URLs du Jour


  • Craig Newmark excerpts an amazing bit of a CNBC interview with Warren Buffet where he was asked about where things went wrong with the "regulation" of Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac.
    Mr. BUFFETT: Well, it's really an incredible case study in regulation because something called OFHEO was set up in 1992 by Congress, and the sole job of OFHEO was to watch over Fannie and Freddie, someone to watch over them. And they were there to evaluate the soundness and the accounting and all of that. Two companies were all they had to regulate. OFHEO has over 200 employees now. They have a budget now that's $65 million a year, and all they have to do is look at two companies.
    … and maybe you can guess what happened, but if there's the slightest doubt in your mind, click on through.

    If you have a strong belief in the benevolent omnipotence and omniscience of government regulation, perhaps Buffet's comments will make you at least an agnostic, if not an atheist. (Via Marginal Revolution.)

  • David Bernstein notes the Associated Press methodology for reporting on Obama's ties to unrepentant terrorist William Ayers. It appears to involve the AP reporter handing his keyboard over to an Obama flack so that campaign talking points can be typed directly into the story.

  • Stephen Green quotes Ms. Jane Smiley:
    Every time I think of William Ayers, I also think of John McCain, because they are of the same era, and they both believed in the efficacy of violence.
    Every time I think of Jane Smiley, I also think of Curly Howard, because even though they are not of the same era, they both share the same problem:
    "I'm tryin' to think, but nothin' happens!"
    (Should you be in the mood for lengthy screeds, previous Pun Salad posts on Ms. Smiley are here and here.)

Last Modified 2008-10-05 8:27 PM EST

The Phony Campaign

2008-10-05 Update

Unaccountably, both major candidates lose phony hits this week:

Query StringHit CountChange Since
"John McCain" phony1,200,000-70,000
"Barack Obama" phony1,140,000-100,000
"Bob Barr" phony50,300+5,900

Let's also do this, in honor of the VP debates:

Query StringHit Count
"Sarah Palin" phony405,000
"Joe Biden" phony354,000

I know. That seems ridiculously low for Joe Biden.

  • Because number one on the Google hitlist for Joe is Betsy Newmark's blog post "Joe Biden's phony reputation." It is a first-class collection of links and analysis of Biden's "knowledgeable and experienced" performance at the debate, which (in the quoted words of Mark Steyn) involved "complete blithering balderdash and hogwash."

  • Betsy's post mainly involves important stuff on foreign policy. But true phonies can inject inauthenticity into trivial matters too. When Palin invoked "everyday working Americans", Biden sputtered:
    Look, all you have to do is go down Union Street with me in Wilmington or go to Katie's Restaurant or walk into Home Depot with me where I spend a lot of time and you ask anybody in there …
    That got a lot of wily Wilmingtonians trying to figure out just where "Katie's Restaurant" was. Upshot: it hasn't existed for over twenty years.

  • Maybe Joe was still thinking about Katie Couric, with whom he and Sarah interviewed recently. Was he phony there, too? You betcha. His answer to Her Royal Perkiness's question about the "wall of separation between church and state":
    The best way to look at it is: look the every state where that wall's not built. Look at every country in the world where religion is able to impact on, uh, the governance. Almost every one of those countries, there's real turmoil.
    David Friedman does a fact check:
    Perhaps I missed it, but where is the turmoil in England, where Anglicanism was the established religion when the Constitution was written and still is? In Argentina, Bolivia, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Lichtenstein, Malta, Monaco, Vatican City and parts of Switzerland where Catholicism is the established religion? In Denmark, Norway and Iceland where Lutheranism is the established church? In Greece where the official church is Eastern Orthodox?
    David's conclusion (where he refers to Biden's previous reality-challenged remark about FDR getting on the television to console the public during the stock market crash):
    It isn't surprising that Biden doesn't know about the established churches in Scandinavia, although that England has an established church is hardly an obscure historical fact. What strikes me here, as with the FDR comment he made earlier, is the impression that, faced with the need for facts to support his current argument, he simply invents them. He was presumably thinking of Muslim countries, which do not, with the notable exception of Turkey, have any principle of separation of church and state. But his argument required that almost all other countries follow the U.S. pattern, so he simply assumed it. That's a little disturbing—and reminds me a bit of Bush.
    Pun Salad personally has no problem with a state Church, as long as that state church is the Lutheran Church, Missouri Synod.

  • But there's plenty of phoniness at the top of the ticket as well. Here's another reason why McCain's phony numbers are so high:
    Despite insisting several times during the first presidential debate that he had never won the U.S. Senate Miss Congeniality award due to his maverick, no-holds-barred legislating style, John McCain was recently revealed to have twice secured the much-coveted congressional superlative during his four terms in office.
    This sort of transparent fabrication… well, it's not surprising why the voting public is so cynical.

Last Modified 2014-12-01 1:20 PM EST

Experimental Results


This week's test of the Sunday Basic Cable Movie Actor Theory:


That's right, friends: no movies from Will Smith, Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, or Morgan Freeman on FX, TBS, TNT, USA, A&E, Spike, or AMC today. So, after 33 consecutive weeks, our theory is refuted.

If only I'd thought to add Denzel Washington!

[Update: Or Gene Hackman!]

Last Modified 2008-10-05 4:14 PM EST