Atlas Shrugged: The Mocking

Monday, February 29, 2016

Bow Before Your God

Discovering at last that Jonah Goldberg was right and it's easier to ask your readers to do your work for you, Megan McArdle has sought and assembled a bunch of emails from stalwart Republicans who are appalled that they might have to vote for a soulless monster (Trump) instead of a soulless monster (Rubio or Cruz).

The main arguments were his authoritarianism, his lack of any principle besides the further aggrandizement of one Donald J. Trump, his racism and misogyny, and his erratic behavior, which led a whole lot of people to write that they were afraid to have him anywhere within a thousand miles of the nuclear launch codes.
Authoritarianism is the core principle of the Republican party. Obedience to authority is in its bones. McArdle wants to preserve the authoritarian system with a different leader. She does not mention that.

She doesn't mention her own musings on whether or not Black people are mentally deficient. Her racism oozes out of her posts when she discusses gentrification, welfare, riots, redlining, and unwed motherhood. She doesn't review her beliefs that women should not have control over their own bodies and should in fact be forced to undergo sodomy (penetration with a vaginal wand) to punish them for wanting an abortion.

No, Mrs. Megan McArdle is absolutely innocent in the degradation of her party. It's all Trump's fault. (When she reads Douthat's latest poo she'll blame liberals as well.)

Meanwhile, McArdle explains how anyone who's anyone is against Trump. Some quotes from her readers:
“I’ve been involved in politics for almost as long as I can remember.… Throughout the years, I had the opportunity to meet and campaign for a number of candidates…. I’m the first to admit that they all had flaws, and some were less conservative than I, but I never met or worked for one who wasn’t a patriot. Yes, we disagreed, but never did I feel that these disagreements were personal or that they conveyed a lack of respect for our fellow Americans. Far from it. That changed with Donald Trump.”
This person worked hard to elect candidates because they waved the flag. Now he can't understand how people could follow the nationalist.
A former conservative columnist for his college paper wrote: “I voted for a Republican congressional candidate who was later convicted of using taxpayer money to buy sex toys. I voted for a Republican congressman who was on his deathbed. I voted for W even though I was mad at him over the Iraq war. I voted for McCain even though I thought his health-care and cap-and-trade plans would be disastrous. I voted for Romney even though I disliked his Mormonism and his creation of Romneycare. But I can’t bring myself to vote for Trump.”
This genius voted for a bunch of venal, stupid, immoral candidates just because they called themselves Republican. That's exactly how he ended up with Trump.

A Marine Officer says he votes straight Republican, even from Iraq, but he'd vote for any other candidate over Trump. Yes, he helped reelect Bush while in Iraq. But Trump is beyond the pale.

McArdle tells us that her correspondents would generally rather throw the election to Clinton than elect Trump. Not even the balance of the Supreme Court can change their minds.
“I fully feel that even a single four-year term by either Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders would be disastrous to the fundamentals and principles this nation was founded on. But a Donald Trump administration would be equally, if not more, disastrous. The difference is that with Donald Trump, conservatives and the Republican Party would be shackled to the mess created, bound at least by association to whatever tyranny he imposes, whatever disastrous policy he enacts on a whim, and whatever hateful, bigoted rhetoric follows in his wake by the alarming number of his followers I would never have imagined still exist in America today.”
If Trump is nominated the scam is over. The Republican party will no longer be able to hide behind an urbane, sophisticated, intellectual fa├žade. All its ugliness will spill out into the open in a never-ending stream of invective and disastrous policies. It'll be just like when Lily Pulitzer sold bags at Target and ruined the name for everyone!
So why exactly do people hate Trump?

“It’s not just that he’s vain, conceited and a braggart. Or that he’s prone to petty put downs, schoolyard taunts, cruel mockery and just plain rudeness. It is that he embodies virtually everything I strive to teach my young sons not to be and not to emulate.

•That being wealthy makes one morally superior.
•That material wealth is a measure of a man’s true worth.
•That boasting about sexual conquests is something to be admired or cheered.
•That every challenge to your ideas should be met not with a sound argument about the idea, but with smears, insults and put downs about the person uttering the disagreement.
•That legitimate challenges to your ideas should be met with threats of financial ruin or lawsuits. •That the force of government should be wielded by the wealthy against the weak.
•That your failures or lack of success must always be attributed not to your lack of intelligence or initiative, but to someone else getting something that’s rightfully yours.”
Well la-de-fucking-da. McArdle actually said that being wealthy makes one morally superior! The rich chumps in her audience ate it up with a spoon.
[Q.]Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? [A. (McArdle)] Mathematically, it is likely that we are near the peak of human population. On the other hand, I'm encouraged by the incredibly rapid economic change going on now. I think that getting richer has made us more moral - more careful about human life and suffering. So if we keep getting richer, I expect that we will also get better, with more morality, more art and culture, and more of almost every other good thing.
As I already repeated, she used to insult liberals all the time and still does when she can get away with it. She supports the wealthy's chokehold on the economy. She claims liberals keep conservatives out of academia. She does everything that her correspondent supposedly hates and she is so freaking oblivious that she doesn't even notice she is damning herself with her guest's words.

McArdle says she is surprised that so many people say they would abandon the party if it became the party of Trump. People who get their self-esteem from their authoritarian structure can't bear to become Trump followers. They've always told themselves that they are superior to the masses and especially liberals. Through every scientific paper that helpfully pointed out their numerous and debilitating failures as decent human beings, they have claimed they are special, superior, Incredible.

Republicans have always supported proto-fascists, racists, and misogynists. They are tired of being told to use their inside voices and if they don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all. They want Trump.

All those Ray Harryhausen movies paid off. This is the clash of the Titans, in which Cronus castrated his father and supplanted him, then ate his own children so they would not depose him in turn. Trump is castrating the party (ouch, Mr. Christie!) and will eventually try to eat someone on live television. It will probably be Ross Douthat. He looks well-marbled.


Too Smart For Their Own Good

Events are moving fast but let's take a look at Megan McArdle's post on the impossibility of the Trump.
A lot of people have come up with metaphors for the drubbing Donald Trump took at last night’s debate: Frazier v. Ali, for example, or a Rubiobot set to “kill” rather than “stun.” Here’s one that kept occurring to me as I watched Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz take turns reducing Donald Trump to a petulant, stammering mess: the eighth-grade loudmouth who graduates to high school and gets ripped to shreds by a couple of juniors.

It takes a junior high fighter to know a junior high fighter but McArdle isn't even a good junior high fighter. Trump's last name used to be Drumpf. Anyone who doesn't call him a Drummkopf is wasting everyone's time.

 But first let's look at numbers, something the economic blogger avoided.

Donald Trump leads Sen. Marco Rubio(R-Fla.) by 18 points nationwide after the tenth GOP presidential debate, according to a new survey.

Trump roars past Rubio with 39 percent to 21 percent, according to the NBC News/Survey Monkey poll released Friday.
It's the thought that counts and McArdle wants to spend the next eight years mooning dreamily over Rubio as he destroys everything he touches. She does not want to watch a liberal become the first woman president or sink down to the level of the rest of her tea bagging circle.

Like all of the rest of the conservative pundits, McArdle think she is giving value by analyzing that strange Trump phenomenon. She has a million ways to avoid admitting that her party courted the racist South to win while telling themselves that their hands remained clean. They traffic in racism the same way that their predecessors trafficked in human flesh.
The remarkable thing about Donald Trump’s stunts has always been just how juvenile they were. His taunts were, basically, unimaginative variants on such middle school classics as:
“I know you are but what am I?”
“You’re a loser!”
“[Insert wildly incorrect “fact” made up on the spot]”
“Lalalalalalala I can’t hear you”
Remember that her literary circle includes Jonah "PeeWee Hermann" Goldberg and Ross "My religion is your fact" Douthat.

