Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, November 30, 2009

God's Little Handmaiden

I don't blame Megan McArdle for going to the abortion well again. Writing about economics is hard and you have to read a bunch of stuff and look up other stuff and ask questions and who the hell do they think she is, an economics reporter or a blogger whose finely-tuned instincts invariably reveal the perfectly obvious answer to every question? Abortion posts always get a lot of traffic and that's all the boss wants, so as long as our heroine is able straddle the line between being against choice in private and for choice in public she's a happy blogger. Let's take a look at McArdle's latest effort. It's not like we want to discuss Dubai either.

As the Senate moves to debate the Senate health care bill, we're seeing another stream of opinion pieces that fall into the broad category of "Oh my God! Who would have thought that a government run health care plan would make coverage decisions based on political considerations?"

Oh my God! Who would have thought that McArdle would rely on breathless squealing instead of argument and debate? Not us! Nope!

McArdle doesn't mention that the political will the public wants to see imposed is the public's political will, not the political will of those wacky politicians, some of whom appear to be trying to set up a theocracy from the Best Little Whorehouse in DC. Which is quite an achievement considering the White House is there too. After all, the majority of the country wants Roe v. Wade to stay the law of the land, and while they might not mind making poor women jump through hoops to get what they can easily provide for themselves, they still want that ability to have an abortion.

Most of them seem to come from feminists who blithely assume away concerns about the personhood of the fetus, and the staunch political opposition to subsidized abortion from those who lean towards the "person" side.

Well, now we finally know where Megan McArdle stands on the feminist and abortion issues. She thinks men should be able to make women's decisions for them. She definitively outs herself as a typical conservative woman with typical conservative opinions regarding a woman's place, herself excepted of course. McArdle's opinion is exactly the same as Mrs. Heartland or Mrs. Alaskan Hockey Mom, or Mrs. Tuscaloosa Teenage Mother--women should let men write the laws that determine their medical choices, and make it illegal for the woman to make her own medical choice. Miss Mary Margaret Catherine O'Leary McArdle, who swears by the blood and soul of her lobbyist daddy that government interference in your health care will kill millions of people, wants--nay, demands!--that in this one special little instance, for this one special little reason, in this one special little body part--there the government can control and enslave!!!11!! your body. All man parts are off limits, of course, only female parts can be subjected to government control. Of course.

This allows them to spend 1,000 words or so having a completely irrelevant discussion of the disparate effects of the Stupak amendment on poor women, arguing that women's reproductive health care is too real health care, and similarly unrelated side points.

So much for actually addressing the issues brought up by the other, liberal, feminist side, the side that Megan McArdle has thoroughly proven that she rejects in favor of Ann Coulter and Phyllis Schlafly and all those other elderly, bouffant-ed women who shoot guns and walk behind their man, unless their man is Dick Cheney with a gun, in which case they'll crawl real close to the ground and hope he doesn't think they're a quail trying to hobble away on its clipped wings.

Memo to authors: you could prove beyond a shadow of a doubt that women's health care is important, that this has a hugely disparate impact on women, that it will result in more women carrying unplanned pregnancies to term, etc . . . and that still wouldn't make a majority of the country want to pay for other peoples' abortions out of their tax dollars.

Then it's a shame that conservatives, of which McArdle is one, effeed up the economy and lost the election and now don't get to nominate Baby Jesus to the Supreme Court.

Moreover, there is near-perfect overlap between the group of people who most fervently desires a national health care system, and the group of people who are "strong" supporters of abortion rights (don't want them to be illegal at any time for any reason). This group thus has zero bargaining power, because at the end of the day, they are not going to walk away from this bill. The pro-lifers can and will.

Yes, that's a splendid idea. Tell your constituents that you're going to reject health insurance reform and let them get dropped when they need coverage because the Pope thinks every sperm is sacred.

(And no, you cannot get around this by arguing that the Catholic Church/evangelical liberals should care as much about the people who die from lack of health care as the fetuses killed by abortions. Last time I looked, there were over 1 million abortions a year in the United States. The most methodologically shoddy, activist-induced statistics on the number who die from lack of health insurance is 44,000, and the real number is much lower. The abortion statistics, on the other hand, are carefully collected numbers from a pro-choice group. Even if you only value a fetus as 1/20th of a person, the fetuses win.)

See, if we stack up 20 fetuses and compare them to one young woman dying for lack of care, the fetuses win! And all the people who cared about the young woman don't count, because we were able to force a bunch of young woman to give birth to babies they didn't want. So rather than being forced to pay a couple of hundred for an abortion, we are now forced to pay tens of thousands for the mother's medical care, delivery, and support for the child! Because typical conservatives like McArdle just love to give their hard-earned dollars (or easy blogging dollars) to the poor!

(By the way, someone might want to tell the American Journal of Public Health that a "journalist" with a large audience is calling their work "shoddy, activist-induced statistics." I'm sure their lawyers would love to have a word with the Atlantic's lawyers if the latter's writers are going to libel them in the national press.)

Moreover, abortion rights aren't really a good reason to walk away from this bill. The women who genuinely can't afford $500 bucks for an abortion are the women closest to the poverty line. Those women will be covered by Medicare, and they won't get abortion coverage anyway in most states. The women who will be buying insurance on the exchanges presumably mostly do not have health insurance now, and thus are losing nothing if their new insurance doesn't cover abortions.

The Joint Committee on Taxation does estimate that approximately 3 million people will exit employer-based health insurance for the exchanges, but almost certainly the majority of them will be people who are unlikely to be in need of abortion services, which are overwhelmingly consumed by a minority of women in a pretty narrow age band. Right now only 13% of abortions are currently paid for by private insurance.

See, the only people getting screwed are poor women, so it's okay. Really. Miss McArdle says so. Oh, wait--maybe some middle-class women will get screwed over too, but that's okay. It's only 13%. It's not like McArdle will ever need an emergency D&C to save her life, and if she does, well, I'm sure the percentage of such deaths is very small, and McArdle's death will be statistically irrelevant. Much like her life.

If insurers do take abortion services out of their coverage, then according to the model used by the CBO and the JCT, that will reduce the price of insurance, and that money will flow back into paychecks.

Because businesses love to let money flow into paychecks. Can't wait for that Abortion Surplus Bonus Money!

Obviously, I am not saying that feminists shouldn't worry whether women will be denied access to abortion if this passes.

Wow, that's a neat trick. I wonder if I could pull off such a brilliant 3-point maneuver? "The death penalty is wrong. I will not pay for executions. Obviously, I am not saying that we should end the death penalty." Damn! It just sounds stupid when I do it. It must be because I'm not being paid by a prestigious magazine to practice punitification before the eager public.

But the number of people who are going to lose access that they currently have, and therefore be forced to carry a pregnancy to term, is not likely to be all that large. We're mostly talking about a modest number of women who will have to hand over several hundred dollars that they would really rather spend elsewhere. The very small number of women who currently have access to abortion services, and will lose them, and cannot get together a few hundred dollars for an abortion in time--those women can easily be taken care of if everyone who is outraged by this makes a small donation to Planned Parenthood.

You could have had an abortion if you didn't buy that expensive handbag or go to Paris on vacation, you slut. Now aren't you sorry you didn't practice financial planning as well as family planning?

So I don't get the outsized reaction to all this--I mean, outside the professional interest groups, who of course are contractually obligated to get outraged about everything. Fears that women will lose their current access to abortion often seem to be muddled together with frustration at not being able to expand access to abortion. But anyone who was not seriously entangled in an opaque ideological cocoon could see that using government funds to help expand access to abortion was never. going. to. happen. More people are against it than for it, and they're in a stronger bargaining position.

I wouldn't mind the complaining so much except for one thing; it's actually absorbing the energy, and media attention, that should be used to debate a real setback for women's reproductive health: the current Senate bill apparently does not include routine gynecological care in its basic package of required services.

