Monday, December 28, 2009

The Aughts

The Aughts were the time of the awakening of my political consciousness. And they were a complete waste.

Thursday, December 24, 2009

Friday, December 18, 2009

Glenn Greenwald

Says everything that needs to be said about healthcare reform.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Greenwald and Taibbi

Glenn Greenwald and Matt Taibbi are the best journalists we have.

Monday, November 30, 2009

In Which Douchehat Buries the Lede... he can make shit up instead.

"The silver lining for liberals, though, is that this rightward turn hasn’t touched younger voters yet. With 18- to 29-year-olds, Democratic identification remains high, and Obama’s approval ratings are still up over 60 percent."

Methinks that might have some implications for his thesis in this op-ed. And I think it is more than a "silver-lining."

Friday, November 20, 2009

Dueling Posts on Geithner

Big Daddy Beardy slaps D Brooks like a bitch. Yes, that's right. I am purposefully prejudicing you in favor of Our Glorious Leader. Deal with it.


is a much better blogger than he is an editorialist. That is all.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Barthes and Philosophy

"In a late interview (1978) he said that if he had to define himself it would be as a ‘philosopher’, adding ‘which does not refer to a degree of competence, because I have had no philosophical training. What I do is philosophise, reflect on my experience. This reflection is a joy and a benefit to me, and when I’m unable to pursue this activity, I become unhappy.’ This sounds a little feeble, and perhaps only a writer with a strong anti-bourgeois career behind him could afford to be so bourgeois. But the claim is interesting if we take it seriously rather than feebly, and of course by ‘reflection’ he doesn’t just mean musing on the meaning of life. A stronger version of the same proposition appears in Camera Lucida, where Barthes says he has always wanted to argue for or argue with his moods (‘J’ai toujours eu envie d’argumenter mes humeurs’), not in order to justify them, and still less to fill the text with his own individuality but to use this individuality as part of a formal study of the subject (‘une science du sujet’). Barthes is saying, I take it, that he has always wanted to convert his moods into arguments, or find the arguments underlying them or stemming from them. It’s a classic theoretical, intellectual enterprise; but it starts in the subjectivity that most theories just don’t know what to do with. It’s the place where the two Roland Barthes meet: the objective social scientist who was always a bit subjective turns out to be the same person as the subjective writer who likes to think theoretically about things."

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


So let me get this straight: an unpopular Democratic governor, who not a few months ago was down double digits to his challenger, is barely defeated by his Republican opponent in the middle of the worst economic disaster since the Great Depression, and an uninspiring Democrat loses in Virginia. Meanwhile, the wing nuts' chosen savior loses a solidly conservative congressional district to a Democrat...this is bad news for Obama and the Democratic Party how? This shows the resurgence of the Republicans how?

How does this not show a party in disarray? What am I missing?

Saturday, October 31, 2009

Levitt Pwned

By an actual climate scientist at his own university.

Monday, October 26, 2009

I'm glad I decided not to write about this

Glenn Greenwald makes Douchehat his son.

The Mind Boggles

Why hasn't every single neo-con been executed for extreme perfidy and mendacity?


Chamber of Commerce tells kids to get off its lawn. Way to stay relevant.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Will I be able to say this?

"I have toiled for half a century and allowed myself no rest, but have continually striven and sought and worked as well and as hard as I could."


Friday, October 23, 2009

This is really not much better than AIPAC...

Read the whole thing. Especially the weird tribalism/intermarriage conversation.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Denounce Your Own Radical Fringe

Consider them denounced, with my second.

I would encourage you to denounce them as well.


"I'd love to just leave this post with snark, but I have to say one last thing. Black Americans have shed blood in every American war since the Revolution. This country, even the very Capitol building in which today's legislators now demand to see the birth certificate of the first black president, was built on the sweat and sinew of slaves. Before we were people in the eyes of the law, before we had the right to vote, before we had a black president, we were here, helping make this country as it is today. We are as American as it gets. And frankly, the time of people who think otherwise is passing. If that's the country Buchanan wants to hold onto, well, he's right, he is losing it."

Fucking Coward

So willing to talk tough about sending people to die for no good reason, but scared of a little ol' lesbian?

Because critical thinking is hard...

...false equivalencies get made all the time.


Conservatives and free-traders only trust what the market says when it suits them. When it doesn't, they appeal to old-style Puritan moralism.

Good Lord

Thomas Friedman establishing a tenuous connection between two obviously not related events? That never happens!


The next time a libertarian accuses me of being a pie-in-the-sky liberal, I'm going to punch him in the mouth.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Monday, October 19, 2009

Right Wing Derangement Syndrome

Unfortunately, while the radical right-wing holds little appeal to most voters, it's probably true that the left-wing doesn't either.

Words from on High


Income Inequality

Read it and weep.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Teacher's Unions

Isn't there something disgusting and reprehensible about attacking teachers, the most egregiously underpaid and under-appreciated, yet essential, profession?

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Fom Triedman

Tom Friedman has been head cheerleader for two of the most destructive phenomena of the last 20 years: neo-liberal free trade and neo-conservative foreign policy. People complain about tenured professors being immune from accountability. What about our tenured opinion makers?

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Frank Rich does it again

Here. Of course, the real problem is that you have to be Tough and In Favor of War in order to be taken seriously. If you question the efficacy of our military to accomplish the kinds of things we expect of them in Afghanistan and Iraq, you are clearly an America hating socialist-fascist-communist-nazi, and Unserious. Shrill, even.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

This is about the same URL i talked about in my last post...

..but goddamn, could this be a more accurate diagnosis of Andrew Sullivan: "But Andrew Sullivan, who is one of the most infuriatingly variable bloggers in the quality of his bullshit detector..."

The Bell Curve and Betsy McCaughey, anyone?

Words to live by

"I very rarely read Megan McArdle. She gets filtered by the 'life is too short to read stupid people' mesh."

I just wish I could follow my own advice more often.

I also want to point out that business school is a joke, and not where someone goes who wants to be serious about understanding an academic discipline.

Dear Blog

Today is Dear Blog day. Enjoy our attention.

Dear Economists

You suck at everything. From Sir J. Bradford DeLong, Earl of Shrill.

Dear Academic Philosophy

You suck.



Monday, October 5, 2009

Thomas Kuhn

Definitely my favorite philosopher of science. In fact, when I started graduate school in philosophy, I thought I might like to do philosophy of science. Unfortunately, as this post points out, Kuhn hasn't had much success in the philosophy of science, and philosophers of science are not all that interested in pursuing a research program inspired by him.

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Thursday, September 17, 2009


"Like many much-conquered countries, not least Italy, Iran loves artifice, the dressing-up of truth in elaborate layers. It will always favor ambiguity over clarity."

What does that even mean?!


Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Thursday Deutsch Blogging

Ergreifen Realität mit beiden Händen.

Das ist alles.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Wilson and King

It is the sign of a diseased political culture when people like Peter King, Joe Wilson, and all their wild-eyed brethren are given a public platform. I keep waiting for the American people to realize how reckless and dangerous the Republican's and their allies in the news media are. It really looks like there is nothing you can say, no lie you can pass along, no calumny you can spit, that will get you banned from official discourse. Democracy and freedom of expression cannot work unless those who lie, who demagogue, who deceive, are punished for their deceit. Liars and rabble-rousers are rewarded for their efforts, because people enjoy the drama, and drama drives the ratings and fills the coffers of the corporate entities that run our media outlets.

