December 28, 2008
MORE Chris Dodd questions? Dodd’s evasiveness has only encouraged this kind of thing.
MORE Chris Dodd questions? Dodd’s evasiveness has only encouraged this kind of thing.
PROGRESS ON GLOBAL WARMING! “Given that we were told we had to immediately cut back on carbon emissions (even before sustainable alternative energies are in place), largely by curbing our lavish energy-dependent lifestyles, why then all the concern about stimuli and global depression? Surely, the world right now is sort of what the radical Gorists wanted to see, since the current cutback in gasoline usage, and general economic slowdown are radically restricting the burning of fossil fuels in a manner that even the most optimistic green utopian could hardly have envisioned just few years ago?”
CONDI RICE on voting for Barack Obama.
PIRATES 1, INTERNATIONAL LAW 0: “On December 25th, a German frigate off the coast of Somalia, sent its helicopter to interrupt a pirate attack on an Egyptian merchant ship. One member of the Egyptian crew had already been wounded by gunfire, but the German helicopter stopped the attack. German sailors then captured and disarmed six of the pirates. The pirates were then set free. This is because German law only allows the prosecution of pirates who are attacking Germans (or German property.) The Egyptian ship was carrying a cargo of wheat from Ukraine to South Korea. Since World War II, national and international laws for dealing with pirates (which used to mean trying and executing the pirates on the spot) have been discarded. But nothing took the place of those procedures, because it was believed that piracy was no longer a problem.”
AN AMERICAN CAROL is now out on DVD this week. (Also Blu-Ray). I saw a pre-release screening back in September and thought it was pretty good, if you like the idea of Michael Moore being the subject of slapstick humor. And, really, who doesn’t? Also, Kelsey Grammer is surprisingly good as George S. Patton. Let’s see if Alex Nunez is right that it will do well on DVD, though I think they should have taken his advice and brought it out in time for Christmas.
“PUNDIT” VS. “PUNDINT” — more criticism for the Google-impaired Paul Mulshine.
UPDATE: On the other hand, various readers write that Beutler is wrong about “to the manor born.” Which just shows that you can’t get away with anything in the blogosphere . . . .
And this seems dumb on TVA’s part: Activists Detained For Taking Ash Spill Photographs.
HMM: Emanuel and Jarrett Will Testify, And The Blagojevich Impeachment Trial Will Be Delayed. Hard to see this as good news for Obama.
JUSTIN KATZ on Joel Stein’s inability to commit. America, he’s just not that into you!
NEWSDAY: With Rash of Scandals, Trust Is Gone. “In Congress, prominent members such as House Ways and Means chair Charles Rangel, Alaska Sen. Ted Stevens and Louisiana Rep. William Jefferson are either accused of malfeasance, officially charged with corruption or already convicted. Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has been accused of multiple acts of corruption, including extorting cash or jobs for filling President-elect Barack Obama’s Senate seat. All of this is creating a growing sense of mistrust. But then Americans have always been suspicious of big institutions that can exert a lot of power.”
So how about a little more suspicion of government expansion disguised as “stimulus?”
MORE ON THOSE UNDERFUNDED / OVERGENEROUS PUBLIC PENSIONS:
Paying the price for pension vote buys:
I am hearing that the City of Santa Ana budget has been cut to the bone, but this summer’s retroactive pension formula bump to 2.7-at-55 is greatly exacerbating their financial woes. This explains why they have implemented a hiring freeze.
So why did they spike their public employees’ pensions?
The short answer is that Santa Ana Mayor Miguel Pulido was facing two challengers this year. So he gave the police and firemen everything they wanted so that they would continue to finance “Team Pulido.” Well, I hope they are all happy now that the city’s budget deficit is spiraling out of control.
Meanwhile, in New York City, it’s a pension nightmare. Plus, in Florida, calls for reform. “Those of us who have seen the values of our own retirement savings fall by a third or more this year can’t help but wonder why such windfalls are generally not available outside government.” (Via PensionWatch).
