Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Even As A Steely Dan Fan, I Can Appreciate This

The Onion pokes fun at Donald Fagen and the notoriously esoteric Steely Dan.

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Not Even Veterans Day Is Sacred Around Here

Since I'm feeling more misanthropic than usual today - and let's face it, that's the only reason anyone ever visits this blog - I'm taking the time to actually dissent on today's lovefest for the military and its servicemen and women. Yes, I'm actually going to find fault with Veteran's Day. Who's with me?!?

[Rubs hands with glee, twists imaginary handlebar mustache]

Veteran's Day used to be called "Armistice Day," which was conceived as a "a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace." But this notion was swept aside in the midst of Cold War hysteria, and in the last 50 years or so the day has evolved into a quasi-religious celebration of militarism.

It's no surprise that the Donkeyfister-in-Chief paid tribute to war veterans by stating that it is "a moral obligation" (!) to support them and their families - which is another way of saying that we must support the executive dictator and whatever aggression he may provoke.

But what is unsettling is that even civil society now parrots the state's command to worship and sanctify the soldier. Don't believe me? From the Atlanta Thrashers and the rest of the NHL to my own employer, everyone's on board with the program. Our CEO issued this e-mail message today:

A Special Veterans Day message from [CEO]

Ninety years ago today, guns fell silent in Europe and World War I fighting came to an end as an armistice between the Allied Nations and Germany went into effect on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month.

President Wilson proclaimed Nov. 11 as the first commemoration of Armistice Day (now called Veterans Day) in 1919 with the following words, "To us in America, the reflections of this day will be filled with solemn pride in the heroism of those who died in the country's service...".

Today, we salute the men and women who have served and currently serve in our armed forces. I hope that you will join me in thanking them, especially veterans we are lucky enough to also call co-workers and the 46 [company] employees currently in active military service, for their contribution and their sacrifice.

As we honor and give our appreciation to those who have served or are serving in our armed forces, let's continue our commitment to excellence - on the job and in our communities.

Thank you for all that you do for [company], and please stay safe.

This is utterly crazy - but thankfully some brilliant voices are being raised in protest.

Check out this blog, posted by Lew Rockwell from an e-mail by Phil Hensley:
On a day like today it is important to be thankful for all the freedoms we enjoy in this country:

In America, we enjoy the freedom of giving half our income to the government through various forms of taxes. We have the freedom to participate in a Ponzi scheme known as Social Security. We have the freedom to vote for the president. Unlike the voters of Iraq under Saddam Hussein, who only had one choice for president, we have two choices! We have the freedom to choose between Republican-led big government programs and Democrat-led big government programs. We have the freedom to use government-controlled money, which loses value every year. We have the freedom to subsidize the poltically-connected agricultural, automotive, and banking industries. We have the freedom of sending children through the compusory government-run education system, and then pay for job training for those that get through 12 years of schooling and still don't know how to do anything. We have the freedom to own guns, provided that said gun is approved by the government and we pass the government-mandated background check. If we get the appropriate permits and stand in then proper free-speech zone, we have the freedom to protest.

Thanks to all the veterans that defended these freedoms and kept them from being taken away!

I first encountered William Jennings Bryan's "The Paralyzing Influence of Imperialism" in the indispensable volume "We Who Dared to Say No to War." WJB delivered these remarks at the Democratic National Convention in 1900. His words are equally relevant today:
A large standing army is not only a pecuniary burden to the people and, if accompanied by compulsory service, a constant source of irritation but it is even a menace to a republican form of government. The army is the personification of force, and militarism will inevitably change the ideals of the people and turn the thoughts of our young men from the arts of peace to the science of war. The government which relies for its defense upon its citizens is more likely to be just than one which has at call a large body of professional soldiers.

A small standing army and a well-equipped and well-disciplined state militia are sufficient at ordinary times, and in an emergency the nation should in the future as in the past place its dependence upon the volunteers who come from all occupations at their country's call and return to productive labor when their services are no longer required - men who fight when the country needs fighters and work when the country needs workers. . . .
(See also "An Open Letter to My Fellow Veterans" by Camillo "Mac" Bica.)