Protecting freedom of speech means not just guarding against censorship; it also means responding vigorously to those who would seek to undermine freedom of speech by divorcing it from intellectual honesty and good reasoning.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

For the love of God

Stop quoting William Butler Yeats's "Second Coming."

Social Insurance


(h/t Mark Thoma)

Sunday, September 6, 2009

Read Read Read Read

And then read some more. I'm going to have to change the name of the blog if all my posts keep coming from DeLong, like this one.

Striking Clarity


(h/t Brad DeLong)

Read Newspapers to Learn Clarity of Exposition?

This person has obviously not had much experience with the state of our newspapers.

Making Something One's Own

In philosophy, there is a curious problem that occurs when one encounters an argument whose conclusion one does not like, but one nonetheless cannot seem to defeat. One is presented with a dilemma: Do I accept the results of this argument, or do I reject them? The curious problem that results is that people often refuse to accept the argument, even with no apparently good reason to do so. Let me explain this scenario a little further, for those who are not familiar with the way argument works in philosophy (it actually works this way in all disciplines, but it is not often as explicitly laid out as it almost always is in an academic philosophy setting). Philosophers are very proud of their mastery of logic, the discipline that investigates valid argument and reasoning, and are likely to appeal to two facts about logic when presenting or critiquing an argument: (1) There are two ways you can defeat an argument: a) you can question the validity of the form of the argument, or b) you can question the truth of one or more of the premises; (2) If you cannot do either of the things mentioned in (1), then you must accept the conclusion of the argument (I am tempted to use "ought," instead of "must," to demonstrate the normative aspect of the rationality criterion. However, I imagine for most readers the difference will be elided, so I won't bother. But keep in mind that the sense in which one "must" accept the conclusion of an argument is more of a moral duty than an example of strict causal necessity. This will be important later.). Let's call (1) Logic 101 and (2) the Criterion of Rationality.

Logic 101 is basically accepted by everyone. If you can show that an argument doesn't have a valid argument form (i.e. Modus Ponens, Modus Tollens, among other classics), then you don't have to take the argument seriously. Additionally, if you can reasonably object to the truth of one or more of the premises, you have additional reason to reject the argument. There does not seem to be much room to argue with the principles of Logic 101.

(2), the Criterion of Rationality, is additionally almost universally accepted. However, I think it is far more questionable. I should perhaps attenuate my statement that it is universally accepted. In Anglo-American Analytic philosophy, there is almost no controversy as to the truth of the Criterion of Rationality (Those in other disciplines and/or styles of philosophy might not be so willing to embrace this idea.). Let's think, first of all, about what a logically valid argument entails. For a argument to be logically valid, it must be the case that if the premises are true, it is not possible for the conclusion to be false. The truth of the premises guarantees the truth of the conclusion. Notice that nothing in here says anything about accepting the results of such an argument. Most philosophers take the implication of this fact about logically valid arguments to say that one must accept the results of a sound argument (a sound argument is an argument that has a valid argument form, and all true premises). But does this follow?

It certainly seems crazy to deny it, or at least irrational. Indeed, this is often how philosophers explain what is going on when someone is presented with an indefeasibly sound argument, yet they refuse to accept the consequences of said argument. The person in this situation is behaving irrationally.

But are they? While I don't have a fully developed response to this claim, it seems to me that there is a sense in which one must own an argument before it can reach that level of acceptance. One cannot be compelled purely by the formal majesty of logic, and it seems incorrect to accuse those not so compelled of "irrationality." There is something deeply rational, in its positive normative sense, in delaying judgment, even in the face of such apparently inescapable evidence. The type of acceptance the philosopher thinks logical argument imposes is supposed to be relatively simple, the acceptance of a proposition. Before you heard this argument, you believed that p; now you believe that not-p. Or maybe you had a void which p now fills. Sounds straightforward enough, right? This is a ludicrous symbolization of how beliefs work, however. Our beliefs are not atomistic in this sense, unattached to other beliefs (this is controversial in philosophy, but let's just go with it for now). To borrow a phrase from Quine, they exist in an interlocking web with all our other beliefs (I have some qualms about belief talk, but it's really not worth making this any more complicated than it already is, so let's just press onward.). A change in belief is a traumatic episode, especially if one's belief is central in one's web of beliefs. Is it really "rational" to rip apart one's web of beliefs in the face of such uncompelling evidence as a sound argument? Doesn't the conclusion have to seize one in a manner more meaningful that the inexorability of logical necessity? Philosophers need to think about this problem far more seriously than they have to date, and not just accuse those who fall prey to it of irrationality. It is far more pervasive and important as a phenomenon, I think, than has been heretofore acknowledged.

I will stop at this point, having taken this as far as I can at the moment. For those who care, I was inspired by an essay by James Conant in this collection entitled "Nietzsche's Perfectionism: A Reading of Schopenhauer as Educator." While not explicitly about this problem, I think Nietzsche's idea of "becoming what one is" as a centrally moral concept, a becoming that occurs only with extreme difficulty, and after much denial of what one is, is a useful place to begin illuminating the question of why it is that "logic" is not enough for rationality. Or maybe rationality isn't enough for being human?

UPDATE: I just wanted to include a quotation from Heinrich von Kleist, who Nietzsche approvingly cites in Schopenhauer as Educator: "Not long ago I became acquainted with the Kantian philosophy...I have no reason to fear it will shatter you so profoundly and painfully as it has me...If the point of this thought does not penetrate your heart, do not smile at one who feels wounded by it in the deepest and most sacred part of his being."

Koan II

"The education of a scholar is an extremely difficult problem, if his humanity is not to be sacrificed in the process."

--Friedrich Nietzsche, Schopenhauer as Educator

Saturday, September 5, 2009


"One can only become a philosopher, not be one. As soon as one thinks one is a philosopher, one stops becoming one."

--Friedrich Schlegel, Athenaeum Fragments

Friday, September 4, 2009

I have an idea

How about pointing out how insane these people are? How about not just uncritically repeating every crazy thing they say? Urging kids to stay in school and study hard? Since when is working hard socialism? The danger in this speech is clearly the possible formation of an Obamajugend, trained to spy on their parents and share their crayons with other kids. Oh, the horror!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

This is why I study philosophy

"These definitions coincide with the terms which, since Greek antiquity, have been used to define the forms of government as the rule of man over man—of one or the few in monarchy and oligarchy, of the best or the many in aristocracy and democracy, to which today we ought to add the latest and perhaps most formidable form of such dominion, bureaucracy, or the rule by an intricate system of bureaux in which no men, neither one nor the best, neither the few nor the many, can be held responsible, and which could be properly called the rule by Nobody. Indeed, if we identify tyranny as the government that is not held to give account of itself, rule by Nobody is clearly the most tyrannical of all, since there is no one left who could even be asked to answer for what is being done. It is this state of affairs which is among the most potent causes for the current world-wide rebellious unrest."

(h/t Glenn Greenwald)

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Wingnut Welfare

This is really intemperate and mean. Which is why I like it.

(h/t DeLong)

Someone Call Harold Bloom!

I predict a crotchety reaction to this in 3...2....1....