Also remember that McArdle uses insults instead of arguments, such as, "those words don't mean what you think they mean" and she's not just making a joke or movie allusion.
Trump succeeded with these tactics not so much because they were devastating, but because no one else on stage could believe that an adult was acting this way -- and when they finally did believe it, no one else wanted to join Trump in his second puberty.
Liar. They wanted his racist, hateful voters. They jumped on the successful bullying tactic as soon as they realized they could no longer safely wait for him to go away.

The only person who seems not to have realized what was going on was Donald Trump. And when the tables were turned on him by people who adopted the same level of verbal aggressiveness, with a higher level of intelligence, he didn’t know how to respond.

We do not know if Rubio is smarter than Trump which is a serious problem for Rubio. So far Trump has outsmarted him. McArdle might be telling herself that bullies crumble on the first push-back but Rubio is a hot-house flower compared to Trump, a bully since childhood. Trump spent a lifetime among manipulators and sharks and is very good at spotting emotional weaknesses.

JUST IN: Rubio mocks Trump: "He should sue whoever did that to his face"
— The Hill (@thehill) February 27, 2016
 Rubio is a sad little man. Remove the handlers, audience and moderators and Rubio would crumple in front of Trump. But the greater truth is that even if Rubio demolished Trump, especially if Rubio demolished Trump, he would not get Trump's anti-establishment voters.

The worst moment, as many have noted, was the back-and-forth on health care. This was bad not because Donald Trump’s health-care policy is woefully incomplete; policy doesn’t matter that much at this stage of the election. (More on this later.) It was bad because, just as loudmouth eighth-graders often do, Trump was basically talking about something he didn’t understand: the idea that we should allow health insurance to be sold across state lines. This is a perfectly fine idea that wouldn’t make much difference to health-care costs, but again, that’s not why it hurt Trump. It hurt Trump because, just like those eighth graders often do, he screwed it up.

It is a terrible idea, just as it was with credit cards. Always wrong because of ideology.

McArdle went on to relate Rubio's shining "I know you are but what am I?" moment.

Pundits cheered, particularly conservative ones. Having made no secret of my dislike for Trump, I will probably not surprise you by saying that I was among them. Rubio, and also Ted Cruz, who attacked him very successfully on electability, showed Donald Trump some things I’m not sure he realized: that bullies can be bullied; that being the front-runner means everyone’s going to come at you; and that there is a reason that those boring, low-energy experienced politicians take care not to say things that they will have to answer for in the media, or which can be used against them in attack ads....

Of course McArdle supports Rubio. McArdle's career and the careers of all her friends and husband depend on maintaining the status quo. She refuses to imagine that everything can change, that the Republicans can lie and pander themselves into this state of degeneracy. The right's greed destroyed their own grift. They milked their followers until the followers were broke, depressed, angry and high. Now their control over those followers is dead.

Not that they cared--until now, when the defeated have found a strongman leader to lift them out of their self-imposed misery.

And yet as bracing as it was to see Trump knocked back on his heels, at the end of the day, I can’t be too happy about it. We saw the eighth-grade bully put down, yes -- but by reducing the entire debate stage to the level of a high school put-down contest.

Policy was basically nowhere, except for the early round on immigration. The rest of the debate was a festival of interpersonal verbal aggression, in which what mattered was not how you would govern, or even what you believed, but who could most effectively interrupt, harass and sneer. I cheered, so that I would not weep for my country.

This is what passes for deep feeling in our empathy-free elite. She cheered because she loves bullies just as much as those despised Trump fans. She helped create those Trump fans. And now we are supposed to think she weeps for her country's descent into petty insults and partisan unkindness.

This woman:
Note to My Angry Liberal Interlocutors

Before you pop off at me, would you please try to read all the words in the post? In order?

I say this because in the past few weeks, I've had a notable uptick of incidents where someone berates me by saying, "Well how come you don't think we need to help mentally ill people who have jobs!" or "You're completely ignoring the possibility that once a company gets a monopoly, they will jack up prices!", when I have spent a paragraph or so discussing exactly the problem that they are angrily demanding that I address . . . or rather, angrily declaring that my failure to understand this point is evidence of my total hypocrisy/ideological blindness/hatred of the unfortunate.

I have many flaws. There is no need to go fabricating imaginary ones.

This is cute. And incredibly stupid. Leaving aside the issue of what constitutes a war crime that should be prosecuted in international courts--you heartless fiend! my liberal readers cry, we knew all along that you loved torture!...I know that I have a lot of seething war opponents reading this, their souls screaming that the practical considerations are secondary to the moral ones....

Before my liberal readers freak out, this does not make me happy.

I know that my liberal friends and readers think of me as a union basher who just can't stand the thought of workers claiming a bigger share of the pie.

When I wrote the other week about why I am opposed to national health care, a number of people angrily demanded to know why I was writing about something that "no one is proposing". Now, this is clearly a lunatic statement. I was writing about something that many people were proposing. I just wasn't writing about the nebulous bills currently wending their way through various committees.

This first sentence is just here for all the bloggers who want to read the first sentence of the post and then go write an angry rebuttal of my claim that poor Americans should have to torture puppies in order to be eligible for Bandaids.

A series of posts at Reason illustrates that the liberal rage at right-wing loonies is starting to sound, well, a little loonie:

I find it hard to believe that none of the liberal commentators breathlessly celebrating Wal-Mart's "capitulation" on national health care have even entertained the most parsimonious explanation: that Wal-Mart is in favor of this because it raises the barriers to entry in the retail market, and hammers Wal-Mart's competition.

I see a lot of liberal blogs crowing that Obama's really taking it to the hedge funds who are holding out on the Chrysler bankruptcy.

Number one item in this post on Graeme Frost:

1) I told y'all this was going to happen. Maybe next time you'll listen, hmmm?

Weirdly triggered angry email from liberal commenters, who offered this as an example of my tendency to make snotty dismissals of liberals. This is weird because, of course, I was talking to conservatives, in re my earlier post on the general political unwiseness of attacking programs that give money to cute children.

Poverty policy[:] Liberals will scream, but George Bush gets this one. Kerry has one plan I like--increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit--but the rest of his programme is just standard Democratic same-old, same-old.... For all the hysteria, Bush's plans for Social Security and Medicare are excessively modest....I'm unconvinced by anti-war people screaming about screw-ups in the early weeks of the war, including the latest explosives flap. As a project manager, I know too well that when you operate in a tight time frame, no matter how much you plan, nothing goes according to plan. Something comes out of left field and makes half your planning obsolete, and the other half irrelevant.

So it looks like the Torch is going to drop out of the New Jersey Senate race.

Democrats are getting slightly hysterical, because it's not clear that it's legal to replace him after the primary.
McArdle's only marketable skill is her attacks on liberals. Those posts get many hundreds of comments; her bi-partisan ones get far fewer. She is the living embodiment of her country's descent into partisan cruelty. It's her job, her mind-set, her way of life. She did hatched jobs on anyone who got in the way of her goals: Elizabeth Warren, Edmund Andrews and his wife, Kathleen Sebelius, Yasha Levine and Mark Ames, and the head of the CDC and that's just off the top of my head. She has made the world a worse place by living in it.

McArdle has always complained that she just wants to have a quiet, civil conversation about how liberals should be eliminated from public life while attacking anyone in her way with positively Trump-like fervor and glee. But now the leader is doing his own rat-fucking and she's all verklempt.

And yet, this is just a reflection of something I already knew: Policy just doesn’t matter that much in presidential debates, or for that matter, in presidential elections. Elections that feature an incumbent may be some sort of broad referendum, thumbs up or thumbs down, on how the incumbent has done. Yet even this is just as likely to focus on something they can’t really control (the state of the economy) as it is on decisions they made (like, I dunno, getting us into a massively destabilizing war in the Middle East).

When you wage a war on reality, fact, reason, and empathy, you don't get to complain when the corpse of your policies lies bleeding at your feet.

Even things that are ostensibly about policy often really aren’t. When Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton debate Wall Street regulation, neither of them puts forth the kind of detailed framework that you’d actually need to know who was going to be better on the issue. There’s good reason for this: developing such a plan would take a lot of time and expensive expertise. Then no one would read it, including the candidates themselves. And the candidates wouldn’t be able to explain it even if they did read it.