The late Bill Hicks offers the perfect anti-tribute to soldiers:

And finally, perhaps "Flight of the Conchords" say it best:

If every soldier in the wo-orld
Put down his weapon and picked up a woman

What a peaceful world this world would be-eee...

Redheads not warheads

Blondes not bombs

We're talkin' about brunettes not fighter jets

Oooh Oooh it's got to be Sweet 16's not M-16's

When will the governments realize it's got to be funky sexy ladies?

So, yeah. Don't support the troops. Don't support institutionalized slaughter. Think for yourself. Happy Armistice Day. Peace.

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Meet the New Boss. Same As the Old Boss.

So, Barack Obama - the candidate whose watchwords on the campaign trail were Hope! and Change! - won. In the Orwellian parlance of modern statecraft, this of course means that Obama:

  • Won't end the occupation of Iraq and bring the troops home immediately.
  • Won't endorse a foreign policy of nonintervention.
  • Won't shut down Guantanamo Bay and end the practice of indefinite detentions without trial.
  • Won't encourage Congress - a Democratic majority - to repeal the USA PATRIOT Act.
  • Won't close the 120 American military bases scattered about the world.
  • Won't abolish the Federal Reserve or repudiate the institution of central banking.
  • Won't end the pointless, immoral and destructive War on Drugs.

Yep. Breathe it in, America. Hope. Change. Democracy.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Welfare for Wall Street Denied!

Victory may be temporary, but the House finally did something right by rejecting the awful bailout proposal backed by President Bush. Hooray for common sense!

The government counts on the average citizen not understanding the particulars of these stupid deals, but it's not that complicated. The article really clarifies what this is all about:

The legislation would have given Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson broad authority to buy troubled assets from financial companies to help ease a lending crunch triggered by the decline of the housing market.

The assets are "troubled" because they're worthless! Why should taxpayer money be used to buy up worthless debt? The government should not be in the business of propping up and subsidizing failure - that's a surefire way to guarantee more of it. Any why ease a "lending crunch?" Lending is the same thing as credit, which of course is someone else's debt. Since when is debt considered a good thing? This nation needs to learn how to save money and live within its means.

Here's another consideration. This $700 BILLION proposed for Wall Street's bailout: where do you think this money comes from? The government doesn't produce anything, so it has to raise the cash somehow. Well, the thieves have three options: steal it from taxpayers, borrow it from foreign banks, or - the option they nearly always choose - print up new currency via the Federal Reserve. It doesn't take an economist to see these options are really, really shitty. This financial mess was spurred, in fact, by printing money and flooding the markets with cheap credit. But this is what creates the bubble, that illusion of prosperity. Congress should repudiate the "bailout" once and for all, which will just postpone the inevitable day of reckoning. They can try to pass a bailout package but they cannot repeal the laws of economics.

For a solid understanding of these issues - which are not so esoteric as the establishment would have you believe - the LRC Recession Reader is indispensable reading. Check it out, and let's savor the bailout's defeat!

Sunday, September 28, 2008

GA Governor Ensures Gas Shortage to Continue

Mark Anderson does a wonderful job explaining how Georgia's moronic anti-gouging regulations - stubbornly enforced by cracker asshole Governor Perdue - are a major cause of the ridiculous 1970's-esque gas shortages that are plaguing Atlanta motorists.

I quite agree. And I know this will be outrageously pretentious, but I called it on this very blog, three years ago:

Sonny Perdue's grandstanding will only harm Georgia consumers in the long run. It's hard to believe that gas retailers are "gouging" consumers when people lose their minds and willingly pay high prices. Caveat emptor and all. Just yesterday at work, several people literally ran out of the building to go fill up their tanks. By falling for rumors about dry pumps and skyrocketing gas prices, people helped to ensure that these dire predictions came true. The smart thing to do was stick with normal fueling habits, maybe conserve a little, and just wait it out.

Personally, I don't understand what's "moral" about punishing voluntary exchange. Ask yourself which is worse: having to pay $4.00+ per gallon for gas, or not being able to buy any at all? This is no false choice: Perdue's punitive measures will reward poor consumption habits and cause shortages in the future. This is political opportunism masquerading as consumer protection. And that's way more immoral to me than so-called gouging. [9/1/05]
That was pretty spot-on, no? Especially since it's painfully clear that Sonny Perdue knows fuck-all about basic economics, and learned NOTHING from the episodes of 2005. If that ruddy-faced goober would just step aside and let the market correct the problem, we might all be able to get gas, instead of jamming Atlanta's busy streets and wasting hours in line.