Saturday, August 29, 2009

Trolls of the Econo-blogosphere

Trolls are usually those who disrupt a particular blog or message board, intentionally or unintentionally. Greg Mankiw is an econo-blogosphere troll. He disrupts the workings of the econo-blogosphere as a whole with his insipid posts. Eventually, Brad DeLong gets tired of the stupid, and fires off a nasty blog post. But it's really kind of a waste of time. Mankiw has sacrificed any semblance of credibility at this point, and should be ignored. I understand how those who respond to Mankiw, McArdle, and others of that ilk feel. Their intellectual dishonesty is infuriating. But acknowledging them is just feeding the fire. At some point, the only thing you can do is ignore them.

Austrians Get Schooled

Not that they'd acknowledge it.

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Anonymous Liberal

Like a crucifix to stupid (kryptonite jokes are so played out at this point, so I'm trying out a vampire one).


In the name of God, what the hell is wrong with the level of nitwittery in this country? I have a question: has anyone on the left ever been as hysterical and hyperbolic as this? Can we start colonizing other planets soon, so I can leave this madhouse?


I want to have this somewhere I could can always find it.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Glenzilla, don't hurt 'em

I am so depressed after having read this. Torch the Wapo, torch Time, torch The New York Times. The whole lot of them are irredeemable. I think a great idea for a magazine or enterprising "journalist" would be to gather up all the facts about various media figures who have been nothing but wrong over the last decade or so, and collect it all into one place. My ideal figure for this would be either Glenn Greenwald or Matt Taibbi, but they are probably considered too fringe. It would be like the de-Nazification of Germany after World War II, except for journalists. We probably shouldn't execute any of them, but you never know what can happen with all these slippery slopes lying around.

I want to make myself feel better, so I will give you the DeLongian sign-off: That is all.


I must have seen this posted on at least a half dozen blogs, but it's well worth passing along again.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Light blogging...

...for the next week or so probably. I am starting a teaching gig at a local community college, and most of my time and intellectual attention has gone, and will go, towards preparing for that.


Look, I know every politician wants to swagger around like his testicles resemble basketballs more than the tiny white ones slapped back and forth on a green table, six shooters at his side and 10 gallon hat atop his head, but the fact is that the cowboy mentality is not only bad foreign policy, it's also bad social policy. The temptation to punish people harshly for their transgressions is probably as close as we can get to "human nature;" you hurt me, I want to return the hurt, ten thousandfold. But, like fear, it's probably not a good emotion on which to decide how best to deal with crime and criminal recidivism.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I must be insane

The first commenter to this post at Matthew Yglesias wonders where Joe Biden is. And the sad thing is, I think I might agree with him!

Pointy-headed Academics

In preparation for teaching a class on religion, I've been reading a lot about shamans and primitive religion. For some reason, I think their methods of persuasion looked much like this. Also, hooray for the Frankfurt School!

(h/t Brad DeLong)

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Do NOT make Brad DeLong angry

You won't like him when he's angry.

It never fails

If you die, all your faults are forgiven. I'm not going to pretend Robert Novak was a great guy. Sorry.

UPDATE: Seems we have agreement from Molly Ivors.

Mark Thoma

It is a bad sign when the normally unflappable proprietor of Economist's View is showing signs of despair. The mendacious fear-mongers obviously share a significant measure of blame, but the kow-towing of the mainstream press to the right-wing fear machine is, at this point, nothing less than dereliction of duty. The press is composed of overpaid men and women with expensive haircuts who, for all I can tell, care more about their own celebrity and ratings than performing their function. The story of how the right has "worked the refs" by their denunciations and complaints, until all that is acceptable in a news piece is what-the-Democrat-said vs. what-the-Republican-said, regardless of veracity, is a story that has already been well told by others, so I won't repeat it. But it certainly makes one reconsider the hand-wringing over the financial problems of the print news. If all reporters will do is write down what people say and print it, isn't that worse than nothing? If you can lie with imputiny, and have your views show up in a national setting, isn't that something to decry?

Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Krugman's Law

This being a blog cheekily dedicated to my idol "Beardy" (as he was called on The Colbert Report), it is necessary for us to keep our readers up to date on the latest in the articulation of his Theory. Barry Schwartz, who I discovered via Brad DeLong, has the latest confirming evidence of Krugman's Law.

UPDATE: Also, welcome to any readers who reached us via Grasping Reality with Both Hands, which I've always thought of as a violent metaphor, bringing to mind the image of an enraged Brad DeLong grasping reality between his hands and throttling it, similarly to how he appeared when he debated this guy.

Can a Film Critic be too Contrarian?

Whenever I read a headline on Slate like this, I always translate it in my mind into: "Can a Film Critic be too Awesome?"

Time to Monetize this Bitch!

Just kidding. Welcome, Crooks and Liars readers.

Monday, August 17, 2009

Ross Douthat

Look, I don't agree with some of the details of what Douthat is saying in his new op-ed, and I think he is downplaying the serious contradictions inherent in the Republicans position, contradictions that no intellectually honest person could hold. But politicians are not in the business of coherence, they are in the business of winning. So maybe you can only make so much hay of that complaint. At any rate, I feel that, since I am normally critical of Douthat, I should be willing to praise him when he deserves it, and this is one of those times. It is well worth reading.

I've heard it said that it might have been a mistake to give seniors Medicare back in the 60s, because those of us in favor of universal healthcare robbed our cause of (1) the most consistent voting block in the country, and (2) a voting block that has the most to gain from healthcare coverage provided by the government. Whatever the truth of that is, it certainly does seem that there is an effective anti-reform strategy involved in scaring seniors, and Douthat is right to point that out.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ladies and Gentlemen

Thomas Friedman!

"If you travel long enough and far enough — like by jet to Johannesburg, by prop plane to northern Botswana and then by bush plane deep into the Okavango Delta — you can still find it. It is that special place that on medieval maps would have been shaded black and labeled: “Here there be Dragons!” But in the postmodern age, it is the place where my BlackBerry, my wireless laptop and even my satellite phone all gave me the same message: “No Service.”

Exotic byline? Check. Technological hat-tip? Check. Reference to "post-modern?" Check. Take her off to Ed, doll, I'm catchin' a steamer to Zanzibar. Where's my pith helmet?!

Short Thoughts on Perlstein

A fundamental blinkeredness about what actually constitutes the erosion of personal rights has always been a hallmark of the fringe right. The current crop of right-wingers that cheered the Patriot Act but treat the readjustment of health care incentives as a grave abrogation of fundamental liberties see the world in the same way that anti-communists in the '60s did, when domestic spying and the Vietnam War were necessary inconveniences. And this is to say nothing about corporate power, which in the conservative mind does not operate in a way that implicates private liberty.

While I appreciate Brad DeLong linking to this piece, and I agree that it's a mistake to assume that Cronkite-era journalism was much better, the implication in the final paragraphs that the scummy David Broder was worse than Walter Lippmann dismays me. Read your Drift and Mastery, DeLong!

Saturday, August 15, 2009


This is a different Pearlstein, but he also has good things to say. One wonders where this lunatic fringe was hiding during the Bush years, and why it is now that they are so afraid of the power of their government when they lived through one of the greatest expansions of executive power in modern American history. You barely heard a peep from them. All the militia groups that plagued the Clinton years, culminating in the Oklahoma City bombings? They're back, baby, and they're pissed.

Boycott Whole Foods

That is all.

Best of the Best

To the Editor:

One phrase used by more than a few people in the debate on health care reform is that “our health care system is the envy of the world.” Which world is that?

A recent Harris/Decima Poll in Canada, the country that probably knows our system the best, found a 10-to-1 majority who believe their system is better than ours. And Harris Polls in France and Britain found that most people there believe that their systems are “the envy of the world.”

