Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Jim Cramer, Eliot Spitzer

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Merry Belated Xmas/Early Album Listen

Merriweather Post Pavillion (ripped from two vinyls so the tracks aren't split up correctly, but the sound quality is good).

Just sharing the <3

Merry xmas!

Friday, December 26, 2008

Happy Holidays!

If tolerance requires saying “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” then I submit it is better to say nothing at all. Saying “Happy Holidays” supposedly enables us to spread the holiday cheer without making implicit assumptions about another person’s religion or background. Offering such a wish, however, does assume that the person is celebrating some holiday this time of year. While this may be a safe assumption for Christians, Jews, Muslims, and some blacks, there are many individuals (Hindus, atheists etc.) for whom this is not a holiday season. Those who don’t celebrate any major holidays this time of year are equally likely to be offended at being wished happy holidays as a Jew to whom one mistakenly says “Merry Christmas.” These non-holiday celebrators deserve just as much consideration as non-Christmas holiday celebrators. Therefore, if cultural sensitivity demands that we wish those people whose faiths we are unsure about “Happy Holidays” instead of “Merry Christmas,” it even more strongly requires that we say nothing at all.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

What do we do to a punk-ass white collar criminal?

Arguing that Bernard Madoff probably deserves not decades, but years in prison, Harlan J. Protass (a professor at Cardozo Law), says:

Remember Jeffrey Skilling? Losses to Enron shareholders of more than $1 billion largely determined his 24-year-plus sentence. Or consider WorldCom's former chief, Bernard J. Ebbers. He got 25 years based principally on the $2.2 billion loss suffered by his company's shareholders. Sure, these men destroyed enormous shareholder value, just as the targets of today's criminal cases allegedly did. But it's hard to contend that they deserved prison terms longer than the average sentence for murder (22 years), kidnapping (14) and sexual abuse (eight).

Horseshit. Think about how many lives you could save with $1 billion, $2 billion, or $50 billion, the amount that Madoff alleges he stole. The amount that our government values a human life at when doing benefit-cost analyses is typically less than $10 million, although some risk regulation, such as that for airlines, spends a lot more per statistical life saved (see this article for an explanation of the basic concept).

Basically, $1 billion spent on extra car safety mechanisms or improved air quality will lead to somewhere around 100 statistical lives saved. If it were spent on something beneficial in the underdeveloped word, like iodine, it could save even more. Granted, Madoff's clients were not going to go spend their money on improving car safety, but the principle stands: this man has taken the equivalent of thousands of lives. If others have to pay a high cost for that, so should he (of course, I'm not sure if I believe in retributive justice, and even then, it depends, of course, on his level of culpability for the crime).

Friday, December 19, 2008

Blagojevich Agonistesvich

"Now I know there are some powerful forces arrayed against me. It's kind of lonely right now. But I have on my side the most powerful ally there is, and it's the truth."

A moving speech. The Kipling quotation was beautiful. I will join you, Rod, in taking up the White Man's Burden against your accusers. You are a modern day Socrates, for whom the will to truth is valued over the pastry chefs out there who wish to destroy you by feeding the People sweet, delicious lies. You are a modern day Willie Stark, a Huey Long from the Land of Lincoln, for whom no amount of support from the People can dissuade those upwardly mobile Irish Romanists from destroying you. You are also, as the scholar Josh Marshall elegantly and aptly puts it, quite possibly insane.

Tuesday, December 02, 2008

Unintentional neocon irony award, pt. 234,104

Robert Kagan today:
"Would such an action [the "international community" establishing an "international force" to invade Kashmir] violate Pakistan's sovereignty? Yes, but nations should not be able to claim sovereign rights when they cannot control territory from which terrorist attacks are launched. If there is such a thing as a 'responsibility to protect,' which justifies international intervention to prevent humanitarian catastrophe either caused or allowed by a nation's government, there must also be a responsibility to protect one's neighbors from attacks from one's own territory, even when the attacks are carried out by 'non-state actors.'"
"Either way, it would be useful for the United States, Europe and other nations to begin establishing the principle that Pakistan and other states that harbor terrorists should not take their sovereignty for granted."
Um, what? Where can I get my hands on Kagan's magical elixir of forgetting?

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