Monday, December 28, 2009

Monday Musings - Snow Edition

Friggin' snow. Let's muse.


Re: Janet Napolitano. The administration is going through the usual motions to set up a Saturday morning dismissal (only it will be on Friday, on account of the holiday). We've got "out of context" backpedaling today. We'll have op-eds of support tomorrow in WaPo and NYT. On Wednesday, expect anonymously sourced stories (planted by the administration) reinforcing the "out of touch" narrative, and possibly suggesting internal strife and managerial incompetence.

This is SOP, but does it make sense in this case? It seems like Obama could score some points by pretending to be caught off-guard by Janet's remarks, and moving for her immediate dismissal. The problem she has created is that she has reinforced the (accurate) notion that Obama isn't particularly serious about halting terrorist attacks. Sending JP to the ice flow at dusk will dodge the news cycles, depriving the president of a chance to appear active in the face of a threat.

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Of course, if he really wants to be taken seriously, Obama could do something about the situation in Iran. I mean, I don't want him to interrupt his vacation, but...

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No, I do not really think Obama should cut short his vacation. I think he should have intervened in Iran months ago. Then he would have earned his vacation.

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Meanwhile, con turned (more or less) lib Andrew Sullivan faults the National Review for their trifling coverage of the Iran protests. Fair enough, though NRO almost certainly has articles in the pipeline, as writers return from Christmas vacation, and it's not like a terrorist attack in Michigan is a trifling event either.

But shouldn't Sullivan be condemning the silence from the Obama administration? I mean, Obama's the guy Sullivan wants at the helm while all of this is going on. To say nothing of the MSM. The National Review seems an arbitrary target, is all.

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So THIS was the winter storm of the century the news went on about for days? Storms of the century aren't what they used to be.

Just returned from South Dakota, and I continue to be flummoxed by the inability of restaurants in that region to cook, of all things, a simple steak. I am loathe to return an improperly cooked steak, as doing so eradicates the restaurant's entire profit margin for my table and the next table over.

As such, I was content with my "rare" NY strip that featured no sear, and not even the slightest hint of pink. It was more Nike than cuisine. At least I wasn't buying.

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Thursday, December 24, 2009

Merry Christmas, People!

My church refreshments ministry is leaving now to take on Western Rhode Island (6-5) in the Zyban Acrimony Bowl (live, Dec. 26th @ 8ET on ESPN Deportes). As such, I'll be infrequently checking this blog over the next few days.

I'll leave you with what has become a holiday tradition here at TPWK... Siphoning the equity of funnier people. Reprinted without his permission is The John Larroquette Projects reminiscence of the winter's first snow. See you in hell, Santa.

There’s something magical about the first snowfall of the season.

This year was even more special than most. Saturday morning, I woke up bleary-eyed and dragged myself out of my bedroom. Just as I was about to descend the stairs I noticed that the light coming in from the windows was unusually bright. I looked more closely and stopped in my place when I saw it – it had snowed!

Hooray

It was beautiful. I stood hypnotized for a brief moment, softly reflecting on the wonderful little miracles that God provides for us. However, in the excitement of the moment I shamefully defecated down my legs.

Startled by this foul development, I lost my balance and my foot slipped on the newly-stained carpet. As I tumbled down the stairway, feces spraying all about the walls and my face, I noted to myself that the first snow brings out the child in all of us. I was merely reverting back to my childlike nature by crapping myself and falling headfirst into pain. When I landed on the cold tile of the kitchen, the sound of my tendons snapping pierced the stillness of the morning. As my dog began to lick the forbidden stains on the stairway walls, I knew that winter was finally here. In this moment of warm sentiment, I reached to try to pet Bailey, but my elbow was bent completely the wrong way and my forearm dangled unnaturally. I smiled to myself – all was well in my world. My body probably heal after a series of painful surgeries, my mother would be able to clean away my feces while wretching and dry heaving, all these things were temporary. ..

But the first snow? That lasts forever.*

Good afternoon.

*The snow melted the following afternoon.

Monday, December 21, 2009

Monday Musings

Health care is solved! Let's muse.


Reconnected with some long-time friends at Houlihan's this weekend, and enjoyed my free birthday entree. The "free" part negates my principle objection to the place, which is the absurd price point. I believe them when they say they cook from scratch, as though this fact is worthy of commendation, but these recipes were conjured in a test kitchen, with volume sourcing and cheap ingredients.