A SURGE IN MUNICIPAL BANKRUPTCIES? Wouldn’t surprise me. And note the connection to the public-pension crisis: “State and local public employees comprise approximately 12 percent of the U.S. workforce and have an estimated $800 billion or more of unfunded pension liabilities (not counting other post-employment benefits). By comparison, employees in the private or corporate sector make up about 78 percent of the U.S. workforce with an estimated $450 billion of unfunded liabilities.”
WALL STREET JOURNAL: Rick Warren, Obama, and the Left. “Mr. Obama’s choice of Rick Warren for the Inaugural’s invocation suggests that he is intent on using the momentum of his remarkable victory to build a governing coalition for the long haul. The silver lining for Republicans may be that the left won’t let him do that.”
NEW JERSEY: Pension Fight Signals What Lies Ahead. “Already, Mr. Corzine’s current budget has saved about $1 billion by contributing only half what actuaries said the state should put into the fund this year. The balance of the state’s contribution has not yet been deposited, meaning it could be further reduced to help meet the looming budget shortfall.”
EGYPTIANS open fire on Palestinians.
EARNESTLY WRUNG HANDS.
HEH: Ted Rall: Look for Obama to be as devoted to war as Bush was. Meet the new boss, yada yada. If only these people had been smart enough to read InstaPundit before the election they wouldn’t be so surprised. And if only I had been smart enough to cash in on the t-shirt sales. . . .
UPDATE: Frank Rich will be buying the t-shirt soon, too! “I share these high hopes. But for the first time a faint tinge of Bush crept into my Obama reveries this month.” It won’t be the last . . . .
WIRED: Broadband Stimulus Plan: How About Some Data First? That goes for the other “stimulus” plans, too . . . .
FROM NIALL FERGUSON a look back at 2009.
NETWORK YOUR HOME ENTERTAINMENT with wireless HDMI. Seems kinda pricey to me, but the price is sure to drop.
I’M GUESSING THAT THIS WILL TURN OUT TO BE NO LONGER OPERATIVE: Obama’s Net Spending Cut Promise:
Lost in the recent talk of $1 trillion stimulus spending by the next administration is a promise President-elect Barack Obama made to the American people on Oct. 7 in the midst of the presidential campaign. Speaking in front of a live national audience, Obama said: ” So we’re going to have to make some investments, but we’ve also got to make spending cuts. And what I’ve proposed, you’ll hear Sen. McCain say, well, he’s proposing a whole bunch of new spending, but actually I’m cutting more than I’m spending so that it will be a net spending cut.” Obama is hardly the first president to promise to rein in spending, but very few have actually kept their promise to the American people.
I’ll be quite surprised if things turn out differently this time around, though I’d like to be wrong. Time for an Insta-Poll: What do you think?
THE G.O.P.: Could it get any worse?
“DON’T MAKE THEM LISTEN TO OUR STUFF — IT’S INHUMAN!” Rockers to Press Obama on Music Torture. Best bit: “And the BBC has reported on a particularly insidious practice: using the theme songs from Sesame Street and Barney to break the will of prisoners.” Okay, that is inhuman. At any rate, whatever limits on volume and duration are applied to Guantanamo should also be applied to public concerts . . . .
UPDATE: At least they’re not waterboarding puppies. That Greenwald will stop at nothing. You’d never catch me
wasting perfectly good smoothie material abusing puppies like that . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: It could be worse!
MORE: Advice from Rand Simberg: “If you don’t want people to use your music to torment terrorists, then quit making such awful music.”
ED DRISCOLL on conflating punditry and reporting.
A NEW Carnival of the Recipes is up!
GIVING A NEW MEANING TO “PORKBUSTERS:” The return of “feral swine.” Well, if the economy goes down far enough, this is a problem that will take care of itself. . . .
KEEPING WARM in “passive houses.” “Using ultrathick insulation and complex doors and windows, the architect engineers a home encased in an airtight shell, so that barely any heat escapes and barely any cold seeps in. That means a passive house can be warmed not only by the sun, but also by the heat from appliances and even from occupants’ bodies.”