Humphrey Taylor
Chairman, The Harris Poll
New York, Aug. 13, 2009

-from a New York Times Editorial

Reflections on the Blog's Direction

Not too long ago we reached the 100 posts mark with the introduction of Chimera to PKLAFTM. To date, the focus of the blog has been to disseminate articles and blog posts that I have found interesting to a broader public (broader, not broad). In the future I hope to post more substantial compositions, similar to those musing on philosophy I have so far submitted. It's nice to be an aggregator a la Atrios, but I want to be a contributor, not just a distributor. Anyway, look out for more substantive commentary in the future from both the contributors to PKLAFTM.

Eastern European Nations

Slovenia is way better than Slovakia. I'll take Ljubljana over Bratislava any day. Welcome, Chimera, to what I hope will be an increasing menagerie of fantastic creatures.

MY Current Philosophical Obsession

Mark Kelman.

Friday, August 14, 2009

Preliminary Thoughts, By Way of Self-Introduction

Many things gall me about this blog.

In my experience, it has never denounced the destruction of wild chinchilla populations in the Andes. It has never sought to combat the negative stereotypes about Slovakia perpetuated by the depiction of Bratislava in Eli Roth's "Hostel" films as a place of third-world savagery and sadotourism. My perusal of the archives has yielded no posts attacking or defending Jon Elster; relatedly, the links on the right side of the page are bereft of sociology blogs in favor of things like "Philosophy, et cetera," which smacks to me of a narcissistic disciplinary chauvinism that impedes the catholic wonderment that marks the best life has to offer.

But this blog, if you will permit me a cliche, is an oasis in the desert of our contemporary politics. It is a refuge where PKrug is rightly lauded for wielding his Nobel-burnished credibility like a Republican-smiting Mjöllnir, where Glenn Greenwald is forgiven for his bad Portuguese but hailed for his keen intellect, and where half the posts are short enough to be Tweets but I gobble them up anyway like Belgian candies made of unctuous marzipan wrapped around nougaty polemic. Frankly, it is a blog that cannot be ignored.

My plan is to abet the already high quality of the blog. Ultimately, the prestige of the PKLFM cenacle will make possible a guest appearance by PKrug himself on these digital pages.

It is to this end that I devote myself, as well as to the satiety of those readers extant and still to come.

Real Socialism

Gotta love Lenin's Tomb:

"It's not just that the NHS outperforms the US on most health outcomes. What leaps out at one is the way in which class amplifies the differences. America's psychopathic healthcare system is sacrificing tens of thousands of lives, mainly working class and African American, for the sake of profit. Health advisors and boards of trustees routinely kill people, knowingly, to defend the bottom-line. Right now, those who are scaremongering about the NHS are lobbying vehemently to ensure that nothing about this vile state of affairs ever changes. They aren't stupid enough not to understand the consequences of what they are doing, but the current rate of death and misery is part of creating an optimal investment climate. This is social sadism. This is a humanitarian catastrophe. To remedy this intolerable state of affairs, I propose a lobby or solidarity group to 'Save America' (or 'Save America From Itself', or 'Stop Them Before They Kill Again' - you get the picture). There should be rock concerts in Hyde Park to raise money for the millions of Americans who have no healthcare. Bob Geldof and Bono - and here's the excellent thing - would be totally uninvolved in any of this. Funds should be available for those who have been told by their insurance companies that their life is less important than shareholder value, to pay for an airline ticket to any country where they can get treated properly. And all support should be given to those heroic freedom fighters taking on the inhuman monsters who have been getting away with killing their people for far too long. I bet negative PR like that would get some reforms going pretty fucking quickly."

I hope he's right

"It's not surprising to me that Obama's poll numbers are going down. Part of that is most assuredly due to a GOP-fueled resurgence of the ugliest aspects of our national character -- nativism, racism, and know-nothingism -- within a population that it's hard to imagine were big Obama boosters in the first place. But I suspect the poll numbers are also reflecting a growing disillusionment among those who placed a lot of hope in an Obama presidency. Disillusionment that he's not standing up for what the people who voted for him stood up for in November."

-Dan Froomkin

Liberals have a touching attachment to the idea that the truth will win out, that a truth is so blindingly clear to people that they will accept it. As long as we get the truth out, we will win. Oh well, all ideologies have their blind-spots...

Death Squads

"Maybe the answer is to scare people with the truth. Without health care reform that reduces the growth in costs, we won't be able to sustain the level of health care we are delivering now let alone cover those who don't have access to the care they need. Other countries have demonstrated conclusively that it's possible to deliver high quality universal care at a much lower cost than in the US, so a failure to implement reform is also a failure to maximize the availability of high quality health care. For that reason the people trying to block reform are -- to put it in their terms -- the death squads. They are the the the ones putting health care at risk, particularly care for those reliant upon government programs such as Medicare that will face budget pressures if costs aren't controlled, so lets hope the fabrications and other antics don't deter us from implementing the changes that are necessary to ensure that we can meet our health care needs."

-Mark Thoma


Can we all agree that inflation is not the near-term problem now? Please?

The Central Committe Has Spoken


Thursday, August 13, 2009


1. Medicare is great!
2. Government is bad.

The hypocrisy of the right never ceases to amaze.


Words of wisdom from a true socialist.

Econ Fail

Casey Mulligan was my second quarter macro professor...

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More wise words from on high

This is what happens when folk knowledge gets canonized with mathematics. What was once a rule of thumb becomes an inflexible principle, and words no longer mean what they did.


Classification and humanity.

The fallacy of composition: what applies to your household doesn't apply to the government as a whole.

Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Robin Wells

Wife of our glorious leader drops some knowledge.

Sunday, August 9, 2009


Bill Simmon's and I have a love-hate relationship, mostly hate when it comes to New England sports. I won't deny there is more than a little schadenfreude in my posting these two tweets that came, as you can see, in rapid succession.

Malefactors of Great Wealth

Feinberg's protestations of patriotism are more than a little difficult to swallow. Truly reprehensible.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Current Philosophical Obsessions

In no particular order: Nietzsche (ok, he'll probably always be #1), Kant, Wittgenstein, Hegel, Heidegger, Marx, Freud, Slavoj Zizek, Stanley Cavell, Hilary Putnam, and Max Stirner.

Cavell II

"In asking for more than belief it invites discipleship, which runs its own risk of dishonesty and hostility. But I do not see that the faults of explicit discipleship are more dangerous than the faults which come from subjection to modes of thought and sensibility whose origins are unseen or unremembered and which therefore create a different blindness inaccessible in other ways to cure. Between control by the living and control by the dead there is nothing to choose."

-"The Availability of Wittgenstein's Later Philosophy," Stanley Cavell

The Paranoid Style

I don't know what else to say that isn't said in this piece.

Friday, August 7, 2009

Taibbi Uber Alles

Columbia Journalism Review reviews Matt Taibbi's article on Goldman and ensuing controversy, tells mainstream business media to stfu.

Ding Dong

The Witch is dead.


Dropping knowledge.


