Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Just Fire Everyone

In the NYT today:

The Dow Jones industrials gained 485.21 points or 4.68 percent, to 10,850.66, halving the 777-point decline on Monday.
485.21/777 = 0.6245 or, just about as equally close to 3/4 (0.75) as it is to 1/2 (0.5). Why the fuck would you call that a "halving?"

Doesn't anyone know anything anymore? Or do they just want us to panic as much as possible?


Yes, Andrew, Sarah Palin is a disaster:

Andrew wants to know why I'm more freaked out by the bailout package than by Sarah Palin. There are several answers to this. The first is that I did freak out--just ask Peter Suderman, who obligingly listened to me rant about her for forty-five minutes after her convention speech. The second is that, for all this, with the McCain campaign flaming out so spectacularly, I don't find her that worrisome. The third is that even if she gets into office, there's a better than even chance she won't end up as president. And the fourth is that while the last thing I said about her was hardly complementary, I haven't had as much time as I might have liked to devote to Sarah Palin. Andrew may not have heard, but there have been a few interesting developments in the financial markets over the last few weeks. As an economics blogger, I was regretfully forced to forgo full time devotion to the vice presidential race and turn to more trivial matters.
And finally, do you really expect me to criticize someone whose ambition has led her to accept a position she lacks the qualifications for and who refuses to admit she was wrong when she makes frequent cringe worthy gaffes?
I am Sarah Palin, and if you don't like either of us, you're a misogynist.


Shorter Megan McArdle: Oh Yeah? So you think that I'm clueless and moronic? Well, don't let my super public rants & raves distract you from all the really reasonable and smart and funny things I tell my boyfriend in private. Yeah, thats right, my boyfriend. He lives in Canada, where he is modeling underwear for the winter. He'll be back in a year. Thats right. So go ask him if you think I'm dumb because he will tell you right here right now that I am not. Besides, my self-imposed job title doesn't let me talk about important issues like the presidency, unless I get distracted by narcissism, hypocritcal pedantry, embarassing attempts at humor, daydreaming, french lessons, murder, alzheimers, describing energy policy through metaphors, science, baseball, and, did I mention I have friends?

Crisis shorters

the stupid continues to flow fast and free as Megan scrambles to find ways to pretend she has the slightest clue what's going on in the financial markets she's supposed to be an expert on. The main thing to remember is don't blame any rich people for this. Only the poor and homeless act in bad faith. Also, Megan is not going to admit she was wrong to think deregulation solves all ills, because she doesn't understand her mistake, or even recognize it. Part of the point of her avalanche of words is to help herself maintain that sphere of dense duh centered around her head.

The devil made me do it!:

Sure, House Repubs are acting like babies, but how dare Pelosi mention that the policies they pushed and I agree with them on are to blame for this mess? I AM NOT TO BLAME, PELOSI IS A TERRIBLE PERSON.

Why not nationalize, like Sweden?:

Do you really want to try a policy that works? What sort of example would that set for the rest of our government?

Prisoner's dilemma:

If I reference the two classical names I remember from prep school maybe you won't notice I have no fucking clue what I'm talking about.
Diogenes, Megan? Really? You do understand he was a dirty fucking hippie who lived off the Athenian dole, right?

The politics of the bill:

Is anyone else sick of me using the word "arguendo"?
Anyhow, Pelosi is to blame for the failure of the opposite party to deliver their votes on a bill their leadership supposedly supported. How dare she talk about the failure of my deregulatory philosophy at a time when it's helped cause a republic shaking crisis? Now is the time to kiss my ass and those like me, not to try to shame us into silence for having fucked up in the first place. It's not like we know what shame is, anyway.

Open thread on alternate plans:

I, ummm, am too lazy to find the other plans being proposed as alternatves, so tell me about them. I'll try to find time to read your comments between moments of acting indignant.

Raising Arizona:

There is a rumor, which you may have heard, that John McCain's famous return to Washington actually scuttled a deal last week, plunging us into the weekend's negotiations which resulted in . . . no deal. The nastiest interpretation is that he wanted to position the Republicans as against the bailout so he could run on that "principle". But the thing is unprovable, and so I haven't blogged it.
I have blogged conspiracy theory Republican talking points about how everyone but the people who voted against the bill are to blame, but I have too much respect for the candidacy of someone I claim to loathe to subject it to the same lack of standards or integrity I use to guide my work on every other topic. And yes, you could point out the inherent hypocrisy of saying "I haven't blogged" about something I'm blogging about as I write that very phrase, but only if you want to be banned.

A quickie on the Palin post will follow in a moment.

Please, enough with the Megan McArdle

Megan has another plea for the internet, as shown in her the title of her article ... uh... titled "Please, enough with the metaphors." Quoth the Megan:

If you cannot explain in clear English exactly what all the salient questions and facts are about the bailout, then please do not attempt to convince others that it is best understood in terms of Dirty Harry movies or the time your Aunt Mavis lost her car keys in the garbage disposal.
Which is funny enough in and off itself, Megan lecturing others on using plain English. Even funnier, though, is to take a look at a previous post of her in which she claims that "Aesop described the problem rather well." How did he describe the problem, you ask? Why, by using plain English of course! Here, let me show you:
Once upon a time all the Mice met together in Council, and discussed the best means of securing themselves against the attacks of the cat. After several suggestions had been debated, a Mouse of some standing and experience got up and said, "I think I have hit upon a plan which will ensure our safety in the future, provided you approve and carry it out. It is that we should fasten a bell round the neck of our enemy the cat, which will by its tinkling warn us of her approach." This proposal was warmly applauded, and it had been already decided to adopt it, when an old Mouse got upon his feet and said, "I agree with you all that the plan before us is an admirable one: but may I ask who is going to bell the cat?"
See, he used plain English to write an analogy! That's what more writers should be doing! None of this metaphors and analogy crap. Let's stick to the metaphors and analogies only, please.

Of course, I may be being hard on Megan. After all, she's written lots of blog posts. Perhaps when she penned the most recent one, she'd forgotten about the earlier one in which she lauded a metaphor. That's understandable, as the posts were separated by one entire other blog post and were written a ridiculously long 19 hours apart from each other. Who can think back all the way to last evening? Totally understandable, her mistake was.

Monday, September 29, 2008

In a time of crisis

thank god we have experts like Megan to explain this stuff to the layperson.

House votes down the bailout:

Democrats voted for it pretty narrowly -- 140 to 95. The Republicans shot it down 65 to 133. I find it hard to believe that they're voting their conscience; they're voting their electoral interest in November. I hope their constituencies enjoy the bank panic.
Actually, what I hope is that I'm wrong, we don't need a bailout, and after a period of liquidation, everything will settle down. If so, I will happily confess my error. But I'm very much afraid that I am not wrong, and things are about to get pretty grim.
About to? Maybe now we'll finally have that recession you keep joking about, eh, Megan?

Meanwhile, back in the Old Country . . . :
We clearly need better regulations. But bank runs are complicated creatures. There is no single cause of this, and there will not be a single solution, either.
And let's not blame the banks, or especially their executives, or the economic 'philosophies', as if naked greed deserves the word, they used to justify their obvious mistakes. This kind of thing just happens, like Hurricane Katrina.

So what happens now?:

Ummm, I know it's my job to tell you, but I'm clueless. I hear rumors it's all the Democrat's fault for voting in favor of a plan the Republicans voted against, and other incoherent claims.

Y'know, if we'd only listened to experts like Megan we could have avoided this whole mess in the first place.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Getting off my ass

and on Megan's case. I'll put up a new poll soonish, just have to finish fixing the idea. For now, old fashioned catch-up shorters.

Dollar obsessions:

I really don't understand how the value of the dollar figures into economic matters.

In defense of borrowing short and lending long:

Fractional reserve banking puts that money to work. It gives us periodic crises. But by putting all that extra money to work in productive investments, it also gives us the wherewithal to pay for the periodic crises.
The people who know how to game the system will get rich, and those who don't will take the losses. What, exactly, is the problem here? People are getting rich, yay them!

The FBI investigating major financial houses:
For what, I have no idea.
Megan McArdle, paid journalist.

Reverse payday:
Here's a question: a lot of Democrats seem to want the Wall Street executives to disgorge things like their retirement packages and bonuses before cutting any deal. Can Congress do this, legally? I mean, yes, they make the law. But my understanding is that while you can grandfather in benefits, you can't retroactively punish people for behavior that was legal when committed. Can Congress reach in and retroactively void a private contract? I'm not asking for commentary on the wisdom or morality of such a move, just whether it would withstand a court challenge.
Megan McArdle, designated "expert".

