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When I Grow Up, I’m Going to Non-Sequitur University

[ 54 ] September 25, 2011 |

Shorter Ross Douthat: “Executing the occasional innocent person is a price worth paying to stimulate a prison reform movement that shows no sign of happening despite the fact that we execute innocent people.”

Take lessons, children: the idea that injustice A shouldn’t be addressed because of injustice B (which, in turn, of course must yield to hypothetical concern for injustice C) is the single most important weapon in the arsenal of the “moderate” reactionary. (Cf. “You can’t unionize if any group of workers anywhere is worse off than you are.”)


Their Galtian Overlords

[ 64 ] September 12, 2011 |

On the monetary side are even worse than ours.

In a bit of black comedy, on the other side of the page, Ross Douthat argues that the Obama administration did not pivot quickly enough to austerity. Really.     In its way, you have to admire this bit of hackwork:

Finally, instead of pivoting from the Recovery Act to deficits and entitlement reform, the Democratic majority spent all of its post-stimulus political capital trying to push both a costly new health care entitlement and a cap-and-trade bill through Congress. Both policies were advertised, intermittently, as deficit reduction, but neither came close to addressing the real long-term drivers of the nation’s debt.

So, on the one hand, the ACA is “costly.” On the other hand, he doesn’t actually dispute that it would control health care costs, but apparently it is “costly” because it wouldn’t, in itself, reduce the long-term structural deficit problems it would be crazy to focus on in the midst of horrible unemployment. Hacktacular!

One Was Too Much

[ 22 ] June 23, 2011 |

Great column from Coates. After bringing much-needed national attention to Rick Perry’s role in the murder of Cameron Tood Willingham, the punchline says it all:

Whatever one thinks of the death penalty, the accounts of those who would seek to conceal the results of their theory should be closely checked. If only for that reason, the prospect of Governor Perry as commander in chief induces a chilling nostalgia. Indeed, choosing a leader of the free world from the ranks of those who sport a self-serving incuriosity is a habit, like crash landings and cock-fights, best cultivated in strict moderation.

Once a century should suffice.

Can we just remove the “guest” from TNC’s status? Would anybody have rather read the two inane Anthony Weiner columns that almost certainly would have resulted this week if Collins was still around? Do we need four columns worth of Burke for Dummies every week? I think he’s passed the audition.

Bobo’s Unempirical World

[ 48 ] June 7, 2011 |

Bobo engages in his trademark style of argument, focusing on abstractions and ignoring evidence about whether or not markets actually work for a given problem. Cohn does a good job pointing out the problems, and I think the most important one is near the end — the comparison with other countries.   Brooks asserts that “there is no dispositive empirical proof about which method is best.”  But the policies of virtually every other country in the world give us the chance to compare a relatively “free market” in health care to more state-oriented approaches, and the evidence is unambiguous.   The “free market” delivers coverage to many fewer people for more money, and usually far more money.   Although Brooks likes portraying debates between an imaginary ‘Burke” and “Rousseau” while casting himself in the former position, in this case it’s Brooks who’s ignoring all the empirical evidence to cling to his abstract beliefs about the benefits of markets.    And he does this despite the fact that — between the inelasticity of demand, lack of informed consumers, and strong incentives insurers have to deny coverage to vulnerable groups  — there’s no good reason to expect health care markets to work even in theory.

The Triumph of Trivia

[ 9 ] May 28, 2011 |

Maybe he was a good restaurant critic — although there’s considerable debate on that point* — but on politics, Bruni was awful. It’s hard to know what the Times was thinking, except that they wanted to make sure not to hire a woman who has any more interest in writing about substantive issues than Bruni…

*The one ray of hope is that a few of his classic pans — especially Harry Cipriani and Ago —  display not only a gifted writer but a specific talent for perceiving and dismantling empty bullshit from the priveleged in an entertaining way. If he can apply that to stuff like, say, the Ryan plan we’d have something. But given his distaste for policy details, this seems unlikely…

…UPDATE: This is...not encouraging. Really, one MoDo is too many.