Yes, why should women have equal access to care when the insurance companies can just decline to pay for any health care that's woman-related or that they deem immoral? Who could possibly argue with that kind of manipulation and bigotry? You're just ideological if you don't agree with McArdle's ideology!

Regular pap smears are the reason that cervical cancer is no longer a leading killer of women, and the exams can also help detect other problems that menace women's health and fertility. Most of the women who leave their employer plans for the exchanges won't be getting abortions--but most of them should be getting annual exams. Why not focus the movement's energy on something with a prayer of actually changing these bills for the better?

Because one is under attack and the other isn't?

Well, at least we all know where McArdle stand now. She's Kathryn Jean Lopez, elongated and with a non-Catholic degree. Poor thing. McArdle wants so badly to be a hip and trendy and intellectual member of the Smart Set, but it's the one thing she cannot buy.

Mr. Relevant

Shorter Ross Douthat: Jesus Christ on a pogo stick, what does a manly intellectual have to do to get noticed around here? God is a conservative, do you hear me? He gives life, that's conservative! And America is conservative! Just look, people are being forced to spend less money--that's conservative! And see that woman over there? She's pregnant and that means she's conservative too! And that rock--it never changes! Conservative! You too, young people! You'll be conservative too some day! Come back here! I'm not done speaking, whippersnappers!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Peace Process

When it comes to the threat of war, we are very impatient.

The U.S. envoy to the IAEA, Ambassador Glynn Davies, said in Vienna on Friday that international patience with Iran was running out and that "round after round" of fruitless talks could not continue.

Speaking to reporters in Washington later, the U.S. official said the vote showed "unity of purpose" among major international powers on Iran, and repeated that time was growing short for Tehran to come clean about a nuclear program that Western governments fear is aimed at producing nuclear weapons. Iran denies the charge.

The official declined to be drawn on what sort of consequences were being contemplated, although British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said harsher sanctions could be on the way if Iran ignored the IAEA vote.

U.S. President Barack Obama and European leaders have given Iran until the end of the year to begin talks on the nuclear stalemate.

Once we are actually spending billions and losing thousands of lives, the impatience suddenly evaporates.

Obama is likely to add at least 30,000 to a force that will total 100,000 in Afghanistan. An equal number will remain in Iraq, meaning last year's anti-war candidate will ironically have more soldiers in harm's way - 200,000 - than Bush did at the height of the Iraq "surge."

And don't call this boost a "surge" because insiders know that's a misnomer.

It will be an escalation without any plan on the horizon to draw down the additional forces, like in Iraq.

[Peter] Bergen says the extra troops can secure more roads and pockets thick with Taliban in the next two years, but ending the war "is a long-term project."

It's not just how many boots are on the ground, it's how they're used.

That's why many strategists are embracing the idea of hiring Pashtun tribal militias or embedding Special Forces to "go native" for years and win tribal allies by spilling blood with them side by side.

But the wisest ideas all involve facing the hard truth that we will be in the fight for many more years amid polls that show the public - American and Afghan - losing patience.

That hard dose of reality required to win gives the enemy plenty of ammo in the meantime for their propaganda denouncing Americans as occupiers who refuse to leave.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Broken Heel

Bwahahaha. Matt Taibbi points out a few facts to Mr. and Mrs. American Tea-Bagger.

What the people who are flipping out about the treatment of Palin should be asking themselves is what it means when it’s not just jerks like us [in the media] but everybody piling on against Palin. For those of you who can’t connect the dots, I’ll tell you what it means. It means she’s been cut loose. It means that all five of the families have given the okay to this hit job, including even the mainstream Republican leaders. You teabaggers are in the process of being marginalized by your own ostensible party leaders in exactly the same way the anti-war crowd was abandoned by the Democratic party elders in the earlier part of this decade. Like the antiwar left, you have been deemed a threat to your own party’s “winnability.”

And do you know what that means? That means that just as the antiwar crowd spent years being painted by the national press as weepy, unpatriotic pussies whose enthusiastic support is toxic to any serious presidential aspirant, so too will all of you afternoon-radio ignoramuses who seem bent on spending the next three years kicking and screaming your way up the eternal asshole of white resentment now find yourself and your political champions painted as knee-jerk loonies whose rabid irrationality is undeserving of the political center. And yes, that’s me saying that, but I’ve always been saying that, not just about Palin but about George Bush and all your other moron-heroes.

What’s different now is who else is saying it. You had these people eating out of the palms of your hands (remember what it was like in the Dixie Chicks days?). Now they’re all drawing horns and Groucho mustaches on your heroes, and rapidly transitioning you from your previous political kingmaking role in the real world to a new role as a giant captive entertainment demographic that exists solely to be manipulated for ratings and ad revenue. What you should be asking yourself is why this is happening to you. Even I don’t know the answer to that question, but honestly, I don’t really care. All I know is that I find it extremely funny.

I think Palin will be used like the tea-baggers--as needed, for a specific goal--but this stage of the game is, indeed, pretty damn funny.

Death Panel

Once again, Megan McArdle's commenters do the hard work of refuting her absurd claims, saving me the effort. McArdle hysterically claims that Medicare will bankrupt the US, Medicare can never cut costs, health care reform can never cut costs, and the US is headed towards bankruptcy no matter what. Several links and WTF?s later, McArdle's argument lay slowing bleeding to death, calling for its Mother.

Monday, November 23, 2009

"It's the stupidest tea-party I ever was at in all my life!'"

The table was a large one, but the three were all crowded together at one corner of it: `No room! No room!' they cried out when they saw Alice coming. `There's PLENTY of room!' said Alice indignantly, and she sat down in a large arm-chair at one end of the table.

Ross Douthat complains that Obama is good at pretending to be a wonk and pretending to be a celebrity, but Republicans like Mike Huckabee and Sarah Palin are only good at pretending to be celebrities. They are not Serious because they don't pay any attention to Serious people, like Douthat.
This means that there are substantial political rewards awaiting the politician who becomes the voice of an intellectually vigorous conservatism. It probably won’t be Mike Huckabee or Sarah Palin. If Republicans are lucky, though, it will be somebody who shares their charisma — but who prefers the responsibilities of leadership to the pleasures of celebrity.

`Really, now you ask me,' said Alice, very much confused, `I don't think--'

`Then you shouldn't talk,' said the Hatter.

Douthat still is not willing to concede defeat. The intellectual wing of the Republican party, represented by well-educated idiots like Douthat, battled the tea-party wing, represented by four-inch red high heels and the idiot wearing them--and lost. The corporate leadership obviously noticed that the public no longer cares if its candidates are competent, as long as they can imagine having a beer, or perhaps a week-end in Vegas, with the them. The intellectual aspect of the party proved to be entirely optional, much like Palin's brains. Therefore the intellectual wing was jettisoned for simple-minded talking points and whatever position Dick Armey has been hired to push at the next tea party. And Douthat is left to moralize all alone, his angry God rejected for the hope of lower taxes and one last shot at the prom queen.

`Have some wine,' the March Hare said in an encouraging tone.

Alice looked all round the table, but there was nothing on it but tea. `I don't see any wine,' she remarked.

`There isn't any,' said the March Hare.

`Then it wasn't very civil of you to offer it,' said Alice angrily.

`It wasn't very civil of you to sit down without being invited,' said the March Hare.

`I didn't know it was YOUR table,' said Alice; `it's laid for a great many more than three.'

`Your hair wants cutting,' said the Hatter. He had been looking at Alice for some time with great curiosity, and this was his first speech.

`You should learn not to make personal remarks,' Alice said with some severity; `it's very rude.'

How have the winners in this valiant struggle dealt with their new responsibility? They are busy ReFounding the country by fighting over money and jockeying for power.
In October, Amy Kremer, a founder and top staffer for the Tea Party Patriots (whose activists swarmed health care town halls last summer) was forced out of the group for joining a second, more "moderate" Tea Party organization -- the Tea Party Express. Now, the Tea Party Patriots have filed a lawsuit against Kremer and issued a temporary restraining order because she tried to lock down TPP resources on her way out.