McArdle wouldn't read it or understand it and therefore neither would anyone else.

What they’re really arguing about is not how these folks will regulate Wall Street, but who hates banks more, who is angrier at them, who will be meaner to them when the time comes to build that sort of framework. Such policies as they suggest are crafted less with an eye toward effectiveness than toward “sounding mean.” For politicians, policy plans are the semaphore flag by which they send signals; they are rarely the message themselves.

Yes, her thinking really is that shallow. Libs are all, "No like banks. Booo, bank! Bad bank! Bad! Vote Hillary!"

This is the part where I am supposed to lament how terrible this is, how our widening deficit in Gross National Seriousness threatens to ruin the country. Part of me does think this. But then the other part -- the part that is semi-firmly tethered to the real world -- says “How could it be otherwise?”

And now come the excuses; why the right was forced to degenerate into a Jerry Springer dog and pony show.

1. Policy is hard. Campaigns are short. " There is no place for serious policy in a modern campaign."

2. Voters are not qualified to assess a candidate.
I include myself in this. There are areas, like foreign policy, that I mostly stay away from because I don’t know enough to form an opinion.

Like Iraq? We know she's lying. She also doesn't stay away from writing about economics and cooking either. Long story short: Forget facts and concentrate on whether candidates are authoritarian enough.

So instead elections focus on things that average voters are qualified to assess. What is this candidate’s character? What are their ideological commitments? Who are their political allies? What groups are they likely to listen to when in office? What are their instincts about responding to threats?
I might think that in an ideal world, everyone would be like me, spending their days marinating in policy panels and white papers and government reports.

Or, more likely, kitchen gadget web sites, on-line catalogues, and pub drinking games. Same difference.

But then I remember that I’d be sitting in an unheated, unlit house, gnawing on one of the four cucumbers I managed to grow in my front yard last year, with no clothes, electronic devices, or … well, you get the idea. Modern policy is necessarily the obsession of a few. And this is necessarily upsetting to the many, who simultaneously resent the intrusions of self-appointed experts, and decline to put in the hours necessary to become expert themselves.

So shut up and vote for Rubio. If you think you're so smart, read all those papers I pretend to read and copy others' opinions the way I do.

I still mourn the tone of last night’s debate, and hope that my country will soon, once again, be capable of adult discourse. But that discourse is still not going to be aimed at me. It’s going to be aimed at the millions of voters who spend their days doing the stuff that’s necessary to keep the wonks fed, clothed and housed.

You know, morons. The ones who could never understand policies anyway, who need Megan McArdle to do their thinking for them. Meanwhile she is actually trying to manipulate voters into putting her allies into office so she can maintain the grift long enough to retire to the fringes of an exclusive neighborhood.

McArdle has no value in the brave new world of conservative thought. She existed to put an intellectual veneer on hatred and racism and she won the battle for hearts and minds. Now she is no longer needed. Trump will probably be marginalized but the money people got the message: forget subtlety. Now the conservatives want blood.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Ross Douthat: The Party of Irresponsibility

Ross Douthat is very upset that the liberals have forced Republican voters to support Donald Trump.
THE spectacle of the Republican Party’s Trumpian meltdown has inspired a mix of glee and fear among liberals — glee over their rivals’ self-immolation, and fear that what arises from the destruction will be worse.
Let's talk about liberals. Talking about conservatives is kind of embarrassing these days. Miserable, in fact. All around us, Republicans are watching the result of their decades-long fight to reverse the New Deal. They won. We're now poorer and angry and a lot more desperate.

Douthat could discuss the negative effect of his actions on others. He could examine why his party failed in their every moral duty. However, Douthat is a little pig of a man who thinks he can grease himself up and squirm and avoid any responsibility for his actions.

What it hasn’t inspired is much in the way of self-examination, or a recognition of the way that Obama-era trends in liberal politics have helped feed the Trump phenomenon. Such a recognition wouldn’t require letting the Republican Party off the hook. The Trump uprising is first and foremost a Republican and conservative problem: There would be no Trumpism if George W. Bush’s presidency hadn’t cratered, no Trumpism if the party hadn’t alternated between stoking and ignoring working-class grievances, no Trump as front-runner if the party leadership and his rivals had committed fully to stopping him before now.

Liberals aren't guilty but liberals are guilty. Ross Douthat knows the route to success in the Republican authoritarian world is to confess your sins, tell everyone you have done your repentance, and vow to sin no more. He thinks he can admit to fault and then move on to the next stage in his brilliant career. To help ensure that everyone quickly forgets his culpability, he blames liberals for his own actions. Liberals will squawk and defend themselves. Ross Douthat will smile and sit back and let the liberals discuss how much guilt they should accept, knowing that he's moved the discussion off of himself.

This is a fundamentally sinful attitude in a Catholic. Douthat knows that God knows everything in his heart and mind. He knows it's a sin to refuse to confess a sin. It's also a sin to lie. Douthat's religion devotion is as fake as his intellectual prowess.

But Trumpism is also a creature of the late Obama era, irrupting after eight years when a charismatic liberal president has dominated the cultural landscape and set the agenda for national debates. President Obama didn’t give us Trump in any kind of Machiavellian or deliberate fashion. But it isn’t an accident that this is the way the Obama era ends — with a reality TV demagogue leading a populist, nationalist revolt.

Obama isn't guilty but Obama is guilty. Douthat does not want to admit that Trump is a creation of the Republican id.

First, the reality TV element in Trump’s campaign is a kind of fun-house-mirror version of the celebrity-saturated Obama effort in 2008. Presidential politics has long had an escalating celebrity component, a cultish side that’s grown ever-more-conspicuous with time. But the first Obama campaign raised the bar. The quasi-religious imagery and rhetoric, the Great Man iconography and pillared sets, the Oprah endorsement and music video and the Hollywood stars pledging allegiance — it was presidential politics as one part Aaron Sorkin-scripted liturgy, one part prestige movie’s Oscar campaign.
Liberals are guilty because Republicans claimed they worshipped Obama, and famous people endorsed him. Meanwhile, conservatives passed around artwork depicting Obama in racist poses. They claimed he was a Muslim Kenyan. They said he was only elected because he would give away free goodies to the poor. They made hysterical claim that Obama would utterly destroy the nation. But Douthat does not mention the stoked hatred, the race-baiting, the God-bothering, the tea party mentality that he supported. 
And it worked. But because it worked, now we have the nearly-inevitable next step: presidential politics as a season of “Survivor” or, well, “The Apprentice,” with the same celebrity factor as Obama’s ’08 run, but with his campaign’s high-middlebrow pretensions stripped away. If Obama proved that you can run a presidential campaign as an aspirational cult of personality, in which a Sarah Silverman endorsement counts for as much as a governor or congressman’s support, Trump is proving that you don’t need Silverman to shout “the Aristocrats!” and have people eat it up.  

He’s also proving, in his bullying, overpromising style, that voters are increasingly habituated to the idea of an ever more imperial presidency — which is also a trend that Obama’s choices have accelerated. Having once campaigned against his predecessor’s power grabs, the current president has expanded executive authority along almost every dimension: launching wars without congressional approval, claiming the power to assassinate American citizens, and using every available end-around to make domestic policy without any support from Congress.

 I know you are but what am I? Does he think we forgot the Bush years just because he refuses to mention them? This isn't a game of peek-a-boo. If you cover your eyes the dead and devastation doesn't just go away.

In the process, he’s cut the legs from under principled liberal critiques of executive power, and weakened the American left’s role as a bulwark against Caesarism. Which makes it altogether fitting — if deeply unfortunate — that his reward is the rise of a right-wing Caesarist whose authoritarian style and outrageous promises makes George W. Bush look like Cato the Younger.

Douthat should be deeply ashamed. He is, of his own people, but he's too graceless, crass and feeble to assume any responsibility whatsoever. What a disgusting, craven, weak person he is.

