"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

Friday, October 10, 2014

Obama at Northwestern

He's wrong here: 
Between a growing economy, some prudent spending cuts, health care reform, and asking the wealthiest Americans to pay a little bit more on their taxes, over the past five years we’ve cut our deficits by more than half. When I took office, the deficit was nearly 10 percent of our economy. Today, it’s approaching 3 percent. (Applause.) In other words, we can shore up America’s long-term finances without falling back into the mindless austerity or manufactured crises or trying to find excuses to slash benefits to seniors that dominated Washington budget debates for so long.
By every economic measure, we are better off now than we were when I took office.
The labor force participation rate?

progressive fiscal policy

Don’t Soak the Rich by Edoward D. Kleinbard
Our peer countries typically rely on large, regressive tax systems to mitigate income inequality far more than we do. For example, I compared Germany and the United States, using 2007 data (the last year unaffected by the Great Recession) collected by the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. The two countries had virtually equivalent levels of income inequality. Moreover, the American tax system as a whole was quite progressive, while Germany’s actually was regressive. 
Nonetheless, the American fiscal system as whole (including state and local government spending) reduced inequality in market income — that is, income before subtracting taxes and adding back government benefits — by only 22 percent, while Germany’s reduced it by 41 percent. The reason is that the German fiscal system was significantly larger in overall terms: Taxes accounted for about 36 percent of German gross domestic product, against 28 percent for the United States. It’s the spending side, not the taxes, that makes the difference.
Book Review: Edward Kleinbard’s “We Are Better Than This.” by Jared Bernstein

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

gay marriage

The Right Outcome for the Wrong Reasons by Dahlia Lithwick
This morning, without explanation, the justices of the Supreme Court refused to hear any of the seven cases pending before them regarding same-sex marriage. The unexpected action allows lower court rulings that overturned statewide bans to stand. This means that same-sex couples in Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, Wisconsin, and Indiana will be free to marry almost immediately. It also suggests that couples in West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Kansas, Colorado, and Wyoming—all covered by appeals courts that have struck down the bans—may be able to marry in the near future. The decision takes the parties who were waiting for a decision in these various states off hold and allows them to marry. But the Supreme Court today declined to issue any kind of guiding opinion about the constitutionality of gay marriage in all 50 states.
Scalia called it.

The Roberts Court’s Brief Progressive Moment by Jeffrey Toobin
It’s hard enough to know what the Justices of the Supreme Court are talking about when they write opinions, which tend to be dense, convoluted, and laden with coded references that are decipherable only to a few. But, on Monday, the Court presented an even greater interpretive challenge: determining what it meant when it said nothing at all. Without comment, the Court let stand successful challenges to the bans on same-sex marriage in five states. Those lower-court rulings had been stayed while the parties waited to hear from the Justices. Now that they won’t be saying anything, same-sex weddings can go forward in those states and, soon, in others in their circuits. Clerks in Utah and Virginia were already issuing marriage licenses on Monday afternoon. 
What was behind the Court’s action? Several theories make sense. The conservatives wanted to kick the can down the road until President Ted Cruz could replace Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The liberals wanted to kick the can down the road until same-sex marriage was boring and routine in most of the country. Chief Justice John Roberts didn’t want to be on the wrong side of history but couldn’t bring himself to vote with the liberals. Justice Ginsburg didn’t want to repeat the trauma of Roe v. Wade and let the Court get too far in front of the country. All are plausible. 
Ultimately, at the Supreme Court, what matters is the result, not the motives. So, because of Monday’s non-decision decision, gay people in thirty states, representing well more than half the country, will now enjoy the right to marry. A decade ago, marriage equality existed only in Massachusetts. It is a remarkable legal and social transformation—an astonishing victory for progressive legal thought and action.

Democrats are assholes too


Why do I see symmetry as important? Without symmetry, inflation might spend considerably more time below 2 percent than above 2 percent. Inflation persistently below the 2 percent target could create doubts in households and businesses about whether the FOMC is truly aiming for 2 percent inflation, or some lower number. This kind of unmooring of inflation expectations would reduce the effectiveness of monetary policy as a mitigant against adverse macroeconomic shocks. 
Second, I believe that the FOMC should consider articulating a benchmark two-year time horizon for returning inflation to the 2 percent goal. (Two years is a good choice for a benchmark because monetary policy is generally thought to affect inflation with about a two-year lag.) Right now, although the FOMC has a 2 percent inflation objective over the long run, it has not specified any time frame for achieving that objective. This lack of specificity suggests that appropriate monetary policy might engender inflation that is far from the 2 percent target for years at a time and thereby creates undue inflation (and related employment) uncertainty."
(via Thoma)

Monday, October 06, 2014

Krugman on Wolf

Why Weren’t Alarm Bells Ringing? by Paul Krugman


Thomas Piketty, Heather Boushey, and Anwar Shaikh at the New School of Social Reseach in New York.

cybernetic socialism

The Planning Machine: Project Cybersyn and the origins of the Big Data nation. by Evgeny Morozov


Great movie.

"He wants to know if you ever watched Mr. Magoo. He says he's not to be trusted. He's crazy. He says Magoo needs to go up on the mountain and get himself focused."


Dean Baker sends us to Fred Hiatt
Podesta was highlighting President Obama’s speech at Northwestern University on Thursday in which he declared fiscal victory and an end to the “mindless austerity” and “manufactured crises” of Washington budget debates.
 I was pretty mad about the strenghening dollar but this has been overlooked.

Sunday, October 05, 2014


Why Dilma Rousseff Could Win Brazil’s Presidential Election by Mark Weisbrot
"This return to growth, plus the government’s use of increased revenues to boost social spending, has reduced Brazil’s poverty rate by 55 percent and extreme poverty by 65 percent. For those in extreme poverty, the government’s internationally renowned conditional cash transfer program (Bolsa Familia) provided 60 percent of their income in 2011, up from 10 percent in 2003. A hefty increase in the minimum wage – 84 percent since 2003 after adjusting for inflation – also helped quite a bit. 
Unemployment has fallen to a record low of 4.9 percent; it was 12.3 percent when Lula da Silva took office in 2003. The quality of jobs has also increased: the percentage of workers stuck in the informal sector of the economy shrank from 22 to 13 percent."

The Knick and Jerrod Carmichael

I Changed My Mind About The Knick by Emily Nussbaum

First she thought it was too political and preachy AND it didn't have enough of the female or black perspective. But now she's on the bandwagon so good for her. As Keynes said "When the facts change, I change my mind."

Jerrod Carmichael's HBO special was good. Shot by Spike Lee. Here's a good taste:

And I have a schoolboy crush on Sarah Silverman.