It’s the Institutions, Stupid

[ 45 ] May 24, 2011 |

Bobo’s fantasies about elites and bipartisanship notwithstanding, to the extent that the British system is “functional” where the American system isn’t, it’s because the Westminster system allows majorities to govern and the Madisonian system often does not. And I do think the former is preferable, understanding that you might get stuck with some idiot who thinks a return to Hoovernomics is a splendid idea and he’ll be able to implement his agenda to the delight of conservative American op-ed columnists and to the detriment of your own country.

Snack Forensics

[ 25 ] May 9, 2011 |

The so-over choice of wrap rather than bread sure is fascinating, but I can’t fully evaluate Obama’s foreign policy choices until I know what’s on his iPod. And I can’t believe that we didn’t get a more in-depth evaluation of the undoubtedly un-American condiment choices.

Your Moment of Bobo

[ 4 ] March 22, 2011 |

Seriously, in the wake of Iraq, we’re going to claim that unilateralism produces transparent decision-making, clear objectives, and considered decision-making? Right. This is so silly I’m reminded of Brooks’s assertion that Iraq War was really a Burkean endeavor…

That Term “Stockholm Syndrome,” I Do Not Think…

[ 4 ] December 6, 2010 |

Without getting into the debate we’ve been having in comments about his merits as a columnist, I note that Frank Rich’s latest much-praised column makes no sense:

THOSE desperate to decipher the baffling Obama presidency could do worse than consult an article titled “Understanding Stockholm Syndrome” in the online archive of The F.B.I. Law Enforcement Bulletin. It explains that hostage takers are most successful at winning a victim’s loyalty if they temper their brutality with a bogus show of kindness.

My question: what shows of kindness? The Republicans have been nothing if not blunt about the fact that they have no interest in dealmaking on anything but the most favorable terms, and have swatted away olive branches with a refreshing lack of equivocation. And while I think that the majority of political observers greatly underestimate the leverage wielded by congressional conservatives, even I don’t think that the Republicans have the inherent leverage of captors. Tax cuts are an issue that Republicans really care about, but far from aggressively using his leverage Obama has been very clear about his plans to cave. There’s plenty of blame to go around — conservative Senate Democrats are probably the primary villains here — but Obama isn’t a prisoner on tax cuts either.

Seems About Right

[ 5 ] November 24, 2010 |

Your new Washington Post blogger Jennifer Rubin, ladies and gentlemen:

The most important thing to remember, if you want to be taken seriously, is that she and Ezra Klein are precise equivalents. No, scratch that: the Post would have to hire 20 Rubins as bloggers to go along with the innumerable Rubins on their op-ed page to balance out one Klein.

Also, this blog is serious in its threat to deploy images of Kip Winger until the Editors start blogging again.

Your Moment of Bobo

[ 6 ] October 29, 2010 |

Shorter David Brooks: The shrewd political course for Obama is to agree with David Brooks — and, hence, the American public, who I will attribute all my beliefs to — about everything.

Cohen: Real Men Treat Their Subordinates Inappropriately

[ 20 ] October 26, 2010 |

Via Amanda Hess, self- (and by nobody else) described very funny guy Richard Cohen leaps to the defense of Clarence Thomas:

Every 20 years or so, some woman surfaces to accuse the now-Supreme Court justice of being a male chauvinist pig — to resurrect an old term from the tie-dyed era — but falls frustratingly short of making a case for true sexual harassment. Thomas stands nearly alone on the court in his shallowness of his scholarship and the narrowness of his compassion. But when it comes to his alleged sexual boorishness, he stands condemned of being a man.

I know lots of men who don’t repeatedly use inappropriate language and make unwanted sexual advances toward women who work for them, actually. But the key problem here is that Cohen doesn’t seem to understand one of the central issues, which is perjury. Thomas didn’t claim at the hearings that repeatedly asking out and using crude sexual language around his subordinate Anita Hill didn’t constitute sexual harassment. Rather, Thomas denied using such crude sexual language not only around Hill but around anyone. Lillian McEwen’s story is, therefore, very much relevant to whether or not Thomas was telling the truth, which — as Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson have already documented in great detail — he almost certainly wasn’t. And, unlike Cohen, I’m afraid I don’t regard perjury by a Supreme Court nominee as a trivial issue.

But, in fairness, it’s not as if Cohen has any self-interested reason for wanting to declare potential sexual harassment a non-issue. Oh, wait.

[X-Posted to TAPPED.]

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