What I think about the bailout plans:

Here's a lot of words to cover up the fact I plain don't know what I'm talking about, or what to do about it.

The pigs line up at the trough:
If the Big Three can't make autos people want to buy, then they should liquidate and open up the market to those who can.
If Megan can't help The Atlantic produce work people want to read, then she should be replaced with someone who can. You are part of a money-losing venture, Megan. You said so yourself.

Thought for the day:

Fuck you dirty hippie assholes for being right, again, where I was wrong, again. I'll ban you all, and therefore win.

Reverse auctions:

I don't understand the plan on offer, but that means there's a problem with the plan, not me as an economics blogger.

To help or punish?:

Nutella covered the most important part of this post, but there's a little extra left to mock. Megan crafted her incredibly ignorant and hateful argument as a way of arguing against punishing bankers. For real.
Should we punish stupid bankers by plunging the entire country into recession? Most of the stupidest ones have already been punished; as I understand it, Dick Fuld lost about $100 million in the Lehman collapse, while the head of Bear lost $1 billion. The mortgage bankers have already been fired. We're sending a message to a largely empty room.
That's because the horrible shit you were saying made everyone leave, Megan. You're a fucking idiot.

How do we know something bad is going to happen?:

Here we see Megan showing off her vast economic expertise to explain that she doesn't have a fucking clue about what to do.

How much is the bailout going to cost?:
In some sense, the reason to do the bailout is that we don't know. I don't want to give money to GM because I have a pretty good notion of the scale of a GM collapse. Some people will lose their jobs and get new ones, the steel industry will take a hit, and a lot of managers will be looking for another line of work than pushing ugly, underperforming cars. On the other hand, I have no idea how far a bank collapse might spread. And I'm really not eager to find out.
I can't really add to that, can I.

Now I get to look at what she's posted today. Yay me!

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Holy Fucking Shit, the Source of All Dark Matter is Megan McArdle's Heart

Megan talks about the homeless in this post. This is ordinarily a post in which I'd set a new world record in profanities per second, but the sheer, unadulterated cruelty, coldness, lack of perspective or empathy that she lays out for all to see has just stricken me of my ability to even think.

I used to believe that, deep down, all people are good. Megan has permanently convinced me otherwise. Here's a few quotes that illustrate her views of the chronically homeless:

The chronically homeless are not, as fable would have it, people who have had some hard luck. They are people who have repeatedly made bad decisions--mentally ill people who stop taking their medicine, drug addicts and drunks.
Yes, she just said the mentally ill make "bad decisions" which is kind of like saying a baby makes "bad decisions" by crapping its pants and putting every random object in its mouth.
For many people (including me) giving someone an apartment as a reward for refusing to deal with their drug addiction violates our inherent sense of fairness. And for many bleeding hearts (including me) simply giving someone an apartment without forcing them to get help for their underlying conditions violates our inherent sense of mercy. We don't want them to just have a roof over their heads; we want them to stop drinking themselves to death and/or hearing voices.
It's so unfair!!!!! Why won't those schizophrenics just stop hearing voices already? Megan manages never to hear any voices at all (like the voice of reason or conscience) without even trying. Why should those lucky lunatics get all the fun?
But people on the street are people who have refused help, or can't, for whatever dark psychological reason, use it. And they are people who cost a phenomenal amount of money when they get one of the many diseases inherent in sleeping on the street. How much money are we willing to pay to maintain our sense of fairness?
Yes, mental illness is a "dark" thing, and the mentally ill are a source of pure evil in the world. Also, most people think it's totally fair to just leave them out on the street cause, hey, they could just "stop hearing voices" if they really wanted to.
Yes, I know, the hardcore libertarians are protesting that we shouldn't pay for their medical care.
This is how she describes people with whom she chooses to associate herself. She admits that her brethren want people rotting on the street.
... because a majority of Americans are horrified by the idea of letting someone die outside the hospital door.
True, this is what's known as having a bare minimum of a soul. It's actually a good thing, despite Megan's attempts to portray it otherwise.
But the homeless are already people with extreme disregard of social norms and also, personal suffering. Unless we're actually willing to let them die, and I hope we aren't, we don't have any leverage.
Don't you love how she tries to make herself sound compassionate here by hoping that we won't "let them die." She fails to realize that you can't make even the slightest pull for being a decent human being when you call the mentally ill "people with extreme disregard for social norms." THEY'RE FUCKING SICK. They're not disregarding anything. They lack the capacity TO REGARD AT ALL. What the fuck is wrong with her?

This women has managed to make me actually despise her. I used to just hate her ideas. I used to simply think that she was misinformed, short-sighted, and narcissistic. I now see that she's completely evil. She views human life in terms of dollars and cents. It has no inherent value on its own for her. She actually seems to think that the mentally ill choose to be insane.

I'm with brad. I wish I were a woman so that I could punch her in the face. Hell, if I ever saw her in person I don't even know if societal gender roles could stop me from beating the crap out of her any longer. This person is human filth. I hope she ends up on the streets someday.

This horrible display of inhumanity really makes me question whether or not I can keep this gig up. If I keep seeing evil like this, I might start thinking people are just as worthless as Megan thinks they are.


McCain asks for a time out:

Allow me to point out the obvious about John McCain's grandstanding declaration that he is suspending campaigning to deal with the financial crisis, and asking Barack Obama to cancel Friday's debate:

1. It is dumb. The world is not crying out for John McCain's exquisite financial acumen to help shepherd us through this.
This is not the wrong. The wrong is next.
2. It is politically brilliant. John McCain gets to polish his somewhat tarnished "above politics" image.
This is part 1 of the wrong. A politically brilliant move would not have involved needing George Bush to rescue him. McCain is not on the Finance Committee. Had Bush not organized a large photo op in the middle of complex negotiations that shouldn't be interrupted, McCain would have been rushing to Washington to literally do nothing.
Further, it polled incredibly fucking badly. McCain standing up in the debate and farting in Obama's face would have polled comparably. Megan is the only person of any political stripe I can think of who I've read who thinks well of this move. I'm not saying there aren't others with brain damage out there, but goddamn.
3. Democrats who are mad are mad because it is politically brilliant, not because it is dumb. There is, as far as I can see, no actual harm in postponing campaigning, or the debates; we can just as easily learn McCain's terrifying plans for the country next week.
Do you actually read the news, Megan? The main point of postponing the debate seems to be an attempt to keep the VP debate from happening. And Democrats, like Barney Frank, are mad because someone with no understanding of the issue or actual relevance to the process already underway is slowing it down by literally wasting the time of the major players, forcing them to trek to the White House for a fucking photo op that exists only for the political gain of the supposedly suspended campaign.
It certainly doesn't make me like John McCain any better. But I don't really see how he's endangering the Republic either.
Ahhh, a strawbaby to close on. It's poor form for a major public leader to encourage fears about the current crisis, you asshole. If you had even a layman's understanding of basic economics you'd see why. He's not endangering the Republic, he's just fucking with it for personal gain.

Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Get it While it's Cold!

In an article that prolly deserves more attention (or less, really) Megan whips out this whopper:

You know who made most of the money on the subprime bubble? Anyone who bought a house in the last ten years. Yes, that's right, you, with your low fixed interest rate on a reasonably sized house. You're the profiteer who laughed all the way to the bank.
Megan is so clueless here that it's astounding. She thinks the people who massively overpaid for their houses and are threatened with foreclosure and/or bankruptcy are the ones that made out like bandits?

NO, YOU FUCKING IDIOT! The ones who made the money are (aside from the hedge fund managers and such) the ones that SOLD THEIR HOUSES. See, when prices are artificially inflated, it's a good idea to sell things.

I know that "buy low" and "sell high" are complicated economics concepts, but you'd think that Megan would've picked it up somewhere. I guess that little factoid isn't buried up her ass with the rest of the "knowledge" she craps out.

Evil Minds Think Alike

Great minds think alike

It occurred to me, while I was listening to the congressional hearings, that the government could stop most of this by just seizing houses in default and continuing to make the mortgage payments. It turns out someone else is thinking the same way:
Yes, what a great mind. Give the banks lots of money and fuck over your average Joe who just wanted a fucking house to live in. Oh, wait she thought of that problem.
There are inherent issues here: at what rate do we rent to the current occupants? How do we make the banks pay for their folly? Also, the government is not a notoriously effective landlord. On the other hand, it punishes the homeowners without putting them on the street, and eventually the houses will be worth something.
Well, I said she thought of it. It's not like I said she actually gave a fuck about it.