YOU DON’T SEE THIS EVERY DAY: Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit harshly censured Hamas for the current situation in Gaza. “Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit harshly censured Hamas today (27 Dec), placing responsibility for the current situation on Hamas. At a noon press conference broadcast on Egyptian television, he said that Egypt had repeatedly cautioned against continuing the situation and that whoever did not listen (Hamas) should assume responsibility and not blame others. He added that Israel had publicly warned that continued rocket fire would lead to military action.”
UPDATE: Jules Crittenden has thoughts. “It’s a build. George Bush actually made significant progress in that area, facilitating the isolation of Hamas in the Arab world. With a major assist from Hamas itself, of course, as the savagery of this terrorist group became apparent. That could be another promising area of foreign policy for Obama to lift wholesale from the Bush admin. The suffering of the Palestinian people in Gaza can be laid directly at the door of Hamas and its murderous policies, with a nod to clandestine support from Iran.”
CHRIS DODD UPDATE: He ought to be afraid to show his face, but he’s not:
Democratic U.S. Sen. Chris Dodd came home Jan. 6 to East Haddam to talk over his unsuccessful bid for president and to make clear he was not a candidate for vice president. In June, he was tied to the Countrywide Financial scandal when he was accused of accepting a sweetheart mortgage deal. His reputation took a hit, but he denied guilt and kept up his public appearances, including in a Feb. 25 speech at a Middlesex Chamber of Commerce breakfast in Cromwell, Oct. 10 at a Newington meeting with business leaders, an Oct. 17 lecture to civics students at Middletown High School, an Oct. 27 gathering to hear complaints of the working poor in New Britain and a Nov. 15 speech in Farmington on afterschool programs.
It would be interesting if people showed up at those meetings to ask him why he hasn’t released his mortgage documents yet — and put the response up on YouTube.
UPDATE: Ed Driscoll wonders if the Connecticut Post would pay attention since they admit they’re tuning out complaints about Dodd and Countrywide. Journalism in action!
ELISABETH EAVES: “Americans give more to charity, per capita and as a percentage of gross domestic product, than the citizens of other nations. But why?”
HEH: “Dave Barry really may not be making this up.”
I KNOW HOW I’M BETTING: After Bush, will MoveOn live up to its name?
WASHINGTON POST: The weakening prospects of Caroline Kennedy.
UPDATE: A reader emails: “Gov. David Paterson intends to use the Kennedy threat to arrange a bailout for New York State. That Senate seat is an F’ing valuable thing, so the ‘reverse Blago’ gambit comes as no surprise.” Hmm. Good luck with that.
Meanwhile, for those busy bashing corporate interests, note that TVA, a government entity, is involved here. . . .
WELL, I DIDN’T LIKE PAUL MULSHINE’S PIECE ON BLOGGING, but this piece hits a lot closer to the target:
A lot of people have been comparing the Ponzi scheme allegedly run by Madoff to the Ponzi scheme run by the U.S. government, also known as Social Security.
That’s entirely unfair.
From what I can gather, Madoff at least made an attempt to invest the money he got from early investors to give them the returns he promised. Those investments failed to bring in enough money and the scheme was doomed to fail sooner or later. But if Madoff had been a more brilliant investor, it might have worked.
The federal government, on the other hand, never tried to make the Social Security system work. The feds didn’t invest the money in the market. They took the money that we gave them and lent it to themselves, promising themselves interest. To be paid by themselves.
This scheme is even more crooked than Madoff’s.
I remember John Langbein speaking at the law school a few years ago, saying that if Wall Street tried to do what Social Security does they’d all be in jail.
FRANK MUNGER: More evidence of a budding nuke renaissance. Faster, please.
MORE PEOPLE ARE BURNING COAL AT HOME, according to this report. We had a coal furnace when we lived in Heidelberg, and as a kid I enjoyed laying fires and stoking it. I suspect, though, that the thrill would have worn off in another year or two . . . .