And that Caesarist, crucially, is rallying a constituency that once swung between the parties, but that the Obama White House has spent the last eight years slowly writing off. Trump’s strongest supporters aren’t archconservatives; they’re white working-class voters, especially in the Rust Belt and coal country, who traditionally leaned Democratic and still favor a strong welfare state.

These voters had been drifting away from the Democratic Party since the 1970s, but Obama has made moves that effectively slam the door on them: His energy policies, his immigration gambits, his gun control push, his shift to offense on same-sex marriage and abortion. It was possible to be a culturally conservative skeptic of mass immigration in the Democratic Party of Bill Clinton. Not so anymore.

Douthat is making a complete and utter rejection of responsibility. He pretends he isn't but a couple caveats don't cancel out his central point. Douthat makes sure he claims Obama went far left and alienated reasonable conservatives.
Of course this process has been a two-way street, as bigotry inclined some of these voters against Obama from the start, or encouraged them to think the worst of him eventually. And political coalitions shift all the time: There’s nothing inherently wrong with the Obama White House’s decision that a more ethnically diverse and thoroughgoingly liberal coalition held more promise than continued efforts to keep Reagan Democrats in the fold. (Though Democrats in Congress and statehouses might be forgiven for doubting the decision.
But liberalism still needs to reckon with the consequences. As in Europe, when the left gives up on nationalism and lets part of its old working class base float away, the result is a hard-pressed constituency unmoored from either party, and nursing well-grounded feelings of betrayal.
Hence Marine Le Pen and the nationalist parties of Europe. And hence, now, Donald Trump. 
He is the Republican Party’s monster, yes. But what he represents is also part of the Obama legacy — a nemesis for liberal follies as well as conservative corruptions, and a threat to both traditions for many years to come.

I think he can get a book out of this if he acts quickly. The right will love to read how the left forced them to new lows of racism, hatred and irresponsibility.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Hurry Lassie! Meggie's Fallen Down the Well!

Megan McArdle after she realized that all the cool kids left the table a long time ago and now she's stuck defending Robbie and Milo.

Megan in Wonderland has fallen even further down the rabbit hole.
Robert Stacy McCain has had his account banned, just weeks after Breitbart’s Milo Yiannopoulos lost his “verified user” check mark. Both practice a brand of Twitter activity one might politely call “obstreperous.” No one knows precisely what led to the disciplinary actions, but McCain believes it’s because of his vocal comments about social justice topics. 

We do not, in fact, know that angry, loud conservatives are more likely to be disciplined by Twitter than angry loud lefties; maybe there are a bunch of social justice warriors quietly getting their accounts taken away at the same time for similarly nasty comments.  We don’t know whether Twitter’s actions were unjust.

The point is that it doesn’t matter. The moment that you set yourself up as the arbiter of what constitutes abuse, it is virtually guaranteed that you are going to have to make gray-area judgment calls that will alienate some portion of your user base.

When your user base has stalled despite your best efforts to grow it, and investors are getting restive, it’s probably not the right time to signal to half of the political spectrum that their views are not necessarily welcome on your platform. But Twitter didn't have much choice. Aggressive banning is seen as an attack on the right, but continuing the old approach would have been seen as an attack on the left. In the culture wars of today, there’s precious little middle ground.
Her parents paid something like $150,000 for her high school education. She paid another $100,000 for her useless MBA. She worked for a once-revered magazine. And now she's bitching that Twitter is being mean to Milo Yiannopoulos, whose entire raison d'etre is to make a pariah of himself because it's the only way that sad man can get any attention.

She keeps saying that liberals are alienating half the US but not many people are affronted on the behalf of people like McCain and Yiannopoulos. She is, and it shows how far down the Tea Party hole she's fallen.

Added: Let's not forget the irony of McArdle telling a private company that they should be forced to serve people they don't want to serve.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Twilight Of The Gods

It's amazing how much I forget about the past.

McArdle has always said about the 2008 financial crash that there were no villains and the fault was systemic, which was unavoidable because of American values and demographics (or some similar load of crap). She wrote many words explaining why she and her friends had to be right and liberals had to be wrong but as always, the truth is right out in the open. I found this quote in an old post of mine.
Then there are the derivatives. There, Clinton pleads guilty. Alan Greenspan, the Federal Reserve chairman, opposed regulation of derivatives as they came to the fore in the 1990s, and Clinton agreed. “They argued that nobody’s going to buy these derivatives, we’ll do it without transparency, they’ll get the information they need,” he recalled. “And it turned out to be just wrong; it just wasn’t true.” He said others share blame, including credit-rating agencies that underestimated the risk. But he accepts responsibility as well.
Alisa Rosenbaum wrote a Mary Sue fanfic about a rich, beautiful, brilliant engineer and her many boyfriends, and Alan Greenspan read it and was thrilled and enthralled.* Fifty Shades of Gray was originally Twilight fan fiction. American economic policy under Greenspan was Atlas Shrugged fan fiction.
In The Age of Turbulence, Alan Greenspan describes the influence that Ayn Rand had on his intellectual development.
Ayn Rand became a stabilizing force in my life. It hadn't taken long for us to have a meeting of the minds -- mostly my mind meeting hers -- and in the fifties and early sixties I became a regular at the weekly gatherings at her apartment. She was a wholly original thinker, sharply analytical, strong-willed, highly principled, and very insistent on rationality as the highest value. In that regard, our values were congruent -- we agreed on the importance of mathematics and intellectual rigor.
As we see in Flint, intellectual rigor and mathematics are sometimes justification for ideology, which often is merely the justification for some's emotional needs and the crimes they commit against others to satisfy them.
But she had gone far beyond that, thinking more broadly than I had ever dared. She was a devoted Aristotelian -- the central idea being that there exists an objective reality that is separate from consciousness and capable of being known. Thus she called her philosophy objectivism. And she applied key tenets of Aristotelian ethics -- namely, that individuals have innate nobility and that the highest duty of every individual is to flourish by realizing that potential. Exploring ideas with her was a remarkable course in logic and epistemology. I was able to keep up with her most of the time.
First comes the emotion, then comes the rationalization. The sacred nature of mankind demands that I "flourish" by satisfying my greed for more. It is my sacred duty to realize my potential, so anything that gets in the way of my personal success is profane, a crime against humanity.
Rand's Collective became my first social circle outside the university and the economics profession. I engaged in the all-night debates and wrote spirited commentary for her newsletter with the fervor of a young acolyte drawn to a whole new set of ideas. Like any new convert, I tended to frame the concepts in their starkest, simplest terms. Most everyone sees the simple outline of an idea before complexity and qualification set in. If we didn't, there would be nothing to qualify, nothing to learn. It was only as contradictions inherent in my new notions began to emerge that the fervor receded.  
One contradiction I found particularly enlightening. According to objectivist precepts, taxation was immoral because it allowed for government appropriation of private property by force. Yet if taxation was wrong, how could you reliably finance the essential functions of government, including the protection of individuals' rights through police power? The Randian answer, that those who rationally saw the need for government would contribute voluntarily, was inadequate. People have free will; suppose they refused?.
 In Randian theory everyone would act out of perfectly balanced self-interest. It would not be in anyone's self-interest to refuse to contribute to protection for everyone. Greenspan recognizes that Rand's theories collapse under the weight of their irrational premises and rejects any part, no matter how fundamental, that doesn't satisfy his emotional needs. And he keeps the parts that do.
I still found the broader philosophy of unfettered market competition compelling, as I do to this day, but I reluctantly began to realize that if there were qualifications to my intellectual edifice, I couldn't argue that others should readily accept it. [...]  
Ayn Rand and I remained close until she died in 1982, and I'm grateful for the influence she had on my life. I was intellectually limited until I met her. All of my work had been empirical and numbers-based, never values-oriented. I was a talented technician, but that was all. My logical positivism had discounted history and literature -- if you'd asked me whether Chaucer was worth reading, I'd have said, "Don't bother." Rand persuaded me to look at human beings, their values, how they work, what they do and why they do it, and how they think and why they think. This broadened my horizons far beyond the models of economics I'd learned. I began to study how societies form and how cultures behave, and to realize that economics and forecasting depend on such knowledge -- different cultures grow and create material wealth in profoundly different ways. All of this started for me with Ayn Rand. She introduced me to a vast realm from which I'd shut myself off.
Ayn Rand introduced him to a vast realm of smart-sounding excuses for greed and villainy. Greenspan's remarks are similar to the remarks of Michigan Governor Snyder's former senior advisor:
Dennis Schornack, who retired after serving more than three years as a senior adviser on transportation issues to Snyder during his first term, is the first current or former Snyder official to directly criticize the governor and his management style for contributing to the public health crisis.  
Schornack said he still believes Snyder is an intelligent leader and "basically a good guy." But, he said, decisions about Flint’s drinking water should have been dictated by science instead of finances and the bottom line.  
"It's sort of a single dimension for decision making; thinking that if it can't be solved on a spreadsheet, it can't be solved," Schornack said in a telephone interview from Florida. He earlier served 12 years as a senior policy adviser to Republican Gov. John Engler and in between served six years on the International Joint Commission.  
“Government is not a business ... and it cannot be run like one,” Schornack said. “The people of Flint got stuck on the losing end of decisions driven by spreadsheets instead of water quality and public health. Having been a Snyder staffer, luckily in a spreadsheet-rich area like transportation, I lived the culture amidst its faults.”
The strange thing is that Greenspan's ideology before his epiphany was no different from his ideology after the epiphany.
In 1977, Greenspan obtained a Ph.D. in economics from New York University. His dissertation is not available from the university[16] since it was removed at Greenspan's request in 1987, when he became Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. In April 2008, however, Barron's obtained a copy and notes that it includes "a discussion of soaring housing prices and their effect on consumer spending; it even anticipates a bursting housing bubble".[17]
These poor technocrats were only doing their job and to their amazement they discovered that people will be affected by their decisions and those people might get mad. They were just "living the culture." They're "basically" good guys. They weren't making conscious decisions to poison people or blow up the economy with successive bubbles to get complicit politicians elected to office and/or enrich themselves.

