Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, December 31, 2012

For Your Viewing Pleasure

How Not To Stop A Shooter, a comic by Matt Bors.

How Terrible Is Megan McArdle?

Despite the fact that I am trying to move beyond being a Megan McArdle-centric blog, that TBogg already wrote a very funny recap of the post in question, and that Charles Pierce wrote a pithy and wonderfully illustrated post* on McArdle as well, there is one thing I would like to point out as well.

 First, let us pause to acknowledge that of all the ways to discuss the economics of Christmas, McArdle chose to examine whether or not she is getting her money's worth when she receives presents from friends and relatives.

How Terrible Is Christmas?

Should we bother giving all those useless gifts?

I am probably not the right person to answer this question: I spend the week with my father, who lives in a cosy little house with a water view, where we eat a lot and have reasonable conversations. During this week, presents are opened, mostly things that the other person actually wants and can use. I have no horror stories to share.  
But in this post I'm specifically addressing a question that is raised by one economist or another almost every year: isn't Christmas a huge waste? All those presents that no one wants represent huge deadweight loss. Wouldn't well all do better by giving cash, or skipping the process entirely?

Naturally, when McArdle discusses people who get crummy presents she does not include herself. Her family visits evidently are small, quiet, reasonable, and lucrative. No visits to Mom and Dad in her childhood home; her parents are evidently divorced and her father has moved to the seaside. No raucous get-togethers with hoards of relatives, grandparents, cousins and uncles and aunts, with little kids chasing each other around the house and toddlers playing with the wrapping paper and boxes. No loud and laughing reminiscences of childhood pranks or amicable bickering over adult differences of opinions. It's all terribly cosmopolitan.

This seems like a silly question in a world of wishlists--I got the exact martini glasses I wanted, the exact electric pressure cooker I wanted, and the exact 13-inch cast iron skillet I wanted, because people could go right on my Amazon wish list and identify them. And yet, I still had the surprise and thrill of opening gifts (well, okay, I knew what the skillet was before I opened it), because there were a number of things on my list. As far as I know, this experience was shared by everyone else around the McArdle hearth. And by millions of other families in the United States.
McArdle's relatives know better than to wing it when it comes to gift-giving.
I'm reading David Graeber's book, Debt, and while I'm aware of the problems, I do think he gets one thing really right: his exploration of money as a substitute for strong relationships. That is its appealing feature for cosmopolitans, of course; relationships are wonderful in theory, but in practice, they inevitably turn out to be parochial and limiting and an endless amount of work. You do this time consuming task of finding gifts which often aren't right, and then pretending to like and use the wrong things others have gotten you . . . and why bother if you could each buy yourself better stuff? The sociologist and anthropologist answer that the work is the relationship. The only way to have strong social ties is to spend an "inefficient" amount of time and resources investing in them.
Since McArdle just said her family chose to avoid any relationship work by using wishlists for their loved ones, we are left with only one sad conclusion. Nobody wanted to waste any of their time choosing a gift for her. And it is no wonder, for McArdle thinks that relationships are "parochial" (limited in scope or outlook), "limiting" (again), and hard work. Cosmopolitans, like McArdle and her family, would rather just spend money than give time. (Which makes all her donations of time to the IHS rather odd.) But fear not, relatives sometimes are of use after all. McArdle notes that they can sometimes come up with a present that McArdle never even knew she wanted, thereby broadening her shopping horizons. Let's let McArdle have the last word:
How much is that option value worth? I'd say a lot. Especially if it comes bundled with stronger relationships.

*note the url

Yee Haw!

The Jon Swift Memorial Roundup 2012, assembled every year by Batocchio at his blog Vagabond Scholar, is up and if you haven't checked it out yet, there are a lot of good  posts there. Don't miss Batocchio's entry; it's a comprehensive analysis of the types of conservatives that the right has devolved into. (I was especially pleased to see him quote a John Rogers (Leverage) post on conservatives because it was one of the first blog posts I ever read.)

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Double Down

A typical kindergarten class, as pictured by Megan McArdle.

Awesome art by Mike Mignola of Hellboy fame, found here.

As my helpful commenters and emailers noted, when confronted with an incredulous and mocking response on her latest stupidity, Megan McArdle inevitably doubles down with more stupidity.

Let's start with comments she made on her original post.
Peyton 1 day ago "encourage people to gang rush shooters," Yep. Those six year olds certainly fell down on the job by not rushing the grown man with the assault weapon. You are one sick bitca.
I always enjoy a Joss Whedon shout-out.
Man-who-asks-inconvenient-questions 1 day ago @Peyton 
It takes a village, don't you know?
Gorbud 1 day ago @Peyton Thanks keep pushing that lie. It helps you avoid any reasonable response to the story. She NEVER stated that these kids could have or should have rushed anyone. People like you usually pick out something and twist it into a lie just to discredit another person. Really what is wrong with you can't you read. Or does the reality of the government's and your own impotence in the face of evil you can't wish away cause some kind of breakdown in a logical thought process? Obama's magic wand won't work on this problem. The government can't in-fact solve everyone of the world's problems. Big news for the Liberal world. Impossible to accept.
Wishful thinking becomes reality to this poor self-deluded person. McArdle is a master at giving her audience just enough wiggle room to claim that she is not as stupid or venal as she appears. McArdle did not say kindergartners should have rushed the gunmen. She said "young people" should rush gunmen. Now she can claim she meant older kids, which is still indefensible but a little less laughable. Normal human beings would not want any "young people" rushing gunmen ever. They would want their kids and their kids' friends and classmates to run and hide and survive. But Megan McArdle is no longer a normal person. She sold her soul to the devil in exchange for a sous vide machine.
PeterBuka 1 day ago @Gorbud @Peyton ''I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.''What part of that is it you do not understand? If a sane person writes a sane article and finishes it off with complete insanity, that tends to reflect poorly on the sane portions of the article. Similar to Churchill being a savior and a racist at the same time. The racist part tends to smudge his good standing.
McArdle's own words condemn her.
MeganJ.McArdle 1 day ago @PeterBuka @Gorbud @Peyton You should read the rest of the article, in which I made fun of the idea that primary schoolers could have rushed Lanza.
Here is her usual claim that her critics did not read what she wrote. It's a pathetic response but less pathetic than her other typical response, that the critic did not understand what she wrote. And it sets up the lie in the rest of the sentence.

Do you want to know why Megan McArdle is rich and you aren't? Because Megan McArdle is a liar and you aren't. McArdle routinely lies, giant, honking, bald-faced lies, for a wide variety of reasons. Money, of course. Heh! Naturally she lies for money, because she can. There is nothing to stop her. She's not afraid of losing jobs or income; she knows she can always find someone who needs liars to peddle propaganda for them. She's not afraid of social ostracism; her friends, colleagues, and relatives obviously do not find her actions to be morally repellent either. If they did they kept quiet about it, for reasons of their own. So McArdle lies for money when she finds it furthers her ideological goals.

But there is much more to McArdle than greed, of course. There is also vanity, and McArdle lies to save face. This unusually wide-spread public humiliation threatens McArdle's carefully crafted and cultivated high opinion of herself. Prep school scarred her life, evidently. She went to very high prestige schools that most people worked extremely hard to enter. McArdle went to school with lot of very intelligent people over the years (as well as many idle upper class kids like herself). And let's face it, the poor dear just isn't very bright. It had to have been humiliating to be surrounded by people who could actually understand what the professor was saying and could say something intelligent in response. McArdle must be wise, witty, intellectual at all times and the only way she can achieve that goal is by lying, so she lies.
raskolnikovx9 1 day ago 
@MeganJ.McArdle @PeterBuka @Gorbud @Peyton No, but Megan you wrote the above statement and you did it in earnest. Care to retract and apologize? Because, beyond being so very stupid, its very, very offensive. Merl Lino 1 day ago @MeganJ.McArdle @PeterBuka @Gorbud @Peyton You didn't make fun of it you said you didn't know if it would work. You you say that about everything. Please explain what the words, "I would like to see." mean. You don't say that about everything else proposed. Don't wriggle. Admit you proposed something that is terribly wrong and for some unaccountable reason didn't realize that the instant your wrote it.  
Icewaterchrist 1 day ago 
@MeganJ.McArdle @PeterBuka @Gorbud @Peyton please quote that then, because I can't find it anywhere in your article.
She did not, because she could not.