Is mad as hell, and not going to take it anymore. I am more like "in despair as hell." Americans are stupid, dumb sheep. And the Republicans are mendacious, dangerous assholes, who play to nothing but fear, xenophobia, and white priviledge. In some respects, I understand why people respond to fear-mongering, because it is our most visceral experience. Fear turns us into animals, reading to fight, or run away. These are not constructive emotions when your life is not in danger, but it probably pays in the long run to be more cautious than not. The danger is that an excess of fear will lead to paralysis or reaction. The Republicans, having decided their road to success consists in obstruction, have no qualms about provoking the American people into a spiral of fear and hate.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Laffer II

Olbermann wasn't able to exercise as much self-control in mocking the silly supply-sider as I was the other day. Who can blame him? It's really hard.

Healthcare Smackdown

Distribute widely.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Daily Show and Colbert

Normally, I prefer the Daily Show to the Colbert Report. The Daily Show is more consistently excellent; however, the Colbert Report has more "upside." A perfect example of Colbert upside was apparent tonight, when Colbert absolutely brutalized the astro-turf neo-teabaggers (fastest transition from original to neo ever?). The video is not up yet, but I will post it as soon as it is. It should be disseminated widely.

Trickle Down

The temptation to make a joke about Arthur Laffer's last name while criticizing him is almost overwhelming. This is the famous supply-side economist, who sold the tax cuts bill of goods to the Republicans in the 80's. He isn't so good with the facts.

Monday, August 3, 2009

Krugman Part II

Suck it, Douchehat.

Krugman done did it again

If you've wondered why this blog is named in honor of Paul Krugman, look no further than today's column.

Palin and Ahmadinejad

While I think the parallels the author draws in this piece are overblown, the final paragraph is a spot on description of right-wing populism in the early 21st century.

Btw, I spelled Ahmadinejad's name correctly on the first try. I must be a terrorist.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Cavell and Nietzsche

"The great teacher invariably claims not to want followers, i.e., imitators. His problem is that he is never more seductive than at those moments of rejection."

-Must We Mean What We Say?

This passage in the Foreword to Must We Mean What We Say? struck me, and I mean provoked in me a cascade of connected thoughts. I have a strong affinity for it because of its similarity to a passage in Thus Spoke Zarathustra, which I romantically want to believe inspired Cavell. At the end of Book I of Zarathustra, which, according to popular conception, Nietzsche wrote in a feverish state of inspiration in less than ten days, Zarathustra implores his followers to repudiate him. He says "One repays a teacher poorly by always remaining a student." For anyone inspired by Nietzsche to philosophy, this is a critical passage. Nietzsche expects those who would follow him to reject him.

This is a deeply disturbing prospect, and on the surface, paradoxical. How can one best show fidelity to a vision by rejecting it? But that is what Nietzsche urges. There is more to what he says than the sentimental pap of "find your own way." While there is certainly some truth to that statement, it obfuscates more than it reveals. It sounds clear enough, but what does it really mean?

I cannot claim to have a fully fleshed out answer to the question of how one philosophizes with a hammer, to use a particularly bombastic Nietzschean locution. I think the key might lie in the idea of an attitude towards philosophy, instead of particular philosophical positions. It is fashionable in contemporary Anglo-American philosophy to delineate philosophers by their substantive philosophical claims. People are divided into naturalists and theists, incompatibilists and compatibilists, externalists and internalists. One wonders what the point of all such categorization is. It certainly does not seem to be the main thrust of Nietzsche's philosophizing. Is the metaphysical status of the will to power an interesting question? What about Nietzsche's substantive ethical positions? Is that why we read Nietzsche?

I don't think it is. We read Nietzsche to watch him in action, to see what it is like for a sensitive person to come to grips with the pressure of existence. I don't have all the answers as to what Nietzsche is doing. All I know is what I want to do is more of whatever that is, and the first step is to figure out how to do that in a manner congruent with his Zarathustran maxim.


Fox News, fomenting the counter-revolution.

Part II

Come to think of it, I never took them seriously.

Silly Libertarians

I stopped taking them seriously a long time ago.


At about the 9th minute of this clip, he says "irreducible alterity." I almost fell out of my chair.

Friday, July 31, 2009


"The lifeboat has been a place where lots are drawn to decide who will eat and who will be eaten. In 1884, three survivors of the shipwrecked Mignonette were found guilty of murder and sentenced to hang. They had killed and eaten the midshipman who was with them on the life raft. They were accused, Avramescu says, not because they ate their colleague (there being no law against cannibalism), or even because they murdered him, but because ‘they failed to draw lots to decide on the victim. Instead of doing so, they killed the weakest of their number.’"

That is just so practical of the magistrate. Ruled very much with justice in mind, if you ask me.


Blog posts are like Pringles.

New Hobsbawm Joint


Glenn Greenwald Speaking Portuguese


Screw Faux News

I hope to God this isn't true.

Quintuple Meta?

Done, and done.

Think tank, schmink tank

They should change the name from "think" tank to "rhetoric" tank. It's not as catchy, but they do a lot more rhetorical contortions than mental gymnastics, in my humble opinion.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Friday, July 24, 2009


Making it harder to join the tribe, and then make aliyah. Idiots.

The stupid!

It burns! Part II.

The stupid!

It burns!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


It's difficult to know what you can trust from CounterPunch sometimes, but this is very interesting, and if true, another example of the capture of regulation by large corporations.


"The basic error of modern macro-economics is the belief that the economy is simply the sum of microeconomic decisions of rational agents. But the economy is more than that. The interactions of these decisions create collective movements that are not visible at the micro level."

h/t Mark Thoma


What none of the people who criticize these crazy wing nuts have pointed out is that no white president would ever face this kind of scrutiny about his eligibility to be president. White dudes have a natural right to be president, but alien others like Barack Obama are automatically suspicious. Would anyone find any of this remotely believable if President Obama were white, and had an Anglo-Saxon name? I fucking doubt it.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

What I'm Reading

"What I need is perspective. The illusion of depth, created by a frame, the arrangement of shapes on a flat surface. Perspective is necessary. Otherwise there are only two dimensions. Otherwise you live with your face squashed against a wall, everything a huge foreground, of details, close-ups, hairs, the weave of the bedsheet, the molecules of the face. Your own skin like a map, a diagram of futility, crisscrossed with tiny roads that lead nowhere. Otherwise you live in the moment. Which is not where I want to be."

--The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood


If you want to read something truly inane from Slate, I suggest you look here.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Robert Samuelson

Is another ignoramus whose position as a person of sense and perspicacity is overblown in proportion to the size of his mustache.

P.S. I have no idea if that makes sense, but it sure felt great writing it.

Mark Sanford

Hey, Mark Sanford? Go fuck yourself, you fucking tool.

(btw, I think I got this from Mark Thoma, but I forget. Anyway, I didn't find it on my own.)

Friday, July 17, 2009

Running Diary of Me Reading a David Brooks Column

David Brooks and I have a special relationship. We both went to the same university, we're both of Jewish heritage, and we like to think of ourselves as intellectuals. Unfortunately, I think David Brooks is the worst kind of public intellectual: given to sweeping generalizations not backed up by any empiricial evidence, and a generally muddy philosophical approach to understanding society. It's a wonder to me that anyone pays any attention to anything he says. That's also true about me, but I don't get paid six figures to write a column twice a week that probably reaches millions of people.

Anyway, I occasionally feel the need to vent while reading David Brooks's columns, because they are usually insipid. Usually I just complain to friends, but in the future, when I read a particularly vapid Brooks column, I'm going to provide a running diary of my thoughts as I read it, much like Bill Simmons does for various sporting events. My comment will be in italics. So here's my first attempt.