There are no villains. So why are there so many dead or dying villagers?

*The two had a lot in common. Both were very intelligent but plain, were Jewish, and had gone from moderately wealthy to poor while young. Rand's parents were Russian; Greenspan's Romanian and Hungarian.  Both hero-worshipped their fathers; Greenspan's was a stockbroker who abandoned the family, Rand's ran businesses. Both were praised and shown off in public for their brains. And both were emotionally needy.
Wesley and Marianne Halpert, the children of Rose's sister, Mary, lived half a block away from Alan. Alan spent a great deal of time with his cousins, and they grew as close as siblings. Wesley was older, Marianne younger. Their father, Jacob Halpert, became almost like a second father to Alan. An insurance broker by trade, Jacob managed to enjoy a fair amount of success during the Great Depression. Wesley recalls an aching and almost boundless neediness on the part of his cousin.

    "Here was my father," says Wesley. "He was one father with two hands. But there were three kids: Alan, Marianne, and myself. We'd be walking down the street and Alan would kind of worm his way between me and my father and grab my father's hand."     
  Wesley also remembers that Alan would periodically pipe up and sing "Brother Can You Spare a Dime?" Little Alan's mournful rendition of the popular tune and unofficial anthem of depression-era America was guaranteed to tug at Jacob Halpert's heartstrings. Invariably, he'd dig into his pocket and toss Alan a dime.       
As a young child, Alan showed a precocious intelligence. By the age of five, he was able to add up three-digit numbers in his head. His mother often trotted him out to do this trick to impress guests and neighbors.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

The Clinton Gang at the OK Corral

Richard Nixon speaks from the grave:

As for the Democrats, Sanders is no longer a wolf at Mrs. Clinton’s door. At worst he’s a dog who won’t shut up. Nevada, which I called “the O.K. Corral,” proves she can keep minorities inside. That gets the press off her back and sets her up for a strong win in South Carolina. On March 1 she’ll take all but Vermont and perhaps Massachusetts.

Sanders has plenty of money and no incentive to quit. But short of an indictment, Mrs. Clinton’s path is assured. He ought to bargain for the future now, an endorsement in return for letting Warren have her way with the banks, something like that.

Mrs. Clinton must listen. It seems self-evident, perhaps, but it is not her strong suit. Dismissing Sanders as a crank would make the Democrats eat each other alive. We know what that looks like now. 
It opens the door to things far worse than the enemy we're used to.
Mrs. Clinton will not listen because she doesn't have to listen to win. She can afford to ignore poor whites because our system has always pitted poor whites against poor blacks and liberal poor whites will back off when accused of sexism, racism and white nationalism.

Added: This is the rejection of Democratic goals-raising minimum wage, national health care, fewer international conflicts--while hoping to retain an aura of Democratic merit; credit for empathy and social betterment.

Friday, February 19, 2016

Click Bait

Remember when Megan McArdle said that income inequality is necessary for innovation and Scandinavian countries don't innovate because socialism? Matt Bruenig rebutted David "Megan McArdle is a brilliant economist" Brooks' similar claims and what do you know, our highly paid Big Thinkers are wrong, wrong, wrong.
In reality, the Nordic countries are more entrepreneurial than the US. The most common measure of entrepreneurial activity is the birth rate of employer enteprises, which is defined as the percentage of enterprises in a given year that are brand new. Here is the enterprise birth rate of the US and the Nordics in 2007 (Norway didn't have data):
Perhaps because of its high level of enterpreneurialism, the Nordic countries are among the most innovative in the world. They regularly score near the top of (admittedly flawed) innovation indexes. Stockholm is home to the hottest tech sector in the world after Silicon Valley (which is itself located in tax-loving California). In recent years, the Nordic countries have given the world Spotify, Skype, Mojang (maker of Minecraft), Rovio (maker of Angry Birds), Supercell (maker of Clash of Clans), and Klarna (cutting-edge fintech firm). The Nordic countries, led by Volvo, are also on the forefront of driverless car research and, led by Finland, on the forefront of mobile phone networking technology. The Nordics are also home, in Sweden, to the most successful pop music industry in the world
There's nothing sluggish about the Nordic startup and innovation scene. Nothing at all.
Too bad one can't say the same about McArdle.

Such lazy, stupid posts reveal something:  McArdle's employers don't care what she says as long as she attracts the 9% for advertisers. They expect and want her to be stupidly ideological and pathologically dishonest. She's a particularly smelly bait for a greedy, amoral fish--and it works like a charm.

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Well, If You Say So

Shorter Megan McArdle: Fear IPhone Hackers or the FBI? Two Views in One Chat: Loss of privacy is bad. Oh well, I guess we'll have to get used to it.

If At First You Don't Succeed, Lie Lie Again

Ho hum, Megan McArdle lied about her conflicts of interest again. I noted these passages last week but I want to emphasize the lying. It still amazes me every time she gets away with this stuff.

In fact, the conversation I'm alluding to concerned a young woman who was home-schooled before attending a small Christian college, which the reviewers of her application dismissed as a place of “right-wing religious fundamentalists” that was “supported by the Koch brothers.”  
 Full disclosure: My husband works for Reason magazine, which has received some funding from one of the Koch brothers, and before we were married, he had a one-year fellowship with the Charles Koch Foundation.

To paraphrase the little Missy, I don't think "full" and "disclosure" mean what she thinks they mean. For instance "full" means all, not part of. And "disclosure" means revealing, not omitting.

How Megan McArdle sees herself and her fellow libertarians:

Bucaroo Banzai and the Hong Kong Cavaliers

The reality:
                                       Henchman 1, Moll 1, Moll 2, Bond villain, Megan McArdle

They say love of money is the root of all evil but the love of ego gratification might be even worse.

Megan McArdle, recipient of bounteous Koch largess, does not want to be known as a person who owes her success to the wide net cast by the Koches while fishing for little minions to do their dirty work. It's embarrassing and might (probably not but might) harm her job prospects at this stage in her career.