The results taste fine, but does "fine" justify $15 for a pot roast? Does it justify spending $40 on a dinner, when any number of chefs (not cooks) are producing better outcomes with better ingredients at the same price within a five mile radius? Is it worth setting aside a portion of your dining dollars to pay for marketing and birthday dinners?

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Excerpts from a fund-raising letter I received from faithwhores Sojourners.

You may not know Sam, Amy, or Joshua. But they’re just a few of people who spurred Sojourners on as we fought for health-care reform... As we reflect together, will you consider: Isn't now the perfect moment to support Sojourners?

Yes, thank you for providing religious cover to one of the most absurd pieces of legislation in history. It would be the perfect time for me to pad Jim Wallis' bank account. Also, Sojo correctly asserts that I do not know these people.

P.S. For your gift of $100 or more, we’ll send you a copy of Donald Miller’s newest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years.

Just for fun, I found an excerpt:

It’s like this when you live a story. The first part happens fast. You throw yourself into the narrative and you’re caught in the water, the shore is pushing back behind you and the trees are getting smaller. The other shore is inches away and you can feel the resolution coming, the feeling of getting out of you’re boat and walking the distant shore, looking back to see where you came from. The first part of a story happens fast, and you think the thing is going to be over soon. But it isn’t going to be over soon.

Yeah, that's the sort of writing you find in books that are given out for free.

Tell-a-friend!


Just did.

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Jay Cost has an excellent analysis of the health care reform bill. He argues that, among other things, the bill brought influence-peddling into the mainstream. Instead of a shady backdoor deal with a lobbyist, we have the open-air purchase of Senate votes. He cites the following from the AP:

Nebraska, Louisiana, Vermont and Massachusetts. These states are getting more federal help with Medicaid than other states. In the case of Nebraska -- represented by Sen. Ben Nelson, who's providing the critical 60th vote for the legislation to pass -- the federal government is picking up 100 percent of the tab of a planned expansion of the program, in perpetuity.


Read the whole thing.

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I'll add my own observation. Irrespective of political ebbs and flows, there have been two issues on which Democrats have reliably drawn support from moderates and conservatives. The first is health care, and the second is the environment.

On health care, even conservatives concede that the present system is broken, which, by definition, plays into the hands of progressives. Conservatives are standing athwart history, yelling "stop!", while the health care roulette wheel has us stuck on 00. Environmental reform appeals to a common sense of decency and a theoretical return to the way things were.

On health care, the Dems have squandered their appeal through their administrative tendency to overreach. The sheer volume of reform, at a federal level, required an untenable morass of payouts to various interests, the sum of which largely offset any benefit to the legislation. Broken as it is, our system can and will get worse. This legislation guarantees it, which accrues advantage to conservatives.

As a likely result of the health care bill, the cap and trade proposal currently floating around congress is almost certainly dead in the water. Largely because it is itself an overreach, with payoffs to favored industries built into its framework, it is unlikely to generate much interest among vulnerable congressmen. As such, the left loses an opportunity to leverage an issue on which they are popular, especially with young people.

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Thursday, December 17, 2009

Gail Gets Paid to Write Crap

Joe Lieberman doesn't like the health care plan. The reason for this is pretty simple. It will be unpopular, it won't achieve anything useful, and it is not in his political interests to be tethered to it. That, or, well... Here's Gail Collins.

Let us contemplate the badness of Joe Lieberman.


Let us contemplate the badness of this opening sentence, which also serves as an opening paragraph. This is why the New York Times is a junk bond.

Who would have thought that this holiday season we’d be obsessed with the senator from Connecticut? Really, I was hoping it would be more about shopping for mittens on the Internet.


So this whole debate has distracted Gail from trivial things. Now, she has to write about an issue of substance at her, um, job.

Lieberman’s apparently successful attempt to hijack health care reform and hold it hostage until it had been amended into something that liberals couldn’t stomach has mesmerized the nation’s political class. This was, after all, a guy who has been a liberal on domestic issues since he was a college student campaigning for John F. Kennedy. A guy who was in favor of the public option, of expanding Medicare eligibility, until — last week.


When polls began to indicate that the bill in untenable. It's all political. Thanks for the article Gail, have a merry...

The theories about Why Joe Is Doing It abound.

