Saturday, July 23, 2011


My question of late starts with a supposition and then a means of inquiry

A. Don't use ideology in economic policy

But then:

1. How accurate is Paul Krugman?

As it turns out, pretty darn accurate. Apparently having a law degree tends to make you less accurate.

Since when has the Economist been communist?

Well, since sometime in the 1990's apparently. Traditionally Tory-ish Chicago-School conservatives, they abandoned their Milton Friedman-esque brethren sometime under the Clinton Administration.
Ronald Reagan talked a big game about deficit reduction but never did a damned thing about it. Clinton, however, made it a huge priority. And actually did something about it.
The Bush II Administration, in their way of "everything Clinton did was wrong", ran up the deficit like crazy. Huh. The Tea Partiers didn't seem to care about the deficit back then. I think those were the same people running around saying that we finally had God in office.
Anyway, back to the Economist:
Here they are on debt reduction.

Friday, July 22, 2011

A Pack of Amusement

I'm especially amused by the Stephen Colbert PAC.

"Knock knock?" Colbert said.
"Who's there?" asked the crowd.
"Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions," Colbert said.
"Unlimited union and corporate campaign contributions who?" the crowd replied.
"That's the thing, I don't think I should have to tell you," Colbert replied.

The Freakonomics dudes think that campaign finance has a very minimal effect on elections. Actually, I'd like to think this is true as it would eliminate a big concern regarding democracy altogether.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


It's almost August! And you know what that means. Crazytime!
What nutbag thing will the right wing come up with to be crazy about this August?
Obama is a muslin? Soo 2008.
Death panels? Well, it turns out those didn't happen...
9/11 Mosque? Done there, been that!
So what's coming up? I don't know, but it'll be ridiculous!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

World Without Hate

There are lots of people who still believe that just because of someone's religion (Islam) they have to be filled with hate toward everyone else.
Well here's a Muslim who is what my mother would have called "Christian" in his belief in the sanctity of human life. Even the life of a white supremacist who killed two other men and shot him in the face.

On his website he pleads for the life of murderer Mark Stroman:

I am requesting that Mark Stroman’s death penalty be commuted to life in prison with no parole. There are three reasons I feel this way. The first is because of what I learned from my parents. They raised me with the religious principle that he is best who can forgive easily. The second reason is because of what I believe as a Muslim, which is that human lives are precious and that no one has the right to take another human’s life. In my faith, forgiveness is the best policy and Islam doesn’t allow for hate and killing. And, finally, I seek solace for the wives and children of Mr. Hasan and Mr. Patel, who are also victims in this tragedy. Executing Stroman is not what they want, either. They have already suffered so much; it will only cause more suffering if he is executed.

Monday, July 18, 2011


I'm sure you're asking "Why is the House negotiating the debt with the President?"
Well, I'm asking that question anyways.
The President does indeed have the power to veto any bill the House comes up with. But the Senate can vote down whatever nonsense the House invents too. The President can usually champion budgets, acting as de-facto leader of their party.
The strangest part of the whole thing, to me, is that Republicans are known for talking big when it comes to a balanced budget, but not doing anything about it. Clinton actually balanced the budget, and when G. W. Bush came in and had a majority Republican Congress they completely squandered it. This isn't a matter of any kind of opinion. This is simply factual.
I have complaints about economists. I hate the way economics has narrowed its focus over the last hundred years so that it can't see the forest for the trees.
I just read "Super Freakanomics". At one point they mention economist Keith Chen and say:
"After a brief infatuation with Marxism, he made an about-face and took up economics."
Hardy-har-har, guys. Now there are two choices here, either Levitt and Dubner were being sarcastic or, worse, they weren't.
So just imagine, these dudes are behavioral economists. And they don't even think that Marx is the father of their science. No, they conveniently skip over Marx and go backwards to Adam Smith. And lets face it, Smith wasn't very smart. Smith tried to describe the economic system as a working system -- when it was very clear it wasn't. You might fault Marx for his predictions about the future, but his description of the economic system in the latter part of the 19th century were pretty good.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Flag Fun

If you ever wanted to trash your chances of being elected to public office in the United States*, try saying that the American flag is ugly.
But let's face reality. The American flag has some real problems.
1. It isn't symmetrical and;
2. The design is very busy.
Old Glory.
To my eye, the image of the American flag comes very close to moire-ing.
So... I think that flags should
1.aesthetically not be very busy and
2. should be symmetrical. And under no circumstances should
3. there be freakin' writing on a flag, but that's a matter for countries with dumb flags that have writing on them to take up (the South Korean flag might be an exception). There's yet another flag-rule which should perhaps only be a "guide" but:
4. stay away from black color on your flag. Again, South Korea might have special dispensation.
Flag of South Korea.
Anyway, back to the good ol' US of A. If I were holed up with Betsy Ross in a bunker back in '76 I'd a been all like snapping my fingers and saying "Honey, stars or stripes! Pick one!"
I think if we'd gone the stars route we might have got something like the modern EU flag.
Flag of the European Union.
Which is nice, actually. Simple. Elegant. But of course that's gone for us now as the EU has taken it.
Now remember that back in the day we were weaning ourselves off of the British flag. The Great British have a nice looking flag. Funny thing about the British flag -- it's fairly busy, possibly as busy as you can get without being too busy. Other funny thing -- it isn't symmetrical. I hadn't realized that before today.
The Union Jack? The British Flag.
The lack of symmetry takes points off of what would otherwise be a fine looking flag.
The Japanese flag has a lot going for it. It's very simple and elegant. It's as simple as possible actually. A single dot.
Japanese Flag.
From here on out we get to some politically problematic flags.
Here's a fascist flag of Franco's Spain:
Fascist Espana.
We can feel good looking at that flag because it is ugly, way too busy, and not symmetrical. It also has writing on it. And a lot of black. So it violates all the rules of good-looking flags and represents Facist Spain which was run by a load of buttheads.
Unfortunately a nominally good-looking flag is the NAZI flag. It's symmetrical** (albeit "mirrored" rather than left-right, which makes it difficult for little neo-nazi's to scrawl on bathroom doors), simple, but it does have black:
And, of course, it instantly turns anyone who likes it into a raging asshole. So there's that.
Backing off the depths of political yukkitude we come up for a breath of fresh mud and that is: the Confederate Flag. Politically loathsome, but actually aesthetically fairly beautiful.
It's symmetrical. Not too busy. Apparently it's not a cross exactly because of the influence of Southern Jews. Which is interesting. But if ol' Betsy had come up with this design instead of the Stars 'n Stripes so the Reb's couldn't have used it for the flag which defended slavery, we'd have a pretty nice looking flag, no?
*This is not something which concerns me personally as I have elected myself King, but that is another matter.
**You know what? It's just not symmetrical.