I could spend a week looking up all of McArdle's Koch ties, the ties that she is willing to lie to hide, but Yasha Levine has already done it:

Megan McArdle's Undisclosed Koch Connections (in reverse chronological order):

In June 2012, Megan McArdle spoke at a Koch-linked Students for Liberty "Women for Liberty" event held at the Institute for Humane Studies. McArdle was described as a "shining" role model that "young women in the movement should look up to." Students for Liberty is a Koch-funded youth club founded by alumni of the Institute for Humane Studies.

In 2012, McArdle served as a judge for the Reason Foundation Bastiat Prize, awarded to libertarian media pundits. Reason Foundation is closely linked to the Koch think-tank network and is funded in part by a number of different Koch foundations. (She has served in this capacity for a number of years.)

In 2011, McArdle took part in a Cato Institute panel called "U.S. Debt and the Millennials: Is Washington Creating a Lost Generation?" She described Social Security and Medicare as a "gigantic space alien that's larger, like five times the size of earth."

In October 2011, Mcardle was honored by being chosen to emcee Charles Koch's 50th Anniversary gala celebration of his flagship libertarian think-tank, the Institute for Humane Studies, featuring Charles Koch as the keynote speaker and guest of honor. McArdle and Koch were joined by hundreds of leading GOP donors and activists. An IHS newsletter wrote of her performance: "Emcee Megan McArdle wove a humorous narrative through the program." The IHS attempted to hide McArdle's involvement, scrubbing her name from the dinner announcement page.

In February 2011, McArdle was the keynote speaker at the annual International Students For Liberty Conference, where she delivered a talk titled "Building the Case for Liberty in the New Century." The conference included a sneak preview of the film Atlas Shrugged.

  In 2011, McArdle was a guest lecturer at the Institute for Humane Studies' "Journalism & the Free Society" summer seminar program. The program tackled such topics as "Is an 'objective' press possible — or even desirable?" Other faculty members joining McArdle that year included Radley Balko, then-editor at the Kochs'Reason magazine

In 2010, she was a moderator at a Mercatus conference about credit card regulation. Koch Industries funneled a combined $3.7 million to Mercatus in 2007 and 2008. The Wall Street Journal called the Mercatus Center "the most important think tank you’ve never heard of.”  
In June 2010, McArdle married fellow Koch activist Peter Suderman. Suderman spent much of his adult career on the Koch payroll, rotating through positions at America's Future Foundation, Competitive Enterprise Institute, FreedomWorks, as well as the Moonie-owned The Washington Times. Suderman is currently a senior editor at Reason magazine.

In June 2009, McArdle served as moderator at a Cato Institute's healthcare reform conference. The title of McArdle's panel was: "Should Congress Mandate Coverage?"

In Spring of 2009, McArdle served as a judge for a Koch-funded blogger contest held to identify "young conservative and libertarian talent who wish to pursue careers as journalists and writers." The winner received a $10,000 prize. Other judges included Cato/Reason's Radley Balko, Jonah Goldberg, and libertarian economist Jonathan H. Adler.

In January 2009, McArdle was a speaker at an America's Future Foundation (AFF) event that featured "young libertarians and conservatives who have taken a leadership role in . . . re-branding the Republican party." AFF is a libertarian organization that exists to "identify and develop the next generation of conservative and libertarian leaders." It has close ties to the Koch-funded think-tank network, including Mercatus, ALEC and Institute for Humane Studies.

In September 2008, McArdle took part in a panel discussion at AFF about "who should libertarians and conservatives support." That same month, McArdle was a featured speaker at an anti-regulation event hosted by the Koch-funded Mercatus Center at George Mason University. Her talk focused on how "government regulation actually contributed" to the financial meltdown.

In March 2007, McArdle partied at Reason magazine's "Happy Hour" with David Weigel, Radley Balko, as well as The Wall Street Journal's John Fund.

In the mid-2000s, McArdle received journalism training from the right-wing Institute for Humane Studies, headed by Charles Koch since the 1960s. According to the IHS, its journalism program "places talented writers and communicators—who support individual liberty, free markets, and peace—at media companies and non-profit newsrooms" and offers "mentoring and job placement assistance." The program currently includes a $3,200 stipend, as well as travel allowance.
If McArdle were a real journalist she'd be forced to print the longest disclosure  of conflicts of interest on the face of the earth. Fortunately for her she is not and she can skip disclosures altogether and throw her husband under the bus to save herself.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Forget Stupid Or Evil. Stupid or Crazy?

At long last Megan McArdle has surfaced to inform us that Both Sides Do It and that because she finds it extremely unpleasant when a Supreme Court justice dies during a Democratic presidency, the Supreme Court is, like, totes unfair.

... If we want to stop this before the next Pyrrhic victory, the answer is not to whine about how awful the other party is; it’s to lower the stakes. Far too many people on every side want to do an end run around the legislation process by getting unelected judges to declare their particular concerns beyond the reach of legislators. Why bother tediously lobbying senators and representatives, when you can simply win the White House, appoint a few judges, and get them to transform your most ardent desires into untouchable rights?
Where to start? We waited a week to read a screed that ignores our system of checks and balances? Confuses the law-making role of Congress with the law-interpreting role of the Supreme Court? Ignores the integral role the Supreme Court plays in voting for a president? Accuses liberalism of being nothing but a selfish desire,of being nothing but I-want-ism? It's stupid all the way down.

But how can McMegan be stupid when she so handily destroyed a learned opposition?
I remember having an argument over a controversial issue a few years back, in which I offered the opinion that a goal was quite desirable, and yet, probably not really mandated by the Constitution. It doesn’t matter what the issue was; you may insert your own favorite here, from abortion rights to drug legalization. Because whatever the issue is, there are people making exactly the same sort of bad argument about the law.  
The fellow arguing with me offered the opinion that this issue was really, really important. I agreed, and repeated that it was still probably not really mandated by the Constitution. He explained, more slowly and loudly, how important this issue was. I said yes, but that doesn’t mean that it’s in the Constitution. The world is filled with many splendid ideas which are not covered by the Constitution. The chap I was arguing with looked befuddled, and then proceeded to reiterate how important this issue was. He was, I must point out, a Harvard-educated lawyer.
She's using the Constitution to prove that we don't need constitutional checks and balances.

And she wants us to believe that she, the mediocre student, unsuccessful financial consultant, Koch-supported fake journalist, put a Harvard-educated lawyer, accustomed to constant conflict, pressure and hard work, in his place.

It's just awesome. The naked vanity, the preening, the ignorance, the petulance. I love it. Megan McArdle is just the bestest pundit in the whole wide world.

After a little more yapping we are given this:
Running more and more issues through the appellate courts, rather than struggling through the legislative process, has two terrible effects. First, it federalizes more and more issues, in an era when values and ideologies tend to be sharply partisan and geographically divided. If you were a pro-lifer in Alabama, you probably wouldn't get on a bus to Albany to protest New Yorkers' more liberal abortion laws. But when federal courts decided that abortion law would be substantially the same everywhere in the country, proponents of abortion rights and opponents of abortion became locked in a battle over the court that sets the rules. (And also still squabble at state and local levels, of course.)
Now, this is the point where you might start to feel a little dizzy. What is she actually saying here? You don't "run issues through the appellate courts," a group or individual appeals a losing court ruling to a higher court. The Supreme Court has jurisdiction over federal court cases and state court cases involving federal law. You don't "federalize" issues, at least not for the reasons McArdle thinks it is done.

