Monday, March 30, 2009

I Know, I Know

it's like she put up the bat-signal and I'm not answering the call.
I'll get to it, I'm just readjusting to it being nice enough out to go for walks. Lots of winter antsy to work off.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Back To It

Florida was warm and wonderful. I saw the Yanks beat Minnesota and the Red Sox, including Teixeira's first home run in pinstripes, a perfect inning from Mariano Rivera, Posada throw a Bosock out, and Jeter having many, many pictures taken of him. Speaking of pictures...

The Twins have a great little spring training stadium.

Whereas the Yanks' stadium in Tampa feels a lot more like the bigs.

Anyhow, here's a few shorters to make this post relevant, n to begin digging out of the backload.

All about public-private partnerships:

And now, the funniest thing Megan has ever written;

Well, luckily, I picked an uneventful weekend to go on vacation. Having slept in yesterday, I got the invitation to the Treasury conference call about Geithner's plan approximately an hour after it ended. So you'll have to make do with warmed-over thoughts which were formed without benefit of input from the horse's mouth.
It's like she's actively trying not to know anything about the issues she pontificates on.
In any case, she goes on to say that she doesn't really know anything, which of course takes several hundred words to express.

Maxine Waters brings the crazy:

It sure does make it easier to advance an argument if you only acknowledge its least eloquent and informed proponents. No way are any of these failed giant financial entities trying to take advantage of the chaos and confusion out there to benefit themselves in ways they clearly should not. Haven't you seen how they act all contrite to Congress?

A twice-told tale of AIG:

Pathetic. There's just no other word for Megan's flailing attempts here to find anything, anywhere, to justify her belief that the people at AIG who helped melt down the global financial system have to be paid to stick around and fuck up the efforts to fix their mess. Her post is incoherent, self-contradictory, and basically makes clear she doesn't know what the fuck she's talking about, she just doesn't like the idea of genuine corporate responsibility. Making over a million a year means never having to say you're sorry.

I need lunch. Bubye for now.

Old People Are Not Hip

Megan? I'm looking at you.

We screened The Room a few weeks ago for a few friends, and it's everything the AV Club says about it, and so much more.
First off, you didn't screen shit. You watched it on your tv. Difference.
Second, if you need the Onion AV Club to tell you about some aspect of popular culture, you might as well start buying the adult diapers now. No disrespect to the good people of the Onion, it's just that they cover shit a couple years after the fact, so the NYTimes can hear about it and cover it six months later.
The Room is quite funny, as was discovered by anyone who knows anything about comedy or bad film or just what "the kids" are talking about back not long after it came out in 2003. Next up, Megan comes up with the crazy idea of dressing up like Dr. Frankenfurter for a Rocky Horror screening. Thank jebus she's too tone deaf to understand Zach Galifianakis. If she ever discovers Mr. Show I'm going to find a way to contact David Cross and ask him to send her an insulting email.

And yes, I understand that several of you reading this may not have heard of The Room. I'm not calling you an old person for that, being an old person is really about a state of mind where you think being about half a decade behind the times means you're still "with it".

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Gliberty On The March

Her Majesty has made it official: The Atlantic is so desperate that commenters must register, so The Atlantic can sell the registrant's e-mails to whichever spammer offers the best price.

All I can say is, I've run open comments for eight years--and I don't feel that I am legally or morally obligated to spend precious minutes of my lives deleting graphic references to my gender, person, or private life.
The question, of course, is not if anyone "feels" they are morally or legally obligated. The question is: Are you legally or morally obligated? If not, just don't spend precious moments of your lives (?) doing that. Grow a skin. Really, what did she expect would happen when her selfish idiocy obtained a larger forum? BTW, if one doesn't want graphic references to one's "private life," one should keep it private by shutting the hell up about it.

And, since we're discussing her blog, why doesn't she spend some precious minutes updating her Comment/Gadget Of The Week sections, both of which have been static since December? I bet the IT people who installed the censorship system got a big laugh from how long those have been sitting there. Maybe we'll see some action there soon, now that she has precious minutes back in her lives (?) not to go over the comments. Or, she could just admit she's incompetent & give those up. 

Which leads to another question. If you were a big muckety-muck at The Atlantic, would you pick one of your web loggers to edit your "Business Channel" if said blogger couldn't keep her own fucking blog up to date? Or correct her own typos? Or anything?

We'll also note that she went Jane Galt for a whole wknd., yet The Atlantic manged to muddle through w/o her.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Genuine Shorters, Mostly

a cloud is covering the sun for a moment, let's catch up a little.

Do the banks matter?:

I still don't take criticism well.

Ryan ends the post with a slam at me, claiming I only care about the stupid banking system because I'm just looking for a reason to dislike Obama. I could turn that around just as easily and claim that he's only defending the complete lack of action by Treasury because he wants to prop up Obama's presidency by any means necessary. But that's not very useful. Perhaps we could stick to arguing the facts and theory instead of the relative unsavoryness of our putative motives.

Banking, again:

Seriously, how the fuck dare this little peon disagree with me?
Also, Megan is back to blaming Obama for the inside politics efforts by congressional Repubs to block every lower level economic post there is. Megan could do actual reporting and call Austan Goolsbee and ask him about what's going on and his own experience of having his appointment held up for no real reason, but... ummmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm.

AIG clawbacks: barely legal:
All of the plans I'm currently aware of involve substantial voluntary participation from sound financial institutions. I don't think you'll get much voluntary cooperation from banks if you declare that any acceptance of government funds will involve substantial risk that they will appropriate your paycheck.
She actually doesn't see the problem here, Megan thinks it's fine and dandy that the execs of struggling financial institutions would place their bonuses above the continued existence of the companies they work for.
The reason for pushback against taking those bonuses away is, I suspect, because it sets a precedent for taking away ill gotten gains. There's a whole lot of really shitty human beings out there who got very rich, or very much richer, from all sorts of unregulated financial misdeeds over the last decade or so, at least, and they should be feeling nervous. Rush and Megan are just the early vanguard of their defenders.

Money matters:

Wait... only Rush agreed? Maybe Megan better act indignant about those bonuses after all, in a waddayagunnado? kind of way.

SEC files fraud charges against Madoff's auditor :

Ah, phew, there's minor news in the Madoff debacle for Megan to act self-righteous about. She's not just a blind enabler of the rich, see?

Flotsam and Jetsam:

To review, when a performer Megan knows and likes dies or falls gravely ill, it's a tragedy. If she doesn't know them or enjoy their work, it's a hoot.

Ok, the sun is back. Bubye.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Annals Of "You Know"

For this, a trip to NYC. Carbon footprint, anyone?

ZAKARIA: So, the populist rage against these million-dollar bonuses and the companies that give them -- has it all gone too far?

I brought together three sharp thinkers, all of whom once worked on Wall Street, to talk about this.

Megan McArdle writes an economics blog for the "Atlantic Monthly," and she has worked in technology, consulting and finance.


ZAKARIA: Megan, I think of you as a libertarian from your blog. Should the government be deciding what bonuses people are getting?

MEGAN MCARDLE, ASSOCIATE EDITOR AND ECONOMICS BLOGGER, ATLANTIC MONTHLY: The outrage may be completely counterproductive. But on the other hand, it's totally valid. They are getting taxpayer money, and it is totally valid to feel like I shouldn't be paying some guy who got me into trouble, forced me to bail his company out, give him another $3 million.

On Henry's site, yesterday there was someone who posted a letter from an investment banker who pointed out that these guys hate their jobs. It's not a fun time to be in that position. And so, you may really need to pay the money to retain them.

Maybe the moral outrage is worth -- expressing our moral outrage is worth the price that we're going to pay if AIG gets into trouble. And that's a political decision. It's not really an economic decision.


ZAKARIA: Megan, you live in Washington. Are we going to see a new kind of regulatory regime? You know, is this -- Washington must be, at some level, enjoying getting its fingers in this extraordinary honey pot.

MCARDLE: Oh, absolutely. When the election was finally decided, my Twitter feed was filled with friends who were liberals, and Obama fans, going "It's 1932. It's 1932!"

You know, they're ready to sit down and really get in there and start, you know, playing with all the levers and the pulleys. They want to do radical reform. There's a huge sentiment.

I mean, there's also a sentiment out on the street, on Main Street, that we've been taken for a ride, that people on Wall Street have been making outrageous sums of money for what turns out to have been not merely worthless, but actively harmful.

Now, obviously, that's completely exaggerated, in my opinion, and Wall Street does a lot of good things. But -- although I probably won't make any friends for saying that here.

But, you know, it doesn't really matter at this point what the underlying economic reality is. At this point what matters is the politically reality.
There you have it. An appearance on Charlie Rose is now only a matter of time.

GPS Update

As you might imagine, it's hardly one-on-one, published author Zakaria w/ econo-blogger Megan. No, it's "expert" panelist Megan.