UPDATE: Some related thoughts: “Environmentalists must surely dislike coal on all fronts; widespread acceptance of coal for home heating makes it more difficult to argue against the fuel generally as an evil, environmental monster. After all, you can’t concede that it’s OK for people to heat their homes with coal but then object to the use of an electric baseboard heater because the electricity is generated from burning coal.”
BITES FROM THE APPLE: A roundup of news from the Apple empire.
PAUL MULSHINE BLOWS IT. In this Wall Street Journal column, he manages to conflate punditry with reporting (following in Nick Lemann’s footsteps) while simultaneously engaging in a bit of misleading quotage that thoroughly undercuts his point.
My point, as quoted in his column, is that punditry is easy, but that reporting is harder, and more valuable, and not done enough by Big Media. In making the point, I quoted another blogger, whom Mulshine doesn’t identify — because the blogger I quoted was Iraq documentarian and blogger J.D. Johannes, who in fact does real reporting of the sort that Big Media folks all too often don’t. As J.D. comments:
I do not know why Mr. Mulshine did not give my name. If he had, it would undercut many of his statements. A news man of his esteem would have surely googled me and found that I was doing exactly what he says bloggers are not doing and nearly beating a major Hollywood director and billionaire .
(Or perhaps he did google me and for some reason thought I was not the type to read the Wall Street Journal.)
The hear-say quote, and this particular usage by Mr. Mulshine, is one of the reasons why blogs have succeeded–the core news consumer does not like hear-say quotes and does not want bland executive summaries for the “casual reader.” The core news consumer wants hard news without bias and expert opinion.
Mr. Mulshine’s use of a misleading hear-say quote explains well the demise of his beloved newspaper.
It seems that often when big-media types write about the failings of blogs, they engage in the kind of lazy inaccuracy they condemn. In an earlier column, Mulshine wrote:
Anyone can travel to a war zone and write about it. I would strongly recommend this for any of the critics of the MSM who are seeking to get out the real truth about Iraq. Go for it, guys. War coverage is great fun. One word of caution, though: Don’t lose your heads in all the excitement.
That, of course — as Mulshine should have known then, and now — is exactly what J.D. Johannes does — along with Michael Yon, Michael Totten, Bill Roggio, and others in the blogosphere. Mulshine, meanwhile, brags about having once covered the Toms River Regional Board of Education in New Jersey. That’s worthy work, of course, but if his reportage there was as poor as his work in the Wall Street Journal, then — oh, who am I kidding? “If”?
Anyway, it’s certainly true that bloggers as a class are more competition for careless pundits like Mulshine than for go-getter reporters who find out things that people don’t know, and report them truthfully. It’s also true that those go-getter reporters who put the truth first are pretty scarce in the world of Big Media reporting, and that management shows no sign of wanting more of them, and many signs of wanting attitude-mongers like, well, Mulshine. This is, as I’ve noted before, a dumb business strategy, which explains in part why newspapers are doing so badly. For more on that, see this thoughtful piece by Evan Coyne Maloney. Also, these thoughts from Jay Rosen. And here’s my diagnosis from 2002:
Though webloggers do actual reporting from time to time, most of what they bring to the table is opinion and analysis – punditry, in short. (No surprise here – people have been sharing opinions forever, and may well have an inborn drive to do so. Plus, you can opine without leaving your computer, while reporting hard news is hard work.)
This means that Big Media organizations should still have a strong competitive advantage where actual newsgathering is concerned. The problem is that most big organizations have cut back on newsgathering, treating news as a commodity product to be obtained from wire services while eliminating foreign and regional bureaus. Instead, Big Media organizations decided some years ago that they would focus on “news analysis” and punditry. That’s, well, because you can opine without leaving your computer, while reporting hard news is hard work. (And expensive).
