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Digging Deeper

[ 1 ] January 13, 2008 |

Steven Landsburg shows up in comments at Delong’s to defend his idiotic article. It was a pretty feeble effort, to be frank, until he took it up a notch with this:

You *can’t* tax rich people who don’t spend their wealth. You can only pretend to. If Scrooge hides all his money under a pillow,and you tax some of it away from him, you’re putting that money back into circulation and driving up prices. Scrooge is no worse off (he was never goingto spend that money anyway) but other holders of money ARE worse off. You canpretend you’ve taxed Scrooge, but you’ve really taxed those other moneyholders. 

I don’t even know which decoder ring I’m supposed to be using here.

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[ 14 ] January 13, 2008 |

While I listen with concern as the Pats’ defense makes another team look better than it actually is, I’m going to try to maintain a sense of perspective by thinking of Tom Hilton’ e-mail exchange with Jonah Goldberg.

Good times.

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"Oh, oh, oh, your "nostalgia" file. That’s swell, because I don’t have to eat this month."

[ 0 ] January 12, 2008 |

Dear Coach Holmgren,

I agree that it would really be nice if Shaun Alexander was still an NFL-caliber running back. But he’s not. What could possibly compel you to give the ball twice in a row to a guy who couldn’t break through a cardboard cutout of an NFL player in a crucial red zone possession? Seriously, has Herm Edwards secretly taken over the offense?


P.S. Speaking of cardboard cutouts standing in for defenders, I guess we now know that the apparently good Seahwaks defense was wholly a product of the feeble schedule; that was beyond embarrassing. Do these stiffs ever get a third down stop? Ever? The Irritating Narcissist could have a 3rd-and-42 with 8 guys on the field and convert.

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NFL Playoff Thread

[ 17 ] January 12, 2008 |

There’s probably not much point in detailed explanations for each game, because my take mirrors the consensus so closely. I don’t see either AFC game as being competitive, and don’t think Jacksonville and (especially) the Chargers — probably without Gates and definitely with Norv Turner — will even cover the large spreads. The Giants/Cowboys game is tricky, and not only because if forces me to cheer for the Giants. If healthy, the Cowboys will win easily, but if Romo and Owens are a lot less than 100% — who knows. Given Owens’s performance after a much more serious injury in the Super Bowl and because I don’t believe in Manning (although he did play very well last week, and the Cowboys are vulnerable to his ability to hit Burress deep) I’d pick the Cowboys to cover, but I wouldn’t actually bet on the game unless you had some inside injury information.

Which leaves us with Seattle/Green Bay. While the Seahawks used to be very underrated, that’s no longer really the case; they seem to be a trendy upset pick. Based strictly on this year’s performance, that’s probably not really justified; the Packers have been better against a much tougher schedule. And Hasselbeck’s performance against the Redskins doesn’t inspire confidence. If I wanted to be optimistic, I would say that 1)the biggest difference between this Seattle team and the Super Bowl team is that the pass defense is better and the running game is worse, and in the modern game the former is a lot more important, and 2)they have a high-INT secondary against a QB prone to making low-odds throws. On the other hand, Green Bay seems to have the ability to neutralize Seattle’s pass rush, which is a serious problem. I guess I’d take the 8 points and pick Seattle, but probably expect Green Bay to win the game outright.

…can’t complain about that start!

…Except for the whole Deion Branch getting injured thing.

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Matthews Misogyny

[ 9 ] January 12, 2008 |

It’s good that the severe gender issues of MSNBC’s election night anchor are finally getting some attention. The whole piece is worth reading, but I think Jamison Foer makes the key point here:

Think about this for a second: Chris Matthews is holding it against Hillary Clinton that her husband cheated on her. But he doesn’t hold it against John McCain and Rudy Giuliani that they cheated on their spouses. Matthews seems to think women are to blame when their husbands have affairs — and men who cheat on their spouses are blameless.

And then there’s Matthews’ fixation on Hillary Clinton’s “ambition.” In December 1999, Clinton spokesman Howard Wolfson appeared on Hardball to discuss Clinton’s Senate campaign. Matthews asked Wolfson eight consecutive questions about whether Clinton was “ambitious.” Finally, Matthews said, “People who seek political power are ambitious by definition,” leading Wolfson to tell him: “if you say so. If it will make you happy, I’ll agree.” If Matthews has ever displayed as much interest in the “ambition” of male candidates like John McCain, Rudy Giuliani, Fred Thompson, or Mike Huckabee, he has done so in private.

Right. Somehow St. McCain’s extensive adultery, benefiting from family connections, and ambition strong enough that according to Matt Welch’s new book he bought a house in an Arizona congressional district the day the incumbent retired never get Matthews’s attention, but the fact that Clinton’s husband committed adultery is supposed to be a major issue. And I don’t mean to say that there’s anything wrong with ignoring these aspects of McCain — accusing a presidential candidate of ambition is tautological — but the double standard couldn’t be more glaring.

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Let’s Hope He Has More Luck than Joey Harrington…

[ 7 ] January 11, 2008 |

The news that Jonathan Stewart will skip his senior season and enter the NFL draft is obviously disappointing as a Duck fan. On the other hand, I can hardly begrudge a young man the chance to make money for himself, rather than for the UO, the Pac-10, and the NCAA.

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Decrepit F-15s

[ 30 ] January 11, 2008 |


This is a simulation of the recent F-15 crash. The crash resulted in the grounding of much of the fleet; fortunately, the pilot survived.