Also, Fareed brought together a panel of experts to discuss economic populism, AIG bonuses, and the handling of the economic crisis.

****video to be provided soon***
And when it's provided, it'll be provided here!


Transcript here.

GPS: Where You At?

A quick reminder: Mlle. Ladybughead is to be on Fareed Zakaria GPS on the Clinton News Network at 1700 EDT (That's 5:00 p. m., if you can't add.), & 1400 PDT. (Coastal elitist times only.)

This should be funny, & we'll be able to see what she looks like on non-public access telebision, w/ basic cable make-up & lighting. 

Will she be wearing the ladybug headband?

Saturday, March 21, 2009


Nice of Megan to take some time off, as I've been in Florida since Thursday for some family and Yankee baseball time. Saw Teixeira hit his first homer as a Yank yesterday afternoon, and we're going to a game in Tampa vs the Bosox next week. Me likey.
Heehee, Binkley just scared off a family of racoons. He is a mighty warrior defending his lands. (The back porch I'm on is screened in, he wasn't at risk.)

Anyhow, I want to call quick attention to this Katha Pollitt piece about Asshat's Douthat's NYT gig. It's mostly right, but a teensy bit wrong, maybe.

Liberal blogger men are thrilled with the New York Times's appointment of 29-year-old Atlantic blogger Ross Douthat to replace William Kristol on the op-ed page. ...
"Smart move," says Matt Yglesias. Ezra Klein and George Packer agree he's "brilliant." At, Chris Hayes calls it a "fantastic choice," and Eyal Press looks forward to "thoughtful commentary."
The underlying implication, I believe, is that the male liberal bloggers named are more concerned about promoting members of the DC elite bloggers boys' club than they are about defending liberal values. If you take out "boys'", I think she's absolutely right. The problem is, there's clearly women in this club, be it self hating women like Megan or "feminism means I get what I want" quasi-libs like theGarance (at least that's how she comes across to me, I could be very wrong, don't much care if I am). That doesn't mean it's not a boys' club at heart with a wimmin's auxiliary, but I don't think gender solidarity, even unconscious, is behind these "liberal bloggers" ignoring Douthat's hackdom so much as the pack mentality of the next generation of DC media elite. Douthat will link to Ezra from his NYT blog, and Ezra will get marginally more hits, marginally advancing his career, and this is why Ezra is happy about it.

I don't know if I'm misinterpreting Pollitt's views, and I want to emphasize this is a small nit to pick. Douthat's gender politics are obviously wrong and disturbing. I also want to make clear I'm not trying to tell Ezra or Matty Y who it's ok for them to be friends with. If they like Douthat as a person, that's not my business. But that doesn't change the sheer stupidity of the response Pollitt notes. There are plenty of liberal male bloggers mocking Douthat's rise, but they tend to be the non-professional types who don't place careerism before honesty and their political values. That Douthat is a hack is, at least to me and the vast majority of those reading this, unquestionable. His work is ass, even aside from his values. That's why he came cheap, which was probably his main qualification. To call him "brilliant" or "thoughtful" can make that next dinner party much less tense, sure, but it's simply not true, demonstrably so.

My point in all this is actually quite simple; Ezra and Matty Y and their clique are all hacks, every last one of them. They are primarily about themselves, and their careers. All else is secondary. I want to like Chris Hayes, but his appearances on Olbermann are just annoying, he's such an eager little toady. Treating Douthat like someone to be taken seriously is a great example of why we shouldn't take these people seriously. The left has smarter, better, voices in the blogosphere than these careerist twunts, and I just wish certain blogs I love *cough*LG&M*cough* would stop linking to them. And yes, I know, it won't happen. Ezra, especially, has shepherded his career to the cusp of a breakout, despite a lack of balls and integrity. Argh.


It occurs to me that part of Pollitt's point was that the maleness of the liberal bloggers helped to inure them to the rank misogyny of Douthat's work. I plain don't know if that's the case, I'm just trying to offer another, possibly complementary, option.
Also, Megan noted the maleness of Douthat in her congratulatory note ("he was so clearly the only man for the job"), but we all know about her tendency to blame her own failings on the perceived misogyny of others. It's downright funny to see her trying to be subtle about it.
Alsoalso, in case Douthat somehow happens to see this; you'd have a better chance of giving a woman an orgasm if you actually tried to do so. In addition, it'd help if you weren't afraid of letting a woman fuck you, for once. Highly aroused women don't grow penises to take you from behind with, despite your nightmares that are truly fantasies. You're here, you're queer, get used to it.

Friday, March 20, 2009

No Rest For The Weary

Great, I finally have the time & energy to abuse the Muse, & she decides she needs a few days off, depriving me of grist for the mill.

Still, this is worth mention.

Boom, baby, boom

Apparently births in 2007 exceeded the Baby Boom record.  This probably won't last--births tend to go down in economic hard times.
Interesting, but really, just a factoid.


Weasel word/phrase count: 3

1. "Apparently," the NYT story on data reported by the National Center for Health Statistics is not to be trusted. (I grant the NYT said it was "preliminary data.")

2 & 3. "Probably" & "tend to." C'mon. 

Mad? I'M NOT MAD!!!!

Oh, goody, Megan's talking about herself taxes! What fun!

According to Megan, some dude thinks we should raise the top tax brackets. Apparently the idea that a top bracket in the neighborhood of $400k isn't optimal is actually worth discussing these days. I'm sure there's lots of people who think there is no meaningful difference between 400 thousand and 400 million dollars a year that really need to be argued with.

Anyway, this dude Megan quotes is all like "some people are angry and bitter" and then Megan's all like "OMG, WTF! I am totally NOT angry and bitter! Uh, like, life's too short for that. It's just like Dez-Cart sez!" Well, no, seriously, she says:

I'm not angry and bitter; I'm about as mad as I am at the prospect of people who bought homes they can't really afford getting a bailout while I continue renting--which is to say, not very. Life is rather too short to spend it getting angry at remote strangers.
Yeah, we all wish we were as majestically sanguine as Megan. She doesn't let the little things, like stupid poor moochers getting all uppity--thinking they deserve a house--and then buying the home that the financial experts enthusiastically tell them they can afford. Oh, and the people that fleeced the economy and pay very little taxes.. uh... something about them too.

I mean, why get bothered at huge social injustice when there's important things to get into a huff about, like the fact that she needs to show ID to get Pseudofed or that the DMZ insists that her car actually allow her to see behind it before she legally drives it around.

To show us how not bitter she is, she follows up with this incredibly snide and baseless trenchant thought:
I also note, just as an aside, that the definition of "very rich" seems increasingly to be set at "just above the level a top-notch journalist in a two-earner couple could be expected to pull down".
Oh, really? How nice of these "journalists" to provide you with both an exact figure along which the line between rich and poor is drawn as well as their jountly filed 1040s! I mean, you aren't just making that completely the fuck up, are you Meggies? You wouldn't happen to be sniping at "top-notch journalists" out of jealousy or inferiority, would you? No, of course not. Life is too short to feel belittled by complete strangers who are much more thorough, intelligent, moral and hard working than you are.

Of course Megan's point in all this, in case you were wondering, is the following:
That said, I don't see why brackets top out at a relatively low level of income. Indeed, I don't see why we have tax brackets. They're inefficient, and a lot of them have pernicious marginal effects on those near the ceiling. Why not a continuously scaling function from negative (EITC) to some maximum? These days, people use either printed tax tables or tax software to prepare their taxes; this shouldn't present an undue hardship. Obviously, with my preference for less government, I would recenter the scale so that people making $250,000 a year pay relatively less, and those making $10 million pay relatively more, in order to make the proposal revenue neutral. But the basic concept seems bipartisan.
Ah, yes, see, Megan's not throwing a passive aggressive hissy because she actually disagrees with what she's quoting. She just has much better reasons to believe what the author believes. She has a point; why make arguments about "fairness" and "justice" when you can just mumble about "efficiency" and then you don't even need to be "human!" I also love that people who make $250K need to pay less but people that make $10 million need to pay more. Funny, I notice a lot of "third tier bloggers" seem to think the line between rich and poor just happens to fall somewhere in the range of what they can imagine themselves believably making in the future. Shocking, indnit?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Sentiments Exactly

Helicopter Ben fires up the engine

Will this work? Damned if I know, and I bet Bernanke doesn't either. It should work, in theory. But while in theory, theory is the same as practice, in practice, they differ. These days, more sharply every day.
Damned if I know. Just how I feel about the whole thing. But I'm not spending all my time pretending I know, or admitting I don't know over & over. I'm starting to think all economic discourse, like Jim Cramer, should be made illegal.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Not Shorters

this began as an attempt at shorters. Ah well.

