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Always look on the bright side of life

[ 12 ] September 15, 2008 |

This WAPO op-ed from chief McCain economic adviser Donald Luskin may set some kind of record for unfortunate timing. Shorter Luskin: unless you happen to be among the few million wretched refuse of our teeming shores who purchased a subprime mortgage things are still pretty good so quit your bitching (I guess that’s not that short. It’s my first try at doing the blogger shorter thing, so spare me your elitist latte-sipping elitism about how it’s not very good. I am trying to become aware of all internet traditions).

In regard to the substance of Luskin’s argument, I know almost as little about economics as John McCain, but I do know this: Over the past 30 years median household income in the United States has barely risen, from about $40K to around $46K. At the same time, the gross domestic product has increased by about 120% (all of this in constant dollars. If GDP had remained the same per capita it would have increased by about 40%). In other words, the wealth of the nation has nearly doubled in real terms per person, yet the typical household is pretty much where it was 30 years ago. Which means, of course, that the typical household is vastly worse off relative to the top 5%, and 1% and especially top .1% of its neighbors.

Furthermore, in recent centuries American culture has been constructed around conspicuous consumption, constant televangelizing for the gods of consumerism, and media celebrations of fantasies of unlimited wealth.

So why is Donald Luskin surprised when the peasantry rattle their pitchforks?

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Get Over It

[ 0 ] September 15, 2008 |

I’ll have more on the general subject of the 2000 election because of a new book this week, but since I happened to catch the replay of Leslie Stahl’s puffball interview with Antonin Scalia today, I thought I’d mention this argument:

Gee, I really don’t wanna get into – I mean this is – get over it. It’s so old by now. The principal issue in the case, whether the scheme that the Florida Supreme Court had put together violated the federal Constitution, that wasn’t even close. The vote was seven to two,” Scalia says.

Hmm. Roe v. Wade was a 7-2 opinion — and a real 7-2 opinion, not an opinion where two justices who were played for suckers articulated an actual equal protection argument and 5 justices (who got no other votes for any part of any of their opinions) invoked some sort of mysterious unspecified equal protection right that ended as soon as the justices’ candidate was safely ensconced in office — and indeed as Stevens pointed out its holding has now “been endorsed by all but 4 of the 17 Justices who have addressed the issue.” So I assume we can expect Scalia to just get over it and start joining opinions re-affirming Roe?

And while Stahl taking Scalia’s word that he is a consistent originalist at face value was inevitable, perhaps she could have asked Scalia for some of the sources he consulted to discover that the 14th Amendment was originally understood to require uniform recount standards?

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The Ghost of Dusty Baker

[ 15 ] September 15, 2008 |

Idiotic. Hopefully it won’t hurt the career of the UW alum.

As (I think) Joe Sheehan argued earlier this year, I do think that managers have gotten a little too conservative about pitch counts, especially being to conscious of the arbitrary “100” number. I don’t think there’s any problem with having a mature pitcher who’s proven he can handle a major league workload throwing 120 pitches if you need him. And I even think that the fact that flags fly forever should enter into the equation; if you’re in a situation like the Mets, in a crucial close game in pennant race with a ghastly bullpen, then maybe you throw Lincecum 120 once even if you’d rather limit him to the low 100s. But to have him throw 140 in a meaningless game for a non-competitive team? It’s an indefensible risk, bad for the player and bad for an organization that needs Lincecum if it’s going to stay ahead of the Pirates.

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Yikes

[ 0 ] September 15, 2008 |

Think good thoughts for Teresa.  

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Look out below

[ 36 ] September 14, 2008 |

Looks like Lehman is going to be liquidated. Merrill may be next.

Remember all those glossy paens to investment bankers and hedge funds and CDOs and the frictionless magic of the market in an age of global capitalism and how government regulation of our financial institutions and their newfangled complex financial instruments that nobody really quite understands but which sure do manage to make some people very rich very quickly just gets in the way of progress world without end amen?