People are very tempted to ignore lies because we all lie at times. We do not, however, make a career out of it. McArdle followed her first post with a couple more. In her next post on the shooting McArdle helpfully pointed out that "I was talking about teenagers, not first graders," not knowing that any parent would be just as appalled at the thought of their 14-year-old daughter rushing a man with an assault rifle.  McArdle explained that it's possible for adults to rush a gunman under some circumstances, although she did not explain why she gave that option as a response to yet another mass shooting of small children.

What often happens in these sorts of attacks is that people run and hide. Split up into ones and twos, they are easy targets for the shooters, who find it easy to pick off cowering people one by one. Unless the shooter's weapon is temporarily disabled--as seems to have happened with Loughner--one or two people are unlikely to be a match for a rifle or a handgun. But it seems to me that 8-12 people could be. Not an automatic weapon, of course, but automatic weapons are not usually used in these attacks, because it's been illegal to manufacture or sell more of these guns for civilian use since 1986. A semi-automatic weapon takes time to aim and fire, and hitting a moving target with a fatal shot is harder than hitting someone who is hiding under a desk.
Please remember that Megan McArdle is hair-splitting the death of children to prevent anyone from passing gun control laws. She has several other reasons why nobody can do anything ever, but let's skip to the end.
Obviously, it is beyond horrible to suggest that even a small number of attacks are largely unavoidable. I don't like saying it. Unfortunately, I think it's true. Which means that it's worth thinking about whether there is something--anything--that people in that situation could do to make them less fatal.
We can't stop random murders so we should not try to control gun sales, but we should try anything up to and including forcing all our teenagers to take SWAT training so they can run towards a man firing a semi-automatic weapon at them. But is McArdle really a liar if she was careful to avoid saying that small children should rush a gunman? Maybe her critics are being unfair by accusing her of wanting to put kids in mortal danger. Fortunately McArdle clears up this dilemma by lying once more about her response.
Merl Lino 1 day ago 
"But I was talking about teenagers, not first graders." You said in a reply to a comment that you meant it as a (very bad) joke. Now your make a different excuse, possibly because you also said you wanted to encourage it unlike other proposals you deem ineffective. Those you wanted to discourage and not recommend. You new response doesn't hold water. The human shield response is not a good one, and training teenagers to do it is absurd. You just reinforce the fact that you are totally without common sense.  
MeganJ.McArdle 20 hours ago 
@Merl Lino I didn't say that. You misread me.
Merl Lino 14 hours ago 
|I covered this, wyour wrote "MeganJ.McArdle 2 hours ago@PeterBuka @Gorbud @Peyton You should read the rest of the article, in which I made fun of the idea that primary schoolers could have rushed Lanza." I replied: "But she wrote, "I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly,.." In the rest of the article she expressed doubt that regulations would be effective, but didn't say she would "like to see them encouraged." She just can't seem to admit that her proposal is terribly wrong or explain why she did not realize that instantly as she wrote it." ----- Can you explain the fact that in the part I quoted you said you'd like to encourage human shield tactics even though you had doubts it would work, but you try to discourage regulations of guns which you also think might not work? set of proposals but discourage the other though you have doubts either of them will work? Then in your first response to that idea you said you were "making fun" of that suggestion? Now you say you were trying to encourage young people, not little kids? So then it was not you making fun, it was you trying to encourage teenagers--you now say--you wanted to gang up .Instead of retracting the suggestion you now elaborate it into a training program for teenagers to learn to react as human shields. You should just admit that it is a preposterous suggestion that you would like to retract.
She can't. She's trapped, by her ego and her lies. She deserves every bit of her humiliation.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

The Princess And The Pea Brain

It's all just a game.

This is what sounds smart to a dumb person. For the real problem with Megan McArdle is not her utter lack of empathy for anyone outside of her immediate circle, her mystification at the idea of journalistic ethics, or her vacuous worship of consumerism and all the rilly nice people who provide her with new kitchen gadgets. It's her intellectual capacity. She's dumb. She has the brain the size of a pea. She doesn't have two brain cells to rub together and she would probably end up setting herself on fire if she tried.

But she's dumb in a very special way. McArdle repeats what smarter people say, pretending that she was able to reason out the issue as well. She links to intellectual-looking resources but those works contradict or do not support what she claims. She examines every aspect of the situation in excruciating length, substituting verbiage for analysis. But the words are all empty; meaningless pseudo-intellectual garbage. There is no supporting evidence, no analysis, no chain of argument. There is nothing but a not-very-clever woman who thinks she is being smart, sophisticated and an intellectual leader when she says that children should rush a gunman who is opening fire on them.

Why make such a stupid statement? Because she is stupid. McArdle does not like the idea of gun control because she does not like the idea of people telling her what to do.
I wasn't going to buy a gun, because, hey, what would I do with it? But the chicken guano rules that DC is imposing make me want to buy a handgun just to annoy the twopenny tyrants who thought them up:

[snipped quote]

May I really carry it inside my home without a license, just as if I were a free citizen in a country that respects individual liberty? I am overcome with gratitude, really overwhelmed with the state's generosity . . . permission to cry, sir?
Stupid people do not realize that they are making knee-jerk, adolescent decisions based on a disproportionate sense of self-importance, spite, and greedy anticipation of grabbing everything they want (or might want some time in the future) before anyone else can take it away or keep it for themselves. Stupid people think they are following their ideology to its logical conclusion. They ignore common sense, logic, reason, and empathy because they they have an ax to grind.

Stupid people are also superstitious. The larger framing of McArdle's stupidity is the belief in a universal struggle between good and evil.
Trying to climb this mountain of wickedness is like trying to climb a glass wall with your bare hands. What happened there is pure evil, and evil, unlike common badness, gives an ordinary mind no foothold.
But I doubt we're going to tell people to gang rush mass shooters, because that would involve admitting that there is no mental health service or "reasonable gun control" which is going to prevent all of these attacks. Which is to say, admitting that we have no box big enough to completely contain evil.
Believing in evil is very convenient and satisfying. People are either good or bad. Good people almost always do good things (we are Fallen, after all) and bad people always do bad things. Therefore if anyone that McArdle considers good--corporate CEOs, titans of industry, hedge fund managers--does something bad, McArdle is easily able to deny that those bad actions ever occurred. If McArdle does not like the idea of gun control she can choose to believe that bad people are born that way and there is nothing anyone can do to stop their bad actions. Whether or not McArdle actually believes this is immaterial. Many people unconsciously choose to pretend that they believe in something if it is to their advantage.

The normal reaction to the mass shooting of a bunch of small children is horror and grief, in varying degrees of course. But McArdle does not want to be horrified because she is wrestling with even stronger emotions, her allegiances to those who ally with the gun lobby. McArdle doesn't care about guns much herself and certainly is not happy to see them used to kill kids. But McArdle is a libertarian married to another libertarian, Peter Suderman, who works for Reason, which has a long history of fighting gun control. She does not like to see her views and the views of people like her under attack. So she decides that gun control just wouldn't work, and in her infinite wisdom she shares all the reasons with us little people on her blog.

Most of her reasons consist of saying that nothing can be done to stop someone who wants to shoot people. They will carry out their plans no matter what they circumstances. That might be true but McArdle does not think that it would be any use to try to stop them. Mental health facilities? They already exist, so nothing more need be done. More gun laws? Gun laws already exist, so more will fail. Less lethal guns? They'll just use more guns instead. She has an excuse for everything to insure the nation is inactive in the face of mass shootings. But her excuses are based on willful denial, the refusal to feel any horror at the strange fruits of our gun culture so she can continue to ally herself with libertarians and conservatives. In McArdle's tribal thinking, libertarians are for guns and liberals are against guns, and McArdle finds it extremely gratifying to imagine her side is winning an argument against the side of her enemies.

Conservatives who argue that a total ban wouldn't lower the homicide rate are being ridiculous.   
America would still have a higher homicide rate than anywhere else, because for whatever reason, America is an incredibly violent place.
America has more guns than many other countries and America has many more deaths because of all those guns, but she cannot figure out why America is such a violent place. Bullshit. Of course she can. She just does not want to, and her willful ignorance makes her stupid.

But I think there's no question that our homicide rate would be lower than it is now, simply because fewer killings would succeed.