Why is "Why Joe Is Doing It" capitalized? What theories are abounding? What's the point of having a political class that is mesmerized by the banal?

We cannot get enough of them! I have decided to start a rumor that it all goes back to the 2004 presidential race, when Lieberman not only failed to win any primaries, but was also bitten by either a rabid muskrat or a vampire disguised as a moose.


Setting aside the staggeringly maladroit animal jokes, this is simply an excuse to get a dig in at Lieberman for being an unsuccessful presidential candidate. Who was successful? John Kerry. Yeah, he really took the ball and ran with that one, didn't he?

Other than that, my favorite explanation comes from Jonathan Chait of The New Republic, who theorized that Lieberman was able to go from Guy Who Wants to Expand Medicare to Guy Who Would Rather Kill Health Care Than Expand Medicare because he “isn’t actually all that smart.”

I'm beginning to develop a similar theory about a certain New York Times columnist.

It’s certainly easier to leap from one position to its total opposite if you never understood your original stance in the first place, and I am thinking Chait’s theory could get some traction. “When I sat next to him in the State Senate, he always surprised me by how little he’d learned about the bill at the time of the vote,”


How ironic that he stands athwart a bill that nobody has read.

said Bill Curry, a former Connecticut comptroller and Democratic gubernatorial nominee.


This is the guy who called Ho Chi Minh a political genius. Joe Lieberman is no Ho Chi Minh, that's for sure. Also, are we supposed to be surprised that someone trying to secure the liberal vote in Connecticut is critical of Joe Lieberman?

I really like the not-that-bright theory, in part because it’s as good an explanation as any, and in part because it will definitely drive Lieberman nuts.


Which, apparently, is what the New York Times pays Gail to do.

But I have a different mission today, and that is to apologize to John Kerry.

But you just spent... All those paragraphs... Wasted...

I frequently made fun of Kerry for being a terrible presidential candidate. Which he was. But there comes a point when we the people have to move on.


Who hasn't moved on from John Kerry? Is there a large swath of the Democratic party making John Kerry effigies and continuing to add Howard Dean bumper stickers.

And Kerry has been a really good former failed presidential candidate... He actually seems more interested in doing stuff than being admired.

If Gail were a competent writer, this would be seen as a dig at Barack Obama. She is not, and so I am left to assume this is accidental.

Lieberman was a terrible vice presidential candidate.


What? That's ridiculous. There was a point at which some people were talking about switching up the Gore/Lieberman ticket. He was universally regarded as a great vice presidential candidate.

(Like John Edwards, he not only lost his vice presidential debate, he managed to make Dick Cheney seem likable.)


No, the fact that Cheney was given a forum to speak at length about his policies made him seem likable, on account of he's likable. Does Gail actually remember the debate? Did she even watch it?

But instead of going back to something he could actually do well, he ran for president.


Who is it that Gail Collins wanted to see win that primary? She has already dissed Kerry and Edwards. I can't imagine she's ginned up over Howard Dean right now. Is she retroactively throwing her support to Wesley Clark?

Let’s look at our two failed-national-candidate models. You can move on, and try to make yourself useful (Kerry, Al Gore). Or you can work out barely suppressed rage by attacking things that you used to be for, like trying to control Medicare costs (McCain) or expanding Medicare eligibility (Lieberman).


Or you can get a campaign staffer pregnant (Edwards).

Kerry and Gore never believed their success was due to their innate likability.


I should hope not.

Politicians switch direction all the time, but the Lieberman experience has been weird because he doesn’t seem to feel as though he’s changed.


Gail suddenly knows what Joe Lieberman is feeling?

Observers who have known him for a long time feel as though they’re living out a scene in a science-fiction movie when the guy who’s just been bitten by the vampire-moose comes home and sits down to dinner, unaware that he’s sprouting antlers.

I'm glad we decided to bring back the vampire moose analogy.

I used to cover Lieberman when he was the majority leader of the State Senate in Connecticut.


Prior to his being bitten by the apparently proverbial vampire moose.

...he kept a Mass card from Robert Kennedy’s funeral to remind him of the principles to which he had dedicated his career. Showing me the card, he remarked casually that he hadn’t looked at it for some time. I wrote an article using the neglected Kennedy card as a metaphor for Lieberman’s fall from his old ideals into the pragmatic politics of a party leader.