Punish the homeowner, but save the bank. John Smith's right hand surely knows not what his left hand does.

Slightly off-topic

the best thing about this crisis is wandering the financial district and looking at all the scared faces. Stockbroker angst is so sweet I worry I'm going to develop diabetus. Someone call Wilford Brimley, plz.

Also, Central Park was purty today.

Megan McArdle, Your Source for What Matters Most

Ohhhhhhhh, Biden's in trouble!!!!!!

Someone was around to hear him be all like "When the stock market crashed, Franklin Roosevelt got on the television and didn't just talk about the princes of greed. He said, 'look, here's what happened.'"

But then Megan, who's all like wicked smart and totally knows everything was all like "Pffft, you're so STOOOPID. They didn't even HAVE television when that happened."

No word on Biden's response, but one assumes it was along the lines of "No, YOU'RE DA STUPID ONE! They DID SO have TV then. They used it to film the dinosaurs and John McCain's college years!!!!"

Thus, Biden secures the crucial "school yard" vote.

Oh yeah, insert joke about the queen of typos, misinformation etc calling someone out on an obvious misspeak here.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Shorters, Part 2

let's get this done with, it's too nice a day for me to be sitting here. Prospect Park sounds perfect right about now.

How close was the financial system to melting down?:

... was?

Living on borrowed prosperity:

is the title of Megan's upcoming autobiography.
Just because this outcome has been obvious for decades doesn't mean the folk who said so were right. It's like when I was wrong about Iraq; it's more important I learn something than people continue to live or have housing and savings.

Why we need a bailout, even if not this bailout:

Here we see Megan doing her John McCain impression. We have to save the market now now now now now now, and sure this is a shitty plan that's more another Bush giveaway of public funds than actual solution, but WE'VE GOTTA CLOSE THE BEACHES!
Actually, let's pause and look at this post a little closer.

Every crisis gets compared to the Great Depression. This very nearly was.
There are strains on the left and the right that are kind of okay with this idea.
The right wing version says "Let them fail! Fractional reserve banking is inherently unstable, and we've been living on borrowed money. We need to cut back to our natural, credit-free level of output and consumption."
The left wing version says "Let them fail! Capitalism is inherently unstable; greed is no way to run an economy. We need to force banks to stop doing all of these dangerous things and regulate them so heavily they can't make a mistake. Also, as a general rule, rich people should suffer for their mistakes, and ordinary people shouldn't. This is a great opportunity to repeat FDR's awesome victories!"
These are two ways of being dangerously silly. Whatever your ideal looks like, there are two rules of financial system change:
1) Very rapid change is very bad
2) See above.
Actually, let's not.

Even the easy answers aren't easy:
I am in favor of some form of government bailout, and I am also in favor of some major changes in the way that we regulate the banks. But even simple, seemingly obvious changes are trickier than they look.
If we don't give folk a chance to figure out how to game the new system before it's installed there's a non-zero chance it might work properly for a moment or two. Can the poor, humble folk of the financial markets survive on only 80% of a huge shitpile of ill gotten gains until they learn how to manipulate the new regulations, too?

Act now before supplies run out!:
Some of my hawkier [sic] commenters, as well as other people on the web, express the belief that we need to let things come crashing down now without intervention, because if we go on, it will be even worse.
You meant "more hawkish", Megan. If you had ever been instructed in written English you'd know that, or, if you had an editor, they'd know it for you. An editor would also ask for an example of your claim. There are now video game review websites with far more exacting standards for what they put up than The Atlantic.
There's more, but I'm not going to bother with her fumbling excuse for supporting a buyout designed to keep the ultra rich ultra rich.

Why Washington (especially the media) hates Wall Street. A friend writes to ask if I've "gone native". Exquisitely attuned as I am to the effect that severe recessions have on advertising revenue, and the balance sheets of people who fund money-losing magazines--well, no, I certainly haven't. I'd rather let Wall Street off scott free than sacrifice my job to "teach them a lesson".
Excuse me while I fall over laughing.

Ok then.

To restate, Megan realizes David Bradley has a personal stake in the form the bailout takes, so she's going to say what she thinks he wants to hear for the sake of her job, which is a net loss for him to begin with.
And yet, she's devoted to the free market.

If I knew any heroin dealers, I imagine they'd make the same argument. Sure, it'd be great if the problem went away and their customers stopped eventually dying, but they'd rather it continue as it has than lose their jobs.
Slave traders, too.

At least she was honest, for once in her miserable life.
And at least we're done, for now.

Shorters, Part 1

tons to catch up on, and Megan has been verbose. So let's watch her flail about laying blame for the meltdown everywhere but at the feet of the deregulatory policies she's supported for the last 8 years.

Watch the budget:

Whatever your opinion of the Bush tax cuts, it is indisputable that they made our tax base more progressive: the rich and very rich now pay a higher percentage of the total tax take than they did before Bush took office. That has dire implications for the budget for the next few years.
That's right folks, everything you've ever learned or been told about the nature of Bush's tax cuts was wrong. And no, there's no need to support a massively counter-intuitive claim with any kind of direct evidence; that's what poor people do. She goes on to explain how this alternate reality means Obama will have less revenue to work with than he claims and McCain won't be able to make these "progressive" tax cuts permanent the way he wants. Also, zombie outbreaks.

Sure glad I got that MBA:
I graduated from business school in 2001, straight into the teeth of the last recession. This article sure brings back some painful memories. If you're a newly minted MBA, I offer the following, not very helpful advice:
Never forget who has the money, or how to kiss their asses. Also make sure to kiss the ass of anyone who might one day affect your career. Basically, be a huge suck up and hope selling your soul left you as the right kind of half-human shade to please your new masters.

Is McCain suffering from Alzheimers [sic]?:

No, you asshole, he isn't. He couldn't understand the interviewer through her thick accent, and tried to bluff his way out. Stupid mistake, but easily understood. The real gaffe was McCain's camp claiming he did understand and meant to say he'd refuse to meet with the head of another NATO member. That is fucking stupid, and raises all sorts of questions about what lengths McCain will go to in service of his pride.

Clear as Glass (Steagall):

Who are you going to believe; me, or everyone else in the western world, including a tenured Professor of Economics at Princeton who has a column in the national paper of record? Will they use meaningless jargon instead of a real argument? Huh, punks?

Demon short-selling:

There's nothing whatsoever wrong with an unregulated market where rich people sell shit they don't actually own, you communist bastards. The idea in no way resembles this ad.

Insiders save themselves:

Clearly, this crisis shows we need to give rich people free money to save their self-esteem, the question is how much.

More to come.

Monday, September 22, 2008

I know

I've been slacking off of late. Sorry, busy. I'll be back soon, in the meantime help me think of a new poll.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Libertarians are the Funniest People Ever

Mr. Speederdorf makes an appearance again in our little corner of the crap-o-sphere, and Megan chuckles approvingly.

The dork to end all dorks decides to do one better than David Letterman and make a "top eleven" list.

Being unoriginal in a format so monumentally unoriginal is a task in and off itself, but the sheer nonsense that this idiot thinks is a joke is mindboggling:

Top 11 Things That Will Change in the Post 2008 Economy
Oh, God, you can smell the superior libertarian bullshit from a mile away. Some highlights:
10) Ben Bernanke's new bathroom reading: Ron Paul position papers.
Riiiiiighhhttt..... cause Ron Paul was all totally prescient here, and I'm sure his plan to destroy all regulations of any kind what-so-ever would have immediately stopped the bankers from running around taking absurd risks with other people's money without a second thought to the repercussions. Nothing makes you more responsible than knowing that no one is watching. That's why so many banks use the "honor system" for their withdrawals.
9) In updated version of Monopoly, bank no longer makes error in your favor, whichever player has the car must pay $200 gasoline surcharge when passing Go and all the houses -- now peach-pink in color and branded KB Homes -- are held in collective by a massive Chinese investment fund.
Brevity is your friends, Conor. Also your friend, fresh air, females and not following bullshit, self-centered and narrow ideologies that no one with a trace of compassion or an iota of common sense pays any attention to (other than to mock).
7) Sensing that color photos strike false chord during a Depression, National Geographic returns to publishing in black and white.

WTF?!?!??! What in the hell does National Geographic have to do with the economy? Why do I have the feeling that Conor only mentioned this because it's the only magazine he reads and it's just to see the tribal bare boobies?
5) Harvard remains filthy rich; alumni inexplicably continue to give it money.

