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Monday, January 31, 2011

Quick Post- Krugman and Inflation

I've written about this before, but I thought Krugman's column today laid it out in fairly simple terms:

"What about commodity prices? The Fed normally focuses on “core” inflation, which excludes food and energy, rather than “headline” inflation, because experience shows that while some prices fluctuate widely from month to month, others have a lot of inertia — and it’s the ones with inertia you want to worry about, because once either inflation or deflation gets built into these prices, it’s hard to get rid of."

People often confuse these two types of inflation.  Sarah Palin does so frequently, my own grandma does so.  Headline inflation, his term I think, are generally commodities with wild volatility.  Think about it.  If the wheat crop dies, the price of wheat, corn, barley, etc. all rise.  It has nothing to do with inflation, it has to do with the increase in demand due to whatever calamity occurred.  Likewise with oil, when OPEC moves to control prices.  That changes prices for a whole slew of other commodities.  These are the prices that people note when they go to the grocery store and say, prices are rising, must be inflation.  It isn't.  It's usually an increase in demand due to a temporal fluctuation.   So for obvious reason, the Fed has to base its inflation calculation on the prices of items that don't fluctuate all that much.

Interstingly, the WSJ makes the same mistake.  Now, the wise heads at the WSJ are far more experienced than I, but note the quotes below from this article.  Look at the price chart, from November of 2010.  The price of cotton has effectively doubled.  Why?  Demand from China, says Bloomberg.  That's an increase in demand, buddy, not:

"There is a long-running debate among economists about what really causes inflation: higher costs (so-called "cost push") or just too much money. But right now you don't really have to choose: We have both."

There is no debate.  On a normal demand curve, on the "ideal" curve, prices are always rising, and production is rising commensurately.  But purchasing power has to decrease for the definition to be met.  Cotton crop farmers will have a bumper year if this trend is to be believed.  This is an excellent sign, not a harbinger of doom. A key component of the definition of inflation, is increased prices over time.  The amount of time is key.  The fed tracks inflation by the month, but doesn't bother to use volatile commodities for that metric.  A crop of anything takes months to grow, and the proper season.  That's at least a three or four month cycle.

Coffee.  There's a shortage.  Drives prices up.  Hence the rise in the graphic.  That simple.

Disclaimer: I couldn't find anything great on sugar and pecans, other than worldwide demand is up.  Some rumblings exist about increased costs, which would aid the inflation argument, but their again, I couldn't find any direct good cite.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Bush Broke the Law

No surprise to any of us Ravingleftatics, but I'm glad its on record with a semi-official body in the United States.  Thanks Nigeria, but it means more when we do it.  It's sad that this news is pretty far down the line of important news stories.  It's also a ridiculous that the commission didn't release this report until now, but hey.  Thanks to the New York Times to at least publishing yesterday.  No word on whether the DOJ will bring charges, and you get bet your sweet bippy they won't.

To sum up the story for you.  Bush was found to be in violation of the Hatch Act.  This is the act that forbids public funds from being used to politic.  And, of course, Bush had a war room set up, funded with taxpayer dollars to siphon press, money and votes to Republicans during the 2006 election.

Frankly, I'm sure Dems have been guilty of this too.  But it's so antithetical to how a democracy ought to run, that it needed to be pointed out, highlighted and sung from the rooftops.  Unfortunately, I'm pretty high up, and no one will hear me from my roof top.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Terribly Written Esquire Magazine article on Roger Ailes pt 1

I think Roger Ailes is possibly the most dangerous man in America.  If there were any justice, the man would be behind bars for his work with the Nixon campaign alone.

That said, this blog is not about Roger Ailes.  It's about possibly the worst written article in Esquire, that I've ever read in a respected magazine.  I am happy to note, that New York Magazine felt the same way calling the article "puzzingly overwritten."

First of all, let me applaud Esquire and Tom Junod for their article.  More needs to be written about Mr. Ailes, and a good old fashioned subpoena duces tecum needs to be issued to the man.  WikiLeaks, who cares about state secrets.  Get me Fox News emails and memos and I'll start a donation campaign for you.