Unfortunately, this hasn’t worked out very well. The move to analysis and punditry was driven, in no small part, by corporate pressures to cut costs, pressures that accompanied the consolidation and corporatization of the news media. . . . But actual information about what’s happening is still mostly the province of professional journalism, and that’s less likely to change. I can imagine a decentralized amateur news service (a sort of Slashdot on steroids) but I think something like that will be slow in coming.
So there you are. Not that this will stop a future Mulshine (or Lemann) from repeating the same errors. Apparently, nothing does . . . .
ANOTHER UPDATE: More discussion here.
MORE: Also here.
A BAD WEEK FOR PRINCESS CAROLINE: “Caroline Kennedy’s coronation for the U.S. Senate has been disrupted by, well, by Caroline Kennedy. The media is shocked, shocked to learn she’s a political dilettante and a bit foolish.” Well, it’s not as if those are disqualifications for the United States Senate.
And Mickey Kaus says she’s better than Andrew Cuomo: “Caroline may be boring but she does not seem evil!” He notes, however, that there are other people in New York besides the unimpressive Caroline and the thuggish Andrew. Hey, Eliot Spitzer needs a job!
ANDREW FERGUSON on the politics of fat.
EVERYBODY’S TALKING ABOUT Chip Saltsman and Barack the Magic Negro. Well, okay, not everybody, just people following the RNC Chair race.
LESSONS FROM THE ICELANDIC COLLAPSE:
“As people have their expectations changed radically, you can have protests come out of nowhere,” even in developed countries, Bremmer said. . . .
The protests may escalate as bills come due and severance pay runs out for those who lost jobs at the three biggest lenders, including Landsbanki, the second-largest, says Stefan Palsson, a historian. He once led the Campaign Against Militarism, opposing NATO bases in the 1960s.
He said he’s surprised ordinary people are backing activists once considered “hooligans.” There was public outrage three years ago when environmentalists poured yogurt over aluminum representatives to protest a new plant.
“Now you have protesters kicking down doors at police stations, and respectable elderly people saying ‘Well, they’re young and full of enthusiasm, and anyway, they’re right!’” he said.
You can bet that the A.N.S.W.E.R. crowd would love to see this here. Will free-market backers know how to respond?
UPDATE: Reader Donald Gately writes:
You say that A.N.S.W.E.R. would love to see Icelandic-type protests here. But what if folks under 30 or 40 or 50 started staging large public protests about the Ponzi-scheme that is Social Security? What if taxpayers started staging massive protests about public pensions that let government employees (many of whom don’t have to participate in Social Security) retire at 50 with 90% pay – even while common taxpayers have to ratchet back their own retirement dates? What if financial and real-estate workers started staging protests about their jobs disappearing while the Democrats in congress do everything in their power to preserve cushy UAW deals? What if parents in neighborhoods with failing schools started actively protesting the stranglehold that the teachers unions have over their childrens’ education?
Those types of protests would likely un-nerve the left, and might actually lead to Change that the rest of us can believe in.
It could happen.
GEORGE W. BUSH, LIBERATOR? “Much of the condemnation of his policies though is driven by a venomous hatred of Bush’s personality and leadership style, rather than an objective assessment of his achievements. Ten or twenty years from now, historians will view Bush’s actions on the world stage in a more favourable light. America’s 43rd president did after all directly liberate more people (over 60 million) from tyranny than any leader since Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt.” Stay tuned!
ALLISON KAPLAN SOMMER: Israel Furiously Attacks Gaza — And Braces for Reprisal.
UPDATE: More from Noah Pollak.
ANOTHER UPDATE: Liveblogging at Israellycool.
JOEL STEIN on how Republicans are blinded by love of America.
ANN ALTHOUSE: Reason Magazine Owes Me a Photo Credit.
TYLER COWEN: “I believe that moving more assets under government guarantees is exactly the opposite of what we should be doing.”
IS OBAMA morphing into a drug-warrior? “He evidently felt he could not afford to throw even the tiniest bone to critics of the war on drugs.”