Um, so I guess the implication here is that Harvard is to blame for this mess. Or something. I don't know. This kid is seriously brain damaged. I think he's another blogger that Megan links to just to make herself look better.
3) Cloning ban overturned to create army of Alan Greenspans.

While Harvard takes all the blame, apparently Conor thinks the man who resided over the entire track laying for this monumental train wreck is just who should be called on to fix it. What's next, suggesting we just need more strong leaders like George W. Bush to get us all straightened out?
1) Lender of last resort: Oprah.

Right, and the corollary to that, I suppose is "Comedian of last resort: Conor Friedersdorf."

This kid's mom really needs to take his computer away before he hurts someone with his poisonous "wit"

There She Goes Again

Oh, Megan, I love when you break out the classics.

As traders like to say, "the markets can stay foolish longer than you can stay solvent".
Here's a screen shot of the search results for "you can stay solvent" in MM's posts. Given her propensity for making typos, this may not be an authoritative list.

Thursday, September 18, 2008

This is why politics are better than sex

The Palin/convention bounce is OVER for POW John POW McCain POW. The next 45 days are most likely going to be the most deliciously painful period this particular political junkie has ever known.

Doc, you left us too soon. It's gonna be a hell of a ride.

Yeah, I'm wildly off topic, but fuck Megan and her unwillingness to admit the role values she holds and champions have played in this meltdown, at least for today.

Still Not Getting It

La McArdle speaks:


Why is Sarah Palin lying about having gone off teleprompter? People I trust have spoken to people who were there, and if she went off teleprompter, she somehow nonetheless managed to deliver exactly the remarks that she handed out to the press beforehand.

What I don't get about this lie is the pointlessness. I expect politicians to lie. But I expect them to tell the standard sort of lies about how they will give us all $5 solar cars by 2010, and never, ever sleep with their staff. This seems like some sort of bizarre compulsive disorder.

It puts me in mind of a famous quote by a UN chief: "You Americans never make simple stupid moves. Only complicated stupid moves that make the rest of us think we might be missing something."

What am I missing?

Well, you're missing that the UN chief (If it's such a g-o-double-dee-a-m-n famous quote, which UN chief was it?) is saying that you Americans are stupid, whether your stupid moves appear complicated or not.

And that Gov. Palin may, like the Moooslims, consider it "OK" to lie in furtherance of a theocratic goal. Or, Mme. Moosedroppings may be disordered.

Let's contemplate this again:

People I trust have spoken to people who were there
That's why they call it journalism, isn't it? I can only hope that those Megan trusted trusted those who were there, & that those who were there were trustworthy.

P. S.: If you think I'm going to read one word of Megan's about the current financial climate, when John McCain has assured us that the fundamentals of "our" economy are sound, think again!

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

It's official

even Megan has recognized she adds no value to The Atlantic.

Open thread on the financial crisis:

A reader asks me to let my resident experts discuss the situation, and my resident learners to ask questions. So here you go: talk away.
Megan's own readers are asking her to butt out of her own blog. I don't know whether to smile or weep.

The machines are with us

As a lark, I ran Megatron's name through the Sarah Palin Baby Name Generator. The result?

"Fire Patriot Palin."

You know you're a crap Decepticon when even the dumbest of programs turns on you.

My name is "Steam Fang Palin," by the way.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Good god

she got her speed prescription refilled today. Shorters, for the sake of the children.

What should Bush have done:

Have I mentioned how low an opinion I have of my readers lately? Cuz I really think you people are idiots.

Rethinking regulation:

The sacred Hayek has proclaimed regulation is heretical, therefore the government should insure all corporate holdings of any kind. Also, here's several hundred words of babble.

If AIG fails, what happens to my policy?:

Be very, very, very worried, because Megan says everything is fine.

New York, New York:

Enough about what this current financial crisis might mean to the millions directly affected, what does it mean to me?

Hindsight regulation:

Look, just because I and people like me were completely wrong about invading Iraq (re)electing George Bush everything that is, has been, or ever will be basic economic policy doesn't mean you can't turn to us for solutions.

Reserve Primary Money Fund "breaks the buck":

Everything is fine. No one panic or start a run on Wall St and the banks or anything. I'm just liquidating my holdings and buying gold, canned goods, and shotguns because I'm hosting a theme dinner.

Hey, at least she's finally addressing the 4-5 day old major economic crisis in 'depth'.
Also, I emailed her to ask why she doesn't correct typos, but she hasn't replied. I genuinely do want to know, too. Dammit.

Monday, September 15, 2008


it's like she's trying to do our work for us. I really don't understand why she refuses to fix typos, maybe she takes pride in displaying a complete ignorance of the actual content of anything critical of her.

Obama goes for the jungular [sic]:

Obama is seeking to blame the current crisis on the Bush Administration:
instead of the magic fairies who actually changed the regulatory scope and expectations of being held to the remaining regulations by the government of all sorts of financial institutions, leading to wild speculation that made a small number of folk rich in the short term but fucked the economy horribly in the long term. Obama apparently doesn't believe in the magic fairies, and says we need a return to a culture of common sense regulation. Instead of responding to this argument, Megan claims Obama is against giving poor people loans, as opposed to favoring giving them non-predatory loans based on the financial capabilities of the recipient rather than the lender's desire to assume large debt loads. I'd quote her, but it's just so much yelling at strawbabies. The amount of dishonesty in her response to Obama's words is staggering, even for her. Megan simply won't acknowledge an argument she can't respond to.

Oh yeah, and in the doing our job for us category, there's also this
These [people with bad credit] are, mind you, the same people that five years ago the Democrats wanted to help enjoy the many booms [sic] of homeownership.
And busts, apparently.


sometimes huge financial institutions just fail in rapid succession like so many dominoes.

We need to shift our focus on regulation from a fruitless search for 100% safety to accepting risk, and trying to make the markets more robust to withstand it. The government should encourage, rather than discourage, multiple sources of information and analysis. It should pay more attention to outlying risks. And it should have systems in place to wind down the inevitable failures, rather than letting the outcome depend on how Hank Paulson is feeling this morning.
Megan is right. We shouldn't discourage load bearing pillars of our nation's economic system from taking massive risks that end up costing their shareholders and the American taxpayer and the economy billions, we should plan ahead as to how to bail them out when making it newly legal for them to take such huge risks with other people's money. So what if it's risky for a major investment bank to put all its liquid holdings in lottery tickets, telling them not to is interfering with the free market and its apparent desire to implode.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Off topic

I had an idea I want to share.

Gayboys for Sarah.

A traveling fair float full of the gayest stereotypes imaginable, dancing on poles and with each other, going 'round the country expressing their support for Sarah Palin. Guys Rupaul would consider "too gay." Guys who get kicked out of the bathrooms of gay clubs for going too far.

The point is to make people think of nearly naked gay men making out whenever they think of Sarah Palin. Use homophobia against the homophobes.

I know it'll never happen, but goddamn it'd be awesome if it did.

Oh yeah

I've been a selfish bastard and forgot to do so myself, but everyone head over to Susan's place and wish her well.

If an attempt at snark falls in the woods...

Remember the blog Economics of Contempt?
I didn't, so I clicked over when I saw it had linked to us, last Monday. And yay, funtime.