Also, having looked at Mr. Junod's wikipedia page, it seems the man is mature, and fairly accomplished.  He has won several awards.  And he's writing for a men's magazine.  Men today are silly people--but we're not stupid.  And as much as my own blog is written with a jokey, relaxed manner, the piece gave up toeing the line and plunged straight into the benalities of bad writing.  Thanks a lot Esquire, it's no wonder men are failing out of school at such  prodigious rates.

"Today, here at Esquire — and only at Esquire, because only Esquire has the guts to tell you this story — we're going to tell you about a man you need to know a little better, maybe a lot better: a man named Roger Ailes."  Word count: 43

Rewritten:  This story is about a political operative named Roger Ailes.  Yay Esquire.  Word count:  12

"he made a reported $23 million in 2009, which, to do the math, was not just more money than you earned, it was more money than everyone related to you earned, combined, even if you count the sudden windfall that came your aunt Ida's way after she got five out of six in Powerball. Nice work if you can get it, Mr. Ailes — especially when that "work" consisted of nothing but advancing your own agenda at the expense of the president of the United States of America during a time of war."  Word count 92

Rewritten:   He made $23 million in 2009, compared to the X million made by CEO, XXX of NBC, and the Y million made by CBS.  This amount was one tenth of one percent of what the average American made in 2009.  Word count: 40.  More informative, less stupid.

"So yes, you might have heard of Roger Eugene Ailes, because you read the newspapers, you read books, you stay informed (despite what members in good standing of the East Coast media elite like, well, oh, like Roger Ailes might say about you), but how much do you really know about him?" 

Word Count: -52.  No comment.

"For forty years, he has stood astride the intertwined worlds of media and politics like a veritable colossus, making sure the worlds of media and politics stay intertwined, the better to control them. He has used his considerable powers of persuasion to persuade us to elect presidents, and, if they're not following the "Ailes Agenda," to turn against them."  Word count: 59  41

Normally, I'd think it'd be insipid to call him a colossus, but I have a penchant for grandiose verbiage.
"At seventy years of age, when most hardworking American seniors have had enough of the rat race and are looking forward to spending some more quality time with the grandkids, Roger Ailes is at the height, perhaps the apogee, maybe even — some say — the very zenith of his power. Indeed, with most of the potential Republican candidates for president in 2012 on his payroll, he may be said to be just getting started. Hmmm. Maybe we don't know this Roger Ailes as well as we think we do. Maybe we don't know him very well at all, which is, of course, just the way he likes it"  Word count 107

Rewritten:  At seventy, he has no plans to retire, and may well be at the very zenith of his power, given that most of the Republican potential candidates of 2012 are paid Fox contributors.  Word Count 33.  More informative.  I like big words, but choose one for god's sake.

"No, Mr. Ailes, you're wrong. You're not the only fat man in America. And we're not going to call you fat, either. Or bald. Or old. First of all, Esquire is completely unbiased, and beholden to no agendas. Second, we're not going to call you any names. We're not going to hurt your feelings, because in our extensive and exclusive investigation, we've found that you actually have them. You're a sensitive guy, Mr. Ailes. You're vulnerable."  Word count: 76

Rewritten:  Mr. Ailes is an overweight, aging baby boomer, who is balding.  Yay Esquire.  Word Count: 13  Is Esquire a 14 year old anorexic who needs constant ego boosting to prevent her from throwing up her lunch in the bathroom?  Wtf?  Further, if you're going to engage in ad hominems, at least own them.

"Indeed, for a guy who attributes his power to the power of not caring what people think about him, you really care what people think about you. You even care what bloggers think about you. You not only read the blog posts that your wife sends you, you remember what they say. And so, when you yourself are accused of unfairness, you'll say, "Well, the Huffington Post says I'm a J. Edgar Hoover look-alike with a face like a clenched fist. Keith Olbermann calls me the worst person in the world. How is that fair?" And then you go out and crush them."  Word count: 106

Rewritten: Opining on his detractors, Ailes fumes "Well..."  Word count: -57.  His wife sends him blogs to read.  How cute.  And pointless.  Hoover is a better looking man than Ailes, possibly a better man in general.  And he's a murderer.  Poor Olbermann.
Believe it or not, the next paragraph is perfectly fine.  More physical description.  Ailes is fat and ugly.  But--who cares?  William F. Buckley was a very good looking man, who was an out and out bigot.