Update: Good morning, gentlemen. This is a twelwe-story block combining classical neo-Georgian features with the efficiency of modern techniques. The tenants arrive in the entrance hall here, and are carried along the corridor on a conveyor belt in extreme comfort and past murals depicting Mediterranean scenes, towards the rotating knives. The last twenty feet of the corridor are heavily soundproofed. The blood pours down these chutes and the mangled flesh slurps into these…

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David Foster Wallace

[ 62 ] September 14, 2008 |

This is unfortunate. A great writer.

…what to say? Didn’t strike me as the type. He was one of my favorite contemporary writers; I didn’t find his work depressing at all.

…I suppose this wouldn’t be terribly different from learning that Roth had died, except that I didn’t expect Roth to produce good material for the next 30 years.

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700 Ton Robots Coming to Kill Me

[ 26 ] September 13, 2008 |

This is troubling:

Carnegie Mellon University, whose team placed first at Urban Challenge, is partnering up with tractor-maker Caterpillar to build the world’s largest ground robot: a 700-ton robo dump truck capable of hauling 240 tons of earth.

Isn’t this always the way? If somebody can build a 700 ton robot, or a monkey-cyborg, they just go ahead and do it, without ever thinking about where that 700 ton robot is going to drop those 240 tons of earth, or where that monkey-cyborg is going to try to fling its poo.

This is a civilization laying the foundations of its own destruction, very possibly at the robotic hands of 700 ton monkey-cyborgs.

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Has anyone considered the possibility that the reason McCain lies all the time even though he’s so honest and mavericky . . .

[ 24 ] September 13, 2008 |

. . . is because of the injuries he suffered as a POW?

I mean have they?

h/t Jason Zengerle.

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Thanks for the Clarification

[ 27 ] September 13, 2008 |

Shorter Krauthammer:

The Bush Doctrine? It’s forty different things! It’s democracy, whiskey and sexy! It’s John Kennedy! Suck on that, Charles Gibson!

Here’s a testimony to the profound fucktacularity of the Bush years: In defending the the most ill-informed and incurious vice presidential nominee in modern American history, conservatives are reduced to pretty much conceding that they’ve been endorsing an incoherent foreign policy for eight years.

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That’s "Dr. Loin Falcon" to you…

[ 0 ] September 12, 2008 |

Stooping to a new, trivial low for this blog, I offer The Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator. The instructions are a little unclear — full name? first name only? first and last? — but I went with first and last.

And so from now on, I shall be known as “Loin Falcon Palin.” As for the rest of the group:

Scott Lemiux = “Moose Roadster Palin”
Robert Farley = “Smoke Strapon Palin”
Paul Campos = “Ammo Canal Palin”
DJW = “Charcoal Sniper Palin”
Bean = “Beretta Hockey Palin.”

And for bonus Friday Cat Blogging, allow me to introduce “Spackle Camshaft Palin.”

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QOTD

[ 0 ] September 12, 2008 |

Hilzoy:

You’d think that $5,000 to $14,000 a year would be a small price to pay for putting violent sex offenders behind bars. Apparently, Sarah Palin disagrees.

I guess policies that prevent poor women from having legal recourse (or subjecting them to crushing debt) when they’re subject to sexual violence are the kind of thing QuasiMoDo is talking about when she celebrates Palin’s “new version” of feminism “that is purged of all the off-putting trappings of liberal attitudes and issues.” Yes, more moose-hunting, more (poor) women forced by state coercion to carry pregnancies to term or obtain abortions on the black market, more rapists free in the community because it would be “burdensome” to collect evidence when you could use the money to build a hockey rink, and more employment discrimination: feminism you can believe in, my friends!

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Faux-Populist PUMA of the Day

[ 0 ] September 12, 2008 |

Lynn Forrester de Rothschild.

Look, if Obama is going to shed the “elitist” label he needs to stop talking so much about progressive economic policies and start distributing more free caviar at his rallies.

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