Next time can we please listen to the economists instead of the politicians? PLEASE?

***UPDATE 9/29/08***
Check out Aaron Bilger's incredibly lucid article about this on LRC today. Well worth a read.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

"That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong."

The passage below, from Philip Roth's "American Pastoral," is too beautiful not to share:

You fight your superficiality, your shallowness, so as to try to come at people without unreal expectations, without an overload of bias or hope or arrogance, as untanklike as you can be, sans cannon and machine guns and steel plating half a foot thick; you come at them unmenacingly on your own ten toes instead of tearing up the turf with your caterpillar treads, take them on with an open mind, as equals, man to man, as we used to say, and yet you never fail to get them wrong. You might as well have the brain of a tank. You get them wrong before you meet them, while you're anticipating meeting them; you get them wrong while you're with them; and then you go home to tell somebody else about the meeting and you get them all wrong again. Since the same generally goes for them with you, the whole thing is really a dazzling illusion empty of all perception, an astonishing farce of misperception. And yet what are we to do about this terribly significant business of other people, which gets bled of the significance we think it has and takes on instead a significance that is ludicrous, so ill-equipped are we all to envision one another's interior workings and invisible aims? Is everyone to go off and lock the door and sit secluded like the lonely writers do, in a soundproof cell, summoning people out of words and then proposing that these word people are closer to the real thing than the real people that we mangle with our ignorance every day? The fact remains that getting people right is not what living is all about anyway. It's getting them wrong that is living, getting them wrong and wrong and wrong and then, on careful reconsideration, getting them wrong again. That's how we know we're alive: we're wrong. Maybe the best thing would be to forget being right or wrong about people and just go along for the ride. But if you can do that - well, lucky you. (p. 35)

I love that. Isn't it beautiful? And so mind-bendingly true?

Paulson and Bernanke: FAIL


h/t to reddit

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Media Keeps Flunking Economics, Rothbard Spins in His Grave

This article is a textbook example of how the media misrepresents economic issues - whether in this case from ignorance or bias, I don't know. Author David J. Lynch's Keynesian assumptions simmer beneath the surface of the whole article, so I'm leaning toward the latter.

Consider the conclusion. Because Lynch writes this without irony or criticism, we must conclude he silently approves of the implications:

One thing is clear: Government involvement in the financial system is expanding in ways that even the most fervent socialist could only have imagined one year ago. This week's federal proposal to help mortgage giants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, including opening the door to future government ownership stakes in the firms, is an "earthshaking event," Rogoff says.

And not an isolated one. It comes after the Federal Reserve has stretched its legal mandate and found creative ways to grease the financial system's levers. In March, the Fed midwived the sale of investment bank Bear Stearns to rival JPMorgan Chase in a bid to head off broader problems.

An era marked by regulators' light touch is at an end. "The system got carried away with financial innovation or financial engineering," El-Erian says. "Regulators didn't recognize how quickly things were moving. Now they're catching up."

"Regulators' light touch"? Really?

Our present economic turmoil is all down to the Fed's habit of cutting interest rates to unsustainable levels and inflating the money supply with reckless abandon! There is a clear cause and effect relationship between the government's manipulation of money and credit, and the booms and busts that ensue.

The Austrian theory of the business cycle was put forth years ago, and its message is as urgent as ever. If you're curious about the real reasons for our economic mess, please see the following:

Here's what bothers me about Lynch's article. USA Today is as mainstream as it gets. Articles like this are written every day, yet inevitably a false choice is presented: this much regulation, or that much. The underlying assumptions of Keynesian planning are never questioned. It is time to question them.