Dave Weigel, who has been reporting on this story since it began, noted in October the growing friction between the Tea Party Patriots and the Tea Party Express. The Tea Party Patriots is a grassroots organization, while the Tea Party Express is a more corporate "astroturf" offshoot of the conservative Our Country Deserves Better PAC....

Let's see, one side has Koch oil and gas money, the other has passion and patriotism and carries their lunch in the bottom shelf of the stroller, next to the spare diapers and sippie cups of juice. I wonder who could possibly come out on top?

Some tea partiers keep themselves busy threatening to shoot fellow tea-partiers (that must be a Republican thing), and accusing a mother of lying about her dead daughter and grandchild.. This is the party of morals and values, you know.

A bright idea came into Alice's head. `Is that the reason so many tea-things are put out here?' she asked.

`Yes, that's it,' said the Hatter with a sigh: `it's always tea-time, and we've no time to wash the things between whiles.'

`Then you keep moving round, I suppose?' said Alice.

`Exactly so,' said the Hatter: `as the things get used up.'

`But what happens when you come to the beginning again?' Alice ventured to ask.

`Suppose we change the subject,' the March Hare interrupted, yawning. `I'm getting tired of this.

Some guy at Cato, the libertarian think tank, thinks the Republican party is at fault, not the tea baggers.
The question, therefore, is not whether Tea Party conservatism is a help or a hazard for Republicans seeking a return to power? To the contrary, it is whether the Republican Party is a help or a hindrance to the Tea Party movement? It will be a help only if it returns to its roots. The mainstream media, overwhelmingly of the Democratic persuasion, will continue to push Republicans to be “moderate,” of course – meaning “Democrat Lite” — to which the proper response is: Why would voters go for that when they can get the real thing on the Democratic line? If Tuesday’s returns showed anything, it is that Independents, a truly mixed lot, are up for grabs; but at the same time, they are looking for leaders who promise not simply to “solve problems” but to do so in a way that respects our traditions of individual liberty, free markets, and limited government. When Republican candidates stand clearly and firmly for those principles, they stand a far better chance of being elected than when they temporize. That is the lesson that Republicans must grasp — and not forget — if they are to return to power.

The Texas Republican tea partiers, bless their hearts, are far too stupid to be corralled under anything as organized and coherent as a real tea bagging event. In true Texas fashion they are shooting anything that moves and hoping against hope that they hit something and can feed the young-uns when winter comes.
Canyon Clowdus thinks Americans “have less freedom and pay more taxes than ever.”

“We need more John Wayne and Jesus in Washington,” the Marble Falls rancher and businessman declares.

Clowdus is just the kind of grass-roots activist that national Republican leaders sought to fire up in the Tea Party movement that has spread across Texas in energetic rallies and heated town hall confrontations. Now, the 40-year-old Army veteran is seeking to unseat an incumbent congressman whom he calls a profligate spender.

Just one problem: Clowdus, an avid Tea Party loyalist, is running in the Republican primary against a Republican incumbent, Rep. Mike Conaway of Midland.

Across Texas, at least five Tea Party activists have announced their candidacies for U.S. House and Senate seats.

“If you are going to have a throw-the-bums-out (mentality),” said Matt Angle, director of the Lone Star Project, a Democratic group, “the bums (in Texas) are the Republicans.”

In Texas, they shoot themselves in the face.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Doughy, Happy People

Jonah Goldberg has done a lot of foul things in his time, but smearing his Snickers-covered hands over Angel is one of the worst. He's a little boy in a manpire's world.

Thursday, November 19, 2009


Megan McArdle defends payday loans. You don't want to know the details.

The Usefulness of Sarah Palin

One of Megan's commenters makes some very interesting points about Sarah Palin, with which I totally agree.
America’s elite and Palin-haters worldwide should not be so quick to dismiss or disregard the future of Sarah Palin. No other national political figure so completely fills Middle America’s vacuum of frustration and hate for the Left and Right as Sarah Palin.

In a way, these people are wiser than any partisan. They realize that both sides are doing very little to help the middle and lower classes. They just can't figure out who to blame or who will rescue them.
Middle America has been abandoned by the Left and Right, who have saddled it with a $700 billion taxpayer bailout, an unnecessary and costly war, a soaring deficit, and an overall neglect of the pocketbook issues that impact Middle America every day. Where are job creation, quality public education, affordable health care, and fiscal responsibility, to name a few?

Middle America is mad as hell at the Left and Right and they just might be willing to roll the dice on someone like Palin, who lacks an Ivy League education, is a working class hockey-mom with a disabled child, and who has blue-collar roots like many of the folks in Middle America. The status quo on the Left and Right have produced nothing material for Middle America, which may toss conventional wisdom into the toilet and throw the lever for Palin, figuring it has nothing to lose, and it may be right.

The Ivy League educated on the Left and Right have delivered little to nothing for Middle America, perhaps precisely because they are out of touch with the issues that someone like Palin understands personally.

"Middle America" does not look beyond the surface, and rejects anything it does not want to see. Palin's followers have an almost transcendent ability to explain away Palin's weaknesses. Desperate people will go with the leader who seems to understand them and fills their emotional needs.
However, to say that Palin is a salmon swimming upstream is an understatement. The results of a CBS News survey released Monday indicate that 66 percent of respondents do not want her to run for the White House in 2012. Seventy percent of respondents to a CNN/Opinion Research poll said she is not qualified to be president.

More difficult for Palin is the fact that the trend is not her friend—public opinion is moving in the wrong direction right now.

In the CBS survey, 43 percent of GOP respondents said Palin would have the ability to be an effective president. Only 11 percent of Democrats and 29 percent of independents agreed.

However, there is an opportunity for Palin among independents, where Palin’s rating is 41 percent favorable, and 48 percent unfavorable, according to Gallup.

These numbers are not great, but there is plenty of time if she can move the needle by appealing to Middle America and independents, which is where elections are won or lost.

Clearly, Palin has put the monkey on her back, especially with her resignation from Alaska’s governorship in July, a self-inflicted wound that will be difficult to explain away. However, don’t put it past Palin to put lipstick on this pig and paint herself as a victim of politically motivated and baseless ethics charges that prevented her from successfully serving the people of Alaska, forcing her to do the noble thing and take the bullet by resigning.

It's pretty easy to lie to people. They are very reluctant to challenge the word of someone who is given authority.
We can say what we want about Palin, but no Republican in recent history has created such frenzied excitement across the country as she has. Just take a look at the fervor she stirs as she wheels across Middle America on her book tour.

Perhaps this is a misreading of the tea leaves, but one could argue that she creates a wee bit more excitement than Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee, the two Republican front-runners for president in 2012. In the land of the blind, the one-eyed woman just may be queen.

A. Muser

See this comment below, in which a No Tax For The Rich advocate throws his support behind Palin, who would serve corporate interests very well. She is an idiot, but she is a very, very useful idiot.

Also, heh.

Lemmy Caution (Replying to: AmericanMuser) November 19, 2009 3:21 AM
I liked conservatism a lot more when conservatives were elitist, overeducated snobs, rather than angry, resentful populists.

The participants are the same, only the image has changed. Palin is in the right place at the right time, and her image would serve the needs of the elite.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Morality Of Thrift

As part of her continuing effort to shift blame onto individuals for our present financial difficulties, Megan McArdle writes about financial self-help guru Dave Ramsey.

Ramsey offers some investment advice (much of which would have struck horror in my business-school professors), but for most of his followers, the main attraction is a simple program: give 10 percent of your income to charity, save 15 percent for retirement, build up a sizable emergency stash and a college fund for your kids, and above all, stop borrowing money. Ramsey devotees pay cash for everything they can. They are allowed only one exception to the no-more-debt rule: a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage. He is so serious about shunning debt that his Web site takes only debit cards; try to pay with a Capital One Visa, and the system rejects the card, then tut-tuts at you. These simple, austere, unbreakable rules are, as Ramsey likes to say, “the advice that God and Grandma gave you.”

