Archive for October, 2011

Because to the Times, They All Look Alike

Posted on October 31st, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

I love this correction from a post on the NYT website about alleged sexual harasser Herman Cain.

Correction: October 31, 2011

An earlier version of this post misspelled the surname of Herman Cain as McCain.

Oh Wow

Posted on October 31st, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Mona Simpson’s beautiful remembrance of her brother, Steve Jobs.

Greg Mankiw Swings, Misses

Posted on October 31st, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Greg Mankiw generally seems like a pretty open-minded economist, willing to consider viewpoints from across the political spectrum. But he does seem to make missteps when he decides to wage class warfare. For instance, his snide post “Even leftists believe in property rights” was more high school bully than Harvard professor. More recently, he happily posted evidence of a study showing that, in the past three or four years, the incomes of the rich have fallen (in terms of percentage) more than the incomes of the 99 percent.

The rich get poorer,” Mankiw lamented, asserting that the study is proof that “high-income households have riskier than average incomes.”

Matt Levine’s Dealbreaker blog takes an ax to this argument, demonstrating that the wealthy’s income drop in recent years has to do with the shift to…

a shareholder-value-driven economy where the working rich managed their firms for quarterly earnings target (and were paid with options and incentive comp) and the idle rich invested in hedge funds

In other words, the system has been gamed so that when the stock market rises, the wealthy do immensely well, but when it plummets, they are disproportionately hit (though, don’t worry, they’re still doing better than everyone else).

And, of course, there are safety nets for the uber-wealthy: One, the money they’ve already made. And two, enormous golden parachutes wholly disconnected from their job performance.

The Cain Offensive

Posted on October 31st, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

Politico reports that, while working as a lobbyist for the National Restaurant Association, Herman Cain was twice accused of sexual harassment by women who were subsequently paid off and made to sign non-disclosure agreements.

POLITICO has a half-dozen sources shedding light on different aspects of the complaints.

The sources — which include the recollections of close associates and other documentation — describe episodes that left the women upset and offended. These incidents include conversations allegedly filled with innuendo or personal questions of a sexually suggestive nature, taking place at hotels during conferences, at other officially sanctioned restaurant association events and at the association’s offices. There were also descriptions of physical gestures that were not overtly sexual but that made women who experienced or witnessed them uncomfortable and that they regarded as improper in a professional relationship.

Nice work, Politico!

In a normal world, I would say that that would take care of Mr. Cain, whose candidacy is, to me, something of a joke. After all, as the Times reported, in his role as NRA lobbyist Cain…

….allied himself closely with cigarette makers fighting restaurant smoking bans, spoke out against lowering blood-alcohol limits as a way to prevent drunken driving, fought an increase in the minimum wage and opposed a patients’ bill of rights — all in keeping with the interests of the industry he represented.

As I say, in a normal world…. But then, this is a campaign where Rick Perry was found to have tolerated for years the use of a racial slur on a property he rented, and that was a story for about two days. (In my dream world, where both parties care about such things, this is a disqualifying event, which should have led to Perry withdrawing from the race, or at least issuing a soul-searching mea culpa.)

So here’s Herman Cain, a Washington lobbyist with an idiotic, anti-progressive tax plan and a history of sexual harassment. And yet he’s leading the GOP race….

David Warsh on Jacob Weisberg and Ron Susskind

Posted on October 26th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 6 Comments »

The economics blogger considers Ron Suskind’s The Confidence Men (which I’m just starting to read, at last).

no one yet has better documented the bumptiousness of [Larry] Summers, who has convinced himself, and many others, that he should return to head the Treasury Department, or, better yet, replace Ben Bernanke as chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. That’s not exactly news, of course. You could tell it from the leaks. And Suskind writes about what happened when Summers, “outraged and petulant,” learned that he wouldn’t get the job at the Fed:

“He started to list demands to Rahm [Emanuel]: a round of golf with Obama. He wanted to walk into major events, such as signature speeches or the State of the Union, with the cabinet, a privilege not given even to the senior-most advisory posts. And he wanted a car and driver, like Geithner had. The behavior was, for want of a better term, childish, and the Obama team’s attitude toward Larry began to shift from frustration, and sometimes fear, to eye-rolling incredulity.” [He got two rounds of golf with POTUS. and, when he left office, a sterling silver putter from the boss – but no car.]

As I’ve mentioned before: No one who read Harvard Rules would be the least bit surprised by this stuff (especially not the part about the car). I don’t mean to boast, but because I’ve always thought that the book didn’t get the credit it deserved—and that the nation could have been spared some pain if Barack Obama had read it—I would amend Warsh’s sentence to say that “no one has yet better documented the bumptiousness of Summers in Washington.” The story of Summers’ erratic and egomaniacal behavior in Cambridge was already told.

That said: Now we know why Larry Summers took up golf.

Also: Larry Summers as Fed chair? The mind shudders.

Friday Evening Zen

Posted on October 21st, 2011 in Uncategorized | No Comments »

The Chamisa Trail outside Santa Fe

The Chamisa Trail outside Santa Fe

Whale Watcher

Posted on October 20th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Ever since I was a little kid and my parents took me to the Museum of Natural History, I’ve been fascinated by blue whales. So how jealous am I of this guy, kayaking off the coast of southern California? Astonishing footage.

“It Doesn’t Get Any Better Than This”

Posted on October 19th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

Those are the sentiments of a Boston sports talk radio host on the subject of the Red Sox’s craziness—and I agree. It doesn’t get any better than this!

Yes, I know, the World Series starts tonight. But let’s face it—rubbernecking the Red Sox train wreck is much more fun. How you can resist a NYT article headlined “Red Sox Off-Season Consumed by Fried Chicken and Beer“?

“If they were in the World Series, we’d be talking about starting pitching, matchups, things like that,” [WEEI's John Dennis] went on. “This is better. It has everything: hatred, drama, firings. Everything.

It doesn’t have a local riot or wife-swapping yet. But we can hope.

A Cool World

Posted on October 19th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments »

Sometimes technology and the creativity of people who work with it really does amaze.

Take a look at this; I promise, it’s worth the time.

Wednesday Morning Zen

Posted on October 19th, 2011 in Uncategorized | 1 Comment »

The view from Route 84 (NM)

The view from Route 84 (NM)