Many writers with basic numeracy skills have already commented on the silliness of rich people who have no idea how the tax system works, but these commentators fail to appreciate one essential fact: the dumb, affluent, whiny Americans featured in this NY Times piece are beacons of hope for millions of their fellow citizens who suck at math but want to be rich. It's quite possible to be both…
Tags: Money, New York Times, Taxes
The purpose of a David Brooks op-ed is to introduce America to the real David Brooks. Fortunately, I have spent ten minutes researching the subject. I can provide you with a definitive biography and a unique look into the Swiftian soul of this New York Times political commentator.
David Brooks is a Jewish writer born in Canada on 8/11/61. To paraphrase Churchill, in his youth, Brooks was a brainless liberal but then slowly aged into a heartless conservative. In the early '80s, he wrote a parody of William F. Buckley, Jr. chiding the pundit for being "…in the habit of going into crowded rooms and making everybody else feel inferior. The evenings are reserved for extended bouts of name-dropping." As it turned out, Buckley was so tickled he invited Brooks to write for the National Review. It was during this time that he debated the world-famous economist Milton Friedman on live television. Yeah. That's right. Milton Friedman, MFers. Who's name dropping now?
Tags: David Brooks, Mitt Romney, New York Times
Mitt Romney once described himself as a "severely conservative governor," marking the first time that adverb had been used to describe something other than an illness. Whether or not that's true, according to Nate Silver's analysis of House vote data, Ryan is the most severely conservative vice presidential nominee in at least 100 years…
Various statistical measures of Mr. Ryan peg him as being quite conservative. Based on his Congressional voting record, for instance, the statistical system DW-Nominate evaluates him as being roughly as conservative as Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota.
By this measure, in fact, which rates members of the House and Senate throughout different time periods on a common ideology scale, Mr. Ryan is the most conservative Republican member of Congress to be picked for the vice-presidential slot since at least 1900. He is also more conservative than any Democratic nominee was liberal, meaning that he is the furthest from the center. (The statistic does not provide scores for governors and other vice-presidential nominees who never served in Congress.)
Unfortunately, that's not how science — even political science — works. In essence, a NOMINATE score measures how frequently a member of Congress agrees with other members of his or her party, but the policies that constitute the party line change over the years.
For example, a loyal Republican in the 1930s may be a staunch isolationist, while a Republican with a similar score in the 2000s will only favor withdrawal from Iraq if the troops are sent next door to Iran. Likewise, congressmen from the 1920s couldn't vote to cut Social Security and throw grandma off the fiscal cliff because Social Security didn't exist.
So it's not possible to evaluate whether Ryan is more conservative than Charles W. Fairbanks, though it's perfectly plausible to use NOMINATE to determine that Ryan stands somewhere to the right of Dick Cheney. A dangerous place politically and also physically, as it may get you shot in the face.
Chart by Nate Silver/NY Times
Tags: Conservatives, Dick Cheney, Nate Silver, New York Times, Paul Ryan
* If you missed anything this week, here's an overview from The Onion.
* This NY Times puff piece on Mitt Romney isn't so puffy.
* Americans used to be record holders, but not anymore.
* Money can officially grow on trees, via Laughing Squid.
* Mother Jones speculates about the classes at "Newt University".
Tags: Daily Links, Michelle Obama, Mother Jones, New York Times, Newt Gingrich, Patriotism, Republican National Convention, The Daily Show, The Onion, Wonkette
After going to Israel and emphasizing the "offensive" in charm offensive by suggesting that the culture of Palestinians living in the occupied territory was responsible for their economic weakness, Romney went on to dismiss the notion that he ever discussed Palestinian culture, before writing an op-ed titled "Culture Does Matter" in National Review Online.
It was a flippy-floppy dance worthy of Rafalca, but what caught the attention of some was Romney's dismissive summary of Jared Diamond's Guns, Germs and Steel, which Romney described as saying "basically… the physical characteristics of the land account for the differences in the success of the people that live there. There is iron ore on the land and so forth."
Unfortunately for Romney, Diamond decided to stage a Marshall McLuhan in Annie Hall moment in the New York Times today, informing Romney that he knows nothing of his work…
Tags: Economy, Mitt Romney, New York Times, Science & Technology