My post on media bias generated some good debate (especially in the comments to Megan McArdle's post). It also generated one utterly unhinged (and comically stupid) response by a guy named Brad at the Fire Megan McArdle blog.
Before I get to Brad's response, I want to clear a couple things up. First, as I noted in my original post, I don't perceive a liberal bias in the media.[*** - see below] In fact, if you asked me whether I perceived a particular bias in the media, I would say that I think there's a conservative bias. But I'm a partisan Democrat, and my point was that my perceptions of media bias are likely to be heavily tilted toward perceiving a conservative bias. Second, I don't think "unbiased" means a perfect 50-50 balance of pro-Democrat and pro-Republican stories. The media's reporting should of course be driven by the facts. If the Democrats are right 75% of the time, then by all means, the media's reporting should reflect that. But media bias isn't always that simple; it often takes place at a much more nuanced level, for instance how a reporter describes a policy or a political event. Third: yes, I know that Fox News isn't liberal, and that Chris Matthews slobbers all over Republicans. The fact that there are prominent conservative pundits doesn't prove that the media, in general, have a conservative bias.
He wants to clear a few things up, but not everything. We'll get back to what he's missing after he eviscerates my carefully crafted argument.
Now to Brad's post, which is high comedy. Brad first tries to argue that my post is worthless because I'm a lawyer, and not a neurologist. Ouch. Good one, Brad. You're absolutely right: I'm not a neurologist. But, of course, that has nothing to do with my argument, seeing as the neurological study I relied on was published in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.
Actually, I was criticizing Megan for citing you instead of someone qualified to opine on the topic at hand as she defined it. EoC, as a lawyer, should understand that expert testimony is worth more when it comes from an actual expert, as opposed to someone who slept in a Holiday Inn last night.
Next, he argues that my post was dishonest:
He goes on to cite one of countless studies showing reporters tend to identify as Democrats. He does not, of course, follow up with mention of the consistent accompanying result that a majority of editors and publishers identify as Republicans, or the fact that these folk are the ones who actually control the news being published. That would be honest, and wouldn't play into the meme being pushed.
First of all, the survey I cited did, in fact, include editors in the survey sample. Here's the breakdown of the survey sample:
* 9 percent of respondents were editors, managing editors or assistant managing editors.
* 38 percent were mid-level editors (including the copy desk, section editors, graphics/photo editors and editorial page editors).
* 46 percent were staff (including both general assignment and specialized reporters, photographers, designers and columnists).
Second of all, there is no "consistent accompanying result" showing that editors and publishers skew Republican. In fact, surveys show that most editors and publishers also vote Democratic.
Hehehehehe. It's true that the Managing and Assistant Managing Editors included in the study didn't identify themselves as substantially more Republican or Republican leaning than their reporters in this study, which was conducted in 1998. But, I don't see publishers included, just to quibble about what I actually said, and EoC's second study isn't a study at all, but an article about attitudes towards the Clinton Presidency in the media, also back in 1998. You see, apparently
Editors - who shape and direct news coverage - also tend to lean left.
More newspaper editors backed Clinton than did the public at large, according to a nationwide survey by the Technometrica Institute of Policy and Politics for Editor & Publisher magazine.
The survey found that 58% of editors voted for Clinton in '92, and 57% backed him in '96. The public, on the other hand, gave Clinton 43% and 49% of the vote in those elections.
Editorial boards tend to be left-of-center as well.
The E&P/TIPP survey found that nearly 45% of major newspapers endorsed Clinton in '96. Only about one in three endorsed Republican candidate Bob Dole. Another 20% made no endorsement.
We'll skip the questionable nature of calling Clinton a liberal for the moment, and move on to another quote from Eoc's link.
Editors know it, too. More than nine out of 10 in the E&P/TIPP poll said that the American public perceives a liberal political tilt in newspapers. Yet only one of four editors sees himself as liberal. Almost two-thirds think they have a moderate take.
I'm not sure Eoc read his whole link. The only time this article actually touches on the point EoC is citing it to reinforce, it says something contrary to what he wants it to. Here's some more he might well have missed
Most TV news programs for instance, simply ignored Clinton White House scandals. In 90 broadcasts in April '97, for instance, the top three network TV news programs ran only 19 stories on Clinton scandals, the Media Research Center found. That's despite almost daily developments reported in the print media during the time. [My emphasis]
And please remember, this is from January 30th, 1998, which is to say the Lewinsky scandal was still developing. That's like only looking at how the press treated GW prior to 9/11 when evaluating how they've covered him as President.
EoC continues
Next, Brad questions the neurological study I discussed:
I'd be interested to know whether the study controlled for the actual empirical truth values of the claims being responded to, as Kerry tended to lie a lot less often than Bush, which could skew the results, but then I'm probably being emotional in my attachment to reality.
Brad was clearly too lazy to click on the link to the study that I provided. Had he done so, he would have found that yes, the study did control for "the actual empirical truth values of the claims being responded to." Or, alternatively, he could have simply read my post, as I clearly stated that the claims the subjects responded to were "undeniably inconsistent."
How dare I admit I'm doing something he's going to go on to criticize me for later? (Oops. I deleted that line before I published the post. My bad.) I didn't even take the word of someone I called intellectually dishonest as enough. Geez. *smacks self*
Finally, he argues that the party affiliation of journalists (and editors) can't be used to gauge liberal or conservative bias anymore, because:
Bush's extremism and my way or the highway mentality and record of unmitigated failure have forced the country's political center back into the Democratic Party.
As I noted in my post, the survey of journalists and editors I cited was conducted in 1999****—that is, before Bush shifted the political spectrum. Brad should really learn to think before he writes. According to his profile, Brad is a student. My advice to him: stay in school.
Now, I could then ask why base your claims on a decade old survey of a political landscape we all know changes quite frequently, or mention that newsrooms have faced massive layoffs in that decade, changing their very nature, but I'd like, instead, to focus on the one portion of my criticisms EoC chose to ignore.
You see, conflating liberal and Democrat is a mistake that logicians call begging the question, which is something I learned in school. Liberal does not equal Democrat, as Zell Miller and Joe Lieberman have demonstrated in recent years. But claims of media bias in favor of Democrats would ring hollow in the years following the hatchet job they did on Gore in 2000 or the eager reproduction of obvious lies in the march to war of 2002, so those trying to game the ref claim the media privileges a portion of the political spectrum that is barely represented by it. Name major media liberal voices. Krugman, Maddow, Olbermann when he's not being an asshole, maybe? Oprah, sort of, but not really, plus she's made a point of not allowing her show to be politicized. The NYTimes is horribly liberal, which is why they publish Bill Kristol. Yes, there's liberal magazines, but we're talking about the supposedly neutral MSM press.
Words, Mr. EoC, mean things. Liberal and Democrat mean different things. There's overlap, obviously, but they're only identical from the perspective of movement conservatives. Why someone claiming to be a Democrat would internalize this meme is beyond me, but it certainly invalidates his entire argument.

Also, EoC didn't fix the typo in his "About Me". Tsktsk.

*** - From EoC's original post;
I tend to think there is a "liberal media bias," based on two facts.

**** - Actually, as the survey makes clear, it was "completed in April and May 1998". It was published in 1999. Heehee.

Saturday, September 13, 2008


Oh man, Ta-Nehisi's addition to The Atlantic crew has been a gift from fucking God man. For once, it took me a few posts worth of scanning to find something funny, but sure enough, there it was, the sparkling little turd of stupid glistening from the bottom of the toilet bowl that is his writing, begging me to reach down and pluck it.

Wait, that's a really disgusting metaphor. Never mind.

Ok, so what'd he say? Well, he said this:

I thought about that while reading over Conor Friedersdorf [sic] nuanced take on white people who play gangsta rap at their weddings.
You guys remember our friend, Conor, don't you? He was one of Megan's "Guest Bloggers" some time ago while she was taking a much needed break from pulling shit out of her ass and not writing very many articles for the magazine at which she supposedly works.

No only does Mr. Coates regularly read this 15 year old spaz on cocaine. but he actually called one of his articles "nuanced."

Yes, Ta-Nehisi, only a terrible "nuanced" person would understand that songs about sweat dripping off your balls are kind of awkward at a wedding. Thanks for tuning us in to this wonderful young mind.

Friday, September 12, 2008

More shorters

Megan tried to show her thought processes last night and today. It's bad, real bad. A commenter in the last post thought she was drunk, but I have an odd feeling she'd be more coherent drunk, because she'd be briefer.

Vouchers: what to do about special ed?:

Once we've completely dismantled the public school system we can put it to use filling in the massive gaps in my half-assed voucher plan.

Vouchers and education: do the kids make the school or do the schools make the kids:

Did you know all poor people beat, rape, and otherwise abuse their children?

Should we pay teachers more?:

If I don't acknowledge that paying teachers more will attract more and better candidates for teaching gigs, I win the argument!

How dare I say public school teachers are just in it for the paycheck?:

Easy, I'm a selfish, intellectually dishonest person who refuses to allow that there are better people than me in the world.

In the tank for McCain, in the tank for Obama . . . what's a girl to do?:

Saying I would never vote for McCain absolves me of all my David Bradley mandated meme-pushing. Once again, if I don't acknowledge the actual argument on offer, I win!

Intelligent design:

Folk, do not click that link. For the love of God, don't click. What follows is the least coherent, least edited, most full of words and concepts and names Megan has no idea of the meaning of post that she's quite possibly ever produced. She posted a completely unedited rough draft and moved on, very obviously. I don't even know how to mock this dreck. I almost feel bad for Megan, it's so incoherent. I really don't understand how she keeps her job. I was tempted to give this post a solo treatment, but it'd just be too painful.