Most things sound a lot crazier from the outside, and so once I’d decided to write about the friendly, slightly bombastic man on the television screen, I thought I should try his program, as outlined in his book The Total Money Makeover. At the beginning of August, I had dutifully sat down with Peter, my fiancĂ©, to draft a budget. Once we’d given every dollar a name (as the book puts it), I drove to the bank and withdrew 1,800 of them. Huddled over the wheel to hide this stupendous wad of cash from prying eyes, I doled out the money among various envelopes for groceries, parking, entertainment, clothing, and so on, as recommended by Ramsey—and, funnily enough, by my grandmother, who invented a nearly identical system to manage my grandfather’s meager earnings from delivering groceries during the Great Depression.

And P. Suderman's contribution was...? It's hard to calculate McArdle's Money Morality Level without knowing if she's budgeting for one or two. It's either $450 a week or $225, for food, clothing and entertainment. That's not too bad for a professional, but is still a lot of money. Surely she could have a cheaper car, take the subway, or carpool? As for food, we know she is not too proud to shop at a big box store, believes in making sandwiches for work and has cut down on dining out, so how much could two busy professionals spend on food?

Sticking to a budget had its humiliations.

It’s also hard to spend cash, because so many people look at you funny when you try. The very first day, I spent almost 20 minutes trying to check out in the “better dresses” section of a department store. The saleslady stared at the hundred-dollar bill in her palm as if I’d just handed her an eel. After a series of plaintive looks at my obviously card-free wallet, she started stabbing at the cash-register keyboard with a sort of bleak despair. To my immense surprise and relief—and clearly, also to hers—the cash drawer eventually opened.

According to conservatives, every store clerk in the US is a drama queen, quivering with emotion under the stern yet commonsense gaze of sturdy, competent conservatives. Yet McArdle handed the clerk paper money anyway, demonstrating her moral resolve and social courage, as the clerk managed to gird her loins, conquer her despair, and hand brave, brave McArdle her change and receipt.

Obviously stylish clothing is very important to McArdle*, but why can't she give up "better" dresses for Commonsense Conservative dresses? Does she think she's "better" than everyone else? Maybe, as her commenters might say, she is overspending on clothing in a futile attempt to regain her lost youth because she has a younger mate.

Several paragraphs follow in which McArdle confesses her greed and ideology gave her permission to spend beyond her means and she graduated a hundred grand in debt. More paragraphs tell us that debt can be bad, and people sometimes spend too much. McArdle tells us Ramsey has nothing but scorn for people like her, and that facts back up his teachings that expensive schools don't necessarily translate into higher earnings. McArdle, who reveals that she is still paying her student loans at the age of 37 but hopes to pay them off in a few years, rejects Ramsey's conclusion.

But there is also evidence to the contrary; and what nice upper-middle-class family is willing to, well, gamble with their child’s financial future?

And that evidence would be where...? Based on...? By...?

McArdle rejects one more aspect of Ramsey's program; its evangelism.

Though I did take the audio CD of Ramsey’s personal witness being handed out free at the exit, I’m afraid that Jesus and I aren’t really any better acquainted than we were before. Nonetheless, Ramsey has made a convert out of a secular journalist with one of the pricey M.B.A.s he likes to poke fun at. I have never felt as serenely in control of my finances as I have during these months of knowing that every single dollar is where it is supposed to be: either in the bank, or on a well-chaperoned date with our envelope organizer. The process has been surprisingly painless but, even more surprisingly, pleasant.

So, except for mortgaging her 20s and 30s for a useless education, not following his advice to hand your life over to Jesus (and probably the tithing advice as well), and using credit cards, McArdle finds Ramsey's philosophy to be very useful. It might even eliminate some of her competition.

On the other hand, Americans aren’t going to fix our national financial problems until a lot more people decide to drop out of the “normal” competition to see who can borrow the most money in order to bid on a fixed number of homes in affluent school districts and places at selective colleges. You don’t need to be a Christian to look for a better way. Even an unbeliever knew enough to listen up when he saw the bright light on the road to Damascus.

Why did McArdle ignore Ramsey's advice on using credit cards? That's another story.

*h/t Nutella on Toast

Madam President

This is the significance of Sarah Palin: She is the Authority for the far right wingnuttia. Several things are necessary for success when dealing with authoritarians. They include a person to act as figurehead, who might or might not be the actual authority. A code of conduct is necessary, which will consist of characteristics that the authority wants the group to have. Those characteristics will provide an identity for the group's followers and a means of identifying other members of the group. To identify members one must identify non-members. The group must be superior to the non-group for everyone wants to feel good about themselves, and one way authoritarian leaders ensure obedience is by demonizing the Other, declaring them to be evil and dangerous. Rejecting the authority's code of conduct and beliefs means risking expulsion from the group, which would mean the follower would no longer have an identity, group, or moral superiority.

I think that if Palin seems to be a winner, most of the authoritarian right will back her, because associating themselves with winners to feel good about themselves is a major factor in their make-up. Almost everything else is secondary. But they don't pick the candidates, the authoritarian leaders do, and we need to determine their goals to determine their future actions. They have stolen as much as they can, so the next big push will probably be the elimination of their expenses. The goal of the tea-party right is to eliminate taxes and benefits, as described by Freedomworks, led by Dick Armey and funded by the Koch family. "Dedicated to Social Security reform, repeal of the Death Tax, tax cuts in general, and limiting the size and scope of government," their website says. The next president will be the candidate who promises to end taxes for the rich, and that might actually be Sarah Palin.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Starburst Central

The National Review has its own little Palin section now. This is going to be fun.

Wage Slaves

Shorter Megan McArdle: Shift all the tax-paying burden onto individuals.

You know, I think she's starting to convince me. I know I've said different in the past--that after corporations steal all the money they can get their hands on they'll eliminate all benefits for others and taxes for themselves, then force Americans to work for third world wages--but it's all starting to make sense.

The American government loves debt. It offers special tax breaks to interest payments-mortgage interest, if you're a person; all interest, if you're a firm. This has a number of pernicious effects. On the personal level, it's a gift to home sellers--as we've seen with the homeowner's tax credit, any special break you give to home buyers tends to end up in the pockets of home sellers, as the buyers bid up the price to their maximum affordable net monthly cost. On the corporate side, it privileges debt over equity financing. In both cases, it adds considerable risk, since the fixed debt payment schedule may not match up with the flow of income.

The corporations deserve all the money. If people have money then they will be to pay for things, and the prices of those things will rise. This will hurt the poor, who now can only afford cheap goods from low-paying corporations. Therefore all tax burden must be shifted to individuals, so corporations will not be over-taxed.

[T]o drag out my regular hobby-horse, it's an even better reason for getting rid of the corporate income tax entirely, along with the special tax rates for capital gains and dividends. Tax income once, when it's distributed to the owners, and then tax that income just like any other kind of income, regardless of source, so that Paris Hilton pays a higher rate on her corporate-derived income than your middle-class grandmother. Then let companies decide which mode of financing makes the most sense for their capital structure, rather than their tax bill.

And corporations must not pay taxes because Paris Hilton has too much money to spend.

I wonder if any of McArdle's descendents ancestors were indentured servants. She seems to be doing her damnest to return to that blissful state. If people should be able to sell their organs, why not their freedom? It's the Free Market thing to do. What's a little slavery amongst friends, when so many wealthy elite can benefit?

UPDATE: McArdle adds that while she has just said that one reason to eliminate corporate tax is because they'll just find a way to evade it, individuals will not be able to evade their own taxes. Because they won't.


No Megan McArdle posts yet, so I will have to return later to see what the little scamp has been up to this weekend. Meeting the in-laws perhaps? It must be interesting to marry into a tea-bagging tribe. Would they spend the entire weekend telling you why they believe baby-sitting grandchildren for free is theft of services?