Op-Ed Columnist

No Size Fits All

If you visit a four-year college, you can predict what sort of student you are going to bump into. If you visit a community college, you have no idea. You might see an immigrant kid hoping eventually to get a Ph.D., or another kid who messed up in high school and is looking for a second chance. You might meet a 35-year-old former meth addict trying to get some job training or a 50-year-old taking classes for fun.

Because Brooks knows so much about community colleges, University of Chicago grad that he is.

These students may not realize it, but they’re tackling some of the country’s biggest problems. Over the past 35 years, college completion rates have been flat. Income growth has stagnated. America has squandered its human capital advantage. Students at these places are on self-directed missions to reverse that, one person at a time.

So noble, these community college students! Seriously, I think getting a college degree is great and all that, but lets not get carried away. Sheesh. Also, Brooks seems to want to tie the stragnation of income growth to the stagnation of growth in those who complete college. This is a favorite idea of conservative economists, that its largely a matter of training that is responsible for income inequality. This idea has been thoroughly refuted by Krugman in his book, The Return of Depression Economics.

Community college enrollment has been increasing at more than three times the rate of four-year colleges. This year, in the middle of the recession, many schools are seeing enrollment surges of 10 percent to 15 percent. And the investment seems to pay off. According to one study, students who earn a certificate experience a 15 percent increase in earnings. Students earning an associate degree registered an 11 percent gain.

Compared to what? Ugh, this is the kind of shit that drives me mad. Also, how does it compare to those who earn college degrees?

And yet funding lags. Most people in government, think tanks and the news media didn’t go to community college, and they don’t send their children to them. It’s a blind spot in their consciousness. As a result, four-year colleges receive three times as much federal money per student as community colleges. According to a Brookings Institution report, federal spending for community colleges fell six percent between 2002 and 2005, while spending on four-year colleges increased.

Erm...pointing to the totals spent at the various institutions seems like the wrong way to approach this. We should be looking at the percentage of the total costs per student that the federal dollars are paying for. Community college is much, much cheaper than going to a four year university. I'm not saying I know for sure there isn't a problem here, but I am saying that David Brooks's evidence is misleading.

Which is why what President Obama announced this week is so important. He announced a $12 billion plan to produce 5 million more community college grads by 2020.

If the plan were just $12 billion for buildings and student aid, it wouldn’t be worth getting excited about. The money devoted to new construction amounts to about $2 million per campus. With new facilities costing in the tens of millions, that’s not a big deal.

Nor is increased student aid fundamentally important. I’ve had this discussion with my liberal friends a thousand times, and I have come to accept that they will never wrap their minds around the truth: lack of student aid is not the major reason students drop out of college. They drop out because they are academically unprepared or emotionally disengaged or because they lack self-discipline or because bad things are happening at home.

Evidence please? He said, she said, it's my column, so I am right. And if students are unprepared, isn't that a problem for high schools, not community colleges?

Affordability is way down the list. You can increase student aid a ton and you still won’t have a huge effect on college completion.

What’s important about the Obama initiative is that it doesn’t throw money at the problem. It ties money to reform and has the potential — the potential — to spur a wave of innovation.

People who work at community colleges deserve all the love we can give them, since they get so little prestige day to day. But the fact is many community colleges do a poor job of getting students through. About half drop out before getting a degree.

Most schools have poor accountability systems and inadequately track student outcomes. They have little information about what works. They have trouble engaging students on campus. Many remedial classes (60 percent of students need them) are a joke, often because expectations are too low.

Again, should it be the community college's job to deal with remedial students? Isn't this a problem that has earlier roots? I mean, 60% need remedial work? That's a systemic problem, but it's origin is not in the community college.

The Obama initiative is designed to go right at these deeper problems. It sets up a significant innovation fund, which, if administered properly, could set in motion a spiral of change. It has specific provisions for remedial education, outcome tracking and online education. It links public sector training with specific private sector employers.

YES! If you pay for innovation, you will get innovation! It's a can't fail!

Real reform takes advantage of community colleges’ most elemental feature. These colleges educate students with wildly divergent interests, goals and abilities. They host students with radically different learning styles, many of whom have floundered in traditional classrooms.

Therefore, successful reform has to blow up the standard model. You can’t measure progress by how many hours a student spends with her butt in a classroom chair. You have to incorporate online tutoring, as the military does. You have to experiment with programs like Digital Bridge Academy that are tailored to individual learning styles. You have to track student outcomes, as the Lumina Foundation is doing. You have to build in accountability measures for teachers and administrators.

Maybe this proposal, too, will be captured by the interest groups. But its key architects, Rahm Emanuel in the White House and Representative George Miller, have created a program that is intelligently designed and boldly presented.

Maybe it will be captured by interest groups? How is this not a throw away line? What the fuck interest groups is he talking about? This is just red meat. "Interest groups always ruin everything!" Reader nods in agreement. What the fuck?

It’s a reminder that the Obama administration can produce hope and change — when the White House is the engine of policy creation and not the caboose.

I guess this is a shot or something at the Obama administration, but it's not clear what for. Health care? Who the hell knows. Whatever the deal is, I'm all for more focus on community colleges and higher education (seeing as I plan on working in higher education at some point), but I'm not sure the benefits of such an increased focus are those that Brooks points to.


This is ridiculous oligopolistic behavior, and should absolutely not be allowed.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Roger Cohen

Whenever I see a headline that reads "Roger Cohen: The meaning of life," I cannot help but shudder.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Today's WTF moment

Comes from David Brook's column:

"Her father died when she was 9, leaving one such gap. (It is amazing how many people who suffer parental loss between the ages of 9 and 13 go on to become astounding high achievers.)."

The only reason he thinks this is amazing is his prejudiced belief that only persons from intact nuclear families can succeed. Also, this is another example of how books makes assertions without backing them up with any empirical evidence. We don't care what your individual experience tells you. There are facts to be had about this kind of thing!

Monday, July 13, 2009

Social Insurance

It has often occurred to me that the combination of social insurance and business is fundamentally distasteful. The purpose of buying a social insurance policy, especially in the form of health insurance, is to protect oneself from risk: risk of natural disasters, risk of theft, risk of early death, or risk of catastrophic health problems. A business, on the other hand, is largely concerned with extracting the largest amount of profit from its customers as possible, because its fiduciary duty is to increase the value of the company for its shareholders (or just regular owners, depending on what the structure of the business is). An insurance company takes advantage of the uncertainty inherent in our lives in order to make money. Now, this is not necessarily a bad thing. You could argue that non-lethal self-defense weapon makers do the same thing. Where they differ is that the business model of a successful insurer consists in doing everything they can to deny your insurance claims. In order to extract as much profit as possible, they must limit their outlays, and the best way to do that is through careful pre-screening, or denial of insurance claims. Insurances companies make money by denying you the peace of mind you thought you'd purchased.

I think it is this fact that explains why people hate their insurance companies. They know the insurance companies answer to two different masters. On the one hand, they are there to protect you. On the other hand, they exist to make their shareholders money, which they can only do by denying high risk persons insurance. The profit motive harmfully interferes with the insurance company doing its best by the customer. It would be one thing if the interests of the two sides were equally balanced, but there's no reason to think that they are. The people who run insurance companies, their CEOs, get their jobs because they are good at making money, not because they are good at offering great coverage for customers. They have to do that, in so far as they don't want to go out of business, but with the monopolistic stranglehold that most companies have in various regions, they can afford to pay more attention to their bottom lines. That's why the insurance companies are so terrified of a public option for health care. I won't pretend to know the numbers on comparative performance between government administered and private health insure, but the public option has at least two enormous conceptual benefits: no profit motive, and increased competition. The government is not trying to make money from providing health insurance. The government does not serve two masters, the insured, and their shareholders. While a public plan must make sure it stays solvent, it isn't concerned with making money for its shareholders. Its sole mission is to provide health insurance to those it insures.