"On the one hand, you sit at the very heart of the world that you have made — a world of information and power, of information as power — and all you have to do to reach virtually any of the world's most powerful people is pick up a phone. On the other, you communicate by means so personal and old-fashioned, they would make Tony Soprano comfortable."  Word count: 65

Rewritten: It is surprising to note, for someone whose work in political media revolutionized political campaigning, Ailes himself is a Luddite, eschewing the use of Mobile devices entirely.  Word count: 27.  This is neither surprising nor useful.  The world turned before the iPhone, probably faster and probably more effectively.  Filed under: Ailes is Old.  My sentence was more informative, more specific, and didn't use a pop culture reference six years past its sell-by date.

"Now, when you talk to Roger Ailes, he will inevitably tell you a few things. One is that he's a simple man. Another is that he's from Warren, Ohio. Another is that he owes his success to the fact that he's a simple man from Warren, Ohio. Another is that he knows you — the American viewer. Another is that he knows you because he is like you — "an average guy from flyover country." And yet another is that because he is like you, he likes you, and thinks that America is a "pretty good country" that we ought to think twice about blaming for the world's problems. " Word count: 107

Rewritten:  Roger Ailes, born in Warren, Ohio, believes himself to be representative of an "average guy from flyover country."  Like many on the right, he conflates "flyover country" with "average American" and falsely assumes himself, a career political operative, to be "like you."  Word count: 42.  This sort of colloquial writing is by now making me a bit nauseous.  These continued set ups for sit-com style comedic beats, detract from the story and make finding actual information very difficult.  Not to mention, extremely confusing.

"Okay, Mr. Ailes, we get it. You don't have to tell Esquire that America is the greatest country in the world. And there's no doubt you have a talent for giving American audiences television news that they want to watch. But if you're such an average guy, can you please tell us what happened to your BlackBerry?

Oh, you don't have one, do you?

We didn't think so.

Of course, a lot of average Americans do have BlackBerrys, or something like them — "smartphones," they're called. And a lot of Americans can be depended upon to handle their BlackBerrys responsibly, to be "smart" with their "smartphones." Not Roger Ailes. For Roger Ailes, having a BlackBerry was a very big deal — or, to be more precise, a very small one. You see, while most of us average Americans are very happy with our BlackBerrys, our iPhones, and our Androids — happy for the chance to stay "connected" with our loved ones when we're out there trying to make ends meet — Roger Ailes was not. Roger Ailes admits that he thought his BlackBerry was too ... small for a man of his size and stature. Roger Ailes thought that his BlackBerry made him look ... ridiculous." Word count: 202

Rewritten: Mr. Ailes doesn't use a smart phone, preferring to use smoke signals and morse code.  Word count: 15.  Filed under Ailes is Old.  Junod likes Smartphones.  Is breaking up an entire paragraph to make some obscenely inane joke about cell phones really worth it?  You only get to use techniques like that once or twice per article.  This is not the time.  I might also add that we're at least seven hundred words into this article and we have only learned that Ailes is Old, Ailes is Fat, Ailes is a Luddite, and Junod is not.  Mostly, we would have learned that from a single picture of the man.  I am now only reading this article out of pure spite.

"Indeed, when Roger Ailes sees one of his few peers in the rarefied world of media, business, or politics using a BlackBerry, he tells him to ... get rid of it, adding, "You have executives for that." Thanks, Mr. Ailes. Thanks for the tip. The next time one of our readers uses his BlackBerry to receive a photograph of his daughter in the school play he had to miss because he's out there making ends meet, we'll remind him: "You have executives for that." And we'll remind him of the reason that you gave us for giving up your BlackBerry in the first place: You don't get paid to think about some little device you have to work with your thumbs. You get paid to think about winning. And that's what you spend all day doing at Fox News: "thinking of ways to win.""  Word count: 144

Word count: -144.  Ailes is right jack ass.  Is this article about smart phones or Ailes?  I'm all for cheap populism, but "the workin' man" doesn't have a smart phone cause he can't afford the data plan.  At the very least get paid for selling smartphones and really shill the product.
The next paragraph is 389 words long and can be filed under Ailes is Old. Subcategory, Ailes is a Curmudgeon.  The only fact we have gleaned from this 389 word-long pile of fat ass flyover country droppings, (which I won't bother to copy) is that Ailes occaisonally responds to his critics' emails with venomous and wordy retaliations.  In addition to being completely useless, the paragraph is also poorly written, not funny and boring.  Are we having fun yet?  Go ahead, take a minute and read it.  Roll around in it.  Really get the taste of modern journalism in your mouth.