While looking stuff up (a habit I highly recommend to McArdle) I found this from the Central California Appellate Program:
Why should I federalize my issues?  
All potential federal issues must be properly preserved in the state court. A defendant must fairly present the federal law claim in each appropriate state court. (Baldwin v. Reese (2004) 541 U.S. 27; 124 S.Ct. 1347; 158 L.Ed.2d 64.) Thus, for your client to have any hope of taking issues into federal court, they must be fully "federalized" and exhausted in the state courts first. The failure to exhaust federal issues and procedural default continues to raise problems for federal defenders pursuing federal constitutional issues following the conclusion of state court proceedings. State appellate lawyers must be mindful of these considerations, lest the rights of their clients be unwittingly compromised. 
How do I federalize an issue?  
In essence, you must explicitly present your issue as a federal claim by referencing a federal constitutional provision and/or federal case law in your discussion. Putting the federal constitutional provision in the header-title alone is not enough to exhaust a federal claim. Likewise, citing only state cases that discuss or apply federal law is not enough. The specific basis for the federal claim must be presented in the text of the brief. For example, in Dye v. Hofbauer (2005) 546 U.S. 1, the Supreme Court found that the issue was properly federalized when the argument cited to both the federal constitution and federal cases to support the federal claim. (Id. at p. 4.) Putting the federal reference in the header-title is advisable as well.
I guess McArdle doesn't know that abortion was decided based on a constitutional right to privacy.
The Court ruled 7–2 that a right to privacy under the Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment extended to a woman's decision to have an abortion, but that this right must be balanced against the state's two legitimate interests in regulating abortions: protecting women's health and protecting the potentiality of human life.[1] Arguing that these state interests became stronger over the course of a pregnancy, the Court resolved this balancing test by tying state regulation of abortion to the third trimester of pregnancy.
At what point does McArdle become too embarrassing to employ? Don't get me wrong, I'm glad she's employed. She's too stupid to be dangerous, unlike some other pundits. But seriously. Are there no standards left?
The second problem is that by putting any issue beyond legislative debate, deeming it a decision for judges alone, you leave a large number of Americans who are passionate on certain issues feeling like they have no democratic recourse. It's a recipe for extreme reactions, like voting for Donald Trump or worse.
Since Republicans have devolved into Trumpettes, we need to get rid of the Supreme Court, our Constitution, and our system of checks and balances.
Of course, when matters of such great importance are at stake, it’s very tempting to do an end run around politics, and avoid those unsatisfying compromises, by putting the question in the hands of unelected people who are, by design, removed from the passions of democracy and representative government. They can therefore rule much more sweepingly than legislators would.
This is insane. It bears no resemblance to reality. It's tea party dogma from the wife of a tea party activist. It's chain-mail-level of discourse.
But this doesn’t fix the political problem. It only moves it to the question of how the justices are picked, a question that is about to catapult our political system into a new, and more dangerous, level of crisis. For if you leave people no way to work through the system, they are apt to start working against it instead.
Elections. Maybe she's heard of them? Maybe she's heard that there's one coming up this year, as well as debates and caucuses and lots of other election-related events. It's been on the news.

McArdle demonstrated the same hysteria when Obamacare passed. How dare your elected representative represent you! He should be representing me instead! Everyone knows that the country is conservative and the law is conservative and the churches are conservative and the schools should be conservative and so should the pizza and cake!!!

Oh, orderlies? Over here! I think it's time for the straightjacket.

Thrilling Update! In McArdle's comments we see that she has thrown out her back but muscle relaxers are doing their work. I must amend my original question to stupid, crazy or high.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

No Time For Miracles

McArdle has many reasons why Obama can't impose a $10 tax on the price of a barrel of oil:

1. It harms the poor.
2. Voters will have to buy smaller cars and homes and that makes them unhappy.
3. If you try to pass cap-and-trade and carbon taxes the voters will guillotine you.

However, even McArdle must acknowledge the obvious sometimes.
As a policy matter, if you are going to enact such a tax, the time to do so is probably right now, when oil prices have plummeted. People have already worked to make their cars and homes more energy efficient, in order to cope with almost a decade of soaring prices. The longer oil prices stay low, the more people will tend to switch back to gas-guzzling trucks, longer road trips, and less energy-efficient homes. By enacting the tax now, you give people some incentive to stay more efficient at minimal economic cost.
But there is always a "but."
But as a political matter, this is still not a good time. After almost eight years of minimal economic growth, the fall in oil prices has brought some welcome relief to strained household budgets. Many U.S. oil companies are losing money, particularly the shale oil folks, making the workers and local economies that depend upon them anxious. Jacking up the price of gas and home heating oil is going to upset all those people, who will in turn do their best to upset any legislators who propose such a thing. Congressional Republicans are certainly not going to stick out their necks for an opposition-party president with whom relations have never been warmer than “testy.”
Yes, the recovery from Republican economic policy has been weak, thanks to inadequate spending among many other reasons.

GDP Real Growth Rate
Country: USA
1999 4.1
2000 5
2001 0.3
2002 2.45
2003 3.1
2004 4.4
2005 3.2
2006 3.2
2007 2
2008 1.1
2009 -2.6
2010 2.8
2011 1.7
2012 2.2
2013 1.6

A lot of things could ease the budgets of the poor but I would worry about more pressing issues than oil company revenues and gasoline prices that would still be lower than they were a couple of years ago.
The administration has made some gestures toward mitigating this opposition, notably by claiming that the tax will be paid by oil companies. But this is obvious nonsense. Oil companies currently have few profits from which to pay the tax. Whoever is responsible for filing the paperwork, the cost will be paid by consumers in higher fuel prices, and the administration surely knows this.
The price of a barrel of oil today is $31. In 2014 it was $85.34. If the price were raised $10 it could go up to 1990 levels!

Year Nominal Price Inflation Adjusted Price
1946 $1.63 $19.41
1950 $2.77 $27.19
1960 $2.91 $23.26
1970 $3.39 $20.63
1980 $37.42 $107.36
1990 $23.19 $41.79
2000 $27.39 $37.54
2001 $23.00 $30.68
2002 $22.81 $29.92
2003 $27.69 $35.55
2004 $37.66 $47.04
2005 $50.04 $60.44
2006 $58.30 $68.27
2007 $64.20 $72.98
2008 $91.48 $100.00
2009 $53.48 $58.75
2010 $71.21 $77.10
2011 $87.04 $91.37
2012 $86.46 $88.93
2013 $91.17 $92.40
2014 $85.60 $85.34

More recently:

Almost everything McArdle says falls apart on closer examination but as McArdle is the patron saint of agnotologists, willingly ignorant sheep, closer examination isn't really a problem.

St. Agnes under happier earlier times.

St. Agnes today.

St. Megan does not mention why Obama wants the tax: to improve infrastructure and move to sustainable energy. McArdle has declared those to be impossible as well, of course.
That hardly matters, however, because this is a daydream proposal in a never-never budget. Its point is to make a moral argument and motivate the environmentalist portion of the Democratic base, which the party would very much like to see at the polls this November. Perhaps it will force the Democratic nominees to pay fealty to the proposal, as they wend their way through the grueling round of campaign stops, debates, and press appearances. What this tax will not do is pass.

But that’s the great thing about the last year of your presidency: Nothing’s going to pass anyway, so you can stop worrying about the grinding realities of retail politics. Now is the time to daydream, to swing for the fences … and perhaps, to irritate a few more of your coworkers on your way out the door.

She must have been a fun employee.

Fast Times at Bloomberg High

S. E. Cupp, Virginia Postrel, Megan McArdle, and Katherine Mangu-Ward and discuss politics.

This post contains recycled Twitter material and took a week to write due to internet problems, namely Comcast.

Megan McArdle watched the latest Republican debate and was not impressed.
"Both sides do it" is the last refuge of the scoundrel. McArdle can't very well admit that her favorite method of communication, sly invective, made her side look mean-spirited, quarrelsome, unprofessional and unintelligent during the debate. She also can't admit that Clinton and Sanders were a model of decorum in comparison.

