Quote of the Day, Good Thing Nobody Watched The Democratic Debate, Huh? edition.

Good for Democrats, that is. Megan McArdle:

Last night, on the other hand, Clinton decided to stop mucking about with vague promises to bring Wall Street to heel. Instead, she claimed that she was a financial regulator of rare foresight and rarer steely will, hated and feared by the denizens of New York’s financial district. Presumably we are supposed to see that $675,000 she was paid by Goldman Sachs to make three speeches less as a warm gesture between close friends, than as the bags of gold left outside the city gates for the Visigoth king who is threatening to sack the place.

Megan is naturally enough torn between hostile appreciation for Hillary Clinton’s chutzpah-saturated hypocrisy, and weary resignation that both Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders are all that the Democrats get.  To which I would add: those two are all that the Democratic party leadership deserves, too.  But, fortunately: they’re not really what America as a whole deserves – including ordinary, decent Democrats*.

Moe Lane

*Like my mother.

Megan McArdle has some useful advice about appearing on the Daily Show…

…”Don’t Ever Appear on ‘The Daily Show’.”  Good advice.  Good advice. I’m going to quote two of her points, for the benefit of people who ignore this advice and go on the show anyway:

If you must, bring two tape recorders, a video camera and a witness. Announce at the beginning that you are going to record this and reserve the right to release the entire recording to the public. When they tell you that they will not do the interview under those conditions, prepare to leave. There is no ethical reason that a reporter requires the ability to ask you questions without having those questions recorded. The reason they don’t want unedited audio is that you might release it and be revealed as a normal decent person, rather than a horrible fool.

They may attempt to get you to stay by explaining that recording will interfere with their equipment. This is the point where you whip the video camera out of your bag and helpfully offer to videotape the interview instead. Do not, under any circumstances, allow yourself to be alone in a room with the producers and no recording device.

Continue reading Megan McArdle has some useful advice about appearing on the Daily Show…

In which we revisit Rathergate, and the bad movie about to be made of it.

Hey, remember that stupid, incredibly ham-handed, and only-an-drooling-idiot-would-fall-for-it Rathergate scandal?  Well, in case you were a teenager in 2004 and missed it…

:pause:  God preserve us, it really was a decade ago, huh?  I didn’t have kids then.  I wasn’t married, then.  Shoot, I was still smoking.

…anyway: CBS got a bunch of documents purporting to show that George W Bush went AWOL from the Texas National Guard and that people covered it up, because shut up you Republicans.  Dan Rather (remember him?) promptly ran with the story, because if the documents were true it’d have been a bombshell.  Only problem was that these documents were fakes: they were originally written in Microsoft Word 2003 and then made to look like documents from the 1970s*.  Once this was pointed out CBS ended up giving Rather (and, importantly for this article, his producer Mary Mapes) the bum’s rush. Continue reading In which we revisit Rathergate, and the bad movie about to be made of it.

Megan McArdle waxes wroth on #Obamacare Census question changes.

I’ve been waiting for Megan McArdle to cook off over the news that the administration just casually made it impossible to assess the effects of Obamacare on insurance rates; and hoo, boy, but she’s unhappy.

I’m speechless. Shocked. Stunned. Horrified. Befuddled. Aghast, appalled, thunderstruck, perplexed, baffled, bewildered and dumbfounded. It’s not that I am opposed to the changes: Everyone understands that the census reports probably overstate the true number of the uninsured, because the number they report is supposed to be “people who lacked insurance for the entire previous year,” but people tend to answer with their insurance status right now.

But why, dear God, oh, why, would you change it in the one year in the entire history of the republic that it is most important for policy makers, researchers and voters to be able to compare the number of uninsured to those in prior years? The answers would seem to range from “total incompetence on the part of every level of this administration” to something worse.

Continue reading Megan McArdle waxes wroth on #Obamacare Census question changes.

Megan McArdle asks: where are all the uninsured? #obamacare

It’s a serious question.

…Somewhere between 65 percent to 90 percent of the 2.2 million folks who bought insurance on the exchanges through late December seem to be people who already had insurance. Some came to the exchanges when their policies got canceled; others came, voluntarily or not, from the employer market. But various sources suggest that the number of previously uninsured people who have so far bought policies on the exchanges is somewhere south of 750,000.

Continue reading Megan McArdle asks: where are all the uninsured? #obamacare

#Obamacare supporters can’t even win* a debate on the Upper West Side.

Oh, that’s just funny.