MOTHERS LURKING IN MIDDLE-SCHOOL BATHROOMS: “And, of course, this would never have been perceived as cute if Mother Aimée had been Daddy Arnie, squatting in the boys’ room.”
CHRIS DODD UPDATE: Dodd’s mortgage problems make a WTIC list of top Connecticut news stories of the year:
As chairman of the Senate Banking Committee, Connecticut Sen. Christopher Dodd plays an important role in the Wall Street bailout package and congressional inquiries about the failures of companies that deal in subprime mortgages.
But he was questioned about his own mortgages in 2008 after Conde Nast Portfolio magazine reported that Dodd got preferential interest rates on two mortgages from Countrywide Financial Corp.
Dodd acknowledged that Countrywide placed him in a “VIP section,” but he denied he knew he was getting a special deal and said he was not friends with Countrywide CEO Angelo Mozilo.
Dodd said that he and his wife refinanced their homes like millions of Americans did at the time and got a “market rate,” and would have walked away from the deal had he believed he was getting preferential treatment from Countrywide, a leading subprime lender at the center of the mortgage meltdown.
In October, Dodd said he will make information about the mortgages public after a Senate ethics inquiry completes its investigation.
There’s no reason for him not to release that information now, though he’d like you to think otherwise.
ARNOLD KLING: “Just to be puckish, suppose that we think of financial bailouts and fiscal stimulus as a Madoff scheme, and we use these four factors to explain why we fall for it.”
BUSINESS ISN’T BAD EVERYWHERE: Survivalist businesses surge in uncertain times.
RADLEY BALKO: Secrets of the Bailout.
A READER SENDS this cheerful news from U.P.S.: “Nearly half of companies with global supply chains say they fear major disruptions in their ability to source, produce and ship goods around the world. And they’re not doing much to prevent it.”
So how about starting?
THOUGHTS ON Krugman and Corruption.
SUSAN LEE: Are we becoming a nation of wussies? “Reckless behavior has almost disappeared from the financial landscape, sure. But so has a lot of reasonable behavior. And this may create a massive problem. What if, as conditions worsen, reasonable risk-taking totally disappears?”
A WEAK CHRISTMAS-SHOPPING SEASON means big after-Christmas sales at Amazon and, no doubt, elsewhere.
UPDATE: Various readers point out that the season may have been weak overall, but that Amazon did well. I certainly did most of my shopping (all of it, except for some restaurant gift cards) at Amazon. It was painless.
JULIE BAUMGARDNER: “I honestly don’t think women spend much time thinking about how they treat their husbands.” Plus this: “One woman in the group admitted she recently had returned home to see that her husband had mowed their 3-acre spread – and her only comment was, ‘You missed a spot under the tree.’”
QUESTIONS ABOUT PRESIDENT BUSH’S RESCINDED PARDON: I don’t think a pardon rescission should be valid, though I confess I’ve never thought about the subject much. On the other hand, someone who has believes that a pardon can be rescinded until it’s actually received by the pardonee. If the Bush Administration is taking that position now, it suggests that Bush isn’t likely to issue any blanket pardons before leaving office . . . .
WELL, THEY WATCH THE TV SHOWS, TOO: “An emerging affluent class abroad is drawn to suburbs with U.S. names that mimic the American ideal—down to the master bathroom and tree-lined sidewalk.” Also, while suburbanization is often linked to American character, it’s probably just the way a lot of people people want to live, if they can afford to. “If you look at how countries are moving up the socio-economic ladder, some of the things they all want is a car, a house, a nice view and air conditioning.” Some related thoughts here.
CONGRATULATIONS to my University of Tennessee colleague Joe Williams: Discover magazine honors UT biology professor. “A University of Tennessee assistant professor of ecology and biology, Williams has traveled the world studying why flowering plants have diversified so much more quickly than cone-bearing plants, like pines. His work was published in July in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science and was named among the Top 100 Science Stories of 2008 by Discover magazine recently.”
POPULATION SHIFTS shuffling House seats.
