Friday, October 29, 2010

New Rule

If you use the language of business to discuss education reform, i.e., students as customers, value added, etc, you are banned for ever from discussing education reform because you fail to understand that it is not a commodity to be bought or bartered but rather a thing created between students, teachers, parents, and the rest of society.  So sentences like this
At private schools, however, it simply reflects the fact that as currently structured American institutions of higher education have no real incentive to expend energy on improving value. Sometimes colleges do find ways to reduce the cost of providing education, but even when they do so they don’t return the savings to customers in the form of lower prices, they just find new things to spend the money on.
Get you tossed out of the serious about education club.  Plus and also, isn't the question concerning "new things" that it ought to be better libraries, more professors, improved dorms and etc?  Instead of more deans, higher presidential salaries, and more administrators generally.  In short, isn't this criticism lacking in specificity and, consequently, rather empty and meaningless?

The High Cost of Spam.

So these are the dummies taken in by the "huge penis" ads.

An order log left exposed at one of Amazing Internet Products' websites revealed that, over a four-week period, some 6,000 people responded to e-mail ads and placed orders for the company's Pinacle herbal supplement. Most customers ordered two bottles of the pills at a price of $50 per bottle.

. . .

Among the people who responded in July to Amazing's spam, which bore the subject line, "Make your penis HUGE," was the manager of a $6 billion mutual fund, who ordered two bottles of Pinacle to be shipped to his Park Avenue office in New York City. A restaurateur in Boulder, Colorado, requested four bottles. The president of a California firm that sells airplane parts and is active in the local Rotary Club gave out his American Express card number to pay for six bottles, or $300 worth, of Pinacle. The coach of an elementary school lacrosse club in Pennsylvania ordered four bottles of the pills.

A Brief Note on the Perils of Phone Plans

From the comments section of this Crooked Timber thread, after some horror stories about the large telephone bills resulting from excessive texting comes this warning:
Like many other consumer companies (e.g., credit card issuers, health clubs), a good piece of the phone companies’ revenue comes from dinging consumers who misestimate their future usage. This can leave you with a whopping bill, which in turn leads to yelling at the teenage daughter, which leads to an outraged sense of injustice on her part, because she isn’t texting more heavily than her friends, etc. Downward spiral, no communication between father and daughter, unhealthy compensatory relationships with other males, teen pregnancy, heroin addiction . . . all because you didn’t get the right cell phone plan.

The Last 30 Years Don't Count

Stephen Spuriel over to the NRO's Corner asserts
Keynesians, you had your turn at bat. You whiffed. It’s time to try something else.
Yeah, two years of successfully staving off the worst results of 30 years of Neoliberal nihilism while working to overcome the entrenched pro-rich folks distortions is proof that the neo-Keynesian policies gradually enacted haven't worked.

Now Wait a Minute.

So, this morning Jonah Goldberg wrote that while he didn't expect the US to kill Assange the fact that it wasn't going to kill Assange was evidence of the false view many have of the hydra-headed and all-too-lethal CIA.  Or as one of Goldberg's interlocutors put it
Oh, wait, I get it. Goldberg isn’t actually, seriously, soberly advocating the extrajudicial assassination of a journalist for publishing material in contravention of a direct order from the state. He’s just having fun with the discontinuity between “left-wing accounts of the intelligence community,” which tend to portray spooks as hyper-efficient bloodthirsty killers, and the curious fact of Assange’s continued purchase on life. See! Liberals are stupid, because they think spies are bad, but look—Assange isn’t “a greasy stain on the autobahn already,” so liberals are wrong, spies aren’t bad, therefore liberals are stupid. Q.E.D.
And concludes:
Anyway, this game of Jonah’s is fun, so back to our opening question: Why hasn’t he been punched, hard, in the face yet today? After all, he upsets liberals, and we all know that liberals are violent thugs, right? “The left” routinely justifies the “glorification of violence” and “gangsterism” of “black riot ideology” and wants to kill all white people as badly as Hitler wanted to kill all Jews. Liberals engage in a “symphony of violence” and, as Goldberg astutely points out in his book, are fascists. So how come some angry liberal hasn’t decked him yet today, fascistically? Just asking. We don’t think, by the way, that anyone should physically assault Goldberg. That would be illegal.
Goldberg responds by, as is his wont, getting the whole argument wrong
Sigh. . . .  if he thinks I need to be punched in the face, I invite him to give it a whirl himself. If memory serves, it could lead to a fun few minutes for me. Oh, and he might bother actually characterizing my book correctly. 
The Gawker guy is clearly kidding and kiddingly kids Goldberg in the same vein.  Goldberg is, it seems, upset that he serious point, whatever it might have been, wasn't taken seriously.

Later that same day, someone else takes Goldberg seriously and he complains that he may have been too "glib," which was the Gawker guy's point, but he wasn't serious.

The column, then, must have been too serious to be accused of being glib while being to glib to be accused of being serious, which is to say it ought not to have been written.

Jonah Goldberg Hates America

America is as much a state of mind as it is a state.  For the longest time, America, as a state of mind, meant things like rule of law, fair play, politeness, and related whatnotery.  Recently, Jonah Goldberg decided that to be authentically American meant not just rejecting all those fundamentally American state of mind dealios but developing a new mindset that more closely reflects the false allegations about Lucrezia Borgia.  To wit:
So again, I ask: Why wasn’t Assange garroted in his hotel room years ago?
It’s a serious question.
He concludes that Assange's death is, unfortunately, unlikely because
it’s the law. Ultimately, I don’t expect the U.S. government to kill Assange, but I do expect them to try to stop him. Alas, as of now, the plan seems to be to do nothing at all.
 What, I wonder, does he expect America to do? And, I ask, why does Jonah Goldberg hate America?