Well, that's a better metaphor than the moose thing. That said, it negates the entire last half of the piece, which argues that Joe Lieberman has changed. Apparently, he has always been a pragmatist, so what was the point of this op-ed, other than to call Joe Lieberman a stupid head?


He was outraged and wounded, and I believe I apologized.
Taking back the apology now.


In summary, Joe Lieberman is really bad because he's stupid, but the point is that we really owe an apology to John Kerry, because Joe Lieberman has been bitten by a vampire moose when he ran for president that made him stupid, just like he always was.

Nice work, Gail. You write, what, two of these a week? Must be tough.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The Family From Lincoln

A Healthcare Debate Fable

(The scene: A family of five, A Mother, Father, and children: Eric, Stevie, and Zoe, is minding its own business one Sunday afternoon when the power goes off).

Father: Zounds.

Eric: Catastrophe.

Stevie: Now we are going to die.

Mother: I don't think so. I'll get the flashlights out. Go check the fuse box.

Eric: Mom, you idiot!

Father: He's right. The fuse box is in the basement.

Mother: To which we have access via the stairs!

Stevie: Your a racist, mom!

Father: I have a better idea, we'll close all the blinds.

Mother: But then we won't have any light.

Zoe: Yeah, I think we should keep them open.

Eric: Why, Zoe? Because you support the status quo?

Stevie: Racist! Status quo loving racist!

Zoe: I'm not racist.

Father: The fact that you are saying it proves you are a racist. I do not feel the need to explore my logic further. Honey, help me with these blinds.

Mother: I'm not helping you close the blinds. I want them open.

Eric: Great, so you want to do nothing.

Zoe: We don't want to do nothing. We want to get the flashlights for when it gets dark.

Stevie: Hey, why don't you make me a yellow star before it gets dark?

Zoe: What the hell is that supposed to mean?

Eric: What I heard was "What the hell is that supposed to mean, boy?"

Zoe: He's eight years old. How is he not a boy?

Father: He's LBTGBQNTSEDZFGQKDF. You can't put Stevie in a corner.

Zoe: What does the 'Z' stand for?

Stevie: I wouldn't EXPECT you to know.

Mother: I'm getting the flashlight.

Father: No, I've locked them away.

Mother: That's ridiculous, they're right...

Father: You don't want the blinds closed? Fine! I'll cut holes in the ceiling to let the light in.

Mother: What? That's a terrible solution.

Eric: Well, since you won't help close the blinds, we have no choice.

Zoe: You could just wait and see if the power comes back on.

Stevie: Why, so you can kill more blacks?

Zoe: That has nothing to do with anything. I'm going to make some tea.

Eric & Stevie: Ha, ha! Teabagger! Teabagger!

Stevie: Why don't you make tea for your Jew boyfriend?

Eric: Um, we're Jewish.

Stevie: Yeah, but not, like, cabal-style.

Eric: Good point. Screw Israel!

Stevie & Eric: (fist bump)

Mother: Honey, please, if you cut holes in the ceiling, they'll condemn the house.

Father: Your just like the crazy lady next door. She won't let anyone cut holes in the ceiling either.

Mother: Well, Ms. Beck may be crazy, but she has a point on that one.

Stevie: Oh my God! Mom does whatever Ms. Beck says.

Eric: In fairness, mom's a whore.

Zoe: How is that even remotely fair?

Stevie: Shut up, racist!

Eric: We've been saying that mom's a whore for several months now. If we keep saying it, you have to admit it's probably true.

Mother: That's a terrible thing to say.

Eric: Mom, I went to Bennington. What I say automatically has merit.

Father: You know what, I'm getting Jerry from down the block and we're going to cut a hole in this ceiling.

Eric: Let there be light! That's what Jesus said.

Zoe: He didn't say that, and it wasn't said in this context.

Eric: I'm sorry. I don't put God in a box. A "context" box.

Mother: Honey. Jerry had a stroke. He's in a wheelchair. How is he going to help you cut a hole in the roof.

Eric: He has a PhD.

Stevie: I guess the disabled aren't good for anything, in your white housewife world.

Mother: He can't even move his arms.

Eric: "You can't move your arms, boy!" That's what you might as well have said.

Zoe: This doesn't make any sense!

Stevie: Yeah, well, they killed Galileo because he thought the Earth was round. Why don't you make out with your Jew boyfriend Galileo?