Forgive the length (as well as any copyright issues), but I'll close by quoting from the "Money" chapter of Congressman Ron Paul's "The Revolution: A Manifesto." These passages are worth quoting in full:

Central economic planning has been as discredited as any idea can possibly be. But even though we point to our devotion to the free market, at the same time we centrally plan our monetary system, the very heart of the economy. Americans must reject the notion that one man, whether Alan Greenspan, Ben Bernanke, or any other chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, can know what the proper money supply and interest rates ought to be. Only the market can determine that. Americans must learn this lesson if we want to avoid continuous and deeper recessions and to get the economy growing in a healthy and sustainable fashion. [p. 147]


For over a hundred years, the money issue has been absent from our political process. No political campaign has focused on it or even said much of anything about it. For most people, in fact, the Fed is a complete mystery, its operations incomprehensible. That seems to be just the way the Fed likes it. We are supposed to be bored by it. We are supposed to treat it as a given, like the air we breathe. We are supposed to have confidence in it - surely the experts who run our monetary system for us (and who of course have a vested interest in perpetuating the system we now have) couldn't be giving us bad advice! But point to it as the source of our eroding standard of living, the ravages of the boom-bust business cycle, and the financial bubbles that have ruined countless Americans? That is simply not to be found anywhere along the spectrum of allowable opinion in America. [p. 154]


Tinkering here and there is not the solution, but as I've said, it is the only proposal Americans are permitted to hear. It is long past time that we begin asking fundamental questions rather than trivial ones, that we educate the people rather than distract or confuse them. Simply trying to patch up monetary problems after they've occurred, whether it is the NASDAQ bubble or the housing bubble, neglects to treat the root of the problem and must therefore fail. We cannot solve the problems of inflation with more inflation. We need to ask: How did we get here? What causes these bubbles? Financial bubbles simply happen, the political establishment tells us; these bubbles are an unfortunate but inevitable side effect of a market economy. This is nonsense. But it is convenient nonsense for some people, and that's why it gets repeated so often. It gives the perpetrators of the financial debacle that now confronts us a chance to get off the hook. We shouldn't let them. [p. 156]

Sunday, June 22, 2008

Dissenting on the Tim Russert Elegy-Fest

Like many, I was surprised to learn that NBC's Tim Russert had died on Friday, 6/13. He seemed a decent enough man but I did not share in the media's outpouring of grief. Russert was an establishment mouthpiece through and through. No doubt he'll be missed by his loved ones and many admirers, but don't forget how he protected the powerful and acted the Smithers to the establishment's Burns.

Dick Cheney and Tim Russert on the set of "Meet the Press"

Herewith, a roundup of the best critiques of Russert and the cozy media/state union he represented:

The Messenger is the Message by Butler Shaffer
"The message machine owners – subdivided into various radio/television networks and print media who, nonetheless have a shared interest in the message content – hire the "journalists," commentators, and others, to write and deliver the agreed-upon script. It is into this class of people that Tim Russert – along with other members of the fraternity who now lament his passing – was accepted by the owners. He was safe for their purposes, not the sort of person to ask unsettling questions. One major media source referred to him as 'a towering figure in American journalism.' If such words were intended to acknowledge only that Russert was held in high regard by fellow disseminators of what is to the interest of the establishment to have the public believe, it is probably correct. If we are asked to believe, however, that he represented the kind of critical, journalistic inquiry that troubled the minds of the powerful, I strongly disagree."

Enough Already! by Justin Raimondo
"It wasn't just his sycophancy in the presence of power that motivates my little exercise in Russert revisionism – it's what was clearly his vehement hostility to anyone who challenged the status quo in any way and sought to provide an antidote to the Dick Cheneys of this world."

A Sinner's View of Tim Russert's Passing by Marc Cooper
"Indeed, without unfailingly pulling that last punch, Russert knew very well that he would risk excommunication from the Inner Sanctum of the Beltway. A harder landing for his guests could dry up that most cherished of press commodities: access and kinship with the powerful. That’s how Russert began his career, as a shrewd, smart political operative — a role he never really outgrew. Till the end, his temperament, his disposition and ambition positioned him to be a much, much better source than an actual reporter. When I go, I also want oodles of uncritical praise — but not from the subjects of my reporting."

Fuhrerprincip by Lew Rockwell
"Cable TV has been obsessed with [Russert] since his death. Time Magazine, we are reminded again and again, named him one of the 100 most powerful people in America, that is, one of the people most powerfully serving and advancing the state and the power elite. Of course, cable figures also lionize him because it enhances, or so they think, their own bloated sense of self-importance.