What do do about AIG?:

For all my sympathy with people whose stupid bets got us into this mess, I am not overeager to hand them more of my hard-earned money. But the AIG retention bonuses raise a question the government is going to have to ask again and again before all this is over: do we want to make a point, or do we want to make money?
I think that Megan's tax dollars are magic. They create a bubble around her, making every street and bridge she drives on hers, every sidewalk. Megan's tax dollars become the last paycheck the policeman pulling her over received, then they fly over to be part of the bonuses given out to AIG. And while she likes that final expenditure of "her" tax dollars best, she'd still rather have the money to buy herself a back-up Kindle 2.
The employees of AIG know which traders are good, and which ones are idiots who made a bad mess worse. But they're not going to tell us--or rather, they'll tell us, and the idiot traders will point the finger at someone else. From what I understand, you can't even just ask which traders lost money--some of the traders will be able to argue, with justice, that they lost money because they were helping the company cut its risk exposure rather than taking bets they might win. Others made good trades that were Overtaken By Events.
My god, I'm not sure $160 million in bonuses is enough compensation for the suffering these poor souls must be experiencing.
Why not just say "no bonuses for anyone at AIG"? To hell with the bums! Well, we now own the company. If we hasten the flight of quality employees out of the company, that will cost us money. The answer might be some kind of performance bond. But as in other financial firms, traders often take as bonus what should be salary, which means that they need at least part of their bonuses to maintain their lifestyle. If they're faced with bankruptcy, the traders who are talented will go elsewhere--the financial market is shrinking, but the top traders still have other opportunities. AIG has a lot of positions to unwind. Do we want to leave the job to the dregs of the organization?
Yes, we do. The organization utterly failed to successfully recognize talent, and placed people in control who literally ruined the company. The dregs of the organization might well include those who had ethics and were thus unfit to help ruin the economy in a shortsighted spree of greedy self-indulgence. Those are the people who should now be in charge.
I don't know the answer to this question. Perhaps it is true, as my interlocutors accuse, that I am too stupid to understand the obvious. On the other hand, perhaps excessive confidence in your diagnosis means that you just haven't asked the right questions.
This is a lie. Megan showed her answer to the question in how she phrased it. She wants the people who fucked everything up to stay in control, because she's comfortable with a system of non-accountability which enriches criminals and toadies.

Measurement error:
Mortgage fraud rose last year even though the number of mortgages issued fell sharply. Or did it? The Washington Post article notes that reporting has probably gone up, because banks are more worried about tracking fraud. There's also the fact that, as I said in the last post, recessions uncover what auditors can't: undoubtedly, a number of people who might have gotten away with the fraud in kinder, gentler times, got caught short.
Sure, some might see this as evidence of the failure of bankers in the recent past to do their fucking jobs and actually evaluate their loan applications, but Megan prefers to see the glass as half full.

Shovel-ready... ish:
I've been saying for months that "shovel-ready" isn't. Angry stimulus proponents said I was confused and probably just shilling for the monied interests I represent.
Advantage: Asymmetrical Information. The Wall Street Journal reports:
That demolition and replacement of a bridge in Penn will probably take until early April to get started, which totally proves that Megan was right in the posts she never really wrote. (The closest I can find in her archives is one post going nuts on Matty Y for saying the stimulus is planned out over an 18 month period, and the should have been infamous post where she said golf courses and casinos should be built with stimulus money.)
So anyway, yes, obviously the fact that a stimulus bill that was passed a little over a month ago has just begun to produce actual construction projects shows the failure of that plan. Megan wins!
I meant to find a clip of Jon Lovitz as Lord Todd in Mom and Dad Save the World doing his little victory dance to put in here, but I'm not sure if it's on youtube, and it's too damned nice out to stay inside looking any longer. So think of it in your head, n I'm out.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

A Large Dose of Dumb

this might get long. There's too much stupid in the output of the last few days to shorterize all of it.

What's the matter with Jim Cramer?:

First, let's recall what Megan said about Cramer while trying to pretend to be balanced in her weak hatchet job on Stewart;

I think Jim Cramer should be illegal.
And now...
I've seen a number of people making some variant of the claim that Jon Stewart is the only one brave enough to stand up to the financial journalists who helped get us into this mess.
This is purest poppycock. Jim Cramer had no influence over the twin manias that afflicted America in the last ten years: the madness of homebuyers for ever more expensive houses, and the madness of bankers for buying bonds based on those homes. Jim Cramer did not persuade the Asian savers to pour moronic amounts of capital into oversaturated American markets. He did not talk up MBS or CDOs to any level that could be vaguely said to have meaningfully increased the amount of leverage in the system. If you want a television host, or network, to blame all of our troubles on, you'd do better to cast your ire on Home and Garden Television, and Flip This House. They're the ones who told Americans, over and over and over and over, that it was possible to get rich by installing granite countertops.
Not the bankers, just remember that. They are blameless for actively seeking to extend all that credit, and for failing to do the due diligence that was once part of their job. They had too much money to spend, there was just no time for checking on reported income. Blame the people who dare to sell granite countertops for not telling their customers not to purchase their goods, just don't blame the bankers.
In any case, remember, this is all about Jim Cramer, not Santelli or the failures of CNBC and the business media, of which Megan is a tiny lil part, in general. It's not as if Jon Stewart explicitly telling Jim Cramer that those were the things his show's critiques were really about means that's what his show's critiques were really about. How, for example, would it help Megan if that were the case? It wouldn't, so it cant be so. As she was saying;
No, neither Jim Cramer nor CNBC created this mess. They focus mostly on stocks, and though people tend to think of the stock markets as synonomous [sic] with the financial system, they just haven't had much to do with the current problems. ...
The problem with Jim Cramer is the problem with the Jonas Brothers: what he does simply isn't much good, for all that people seemingly have a large appetite to consume it. And he encourages people to pursue a destructive activity, trading their own portfolios, when most economic research shows they'd be better off in an index fund.
But this is a minor sideshow.
That's correct. As Jon Stewart was saying to Jim Cramer, the point was the failure of the financial news media, specifically but not limited to CNBC. Santelli was the guy they wanted to have in to eff with, but he canceled on The Daily Show earlier that week. Megan is focusing on the sideshow because Jon Stewart's actual point speaks quite poorly of her and the portion of the industry she's sort of a member of.

Collective action:
Commenters and emailers are mad because I won't take a side and join them in their witch hunt for someone to blame for all of this.
This is unfair. Megan has quite clearly blamed the holders of subprime mortgages and poor people who lacked detailed understanding of financial matters but accepted credit being thrown at them for "all of this". What she refuses to do is in any way accept that the banking industry deserves any portion, especially the overwhelming majority, of the blame for the particular subprime crisis among our economic crises. Their possession of the actual credit being extended did not put them in a position where they had to verify the worthiness of the recipients of those lines of credit, or that the recipients actually understood the terms of the credit they were receiving. See, Bill Clinton told allllll the banks they had give poor black people any money they asked for, and George Bush never heard about it until too late and kablamo!!!, our economy is in tatters.
This is how I feel about homeowners. They were caught up in a mania to buy a home, and most of the ones in trouble were at least a little greedy. They were desperate to buy rather than renting because they thought that buying a house was a way to make money without working, and they bought more house than they could afford because they thought rising prices would help them get away with it. But they were also getting bad information from the system. Home prices had been rising for two decades. How long are you supposed to ignore your lying eyes and put your faith in economic theory? Especially if you have two years of junior college and never really learned the theory?
Greed is only good if you're rich and go to the right school, I guess.
But by the same token, I don't harbor any particular animus towards most of the bankers. The mortgage brokers and the smaller number of bankers who actively conveyed fraudulent information to the borrowers about the terms of their loans, or to the lenders about the income of the borrowers, yes. (And for all the frothing from left and right, I haven't seen anything beyond very sketchy anecdotal evidence that one type of fraud was more prevalent than the other. But most of the bankers were getting bad information from the same crazy system that was giving bad information to the borrowers about the risk of mortgages. If one banker, or a few bankers, make a bad bet, I think we can focus on stupidity and greed. But when almost all of them do, then I think it's not much more helpful to ask "What did they do to deserve this?" then it is to ask that question about the unemployed.
If she keeps talking about fraud, maybe we'll all forget the problem was negligence, often if not always intentional, based on a systemic desire to create debt to be traded. I won't, but maybe someone will.
It's not that I don't think bankers are greedy. I'm sure they are. I also think homeowners are greedy. I think community organizers are greedy. I think greed is a trait fairly evenly distributed throughout the human race, though the focus of that greed varies quite a bit. That makes it unsatisfying as an explanation for . . . well, almost anything. It's like blaming the financial crisis on oxygen.
I swear to Jebus and all the Superfriends that I hadn't read this passage when I wrote my last post. She really does think everyone is as dim and greedy as she is.
She goes on for a couple hundred more words to explain how she thinks doing everything but directly addressing the problems in the system, especially including the people in it and their mindset, will magically fix the problem and make horses shit gold, but this is long enough already.