Mother: That doesn't make sense on any level.

Father: You know, the chainsaw cuts right through the insulation.

Mother: I'm leaving you.

Father: Oh, fine. You do that. We'll just be enjoying the awesome sunshine from the hole we drilled in the ceiling. Everyone will want to come over to our super-bright house.

Stevie: Enjoy life in Nebraska, racist!

Zoe: We already in Nebraska. I mean...

Mother: Never mind, dear. Come next November, you'll never have to see those men again.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Monday Musings - 31 Years Old Edition

I'm pumped to watch The Sing Off tonight on NBC!

Bet you never thought you'd read anything like that on this blog. Let's muse.

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Barack Obama is getting flack for suggesting he deserves a B+ for his work this year. I'm sure someone has made a grade inflation joke by this point, so I'll spare you the fits of non-laughter.

More interesting is that he pledged to augment his grade to an A- once the Senate passes health care reform. He can't quite give himself an 'A', just yet, not when so many people are without jobs.

Let's see. An A- is the equivalent of 90%, while an 'A' denotes a score of 93%. Glad to know that Obama is staking 3% of his overall performance on the question of employment. That certainly explains his policies.

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Celebrated my birthday this week, and it occurs to me that I have been blogging since I was 26 years old. I'd ask where the time went, but all I'd have to do is read the blog.

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The Tiger Woods incident marks an important transformation in our society. This is the first "scandal" for which the analysis of the media coverage of the event has outweighed the media coverage of the event. More people are discussing how uninterested they are in the whole ordeal than are discussing the ordeal itself.

We've officially gone meta. Thank you, Tiger Woods. Thank you.

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Had my birthday dinner at Heidi's, with rapturous results. The food was already the best in the city, but the front of the house (from service, to management to ambiance) has really elevated its game. I cannot recommend this restaurant enough. Go.

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Musing time is over. Why are you still looking at me?

Friday, December 11, 2009

I don't normally use the word 'nadir', but...

Perusing the "cookbook" section of Barnes & Noble, I came across this curiosity.



This is happening, people.

At first, I shrugged it off as another episode of forced celebrity irony. Then the question occurred to me, who buys a cookbook ironically? I cannot think of anything less ironic then the purchase of a book the instructs one on how to prepare food for consumption. The only reasonable conclusion is that a publisher assumed there would be a market for Coolio's coolinary musings, whatever those may be.

Alliteration aside, why is Coolio inherently interesting as the subject of this particular fish out of water experience? Was he the one who did that "Sweet Potato Pie" song? I'll just assume so.

Let's judge a book by the cover, shall we?

Coolio, we are informed, is the ghetto gourmet. Fair enough. Someone has to do it. What does this entail?

I will, however, take issue with his preparation of eggs and bacon. Contrary to popular belief, forged by decades of Warner Brother's cartoons, it is inappropriate to put the entirety of your breakfast into the pan and flip it about.

Also, that breakfast is clearly on fire.

The "burner as DJ Table" motif is entirely troubling. First, Coolio is a rapper, not a DJ. Second, to the untrained eye it appears as though he is putting his palm directly on the stove, which is not advisable. Third, I'm pretty sure DJs don't do that to their records.

Also, the stove isn't on. Apparently, in the ghetto, the cook simply douses the prepartion with lighter fluid and sets it ablaze. This yields the oversized egg yolks we see pictured.

Strictly speaking, if you're going to superimpose a guy onto a kitchen, and he's wearing a pink shirt, why would you choose a lavender kitchen? Also, it looks like he's wearing a camel under his apron. Seriously, did he do this cover himself?

The "5 Star Meals at a 1 Star Price" is inherently false, but I see what they're getting at.

I'll leave you with this thought. Coolio once got in a feud with Weird Al Yankovic over the latter's cover of Gangsta's Paradise. Like, refused to even accept Al's apology. Given the seriousness of the material, Coolio had a point.

He had a point. Now, instead, he has a cookbook. To which, if you are attempted to give this as a gag gift, I heartily recommend printing a picture of the cover, along with a donation to the intended recipient's favorite charity. That would be Cool. Io.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

North Minneapolis Christmas Carols

Share with the family! Make the children enjoy!

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Well the screaming outside is frightful
And the neighbor's stoned on Nyquil
And since you're completely broke...
Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow!

