Meet the Press in Hell

by Kieran Healy on June 8, 2006

A “transcript”: from World O’Crap, with Tim Russert and panelists Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, Satan (“Call me Bob”) and Jesus Christ. A taste:

*Russert*: Mr. Christ, what do you say to accusations that you’re opposed to fighting a battle to bring about the end of all life on Earth because you’re an Anti-Semite?

*Jesus*: Well, first of all, I’d like to point out that I myself am Jewish—

*Ann Coulter*: Yeah! Just like George Soros. Another Jew who somehow figured out a way to avoid crucifixion.

*Jesus*: I WAS crucified! (DISPLAYS WOUNDS IN HANDS)

*Michelle Malkin*: Why don’t people ask him more specific questions about the nails in his hands and feet? There are legitimate questions about whether or not they were self-inflicted wounds.

*Russert*: What do you mean self-inflicted? Are you suggesting Mr. Christ crucified himself on purpose?

*Michelle Malkin*: Did you read the book by Barabbas and the Golgotha Veterans for Truth? Some of the thieves who were actually crucified have made allegations that these were self-inflicted wounds.

*Jesus*: I did not NAIL MYSELF to the cross!

Shakespeare’s hysterectomies

by Harry on June 8, 2006

Richard Garner provides some nice howlers about Shakespeare from 14-year-olds. Worth showing to your own 14-yr-olds, perhaps:

a pupil dealt with Macbeth’s three witches and the appearance of the dagger used to kill Duncan by saying: “Macbeth had been smoking up and imaged them all.”

Macbeth, on hearing of his wife’s death, according to one pupil,”goes into full-on soliloquy mode”. Another says that the Scottish noble gets his revenge because “as my mum always sez ‘wot goes around comes around'”.

I’ve deliberately not quoted the best ones.

Changing equilibria in American politics

by Henry Farrell on June 8, 2006

“Mark Schmitt”: has a good article in this month’s _The American Prospect_, which is now available on the New America Foundation’s website. He argues that we’re probably seeing a secular shift to a more partisan and polarized politics, with less emphasis on bipartisan coalition building, and more on party coherence. The interesting bit is his take on interest group politics.

bq. It has become an article of faith on Democratic blogs such as DailyKos that progressive interest groups betray their own causes by sometimes endorsing Republicans. The Sierra Club and NARAL endorsements of Republican Senator Lincoln Chafee have been particular points of controversy. But it’s not that NARAL and the Sierra Club are idiots. Up to now, it made perfect sense for them to endorse Chafee. You reward your friends, especially when they have stood up to pressure from within their own party. But at a certain point, rewarding friendly Republicans crosses the line into desperately trying to prop up a few so that you can still seem bipartisan—at the price of legitimating a majority whose highest priority after tax cuts is the evisceration of environmental regulation.

While I agree with Mark’s conclusions, I suspect that there’s more going on here than he mentions. Another reason why progressive interest groups might want to endorse Republicans occasionally is because this increases their bargaining leverage vis-a-vis Democrats. If you want to get Democrats to take your agenda seriously, it helps to be able to make credible threats that you’ll support the other guys unless you get your way. One way to underline the seriousness of your threats is occasionally to endorse moderate members of the opposing party. If Mark is right (I think he is), then the ability of progressive interest groups to make these threats will shrivel away as moderate Republicans lose office. Hence, such groups are likely to lose a lot of their clout. This doesn’t necessarily mean that all interest groups are going to lose out. I suspect that interest groups which draw their bargaining leverage from threats to support more ‘orthodox’ candidates in primaries, along the lines of Grover Norquist’s crowd on the Republican side, are going to do quite well under the new system. If so, then these will further weaken incentives towards bipartisanship, and help reinforce party discipline on both sides of the divide.

(Link via “Political Theory Daily Review”: )

More conversions on global warming

by John Q on June 8, 2006

It’s getting lonely for the denialists. According to the Sierra Club, even pollster Frank Luntz, author of an infamous memo urging Republicans to exploit doubt on global warming, has jumped ship.

More interesting perhaps is Tyler Cowen, who concedes that

It is by now pointless to deny that global warming is man-made to a considerable degree.

but is very pessimistic about our ability to do anything about it. (via Brad DeLong)

Since such pessimism is inversely correlated with faith in markets to achieve adjustments to changing prices (and since Tyler is generally pretty optimistic about the capacity of markets to do almost anything), I find this quite surprising. Given a reasonable long-run elasticity of demand for C02 emissions, there’s every reason to suppose that very large reductions in global emissions could be achieved in the long run at a welfare cost of only a few percentage points of world GDP.