President Jane Six-Pack

It seems the only person not surprised by Sarah Palin's meteoric rise to fame is Sarah Palin.
Ms. Palin herself had a surprisingly nonchalant reaction to Mr. McCain’s initial phone call about the vice president’s slot, writing that she was not astonished, that it felt “like a natural progression.”

Ms. Palin suggests that she and her husband, Todd, are ideally qualified to represent the Joe Six-Packs of the world because they are Joe Six-Packs themselves. “We know what it’s like to be on a tight budget and wonder how we’re going to pay for our own health care, let alone college tuition,” she writes in “Going Rogue.” “We know what it’s like to work union jobs, to be blue-collar, white-collar, to have our kids in public schools. We felt our very normalcy, our status as ordinary Americans, could be a much-needed fresh breeze blowing into Washington, D.C.”

Where did this enormous sense of entitlement come from? Her natural progression from city councilwoman to mayor to governor to vice presidential candidate only seems inevitable if you utterly ignore her actual experiences in those offices. It was enough to be crowned, Palin sees actually working the job to be utterly irrelevant. But while Sarah Palin sees her progression to the White House as inevitable, Jane Six-Pack feels she could do just as good a job as an educated, experienced person, because she is "normal." There are not many normal Americans who feel that they are entitled to high office, or qualified to run the country.

In a sense Palin is right. All she needs to do is read the material the lobbyists hand her and do what her campaign contributors tell her to do. They'll do all the thinking for her. Any other decisions will come from the gut, based on personal beliefs and emotional needs.

Friday, November 13, 2009


In "Public Service Announcement," Megan McArdle advertises Doctor Who, for sale on Amazon. I'm more of a Star Trek/Stargate woman myself, but to each her own.

Wait a second. I seem to remember something from about a year ago---
Fred October 27, 2008 10:05 AM
Perhaps you should point out you make commission from that [Amazon] link, no?

Megan McArdle October 27, 2008 10:33 AM
I've been completely open about the fact that I use an associates account, Fred; that's where I get the money to buy the books I read. I've also never recommended anything I didn't genuinely love using it. If you'd rather support another blogger by clicking through their associates link, please do.

Completely open if you read her work every day and remember her admission in comments a year ago. But she's very big on journalism ethics, remember.

It's a little thing, but with the holidays coming up, McArdle again might link to many expensive items to buy on Amazon. With complete openness, of course.

Men and Money

Forget women. Nobody cares what happens to them anyway. (By "nobody" I mean anybody with power.) Let's talk about men.

The problem with feminism is that it concentrates on women. That is very foolish. Nobody--I say again--gives a crap about women. Feminists must concentrate on men, the only people who are real people, as opposed to pretend, not-quite-people people. You know, women.

How do men suffer under the present system? (They are the only ones that count, you know.) Quixote at Shakesville points out that if our ruling class can take away women's rights they can take away men's rights, but civil rights violations are a means, not an end. The Stupak amendment does something much more interesting than that--it found a way to deny a portion of health care coverage for half the population for moral reasons. Morality! What a scam! Just get a few bishops--who owe you big for ignoring the cover-up of the rape of children, another powerless group--to give you moral justification to deny health care! It's brilliant!

And even more brilliant is the aftermath. Woman, in turn, are protesting the coverage of drugs like Viagra, and soon insurance companies can deny payment for those incredibly popular pills too! Corporations can play the public like violins, pitting priests against women, women against men, adults against children, young adults against the old. It'll work like a charm. Half the world is just dying to deny rights to the other half, and corporations can save a fortune.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Texas Tea

We must have an uninterrupted flow of oil at a reasonable price to maintain our economy as it is. (Or rather, was.) Our society is based on oil--for manufacturing, transportation, agriculture and more. Therefore it is not only expected but necessary that we have enough control over oil-rich areas to get that oil. If we can't buy it we have to take it. We don't have a choice. Millions will suffer without it.

And hey, if it must happen, why not make some money off of it? Someone's going to, might as well be, oh, say, Peter Gilbraith as anyone else, right? It's for the good of the country and a person can do a lot of good with a hundred million dollars. Or a lot of models. You have to be open to helping anyone and blonds need help too.

It's not like we left Afghanistan and invaded Iraq for the oil, of course. Sure, we agreed to leave, more or less, right after we opened Iraq for foreign oil investment, but the two had nothing to do with each other. Just like our threats against Iran have nothing to do with oil. We're in the middle east because that's where the terrorists are. Sure, they're in Southeast Asia too, and Egypt and some places in South America and a few areas of the USA even, but one has priorities and Iraq just happened to come first.

From the blog of Antonia Juhasz
Kucinich on Supplemental: It's about Oil

Congressman Dennis Kucinich's Office
May 11th, 2007

WASHINGTON, D.C. (May 10) - Congressman Dennis Kucinich (D-OH)
released the following statement after the passage of the U.S. Troop
Readiness, Veterans' Care, Katrina Recovery, and Iraq Accountability
Appropriations Act of 2007:
"There has been a broad deception about the content of the hydrocarbon
law, a deception which has taken in members of Congress and the media.
Misdescribed tactically as a revenue sharing plan, it is in fact a
radical plan to privatize Iraq's oil.

"The law before the Iraq Parliament contains 3 vague lines about
revenue sharing and 33 solid pages of a complex legal restructuring,
facilitating the privatization of Iraq's oil resources. The sharing
will not be 1/3 of 100%. The sharing is more likely to be 1/3 of 20%
at most, after private oil interests take their cut. The stage is
being set for theft on a historic scale.

"Iraq may have as much as 300 billion barrels of oil to be tapped. At
a market value of $70 a barrel, the value of its oil may approach $21

"In the past twenty four hours the Vice President made an
extraordinary trip to Baghdad to urge the Iraqi Parliament to stay in
session to pass a "hydrocarbon law" which provides for "revenue
sharing." Today, President Bush explicitly mentioned that he could
come to an agreement if it included a benchmark for "sharing oil
reserves." This is the tone of the legislation which the House passed

"The legislative debate between the Congressional Democrats and the
Republicans misses the point of the key issue regarding the invasion,
occupation and long term US presence in Iraq - - oil.

"The attempted theft of the oil assets of Iraq under the guise of a
plan to end the war will keep the war going long into the future.

"This is the time to be taking steps to end the U.S. occupation,
stabilize Iraq, and give Iraqis full control of their oil assets."


Shorter Megan McArdle: Being unable to choose to have an abortion is pro-choice.

Longer Megan McArdle [In response to someone who says women who don't want abortions now might change their minds later if they need one]:

Actually, no, at this point a majority of women in this country are old enough that it would either be impossible, or extraordinarily unlikely, for them to conceive. Some of the women of reproductive age are either infertile, or have had themselves sterilized. Others are lesbians, or long-term virgins. So in fact, at best you can argue that we've thrown a small minority of the population "under the bus".

And that's perfectly okay, because the number of people who need abortions is small and as we know from the health care debate, it's okay if a minority suffers as long as the majority is happy.

And as a response, this seems to trivialize the preferences of pro-life women in a way that I find pretty disturbing from feminists. In what other area of life is it okay to pat the little lady on the head and tell her that she doesn't really want what she says she wants, because she might regret it later? Feminists get righteously angry when pro-lifers attack abortion rights on the grounds that a significant minority of women later regret having one--or when doctors won't tie our tubes, or give us IUDs, or otherwise allow us to make permanent choices about sexuality. We don't regard virtually everyone's preferences for laws against murder, rape, burglary, embezzlement, etc as somehow inauthentic because some minority of us will violate those laws. And as it happens, the rate of abortion seems to be pretty strongly inversely correlated with having pro-life views, at least at the state-by-state level.

So having an abortion is murder. Okay. There is a life and the woman is ending that life. So McArdle must be anti-abortion, right? Anti-murder? Against the slaughter of innocent baby cells by their mothers? Throw the murderers in jail, mother and doctor both?

