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.