Nor am I going to go through the various cost-benefit reasons that we might want to allow guns, such as defensive uses. I find some of these arguments compelling, others less so. I will say that liberals who argue that defensive uses never save lives are being just as ridiculous as conservatives who claim that guns don't increase the death rate. We don't know the number of defensive uses, but we do know that they happen, because there are many well-documented cases. 

But now is not a good time to have a cost-benefit discussion, and there may never be a good time. The two sides are too far apart: gun control is mostly advocated by people who do not own guns, or want to own guns, and for them it is therefore a zero cost policy. Maybe a negative cost policy, because--apart from the violence--they have a fairly intense cultural antipathy for people who spend a lot of time playing with guns. Randall Collins notes that "US surveys indicate the favorite TV shows of liberal Democrats are comedians satirizing conservatives; conservatives' favorites are college football." However right they may be, those people are not in a good position to persuade gun owners that they shouldn't want to own guns, or that having them taken away is a negligible cost in the bigger picture. Nor have gun owners had any better luck explaining to the other side why they might want to own guns even though some people abuse them.

So I'll merely point out what Jeffrey Goldberg has already said, better and at greater length, in The Atlantic: the discussion is moot. You can't ban guns. That ship has sailed.

It seems strawmen, not diamonds, are a girl's best friend.  They enable McArdle to indulge in her favorite activity: pretending to be an intellectual Big Thinker dispensing her wisdom to the less elite. Nuance is ignored so Miss Megan can play Pretty Pretty Princess, earning her plastic jewels hard-earned pay as a reward for her specialness. All liberals hate guns, for whatever reason, so of course they want to ban all guns. It's in their culture, which mindlessly controls their every move. Meanwhile conservatives, for whatever reason, "spend a lot of time playing with guns." It's in their culture, evidently, to covet gun ownership. So gun control is impossible, just as caring for the mentally ill is impossible and public safety is impossible and everything else that Megan McArdle considers liberal is impossible.

But one thing, perhaps is possible. It is conservative and libertarian to unload all of the burdens of society on the individual, so Megan McArdle says that it should be individuals who stop mass shootings. It sounds perfectly logical to her!
My guess is that we're going to get a law anyway, and my hope is that it will consist of small measures that might have some tiny actual effect, like restrictions on magazine capacity. I'd also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once. Would it work? Would people do it? I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.

Yes, Megan McArdle just said that the "young people" should  rush the gunman or men and take them down. Because only a fucking moron would say that kindergartners should be trained assassins, McArdle fudges the issue a little but the point is not gun control or little kids' lives or the mental health of our nation. The point is that Megan McArdle is right and all those stoopid liberals are wrong. How does she know this? A rich lady is paying her a ton of money to give such opinions. She has to be right.

And what is the agonizing tragedy of little children's death next to Megan McArdle's need to stroke her own ego and revel in her own specialness?

Monday, December 3, 2012

For God And Douthat

I am sorry about the lack of posting; all my spare time is taken up re-learning algebra, cleaning and getting organized for holiday parties, and holiday baking. It seems the Algebra Gods are cruel; if you don't learn it the first, second, or third time, you will end up having to re-learn algebra to teach it to your kids. I have not posted for weeks but I can now graph an equation three different ways.

Meanwhile, Ross Douthat is putting his big forehead to use by dreaming up fun ways to eliminate Social Security via the payroll tax.  His two recent posts on the matter reveal his fundamental, very un-Christian disregard for anyone without a six-figure income and extensive benefits. Douthat doesn't try very hard to convince others of his cute little idea; he didn't get where he is today by thinking and he obviously sees no reason why he should start now.

But before we dive into the dry matter of taxes and Douthat's continuing effort to give his masters a minimum of value for their inexplicably generous pay, let us detour to the Douthat corner of SexyTown, population of one. TBogg has already covered Douthat's musings on how to get Americans to take one for the team by bearing more children then foreigners because civilization demands it but such a fascinating subject demands more examination.

The retreat from child rearing is, at some level, a symptom of late-modern exhaustion — a decadence that first arose in the West but now haunts rich societies around the globe. It’s a spirit that privileges the present over the future, chooses stagnation over innovation, prefers what already exists over what might be. It embraces the comforts and pleasures of modernity, while shrugging off the basic sacrifices that built our civilization in the first place.

This charming passage is an excellent example of the incoherence of Douthat's supposed philosophy. He wants to cut the payroll tax to give people more money now while saying that people are supposed to sacrifice their current financial well-being for the sake of the needs of future populations. If we are not supposed to put aside money for our own use in the future via Social Security, why on earth would we choose to spend thousands of more money now by having more children? How selfish can Douthat be?

Three thousand for pre-natal care, another three thousand for delivery (in 1990s dollars), hundreds more on clothing, furniture, bedding, diapers, other medical bills. And that's just for the baby. Lost wages, school expenses, extracurricular activity expenses, more clothing, more food, a bigger house, a better neighborhood, a car, insurance, car repairs, gas, entertainment expenses. And God forbid there should be a problem and the parents would have to spend tens of thousands more on doctors, therapies, and drugs.

As we shall soon see, Douthat wants a consumption tax to make up for the trillions lost if the payroll tax is eliminated. That would make having a baby even more onerous. But most of all, as TBogg points out, Douthat himself is not willing to do what he demands of everyone else. Douthat's wife is (gasp!) a working woman and as far as we know she has not stopped working to raise little Salome Jezebel Douthat and pump out many more little Douthats. How decadent! How selfish! How un-Godly! Why do people refuse to embrace innovation by controlling fertility? Why do they insist on standing athwart history yelling Stop! when they could be embracing the future instead? Don't they know that past generations, who had no choice in the matter regarding fertility, sacrificed by having children to build our civilization?

Since we all know that Douthat is a conservative Catholic who would never interfere with God's Plan for his Sacred sperm by refusing to accept God's Gift of a dozen or so children, we are forced to conclude that either Douthat has had sex but once in his life, or that in his ultimate arrogance Douthat has decided that he, not God, should determine how and when his property wife should conceive his children. It's bad enough that Douthat does not have a Bible-based marriage, with multiple wives, concubines, servants and slave girls bearing his progeny. That is, alas, all too common in these decadent modern times. But to refuse to accept God's will! It is enough to make me weep with grief and the fear of God's wrath!

Just look at the cuteness of Mrs. Douthat! How could Ross not want to force her to overbear?

The next time you run into her on the street, you be sure to ask Mrs. Douthat why she's not obeying her husband and popping out more babies for God and Christendom. It's not like our sexuality is a personal matter between ourselves, our partners, and our gods and goddesses. It's a matter of public record and must be discussed at every opportunity, the better to shame and control our neighbors.

Monday, November 19, 2012

You'll Be Sorry

It seems that someone is staying up past his bedtime again and is vewy, vewy, cwoss. Little Master Douthat hitches up his pants, sticks out his fleshy, quivering lower lip, and lets out a steady, high-pitched whine, because all the other kids are being mean to him. At least, that is what he tells The New York Times his Mummy when he runs home to tattle.
Winning an election doesn’t just offer the chance to govern the country. It offers a chance to feel morally and intellectually superior to the party you’ve just beaten.

 Sorry, Ross. Thanks to the cluster of f*uck that was the George W. Bush Administration, the right no longer gets to get up on its high horse when it comes to any behavior whatsoever. No matter how hideously liberals might behave (in reality or in Douthat's imagination), the right did it first and did worse. Remember "We have a mandate," Ross? "Elections have consequences"? We sure do, and we are not about to listen to moral scoldings from the morally and intellectually corrupt.
This is an inescapable aspect of democratic culture: no matter what reason tells us about the vagaries of politics, something in the American subconscious assumes that the voice of the people really is the voice of God, and that being part of a winning coalition must be a sign that you’re His chosen one as well.

 Perhaps it's the way every US politicians encases each speech in a thick, sickly-sweet, viscous coating of Jello God blesses. God bless the American people, God bless the US, God bless our endeavors, blah blah blah. Evidently God hates foreigners because according to the US he routinely blesses our wars as well.  It's very odd that nobody thanks God when he blessed us with Hurricanes Sandy, Katrina, Ike and Rita, but maybe the drone-blessed Pakistanis are doing that for us while we are cleaning up our mess and burying our dead.