Obviously, since I'm pro-choice, I think you can argue against abortion control in many effective ways.

What??? McArdle is pro-murder? I am shocked, shocked and appalled!

But this is not one of them--at least not if you hew to the feminist notion that women are entitled to their own choices and preferences as individuals, not lumped in with some vast undifferentiated mass of women who all want the same thing.

So if you think abortion should be legal and women should be able to choose to have an abortion, you are denying women choice. The choice to not have an abortion. Which they always had anyway. Of course that makes no sense at all. The anti-choice women are being denied the legal rights to prevent others from having an abortion. They are being forbidden from making the choice for someone else. Women (and men) only get to make that choice for themselves, they do not get to make that choice for other people.

Obviously, since I'm pro-choice, I think you can argue against abortion control in many effective ways. But this is not one of them--at least not if you hew to the feminist notion that women are entitled to their own choices and preferences as individuals, not lumped in with some vast undifferentiated mass of women who all want the same thing.

By giving each woman the right to make her own choice, we are denying women (and men) the right to make the choice for others. McArdle thinks this is wrong.

She's a libertarian, you know. At least she seems to think so.

Do you know what's another choice that anti-choice people want to be able to make? Birth control. Sometimes that's murder too, and even when it isn't it's still a right that some want to take away from women for religious reasons. Some birth control works after the egg is fertilized. The egg is as much a baby as a eight-and-a-half-month-old fetus--given time, they will both become people. Some pills prevents the egg from implanting in the womb, and the teeny weeny itsy bitsy baby is flushed down the toilet. It's obviously murder, and as we are handing out human rights like Halloween candy, some people will say that all women should be denied the right to take birth control. It'll only affect a few women anyway--those who are fertile, having sex and don't want to have a child right then. Just because McArdle might want or not want a child until later doesn't mean she should be permitted to have sex and use birth control. It's murder, you know, and a lot of people are being deprived of their right to taken away others' rights right now as we speak.

Since McArdle believes that minority rights should be ignored when someone wants to take them away, I, a baptised Catholic, have decided that Megan McArdle can no longer take birth control. I expect her to hand over her pills to me right now and inform me of all her sexual choices when they arise so I can make them for her. Let's see, we'll need to discuss her living in sin arrangement first. And a complete run-down of her personal life choices if we're to make her sexual reproductive choices for her.

Or we can make our own choices based on our own needs and let everyone else do the same. If abortion should not be permitted, outlaw it and throw the violators in jail. (That includes the middle and upper class too, of course.) Otherwise the religious panty-sniffers and hankie-waving middle-class libertarians can just butt out of other people's business and work on their own moral failings, starting with living in sin with tea-baggers, a far worse crime than the use of birth control.

Edited for tastefulness

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Blogger Aggregate

Just in case you thought Megan McArdle would do her job and attempt to read the health care bill, McArdle explains why reading the source material would be futile:
Bruce Bartlett argues that reading the health care bill is a waste of time. Not only is it all written in legalese, but also, many of the provisions simply alter sections of other bills, so unless you have some sort of hyperlinked database, much of the language is meaningless.

I'm sure a link to Bartlett or Julian Sanchez or some Reason tea-bagger will be a more than adequate alternative, since McArdle admits she would not be able to understand it anyway.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009


Women will always be second-class citizens as long as we tolerate religion. Religion sanctifies hatred and prejudice. It gives authoritarians permission to act as viciously towards half of the human race as they choose to act. We accept religion because we need it; we need it because it allays fears, gives hope and gives us an identity. It satisfies a tremendous amount of overwhelming needs. But it is not real and therefore it becomes whatever people in power want it to become. It is used to attack women and we can either accept the trade-off--our subjugation in return for satisfying our needs--or we can mold it to the form we wish it to take. Religion does not belong only to men. Religious women need to either give it up altogether or take it back.

Monday, November 9, 2009

I've Been A Naughty Boy

Shorter Ross Douthat; We want to be punished for our sins. We want the Scourge of Apocalypse to strike the Back of Public Opinion, over and over, while we beg the Mistress of Destiny to punish us harder and harder and harder, until we feel the ecstasy of Judgment's Blessed Release.

Over The Rainbow

Since Megan McArdle hasn't posted yet and I am very busy today, let's take a look at a post from Friday.
Worst. Talking Point. Ever.
If this is the best the Democrats can come up with, they are in deep, deep trouble:
Republicans argue that an unemployment rate higher than it has been in more than a quarter of a century is evidence that the Democratic agenda isn't putting Americans back to work. They say the situation will be made worse if Congress and President Obama enact a health care overhaul that will require $1 trillion in tax hikes and entitlement cuts to expand insurance coverage.

"Ten-point-two now makes it hard for the majority to sell their agenda," said Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

"All I know is that Speaker Pelosi is trying to force her members to vote for a bill that the American people have soundly rejected," added House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Democrats counter that their agenda has kick-started a recovery on Wall Street, even if it hasn't trickled down to the job market yet, and that Republicans are putting what they've begun at risk.[McArdle's bolding, I think, although it's hard to tell, the naughty little sloppy blogger.]

Whoever said that achieved the spectacular feat of making Michael Steele look like a master political strategist.

My goodness, who could have said such a silly thing, that makes Michael Steele look smart in comparison? It's kind of hard to tell, since Miss Megan can't be bothered to post a link. I understand--when you post links people can check what you say and that very often leads to disaster in MeganLand, but we (and the rest of the world) can google. Let's take a look.

Ah, it's Politico. (There is a link in the comments, but unlike McArdle we like to check sources.) So McArdle is upset that Democrats want to start a recovery on Wall Street that will trickle down jobs? That is, when corporations recover they'll hire people and unemployment will decrease? What's the problem with that?
Megan McArdle (Replying to: Bill Rutherford, Princeton Admissions) November 6, 2009 10:23 PM
Someone said something very clos e to that: "the stock market is recovering, and if we falter on health care now, everything will go to hell". Focusing anyone on the stock market, not a good idea.

Wait a minute--where did this health care talking point come from? What did the article say? What came after the part of the Politico article that McArdle bolded?
“Ten-point-two now makes it hard for the majority to sell their agenda,” said Rep. Dave Camp of Michigan, the top Republican on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

“All I know is that Speaker Pelosi is trying to force her members to vote for a bill that the American people have soundly rejected,” added House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio).

Democrats counter that their agenda has kick-started a recovery n Wall Street, even if it hasn’t trickled down to the job market yet, and that Republicans are putting what they’ve begun at risk.

Still, they’re anxious to show they are working on new solutions to help Americans who are out of work.

“With the unemployment rate at 10.2 percent, the highest since the early 1980s, Congress should consider a range of job-creation policies including a jobs tax credit bill I plan to introduce,” Sen. Russ Feingold (D-Wis.) said. “While a jobs tax credit wouldn’t fix all the challenges businesses face, it would be an effective tool in helping some firms hire more workers. Job creation must be a top priority for Congress and I will continue to look for ways to help get Americans back to work.”

For Rep. Corrine Brown (D-Fla.), who has a safe seat, the answer is to get more stimulus dollars flowing.

“We’ve got to push getting those stimulus dollars out that are clogged in the system,” she said.

Rep. Russ Carnahan (D-Mo.) said a new highway bill would help immediately with job creation.

Democrats will focus even more on job creation once Congress finishes the debate on health care, said Sen. Mark Begich, a freshman Democrat elected from deeply Republican Alaska in 2008.

If at this time next year the public doesn’t think Congress is doing enough on the economy and jobs, he said, Democrats will be in trouble.

"If we are working hard, showing we're trying to move the economy in the right direction, working on creating long-term jobs and rebuilding this economy, I think the American people will recognize that," Begich said. "If we are not doing anything or we're limiting what we're doing and the rate is maybe inching a little bit, that becomes problematic."