I said that increased competition is a "conceptual" benefit, but really, it might as well be empirically confirmed. Vast swathes of the country are covered by one or two insurers, leading to a typically monopolistic situation. Providing a public plan, which can compete on cost because it isn't trying to make money, will force insurance companies to amend their practices. This will lead to more of the money paid into the companies being disbursed to those it insures.

One can see why the insurance companies are terrified. Their long reign of extracting profit due to their insecurities of their customers would be directly challenged. The moral of the story is that the government is the correct vehicle for social insurance. We can talk about what kinds of things people absolutely need to be protected from, but it seems prima facie clear to me that the ravages of disease is one of those things.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Barbara Ehrenreich

The second in her continuing series on how the recession is impacting those who have always been on the margins of prosperity. People forget how tenuous ones financial stability can be, and many do not have any margin for error. Recessions strike these kinds of folks the hardest, and there is very little in the way of support for them, outside their own familial and communal networks.

Your New York Times Ombudsman

Hard at work, in the times of the decline of newspapers, assuring the readership that the wedding announcements in the Times have ceased to be a venue merely for the fabulously wealthy.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

What I'm Reading

"Believe blindly everything they tell you at the (Ecclesiastical) Academy. Bear in mind that there are people who will make a careful note of your slightest objection; they will forgive you a little amorous intrigue if it is done in the proper way, but not a doubt."

--The Charterhouse of Parma

Wednesday, July 8, 2009


He might be a crazy man, and a self-promoter, and I still don't understand his synthesis of Lacanian psychoanalysis with Hegelian Marxism, but I think he is in some ways a great aphorist, in the manner of Montaigne and Nietzsche (who probably would not appreciate the comparison). How does one combine Hegelianism and pithy aphorisms in the same person? What curious dialetical process of sublation could overcome the gap between these antipodes? Truly a mystery.

What does it mean to be a revolutionary today?

UPDATE: He actually froths a little at the mouth at the end.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

What I'm Reading

"These are the questions that had been going through Tereza's head since she was a child. Indeed, the only truly serious questions are ones that even a child can formulate. Only the most naive questions are truly serious. They are the questions with no answers. A question with no answers is a barrier that cannot be breached. In other words, it is questions with no answers that set the limits of human possibilities, describes the boundaries of human existence."

--The Unbearable Lightness of Being

Monday, July 6, 2009

More re: Douthat's odd sympathy for Sarah Palin

From The Edge of the American West.

Ross Douthat is an idiot


"All of this had something to do with ordinary partisan politics. But it had everything to do with Palin’s gender and her social class.

Sarah Palin is beloved by millions because her rise suggested, however temporarily, that the old American aphorism about how anyone can grow up to be president might actually be true.

But her unhappy sojourn on the national stage has had a different moral: Don’t even think about it."

Uh...what about our boy Barack Hussein Obama? You know, the guy who actually won? The guy with an immigrant father? And a working class mother? You know, just maybe?

I think Douthat's sympathy with Palin has something to do with the fact that his columns have been almost universally panned as inane and incoherent. Which of these characteristics do you think he and she share?

Suck it, Douthat.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I finished reading this book without my head exploding. In related news, the ultimate chapter is a supposed "refutation" of so-called "anti-realism." Leading aside the fact that one of the main figures Loux targets in this chapter is Hilary Putnam, who is NOT an anti-realist in any sense except in being an anti-metaphysical realist, he doesn't deal with any arguments older than 1981! Realists are so useless.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

The Uses and Disadvantages of History for LIfe

"And so it came to pass that Steve Forbes was prowling a bookstore in Naples, Florida a few years back looking 'for something interesting to read.' Forbes’ employees must live in dread that at such moments their maximum leader will stumble onto Max Stirner’s The Ego and Its Own or Iris Chang’s The Rape of Nanking; but happily for them, the quarry this time was Hannibal Crosses the Alps by John Prevas. And boy, did it ever get our correspondent thinking. First, he published a review of the book—well past its publication date–in his eponymous magazine, and thereby embodied a first principle of leadership: executive vanity will always trump timely coverage."

Who doesn't love Max Stirner? Full link here.


I'm sorry, this is just ridiculous. Yes. it is a misfortune that Governor Sanford cheated on his wife. But this is a man who was hell-bent on denying the most unfortunate of his constituents the resources they need to survive in a time of economic crisis in the name of a misguided political and economic ideology. He had to be overturned by his own legislature. He was going to use this fact about himself as a point in his favor as Republican candidate for president. He does not deserve our forbearance.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tell me what about this is fake or contrived:

Suck it, Simmons.

Friday, June 19, 2009

On Fragility

David Brooks, seconded by Andrew Sullivan, seem to agree that the Iranian regime is "fragile." I don't have fully formed thoughts on this, but it strikes me as a very strange characterization. Would you describe a government as fragile if it is threatened by enormous demonstrations? Fragile in what sense? It seems like the vast amount of effort expended by the demonstrators, perhaps millions of them, is an indicator of the stability of a regime. Additionally, I think the comparison of Iran to "other autocratic regimes" is inapposite. Iran has a vibrant public culture that would never have been allowed to develop in the the former Soviet Union and its satellites (which I imagine is Brooks's intended "autocratic regime").

I am also dubious of the idea that a governing system based on the "banishment of reality" is somehow inherently more fragile than one based on "reality." We only have to look at our very recent history to see how effective the government can be at manipulating "reality." Reality doesn't speak for itself, and can serve the interests of repressive regimes just as well as those we would be inclined to prefer.

(Brooks also identifies the shouting from the rooftops as a new custom, springing organically from the "new situation," but that's an homage to similar actions taken by Ayatollah Khomeini's supporters during the 1979 Revolution.)

Let's All Call Bullshit

On the Post's decision to let Froomkin go. Are they out of their motherfucking minds? The Post is filled with the most inept, serially stupid, war-mongering, incurious opinion staff in the nation. Their one asset was Froomkin. And now they've decided to junk him. Fire them all. Fire them all from your browsers, from your newstands, from you porches, from your trips to the fucking can. Let's hurry all of their news careers to their graves. Maybe then a new, more responsible media establishment, that cares about the truth, that cares about adversarial journalism, that cares about protecting the people from the depradations of those in power will emerge.

Boycott the Washington Post

Dan Froomkin let go from the Washington Post. What a crock of shit. Dan Froomkin has consistently demonstrated that he is the best White House reporter working for a mainstream newspaper, but the Post would rather their editorial direction go with their new hire, Bill Kristol, the legacy columnist with an absolutely atrocious track record of being wrong and war-mongering, and his neocon brother Charles Krauthammer. The only reason to read the post in the last 8 years has been Froomkin. There is no longer any reason anyone should read the Post. It is a den of thieves and insiders, who care for nothing except preserving the Beltway status quo. Reading over the last couple of months the Post try to fend off accountability for torturers and war criminals in the name of "bipartisanship" or "moving on" has been sickening, but this is the last straw. Shame on the Post. I used to have some sympathy for the current plight of newspapers, but now I am looking forward to your reduced role in our nation's public life. Rot in Hell.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Slow Day

Not much is catching my interest so far today. There's Bill Simmons's bitter attempt to deny Kobe his justly deserved recognition. You'll notice he employs a similar technique as Kristol's: he spends something like 80-90% of his column trashing Kobe, but at the end disingenuously says he still amongst the gods or whatever. Nice work there, Billy. Let's just agree that you should never say anything about the Lakers, as you are completely incapable of setting aside your Celtic partisanship.

