"It is easy to confuse what is with what ought to be, especially when what is has worked out in your favor."
- Tyrion Lannister

"Lannister. Baratheon. Stark. Tyrell. They're all just spokes on a wheel. This one's on top, then that's ones on top and on and on it spins, crushing those on the ground. I'm not going to stop the wheel. I'm going to break the wheel."

- Daenerys Targaryen

"The Lord of Light wants his enemies burned. The Drowned God wants them drowned. Why are all the gods such vicious cunts? Where's the God of Tits and Wine?"

- Tyrion Lannister

"The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are."

- Jorah Mormont

"These bad people are what I'm good at. Out talking them. Out thinking them."

- Tyrion Lannister

"What happened? I think fundamentals were trumped by mechanics and, to a lesser extent, by demographics."

- Michael Barone

"If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."
- Dorothy Parker

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Hitchens applauds the Guardian.
Corey Robin drops some names
Presumably because they are, in Yglesias’ eyes, the real movers and shakers of the economy, as opposed to the vast majority of middle- and working-class people or the government that represents them.
Presumably? Again it's no surprise that the left doesn't advance their/our policy goals. They're too busy calling people sellouts.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Dana Jennings reviews "A Dance with Dragons."
Best of all, "Dragons" puts us back in the company of Tyrion Lannister, a bitter but brilliant dwarf whose humor, swagger and utter humanity make him the (often drunken) star of the series. When Tyrion is present, "Song of Ice and Fire" becomes "A Rogue’s Progress, or the Further Ribald Adventures of Tyrion Lannister."
Mr. Martin is a literary dervish, enthralled by complicated characters and vivid language, and bursting with the wild vision of the very best tale tellers. And Tyrion is his grandest creation. A kin slayer and fugitive, Tyrion assumes manifold roles in "Dragons": mummer, soldier, paymaster, slave, river rat and captive. He’s in on the cosmic joke of being a "high-born dwarf" and is quick to give practical Westeros wisdom: "Trust no one. And keep your dragon close." He also notes that “a small man with a big shield will drive the archers mad"

Alyssa Rosenberg's review of "A Dance with Dragons" complete with spoilers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

NYTimes on the Debt Ceiling Clown Show*
Recounting how the 1995 government shutdown helped President Bill Clinton win re-election the following year, Mr. McConnell said any impasse that drove down the nation’s credit rating and led to government checks being delayed could have the same result for Mr. Obama.
"He will say Republicans are making the economy worse," Mr. McConnell said in an interview with the conservative radio host Laura Ingraham. "It is an argument that he could have a good chance of winning, and all of the sudden we have co-ownership of the economy. That is a very bad position going into the election."

Kristof Perpetuates the Clinton Budget Myth by Dean Baker
Nicholas Kristof is mostly on the mark in his column this morning, but he does repeat the Clinton fiscal responsibility balanced the budget myth. This is not true.
An examination of the Congressional Budget Office's (CBO) projections from the 1990s shows that in 1996 CBO still projected a deficit of 2.7 percent of GDP for fiscal year 2000. Instead, we had a surplus of 2.4 percent of GDP, a shift of 5.1 percentage points of GDP (@$750 billion in today's economy).
This shift did not come about from tax increases or spending cuts. CBO estimates that the tax and spending changes between 1996 and 2000 added $10 billion to the year 2000 deficit. The shift was entirely attributable to faster than expected economic growth and especially the decision by Federal Reserve Board chairman to allow the unemployment rate to fall to 4.0 percent.
CBO had projected an unemployment rate of 6.0 percent for 2000. This was the conventional estimate of the NAIRU (non-accelerating inflation rate of unemployment) at the time. It was only because Greenspan ignored this nearly universally held view in the economics profession (and the Clinton appointees to the Fed) that the economy was able to grow enough to get the unemployment rate down to 4.0 percent and to bring the budget from deficit to surplus.
This is an important piece of history that is routinely buried.
*"debt ceiling clown show" is Baker's coinage.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Owen Jones's Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class reviewed by Dwight Garner
Here’s how Mr. Jones sets the scene. "Sitting around the table were people from more than one ethnic group. The gender split was 50-50, and not everyone was straight. All would have placed themselves somewhere left of center politically." Each guest "would have bristled at being labeled a snob." Disaster arrived, as it always seems to, with the black currant cheesecake. That’s when the talk turned to the economic crisis. One of the party’s hosts joked: "It’s sad that Woolworth’s is closing. Where will all the chavs buy their Christmas presents?" The other guests tittered. Mr. Jones stewed.
The word chav, if your subscriptions to British periodicals have lapsed, is a noun that essentially means "ugly prole": loutish, tacky, probably drunken and possibly violent. The stereotypical chav is a hormonal 20-something lad in an Adidas tracksuit, sideways Burberry baseball cap and bling, but women can be chavs, too. Think of Snooki with a cockney accent.
Mr. Jones is very young (he’s 26) and hideously talented. Reading "Chavs," I often cursed aloud as if I’d banged my thumb with a mallet, which is how I express keen literary pleasure until I can arrive at something more coherent to say.
The author notes how demonizing the lower classes makes it easier to make policy against them. "To admit that some people are poorer than others because of the social injustice inherent in our society would require government action," he writes. "Claiming that people are largely responsible for their circumstances facilitates the opposite conclusion."

The front half of "Chavs" is vastly superior to its back half...
This book could have been a rippling, rock-hard classic at 150 pages -- the book you’d see peeking out of every college student’s back pocket and rucksack during the summer of 2011. At nearly twice that length, it is still something to behold, a work of passion, sympathy and moral grace.
Recently, I've also came across the new verb (to me) "glassed" a couple times. "Game of Throne" actors Sean Bean (Ned Stark) and Jason Momoa (Drago) were both cut with broken bottles at bars, Bean recently in London and Momoa a while back in Hawaii.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Joe Nocera exit-interview with Sheila Blair.
As she thinks back on it, Bair views her disagreements with her fellow regulators as a kind of high-stakes philosophical debate about the role of bondholders. Her perspective is that bondholders should take losses when an institution fails. When the F.D.I.C. shuts down a failing bank, the unsecured bondholders always absorb some of the losses. That is the essence of market discipline: if shareholders and bondholders know they are on the hook, they are far more likely to keep a close watch on management’s risk-taking.
During the crisis, however, Treasury and the Fed were adamant about protecting debt holders, fearing that if they had to absorb losses, the markets would be destabilized and a bad situation would get even worse. "What was it James Carville used to say?" Bair said. "'When I die I want to come back as the bond market.'"
Jared Bernstein on the exit interview.