So Democrats are counting on a prosperous business climate to create jobs? Didn't we just go through eight years hearing that when corporations are healthy they create jobs and people will earn money and the land will flow with milk and honey and flat-screen tvs? How is this focusing on the stock market to the exclusion of jobs?

A few commenters point out that McArdle's lack of attribution is problematic.
Madmadmadmadman (Replying to: Bill Rutherford, Princeton Admissions) November 6, 2009 11:29 PM
Someone said something very close to that: "the stock market is recovering, and if we falter on health care now, everything will go to hell".
Someone? Why didn't you quote and deride them? And who is this person, how do they represent the Democratic Party, and what does that have to do with the fact that you misrepresented the information you were quoting? It doesn't really matter if your point is accurate. If you don't have a good quote, just comment on the idea in general without misrepresenting things or do a little digging and find a good source. Just trying to keep you honest.

Chuckle. Good luck with that, my friend.

McArdle's response:
Megan McArdle (Replying to: Bill Rutherford, Princeton Admissions) November 7, 2009 8:29 AM
Okay, it's one thing to say that you think they were paraphrased inaccurately, but you seem to be claiming that you think no Democrat said anything like this. The reporter did not, I am near-certain, make it up. *Someone* told them that the stock market recovery showed that what they were doing was working, even if hey, everyone's losing their jobs--and that eventually this would translate into broader recovery. This is an awful, awful response, in part because corporate profits are rising in several due to cost cutting--i.e. job cuts.

Considering how often McArdle makes stuff up, she shouldn't be so confident. The Democrats quoted below McArdle's excerpt talk specifically about job creation, which is, no doubt, why she cut off the quote where she did. Camp and Bohner seem to be talking about health care when they mention Democrats' agenda, but the actual Democrats discuss how to decrease unemployment. McArdle's analysis of the situation seems a little off, not to mention made up. Another commenter makes this point.
Madmadmadmadman (Replying to: Bill Rutherford, Princeton Admissions) November 7, 2009 11:24 AM
Okay, it's one thing to say that you think they were paraphrased inaccurately, but you seem to be claiming that you think no Democrat said anything like this. The reporter did not, I am near-certain, make it up. *Someone* told them that the stock market recovery showed that what they were doing was working, even if hey, everyone's losing their jobs--and that eventually this would translate into broader recovery.
I can't speak for the other posters, but I explicitly said that it doesn't matter if your point is accurate, there's no indication from the quoted article that this is a Democratic talking point. *Someone* could have been the gang of argumentative Democrats at his soup kitchen. And I have no idea who could have been paraphrased incorrectly, because I have no idea where the info came from and whether or not this person represents the Democratic party. And neither do you.

So the Democrats' Worst. Talking. Point. Ever is really McArdle's talking point, which she creates and stuffs into the mouth of her pet Democratic Strawman. Dorothy Gale of Kansas spent less time than McArdle propping up and re-stuffing scarecrows.

Shouldn't You Be Home Baking Cookies, Honey?

Kathryn Jean Lopez sez that it's the fault of the feminists that a Muslim American shot up Fort Hood.
'Has ... political correctness so infected our institutions that the U.S. military is now affected, too?' [Kathryn Jean Lopez]
I think an answer to that may be: We were warned. We were warned by Elaine Donnelly (and others, including Kate O'Beirne, who served on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services in the early Nineties), on the feminism issues. It is diversity over security in some of the decision-making in the military. It's become an ingrained cultural reality when it comes to women there (women to be deployed on subs soon, BTW). I think it might be fair to say these issues are not unrelated.

I think Lopez should quit her job and go home and have babies, if she can dredge up a man to provide God's Sacred Sperm. The sight of a woman pundit telling women they shouldn't be treated with equality is pretty damn odd. If she really felt so strongly about it she'd give up her job and let a man take her place. She won't give up equality when it benefits her, so why should anyone else? Put up or shut up, K-Lo. Either way we'd win.

Friday, November 6, 2009

Miss Originality

Megan McArdle has a new post up called "America and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Jobs Numbers." Something sounds vaguely familiar about that phrasing....

Elizabeth Warren and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Utterly Misleading Bankruptcy Study (6/4/09)

Terrible, horrible, no good, very bad ideas about the minimum wage (5/12/08)

This is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad argument in favor of more healthcare spending. (10/16/09)

As for Marc Rich . . . okay, so a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. (12/8/08)

Starting with a disastrous land reform that placed land into the hands of political cronies, rather than those who knew anything about farming, or needed sustenance, he has turned a huge net food exporter into a net importer . . . when they can get the hard currency to import. Each successive foolhardy economic policy, designed to cover up some of the problems that have sprung up due to his last terrible, horrible, no good, very bad economic idea, has made things hideously worse. (6/3/07)

This is a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea. (2/24/08)

Her answer is a litany of silliness, showcasing her terrible, horrible, no good, very bad mortgage plan. (2/21/08)

What's with the Judith Viorst obsession? Or maybe she just considers herself a cruel victim of fate, who gets the shaft while everyone else cruises into lucrative bank jobs.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

First In The Land, First In Our Hearts

From a society item in the Houston Chronicle, by Heather Staible:
Former first lady Laura Bush provided star power for the Communities in Schools 30th anniversary gala this past Thursday at the Hilton Post Oak, but a high school senior stole the show.

In Houston for only the second time since moving back to Texas, Bush graciously chatted with guests at a V. I. P. reception then received two standing ovations when she entered the ballroom.

Her aged in-laws live in Houston, you know.
During her keynote talk to the chatty crowd of 550, she shared the stage with 18-year-old Brittany Coleman, a Lamar High School student who described how CIS had changed her life and future.

The guests talked all through Bush's speech? It must have been a little less than engrossing.
"It's a Cinderella-type story, and your dreams really can come true," Coleman said. Bush slipped out before the steak dinner was served, but the line to chat with Coleman was four people deep.

From first lady to rotary club wife, in just a year. It's better than she deserves.

Less Thoughtful Megan McArdle

Less Citified Megan: Farmers are hard-working people who wrestle with the plow and milk the cows and who deserve their welfare subsidies, unlike the poor, who are lazy. What? Industrial agriculture? Never heard of it.

More Yankee Megan: Southerners should shut up and let the more cultured, sophisticated Northerners take the lead in politics.

Public Teat Megan: New York public works, paid for with tax-payer dollars, help the economy. although otherwise the government should stay out of our economy. Yes, my daddy was a lobbyist for the New York construction industry. Why do you ask?

Mental Vacation

I need to take a break for a few days. Any posting will be devoid of meaningful content. (K-Lo is due for another confession.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Fooled Me Again

Shorter Jonah Goldberg: If conservatives just had a chance they'd win elections. Instead we had to watch Bush give out TARP money.

That's right, schmuck. Bush is one of them, you are not. The elite paid wingnuttia to do a job, they didn't adopt them.

Elements Of A Business Plan

Shorter Megan McArdle: The tea-baggers are the real winners.

Longer McArdle:
Andrew argues that the races today are not about Obama. Who said they were? They're about Democrats and Republicans. They're about whose base is more energized.


If two states with Democratic governors lose them, that signals that the Republicans can move motivated bodies to the polls . . . and while voters may be saying they like Obama as much as ever, they're also saying that they think their taxes are too high and government spending is out of control, issues that polled way higher than "Obama issues" like health care.

All of this makes it tempting to tack right.

A quick survey of the print and web punditospheres reveals Democrats chin-pulling about the mixed message of last night's events, or wanly saying that this wasn't a referendum on Obama....It's kind of a problem that this election wasn't a referendum on Obama, or more importantly, on Bush. Obama's coattails are supposed to give them the spine they need to enact sweeping change. The bad news of last night wasn't that they lost the New Jersey governorship. It's that the era of running against George Bush, or for Barack Obama, is over. They just lost the two best campaign planks they've had in decades.