Let's take a look at that Hobbesian "all against all." It's exactly what McArdle wants. I don't know much about Hobbes (sans Calvin) but I can read Wikipedia and I do know his most famous quote:
Beginning from a mechanistic understanding of human beings and the passions, Hobbes postulates what life would be like without government, a condition which he calls the state of nature; much of this was based on Hugo Grotius' works. In that state, each person would have a right, or license, to everything in the world. This, Hobbes argues, would lead to a "war of all against all" (bellum omnium contra omnes). The description contains what has been called one of the best known passages in English philosophy, which describes the natural state mankind would be in, were it not for political community: [15]
In such condition, there is no place for industry; because the fruit thereof is uncertain: and consequently no culture of the earth; no navigation, nor use of the commodities that may be imported by sea; no commodious building; no instruments of moving, and removing, such things as require much force; no knowledge of the face of the earth; no account of time; no arts; no letters; no society; and which is worst of all, continual fear, and danger of violent death; and the life of man, solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short.[16]
What could be more libertarian than a world without government? Sure, they would mooch off everyone else for what they can't live without (a legal system backed up by a system of force) but the rest is hand-waving and circus ponies, which is fun and easy.

The right got everything they wanted. They empowered the Evangelicals because the latter were easy pickings; easily swayed and easily led. The empowered Evangelicals gradually repulsed the rest of the voters by their extremism. When Democrats were elected president, right then set about destroying the means by which they controlled the Evangelical/working class Republican, authoritarian respect for the leaders, the elite. The new poor then turned their well-stoked hatred onto their own leaders and the Republican establishment lost ever more control over the process.


They opened up the donor spigot, which led to the loss of control over the funding of political candidates and the rise of Trump. They screw up everything they touch because they are greedy and stupid.

The right's candidates are an embarrassment and despite her well-practiced air of omniscient amusement, McArdle supported them. Scott Walker, the Mortimer Snerd of politics. Ted Cruz, with his silly putty face and my-eyes-on-God gaze. And now Rubio, human .gif.

McArdle made an extraordinarily rare Sunday post to try to rehabilitate her Last Hope for a presidential race that will not be humiliating, let alone unsuccessful. She began in the usual way, talking about herself. It seems McArdle interviewed with Goldman, Sachs, once upon a time, in the belief that she would be an asset to that firm. She might have mentioned that before, perhaps while defending it on tv, but let's not be picky. She flubbed the interview, saving her a period of humiliation and a summary firing, so all's well that ends well but that experience taught her that Marco Rubio, too, can move back into his parents' house, find a billionaire backer, and turn defeat into victory.

I bring this up, of course, because of Marco Rubio, who got mauled by Chris Christie last night in the Republican debate over his habit of delivering canned lines from speeches in response to debate questions. This attack has been brewing all week --arguably for longer than that, as journalists have long complained about the repetition of Rubio’s stump speech. I’ve dismissed the complaints from journalists --and will continue to, because this is the most short-sighted sort of insider myopia. Most voters will never listen to Rubio’s stump speech more than once, and they don't care that he has given those answers before. They aren’t so stupid as to assume that politicians write all-new remarks for a half-dozen campaign appearances every day, and unlike journalists, they don't think that verbal originality is the highest peak of human achievement.
Walker didn't need that elite university training. Rubio doesn't need the ability to speak extemporaneously. Or naturally.
But by relentlessly attacking Rubio, Christie forced him off his game. Rubio had anticipated the attack, and had a canned answer. Christie came back at him. It was a moment in which Rubio could have locked the debate away by giving Christie a withering stare and saying “Chris, Chris—is this really the best you can do? Complaining about my debating style? I’m here to talk about the issues and what we can do for the American people, not to try to impress a bunch of Washington insiders by one-upping each other over stuff that isn’t going to make one bit of difference to how I’ll conduct myself as president of the United States.”
It worked in McArdle's prep school bathroom so it'll work on the debate stage as well.

First, you look down your nose and sneer at your opponent. Your withering stare must take her in from hair band to shoes, the disgust on your face implying that her shoes are from the wrong European factory and her money only goes back one generation. Then you affect a world-weary air, letting your friends and enemies know that you are not impressed by the presumption of your attacker and you find her volley sadly lacking in intelligence. You use reductio ad absurdum arguments to belittle her. Then you remind the upstart of your personal superiority in the most sanctimonious, arrogant way possible, hoping that your opponent will be intimidated into silence.

McArdle just knows that if Rubio had followed her advice (for a very reasonable fee!), Christie would be crying in the bathroom and binging on Snickers bars right now. The only surprise is that she did not tell Rubio to get some friends and corner Christie in the stairwell, chanting "Fat!fat!fat!" until Christie cried and ran away.
But I’ve had 12 hours to come up with those remarks.
I could have watched Mean Girls and come up with those remarks in 180 minutes.
In the moment, faced with the same dreadful choice I had 15 years ago, Rubio decided that ad-libbing was dangerous. (He was right!) So then, incredibly, he did something even worse: he repeated himself, nearly word for word. Three or four or five times. I’m afraid I lost count, as it was too painful to watch.

McArdle was on Team Walker until he flamed out in the debate club try-outs. After eavesdropping in the bathroom stalls she discovered Team Cruz but none of her friends liked him so she quickly dumped him too. The only guy left (except for that nouveau riche bully Trump and Megan couldn't afford to be see supporting a fellow crass New Yorker) was baby-faced freshman glad hander Rubio the Suck-Up. But she must support someone because that's how you make friends and allies so Rubio it is.
Substantively, I don’t think this matters.
Substantively, the debate proved Rubio had no substance.
The reaction from journalists on Twitter was just slightly overapocalyptic, as if getting rattled for a few minutes actually had some bearing on Rubio’s fitness for the presidency, or even his ability to compete in the general. Everyone in these campaigns hews closely to a script -- indeed, the funniest moment for me last night was when Christie, still riding high on his earlier victory, tried to launch exactly the same attack on Rubio again, using largely the same words. No one in modern times ad-libs their way to a nomination; even the attacks on scripts are themselves carefully scripted. And anyone can get shaken if they’ve been told to stick to a script, seen it work for them and then suddenly got knocked out of it.

It's not that he hewed closely to a script. It's that he was utterly incapable of not hewing closely to a script because he couldn't do anything else.

Just because Megan McArdle blew a Goldman, Sachs interview doesn't mean that she wouldn't have been a wonderful financial consultant and just because Rubio blew a debate doesn't mean he wouldn't be a wonderful president. If you have the right ideology and background--or just the right backers-- you don't need to actually be able to do anything. Megan can't do anything. She's apocalyptically bad at math. Her writing style is Mean Girl by way of Downtown Abbey. Her attempt at reasoning and problem-solving are disastrous.  Her core of knowledge is sketchy at best and flat wrong at worse.

But-and this is the gist of the whole sorry post--Rubio would be just as good as Megan McArdle at being president.

Not that competency matters anyway!
And even politically, I’m not sure how much damage was done. The primary is two days away -- and those two days in between are going to be dominated by Super Bowl coverage. Rubio’s gaffe is going to be competing with pregame analysis and viral ads for screen time, even in New Hampshire. Moreover, the voters in New Hampshire are more likely than most to have actually watched the whole debate, where Rubio made a strong showing after his initial dreadful performance.
I would mock this unsupported optimism but fortunately I can mock it in hindsight. McArdle continues to be wrong about Rubio.
Besides, the great lesson of this nomination season is that the stuff that strikes journalists and political professionals as disqualifying -- wildly implausible campaign promises, calling yourself a socialist, making outrageously sexist remarks -- often plays very differently with primary voters than we expect.
Both Sanders and Trump Do It. Sophisticates can't understand it but the little people inexplicably disagree with them.
That said, two days before a primary in which you were expected to make a strong showing is obviously a very bad moment to choke. And if Rubio does survive this, he is going to need to learn from it, fast, because having seen this work once, other candidates are going to try it. He either needs a deeper script, with four or five potential answers to each question, or he needs to practice ad-libbing without rambling or embarrassing himself.
Because if he can’t, he’s going to have to start memorizing another kind of speeches: the kind that begins “I’d like to congratulate my opponent on securing the nomination of the Republican Party.”
So much for Rubio. The right has run out of establishment Republicans and now must pick which dystopian movie they want to live through: Back to the Future Part II or Nixon 2:The Evangelical.