What an Idiot

jebus. I wanted to start some shorters, but the following needs its own post.

Ask the editors: What difference does it make to the recession if Citibank and Bank of America fail?:

In some sense, all of history's progress from lives that were nasty, brutish and short to today's splendiferous buffet of iPhones, nine-month courses of physical therapy, and year-round fresh broccoli can be summed up in three words: gains from trade.
iPhones. That's the first thing Megan thinks of. A fucking toy. It's fun and useful, but it's a toy.
More importantly, tho, she just gave us a new candidate for stupidest thing ever said. The advancement of humans out of the trees isn't because of our posture, opposable thumbs, and intellects, our capacity for language and our ability to harness the natural forces around us into technology, it's because some asshole came along after the fact and put a price tag on that technology. Megan continues;
We live better than a tribe of chimpanzees roaming through the primordial forest because we specialize and then exchange the fruits of our skills with each other. Trade, as the ecoomists [sic] say, increases the size of the economic pie to be divided between us.
Trade is what individuated us as a species from other primates with which we share a common ancestor, obviously. Of course trade has played an often vital role in the development of cultures, but I'm going to go with George Carlin and say that it's the marketplace and organized religion that most fundamentally hold back humanity today. (He said the game is up, and it was won by the priests and the traders long ago.)
Megan thinks the pharmaceutical divisions of giant corporations are the reason medical scientists make discoveries, and here we're seeing one of the underlying beliefs that makes such stupidity possible. Instead of trade being a mix of good, bad, and indifferent that has accompanied man since the dawn of recorded civilization, Megan sees it as the driving force of our development.
It just saddens me to see emotional cripples who think that without greed people have no motivation in life. Agriculture was not created by trade, and the simple, quite possibly originary idea of trading, say, the seeds of one crop for the seeds of another has as much in common with socialism as capitalism. It's a similar mistake to those fundamentalist Christians who think no one ever had a problem with murder until Moses came back from his hike. It reduces me to a kind of awe, to see such a powerful display of ignorance.

What an Asshole

is there some sort of unwritten rule of the universe that moral scolds are required to be utterly full of shit?

Grassley to financial executives: drop dead:

You know what America needs? It needs to instill the notion that when you've screwed up, the appropriate thing to do is kill yourself.
Iowa Sen. Charles Grassley suggested on Monday that AIG executives should take a Japanese approach toward accepting responsibility for the collapse of the insurance giant by resigning or killing themselves.
This is in the same class as joking about prison rape of financial executives--or anyone else. Suicide is an appalling tragedy. If you think we should have the death penalty for AIG executives, go ahead and introduce a bill to that effect. But joking about it is sick. People don't kill themselves because that's the honorable thing to do when you've failed badly; they kill themselves because something bad has happened and they have an uncontrolled mental illness. Creating a public culture that reinforces the belief that suicide is the correct response to the deep shame, guilt, and sense of worthlessness that accompanies depression isn't a good idea. It's certainly not funny. And this kind of macho performance art where we compete to come up with ever-worse fates to wish on financial executives is frankly a little sickening. When did our primary national pasttime [sic] become hate?
First I'd like to partially quote CP from the comments at Susan's place, as she does a good job of pointing out the rank hypocrisy Megan is displaying here.
This is the person who once compared sleeping on an air mattress outside of a high-end DC retail outlet in order to be among the first to buy a $500 phone to being in a refugee camp. She then accused anyone who found the comparison distasteful of not having a sense of humor. When Heath Ledger's body was still warm, as someone pointed out at the 11:01 mark, she was making flippant comments about his death while reports were saying it was a possible suicide. Now she's calling out some politician for *his* remarks about suicide - while completely over-simplifying the motives and reasons of people who do it to boot?
I'd just like to add that not only did Megan never apologize for her Ledger crack, she made it worse (oops, for some reason I thought the following was the second post on the topic by her, not the original. My bad);
I'm no cultural critic, and also, not sixteen, so I don't have much to say about this except the banal bewilderment at how much extra-tragic it seems when rich, beautiful, famous people die young. There were pills found near the body, and it happened in the middle of the day, which makes it sound like suicide. Even worse, he had a masseuse scheduled, which makes it sound like a too-successful suicide attempt. But presumably there will be an autopsy.
So in other words it's fine and dandy to speculate about suicide as a cause of death, just don't... ummm... reference your own work when being a scold.
My first response to Megan's little uppity rant was to think, once again, of how self-involved she is. It sounds as if maybe Megan has been touched by suicide in her life, maybe, so the issue is really about her and how it makes her feel. She's the only one who really understands it. Sure, most of us have probably been touched by suicide, I have, but I don't have the expansive perspective of Megan McArdle, moral giant, and thus seppuku jokes about financial execs who still consider themselves gods don't really bother me.
But if you reread it, I dunno, I think I might be giving Megan too much credit. It doesn't really read like an expression of emotion so much as an asshole being thrilled at a chance to act self-righteous in defense of criminals she's paid to propagandize for. She goes on and on and on and on and on about how the people trapped in subprime mortgages chose to be in that position and don't really deserve pity, but heaven forbid anyone look askew at the men, and a few women, who quite literally created this mess while making obscene amounts of wealth which they somehow expect to continue flowing to them after they've been revealed as utter failures. Heaven forbid Megan or the folks she worships should take personal responsibility. That's for people who can't afford paid flacks to cover their asses.
To steal again from the same comment thread at Susan's (or rather her discovery in Megan's comments from a different post);
Megan, I think this is optimistic on your part:

And I did about as well predicting this as anyone else, which is to say that I called the housing bubble, the savings glut, and the global imbalances, but not the specific disaster that would follow from them.

Lord knows I didn't do any better -- I thought the Dow at 11,000 was an excellent time to buy! Though fortunately I was too lazy to do much about it -- but I recall pretty clearly you were optimistic about stocks a year or so ago. And I also recall clearly that at about the same time you went on a video interview program, for The Guardian I believe?, and agreed with the interviewer that your general stance was "Don't panic". At a time when panicking would have been quite a sensible response. Unless "don't panic" was a hortatory injunction to the populace ("Please don't panic, despite the precarious state of the world's finances! You'll only make everything worse!").

Anyway, I really don't think you can claim to have done as well "predicting this as anyone else". You were nowhere near as pessimistic as Nouriel Roubini or Paul Krugman, and regardless of whether they got the shape of the collapse right, they were right that there was going to be a collapse. I'm pretty sure you did not think there was going to be a collapse.
Posted by Matt Steinglass | March 16, 2009 9:37 PM

Matt--true, but I deduct points for Roubini for not having been particularly concerned about the housing trouble, and from both Krugman and Roubini for calling imminent crises from multiple sources for 5-8 years before the actual crisis. Stopped clocks and all that. Nassim Taleb came the closest, and he, too, missed the housing bubble.
Posted by Megan McArdle | March 17, 2009 9:14 AM
In other words, Krugman didn't mention the steps the Bush Admin would take in response to his predictions in his predictions, so Megan is excused for having been absolutely, 100%, completely wrong. Y'know, like how Churchill was wrong about Hitler because every single thing C said about H didn't hold true, and thus Chamberlain was vindicated.
I never knew that imprecision from another excuses my own mistakes. I guess this is why Megan is a moral giant, and we're just poor slob plebs.

Can't Sleep

let's see what ole ladybughead has been up to. (We need a non-misogynstic nickname for Megan, don't we?) Or rather, let's just do the Cramer/Stewart post.