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Copper pipes. (Copper pipes)
Copper pipes. (Copper pipes)
Foreclosure time, south of Dowling

Cracking windows, shattered windows
And a cat that just died
And the bank
Won't be fixing
The furnace

Children laughing, Children laughing?
How long have they been here?
It's a new low for Camden this year!!!!!

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Fremont roasting... On an open fire.
Broadway overrun by hoes
A liquor store, and smell of burnt tires
Merry Christmas from us west of Ninety-fo!!!

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Monday, December 07, 2009

Krugman is Optimistic in Hacky Ways

That Paul Krugman is considered a thought leader, and is employed by perhaps the most influential left-win publication in the world, tells you something about the economic expertise of your average liberal.

Read and weep.



Maybe I’m naïve, but I’m feeling optimistic about the climate talks starting in Copenhagen on Monday. President Obama now plans to address the conference on its last day, which suggests that the White House expects real progress.


Why does it suggest this? What do these two facts have to do with each other? If Obama were to attend the whole thing, or only the first part, Krugman would say the same thing.

It’s also encouraging to see developing countries — including China, the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide — agreeing, at least in principle, that they need to be part of the solution.

Lip service isn't principle. China also agrees, at least in principle, that it is bad to murder religious dissidents. Principle is kind of the sticking point, re: China.

Of course, if things go well in Copenhagen, the usual suspects will go wild.


Disagreeing with Krugman = Going Wild

We’ll hear cries that the whole notion of global warming is a hoax perpetrated by a vast scientific conspiracy, as demonstrated by stolen e-mail messages that show — well, actually all they show is that scientists are human, but never mind.


Let's apply this clever rhetorical dodge to other events.

Stolen e-mails indicate that Al Qaeda is planning a terrorist attack on the World Trade Centers. This is further proof that terrorists are human.


We’ll also, however, hear cries that climate-change policies will destroy jobs and growth.

This particular brand of dysphemism gets under my skin. Nobody will be "crying" at all. Krugman is uninterested in countering this argument like an adult, so he resorts to this hacky means of dismissal.

The truth, however, is that cutting greenhouse gas emissions is affordable as well as essential. Serious studies say that we can achieve sharp reductions in emissions with only a small impact on the economy’s growth.


Well, if "serious studies" say so. What, you're going to argue with "serious studies"?

And the depressed economy is no reason to wait — on the contrary, an agreement in Copenhagen would probably help the economy recover.


And I'll probably start shitting clowns. In other words, Krugman is defining downward the colloquial notion of probability.

Why should you believe that cutting emissions is affordable?


Because you have no common sense? Because you go to Bennington College? Because you've never really had to pay taxes?

Action on climate, if it happens, will take the form of “cap and trade”: businesses won’t be told what to produce or how, but they will have to buy permits to cover their emissions of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases.

No. The taxpayers will buy their credits for them. That makes an already stupid ponzi-esque scheme even, well, more stupid, but less ponzi-esque. Krugman is ignoring this, either because he is lying, or because the optimism has gotten to his brain.

So they’ll be able to increase their profits if they can burn less carbon — and there’s every reason to believe that they’ll be clever and creative about finding ways to do just that.


Lobbying congress to get taxpayers to foot the bill, for example.

As a recent study by McKinsey & Company showed, there are many ways to reduce emissions at relatively low cost: improved insulation; more efficient appliances; more fuel-efficient cars and trucks; greater use of solar, wind and nuclear power; and much, much more.


All you have to do is buy new cars, new appliances, and re-insulate your house... Oh, and relocate to a community that relies on wind energy. Easy and cheap. I don't know why you haven't done it already.

And you can be sure that given the right incentives, people would find many tricks the study missed.


Is putting the Democrats out on their asses in 2010 one of the tricks?

The truth is that conservatives who predict economic doom if we try to fight climate change are betraying their own principles.


Note to readers. Krugman knows the argument he is about to make is complete and utter BS. He is not this stupid. He is counting on the fact that his regular readers do not. They are this stupid.

They claim to believe that capitalism is infinitely adaptable, that the magic of the marketplace can deal with any problem.

Nope.

But for some reason they insist that cap and trade — a system specifically designed to bring the power of market incentives to bear on environmental problems — can’t work.


Sigh. Artificial price controls negate the free market. The same principle applies to fraud. Bad actors in free markets skew the markets in a way capitalism cannot accommodate. As such, conservatives argue that the government should NOT impose constraints on the free market, for the precise reason that capitalism relies upon a free market.