It's about winning and losing for McArdle, not about finding appropriate people to run the country. Public "proof" that your tribe is superior to other tribes fills authoritarians with enormous satisfaction and self-confidence. It never makes up for the emptiness inside but they're compelled to crave acceptance and unconditional love, and they take what they can get.

Why dwell on psychological motives for little bits of spite and hopeful thinking? Because it's easy to manipulate an authoritarian and they are being manipulated. There is a pattern to these events that needs to be traced back to its source.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Failure: The Beginning

My generation of nice upper middle class white kids was given a ferocious sense of entitlement by our parents and teachers. As long as we played by the rules we were taught in school--do your work on time, study hard, put work first--we were supposed to have wonderful jobs, terrific spouses, adorable children, a house whose tasteful bibelots and appropriately offbeat furniture all our friends could admire.

Read the rest, because it is deeper than you might have thought possible. But what resonates in her words is her need to belong, to feel of value. Either we find that within ourselves or we're doomed to an eternal, external search for meaning. We can do good to feel good and reinforce our good image of ourselves, or we can ask others to tell us we are good. The Little Villagers On The Potomac (and Hudson) spent their late 20s praising each other and talking each other up, until they depended on public approval to do what they could not--approve of themselves.

Failure: The Preamble

I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that this...:
Prices [for health care] really are pretty great, for all that we resent them when they signal variations in the demand for human labor. When you break the price signal, you get all manner of bad outcomes. Price signals are already pretty bad in the private insurance market, but at least they're set by negotiations between employees and employers, employers and insurers, insurers and providers . . . rather than by lobbying.

is just as wrong as this:
Interestingly, this [Ezra Klein post] seems like a variation of my argument about tipping points in markets when governments start to dominate them. I was talking about this in the context of pharmaceuticals and medical devices, where I worried about ham-fisted price controls destroying much of the incentive for efficient innovation.

Megan McArdle seems to be taking a Economics 101 view of price signals that ignores the actual market in favor of a fantasy free market, but that's based on past experience with McArdle, not exhaustive analysis, which I'm too exhausted to do.

She's freaking amazing. My admiration of her sheer gall knows no bounds. I guess she really does believe that "failure is the key to success." God knows it's worked for her.

Failure: Venal or Neurotic?

Megan McArdle types out that while she was wrong to say the the netroots were undermining liberals' chance to win elections, she is right to say that Tea Party conservatives will not undermine Republicans' election chances.
The Decline and Fall of the GOP
That's what a number of commentators are predicting, mostly based on the fact that a bunch of conservative "outsiders" swooped into NY-23 to support Doug Hoffman, thereby forcing pro-choice, pro-gay-marriage, pro-stimulus, liberal Republican Dede Scozzafava to drop out and throw her endorsement to the Democrat. The conservatives have thrown the race to the Democrats, they complain. This, and the Specter primary challenge, will just encourage the few remaining Republicans in the northeast to leave the party entirely.

What's interesting is that most of this wailing comes from Obama voters.


As for the alleged pernicious influence on the party at large, I remember hearing--indeed, I think, saying--such things about the Netroots attempts to drive their party left in the earlier part of the decade. And as I contemplate the wreckage of the Democratic party, barely holding on to 37 seats . . .

Pardon me, I seem to have become trapped in Karl Rove's fantasy world. Not my finest hour as a political prognosticator.

It is true that this turned out badly in the cases of Lieberman and Specter. But they were both popular incumbents, and the senate gives individual legislators quite a bit of power, especially when the numbers hover close to 60. In general, I don't think that you can credibly say that pushing progressive items like health care and climate change to the forefront of their party's policy agenda has turned out badly for the Democrats.


But moving their agenda left has not cost them. And I don't see any empirical reason to believe that it is going to cost the Republicans. Either Hoffman will lose, in which case the strategy of policing the party will lose some of its appeal, or he will win, in which case Blue Dog democrats and Republicans in squishy states will probably tack right--a critical win during the health care debate.

In the long term, the Republican party still has big problems. But as devoutly as I would like to believe that their problem is loudmouthed television and radio hosts who just aren't sophisticated about public policy . . . well, I've yet to see any evidence that the American polity is avid for more sophisticated public policy discussion. Frankly, they seem a lot more interested in plausible enemies and improbable free lunches, which is the level on which both parties are mostly campaigning.

In Megan McArdle's world, being wrong just means that you'll get it right next time. Just see how much you've learned, after all, which makes you much more likely to be right next time. So what has McArdle learned? Nothing. She seems to think that Democrats were elected because they advocate for national health care and against climate change. The--what is the word?--economic situation created by extreme free market advocates that drove away everyone from the Republican party is not mentioned. By ignoring what actually happened McArdle is able to assure everyone that the tea-bagging contingent of the Republican party, which includes P. Suderman, McArdle's fiance, will not affect the Republican party adversely.

It's difficult to tell if McArdle is being disingenuous or if her mind instinctively shied away from thinking about the actual reasons the right lost the presidential election. Practically speaking it doesn't make any difference, and theoretically the only difference is in whether she decided that the far-right fundamentalists (religion and tax) are good for the party because she refused to admit that her pet policies were massive failures, or if she decided to throw a little covert support behind her tea-bagger future husband. It's probably a bit of both, and calibrating McArdle's exact degree of calculation versus unconscious avoidance of damaging self-knowledge might be beyond the ken of mortal minds.

Monday, November 2, 2009


Fake libertarian Megan McArdle is distressed about how Obama wants to spend taxpayer money.
The New York Times health care blog has a post about the games that politicians are playing with the cost of their health care bill--in this case, the new House bill that was initially reported as costing less than $900 billion. A more accurate assessment would have been $1.05 trillion....

What kind of spending is she not concerned about?
The U.S. government has already spent $904 billion since 2001 to wage wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and both of those conflicts are far from over.

And even if the number of combat troops declines as planned, the final price tag for the wars by 2018 will be between $1.3 trillion and $1.7 trillion, according to a study released by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, a nonpartisan policy research group.

As President Bush returns from his final presidential tours of the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the CSBA study warns that the additional burden of accrued interest payments could easily push that tab to $2.5 trillion, depending on how the cost is financed.

That's a steep price, even compared with past conflicts. "In real (inflation-adjusted) terms, the war in Iraq alone has already cost more than every past U.S. war but World War II," the study finds. Cost estimates by the administration on the eve of the war, meanwhile, proved to be wildly optimistic and unrealistic. "Costs have already exceeded initial administration estimates by roughly an order of magnitude," the report adds.

We can afford endless war, a giant defense budget, and perpetual occupation of million-dollar military bases, but we can't afford health care for the people who pay for those wars. We invaded two countries because 3,000 people were killed, but we ignore 44,000 deaths every year. Fourteen 9/11s, year after year after year, perpetrated upon our most vulnerable citizens by their ruling elite. War and our current health care system make rich people richer, however, so it's easy to see why the rich are happy. But it's strange to see the poor and middle class tolerate the status quo, and only take up arms when they think they will be forced to help that same, despised group.

feeble attempt at math corrected

Across The Atlantic: We Can Work It Out

Try to see it my way,
Do I have to keep on talking till I can't go on?
While you see it your way,
Run the risk of knowing that my cash may soon be gone.

We can work it out.
We can work it out.

Think of what you're saying,
You keep your organs, still you think that it's alright,
Think of what I'm saying,
We can help me out and get it done, or say good-night.
We can work it out. We can work it out.

Life is very short, and there's no time,
For waiting for organs, my friend,
I have always though that it's a crime,
So I will ask you once again.

Try to see it my way,
Only time will tell if I am right or I am wrong,
While you see your way,
There's a chance that I may fall apart before too long.

We can work it out. We can work it out.

Because It Worked So Well The Last Time

Not-Altogether-Shorter Ross Douthat: Remember how Sarah Palin crashed and burned because she had bizarre ideas, wasn't qualified in any sense for office, and made her party a laughingstock with her messy personal life, which was never meant for public view?

I sure don't! Let's have more candidates just like her! That's the route to power and success and good governance!