Cramer v. Stewart:

the Jon Stewart video that touched this off was clearly misleading. I do watch these channels, not for the interview but for the tickers and the breaking financial news. And it was obvious from the clips that half of them were anchors and reporters simply quoting someone else--it's the equivalent of dinging someone for using a racial epithet in the context of discussing racial epithets.
Yes, when an anchor sums up what was just said by saying, "Are black people really made of mud and not human flesh? Stay tuned", there's no racism there, nope. It's not a reporter's job to evaluate the truth value of their statements before uttering them, commie.
Ultimately, I find Stewart disturbing because in some sense he's doing exactly what Cramer is--making powerful statements, and then when he gets called on him, retreating into the claim that well, you can't really expect him to act as if he were being taken seriously.
Oh, chreebus. Your inability to comprehend this is directly related to your inability to comprehend humor, Megan. Jon Stewart is a guy who gets paid to be a jackass. I love the guy, but he'd be the first to tell you that it's not on him to produce nuanced, considered thought. That he occasionally does, and that it strikes so deeply when he does, says more about the vapidity of our national discourse than it does about him. It's not on him to do better, it's on the people who are being paid to be taken seriously.
Jim Cramer, whose stockpicking acumen seems slightly worse than your average monkey with a dartboard, frequently issues recommendations that people act on, then brushes off the failures with a shrug.
Jon Stewart also shapes peoples' decisions.
What the fucking fuckmonkey? CNBC is a channel for business news. Comedy Central was once the home of The Man Show. There's often a cartoon leading into The Daily Show. Sure, Stewart's intelligence and humor have an impact on how people view the topics his show touches, but does Megan think everyone is as dim as she is?
Video is a medium with powerful claims to reality--people tend to think that if they saw it, it must be true. This makes it uniquely good at manipulating its audience with skillful editing. I'm very sympathetic to Stewart's deep critique of financial shows, but I don't think the way to go about it was to string together a bunch of very misleading clips. Nor to imply that Santelli, who has been vocally against all bailouts from the beginning, was merely frothing on the forclosure program because ordinary taxpayers were finally getting a taste of federal largesse. But Stewart carefully claims he's just an entertainer, so he has no obligation to hew to journalistic standards on things like quoting out of context.
Megan? You've been paraphrasing him off the top of your head this whole post. Also, JON STEWART IS NOT A JOURNALIST. HE IS A PROFESSIONAL COMEDIAN.
Financial journalism isn't, as Stewart argues to Cramer over and over, entertainment. So how come Stewart acted as if it was?
Because, you moron, they're less interested in truth-telling than maintaining ratings. Stewart wasn't acting that way, CNBC is.
Megan and Tucker Carlson both missed the same point; when a comedian is a better journalist than you more or less by accident, ur doin it wrong.

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Patrick Who?

Brodeur has tied Patrick Roy for the most wins ever by a goalie.

Boo fucking YA!

The best part is at the end, when Patrick Roy is clearly SUPER pissed. He knows his old record will be in ruins by the time Brodeur retires and Roy knows that he's a joke compared to Broddie. The best part is that, because he's Roy (and a total douche), his inferiority will eat away at him until he dies. I hate that arrogant prick.

Oh man, if they play San Jose in the finals and I get to watch them win the cup live... well, I might just forgive God for the rest of the shit I've had to put up with!


A Reminder

You're Welcome, America is live on HBO at 9 PM eastern tonight. Watch or dvr or download it afterwards. It's fucking AWESOME.

Friday, March 13, 2009

About These Troll Comments

I'll probably regret addressing this somehow, but will the individual who's trying to immortalize their trolling of Megan's comments in our comments please consider... trying to be funny?
"Megan and Peter, sitting in a tree...", and far more vulgar sentiments aren't funny.
Your heart is in the right place, anon, I suppose, but I'm sorry, I just can't approve of your methods.
Stick to her words and ideas, they're more than bad enough.

A Thousand Wordsworths

From the fabulous commie atheist, who linked to it while commenting @ Sadly, No!Pajamas Media, the perfect example of a successful business model.

Not Much Of A Thought At All

Randy Andy, who's probably the shitheel who hired McMegan in the first place, explains the Ross ("My name isn't pronounced the way it's spelled, but ...") Douthat thing in the context of The Atlantic. Someone w/ the name Wilkinson wrote somewhere (NB: I'm sick of this crap. Not everyone is in your empty little Villager world, where all the assholes are on a first or last name only basis. Use full names, Andy & Megan!) & then Andy comes in & reveals his crypto-fascist project:

I’ve always thought the carnival of erudition that is Reihan’s mind deserves a more prominent showcase, which is why I dearly hope the Atlantic will do the natural thing and hand Ross’s blog over Reihan. The blog would be sort of the same but completely different all at the same time.
There's Conor too. And Suderman. And Poulos. And Jacobs. And many others given a chance by the American Scene and Culture 11 and the blogosphere. I'm just glad I work at a place which has given these new voices a platform, and has done more already to blow some air at some dying conservative embers than much of establishment conservatism.
"Carnival of erudition?" Hoo boy. How much you wanna bet that they give Suderman a gig so McA. won't have to support him any longer?

(Note to self: Get back on the meds, or you're going to kill someone who deserves it, if you keep reading this insufferable crap. And ask the croaker about some blood pressure meds, too. FUCK!!!)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Ever More Shorters

let's do this.

Bed, bath and beyond:

A good night's sleep is a luxury item for anyone who isn't me.

Is nationalization contagious?:

If the Fed takes over Citi the cooties will make them social outcasts. I feel nauseous just thinking about it. Fed cooties Fed cooties!!

Rodge Cohen to Treasury after all?:

Shit, Megan's prognosticatory (don't care if it's not really a word) jinx strikes again. But you gotta love it when even Matty Y thinks she's being glib.

Penny wise, pound foolish:

Andy Rooney called and told me he finds my writing boring.

The face of despair:

Rampage shootings in Alabama and a German school. As a friend pithily noted that other day, "2009 just, well . . . sucks, doesn't it?" Yesterday seems to have been the distilled essence of 2009.

Update: On the other hand, every cloud has a silver lining.
That's the entire post, links not reinserted.
So yes, Megan thinks there's a silver lining to shooting sprees, which are primarily relevant as indicators of what kind of year she and her friends are having.
I'd say I'm being unfair if she hadn't also written "on the other hand", without an introductory hand. Have her undergrad English profs killed themselves yet?

Good question:
Tigerhawk asks:
"If we on the right are calling this class warfare, why isn't the left indulging us by actually making it so?" After all, people make money in academia, too, and if we lie about shit we can pretend a government commitment to helping make higher education possible is kinda like a bailout.
Btw, if you follow the link that got Tigerhawk all "boolah boolah" you'll find that
Higher education’s bible—The Chronicle of Higher Education—publishes a survey of college and university presidents’ compensation packages each year. The most recent appeared November 21, 2008. Presidents were grouped by types of institution to promote comparability. For our purposes the most important distinction was between presidents at public research universities with at least 10,000 students (like Ohio State University) and presidents at private universities with very high research activity (like University of Chicago). In university lingo, “research” means lots of “government research grants.”
The 184 public research universities had 59 presidents whose 2007-2008 compensation packages were worth more than $500,000. The average for this $500,000-plus club was $654,000.
Of the 32 research-intensive private universities, 31 had 2006-2007 presidential compensation packages worth more than $500,000, the average being $895,000.
Shocking, isn't it? Some of these heads of massive universities are making over a million dollars a year. And they haven't even orchestrated the implosion of the world financial system.

Jamie Dimon: "Bad regulation drives out good":

Oddly, someone who is philosophically opposed to government regulation of the markets supports having one central regulator of limited power who would obviously never be corrupted or co-opted, meaning the idea would never collapse on itself and is a great plan.

Banks start giving back:

Megan is torn. On one hand, banks are run and owned by rich people, so giving them money is good. On the other hand, she thinks she owns the billions in bailout money being handed out.
But even if they are splendid all around chaps, I don't actually want to give them large sums of my hard-earned cash. Deeply sympathetic though I may be to the problems of maintaining a moderately large co-op apartment and a really modest place in the Hamptons on a mere $500,000 per annum, I fear that unless the need is dire, I must reserve my dollars for the more pressing problem of maintaining a miniature row-house and a bullmastiff on journalist wages.
What if we make sure your $28.7 billion in taxes portion of it only goes to banks employing people you know personally, Megan?

Douthat to the Times:

There's one thing that will eternally puzzle me about Ross Douthat; what the hell has he ever done that should make anyone give a fuck what he thinks?
Offering congratulations to my colleague, Ross Douthat, on his new job as a New York Times columnist seems almost redundant--he was so clearly the only man for the job. If conservatism, and the Republican Party, can be rescued from their current crisis, I expect Ross to be the one swinging on a rope through the flaming wreckage to pull them to safety. That he has managed to become the leading voice of thoughtful conservatism at such an appallingly young age is a constant source of wonder to his colleagues--and crises of confidence in those who have meandered all the way to thirtiy without getting a New York Times column, or even leading a small band of Oakeshottian guerillas on a suicide mission against HHS.
I'll leave it to Roy to give examples of the thoughtfulness of Douthat's conservatism.

Obama too sunny?:

Sure, when the Bush Admin lied about the economy I would evangelize for the Good News, but now I'm takin the man to the mats.

The US is not France:

Let's ignore the sophistry of Megan arguing the quantifiable superiority of France's health care system has no actual meaning, if you stop and ask what "meaning" means, and instead play along and think of other things the US is not. The US is not a small pile of pine cones. The US is not a middle aged woman named Ethel. The US is not the infrared portion of the light spectrum. The US is not 15 tons of gas on Jupiter mixed with a few pieces of naan bread.

I think this is the full list of things the US is not, so I can stop now. Also, we're all caught up.