Then finally, at page three, roughly a thousand words in, some information:
"So who is this … Roger Ailes, if he's not who he says he is — if he's not an average American? Well, the short answer is this: He is not only a man who has spent his entire life thinking of ways to win; he is a man who has spent his entire life winning. Nothing wrong with that, of course: America loves a winner. But let's be honest here: We're all average Americans. Does any of us win all the time? Of course not, or else we wouldn't be average. But Roger Ailes does. And so, Mr. Ailes, Esquire has a question, on behalf of other average Americans: What kind of man wins all the time? What kind of man gives his country, in roughly this order, Mike Douglas, Richard Nixon, Tom Snyder, Ronald Reagan's "Morning in America," the Willie Horton ad, the ad in which Michael Dukakis rides around in a tank and looks like a chipmunk, the presidency of George H. W. Bush, CNBC, Fox News (upstart-insurgent edition), Fox News (airwaves-of-the-empire edition), Fox News ("Obama sux" edition), and Fox News (Tea Party edition)? More pointedly, what kind of man figures out at age twenty-seven how to use television to legitimize Richard Nixon and then at age seventy to legitimize Sarah Palin?"  Word count: 214

Word count: 104.  This maybe should have been your first paragraph Mr. Junod, since no one really cares about whether or not Ailes is Old, or Ailes is Fat, or Ailes is a Luddite.  The article might be improving, particularly if Junod now describes for younger and less knowledgable audiences all of the names on that list.

Wait. You didn't know that it was Roger Ailes who gave us Richard Nixon? Well, he did. And, more important, Richard Nixon gave America Roger Ailes. Put it this way: When Richard Nixon met Roger Ailes in 1967, Nixon was still the sweaty, shifty-eyed, self-pitying, petulant, paranoid perpetual candidate whom Americans instinctively mistrusted. And Roger Ailes was still the prodigy who'd started with The Mike Douglas Show — the first nationally syndicated daytime television talk show — when he was right out of Ohio University and was executive producer by the time he was twenty-five. Roger Ailes was still a card-carrying member of the notoriously liberal entertainment industry, still a guy who liked to go to clubs and listen to "folksingers" such as José Feliciano and Buffy Sainte-Marie and then put them on television, so American housewives could have their consciousness raised and realize that they hated their husbands. And it was as entertainment that Roger Ailes booked Richard Nixon on The Mike Douglas Show, along with "Little Egypt," a burlesque star who raised more than consciousnesses ... and who made American husbands realize that they hated their wives. Well, as Mr. Ailes tells it, even admitted pornographers have some scruples, so instead of making Richard Nixon wait in the same greenroom as Little Egypt, he asked the candidate back to his office. "It's a shame a man has to use gimmicks like this to get elected," Mr. Nixon is supposed to have remarked to Mr. Ailes. "Television is not a gimmick, and if you think it is, you'll lose again," Mr. Ailes is supposed to have remarked to Mr. Nixon. And there the modern conservative movement — not the ideological entity but the telegenic one — was born.  Word count: 289

Ok, so I knew all that.  Although the bit on the Mike Douglas show was helpful.  That's fine, younger audiencies and all that.  Even so the 300 word paragraph has over a hundred words of pure drecht.  As my ex-boss says, "minus eight."  This paragraph might well have been chalk full of information about Nixon and Ailes.  Sadly, this only gets filed under Ailes and Nixon.  New facts:  Ailes was a TV a young, successful tv producer, who helped get Nixon elected.