This means the losing coalition must be doomed to wander east of Eden, and liberals have been having a good time with this idea of late. “Those poor, benighted Republicans!” runs the subtext of their postelection commentary. “They can’t read polls! They can’t reach Hispanics! They don’t understand women! They don’t have a team of Silicon Valley sorcerers running their turnout operations!”

Actually, they can't, they can't, they can't, and they don't. Pointing out the sad truth is not triumph, it's pointing out the truth. Which is something that many conservatives are doing as well, in the hope that they will come back to power in their lifetimes. Liberals spent months pointing out that the Republicans were fooling themselves but the fools never listened. It's not our fault they're fools, and if some people happen to point and laugh, well, they asked for it didn't they?
Back in 2011, the Obama White House earned some mild mockery for its “win the future” slogan. But now that the president has been re-elected, the liberal conventional wisdom is that the Democrats have done just that — that Republicans are now Radio Shack to their Apple store, “The Waltons” to their “Modern Family,” a mediocre Norman Rockwell to their digital-age mosaic.  
Maybe it’s too soon to pierce this cloud of postelection smugness. But in the spirit of friendly correction — or, O.K., maybe curmudgeonly annoyance — let me point out some slightly more unpleasant truths about the future that liberalism seems to be winning.
You'll be sorry, oh yes you will, liberals. You think you're so cool and hip and modern when you're really just giant poopy-heads and you'll be very, very sorry when your giant poopy-headedness ruins everything for everybody! Poop!
Liberals look at the Obama majority and see a coalition bound together by enlightened values — reason rather than superstition, tolerance rather than bigotry, equality rather than hierarchy. But it’s just as easy to see a coalition created by social disintegration and unified by economic fear.  
Consider the Hispanic vote. Are Democrats winning Hispanics because they put forward a more welcoming face than Republicans do — one more in keeping with America’s tradition of assimilating migrants yearning to breathe free? Yes, up to a point. But they’re also winning recent immigrants because those immigrants often aren’t assimilating successfully — or worse, are assimilating downward, thanks to rising out-of-wedlock birthrates and high dropout rates. The Democratic edge among Hispanics depends heavily on these darker trends: the weaker that families and communities are, the more necessary government support inevitably seems.

You think you're all so smart and nice and friendly but you'll be sorry when all those people you want to help need help! Because Hispanic girls are sluts and have lots of babies and Hispanic boys are stoopid and drop out of school and how can a poor, uneducated Hispanic person get a job? They might end up doing physical labor such as building houses and office buildings or landscaping, or become maids and nannies. And that would be a terrible shock if they degenerated to that point, wouldn't it?
Likewise with the growing number of unmarried Americans, especially unmarried women. Yes, social issues like abortion help explain why these voters lean Democratic. But the more important explanation is that single life is generally more insecure and chaotic than married life, and single life with children — which is now commonplace for women under 30 — is almost impossible to navigate without the support the welfare state provides.

And speaking of sluts, what about single women, who sometimes have babies and therefore chaos and insecurity? Do you want to support them too? Because single mothers never marry and never support themselves and are utterly incapable of taking care of their children, forcing good, goodly married men like Ross Douthat to support them instead! If Douthat wanted to support a bunch of children he would have sex, which he won't, so he doesn't have to!
Or consider the secular vote, which has been growing swiftly and tilts heavily toward Democrats. The liberal image of a non-churchgoing American is probably the “spiritual but not religious” seeker, or the bright young atheist reading Richard Dawkins. But the typical unchurched American is just as often an underemployed working-class man, whose secularism is less an intellectual choice than a symptom of his disconnection from community in general.

You know, I think I'm detecting a theme here: jobs. People need jobs to support themselves and their kids. Jobs lead to all sorts of things like order and self-sufficiency and morality. Perhaps we might think about that and maybe even do something to help Americans find those elusive, necessary things. Or we can shame and persecute them instead, the proudly conservative way.
What unites all of these stories is the growing failure of America’s local associations — civic, familial, religious — to foster stability, encourage solidarity and make mobility possible.  
This is a crisis that the Republican Party often badly misunderstands, casting Democratic-leaning voters as lazy moochers or spoiled children seeking “gifts” (as a certain former Republican presidential nominee would have it) rather than recognizing the reality of their economic struggles.  
But if conservatives don’t acknowledge the crisis’s economic component, liberalism often seems indifferent to its deeper social roots. The progressive bias toward the capital-F Future, the old left-wing suspicion of faith and domesticity, the fact that Democrats have benefited politically from these trends — all of this makes it easy for liberals to just celebrate the emerging America, to minimize the costs of disrupted families and hollowed-out communities, and to treat the places where Americans have traditionally found solidarity outside the state (like the churches threatened by the Obama White House’s contraceptive mandate) as irritants or threats.

Little Master Douthat is beginning to blubber, with big, soapy spit-bubbles floating out like in a cartoon. Democrats are never people of faith,  never members of a community, never part of a family. The Democratic way is one of dependence, chaos and immorality, because Douthat says so. All virtue belong to Republicans, except maybe that whole helping your fellow man thing that Jesus kept going on about but that doesn't count because the Bible says God helps those who help themselves. Okay, the Bible doesn't actually say that, but Douthat says that in the book he wrote and just happens to have right here for the low, low price of $13.98, which makes it the next best thing.
This is a great flaw in the liberal vision, because whatever role government plays in prosperity, transfer payments are not a sufficient foundation for middle-class success. It’s not a coincidence that the economic era that many liberals pine for — the great, egalitarian post-World War II boom — was an era that social conservatives remember fondly as well: a time of leaping church attendance, rising marriage rates and birthrates, and widespread civic renewal and engagement.

And here is where Douthat depends on the chance that you didn't go to Harvard like him and therefore must never have heard of the New Deal. Nor Social Security and Medicare, which helped older people become self-sufficient and therefore less of a burden on their children, which can only improve family cohesiveness.  Or the GI housing and education bills, which created a large middle class that lived in their own stable neighborhoods.
No such renewal seems to be on the horizon. That isn’t a judgment on the Obama White House, necessarily. But it is a judgment on a certain kind of blithe liberal optimism, and the confidence with which many Democrats assume their newly emerged majority is a sign of progress rather than decline.
Boo-hoo, Douthat sobs. Liberals will be sorry they won in the future, when the safety net they fought for is available for the people who need it and power is shared with immigrants, women, and the poor. For when wealthy white males lose power it means civilization is declining, dog and cats are living together, and Ross Douthat might actually have to succeed on his own merits.

God forbid!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012


For political parties and the people who depend on them for a sense of belonging, there will never be a time to challenge, criticize or threaten their leader. From an article at the Huffington Post.
President Barack Obama made a direct, personal appeal to 30,000 of his top campaign activists on Tuesday night, asking them to stay involved in politics and to continue pressuring Republicans during upcoming tax and budget negotiations.
"I'm so proud of what you guys accomplished and I will always be in awe and inspired by what you've done," the president said on the call, which the Huffington Post listened to. "So that's the good news. The bad news is our work can't stop now. Because as we learned in the first term, in some ways an election is just the beginning. It is not the end point. It is a means to a goal and that is to actually help families all across the country."
Note that he does not speak of rewarding them for their hard work; his career successes are their rewards. Leaders believe that followers owe them, they do not owe their followers.