I've been falling behind in today's movement conservative craziness. We all know how Megan and everyone else on the right have been claiming the New Deal failed, of course. What I hadn't been directly clued into was where they're getting it from. Now I know who Amity Shlaes is. For those who didn't see it at Digby's or know already, here's Jon Chait on Amity Shlaes and The Forgotten Man.
Shlaes is Megan's long lost sister. An English major in college, Shlaes... I'll let Chait say it;

Now here is the extremely strange thing about The Forgotten Man: it does not really argue that the New Deal failed. In fact, Shlaes does not make any actual argument at all, though she does venture some bold claims, which she both fails to substantiate and contradicts elsewhere. Reviewing her book in The New York Times, David Leonhardt noted that Shlaes makes her arguments "mostly by implication." This is putting it kindly. Shlaes introduces the book by asserting her thesis, but she barely even tries to demonstrate it. Instead she chooses to fill nearly four hundred pages with stories that mostly go nowhere. The experience of reading The Forgotten Man is more like talking to an old person who lived through the Depression than it is like reading an actual history of the Depression.
Many of Shlaes's stories do have an ideological point, but the point is usually made in a novelistic way rather than a scholarly one. She tends to depict the New Dealers as vain, confused, or otherwise unsympathetic. She depicts business owners as heroic and noble.
Good beach reading for Megan, sounds like. But I'm fairly confident she's already read it. Why?
... as the historian Eric Rauchway has pointed out, her unemployment figures exclude those employed by the Works Progress Administration and other workrelief agencies. Shlaes has explained in an op-ed piece that she did this because "to count a short-term, make-work project as a real job was to mask the anxiety of one who really didn't have regular work with long-term prospects." So, if you worked twelve hours per day in a coal mine hoping not to contract black lung or suffer an injury that would render you useless, you were employed. But if you constructed the Lincoln Tunnel, you had an anxiety-inducing make-work job.
I had to leave Chait's snark in. Read the whole thing, you'll learn something. Also, as Digby said, check out the comments. Lew Rockwell comes up at least once, that I noticed. Good fun for all.


Roy is a braver man than I, but he draws some minor compensation for it, and he finds Megan confirming her new found fealty to the Shlaes cult.

God Save Us

Ross Douthat, Megan's idiot-in-arms at teH atLantiC, is taking over for Bill Kristol.

We are not winning, people.

Update: Susan has taken a look at this, too.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

The Fire Dept. Should Be Staffed With Arsonists

after all, who knows better how to put out a fire than the person who started it?

No experience necessary:

Economics of Contempt delivers a ringing endorsement of Rodge Cohen for deputy treasury secretary, but points out that there's no way he'll get confirmed, because he's too tied to the financial system.
In other words, like with Gephardt, blind Republican obstructionism might have a stopped clock moment and keep the wrong person out, albeit for the wrong reasons. As the blogger Megan quotes says;
He was heavily involved in the events of last September. He represented Lehman during the weekend negotiations before it filed for bankruptcy, then a few days later represented Barclays in its acquisition of Lehman's U.S. investment banking unit. He also represented Wachovia (his longtime client) in the Citi/Wells Fargo debacle, and presumably advised Wachovia's board of directors that its fiduciary duty required it to accept Wells Fargo's offer, even though that meant violating its exclusivity agreement with Citi. I'm sure Cohen has represented other Wall Street financial houses at various points in the financial crisis as well.
Sure, we're trying to send up an inmate to help run the asylum, but at least he already knows all the other crazies. And I'm just being biased against the mentally ill, sez Megan.
Perhaps we should just give up entirely on the idea of putting someone who, like, knows something about the financial system, in charge of the financial system. Is Dr. Phil available? Sure, he may not know much about banking, but he's very popular, and people like to watch him bossing other people around.
I like Zach Galifianakis a lot, can we nominate him for something?
How about Colbert?

Ye Olde Tyme Catch Up Shorters

foreplay is the Devil's work.

Why not nationalization?:

Because we'd have to change a couple laws, and expand a regulatory agency. Also, the rest of the world is doing just fine, economically, and wants the market to stay FREE. (Cue speech from Braveheart.)

Payrolls fall:

Here's how unprofessional Megan is;

The New York Times story reports:
Some economists expect that the nation's businesses could cut another two million jobs and that unemployment could reach 9 to 10 percent by the time a recovery begins.
Some economists? I haven't talked to a single one who estimates unemployment peaking below 9%. Unemployment is a lagging indicator--it will keep falling after output has bottomed out. And output is not yet ready to bottom out, for all of our public officials slapping happy face stickers over all their official reports. The other day I was talking to another economics journalist at a lunch, and in re: Ben Bernanke's stated public opinion, asked whether he'd met anyone who actually believed that growth would recover in the second half of the year.
"No," quoth he, then added "and neither does Bernanke."
By which he claimed no special knowledge...
Yes, I know, she wrote "quoth".
But the point is Megan doesn't even realize she's doing more to display the lack of variety in her... "sources" than providing any kind of useful critique. If every economist you talk to is saying basically the same thing, you need to find their critics and get the other side. Megan seems to think the occasional antagonistic glance towards Krugman suffices for balance, or that Matty Y isn't... let's say business friendly in a Clintonian manner and actually disagrees with her.

Should Geithner go?:

Megan is so fair and balanced. Geithner has been on the job since January 27th, which is to say about six weeks, and he hasn't fixed everything yet. Fuck him. And sure, he basically doesn't have a staff to work with, mainly because of Republican obstructionism, but that's totally his Obama's fault.
The inability to get anyone confirmed has to be laid at the feet not of Geithner, but of Obama. We're in the biggest financial crisis in living memory, and the administration has so far failed to staff treasury because it is unwilling to take any political risk that a nominee will have a tax or a nanny problem.
And the Republicans are blameless for showing they'll try to hold up any and all confirmations in a critical department on the basis of comparatively trivial nanny or tax issues. Bullies only pick on the weak, so nerds like Obama really are hitting themselves, if you think about it.

Moral bankruptcy:

Here Megan conclusively demonstrates she has no real moral values, hence the title. She tries to equivocate buying a cheap grill with owning a home with a bad mortgage, because she's a huge asshole who's quite intentionally horribly intellectually dishonest in order to soothe her should be tortured conscience, and her master's. Even Megan knows there's essentially no validity to her comparison, but writing it out made her feel better, and that's the point.

Ask the editors: What happens if Citigroup fails?:

She never did fix that link. Megan is such a good editor.
I can't actually shorterize this, as it's too incoherent.

Bank of America unhires foreign MBAs:

Here Megan shows concern for the immigrants to the US who won't be able to get jobs in corporations that are exploiting their former countrymen. And, btw, it says nothing, whatsoever, about what's being taught to MBAs that even Megan expects the degrees to be worthless outside the American corporate business context.

... never mind a shorter, the next post on deck needs individual attention. And so it shall have it.


Has the market bottomed?:

It has to sometime--why not yesterday?
Damn, that's quality analysis. Where does she find the time to learn all the things that go into it?
But wait, no?
But as traders say, even a dead cat will bounce if you drop it from high enough. I'd put my money on short covering before I'd bet on a bottom.
To sum up, Megan thinks the markets are maybe starting to recover, except they're probably not.
You heard it here first second.

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Note To Self: No More Sunday Pre-Coffee Posting

Between losing an hour & a hangover (idle speculation, that) Megan's Sunday a. m. post didn't go too well.

What they hadn't known, and indeed, couldn't really have known, was that the effect on Lehman debt would cause the value of a smallish money market fund aimed at institutional investors would break the buck.
I'd be interested to know what happened, or if "break the buck" means anything, but the sentence is confused & the link doesn't work, as of 1530 PDT.

Dear Makers of Watchmen

fuck you.

It wasn't that bad, except for using the fucking WTC Twin Towers like a dancing corpse. Especially the first scene they're in, with a goddamn blimp flying towards them in slow motion. Not subtle, not fucking ok. Watchmen is set in a slightly alternate timeline, there was no requirement for the towers to even exist in that world.
The wannabe hamfisted homage to Apocalypse Now was also just... amateurish.
N yeah, no squid = you fucked up.

It could have been decent. But to be so graphic with the violence then change the end and leave the squid and corpses out of it...... means you just don't get it.

Don't put the Twin Towers in your movies, Hollywood. It's fucking stupid.

Just to clarify, I'm not talking about occasional brief shots of the skyline with the towers in the background for period authenticity. They're being used for psychological effect, with obvious intent. I forgot the towers were in the mini-series, so I was wrong about them being an addition, but they're not just part of the scenery, is my point. Gibbons wasn't using them to reference 9/11.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Fixers & Morality Plays

Let me fix that for you:

Henry BlodgetThe sane people who read The Atlantic thinks it is time for Timothy GeithnerMegan McArdle to go. So far, GeithnerMcArdle's performance has been shockingly unimpressive.
Better now? Good. Because this will have you doubled up. Whether from laughter or rage is up to you.