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What Does it Say About Us

[ 0 ] January 11, 2008 |

Judith Warner is on a wave-making roll with her Domestic Disturbances column in the NY Times. Today she takes on the voice quiver heard ’round the world and asks: why did it matter so much to the New Hampshire primary voters that Clinton cried (or almost did)?

Here’s what Warner has to say:

I don’t for a moment begrudge Hillary her victory on Tuesday. But if victory came for the reasons we’ve been led to believe – because women voters ultimately saw in her, exhausted and near defeat, a countenance that mirrored their own – then I hate what that victory says about the state of their lives and the nature of the emotions they carry forward into this race. I hate the thought that women feel beaten down, backed into a corner, overwhelmed and near to breaking point, as Hillary appeared to be in the debate Saturday night. And I hate even more that they’ve got to see a strong, smart and savvy woman cut down to size before they can embrace her as one of their own.

I can definitely echo Warner’s discomfort with the line the MSM is feeding us — that Clinton won in New Hampshire because she showed some emotion. And I too have been scratching my head over why, if indeed that is how Clinton picked up the votes, women thought that the tears were a positive development in Clinton’s candidacy.

But I’m not so sure that it was the tears. And if it was, I’m not so ready to pile all the blame on the voters (though certainly they play a role). What about the media that has created this Hillary persona to begin with. While I disagreed with Gloria Steinem’s piece the other day, it does at time seem like a lose-lose for a female candidate: either she’s tough enough to run with the male candidates and too tough to win, or she’s not tough enough to have power over our military and have her finger on the button but she’s now sensitive enough to win.

As some of Warner’s commenters point out, maybe she’s got a little of her own voter narcissism going on in her column. Whatever her angle, I think she’s right to point out that if it is indeed the tears that allowed Hillary to win, we’ve got some serious soul searching to do.

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Time Saver

[ 0 ] January 11, 2008 |

Here’s the only thing you actually need to know about Alex Koppelman’s inverview with Doughy Pantload:

[K:] You’ve talked about Mussolini remaining on the left and remaining a socialist, and in your book you’ve got a lot of quotes from the 1920s about that, but I’m wondering — how does that fit in with what he wrote and said later, especially “The Doctrine of Fascism” in 1932?

[DP:]I’d need to know specifically what he wrote in “The Doctrine of Fascism.” It’s been about three years since I’ve read it.

If you don’t know what’s in La Dottrina del Fascismo, you should just go ahead and admit that you’ve never read the fucking thing.

Also, the dumbest book ever now has the dumbest blog ever, which — as the horizon recedes even further — also seems to have the dumbest readers ever.

[Dave Neiwert] seems to think you are less qualified to propound your thesis than, say, a tenured professor of history at some hoo-hah university. I consider that hogwash. I have read your comments and posts for several years now. I may disagree with you (a lot) — but you are every bit as qualified to research the literature and distill it into a book as any professor. I also trust you to have done what you did with diligence and integrity. That’s perhaps the most important reason I’m reading your book.

Yep. A vote for Jonah is a vote for integrity.

I’ll be hanging myself from the rafters now.

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The Vote Fraud Fraud

[ 2 ] January 11, 2008 |

More from Amanda Terkel.

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Hack Economist of the Week

[ 17 ] January 11, 2008 |

Shorter Steven Landsburg:

A regressive sales tax plan that (barring the creation of a massive state apparatus for investigation and enforcement) would encourage fraud, drive up government spending, and (barring a constitutional amendment to abolish an earlier constitutional amendment) give birth to yet another level to the tax bureaucracy? Why, it’s a libertarian’s wet dream!

…UPDATE (BY SL): Jon Chait points out that Landsburg also posits the potential for a progressive consumption tax, charging different amounts for different people at the cash register. Because rich people would never pay cash or use poor people as fronts to buy stuff under such a system. And three ponies!

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The Case Against Clinton

[ 59 ] January 11, 2008 |

Publius, while accepting the validity of grievances against the frequently sexist coverage of her campaign, tries to make it. To me, #1 remains the most persuasive. I think Obama might have a marginally more progressive domestic policy, but the differences are narrow enough that this could be mistaken. But it’s hard for me to get around the fact that Clinton completely botched the most important issue of the Bush era. (Moreover, I’m not willing to assume that her vote for the war was an “insincere political gamble;” that’s possible, but I think we have to accept the possibility that she voted for the war because she supported the war.) See also Ann Friedman on this issue.

And her pro-war vote is not merely problematic on the merits; it’s also bad politics. On the “Clinton electability” issue, as Ygelsias says Drum is narrowly right but takes on only the weakest version of the argument. I have never argued that Clinton is “unelectable,” and it’s likely that the structural conditions in November will make any Democratic candidate a favorite over any Republican. But this doesn’t mean that Clinton/McCain isn’t the worst plausible matchup for the Democrats. And even assuming that head-to-head polls aren’t useful at this point, the fact that Clinton took the Republican position on the most important issue and hence will be unable to exploit an issue that should favor the Dems will surely be a problem. And there are a variety of other areas in which Obama has more upside. Obama has the ability to mobilize voters who generally turn out in relatively smaller numbers, while Clinton’s core constituency (older women) already votes at disproportionately high levels. And while we don’t know for certain that Obama’s lower negatives and favorable media coverage will hold up, the worst that can happen is dropping to Clinton’s levels, and it’s more likely that he would be a better candidate than Clinton in those areas. (And I’m not arguing that conservatives won’t attack Obama; the question is how much right-wing critiques will penetrate the mainstream media and swing voters.)

Now, if you want to argue that given a candidate than can win a primary “electability” is just too unpredictable a factor to be meaningful, that’s fair enough; but I don’t really see a good progressive case for Clinton on the merits either.

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