"We are also told that Russert asked tough questions of politicians. What a joke. He acted like their butler or valet--with one exception. When Russert interviewed Ron Paul, he was incredibly hostile, made lying insinuations, gave Ron almost no time to answer, and, in general, acted like a member of the Capitol Hill-neocon thugbund.

"Perhaps Russert, in confronting a genuine man of peace, felt guilty for his Bushian propaganda for war on Iraq, and the blood on his hands. The perpetually embedded journalist's body language was crabbed, and he never looked Ron in the eye."

(h/t to LRC for all links)

Friday, June 20, 2008

Great News! Hey, Wait a Second...

Hey everybody! Did you hear the news?

Atlanta Hawks head coach Mike Woodson resigned!


Wait, what's that?


Mike Woodson Re-Signs.

Fucking hyphen.

One Way Colin Cowherd Could Make the World a Better Place

I had the singular displeasure of tuning in to ESPN Radio's Colin Cowherd the other day. It took a mere three minutes of unbridled idiocy to get me scrambling for the volume control. After a few moments of silence I realized I was still absentmindedly twisting the knob leftward, sparking this insight:

By turning down my radio's volume, I was expressing the hope that the knob was somehow imbued with the magical power of imposing negative silence on Schrutebag. Not only did I hope he could emit no sound whatsoever, but with each twist of my volume control I wished his every attempt at speech would emit negative decibel levels - so that by opening his mouth he would actually muffle and absorb other irritating sounds - thereby making the world a quieter, gentler and, yes, saner place.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Boston Be Not Proud

Shit, has it been that long? It has.

Frankly, I've been caught in the vise grip of ennui for awhile, and it took a playoff run by the Atlanta Hawks (the Hawks!) to inspire me. I've witnessed nearly every Hawks home game since the start of 2006-07, and had anyone told me they'd push the mighty Celtics to Game 7 - before bowing out in the most ignominious cock-punching imaginable - I'd have wondered who dosed my cheese grits.

Of course, the Celtics were better. Their stars were more experienced. Their coaching was better. Their bench was deeper. Their defense was stouter. Their offense used such daring weapons as "high screens", "picks and rolls," "penetrations and kick-outs for open jumpers," and so on. Of course they eventually won, and won huge, as well they should have. When you look at the particulars of the series, the burning question is: how did the Hawks (the Hawks!) manage to win three games???

Yes, the young Hawks fed off the emotions of the home crowd, and much has been made of it. But what we witnessed in Atlanta represented so much more. This Hawks team represented the culmination of hope. We saw in this Hawks team a reason to care again: that youth, determination and, yes, faith could be rewarded. Over the years we patiently endured listless efforts, mounting losses, missed opportunities, and countless barbs. But what the Hawks improbably did in Games 3, 4, and 6 inspired all that cliched crap that makes us love sports: along the way they gave us redemption, genuine surprise, and unbridled joy.

Those of us who have been around all along understand. During Game 1 of the Thrashers playoffs last year, I watched as the Philips crowd shamefully booed the Hawks players shown on the video board. The players seemed embarrassed but endured it quietly. I was angry. How anyone could boo those guys - who busted their rears, cared so much, and showed slow yet steady improvement - was a mystery. Corny as it sounds, watching this team turn the boos into raucous cheers makes me feel almost like a proud parent. Our little Hawklings are all growns up!

Of all the images I'll take from this series, perhaps the most indelible came near the bitter end: Rajon Rondo raced downcourt for a fastbreak layup only to get the WWE treatment from Marvin Williams (!). Now, I don't condone Marvin's actions, but I do think it came off far dirtier than Marvin intended. However, what Marvin did symbolized everything the Hawks had to do to reach Game 7 - not just in this postseason, but in every game since the 13-69 season of 2004-05. That outburst of angry pride from the team's most gentle, laid back player sent a clear message: this Hawks team was no longer content to be a pushover or laughingstock. The Hawks needed to get tougher, and they did.