"You see, when Richard met Roger, it was not just a meeting of men; it was a meeting of need. It was a meeting of what Roger Ailes calls "stuff." As in: "If Richard Nixon was alive today, he'd be on the couch with Oprah, talking about how he was poor, his brother died, his mother didn't love him, and his father beat the shit out of him. And everybody would say, Oh, poor guy, he's doing the best he can. See, every human being has stuff — stuff they have to carry around, stuff they have to deal with. And Richard Nixon had a lot of stuff. He did the best he could with it, but it got him in the end. Still, he did a lot of good things as president." Yes, Roger Ailes is instinctively alert to people's stuff — perhaps because he's as surprisingly empathetic as he is sensitive, and perhaps because it allows him an all-important sense of advantage. But is he aware of his own? He began working for Richard Nixon a few months after he met him on the show. He began working to get Richard Nixon elected "by television," as he says, instead of in spite of it. He disavows his political commitment to Nixon by saying that he never worked in the White House and was more interested in the political potential of TV than he was in politics itself — "I wasn't worried about the message. I was worried about the backlighting." And a year later Richard Nixon was still sweaty, still shifty-eyed, still petulant, still paranoid, and still instinctively mistrusted by most Americans. The only difference was that thanks to Roger Ailes, he was president." Word count 283.

Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America
Clearly, I liked this paragraph, Junod's wit is put to better use.  Even so, file it under Ailes got Nixon Elected, and "says" don't be a playa hata.  Which is, despite the quotations, a much more direct sentence at ten words running.  So far, this interview hasn't produced much.  Reading Nixonland would have told you more.  Go ahead, buy it. Perlstein's prose is jokey too, but it's so crammed with facts you can only read a page or two at a time.

"As for Mr. Ailes, he was free to pursue what he was really interested in: raw power. But it was a new kind of power, based on the insight that came to him through his own "stuff." Before the arrival of Roger Ailes, television was thought to be a unifying medium — the "electronic hearth." Mr. Ailes knew better. Mr. Ailes knew that it was the fire itself. Mr. Ailes knew that the television screen in each American home was nothing less than a battleground, and he who controlled it controlled America, no matter what the message. He didn't even have to be overtly political, because television was by definition a political medium. Roger Ailes could win ... if the idea of a unified America lost. He could win ... if his own subversive vision of America was realized. He could win ... if American life became an endless, entrenched, and above all electronic argument. And you know what?
He did win.
Did you hear that, Mr. Ailes?
You won.
We surrender.
We concede." Word count 173

Word count: -173.  Good Christ.  I concede too.  Just when this article was turning around, we get another massive, and massively stupid comedic break that is neither witty nor well-timed.  That entire paragraph needs to GO.  Just delete it.  Why?  Did Mr. Ailes say any of that?  Is there any evidence for it?  Sure there is, tons of it, reams of it, marijuana fields of it, so where is it?  I'm skipping the next paragraph too, over two hundred words from which we learn nothing.

"Okay, come to think of it, there was one time Roger Ailes lost. Of course, he was a good sport about it, no big deal, all's fair in love and war and the rarefied world of the media elites.
Just kidding.
No, Mr. Ailes wasn't a good loser. Was he the kid who loses and takes his marbles home? Well, not exactly. More like the kid who takes his marbles, sells them to Russian spies, then works with the Russian government to deliver a thermonuclear device straight to your house.

In this case, though, it wasn't the Russians who were interested in what Mr. Ailes was selling. It was the Australian oligarch Rupert Murdoch. Talk about stuff meeting stuff! On the one hand: the cunning antipodean entrepreneur who is to "global domination" as Tiger Woods is to "be sure to tip your waitress." On the other: Roger Ailes, who had just lost out to the very media elite he'd always despised and distrusted." Word count: 183
Sigh.  Another worthless two hundred words wasted.  Why do I care?  Because this is confusing.  Not only does it refuse to identify how he lost (Sarah Palin, we find out later) it also confuses the issue with Russians and nuclear weapons.  I get that Junod doesn't mean any of that claptrap, but if its a joke, its a bad one.

This post needs to go into round two.  Sorry about the formatting, Blogger is pretty bad with copy and paste specials

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Michael Lind and the Neo Modernist Party

Michael Lind, the Policy Director of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation, a liberal think tank, is also one of my favorite columnists at  He is a New Deal economist and believes, as I do, that the mainstay of the economic engine that drives nations is stability and longterm growth, maintained by economic signals like rigorous regulation.