Obama is extremely shrewd and he knows how to manipulate people. His statement that he must cut "entitlements" or the Republicans will do it instead is one example of this and the above statement is another. He wants to keep activists' focus on what Republicans are doing instead of what he is doing.
The president, speaking from a White House phone, cautioned listeners to expect disappointments during his second term. As he has in the past, Obama warned that he was prepared to swallow some bitter pills during the negotiations, including some that would agitate the base.
"As we move forward there are going to be new wrinkles and new frustrations, we can't predict them yet," he said. "We are going to have some triumphs and some successes, but there are going to be some tough days, starting with some of these negotiations around the fiscal cliff that you probably read about, making sure that our tax system is fair. So we are going to need you guys to stay active. We need you to stick with us and stay on this."
What he means, of course, is that he needs the people who helped him get reelected to keep the rest of the Democratic party in line when they are told to accept cuts in the safety net.
But with the sour, he promised some sweets. Obama said that his White House would be more effective at community engagement. He pledged to have his team give more "clear directions and talking points in terms of how we keep mobilizing across the country." He also said that he planned to spend more time outside of the nation's capital during the next four years.
"One of my pledges for a second term is to get out of Washington more often because it is just good for my soul," said Obama.
The "sweets" are not Democratic principles and programs, they are hints that activists will actually be able to see Obama in person. Perhaps even take their picture with him! Who knows? What greater reward for selling out our elderly can one ask?
The president's comments -- the most explicit push yet for campaign volunteers to continue their election-type engagement -- came during a conference call organized by what remains of the Obama campaign. Mitch Stewart, one of Obama's top campaign aides, told listeners they would be outfitted with activist tools for the critical weeks of negotiations ahead. Stewart also revealed that some campaign staffers remained in Obama's Chicago reelection headquarters, crunching data to figure which community activist tools had worked during the election.
"As the president said, our work is not done," said Stewart. "We are never going to stop trying to be better. And there are important lessons to be learned from" the election. "There is an immediate need around the fiscal cliff that people can start to engage on," Stewart said.
Obama's priority is attacking the deficit, a non-existent problem. It is an excuse to cut Democratic programs, which will be immediately used against them by Republicans. After Obama is out of office.
The president's call to the cavalry will be welcome news to Democrats who complained Obama reverted to an inside game during his first term. Equipped with an email list of 13 million activists and more devoted followers, Obama spent much of his first four years trying to move legislation through backroom negotiations.
Of course he did. The activists were no longer necessary so they were shut out of any legislation. Now that they are needed again they are activated again.
Tuesday night's conference call suggests more of a reliance on an outside game approach -- something that the campaign has hinted it would do. In an early November conference call with Democratic-leaning reporters, Jeremy Bird, the president's top grassroots organizer, explained that the campaign was specifically constructed to be "long-lasting."
Here is the game approach they are using:

It will last as long as it is needed and then the backroom negotiations will recommence.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Pride and Prejudice

Eww. There's something nasty crawling on my computer screen. Why, I do believe it is a Megan McArdle column about affirmative action. Thankfully the ACLU is very experienced in combating deeply inbred prejudice and can do the job of dredging this fetid swamp for me.

Put on your hazmat suit, folks. We're going in.
Continuing on yesterday's demographic theme, I've seen a fair number of people--including conservatives--arguing that the GOP needs to tack to the right on immigration in order to bring socially conservative latinos [sic] into their base. Since I'm in favor of more immigration, I would welcome that. But politically, I doubt it's sound strategic advice. As Heather MacDonald points out, Latino voters do not vote 100%, or even primarily, on immigration.
McArdle is linking to a National Review article, which is humiliating in and of itself. National Review gave us such gems as grossly racist and sexist John Derbyshire, vacuous twit and Jesus-humper Kathryn Jean Lopez, and libertarian economics writer Veronique De Rugy, who is wrong even more often than McArdle, if such a thing is humanly possible. The article itself is neither offensive nor ignorant but McArdle's reliance on such venues for intellectual support is very revealing of her point of view, and hopefully, her future employment.
They are heavy users of government services and generally fairly fiscally liberal. It seems more likely than not that the GOP would be supporting a drive to make millions of more Democratic voters, at least in the short term. The GOP strategists may well reckon that they are better off holding the line and letting assimilation bring latinos [sic] over onto their side.
McArdle, like many conservatives, assumes that Latinos will become more conservative as they become farther removed from the immigrant experience, despite the fact that she just said McDonald's article says the opposite. From the latter's article:
A March 2011 poll by Moore Information found that Republican economic policies were a stronger turn-off for Hispanic voters in California than Republican positions on illegal immigration. Twenty-nine percent of Hispanic voters were suspicious of the Republican party on class-warfare grounds — “it favors only the rich”; “Republicans are selfish and out for themselves”; “Republicans don’t represent the average person”– compared with 7 percent who objected to Republican immigration stances.
McArdle's hopes are resting on the assumption that everyone is like herself and wants to pull up the ladder after she has gained advantages.
Nor do I see the case for tacking left on affirmative action. I'm agnostic on affirmative action as a policy matter:it's an unjust way of rectifying a deep injustice.
Then she's not agnostic, is she? This is merely another attempt to seem fair-minded and avoid responsibility for her words, which otherwise might have some troublesome repercussions. Verily, there is nothing more unjust than being just! Affirmative action is only unjust if minorities are not disadvantaged in an historically WASP society. Let's hear from the ACLU:
From the end of the Civil War up until the middle of the 20th century, discrimination in many forms was a pillar of the American way of life. No laws protected racial minorities and women from biased employers, who were free to pass over a black worker in favor of a white worker or to reserve better paying jobs for white men only. Women were even barred by law from various jobs and professions.
I saw a television show from the early sixties (The Fugitive) that showed a man looking at want ads. There were separate columns for jobs for women and jobs for men. Without affirmative action McArdle would be teaching English in high school, or, more likely, teaching in an elementary school until she married, at which time she might be fired since before the Pill it was assumed that married women would become pregnant and quit.

What about now, in what conservatives say is a post-racial society?
Despite setbacks, the legal edifice of discrimination is gone, and the participation of minorities and women in the life of the nation has increased substantially. Nonetheless, stark inequalities remain.  
Women earn 55 to 75 percent of men's salaries.  
Many Latino and Asian workers face bias because they look or sound "foreign," according to a report published by the federal General Accounting Office. Stricter immigration laws have also triggered discrimination by employers, who, presuming that Latinos or Asian Americans are illegal aliens, often refuse to hire them.  
The face of poverty is disproportionately female and nonwhite. For example, 70 percent of black women hold "typically female," low wage jobs.  
The federal Commission on the Cities, convened in 1988, found that today's poor are poorer, and have less chance of escaping poverty, than 20 years ago.  
One third of all African American, and one fourth of all Latino, families live in poverty, compared to one tenth of white families. Native Americans remain the most impoverished minority in North America. Their communities are plagued with disproportionately high rates of unemployment, infant mortality, alcoholism and suicide. 
The unemployment rate for racial minorities is double that of whites.  
One in four African American males is in prison, on parole or on probation more than are in college.  
The ACLU believes that even though no single measure can eradicate discrimination, affirmative action remains a moral imperative and an indispensable strategy for giving those disadvantaged by discrimination a temporary leg up. In addition, the unique diversity of its human resource pool gives our nation enormous potential for developing solutions to all the problems it confronts in education, criminal justice, childcare and affordable housing, to name a few. The key to maximizing that potential is an end to discrimination and fulfillment of the Constitution's promise of freedom and equality, so that all Americans can have a chance to live productively and contribute to society.
My goodness, affirmative action sure is unjust and unnecessary!

And it's far from clear to me that on net it's good for the students who are admitted.
That's because McArdle assumes affirmative action recipients are inferior to white applicants.

Q: Don't affirmative action remedies force firms to employ unqualified workers, or universities to accept incompetent students, simply because they happen to be nonwhite or female?  
A: Absolutely not. Affirmative action has never been about hiring or admitting people solely because of their color or sex, without concern for any other factors. Affirmative action guidelines urge employers to make a sincere effort to find and train qualified people who have historically experienced exclusion from many occupations and professions. Or they urge universities to enhance their recruitment methods in order to find qualified African American, Latino, Native American and Asian American students, who generally have far less access to higher education than whites.  
In addition, employers are asked to drop "qualifications" that are unrelated to a job, but that have had the effect of excluding certain people. Such irrelevant standards include: requiring applicants for manual labor jobs to have high school degrees; experience requirements that largely disqualify women who apply for traditionally male jobs like truck driving, and tests requiring high proficiency in English that screen out people for whom English is a second language. For example, in 1990 some Cambodian immigrants charged that several industrial employers in the vicinity of Lowell, Massachusetts imposed English language based tests and high school diploma requirements for manual labor positions, among other arbitrary standards, to avoid hiring Cambodian applicants. Affirmative action policies that have challenged employers and schools to bring their standards into stricter line with the actual skill requirements of jobs and educational programs have reduced discrimination and made hiring and admissions processes fairer for all.  
Finally, it must be said that the widespread juxtaposition of affirmative action with "unqualified" itself reflects the pervasiveness of racial and sexual stereotypes in our society. Studies have shown that women and people of color, just by virtue of who they are, are automatically assumed to be less competent than white males for any task. This presumption of inferiority is so entrenched that even a woman or person of color who is actually more qualified is often perceived as being less so. Only by increasing diversity in American workplaces and on campuses will such stereotyping die out.
But that's rather beside the point, because it's a policy for a minority-minority country. In a nation where minorities are the majority of students, it's just ethnic quotas. Indeed, that's already somewhat the case; my understanding is that most of the extra spaces that go to black and latino [sic] students are taken from Asians, not whites.
McArdle is, as usual, incoherent when she claims affirmative action takes education spots from Asians and gives them to other minorities. Using McArdle's reasoning, without affirmative action high-performing Asians would take spots from whites, since McArdle obviously assumes other minorities are low performers. "My understanding is" is such a convenient phrase for those who don't think.