This is akin to arguing that, since (small d) democrats believe in the virtue of personal autonomy, they should not object to concentration camps, on account of the inevitable triumph of that autonomy.

The acid rain controversy of the 1980s was in many respects a dress rehearsal for today’s fight over climate change.

Insofar as demagoguery and flimsy science shaped policy then, too, yes.

Then as now, right-wing ideologues denied the science. Then as now, industry groups claimed that any attempt to limit emissions would inflict grievous economic harm.

My guess is that this is in a press release, since I've seen this argument made by several greenos over the last several days. I'm not going to rehash the entire debate over acid rain, but this is bologna.

But in 1990 the United States went ahead anyway with a cap-and-trade system for sulfur dioxide. And guess what. It worked, delivering a sharp reduction in pollution at lower-than-predicted cost.

Yeah. Visit here to see what Krugman considers to be a "sharp reduction". Or take my word for it. SO2 reduction occurred at the same rate from 1980-1990 as it did from 1990-2000.

Curbing greenhouse gases will be a much bigger and more complex task — but we’re likely to be surprised at how easy it is once we get started.


Well, he did warn us he was feeling optimistic.

The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that by 2050 the emissions limits in recent proposed legislation would reduce real G.D.P. by between 1 percent and 3.5 percent from what it would otherwise have been.

Yeah, 3.5% of the entire American economy. No big whoop. Let's be optimistic. What's projected to happen probably won't happen. See how easy it is?

If we split the difference, that says that emissions limits would slow the economy’s annual growth over the next 40 years by around one-twentieth of a percentage point — from 2.37 percent to 2.32 percent.


That's actually really bad. A drop from 2% GDP growth in 2007 to 1% in 2008 was sufficient to cost 7 million jobs. Take that figure, and divide it by twenty. That is 350,000 jobs lost, every single year, enough to constitute a .25% increase in unemployment. Again, Krugman knows this, and assumes you do not.

Add this to the $2k or so (depending on how the lobbyists do with this bill) that this will cost per family. Say you make $80,000 per year. You have an added .25% chance of losing your income at any given time. You have are now devoting $2,200 (5.25%) to a single piece of environmental legislation.

Still, should we be starting a project like this when the economy is depressed?


No, because obviously the costs will be front-loaded, meaning the bulk of the impact will be almost instantaneous... Which is a bad thi...


Yes, we should — in fact, this is an especially good time to act, because the prospect of climate-change legislation could spur more investment spending.


Noooooooo! That's not how an economy works. You don't impose a cost in hopes of spurring investment to reduce the cost. Otherwise, we might as well introduce a cap and trade system for soybeans and screwdrivers. It's like buying something solely for the tax break. This is depressing.

Consider, for example, the case of investment in office buildings. Right now, with vacancy rates soaring and rents plunging, there’s not much reason to start new buildings.

Yeah, let's consider things. That's a start. Things are good.

But suppose that a corporation that already owns buildings learns that over the next few years there will be growing incentives to make those buildings more energy-efficient.

This is what the corporation will do. It will sell its empty buildings. Alternately, it will foreclose on them. In either event, the new price will reflect the "incentives", thereby driving down the price of commercial property. I now return you to the land of make believe...

Then it might well decide to start the retrofitting now, when construction workers are easy to find and material prices are low.

Of course, if demand rises in accordance with Krugman's fantasy, material prices will be high and workers scarce. But again, in reality, they'll just sell the damn buildings and declare bankruptcy.

Oh, and this applies to homeowners as well. I mean, not Krugman's Central Park friends and Bennington College students, but people who exist in something resembling reality.

The same logic would apply to many parts of the economy, so that climate change legislation would probably mean more investment over all.

After all, weren't you just itching to re-insulate your house? All you have to do is cash out the equity in your home and use that money to... What? Oh, right. The economy.

So let’s hope my optimism about Copenhagen is justified.


Hope springs !@#$ing eternal with these people.

Wednesday, December 02, 2009

Seriously?

Remember when I made fun of Starman? Hyper-earnest 80s film. Wouldn't get made today. No big whoop.

A search under Jeff Bridges profile indicates, among his four career Oscar nominations is one for the leading role in, you guessed it, Starman!

My world is upside down over this, people.