October 25, 2012 10 Comments
Did Obama display cocaine fingernails in an old photo? You know, prior to reading the same speculation about Princess Leia a while ago, I hadn’t even know or imagined there was such a thing as ‘coke nails’. God bless the Internet. The thing I wanted to mention here is how interesting it is that a (D) President having been an admitted druggie, and possibly a dealer, is no big deal – if anything, it just adds to his coolness – whereas when the cocaine story came out about W. Bush a few days before the 2000 election it was a ‘November surprise’ and by some accounts gave Gore an insta-3-point-bounce over polls (though I’d probably, more simply, attribute most of that 3-point gap vs. polls to (D) cheating). Anyway, why does this double standard make sense? Because we are looking at high school politics in action. There are, quite simply, different rules for the cool people. And interestingly, everyone knows that, because no one remarks on it (besides me).
A link to the 1972 Peter Singer argument – allowing me to finally read it – that we’re morally required to donate literally all our property/money, other than subsistence, to, like, East Bengal. By which in effect he really seemed to mean ‘donate to whatever unnamed group promises to deliver bags of rice mush to East Bengal’, which actually illustrates a weak link in his argument, but I don’t feel like fleshing that out.
James Kwak on why taxes can totally be raised, in contrast to the (supposedly) Dickensian “Romney-Ryan state of nature” he has spied under his bed. Do certain economists just wake up every day thinking ‘What Economics-based argument can I cobble together to make other peoples’ taxes go up today?’ Anyway, his point is that if real wages go up, you can just tax them away, and you wouldn’t be giving anyone a disincentive to work. This might make sense in a static world of no optionality in which no one is future-oriented in the slightest. You know, a world in which humans don’t have lifespans, and so, no one ever thinks: “If I work now, even though it’s not literally ‘worth it’ right now on a spot basis, it will have become worth it because of the rewards I’ll get later.” Because if anyone ever thought anything like that, then knowing that Economists would come along literally every single second and say “real wage gains? freely tax ‘em away!” anytime you threatened to work your way up to real wage gains might actually change your calculus.
On foreign-policy intellectuals. This is some of what I think I’m trying to get at when I constantly question what ‘foreign-policy experience’ is supposed to mean:
We tend to celebrate foreign-policy intellectuals as thinkers who try to transform grand ideas into actual policies. In reality, their function has usually been to offer members of the foreign-policy establishment rationalizations—in the form of “grand strategies” and “doctrines,” or the occasional magazine article or op-ed—for doing what they were going to do anyway.
Steve Sailer actually remembers what Countrywide used to do before BofA and the lawsuits etc. One of the few who does. Oh, but I keep forgetting, Paul Krugman proved that housing policy had nothing to do with the bubble, or something. With a bar chart.
BONUS MOVIE REVIEW: The fact that I actually got around to watching Babel should illustrate how completely I’ve scraped the bottom of the barrel of the Suggestions supplied to me by Netflix-streaming’s algorithm. (It was either that or finish up 1978′s Carrie-knockoff, The Initiation Of Sarah starring Kay Lenz, Robert Hays, and Morgan Fairchild, which I’m about halfway through. (It’s not bad!)) Anyway, I knew from the press at the time that Babel is one of those multi-linear, multi-plotline’d things by one of those Spanish or Mexican directors, and that it’s ‘about how we fail to communicate’ or some such. The press didn’t quite convey to me how it approaches Crash-level manipulativeness (clunky attempts at illustrating white racism, spuriously putting kids in jeopardy, etc.) But that’s all just the press. Having now finally seen the movie, here’s what it’s really about: people in underdeveloped countries are STUPID and screw up the lives of people in developed countries! The goatherd father in Morocco has no sense of responsibility for keeping his kids out of trouble. The Mexican nanny and her nephew are crazy, unreliable loose cannons. The Westerners/Japanese had their emotional problems and all but they were basically functional people helping each other to work through them. Meanwhile, despite the title, I didn’t see much ‘lack of communication’ going on or playing a meaningful role in the ‘tragedies’. Mostly just stupid Third Worlders instigating them. So, if that’s what the writer and director were trying to say, it came through loud and clear. 2 3/4 stars out of 5.