Q: Isn't affirmative action essentially a quota system?  
A: Not at all. Calling it a "quota system" distorts the reality of both what affirmative action intends and how it actually works. Affirmative action, which simply takes race and sex into account, is in some cases a legal remedy applied to a specific case of discriminatory exclusion, and in others a compensatory opportunity that an institution or employer provides voluntarily and temporarily to members of groups disadvantaged by discrimination.  
When a court orders an affirmative action plan as a legal remedy, it usually does so only after proof that persistent discrimination has resulted in total or near total exclusion of racial minorities or women, and only after other methods of achieving equality have failed.  
For example, in the 1974 case of Morrow v. Crisler, a federal court ordered the Mississippi Highway Patrol to make the hiring ratio of whites to blacks more equal. At the time, African Americans were 36.7 percent of the state population, yet not one black officer served on the Patrol. In 1979, the underrepresentation of Asian Americans on the San Francisco police force prompted a lawsuit that resulted in court ordered goals and timetables for hiring officers who could speak both English and Chinese. In both cases, the courts' decisions came only after the hiring practices were found to be discriminatory, and only after other, voluntary measures for promoting equality had proved ineffective.  
In cases where discrimination has been found to be extreme, the only reasonable way of remedying it is to set numerical goals that can reasonably be met within a prescribed period of time. Such goals, in effect, estimate the circumstance that would most likely prevail were there no discrimination. Seeking to discredit affirmative action, some critics insist on equating these remedial goals with "quotas." That equation is utterly false. The truth is that such goals are flexible, temporary and are remedial instruments of inclusion, while quotas are fixed, intended to be permanent and were used historically to exclude members of some ethnic groups from jobs and education.  
When used as a compensatory opportunity, affirmative action provides broad opportunities to racial minorities and women to make up for disadvantages they have long suffered because of discrimination. Universities and employers are asked to make an extra effort to seek out applicants whom they would not likely find through traditional methods of recruitment. Compensatory affirmative action sometimes means that a qualified candidate from a disadvantaged group is chosen instead of a candidate who is white and/or male.  
Affirmative action is only one method and not a perfect method of fighting a multifaceted, difficult problem. But the ACLU believes that affirmative action is a fair and moral remedy for institutionalized racism and sexism that must be used on an interim basis, where appropriate, if we are serious about achieving an equitable society.
So what should a new Republican politics for a majority-minority nation look like? I'm not sure. But I am fairly sure that future GOP platform will not look like current Democratic politics. And for that matter, neither will the future Democratic policies.
She hopes. But as we all know, McArdle's prognostication powers, not to mention intellectual powers, are a little weak, and conservatives' habit of basing one's political analysis on prejudice and ignorance is one of the reasons why we just elected President Obama, not Mitt Romney.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Always Wrong, Etc.

Shorter Megan McArdle: There are no villains so why regulate the markets?

Money quote:

 Neither markets nor government are perfectible; the best we're going to get is ones that work pretty well most of the time. In 2005, everyone--homebuyers, bankers, regulators, legislators--was making essentially the same mistake. And while it's more comfortable to believe that this was malevolent, the more prosaic truth is probably that sometimes large groups of people get stuff badly wrong. We can't plan our way to a risk free system. The best we can do is a system that fails a little bit better. 
Inded. Since we can't eliminate risk, let's eliminate regulations!

Bonus in the comments: Moral hazard does not apply to bankers.


Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Stupidly Evil or Evilly Stupid?

Megan McArdle explains the economy to us.
The other reason you shouldn't expect much in the way of radical new plans [after the election] is that we are now officially out of money. The recession is still grinding down tax revenues, and the bills for long-promised entitlements are coming due. There's no cash in the till for big tax cuts or new spending. And while there might be some shift in emphasis as to how we ultimately resolve our budget crunch, Obama does not have negotiating room to raise it all with a massive tax on Warren Buffett, and Romney is hardly going to get much support for turning Social Security into a free coupon for half-priced beverages at Denny's. The zone of possible agreement is actually pretty small, and either man is going to find himself stuck with a solution that neither he, nor you, will very much like.

You see, there is a till and when it is empty America has run out of money. It's not like we can just "print" more.

McArdle has to be lying; she cannot possibly be ignorant of monetary sovereignty.

Can she?

It's Mine, All Mine!

The 1% will never have enough.
Goldman Sachs has dropped 33 partners since it last disclosed the number of elite bankers at the firm, according to regulatory filings. Being a Goldman partner is one of the most coveted positions on Wall Street, unlocking access to a lucrative compensation scheme on top of the prestige the title holds. The bank's partners own more than 11% of shares between them, valued at more than $6bn (£3.7bn). But as Goldman looks to slash costs, it has cut partners. According to the outgoing chief financial officer, David Viniar, up to 20% of Goldman partners typically leave every two years. High-profile partners including David Heller and Ed Eisler, two co-heads of Goldman's securities business, and Lucas Van Praag, the bank's long-time communications chief, have left the bank. Some partners appear to have chosen to drop their coveted status in favour of retaining their jobs. Since the end of 2010, the bank has cut more than 3,000 employees worldwide as it seeks to reduce annual expenses by $1.9bn.
Gosh, Goldman, Sachs must be hurting. Why else would they cut costs, depriving the 9% of their hard-earned rewards?
Goldman's revenue more than doubled in the previous quarter, to $8.35bn, from $3.59bn during the same period a year ago. It has set aside $10.97bn for compensation this year, up 10% from a year ago. The sum equates to $336,442 per employee, up 15% from $292,836 per worker during the first nine months of 2011.
They will never stop until they have it all.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012


Charles Pierce has endorsed Obama for president because he wants to make "sure that Willard Romney is not president." He says that a third party vote is not really an option because third parties are powerless without proportional voting. And he says that he is not voting for Obama out of fear (presumably of Romney), but because he doesn't have a choice.

This is not "fear" talking. This is simply the way things are. It is important to stand against the people and the forces to which Willard Romney owes his political career. It is more important to do that than it is to do anything else. It is more important to do that than to salve my conscience, or make a statement, or dream my wistful dreams of a better and more noble politics. And that is why, today, I will vote for Barack Obama, not because of the man he is not, but because of the man his opponent clearly has become. I will do so without enthusiasm, and without a sliver of doubt in my mind.

Mr. Pierce will not vote his conscience or use his power to force his party to respond to his wants or try to change politics. He will vote for Obama because Romney and his followers are evil and we should avoid the "fearsome" consequences.

On the other hand, Willard Romney owes even more to the Wall Street crowd, and he owes even more to the military, but he also owes everything he is politically to the snake-handlers and the Bible-bangers, to the Creationist morons and to the people who stalk doctors and glue their heads to the clinic doors, to the reckless plutocrats and to the vote-suppressors, to the Randian fantasts and libertarian fakers, to the closeted and not-so-closeted racists who have been so empowered by the party that has given them a home, to the enemies of science and to the enemies of reason, to the devil's bargain of obvious tactical deceit and to the devil's honoraria of dark, anonymous money, and, ultimately, to those shadowy places in himself wherein Romney sold out who he might actually be to his overweening ambition. It is a fearsome bill to come due for any man, let alone one as mendaciously malleable as the Republican nominee. Obama owes the disgruntled. Romney owes the crazy. And that makes all the difference.

Bush jokes about weapons of mass destruction and we were shocked. Obama joked about drone bombings and we ignored it. Bush bails out Wall Street and he's serving his masters; Obama does it and he's saving the country. Romney panders to his base and we are supposed to be afraid; Obama insults and ignores his base and we are supposed to be supportive of him anyway. No matter what we do, we lose.

