What He Said


Certes, ’tis true that I am not one who generally appreciates certain modern shorthand, such as ^ ^, +1, or, shudder m’soul, ditto. Then again, Ryan Grim made the point many felt viscerally as the news broke.

Still, though, it’s hard to not nod grimly (ha!) and think, “Yeah … what he said.”

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Quote of the Year: Phyllis Schlafly on Sex Discrimination


The best way to improve economic prospects for women is to improve job prospects for the men in their lives, even if that means increasing the so-called pay gap.

Phyllis Schlafly

Phyllis SchlaflySo, right. It’s over. This is our quote of the year. I mean, come on, really: Yes, she said that.

Well, wrote it, specifically.

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A New View of Austerity?


When it comes to things that bear repeating, thankfully there are bloggers to do the job. After all, if the point doesn’t communicate the first few times, only saturation will suffice. What? Okay, not exactly, but still, there are some things that shouldn’t require such repetition. To wit, Steve Benen:

When a nation tries to recover from an economic downturn, there are a variety of things policymakers have no control over. After the Great Recessions, for example, neither the White House nor Congress could control the Eurozone crisis, a natural disaster in Japan, or unrest in the Middle East.

It’s an unpredictable world with inter-connected economies and volatility often lurking just out of sight. But this realizations only reinforces a lesson congressional Republicans have forgotten: U.S. policymakers should, at a minimum, not make matters worse.

Consider, for example, what unemployment would be if government weren’t trying to create jobs and lay off public-sector workers at the same time.

He’s actually pointing to Phil Izzo’s blog post for The Wall Street Journal, which makes a point that ought to be familiar to all by now:

Federal, state and local governments have shed nearly 750,000 jobs since June 2009, according to the Labor Department‘s establishment survey of employers. No other sector comes close to those job losses over the same period. Construction is in second worst place, but its 225,000 cuts are less than a third of the government reductions. To be sure, construction and other sectors performed worse during the depths of the recession, but no area has had a worse recovery.

A separate tally of job losses looks even worse. According to the household survey, which is where the unemployment rate comes from, there are nearly 950,000 fewer people employed by the government than there were when the recovery started in mid-2009. If none of those people were counted as unemployed, the jobless rate would be 7.1%, compared with the 7.7% rate reported on Friday.

What’s that? Well, it’s one of those weird issues that stays in the background no matter how important it actually is, regardless of how often it is actually thrust into the spotlight.

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Age, guile, and a bad economy


Michael Kindt gets the quote of the day:

Cagle PostI can’t drink like I used to. I actually NEED to sleep. When I was in my 20s, I’d get three hours and be good to go. Sure, I’d be grouchy, but I wouldn’t be physically compromised like now. I have gray in my beard. My manhood still functions, but sticking it everywhere now strikes me as a bad idea. And I have passed the point where bad movies aren’t amusing. They’re just bad movies and my time is more precious than irony.

I hate to admit it, but that really is a good summary of aging. And I’ve yet to achieve forty. But that is beside the point. Believe it or not, his larger point is about the economy. Continue reading

Labor Inaction


Mark Steel, a watermelon, a young boy, and a plastic fetishI mean, really ….

At last, someone’s come up with a clean, decisive system for holding elections. The way it works is everyone has a vote, and then the management of British Airways and a judge decide the result. They’ve tried this method with the ballot for a strike amongst cabin crews, who voted 7,482 to 1,789 in favour. So the courts ruled that this didn’t count because the Unite union didn’t mention, in some of its announcements, that 11 ballot papers had been spoilt.

There has been the odd critic of this ruling, such as the President of North Korea who said, “Oh that’s going TOO far”, but you can see BA’s point. Because there may have been many union members who were only prepared to support the strike as long as the number of spoilt ballot papers wasn’t a prime number. Imagine how cheated they’d have felt if they’d lost three days’ pay, assuming the number of spoilt papers was 12 or something divisible by seven and then they’d found out the shocking truth when it was too late.

So the courts decided the strike was illegal and the ballot has to start again. This time it could be 10,000 in favour and none against, and a judge will say, “It still doesn’t count, because the union didn’t announce the result in a Geordie accent.” So Unite will comply with that, and the judge will say, “No, that was Middlesborough. You’ll have to start all over again.” The next vote will be annulled because the union reps didn’t convey the result as a piece of contemporary dance, and the one after that won’t count because a writing expert will declare some ballot papers were marked by a voter’s left hand, which is the Devil’s hand and Satan isn’t registered as a paid-up Unite member. Then there’ll be a rule that as they’ll be thrown away in the event of a strike, each in-flight dinner should have a vote, which will be assumed to be “No” if they don’t bother.

This would make more sense than the statement by BA chief Willie Walsh, who said, “The vast majority of our staff have demonstrated they don’t support this strike.” He can say that because unlike the union, which is relying on the shady evidence of the number of votes cast, he’s going on the more dependable basis of what he sort of reckons.

Maybe you missed this during the brouhaha about the British general election. I did, sort of. I mean, I remember hearing talk of a BA strike. I remember hearing about the vote in favor of a strike. But the rest of it I somehow missed.

Not that any of that matters from the far side of a continent on the far side of an ocean from Britain, but there is something amiss when it’s the comedian‘s explanation of something that makes us say, “Oh, that makes sense. Why didn’t you say so before?”

Truth is stranger than fiction, and it is my understanding—gleaned from some dark recess of my past—that this is because sooner or later, fiction is obliged to make some manner of sense. But if one ever doubts this maxim, they need only look to the free world, and the devices by which we keep ourselves, more or less, free.

Onion peelings


So, what do you do when the light turns blue with orange and lavender spots?

Sometimes, you know, I wake up and suddenly I’m in a bad movie.

Or a Monty Python sketch.

Or, worse yet, a cliché.

And it does no good to pinch myself, or mutter, “One, two, three, wake up!” No, no. We’re stuck here, you and I.

Fuck.
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Bailout: A simple (yeah, right) question


In an attempt to ease back into rhythm, a simple question. Paul Kane and Lori Montgomery bring us the news:

In a narrow vote, the House today rejected the most sweeping government intervention into the nation’s financial markets since the Great Depression, refusing to grant the Treasury Department the power to purchase up to $700 billion in the troubled assets that are at the heart of the U.S. financial crisis.

The 228-205 vote amounted to a stinging rebuke to the Bush administration and Treasury Secretary Henry M. Paulson Jr., and was sure to sow massive anxiety in world markets. Just 11 days ago, Paulson urged congressional leaders to quickly approve the bailout. He warned that inaction would lead to a seizure of credit markets and a virtual halt to the lending that allows Americans to acquire mortgages and other types of loans.

David Horsey, Seattle Post-Intelligencer, September 26, 2008This whole episode seemed sketchy from the outset. On the one hand, the economy does appear to be falling apart, and such an event falls well within the purview of the federal government’s concern. To the other, though, it seemed suspicious that, after waiting so long to acknowledge the situation, the Bush administration wanted Congress to pass a seven hundred-billion dollar solution in a matter of days.

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