A quick word to the Celtics: eff you. Eff you right in the goddamn ear. What a bunch of spoiled, preening children. The snarling, throat-slashing, chest-thumping, and gang symbol histrionics - give me a fucking break. Their behavior is unbecoming of a franchise with such a storied history, and the lofty expectations to make more of it. Remember, Boston's "Big Three" played for teams that went a combined 87-159 in 2006-07. Then these nouveau riche douchebags win 66 games together and they act like lotto winners at a country club. How anyone could mistake their obnoxious self-congratulation for an authentic expression of intensity is beyond me.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Law Is Often But the Tyrant's Will"

Consider Thomas Jefferson's famous definition of individual liberty...

Rightful liberty is unobstructed action according to our will within limits drawn around us by the equal rights of others. I do not add 'within the limits of the law' because law is often but the tyrant's will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.

...while reading about President Bush's intention to veto the Senate ban on waterboarding [bold emphasis mine]:

Earlier, White House spokeswoman Dana Perino said the president would veto the measure because "the United States needs the ability to interrogate effectively, within the law, captured Al-Qaeda terrorists."

Democratic New York Senator Charles Schumer said that if Bush "vetoes intelligence authorization, he will be voting in favor of waterboarding."

Asked by a reporter if Bush, who leaves office in 2009, would be labeled as the first US president who favored torture, Perino rejected the assertion and dismissed Schumer's argument as "simplistic."

"Across the board people will see, over time, that this was a president who put in place tools to protect the country against terrorists," Perino said.

"The president does not favor torture. The president favors making sure we do all these programs within the law," she said, adding that "all the interrogations that have taken place in this country have been done in a legal way."


Perino said the United States does not currently use waterboarding, a simulated drowning technique denounced by rights groups as torture, even though the CIA has admitted using the technique in the past.

She reiterated the administration's assertion last week that it would not rule out the use of such techniques in the future. "As we said last week as well, we are not going to talk about what may or may not be lawful in the future."

Perhaps unwittingly, Perino gives away the administration's playbook: if the act is illegal, immoral or otherwise unacceptable, presto! Simply change the law - or the legal definition of "torture" - and go about your dirty business.

Jefferson warned of the dangers of equating the law with justice or fairness; indeed, most laws are incompatible with, and outright hostile to, individual liberty. So it's little surprise that Perino's argument, essentially, is: that which is legal may be done with impunity. And who decides what is legal? The executive dictator, his handpicked jurists, and a supine legislature, of course.

Thus the administration deploys legal positivism to justify torture and oppression. But it's legal and for your own protection, citizen.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Notes from NHL All-Star Weekend 2008

Full disclosure: I work part-time for the Atlanta Hawks & Thrashers. On game nights I'm up in the Philips Arena control room, working under the umbrella of video production.

Initially I'd been told I probably wouldn't be needed for the 56th NHL All-Star Game, so I made plans to attend the game instead. But less than two weeks ago I learned the NHL wanted an in-house stat guy after all. So what happened? Between Friday afternoon and Sunday night, I spent roughly 32 of 54 hours at Philips Arena preparing for the festivities - and, believe me, my hours were far from the longest among our crew. Our director endured a stretch of three days and only one meal. Despite the frantic conditions, I experienced one of the most memorable weekends of my life.

Herewith, some of the goofier behind-the-scenes highlights, in bullet-point format:

  • At Friday afternoon's rehearsal, our audio engineer said, "Guys, Milano sighting." Alyssa Milano, co-host of Saturday's Rockin' Skate event, emerged from one of the tunnels for a mic check. A few guys in the control room bolted to the window for a peek; it was the kind of scramble you might expect from someone yelling "Cops!" at a high school party. As it turned out, I was too late. She came out, said "Hello" into the mic, and left. That was it. One guy managed to catch a glimpse of her back, and proclaimed it to look "pretty good."

  • For Saturday morning's Rockin' Skate event - headlined by Disney Channel favorites the Jonas Brothers - the second commercial to run on the video board was the Bud Light "Dude" spot. Now, this is a funny spot, but it killed me for two reasons:

1) It was 8:10 in the morning. Which isn't too early for a beer if you're forced to sit through the Jonas Brothers, I suppose.

2) The Thrashers won't let anyone under 21 ride the Molson Zamboni between periods, but we can show beer commercials to a crowd of predominantly prepubescent teens. Wait, what?