When you lose even when you win, continuing to play the same game is not the right choice. Mr. Pierce is right; this is simply the way things are. And they will never, ever change, because we do not try to change them. We do what we are told, vote for whomever we are told to vote for, ignore whatever we are told to ignore. Because deep down we know that we do not have a choice. Not in the sense that most people think of the situation, in which we must either vote for Romney or Obama. We don't have a choice because we would have to lose so much more before we started to win, and we are afraid.

We would  lose the emotional support of our tribe, our friends and family and ideological allies. They will turn on us with all the means at their disposal and immediately cast us out of the tribe, as loudly and viciously as they can.

We will lose money. The pundits would lose financial support from the party and donations from ideological supporters. We would lose even more jobs, even more services.. We would see more of the burden of supporting society shift onto our middle class shoulders.

We would lose our feeling of superiority and hope for our future. If we acknowledge that were are victims of the rich we admit we are powerless, that we are likely to become more poor and miserable, kill more foreigners, die sooner in a dirty and hot planet that cannot support our lifestyle anymore. We would have to look at our children and think, you might die sooner because of my choices. You might not be able to have a future, a family, a decent life. This is unendurable.

We would lose our sense of security. If we ignore Obama's drone wars we can ignore the fear that one day those drones will be used against us, that they will patrol our cities from the sky recording everything we do just as Obama now patrols our communications, recording everything we say. That the police state, which now ensures no massive protests will ever get off the ground will also ensure that we are never able to fight back in any way. We would watch the iron fist discard the velvet glove, and feel the oppression that only the victims of our success now feel. We would all become Muslims, and our worst nightmare has always been that one day we would be treated as we treated others; the Native Americans,  Blacks, foreigners, the very poor, women, children.

But in the end, after we have fought and lost and fought again, we would win. We are The People and our elite are afraid of us. The only thing keeping them alive is our complicity, our unspoken agreement to let them do whatever they want to us as long as we can go on dreaming and pretending that things will get better even if we do nothing to make them better but fill out a ballot every few years.

We will not fight, however. We are afraid. We are terrified. And we will do anything, no matter how much it hurts us later,  to pretend we are not.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Subverting Democracy

There is an amazing interview with Greg Palast at, in which he describes some of the fanatical Koch family's history of subverting democracy. Palast describes how "Charles Koch personally ordered the pilfering of oil" royalties from Native Americans.

But the most interesting thing was my question: why? He was already a multibillionaire at the time. And so the amount of oil being stolen, you have to understand, is a few hundred bucks from a family from each of these native families, and they get some royalties. I said, why, but one of his executives asked the same question, why. And we know his answer because his executives were wired. And on the tape he said, I want my fair share, and that's all of it. This is the Koch brothers.

Their father was multi-millionaire Fred Koch, one of the founders of the John Birch Society, who became terrified of communism while working in Russia. His fear became fanaticism.

He claimed that the Democratic and Republican Parties were infiltrated by the Communist Party, and he supported Mussolini's suppression of communists. He wrote that "The colored man looms large in the Communist plan to take over America," and that "Welfare was a secret plot to attract rural blacks to cities, where they would foment a vicious race war." [19]

And he raised his children to be fanatical as well, in their own way. This world belongs to the strong, the wealthy. They own it, they want it, and they will get what they want, because nothing will stop them. Palast says that the law does not stop them because they have the laws rewritten to benefit themselves. The law belongs to them, it is their weapon and the source of much of their power. It is a terrible mistake to ignore violations of the rule of law that do not affect you. Those violations are warning signs of what is to come, the proverbial canary in the coal mine.

If your friends are violating the law and getting away with it, just imagine how much more your enemies are violating the law and getting away with it. But the two groups must turn a blind eye to each other so they can continue their once-illegal practices, so Obama refuses to prosecute Republicans for their crimes and Republicans pretend that Obama is their ideological enemy.  That giant hue and cry over socialism neatly prevented conservatives from observing that Obama was helping Wall Street over Main Street.

At that point [2010], there was this little group called Citizens United, which somehow hired the most expensive lawyer in the United States, Ted Olsen, to argue their case at the Supreme Court. But no one asked, how did they get Ted Olsen? He didn't volunteer. He was given leave from his day job as general counsel for Koch Industries. So Koch Industries, this was the way that Koch Industries—.

JAY: Which frees the Koch Brothers, in this election, to spend whatever they want.

PALAST: Right. And not only that, but (very important) it decriminalized their prior behavior. The Kochs were always giving money through Koch Industries, but it was criminal. They just decriminalized it. So it's not just what they could do now, but that they got away with their—basically, any attempt at bringing them to justice before.

And I want to give credit to a Republican senator, Fred Thompson—remember Mr. Law and Order, the guy who plays a federal prosecutor on Law and Order? As you'll see in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, Fred Thompson wanted to blow the whistle on the Koch brothers, even though he was a Republican, 'cause I guess he took playing the part of a prosecutor kind of seriously, right? And he was told by Trent Lott, then the senator, the Republican majority leader in the Senate, back off, and his investigation was shut down. And why didn't the Democrats, who knew all about it, scream bloody murder?

JAY: Yeah, why?

PALAST: One did, and it's ["dik@n'sini], but they got—he told me the Koch brothers got him. That's when the Keating Five—he was smeared. And he said the Koch brothers were behind him losing his seat, 'cause he wanted to bring up this issue. But Fred Thompson, a Republican, shut it down.

And the Democrats didn't complain, because it was a trade, it was a deal, as you'll read—and true-blue democrats might be upset to hear this, but Bill Clinton apparently had taken not a small amount of change from his billionaires, called the Riady family. They're not American citizens. He met 95 times with them in the White House. That means he met with Chinese billionaires more often than his own daughter, Chelsea. And he—apparently, money went into the Clinton campaign and other favors were done by the Riadys, big favors for the Clintons. That's a real impeachable offense. Forget the stains-on-dresses stuff. This was really impeachable. And Trent Lott told Senator Thompson, we don't do the Riadys and Clinton, and they don't do the Kochs. So it was a billionaire trade. And that's how the game's played.

JAY: Okay. More of this is all in Billionaires & Ballot Bandits. And if you want to get more detail on this and much more like it, it's in the book.

People tell themselves that things won't get worse, that they have a president on their side who will hear their concerns and act on them, that they can work from inside to change the establishment. But it's too late. They refused to admit that their leaders were typical authoritarian leaders who believe that they do not have to follow the rules, have no empathy for anyone not like them, and will not stop their endless grab for more power. Power is a verb. It is an action. To truly have power you must use it, see it in action, inflict it on those weaker than you, who are everyone else in your kingdom. You must make others suffer to prove that you have all the power. The suffering of the poor is music to your ears, because it means you are superior, you are rewarded by God, you are one of the chosen ones, you are worthy and everyone else is not.

The poor and middle class let themselves be mistreated, which proves that they are weak and therefore immoral, since immorality is a sign of human weakness and the legacy of Original Sin. Suffering is pleasing to God, encourages morality, is a sign of obedience. It is a very, very good thing, and Koch Industries is here to make sure that good things happen to everyone.

Especially the Koches. They want it all, it belongs to them. The workers and the rivers, the fields and the politicians, the money and the power. They took billions from the 90% and they will take billions from the 9%.

You? You're just in the way.

Read the rest.

Via Naked Capitalism

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Mankind Is Counting On You

To paraphrase Tara, "Oh my god I'm cured! I want Obama!"

Found on Twitter via Whedonesque.

The Mediocrity Of The Douthat

Shorter Ross Douthat: Representing your female constituents and responding to their requests is paternalism.

The "Shorter Ross Douthat" formula is far kinder than Douthat deserves. His article is a laundry list of right-wing daily outrages such as the Julia slide show, Sandra Fluke and Lena Dunham. Douthat is duly incensed that Obama sinks to pandering to women by reminding them who is the lesser evil.

But given the way Obama’s once-enormous edge among female voters has shrunk in many polls, tomorrow’s feminists may look back on his campaign’s pitch to women and see a different theme emerge: a weirdly paternalistic form of social liberalism, in which women are forever single girls and the president is their father, lover, fiancĂ© and paladin all rolled into one.
 Douthat's link leads to an unsourced Politico article. Recent polls say Obama's numbers have risen among men and, more important, are still higher than Romney's in swing states. Elites are funny people; they are so accustomed to being told that they are leaders and bred for greatness that they tend to underestimate everyone else. Douthat and others (cough:McArdlecough) assume that their readers will either not read the links, not understand the links, or not care if the links contradict their article.