The Times's resident conservatives continue to produce drivel. For all the snarling about postmodernism amongst conservatives, they sure like to emulate their writing style. If you can find a coherent line of argument in Douthut's article, you are a better person than I. And Brooks continues his grand tradition of sweeping generalizations unsupported by empirical fact. Good work guys. Keeping the grand tradition of Enlightenment reason alive! Brooks is just unsalvageable at this point, but you gotta wonder about Douthut. Maybe he's found adapting too difficult.

On a more positive note, Eric Rauchway and Matthew Yglesias have some interesting things to say about the Senate.

Monday, June 15, 2009


Also, fuck John Yoo.

As Usual, Atrios is the Voice of Reason

Compared to the frantic braying that is going on across the rest of the interwebs. Unfortunately, I don't think people will stop listening to the Armageddonites. We're too hard-wired for fight or flight. (thus ends my foray into amature evolutionary psychology).

(Although, honestly, it is probably on a par with the typical drivel put out by Pinker and his ilk).

Ariza cont.

John Hollinger says some similar things about Ariza (#7 in the Daily Dime). He also makes the great point that the Lakers got Ariza from the Magic!

Trevor Ariza

I don't think enough is said about how essential Trevor Ariza has been to the Lakers's recent success. Yes, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are the backbone of the team, and the guys who are going to shoulder the majority of the burden of scoring and facilitating the offense. But they alone are not sufficient to make the Lakers a championship team. They also need to be surrounded by players who can take advantage of the mismatches that they create .

As the post I've linked to above shows, Ariza is that guy. When Kobe and Pau draw in double teams, Ariza is there to take the 3-point shot, slash to the basket, get garbage rebounds, or whatever. He literally does anything you need him to do. He defines utility player. He plays tenacious defense, gets sneaky steals, and comes up with huge blocks. His most important skill, though, is just showing up when it counts the most. While I don't have a scientific survey of the Lakers's games this season, I can remember any number of times when the Lakers were struggling, and Ariza would come up with a huge play to ignite the offense. Who can forget the huge steal he made at the end of Game 3 (assisted by Lamar, of course)? The dagger threes he has hit all season? His tenacious, fierce, physical defense against Hedo Turkoglu in these finals?

It seems more and more to me that the Lakers weren't missing Bynum so much last year as they were missing Ariza. Admittedly, we probably still would not have won the Finals, as the Celtics were still too physical and hungry. They wanted it, and we shrank before their desire. But their path would have been much less easy with our talented young swingman roaming the parquet floor.

Wing-Nut Welfare Recipient Bill Kristol

Bill Kristol is at it again. I would just like to point out that the go-to move for the neo-conservatives is to raise the specter of Neville Chamberlain. As you can see, this is Kristol's modus operandi, which he disingenuously disavows almost immediately after making the comparison. Typical bait-and-switch nonsense. You should remember that people like Kristol are not interested in appealing to your intellect; they want to speak directly to your fears.

Kristol dismisses out of hand the contention that the US should stay out of Iranian electoral politics. He seems to think tht because it is Barack Obama and his "liberal internationalist" foreign policy speaking, and not Bush, that the message will somehow be better received. Color me skeptical. Our foreign adventurism has caused enough problems, and I don't think a change in the face of the regime will erase a half century of American misadventures in the region. If the situation deteriorates, then perhaps some symbolic gesture should be made. But as of right now, the Iranian people are doing a great job of their defending their rights. We should stay out of their way.

(Btw, does it strike anyone else as ludicrous that the title of the Washington Post's opinion blog where Kristol is posting is labeled "Postpartisan?")

Revelations from the Master


Netanyahu Thinks We're Stupid

As this post at TPM so trenchantly observes, Netanyahu completely ignored Obama's demand that the Israelis halt all illegal settlement activity. Additionally, his vision of a demilitarized Palestinian state is laughable and insulting. This speech does not represent any kind of substantive shift, and should not be treated as such. It is a carefully calibrated, political act that represents no commitment to change.

What I'm Reading

"Our fear was accompanied by a sense of awe that bordered on the religious. It is surely possible to be awed by the thing that threatens your life, to see it as a cosmic force, so much larger than yourself, more powerful, created by elemental and willful rhythms. This was a death made in the laboratory, defined and measurable, but we thought of it at the time in a simple and primitive way, as some seasonal perversity of the earth like a flood or tornado, something not subject to control. Our helplessness did not seem compatible with the idea of a man-made event."

-Don DeLillo, White Noise

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I like Chomsky on politics, but he's too much of a scientist to take philosophy seriously, to his own detriment.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Youthful Flashback

When I was in 5th or 6th grade, I read about the battle that is depicted in this book. It was also my first exposure to the Battle of Britain. We had a collection of books, kind of like an encyclopedia, except each book was concerned with a particular topic. The particular topic of the book in which I read about the Battle of Vienna and the Battle of Britain was called something liked "Greatest Battles." I seem to recall it also containing an account of the Ancient Egyptians defending Egypt from invaders, and an account of a battle whereby the Swiss defeated a much better equipped army of Habsburg knights.

Krugman in his cups


New York Times Runs Actual Story About People in Need, Instead of Trust Fund Babies Losing Their Williamsburg Lofts

Barbara Ehrenreich is one of the few journalists who covers the the working poor. I recommend her book, Nickel and Dimed.

Friday, June 12, 2009

Changing our media, one columnist at a time

Fire Megan McArdle.

(h/t Andrew Sullivan)

That is all.

(That's a Brad DeLong homage, btw).

Wing-Nut Welfare Addendum

My idol Paul Krugman uses the expression "wing-nut welfare" to describe the system of think tanks and other institutions that support conservative idealogues while they are out of office (regard Donald Rumsfeld's move to the Hoover Institute after he was outed as secretary of defense, Karl Rove at Fox News, etc.). I think a minor corollary could be added, let's call it the Very Serious People corollary. Wing-nut welfare is basically the system whereby movement conservatives are garuanteed of a job, no matter what they do. The same can be said for establishment media figures, like Jeffrey Rosen, who after his notorious hit job on Sonia Sotomayor, was rewarded by Time Magazine with a feature article on her racial attitudes. Good grief.

New Name for Right-wing Echo-chamber

Puke funnel.

(h/t Atrios)

Classless Society

I think Eric Rauchway should be careful. All this talk about how we only torture brown people is just dirty identity politics that gets the right wingers frothing at the mouth and reaching for their guns.


Inaugural Blog Post

Welcome to Paul Krugman Like a Father to Me! This is basically a place for me (and hopefully some like-minded souls) to share ideas and links about the kind of things we find interesting. I admit that I am starting this mostly as an avenue for discussing the political issues of the day, but I imagine I will also comment on my other passions: sports, literature, philosophy, and music, among other things.

Fittingly enough, the inaugural link will be to Dr. Krugman's recent Robbin's Lectures at the London School of Economics:

I find his criticisms of the dismal science in his final lecture particularly interesting.