  • Saturday afternoon, as we headed down to eat, a bunch of the NHL team mascots tromped among us through the hall. It was like walking into a SportsCenter commercial. One of my colleagues turned to me and said simply, "This is the surreal life, right here." It was hard to argue.

  • Up in the control room we run a goal pool for every Thrashers home game. The deal is everyone puts in a dollar, you pick the name of one Thrasher player out of a hat, and you win the pot if your guy scores the team's last goal. Last night we ran a special edition: the cost was $5 per player, per conference - $10 to play both conferences - with a best-case payout of $180. I ended up with Shawn Horcoff from Edmonton and Eric Staal from Carolina. Staal was on the bubble until Marc Savard's late game winner, assisted by (who else?) Eric Staal himself. As game MVP, Staal won a new Dodge Journey. As unlucky schmuck knocked off the bubble, I won nothing.

  • One of my favorite parts of the job is being able to see great camera shots that never make it up on the board. For example, during last night's "Sport Shorts," we caught a glimpse of an enthralled Eastern Conference bench laughing and wincing at the video. They were like a bunch of kids, and we were as entertained by them as they were by the video.

  • Last night I was exiting Philips Arena with my father-in-law, a Pittsburgh Penguins season ticket holder. He wore a Pens hat and Mario Lemieux jersey - pretty hard to miss if you're associated with the team. Naturally, who comes striding toward us but Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, who played in Saturday's YoungStars game. He shot us a look that said, "Shit, please don't stop me to talk" and kept right on going, prompting this exchange:

Father-in-law: "That was Kris Letang!"
Me: "I can't believe he didn't acknowledge you, what with all the Pens gear."
Father-in-law: "Aw, he's a dick anyway."

Take that, Kris Letang!

All in all, the weekend was sublime. To have attended an All-Star weekend is exhilarating enough, but I'm extremely proud to have participated in such an extraordinary production. Hopefully I'll get to do it again someday.

(Oh, and hopefully these revelations won't get me in trouble.)

Friday, January 18, 2008

Economists Ignore Their Economic Training to Support Edwards

The implications of this article are really quite astonishing:

Although John Edwards' campaign for the Democratic presidential nomination may be stalling, a group of economists is trying to get it running again.

William Darity, professor of public policy studies, African and African-American studies and economics, joined 33 other economists from various institutions in endorsing a statement that calls the former North Carolina senator the candidate who "has best demonstrated the capacity and the policies to be the next president of the United States."

The group, known as Economists for Edwards, was recruited by James Galbraith, professor of government at the University of Texas at Austin.

Galbraith said he started the group after an article in The New York Times claimed, "[Edwards'] populist bent helps explain why only one high-profile economist... has joined the campaign."

"The important thing was to establish that... I'm not the only guy out there with an economics Ph.D. who [supports Edwards]," he added.

He said the economists who endorsed the statement shared "a willingness to think large on policy questions."

The real clincher comes at the end:

John Herlin, a second-year graduate student in economics, said economic issues are often just one of many factors economists consider when choosing a candidate to support.

"If economists were going to support a presidential candidate based purely on what is taught in economics courses, we would probably all support Ron Paul," he said.

What an astounding (and refreshingly candid) revelation this is! Trained professionals of all kind no doubt consider many factors when choosing a candidate, but here you have economists supporting a candidate whose economics are quite clearly terrible. It's like the atheist supporting an evangelical like Mike Huckabee. What level of cognitive dissonance is required for such a decision?

To understand just how odd it is for credentialed economists to support a socialist like John Edwards, see what Lew Rockwell wrote recently about the importance of economic education as it relates to liberty:

The socialist and the advocate of free markets observe the same facts. But the person with economic knowledge understands their significance and implications. For example, only Ron Paul, of all American public officials, really understands economics. This is why we must never underestimate the central role of teaching about economics. Facts will always be with us. Wisdom, however, must be taught. Achieving a culture-wide understanding of liberty and its implications has never been more important.

William Garrity and James Galbraith are to economics what the 'intelligent design' crowd is to science. These court economists pervert and betray the discipline by cheering the statist Edwards. Supporting a candidate's politics is fine - but it's crossing the line to provide intellectual cover for economic policies you know to be destructive.