Anyway, he has an interesting post today on, which I do not entirely agree with, something which is unusual for me when reading his work.  His new manifesto, in the last paragraph:

"Here’s an idea. America needs to have a neomodernist party to oppose the reigning primitivists of the right, left and center. Let everyone who opposes abortion, wants to ban GM foods and nuclear energy, hates cars and trucks and planes and loves trains and trolleys, seeks to ban suburbia, despises consumerism, and/or thinks Darwin was a fraud join the Regressive Party."

He actually spends a fair amount of time pointing out that the Left has been engaged in its own romantic primitivism:

"The increasingly reactionary American left, disenchanted with nuclear power plants and rockets and suburbs, longed to quit modernity and retire to a small town with an organic farmers’ market and an oompah band playing in the town park’s bandstand."

I found this slightly offensive.  My woman is a big fan of promoting locavore restaurants and farmers markets.  When she can, she always prefers to buy local, but she is no regressive.  If it were up to her, she would never live in a suburb or small town again.  She's a big city girl, from a nation that actually has working government healthcare, so take that Michael Lind!  Now, it just so happens, Lind throws another dart, this one directly at me: "longing of many on the left for the Shire of Frodo the Hobbit."  Yeah, you know, I love the big city too, but I wouldn't mind living in a grassy hillock with trees and clean air.  I like the idea of wearing clothing until its worn out, and having one pair of good clothing for festivals and holidays.  But that doesn't make me regressive, I believe in the WPO and believe it to be one of the best organized human efforts in modern history.  Now, I can't lie, I have a private fantasy in which 95% of humanity moves to MegaTropoli which are completely self sustaining, and lets the larger part of the land fall back to pre-human-rapine beauty.  I like the idea of Green Cities and think they're completely possible, where economies of scale meet environmental care and concern.  Does that mean I'm resorting to primitivism?  Likewise, I'm surprised to read Lind criticizing those of us who support expanded public transit.  An essential tenet of New Deal liberalism is lowering the costs of production by expanding and increasing the transport of goods.  Lind has attacked these ideas before and been debunked.

I was thinking the other day about how I was raised.  And I was raised to receive gifts once or twice a year, not year round.  The only real treats in life were sugar (which was a bad habit admittedly) but at least the containers were cardboard and the product disolves in water.  And, I was thinking how commendable that was.  I'm terrible.  In my monthly accounting I keep a running list of how much I spend on myself every month on "pleasant" items.  Some of these expendistures were necessary, and you can see that 'Pleasantries' always spike in December, but why so high?  The fact of the matter is that we consume much more than is necessary, and its not regressive to suggest that, though it is, interestingly, the essential meaning of conservative.

That's all leftist romanticism is about, it's only about needing less and taking more care.  Certainly the sexual revolution in the sixties may have been more extreme, but in the more or less settled rhetoric of the past two decades, primitivist rhetoric on the left has principally been designed to promote thrift and protect the environment.  My family is full of New Deal democrats, and its true to some extent that they revel in all things technological.  Why bake bread when you can buy it, pre sliced.  Why cook dinner when you can make a TV dinner with a microwave?  And their largess created this:

I definitely appreciate modern conveniences, and like all who care about the environment, my beliefs are at war with my own intentional and unintentional hypocracies, but this isn't primitivism, this is conservation.  I believe in capital creation.  That's the economic theory that believes that the economy isn't a pie that only has a few slices to be doled out--that in fact, the money supply is always expanding, and so long as it keeps pace with wages and inflation, is A-O-K.  But the same cannot be said for the Earth.  Extinct species will never come back.  The forests that spawned the fairytales of old are gone and will only return if we alot space for them, and the species that inhabited them will never return.  Because I, like Nietzche and Heidegger, love the image of the Black Forest, does that mean I'm engaging in primitivism?  Hardly.

At any rate, I do enjoy the man's columns, particuarly his most partisan and flag burning.  I am, afterall, a Ravingleftatic myself.  But I'll take the train to that particular station.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Loughner and the Right

Given my own rhetoric on this blog, I feel it would be untoward of me not to comment on the terrible tragedy in Tucson this past weekend.  First, Loughner is obviously disturbed.  But the world is full of images and illusions, and very few lives are ever under the microscope who are not famous or wealthy.  I live in a city where people talk to themselves every day.  I once watched a mentally disturbed man from my window, throwing himself against the pavement so hard he began to bleed.  He did so three or four times before the paramedics arrived, and was bleeding profusely by then.  There is a methadone clinic down the block, and I live in one of the safest neighborhoods in the city.  But Nueva Yorka is a liberal city, and maybe that makes a difference afterall.