When a detail like "But I've since realized that our landlords have an old, broken grill that we might have been able to repair with enough duct tape, saving me almost $200," appears in an item comparing her (alleged) buyer's remorse over a credit card purchase of a BBQ grill to the "irresponsible" people whose mortgages were approved by the banks/lenders/other parasites, one can only think, "Too much detail to be true." 

So she has set herself (or her imaginary grill purchase) up as the strawperson, & proceeds to burn it to the ground. 
Hell, the dirty bastards may well have known that I was going to end up underwater on my grill loan. I don't see why I have any obligation to repay them.

This seems to me to be approximately the logic behind the people saying that folks who took out stupid loans don't have any sort of moral obligation whatsoever to make good their debts.
Yes, she made a grand comparison between buyer's remorse over a non-essential whatnot purchased on revolving credit, & home co-ownership by mortgage. (Even to the detail about there being a "fixer-upper" grill available, apparently w/o cost beyond duct tape.) I've never taken an econ or anything similar class, but even I know that there is a vast difference between the two "purchases," the moral equivalence Megan thinks she is demonstrating notwithstanding.

I assumed her link above would be some sort of left-wing rant, or maybe a right-wing ninny, on about "Obama's ACORN thugs" taking possession of foreclosed houses. Silly me. It's a perfectly reasonable analysis of one "home-owner's" troubles. At Condé Nast 

I only note her apparent pride in her bourgeois morality, her free market devotion, & her re-cycling an ancient bromide:  
[T]here is no way to tax a corporation, there is no way to default on a corporation.  Whenever you default, you are taking money from some person:  a shareholder, a creditor, an employee who loses their job when the corporation is liquidated.
& its corollary. (As if people don't know & hope that some at least one bastard responsible is getting screwed whenever they get away w/ retaliating against an oppressive corporate entity.)

I didn't dare look at the comments, but suppose that I should, just to see if teabagging astroturfery has infected the somewhat more informed (than whom I'm not really certain) commentariat of A. I.

Maybe more later, if they're idiotic & raging.

Friday, March 6, 2009

Maybe a Little Too Efficient?

I've never really understood why anyone would put their faith in the free market. To me, it's just like faith in god, only it makes less sense. At least god is a single actor working towards his own means. Decisions are being made in some kind of coherent fashion (even if it might look like nonsense to us mere mortals.)

Free market fuckers, on the other hand, essentially believe that a shitload of uncorrelated decisions made for a myriad of reasons by a bunch of people (many of whom are too stupid to pass college level calculus classes) somehow amalgamate together to form really good ideas! Yeah, 'cause people are so notoriously good at making decisions and their collective actions have never in the history of the galaxy created unintended shitstorms. It's like they think adding enough negative numbers together will somehow result in a positive number.

Example: let's take a look at the Dow Jones Industrial Average's gyrations du jour:

Who the fuck can look at those numbers and decide that the market is "rational?!?!?" It's swung hundreds of points, in both directions, IN A SINGLE FUCKING DAY!! What possible meaningful absorption and analysis of information could be going-the-fuck-on? How is that anything other than just noise? Efficient market my ass. IT'S A FUCKING RANDOM NUMBER GENERATOR.

Wait a second... I'm looking at it more closely now.. and... wait is that... OMFG GOD! THAT'S JESUS'S IMAGE IN THOSE SQUIGGLES! PRAISE THE LORD! HALLELUJAH! IT'S A MIRACLE! Surely god is watching over all of us! If only those traders would see the light, then the Dow would climb so high that the lord himself could touch it! Let Jesus into your risk analysis and be saved! AMEN!!!

Fucking idiots.

On a side note, I just read that religious people's brains are deficient in figuring out their own errors (or taking responsibility for them). Viewing free-market leg-humping as the religious fervor that it truly is, those results certainly explain McArdle, don't they? It explains a couple of religious ex-girlfriends of mine, too! Oh shit, my bitter is showing.

The Internet: Bringing you Horrible Shit Tailored to your Specific Taste in Horrible Shit

The Atlantic has realized that, though their wisdom is infinite, it is not applied in an exact enough manner. Lo! That shall change, for now we've got "Ask the Editors!"

That's right kids! Now, instead of having random issues addressed in a poorly researched, shallowly reasoned, and ideological bent, you can have specific issues addressed in a poorly researched, shallowly reasoned, and ideological bent!

Ah, the march of progress! Soon we'll have McArdle beamed right into our brains! Oh, the fun we'll have!

On a side note, I know "beamed" is the proper spelling, but doesn't "beemed" look a lot better? I mean, it looks like it's being beamed! How awesome is that?!?! I know, pretty fucking awesome, right? Write to Webster's! We'll make it happen.

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Noted while skimming the scum from the pond that is Asymmetrical Information: Ms. McArgle-Bargle's book review of something or other by that woman (referenced immediately below by brad) has drawn 212 comments. That has to be at least double the average. (Heh indeed, it is, using the items visible on the first page as the statistical base. None of which broke 100, except the "I'm just wild about Peter" episode.)

Now we know what truly concerns the Meganites. If only Ayn Rand had been seven feet tall! Things would be different now!

Oh... Fuck

Atlas raised his eyebrows:

She's really gonna make me do it, isn't she. I'm going to... arrrrrgh.

Perhaps predictibly, Ayn Rand is making a comeback on the right, with Congressmen handing out her books, and loose talk of rich people "Going Galt".
I don't think that we will see a mass exodus of productive people to secret hideouts. I look to Atlas Shrugged more for conveniently totable beach reading than an economic blueprint. What's interesting to me, though, is how many details Rand did get right...
Fuck fuck fuckity fuck fuck fuck a duck. I have to do it, don't I. It was my idea to begin with, I have no excuse.
She was able to describe these things so well, of course, because she'd seen what an economy looked like while it was being wrecked. All of Rand's writing is dominated by the fact that she lived through the birth pangs of Soviet Russia, and saw her family's business destroyed by Lenin's ideology, and extraordinarily incompetent economic management.
Megan just unintentionally compared Bush to Lenin. That might be my favorite thing she'll ever write.
Anyhow, yeah, I have to write the paper and turn it in eventually. The zombie corpse of the Atlas Shrugged Project is twitching. I don't know quite what form the monster will take in this sequel, but there's clearly life in the old hag yet.
(Yes, I should admit I edited out Megan's criticisms of the... book. Too bad, so sad.)

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Back to Miss Manners

I'm a brute, no foreplay yet again.

Have the Republicans "lost" Jindal?:

As a viable candidate in 2012? Yes. He was already competing with Huckabee and Palin for the same slice of the base, and he's brown. He's toast. Of course, Megan disagrees, because she's stupid.

And now, for the next few posts, a soundtrack.

Playboy dips a toe into investigative journalism:

Sure, I live with a former employee of one of the entities I'm pretending have been slandered, I've interacted with Boss Koch personally and hope to tap that (money) ass, I'm wrong about several of my claims, and I don't even attempt a direct answer to the majority of the detailed charges in the piece, but.... ummmm...
They're poopyheads.

Is this why Playboy took the article down?:

See, sure, maybe there's some astroturfing at play here, but that whole claim whut two groups with a shared origin and ideologically identical agendas who communicate back and forth on many levels of their organizations are working in concert is a total conspiracy theory. Y'see, these large organizations don't like each other personally. They both fell for the same girl junior year and, well, you know the rest.
And I'm with Megan, when someone at an organization known for astroturfing and the like says they're not astroturfing, that's good enough for me. Why would they lie?

(Grass) roots:

It does strike me that perhaps some of the people who linked the article without wondering about its weak sourcing just couldn't quite believe that ordinary people would be moved to protest a gigantic government spending package. They don't think of that as something one protests about. War, yes, taxes no.
Megan? Only about 2000 teabaggers showed up nationwide. That's not a protest, it's a weak turnout for a minor league baseball game.

Tea party follow up:

I'm very fortunate not to work for an organization that has ethics. Here's some unquestioned spin straight from the main organization accused of dishonest public relations mixed with indignation that anyone would ever impugn the good name of such a fine, fine group of people who are such heroes.
Overall, I'm pretty surprised that Playboy let the piece go up, left it up so long, and then took it down with no notice. To be sure, bloggers speculate all the time. But they make it clear that that's what they're doing. And when it seems clear that they've made an error (and those assertions about the Koch family now seem to, at best, require some good sourcing), bloggers update their posts. They don't vanish them and hope that no one will notice. I'm contacting Playboy's offices for comment, but not holding out all that much hope.
Final word, for the moment, goes to the bloggers in question, who are quite capable of speaking for themselves.