Please take the weekend off, Megan. You did too much speed, you need to crash and recover.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Sometimes I wish Megan were a guy

so I could threaten to beat her up without all the bad connotations such would involve. There's some stupid that's too obviously intentional, and too plain offensive, to respond to even with snark. Here's the latest example she's produced;

Unfair advantages:

Many readers responded to my post on coastal contempt by saying, in essence, "They do it too!" There are two answers to that. The first is that if you understand there is a difference between black and white racial resentments, then you should understand that there is a difference between comments by a powerful elite, and comments by a less powerful group, even a majority. (See, say, the Malay/Chinese disputes).
Yes, the folk who elected and are actually represented by our current President are poor, powerless plebs. There's no bias present in Megan's mind that she considers all red state voters to be hicks eking out a living in tin roof shacks by selling moonshine and dirt. There are no cities in red states, no rich, powerful, folk, shit, there's barely even electricity. Hell, we only even let the red states have a single Senator, who can't vote.
This is precisely what the stereotypical condescending rich white liberal charity ball goer who Megan loves to loathe does; makes those she's defending into helpless infants who only have a chance because a white woman wants to set them free.
The second is that here's an area where controlling the media hurts us. When they make cracks, they make them in private, where we can't hear them. When we do it, we often do it in public, right there on the television or in national print media. So they are more aware of, and resentful of, coastal condescension than vice versa. I mean, I know there are people out there who think I'm a pitiful childless, soulless atheist latte-sipping liberal spinster. Occasionally they wander into my comments. But mostly, their contempt is a cottage industry. We're exporting on an industrial scale.
Yeah, that Rush Limbaugh sure is an underground phenomenon who liberals don't recognize exists. And Fox News? It's transmitted in secret on a shifting frequency so The Man can't find it and shut it down.
And spare this us shit, you voted for Bush, twice. You're a red state voter, Megan. You're one of them, hence the need to lie about their, and your, true nature.
This asymmetry gives us a lot of power to set agendas--but it's also why urban liberals are, in my experience, more politically parochial than their rural counterparts. At least the rural regionalist bigots are aware that there is another point of view--it's on the news every night. A good Manhattan liberal, unless they hail from the hinterlands, never needs listen to anyone he disagrees with.
Brian Williams makes a point of expressing his admiration for Rush Limbaugh, Megan. Fox News exists.
Megan had to express support for the liberal media bias lie in order to give herself the ground for all these lies that have followed. About half the content of most liberal blogs consists of following what the other side is doing and thinking. There are a large number of popular liberal blogs which do nothing but keep an eye on the other side. And they do so by quoting the other side, and encouraging their readers to follow the links to verify for themselves people think these things. The right is waging a culture war against a straw man version of liberals based on a distorted picture of a handful of radicals from 30 years ago.
Megan is making a play for success. Just as in Hollywood you'll never go broke making movies about Hollywood, in the MSM you'll never lack for work if you harp on media bias. They love talking about themselves, and projecting their own flaws onto others. Megan knows she's lying, and is probably proud of herself for doing it. She's feeding the division that has been destroying this country for 40 years now for personal gain, and pretending she's being noble, or at least honest, for doing so.
I don't know whether she believes her shit, or is just greedy, and I don't care. I'm getting truly angry, and so I'm out.

And just to make clear for any pearl clutchers wandering by, I do not actually wish I could beat Megan up. Sorry to disappoint.


lots and lots and lots of stupid today.

Untitled: Megan found someone who's a worse writer than she is; Matt Zeitlin.

We know from Larry Bartels that inequality tends to go up under Republican presidents, and down during Democratic presidents. If Obama is elected, when can certainly expect some increase in inequality. He’ll raise taxes on the wealthy, and if the Employee Free Choice Act is passed, wages in the middle should go up some. Tack on the traditional Democratic focus on unemployment as opposed to inflation, along with the possibility of minimum wage increases, and some decrease in inequality is certain.
Megan, however, thinks this is impossible, because we'll never help the poor catch up with the income gains made by the rich in the last 30 years without making the rich pay some of their fair share, and we all know taxes only exist so the middle class can fund the military. But,
That is not to argue that the poor are really rich and therefore don't need any help; that's an argument for a different day. I merely point out that the poor would indisputibly [sic] be worse off if the economy hadn't grown any since 1970.
Ummm, Megan, then how come we keep hearing about how inflation adjusted wages haven't grown at all since Reagan got elected?
And yes, she apparently believes the poor are just fine. Her likely argument is the same as Jonah Goldberg's; ancient royalty didn't have high def tv, so the average minimum wage earner today is far better off.

Lipstick on a pig: Concern troll is concerned, and not terribly well informed, as we see in our next featured post.

Scandalous: Yeah, yeah, McCain failed to provide adequate Congressional oversight of a department a committee he headed was responsible for, so what? It's not like he's campaigning as a reformer who took on Bush's culture of corruption.
Conversely, if McCain had referred to Hillary's health care plan as attempting to put lipstick on a pig, I doubt any Republicans would feel a twinge of outrage.
I'm not sure if she's trying to be cute or what, cuz, well, McCain...

Really, tho, she's not being partisan for McCain. She keeps saying she won't vote for him, then shovels shit for him. She's just being neighborly, and civil.

The hypocrisy of Democratic politicians: Obama dares to send his children to private school without supporting a voucher system that wouldn't help anyone else afford private school, but would help resegregate schools. But yeah, I'll never be honest and admit racism is a driving force for many voucher supporters, because, for one thing, it'd make it harder for me to call Obama a hypocrite for not supporting them. Instead, I'm going to pretend the lessons of running a supermarket apply to educating our children, because I'm too stupid to understand otherwise.

A longer response to the post on why red state chauvinism is ok will follow in a few.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

She Actually Wrote That (Part Megan in a McArdle-going Series)

I'm sure this post deserves more than drive-by, but I can't resist:

For one thing, a lot of old people would starve because they believed their government--a valuable object lesson in the problem with relying on government programs, to be sure, but it is perhaps a mite rough to let millions of old people die pour encourager les autres.
What is the lesson that these old people should learn, you ask? Well, it appears to be that libertarians would really like to be even BIGGER assholes than they already are:
Yes, we all concede that Social Security and Medicare are bad programs that should, at the very least, be structured very differently than they are. But that doesn't mean we can just try shock therapy.
She seems almost disappointed that she can't just make the government bail on its promise to keep the elderly from starving on the streets. In fact she feels the need to mention a second reason to not throw these programs away:
For another, there is no political possibility of enacting a law that causes millions of old people to starve.
Because, for most of her fans, the whole people living in poverty thing really isn't persuasive enough.

I know, honey, it's tragic, but it looks like those awful, awful safety nets in place that keep gramma and grampa from living in a shelter are sadly here to stay. The world is so cruel. If only the rubes understood that it's the market that determines whether or not the people who build our economy get to enjoy it once they stop working, not some namby pamby thing like the "government" and it's stupid, inefficient "will of the people" bullshit.

One gets more and more sympathetic towards the cause everyday.

Fire Marc Ambinder

(via Glenn Greenwald)

A quick shorter:

Yglesias V. Ambinder:

Don't blame the media for the fact people can't seem to learn the truth about Sarah Palin's tendency to lie every time she speaks, it's their own fault for not figuring it out themselves. We can't be bothered with stupid shit like self-examination or self-awareness, that's for suckers who actually care. I'm just makin money here.

More Peggy Noonan bullshit

Megan is trying to rebrand herself, as I've mentioned recently. The Althousian trajectory into self-parody has slightly shifted, into an Andrea Mitchell/Peggy Noonan elite decrying elitism style hypocrisy. I must admit, it's a canny career move. I doubt Althouse makes very much from blogging, and even Megan can recognize AA mostly exists to be pointed to and laughed at. Andrea Mitchell, however, is for some reason respected, plus she's married to Alan fucking Greenspan. That's as elite as it gets, yet Mitchell feels she has the standing to criticize Obama for going to Hawaii for vacation as somehow out of touch with the common man, despite Hawaii being where he grew up and where his too old to travel grandmother who raised him lives. Palin has made it ok for conservatives to lie and be blatant hypocrites in public again, and damned if Megan isn't gonna cash in on that money train. Strawbabies of the world, unite, and help Megan rise into a higher tax bracket.