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


I was going to post something on rhetorical violence versus calls to be violent, which is to say something on McArdle's most recent silliness, but instead would suggest for those of you, who want honest debate between and among Conservatives, Liberals, and Progressives to go read this discussion of McArdle's two by four to the head promotion versus her depiction of it. 


E.D. Kain over by Balloon Juice wonders why Conservatives are such lousy journalist given that
[j]ournalism is merely the act of gathering and disseminating news and information – and good journalism is simply this effort minus any bias or attempts at propaganda. I don’t think that at its core it is either liberal or conservative in any modern, American sense of those words, or any other ideology for that matter. So then, what do I mean by better conservative journalism?
His conclusion is that NPR minus obviously Liberal programs, even though he is unclear what Liberal means, like Democracy Now is Conservative journalism.  Given that every Conservative in the country, give or take, thinks that NPR in its totality represents Liberalism, Socialism, Progressivism,  and Dhimitude, the question he asks answers itself.  The fact gathering and fact-based analysis is antithetical to the Conservative agenda in that the facts argue for a different set of policies unless the goal is to re-create late  19th and early 20th century America in which the super rich ran the show and the rest of us ate dirt.  Because, after all, that's what 30 or so years of Conservative, Neoliberal, Thatcherite, and Reaganite policies have produced and here we are listening to all Republican/Conservative candidates demanding more of the same while some Democratic candidates nod their heads in agreement.

Money and Politics

Recently there has been a bunch of discussion of money and elections sparked, in part, by David Brooks' recent dishonest discussion of non-party adds in the current election cycle. The discussion is now on the effectiveness of money in an election rather than the effect of outside expenditure.  Ed of Ginandtacos agrees and summarizes the academic and other literature thusly:
That said, I have been increasingly interested (in the context of my day job) in the question of what all of this money buys in elections. And the more I reflect upon and study the issue, the more convinced I become that the money would be just as productively used by throwing it on a raging bonfire.
The difficulty with this position is that while spending tons of money in an election on advertising that, for example, rejects the overwhelming evidence of AGW might not get the desired Tea Party Patriot elected, it does legitimize rejecting the overwhelming evidence for AGW part of the national "conversation."  And this, I would argue, is the point.  Even if your candidate isn't elected the terms of the debate shift from X is a problem and which policies best address the X problem to "Is X really a problem?  and, ideally, to the conclusion that all those who support solutions to the non-problem X are really anti-American. At least in this election cycle. Corporations and others throwing bazillions into the bonfire of vanities, as it were, aren't just trying to win the cycle they are trying to and succeeding in framing the debate.

Two Things

Recently Jonah Goldberg made a series of errors relative to an NYTimes online round table about Conservative hatred toward Woodrow Wilson.  He acknowledged one error in an update to the initial post: the historians weren't defending WW but rather trying to explain Conservative hatred of WW.  This was on October 11.  In an online piece dated October 25, Goldberg wrote, concerning Liberal defenses of WW that
[m]ost of the defensive operations are really more of a counter-attack (I addressed the last wave).
In other words, he still gets the point of the round table wrong.  He is, in short, not only reliably wrong but he is the exception that proves the rule of the self-correcting blogosphere.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Separated at Birth?

Sometime ago Jon Stewart mocked the use of excessively violent language when describing debates or conflicts.  To day, more in sorrow than anger, Megan McArdle complains of the use of violent language when describing debates or conflicts, and, as an added bonus, she gets the Todd Hansen argument wrong and fails to provide any evidence for her made up quotes.


Charli Carpenter seems like a fine human being, but the degree of wrong-headedness involved in her position on Wikileaks is really remarkable. When Assange et alia released the first round of leaked documents there was much gnashing of teeth about the innocents abroad his dunderheaded dunderheadedness put at risk often with a side of the documents are a whole load of meh. Here for example and there seems to be some of the same this go round.. There is of course no evidence for the first and the second relies on the documents being
[i]n a number of respects the Iraq War Diaries . . . a repeat of the Afghan War Diaries – a massive data dump bringing to light few unknowns but casting knowns in much sharper relief.
Well, here's some sharper relief for you.  15,000 officially dead Iraqi civilian,details of 23,000 previously unreported "violent incidents."  As to the unknowns, the War Logs themselves make it
possible to examine such data and to compare and combine it with other sources in a way that adds appreciably to public knowledge.
So there you have other than adding new facts, numbers, and information Assange and Co. have done little other than spread light where there was once darkness and no one got hurt in the process.

The leaked documents only prove that top US officials lied like rugs.
Here's the thing, though: According to then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commanders, it never happened. These killings, these dead, did not exist. According to them, reporters like myself were lying.
To be sure, nearly everyone who agrees with the proposition that top US officials lied like rugs already knew that top US officials lied like rugs.  The fact that
 Thanks to Wikileaks, though, I now know the extent to which top American leaders lied, knowingly, to the American public, to American troops, and to the world, as the Iraq mission exploded.
Is a mere bagatelle. 

Reasonably Unreasonable

Remember Ross Douthat is a reasonable conservative with whom those on the center-left can have a conversation because he is reasonable.  In today's column he shows how reasonable he is, when he argues that because TARP was a success, necessary, and cost next to nothing, it is an example of third world crony capitalism and those who voted for it must be voted out of office, not because they did the right thing but because the moral evil of TARP is similar to the moral evil of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  No, he really does.