What is Jean-Claude Trichet thinking?:
A year ago, if you had asked me, or most economics journalists, or most economists, if America would have another Great Depression, I would have said no. Thanks to Milton Friedman, we knew what had caused the Great Depression: the Fed's inappropriate tightening in the wake of a financial panic. We could not do that thing, and would therefore not have another major crisis.
Or you could have asked Paul Krugman or all the other non-Friedmanite/Hayekians who, a year ago, were saying the recession Megan was pretending didn't exist was only going to get catastrophically worse. But, as always, since Megan got it completely fucking wrong, that means she knows more about the topic now than someone who was correct from the goddamn beginning and she hasn't been completely discredited. She's still on wingnut welfare, she doesn't have to acknowledge reality.

FULL DISCLOSURE: I am in love with Peter Suderman, which is convenient, because we are dating:

Also, I don't care if I know what you did last summer.

And we're back up to date. Whoopee and shit.

Partially Off Topic

but 100% hilarious.

From the WaPo comes Right, and Left Out: Young Conservatives Can't Get With the Program, the story of young movement conservatives finding their group psychosis is no longer a guarantee of income. It's a wonderfully schadenfreude-y story, with an ending to make you glow inside.

Some are trying to bolster the youth movement, one instant message at a time.
Peter Suderman, 27, and Conor Friedersdorf Freihoffer [fixed], 29, both of the District, were recently laid off from jobs at the now-defunct Web magazine, which had a conservative-Libertarian bent. Now, with about $250 each a month due in student loan payments, and money saved from their previous jobs, they are scrambling for new gigs.
Suderman settled into his home office one day recently to IM with Friedersdorf Freihoffer. "I see liberal reporter friends from small publications who are covering White House press conferences who are my age or a bit older," Suderman said. "Used to be, that publication would not get into the White House or not get the information."
But he and Friedersdorf Freihoffer, reveling in their underdog status, have a plan. They want to start a right-of-center journalism site, something that features deeply reported stories and relies on the investigative skills of their readers to "crow d-source" articles. So, they start tapping away on their computers, slowly elbowing their subculture's way back into the fray, to the sounds of Gmail's IM alerts ringing back and forth.
Heehee. Sample IM convo:

Pinky (Conor) 5:38 PM: Zonk! What are we going to do tonight, Peter?

The Brain (Peter) 5:39 PM: The same thing we do every night, Conor; try to take over the world!

cue theme music...

Enough Already

slow day posting for our muse, time to dig out and get up to date.

Freedom isn't free:

I don't know quite what to say about the Bush administration's midnight regulations allowing healthcare workers to exercise their "conscience", or the Obama administration's rapid undoing of same, because I find both sides so inimical to liberty.
She doesn't know what to say, but she's posting about it anyway. What a trooper.
I think pharmacists have a perfect right of conscience to refuse to dispense birth control, but the pharmacy has a perfect right of conscience to fire him for not doing his job. What's next? A first amendment right for Christian scientists to become surgeons without performing procedures? A legal obligation for doctors to preside over executions?
Megan? That last bit kinda already exists, at least in some states, if not every state with the death penalty. U so smert.
Also, check the comments here. Megan's commitment to civility includes allowing "Basic Fact" to call everyone who disagrees with them a baby-killer and worse, repeatedly and angrily. Megan has even exchanged emails with "Basic Fact", leading them to feel confident she won't ban them. Loverly.

Loan masters:

You probably already saw Susan pointing and laughing at this post, where Megan claims the gubbermint can't possibly handle the terribly complex task of handing out student loans before being forced to admit that, yes, the gubbermint already performs the terribly complex task of handing out student loans. But handing out more loans would totally derail the system, cuz of Megan's not stupid, no no no!

How likely is that cap and trade revenue?:

Obama's lofty goals will be totally derailed by Megan's personal choices.

Ok, quick break in the shorters while I go mildly off-topic for a post. Then back to digging out.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009


would it kill Megan to just stop posting for a few non-weekend days and let me catch up? And she calls herself polite...

Asymmetrical information:

Over the past few days, I've noticed an upsurge in liberal blogs claiming that of course, borrowers don't bear any responsibility for their current straitened circumstances. After all, there are two parties in a transaction, and the lenders are professionals and should have known better.
This post by Matt Yglesias makes that argument...
Cripple fight!!
Who knows more about your future income prospects: you, or a bank? Who knows more about your budgeting skills: you, or a bank? Who knows more about your health, personal habits, and home maintenance skills? Who knows better whether you're likely to move two years after buying for a boyfriend or an employer? Are bankers somehow more aware than ordinary Americans that recessions happen, companies fold, people lose their jobs?
......... is this some sort of super double reverse action rhetorical question? Does Megan just not know what it is banks do?

The power of government:
There are, clearly, central problems with "the Great Moderation", the until-recently-dominant explanation of the Great Depression, and the American banking system. That doesn't mean that Obama can fix them.
One of these things is not like the other, one of these things is only kind of the same...
Also, note that Megan parroting talking points means the world now knows the horrible truth that FDR caused the Great Depression to enable his rise to fascist dictatorship.
It doesn't even mean [Obama will] do a better job than John McCain would have, though we'll never know. There is a very real possibility that in two or three years, America will be in worse shape than it is now--unemployment in the double digits, GDP down by same, corporate and government budgets peeling apart at the seams. I will be curious to see whether the new armchair empiricists of the left see this as casting any doubt on their central theories, or whether they will simply argue the counterfactual.
Us lefties are practically as bad as Bush, what with our maybe having caused potentially slightly worse hypothetical conditions than Bush actually has left. In fact, we're probably going to be somehow to blame for the remaining financial crises waiting to explode from Bush era mismanagement.
When will the left face the shame of our (imaginary) destruction of the (tattered remains) of the economy?

Mortgage interest deduction: a uniter or a divider?:
in the immortal words of Upton Sinclair, it's difficult to make a man understand something when his paycheck tax refund depends on his not understanding it.
First off, you horrible asshole you, those aren't his words. You're paraphrasing him. Ask an English major what that means.
Second, Upton Sinclar was a socialist. Naomi Klein is an heir of Upton Sinclair. You are the heir of the kind of person Upton Sinclair was referring to.

More broadly, this misunderstands what stimulus is. Stimulus is not spending; it's deficit. If Bush had delivered a budget in rough balance, Obama would have had to borrow up to the current deficit to get the stimulus he desires.
What the fuck is she talking about? Can anyone provide any way to think this isn't pure gibberish? If Bush hadn't doubled the national debt Obama would have had to anyway because of... fairies?

Our house... in the middle of our street...:

I imagine this is the kind of post that forced Spencer to give up FMM posting rights. How does one even begin to explain what's wrong in this post?
Maybe by mentioning that people won't be eager to become homeless just to salvage their credit rating?

Obama's big-bath accounting:

Remember, Megan claimed to be an Obama supporter, and no doubt would never agree she wants him to fail. And yet,
Analysts have long recognized the tendency of companies who are forced to report bad news to make the news worse than they have to, piling every single thing that might goi wrong into one hell of a charge-off. The logic of this is simple: if your stock is going to take a hit, make it one gigantic hit, so that you can later "surprise" everyone when aliens from the Planet Zork do not actually land, vaporize 2/3rds of your customers, and keep the rest too busy dodging laser rays to focus on purchasing your product.
Looking through Obama's budget, I am reminded of those massive one-time-write-off festivals. Only the Obama administration has gone one better: he has actually gotten everyone to congratulate him for his breathtaking honesty.
Take the Iraq war. We were not, under any administration, going to spend as much in 2015 as we did in 2005. But by treating that spending as an ongoing cost, Obama now gets to take as much credit for reducing it as he would for closing permanent air bases in Germany, or trimming Social Security.
That fucker Obama might actually take some kind of personal credit for ending a war. And ignore those "100 years" eternal occupation dreams of Megan's fellow conservatives, even if Cheney had somehow succeeded Bush and dragged the war out till 2015 obviously we'd be spending less on it by then. Dummies.
Even worse, Megan goes on to note, is that by no longer spending hundreds of billions a year on a war Obama will be able to make effective social spending seem that much more affordable.

GDP fell 3.8 6.2% in the fourth quarter:
One of the enduring mysteries of the last month has been how fourth quarter GDP could have been falling faster in Europe than in the United States. Now we have an answer: our first GDP estimates were way too optimistic. The revised estimates now put the annualized rate of decline in the fourth quarter at 6.2%, rather than the 3.8% initially predicted.
I guess that's where that recession Megan was looking for was hiding.
You know what this means; shame on Obama for the dishonest practices of the Bush Admin.

Rocky Mountain News: RIP:
The Rocky Mountain News is apparently shutting down. Despite the fact that the paper has consistently published some of the most interesting columnists around (personal favorite: Paul Campos, who also blogs at Lawyers, Guns and Money), they haven't made money, and parent company Scripps is shuttering the paper next week.
My condolences to Mr. Campos. It can't be easy to deal with an endorsement from Megan McArdle, but to paraphrase (ahem) Jamie Lee Curtis in A Fish Called Wanda, apes can read philosophy, they just don't understand it.

And here I pause, probably for the night.