Future perfect:

I read stuff like this and I think, no wonder we're getting nowhere selling lower carbon initiatives. Too much writing and blogging on the topic of global warming seems to consist of urban dwellers saying to everyone else "You're just going to have to accept the fact that your life is going to suck" in their best third-grade dragon-teacher voice, and then getting surprised and angry when the people they're talking to call them selfish, elitist loons.
Megan's link is a blog meta discussion of a discussion of a discussion Ezra and Matty Y had about capping the speed a car can go at 75 mph. This is an extraordinarily stupid idea from extraordinarily stupid people who live in a fantasy world of their own creation, and has nothing to do with telling rural folk they can't drive anymore. And it's her fucking lunch table crowd she's about to mock, her friends, her peers. She is one of them. Even she has to accept this, though only to get it out of the way so she can keep lecturing her friends and strawbabies.
Of course, a large portion of my blogging on the topic also consists of saying, "Well, I'm afraid your life is going to suck", and I should strive harder to avoid sounding like I'm happy as a clam that the rest of America has to lean into the strike zone and take one for the team. I'm not. I think that if the planet is warming up, you're going to have to give up driving so much, and I'm going to have to give up flying, and this is not fun. I like driving as much as you do. I . . . well, I hate flying, and would happily never do it again. But I like being places that aren't Washington DC.
Megan, however, can still drive her new car she flew to Florida to pick up, because she's doing it in a city. That whole city/highway mileage thing has it backwards. Driving in a city is actually good for the environment.
I understand that people's desires for large houses in leafy suburbs are every bit as valid as my ardent desire to live near the peaceful hum of traffic. Unfortunately, there is no such thing as a policy that effects everyone equally, and the painful job of being an adult is doing things we don't like because they're the morally right thing to do. Assuming arguendo that global warming is happening, and is anthropogenic, the right thing for our society to do is try to make our economy more efficient. Unless we can figure out a better way. But it isn't enough to say, "we ought to figure out a better way" and go back to making the icecaps melt, as so many libertarian think tanks do; until we actually do so, we should be striving for greater efficiency.
Non-elites should sacrifice for the elites, as it has always been. Megan isn't actually going to to fly any less, nor is she even going to feel guilty about it, she's just going to fault everyone around her for not doing so.
But having said all that, if I lived somewhere where long drives were mandatory, I'd be pretty hopping mad if a lot of city dwellers not only came along and told me I was going to have to use less gas, but did so without a trace of sympathy--indeed, spoke to me as if I really deserved to suffer for some unnamed environmental sins. It sucks. I feel your pain, as much as an urban dweller can, anyway. If I seem to be saying otherwise, it's not because I am gleefully wishing for your destruction, but rather because I'm trying to show you that the changes won't be quite as dreadful as you perhaps imagine--it is possible to live a happy and fulfilling life at higher densities. But I'm sorry you can't have your druthers.
Yes, Megan understands why rural folk get mad when people like Megan say the types of things Megan says; it's because of liberal media elites trying to control their lives. Sure, Megan's not a liberal and can only point to her political centrist comically stupid blogger friends indirectly for a non-example example of what she's actually doing herself, but that doesn't mean there aren't bus tours where us librul elites go from NYC to rural Montana to force ranchers to give up their 4x4s for dirtbikes. The left is to blame for Megan's flaws, duh.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Reverse elitism

is when DC Beltway media insiders yell at the mirror for being out of touch with the rest of the world. It's also the idea that being from a small town or lower income family means you know more about the world than folk from more urban areas and/or who have more income, but we're not talking about Sarah Palin or a particular ex of mine.
Megan seems to have made a conscious choice to be more like Peggy Noonan and less like Ann Althouse recently, perhaps noticing that Ann only gets away with acting like an attention starved prepubescent because she has tenure. Now Megan, the city born, elite prep and Ivy League grad is going to lecture us on coastal chauvinism.

Coastal privilege: To begin, Megan quotes Krugman;

What struck me as I watched the convention speeches, however, is how much of the anger on the right is based not on the claim that Democrats have done bad things, but on the perception — generally based on no evidence whatsoever — that Democrats look down their noses at regular people.
The key to understanding what follows is that a certain section of Harvard, Princeton, and Yale grads do look down on everyone else in the world, because they're assholes. Penn is low in these assholes' eyes, lower than many non-Ivies, probably with reason, but I digress. Megan is talking about these pieces of shit in the following, pretending their denigration of her reflects on the greater views of people in cities of the people who don't live in cities.
I'm surprised--though I shouldn't be, of course--that any number of liberals who are (presumably) comfortable with concepts like unconscious discrimination and privilege when it comes to race, have not even stopped to consider that the same sort of thing might be operating here.
Let's be honest, coastal folks: when you meet someone with a thick southern accent who likes NASCAR and attends a bible church, do you think, "hey, maybe this is a cool person"? And when you encounter someone who went to Eastern Iowa State, do you accord them the same respect you give your friends from Williams? It's okay--there's no one here but us chickens. You don't.
This is such clear projection it's hard for me to believe even Megan doesn't recognize it, meaning this is an intentional strategy. She's yelling at herself. (Btw, for those who don't know, a Bible Church is a non-denominational usually small scale church that pretends to take the Bible literally, except when Jebus said most of the Old Testament no longer applies. They always miss that part.)
Maybe you don't know you're doing it. But I have quite brilliant friends who grew up in rural areas and went to state schools--not Michigan or UT, but ordinary state schools--who say that, indeed, when they mention where they went to school, there's often a droop in the eyelids, a certain forced quality to the smile. Oh, Arizona State. Great weather out there. Don't I need a drink or something? This person couldn't possibly interest me.
And she has black friends who are well groomed and polite and very well spoken who are still treated rudely by asshole racists, even when Megan vouches that they're one of the 'good' ones.
People from a handful of schools, most of them hailing from a handful of major metropolitan areas, dominate academia, journalism, and the entertainment industry. Our subtle (or not-so-subtle) distaste for everything from their entertainment to their decorating choices to the vast swathes of the country in which they choose to live permeate almost everything they read, watch, or hear. Of course we don't hear it--to us, that's simply the way the world is.
Taken out of context, this is actually intelligent. The views of a small number of elites do indeed predominately determine the content and form of most types of mass media. Men like Rupert Murdoch and whoever the current head of GE is dictate the way the news is framed, they define the terms. But that has nothing to do with what Megan is talking about, which is that she wants in on the culture wars gravy train. She's basically yelling at herself for being herself, but since she's using a strawbaby for a stand in she can call it a liberal media elite and score authenticity points on the Broder/Noonan/Mitchell scale.
In the 1980s, I played on possibly the worst girl's basketball team in the state of New York. Every time another Catholic school kicked our asses (I believe one memorable game ended at 48 to 2) we consoled ourselves by making fun of their big, sprayed, permed hair, and the lavish eye makeup that ran down their faces when they sweated. We didn't know that what divided us from those girls was economic class--they were the children of plumbers and bodega owners, while we were the children of bankers and lawyers and lobbyists. We genuinely believed that we had simply been gifted with a better fashion sense.
But I bet those girls knew exactly what we were saying as we got on the bus. And I'm pretty sure they knew what we were really talking about.
You were an asshole then, and you're an asshole now. Fantastic.
And now, a complete 180, from out of nowhere. I guess maybe she realized Matt and Ezra will read this and she has to give herself cover for them not to take it personally.
Red America exaggerates the contempt, of course. It's also true that if you're expecting racism and sexism, you'll probably end up misinterpreting perfectly innocent remarks. But the fact that they aren't right in every particular does not mean that, in general, they've got it wrong. For one thing, in both DC and New York I've spent a fair amount of time listening to liberals make jokes about red states that would horrify them if they were told about blacks. But even if that weren't true, I wouldn't be the best person to assess whether there is prejudice or not. I'm so close to it that I can't see it.
When Michael Moore (neither an Ivy grad nor a coastal native, btw) said that horrible, stupid shit on Olbermann's show about Gustav being a gift from God, I could see it. Besides which, red state jokes are Bush voter jokes. Megan has to receive them like hate crimes, otherwise she'd have to admit that some anger from the rest of the world for the MASSIVE FUCKING MISTAKE she and her fellow Bush voters made is justified. She's just too close to see it.

Ross Douthat: Still an Asshat

I think I may have used a similar title before, but what the hey, asshat and Douthat go together like "holy shit" and "what a fucking moron."

That is to say, Ross, -having failed completely to reinvent the GOP via his book-, has decided to go whole hog back to the regular old GOP in order to make up for lost time. In this lovely gem, he's defending right-wing hypocrisy about the Jamie Lynn Spears pregnancy vs. the Bristol Palin pregnancy.