In 2009, a college friend of mine, a libertarian, sent me a video he made.  Not unlike Mr. Loughner's youtube video decrying Pima college.  He also believes in the gold standard, and he also believes that "the tree of liberty" yada yada yada.  After several frightening screeds, and knowing that he was a loner by nature and fairly lonely as a matter of course, I began to get very alarmed.  Worse, he had been in the military.  Not that the military breeds lunatics--it just trains them to "drop a Nazi at 90 yards" as my friend told me proudly when he returned from basic.

I really wrestled with the notion--should I tell someone in charge?  I asked a few friends, and finally the consensus was no.  He was not crazy, and telling on him would be a betrayal of epic proportions.  I still worry.  He has a good job, and a good career.  He's good looking and periodically gets laid, he has friends, though not many, so I figure he's ok.  But then something like this happens.

Gingrich, Palin, and Beck should take heed.  No one's "crazy" until they pull the trigger.  It's easy to see with 20/20 hindsight that Lougner was nuts: his disruptions in class, his extreme views.  But who knows?  If he'd met the right girl the week before, or got a good job, or came out of the closet, or whatever, the world would be a different place.

On the right, we're hearing the usual cries.  Don't politicize this tragedy!  He was crazy, not a party member!  To the first, I say, how dare you?  The right cynically exploited the murder of 2,000 Americans to enjoin two utterly useless, costly and destructive wars, that may have directly resulted in the murders of up to 60,000 Iraqis.  Here, they used 911 as a political bludgeon to silence disent for six full years.  How dare they?  How stupid do they think we are?

To the second, I think I've answered that pretty well.  No one's crazy until they pull the trigger.  And I saw plenty of things this past summer that made me think the Right was in a downward spiral to madness.

Lastly, just as a comment.  When these things happen--I wish that Facebook and other social medias wouldn't shut down the relevant page.  The information is public if its out there, and I truly believe that we have a right to know. Maybe, shutting down links from them would be sensible, or eliminating "friends" so that they couldn't be tracked and hunted, but the content should remain up.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Nagg's Joke - The Taylor

I figured I'd start off the year with a quote from my favorite play, a joke, that I've been thinking about a lot lately.  Hat tip to Becket Net.


Let me tell it again.

(Raconteur's voice.)

An Englishman, needing a pair of striped trousers in a hurry for the New Year festivities, goes to his tailor who takes his measurements.

(Tailor's voice.)

"That's the lot, come back in four days, I'll have it ready." Good. Four days later.

(Tailor's voice.)

"So sorry, come back in a week, I've made a mess of the seat." Good, that's all right, a neat seat can be very ticklish. A week later.

(Tailor's voice.)

"Frightfully sorry, come back in ten days, I've made a hash of the crotch." Good, can't be helped, a snug crotch is always a teaser. Ten days later.

(Tailor's voice.)

"Dreadfully sorry, come back in a fortnight, I've made a balls of the fly." Good, at a pinch, a smart fly is a stiff proposition.

(Pause. Normal voice.)

I never told it worse.

(Pause. Gloomy.)

I tell this story worse and worse.

(Pause. Raconteur's voice.)

Well, to make it short, the bluebells are blowing and he ballockses the buttonholes.

(Customer's voice.)

"God damn you to hell, Sir, no, it's indecent, there are limits! In six days, do you hear me, six days, God made the world. Yes Sir, no less Sir, the WORLD! And you are not bloody well capable of making me a pair of trousers in three months!"

(Tailor's voice, scandalized.)

"But my dear Sir, my dear Sir, look—

(disdainful gesture, disgustedly)

—at the world—


and look—

(loving gesture, proudly)

—at my TROUSERS!"

(Pause. He looks at Nell who has remained impassive, her eyes unseeing. He breaks into a high forced laugh, cuts it short, pokes his head towards Nell, launches his laugh again.)