ABC NEWS: A LUKEWARM MILITARY RECEPTION FOR OBAMA? “As Obama entered the room it was absent of the regular fanfare of cheering and clapping. The diners were polite; staying seated at their respective tables and waited for the President-elect to come to them to stand up. . . . Obama Transition aides say that Obama did not eat with the uniformed men and women – he ate at his beach home with his family and friends Christmas night.”
But Obama’s visit draws praise from Hugh Hewitt.
MERRY CHRISTMAS: We’re Spending $1 Billion Less a Day on Gas!
SO FAR, NOT SO GOOD: “The real issue: creepy anti-democratic politics is breaking out all over.”
HEH: He’s not the first to make the Bay City Rollers comparison.
MATTHEW HOY defends the New York Times’ editorial judgment. No, really.
POWERLINE NAMES ITS Dishonest Journalist of the Year. That’s quite a prize, in a year where there was so much first-rate competition for the honor.
HMM: Pakistan deploys troops from tribal areas to the Indian border. I suspect this is what the Mumbai attacks were intended to produce.
JACOB SULLUM: Why “creating jobs” shouldn’t be an end in itself.
CHRIS BARRETT looks at living green in Knoxville.
VICTOR DAVIS HANSON: THAT WAS THEN, THIS IS NOW: “As 2008 comes to a close, almost nothing has turned out as was expected at the beginning of the year – whether we consider oil prices, the war in Iraq, political corruption or the collapse of the U.S. financial system.”
THE U.A.W. RENEGES? “The government gave the Big Three a $17.3 billion bailout based on the idea that both management and the unions would make concessions. Now the UAW says no thanks. Can we have our money back?”
MAKE LOVE, NOT WAR: Fighting Terrorism With Viagra.
EUGENE VOLOKH on Ann Althouse, Kate Winslet, and Statutory Rape.
UPDATE: Meanwhile, something of a double standard on the subject? “Murray made a similar point in closing arguments in the sentencing phase, telling jurors that if a man impregnated his 13-year-old foster daughter, probation would not be discussed.” (Via Robert Franklin, who notes that statutory rape doesn’t get much serious thought.)
MORE ON THOSE OVERGENEROUS / UNDERFUNDED PUBLIC PENSIONS: Houston Pension Plans Lose $1.9 billion in value.
N.J. Government Fails At All Levels. The thing to remember is that this isn’t just a market swing — public pensions were dangerously underfunded before the meltdown. It’s just gotten much, much worse — and more obvious — since.
THE BERNIE MADOFF I KNEW: “There were many warning signs. But his clients refused to see them.” That’s usually how it is. But remember, no matter how smart you are there’s somebody out there somewhere who could fool you, too.
HMM: Will Obama Pursue Space-Based Solar Power? I very much hope so, but I’d be kinda surprised.
MEGAN MCARDLE ON financial workers vs. auto workers.
Financial executives have been fired in large numbers and taking pay cuts that reduced their income to a fraction of what was expected six months ago. Auto workers have not. Financial firms are in the process of laying off hundreds of thousands of their best paid workers (50,000 at Citibank alone); auto firms are not.
The shrinkage of the financial industry, and the vastly reduced pay prospects of its workers, seem entirely reasonable to me, though of course extremely sad for people who put themselves through expensive rounds of schooling in order to secure luxe jobs on Wall Street which have now disappeared leaving them broke and trying to sell the houses and cars they can no longer afford into a panicked local market. But I am fairly sure that the auto workers do not want the deal, as a class, that those rapacious financial executives have been given, which includes horrifying job insecurity, massive paycuts at the discretion of their managers, and for many or most of them, the knowledge that they will almost certainly never again earn a tenth of what they had set their lives up to expect. . . . In short, if the Detroit were given the deal that the financial industry has actually gotten, rather than the deal that they got in the pervasive blogger fantasy world where everyone in the industry is using government funds to continue exactly as they were before, Ron Gettlefinger would hardly be a happy man.