James Dobson didn't call Bristol Palin's pregnancy "a great and wonderful thing."
Then Ross quotes Dobson:

"In the 32-year history of Focus on the Family, we have offered prayer, counseling and resource assistance to tens of thousands of parents and children in the same situation the Palins are now facing. We have always encouraged the parents to love and support their children and always advised the girls to see their pregnancies through, even though there will of course be challenges along the way. That is what the Palins are doing, and they should be commended once again for not just talking about their pro-life and pro-family values, but living them out even in the midst of trying circumstances.

"Being a Christian does not mean you're perfect. Nor does it mean your children are perfect. But it does mean there is forgiveness and restoration when we confess our imperfections to the Lord. I've been the beneficiary of that forgiveness and restoration in my own life countless times, as I'm sure the Palins have.
and approvingly muses:

Challenges along the way ... trying circumstances ... confess our imperfections ... Sounds like he's saying teen pregnancy is a bad thing,
My god, Ross, you're right, it does sound like he's totally white-washing the Palin thing unquestionably denouncing teen pregnancy!

Magnanimously, Ross does concede that Rush Limbaugh was being hypocritical, and in an update adds Bill O'Reilly and Lisa Schiffren to the list, but he's not convinced. After all "calling Rush a prominent religious conservative is a little bit of a stretch." No, Ross, a stretch is what happens to yours and Rush's pants every morning when you put them on. On the other hand, calling the most popular right-wing voices who incessantly spout on about their Christianity, "prominent religious conservative[s]" fits like a FUCKING GLOVE.

He also notes that some guy named Bill Maier said positive things about Jamie Lynn, which convinced me cause whenever someone says "prominient religious right winger" I'm all like "Oh, are they talking about Bill Maier AGAIN?!?!" Another notable supporter of Ms. Spears is the omnipresent Jonathon Last, who has millions of viewers/listeners just like Rush and O'Reilly, apparently.

And, point proven, Ross the Boss blithely ends his post with:
So, to recap: Teen pregnancy, bad; carrying the child to term, good; Spears-Palin hypocrisy, not so much.
Which leads me to my well reasoned and though provoking rejoinder of a recap.

Ross Douth is a fucking asshat. Holy shit, what a fucking moron.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Now she's a fucking neurologist

Media matters:

Economics of Contempt makes the obvious, common sense argument for why liberal media bias almost has to exist:
I'd reinsert the link, but Megan the genius linked to her Google reader, not the blog post she's quoting. The post to which she refers is from a blog called Economics of Contempt. Now, despite the name of the blog it's actually written by a neurologist in charge of a research lab, which is why their conclusions here are of the slightest value.
Or not. From the blog's "About Me":
I'm a lawyer with a background in economics and, unfortuately [sic], politics.
Which is to say, prepare for the irony. The EoC post reads
The issue of media bias has been debated and studied for decades, and both sides can cite academic research that supports their argument. But the process of defining and measuring "media bias" is so inherently subjective that I don't think it's possible to conduct an objective empirical study.
Sounds reasonable, right? But here's the next line
I tend to think there is a "liberal media bias," based on two facts. First, surveys have consistently shown that journalists are far more likely to be Democrats than Republicans.
He goes on to cite one of countless studies showing reporters tend to identify as Democrats. He does not, of course, follow up with mention of the consistent accompanying result that a majority of editors and publishers identify as Republicans, or the fact that these folk are the ones who actually control the news being published. That would be honest, and wouldn't play into the meme being pushed.
So given that (1) journalists are overwhelmingly Democrats, and (2) party affiliation dramatically affects the way our brains interpret political news, is it really possible that there isn't a liberal media bias?

No empirical study of newspaper stories or talking heads on TV is ever going to be able to objectively determine whether there's a liberal media bias, because what people think constitutes "liberal bias" depends on their party affiliation also. I don't perceive a liberal media bias, but then again, I'm a Democrat [Mhm. And Megan is a lefty], so my brain would presumably interpret political news the same way a biased liberal media would.

But if we know that the inputs are heavily biased, it's very likely that the output is biased as well.
He's basing this claim on a study that showed admitted political partisans tend to base their judgments of the claims of politicians on predetermined political affiliations and subsequent emotional responses. I'd be interested to know whether the study controlled for the actual empirical truth values of the claims being responded to, as Kerry tended to lie a lot less often than Bush, which could skew the results, but then I'm probably being emotional in my attachment to reality. The only way to judge media bias is by political affiliation, not by, say, factual accuracy. Media Matters is just as biased as Rush, end of story.
I could go on about the irony of calling a massive group biased based on one's own inherent biases and a willingness to leave out facts which don't support your conclusion, but we need to get back to Megan and her lecture on neuropsychology.
affect the way their brains interpret political news. In his book [the biggest sic in the history of sics. Megan actively chooses not to edit her work, or even proofread it. Why should she? She's paid either way, why do more work?]
One of the more interesting results of current neuropsychological research is that some scientists think that, at least for hot-button issues, we reason backwards: we decide what we believe based on our emotional needs, and then figure out a reason that we should believe it. Regardless, I think EofC makes an excellent point: based on what we know about journalists and political cognition, it's very unlikely that there isn't substantial bias in both academia and the media. I also think there's no way to develop any direct test of media bias that will satisfy people who want to disbelieve in it.
Which is to say that according to Megan's biases, other journalists are biased.
She dresses her biases up with an unsourced reference to the results of a field of science which is still emerging from a pair of disciplines she is utterly unschooled in, a reference which, if it actually exists, came to her via academia and the media, so Megan is right, dammit. These biases corrupt the work of others, not her. And editors, publishers, and reporters' sense of professionalism, training, and ability to see past their own kneejerk responses are all negligible influences on the media compared to the political values of inherently cynical, mistrustful people.
After all, look at the free rides Gore and Kerry enjoyed, and how little attention was paid to the factually bankrupt swift boat vets. And, of course, there's that whole WMDs in Iraq thang. But why let what actually happened bias you, when a business school grad with a BA in English who blogs about economics can use her vast experience in the field of neuropsychology to show why you shouldn't listen to people who say things she disagrees with. Don't let your liberal bias for reality and facts get in the way of accepting Megan's understanding of a field she probably had to spellcheck the name of. She's not a liberal, so she's not biased, trust her.


I have to also note that Democrat and liberal are being conflated here by both EoC and Megan. This is what conservative Republicans do, and it's bullshit, especially in the current era when Bush's extremism and my way or the highway mentality and record of unmitigated failure have forced the country's political center back into the Democratic Party. Megan and EoC are guilty of begging the question in how they frame the issue.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Oh hai

Here's why I haven't been posting. Unfortunately, I'm back in Brooklyn now. Full normalcy returns tomorrow, alas.

Lemme in on that Censorship!

Boo-ya Nehisi! You're off the heezy on this one:

You guys know I agree with about .0005 percent of what Fred says. Having said that, he's somehow managed to drive some weak-minded, 22-year old insane with such rage that they've taken to impersonating him. This person thinks very very little of Fred. And yet, in a comic twist, seems unaware that however weak-minded he takes Fred to be, the fact that Fred now has seemingly opened a condo in this person's head, shows the imposter to be weaker still. Is that irony? I think so, but I get confused so often.

Anyway, I'm usually above insulting people over the internet, but this guy is going to Herculean lengths to troll. I leave it to you to dream of what his real life--not to mention social life--must be like. Anyway, do yourself a favor and don't respond to posts that look especially outrageous. I know the real Fred is so off the wall that it's hard to distinguish. Just give it a second before you respond, please. I'll be in, within an hour or so, to erase the scribblings of this unfortunate soul. I wish I could get him the help he clearly needs--for now, the "delete post" button will have to do.
Dude is so open minded, he'll even stereotype the trolls that agree with him! He's attacking a troll of a troll. Ahhh, The Atlantic, where you'll drown in the vastness of our trite, self-righteous and boring commentary.

Seriously, do they think they're going to win the war on people being an ass on the internet? Don't they realize that's like winning the war on terror?

And how come the black dude doesn't get an intern to thought police his comments? (or is Ta-Nehisi a girl's name???) I think The Atlantic is practicing discriminatory practices.

Fun fact about Mr/Mrs Coates: I never read anything but the most recent post of his/her blog when I have enough time to get to the bottom of my blog reading list, and like 30% of the time that one post contains something stupid enough for me to mock!