Douthat attempts to manipulate the poor, weak dears by telling them that Obama is oppressing them with his maleness and sexuality and condescending belief that he knows what is best for them.

This paternalistic pitch assumes that liberalism’s traditional edge with women is built mostly on social issues, and that Democrats — especially male Democrats — win when they run as protectors of the sexual revolution, standing between their female constituents and the Todd Akins of the Republican Party.
Douthat goes on to say that women have always preferred the Democratic party because they are communal, no doubt because they are motherly and nurturing and cannot deny their biological imperative to cling to a man and bear his children. Men, Douthat says, are individualist--ruggedly so, no doubt--and therefore support Republicans, which contradicts the latest poll information.
An imaginary Republican plot to ban contraception, the illusory threat that Mitt Romney would ban abortion in cases of rape, a wave of faux-chivalric outrage over Romney’s line about “binders full of women” — in a tight-as-a-tick, economy-centric election, this is the message that Obama is relying on to push him back over the top.  
Perhaps it will actually work. Perhaps the Electoral College will save the president. But I’ll just say this: It’s awfully hard to imagine Hillary Clinton closing out a campaign this way.
It's just a coincidence that the Catholic Church has allied itself with the Republican party, and it doesn't matter what Mitt says because he takes both sides of every issue, depending on whom he is talking to.

This isn't the first time Douthat has attempted to use an enemy's strength against him. Predictably, chaos ensued, because Douthat is a mediocre hack who thinks he commands great persuasive powers over the foolish masses. He's unable to use Obama's real weakness against him; namely, that despite the fact that Democrats elected a Democratic president, legislature aiming to limit abortions still sky-rocketed, and that Obama refused to offer Plan B over the counter to girls under 17, the ages most likely to get impregnated by incest.

The right can't attack Obama on his many abuses because they approve of them, and thus they will probably lose to a man that they despise so much they can't even see how much he agrees with them.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Like A Virgin: The Dinesh D'Souza Story

The future Mrs. Dinesh D'Souza holds her honey close to her heart. Or some place.
Photo from BuzzFeed.
Dinesh D'Souza has outed himself as a world-class wanker, something everyone already knows but D'Souza inexplicably thought he could hide in plain sight. And speaking of hiding things in places one should not, it seems married uber-Christian D'Souza was caught sleeping with a married woman in her late twenties while at a Christian conference.

The young lady in question, Denise Joseph, a right-wing blogger, married Dec. 30, 2011, but by September D'Souza was introducing her as his fiancee.  D'Souza said they met three months ago so it was truly a whirlwind courtship; from first meeting to fiancee in only two months. However a former D'Souza staffer at The King's College, where D'Souza was president until the scandal hit, begged to differ with D'Souza's account. The Daily Beast says that Joseph has been seen at the college since "early 2012":

A former student said people would ask about Joseph, whom he described as “pushy,” but would be met with “weird smiles” and evasive answers. That student said one of his friends, a staffer who worked closely with D’Souza, was tasked with creating an official response to the speculation, which was that she was “a good friend of Dinesh.” The student said staffers he knew believed Joseph made her presence known at the college because she wanted to be more than D’Souza’s “road tail.”

If this account is true Joseph was a newlywed when D'Souza scooped her up. D'Souza told the Evangelical magazine World, which broke the story, that Joseph was his fiance and they had spent the night together in his hotel room at the conference but that "nothing happened." He also told World that he and his wife were divorcing but he did not file for divorce until reporters started contacting him regarding this story. As the story grew and he was forced to resign his presidency, D'Souza "went on the attack," accusing the conferences organizer who witnessed D'Souza and Joseph get one hotel room together and the owner of World, as liars. He claims vendetta, since he had ended World vice president's editorial consultant contract with The King's College.

Christianity Today says:
"The approach in the article ... is a clear effort to destroy me and my career," D'Souza said. "To me, that is a kind of viciousness masquerading as righteousness. That's what makes this deplorable and sad."  
Smith said any speculation that World published its report as a vendetta against D'Souza and TKC is irresponsible.  
"It is simply not true," Smith said. "It's a story we did not pursue, but once we came across it, we made a pretty straightforward journalistic determination that this is a newsworthy story."  
Smith said conference organizers McFarland and Tony Beam observed D'Souza's "highly irregular" behavior and shared the information with Smith, who was speaking at the same event.
So the morals police at the evangelical conference in South Carolina ran tattling to World magazine because baby Jesus weeps every time a man sins, and a man who makes a living peddling hypocrisy is hoist in his own double standard. D'Souza now claims that Joseph did not share his room, the two did not sleep together, and for the life of him, D'Souza just can't imagine why any Christian would be upset by his actions anyway.

Denise and I were trying to do the right thing. I had no idea that it is considered wrong in Christian circles to be engaged prior to being divorced, even though in a state of separation and in divorce proceedings. Obviously I would not have introduced Denise as my fiancé at a Christian apologetics conference if I had thought or known I was doing something wrong. But as a result of all this, and to avoid even the appearance of impropriety, Denise and I have decided to suspend our engagement.

Obviously! Why on earth would anyone expect the religious right to get upset by the sight of D'Souza cohabiting with a young woman not his wife? It's not like they and D'Souza preach constantly about morality.

Why is Obama on the social issues — and I’m thinking here of abortion, I’m thinking here of gay marriage — why is Obama so aggressive in attacking the traditional values agenda? I think the reason for it is because when Obama thinks about colonialism, about the British and the French who went abroad to conquer other countries, or earlier the Spanish and the Portuguese, I come from a part of India that was a Portuguese colony at one time, I think for Obama colonialism is identified not just with the soldiers but also with the missionaries. Remember it’s the missionaries that went alongside the conquerors, the conquistadors, came to the Americas and worked on converting the Indians and later missionaries went to China, India and Japan. So I think this is the problem, Obama doesn’t like traditional Christianity because he identifies it with colonialism. Obama’s own Christianity is more of a Third World liberation theology, a very different kind of Jeremiah Wright type philosophy, summarized in the idea that America is the rogue nation in the world.

Oh, wait. They do. Especially when they can make lots of money by lecturing about Obama's so-called anti-Christian beliefs and actions.

Happily, the future looks bright for the new couple, since the young lady is every bit as hypocritical as her paramour. Right Wing Watch helpfully excerpted a portion of Joseph's now-invisible personal blog, where she rails against those nasty liberals who are destroying marriage with infidelity.

In the 1960s and 1970s, feminists and liberals of other stripes started pointing out the hypocrisies of what they termed “patriarchy.” Time and again, they urged us to recognize human’s natural “animal instincts” in relation to traditional morality and therefore, to reject traditional institutions such as marriage as outdated because now these intellectual elites had things like biology and sociology, things like women’s studies, gender studies, and critical race theory, to back them up. They pointed to infidelity or infamous sexual desire surveys (conducted by homosexuals)[vi] among traditionally married couples to “prove” their theses. Limb by limb, they tore the traditional family to shreds until they reduced us to the shining bastion of zoological (but even animals aren’t this bad and do not depend on the state to care for them)cesspool equality that we have now in every American ghetto and which is seeping out into the middle and upper classes in less animated ways. These people, like their European counterparts, are the ones who will go extinct. For instance, we have raised an entire generation of boys who, permanently scarred by their parents’ divorces(perhaps over issues such as infidelity) cannot emotionally connect or commit to any one woman in any meaningful way and so we also have an entire generation of girls for whom that coveted diamond solitaire comes later and later in life, with more and more contractual caveats (prenups). Somehow, when it happens after 5 years of living together, after 1 year of non-exclusive dating followed by another 3 years of recurring breakups over the male’s unwillingness to “commit,” getting that ring for which you girls will surely be paying your hard-earned half, doesn’t feel quite like the fairytale it used to.

No doubt that coveted diamond solitaire will eventually make its way onto Joseph's finger, courtesy of millions of gullible right-wingers who buy D'Souza's products. And is there any doubt that it will be a much bigger diamond that that of the first (of many!) Mrs. Dinesh D'Souzas?