rising home prices. But Alt-A buyers qualified for longer teaser periods than
subprime borrowers--5 to 7 years instead of 2 to 3. That means that those
defaults won't start coming until 2010 at the earliest. By that time, economic
growth should be picking up, and (at the rate Ben Bernanke is going, anyway)
inflation will have eased some of the pain of their loans, even in a weak
housing market. Analysts generally expect housing declines to be three years
from peak to trough, so we're riding out the worst of it right now--at least, if
history is any guide.
Moreover, Alt-A buyers have more to lose, in terms
of their credit rating, and are generally a little more firmly rooted in the
American homeownership culture than those borrowing at subprime rates. I'd
expect them to fight a lot harder to hold onto their homes, and their ratings,
than the subprime borrowers--85% of whom, remember, are still paying their loans
11 August, 2008--After every bubble, there's generally a sort of an
anti-bubble--when analysts start looking for reasons that this is, like, the
worst crisis ever. The worries about Alt-A mortgages seem to me to be
largely part of this fever. "Everything in the future will be exactly like
everything that just happened" is what got us into this mess in the first place
. . .
I thought I'd be too worried to smile when the crash hit, but McArdle is the comedy gift that never stops.
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
The Corner Has Died and Its Corpse Is Stinking Up the Joint
Ah, via Google I see he's a university professor. (Why is the right always whining about liberal academia?)
Advice to McCain [John J. Pitney, Jr.]
What demeanor should McCain display tonight? Angry doesn't
work. Solemn doesn't work. ake-smiley doesn't work. Instead, McCain
should go back to his roots and unleash his inner smart-aleck. If Obama
accuses him of being erratic in a crisis, he should say: "So I'm erotic in a
crisis? Who knew?"
This approach has a couple of advantages. First, it enables McCain to
show the more appealing side of his personality. Second, it throws Obama
off his game. His handlers have surely anticipated every possible attack line
about Ayers and Wright. And as a good liberal, he's waiting for the chance
to say, "Have you left no sense of decency?" But he'd be hard put to defend
against ridicule. The One can't handle the jokes.
So to get ready for the debate, McCain should lay aside the notes, crack
open a beer, and watch Animal House.
That's--really bad advice. (Although the idea of McCain going nuts on teevee is a matter of when, not if.)
Will You Come To Tea?
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Breaking! Megan not Dead!
It's a sort of interesting quandary for libertarians, and indeed most proponents of regulation, who want the government to enhance transparency. In this case, the government is specifically fighting to keep the market from getting information about whose balance sheets are shakiest. And I'm not sure they're wrong.Since Megan has a difficult time understanding human actions, I'll point it out for her. Her ideas have been proven problematic, and idle musings on that "interesting quandary" make her look even less serious than usual. Fortunately her boss doesn't seem to notice whether or not she's alive, let alone know what she writes.
Speaking of pop, McArdle writes an extremely gracious congratulations to Paul Krugman, the "populizer" of "popular work" "such as Pop Internationalism." Except she can't actually bring herself to congratulate him.
But though the timing may have been political, the prize is well deserved,What does a temple priestess do after her gods are no longer worshipped? The invisible hand of the agora isn't always kind.
indeed overdue, as plenty of other commenters have noted. I would offer my
congratulations if I thought that the good professor cared to get them.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Chicago Boyz and Girlz
Besides the pleasure of seeing a sane man praised and vindicated, there is the pleasure of seeing the not-so-sane debunked. Moon Of Alabama says:
After years of favoring 'Chicago economists', who laid the grounds for the
current disaster, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences finally seems to change
Signs of the times?
And the sign says "Dead End."
Who could have imagined that Wall Street, of all places, could be overcome by greed and love of money and power? That the invisible hand of the market was really the imaginary hand of the market? That Megan McArdle, graduate of the Universiy of Chicago and fervent booster of Milton Friedman, could be--gasp!--wrong?
You can thank Milton Friedman for the fact that our central banks no longer
hand us double-digit inflation in a fruitless quest for permanently higher
output levels. While his work has since been refined, and his push for quantity
targeting has largely been abandoned, he remains central to modern monetary
policy. His permanent income hypothesis has made similar contributions to
consumption theory. His students have also expanded the boundaries of human
knowlege in significant ways, particularly Gary Becker, another Nobel-prize
Unlike other popularisers, such as Paul Krugman, whose best popular work
(such as Pop Internationalism) focused on his own field, what Mr Friedman is
known for within the academy is completely different from what has made him
famous outside it, which is possibly why liberals tend to classify him with Mr
Galbraith. Mr Friedman has done more than possibly any other economist to
advance the cause of free markets. But that is not his only contribution;
perhaps it is not even his largest. Anyone who would compare the Nobel
prize-winner to JKG as an economist can only have a gaping hole in their
I just thought it would be funny to reprint that.
When over 100 University of Chicago professors revolted at the idea of a Milton Friedman Institute on campus, McArdle wrote:
Over 100 Chicago professors proudly sign
a letter declaring their ignorance of economics:
[letter] from a University that has cultivated a reputation as one of the most
intellectually rigorous campuses in the country. I'm tempted to weep.
[...T]heir assessment of the effects of the "neoliberal global order"
is forehead slapping, head shaking, did-they-really-say that? stupid.
The last paragraph makes these eminent professors seem, to
put it charitably, not quite bright.
It's foolish to get
enraged at these powerless twits. But someone has to writhe in shame at this
folly, and clearly, their intellects aren't up to the task.
There's lots more, and it's great to read. McArdle's so much fun when she actually gets passionate about something, such as her reputation or status. First Bush, then Greenspan, and now Freidman et al. I don't know how history will assess these events, but right now McArdle might want to take the sage advice of one George Costanza: If you have an impulse, do and say the opposite of what you would usually do.
Sunday, October 12, 2008
For the Love of God
Getting Ahead of Themselves [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
Thank you, Speaker Pelosi, for this preview
of life if there's a President Obama:WASHINGTON (AP) - After consulting with Barack Obama, Democratic leaders are likely to call Congress back to work after the election in hopes of passing legislation that would include extended jobless benefits, money for food stamps and possibly a tax rebate, officials said Saturday.Expect big-governemtn goodies — money for nothing and your socialism for "free" — until a Repblican is looked to try to undo it all in four.
The bill's total cost could reach $150 billion, these officials said.
The officials stressed that no final decisions have been made. They spoke on condition of anonymity, saying they did not want to pre-empt a formal announcement. House Democrats have announced plans for an economic forum on Monday "to help Congress develop an economic recovery plan that focuses on creating jobs and strengthening our economy."
Thanks to this preview, Americans should be taking a second look. Will they? Wake up! Good morning! There's still an election going on. Contrary to Obama-Pelosi-Reid posturing, it ain't over yet.
Forget the typos; I do that myself, although nobody's paying me to be an editor and go on teevee. I won't even bother to point out the hypocrisy, the obliviousness. I just want to ask: Is this woman let out without a keeper? Does Nanny follow her from her parents' house to the office to the airport, and hang a tag on her when she's travelling?
Does she pay taxes, read grown-up newspapers, make love, cook meals, bully sexist service people? Or does she float from condo to taxi to airplane to office, skimming the surface of the world like a waterbug on a pond?