Last Wednesday, Scott Gottlieb and I debated Jonathan Chait and Douglas Kamerow on this proposition: “Resolved: Obamacare Is Now Beyond Rescue.” I was feeling a little trepid, for three reasons: First, I’ve never done any formal debate; second, the resolution gave the “for” side a built-in handicap, as the “against” side just had to prove that Obamacare might not be completely beyond rescue; and third, we were debating on the Upper West Side. Now, I grew up on the Upper West Side and love it dearly. But for this particular resolution, it’s about the unfriendliest territory this side of Pyongyang.

Nonetheless, I greatly enjoyed the debate. I’m not ashamed to admit that the other side had a lot of powerful moments. Kamerow, a doctor who is also a former assistant surgeon general, made good points about the problems with the previous status quo. In the other seat, Chait was as passionate, witty and well-reasoned in his arguments as ever. (You can read his account of the debate here.) Given the various difficulties, we went in assuming that we would lose, so we were pretty surprised and pleased when we won.

Continue reading #Obamacare supporters can’t even win* a debate on the Upper West Side.

Remember: the average person is not a stone-cold politics junkie. #obamacare

Sorry to make this all Obamacare, all the time lately: but Megan McArdle’s point here is really, really important.

We forget that when millions of people hear the president say that “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” and “premiums will fall by $2,500 for the average family,” they don’t listen with a wry smile. They don’t write it off as understandable hyperbole from a president who is working to pass a great law with a few flaws. They don’t think this speech means “I care about getting the best insurance for as many people as possible.” They think it means “if you like your insurance, you can keep it” and “premiums will fall by $2,500 for the average family.” If they didn’t think it meant that, they might not have supported the law.

That gap matters — not least because there’s a strong risk that when the people outside Expertopia finally figure out what everyone knew all along, they will turn on the people who allowed all that tacit knowledge to stay tacit. That’s what Democrats are now experiencing. It’s kind of surprising, in fact, that not everyone knew this was going to happen.

Continue reading Remember: the average person is not a stone-cold politics junkie. #obamacare

Scenes from the e-book wars: McArdle/Scalzi, not that they’re really arguing *with* each other.

[UPDATE: One of my readers made an observation that made me think of a question: if John Scalzi doesn’t like getting paid for fanfic, why did he write Redshirts? – Great book, by the way.]


Get ready for Kindle Worlds, a place for you to publish fan fiction inspired by popular books, shows, movies, comics, music, and games. With Kindle Worlds, you can write new stories based on featured Worlds, engage an audience of readers, and earn royalties. Amazon Publishing has secured licenses from Warner Bros. Television Group’s Alloy Entertainment for Gossip Girl, Pretty Little Liars, and The Vampire Diaries, with licenses for more Worlds on the way.

Point (Megan McArdle):

It’s a brilliant and even fair solution.  Some writers are better world-builders than others; why not let them profit off of their imaginations, while also compensating the folks who can do interesting things within that world?  Of course, some fan fiction purists may be disappointed in the control that this will give the world-builders over what is done with their work.  Amazon will not, for example, publish pornographic or highly explicit fiction.  Under those rules, 50 Shades of Grey would never have been published; it started out as slash fiction set in the Twilight universe.

Still, as a writer I’m always glad to see more ways to compensate writers.  And as a business writer, I’m excited to see how much innovation is taking place in this new market.

Counter-point (John Scalzi):

…I suspect this is yet another attempt in a series of long-term attempts to fundamentally change the landscape for purchasing and controlling the work of writers in such a manner that ultimately limits how writers are compensated for their work, which ultimately is not to the benefit of the writer. This will have far-reaching consequences that none of us really understand yet.

The thing that can be said for it is that it’s a better deal than you would otherwise get for writing fan fiction, i.e., no deal at all and possibly having to deal with a cranky rightsholder angry that you kids are playing in their yard. Is that enough for you? That’s on you to decide.

Continue reading Scenes from the e-book wars: McArdle/Scalzi, not that they’re really arguing *with* each other.

Megan McArdle, fighting back, and the detractors of both.

Pejman Yousefzadeh reminded me today of this Megan McArdle column where she cataloged all the conventional wisdom of What Do We Do About Mass Shootings, and found all such wisdom to be pretty much ineffective.  Which it would be; Megan’s not the first person to notice that the primary goal of a lot of rhetoric about gun control seems to have as its primary objective the goal of making the person who is using the rhetoric feel better.  Whether this is psychologically healthy or not is beyond my ability to diagnose… but I did notice a bit of, well, Lefty screeching about this suggestion of Megan’s:

 I’d also like us to encourage people to gang rush shooters, rather than following their instincts to hide; if we drilled it into young people that the correct thing to do is for everyone to instantly run at the guy with the gun, these sorts of mass shootings would be less deadly, because even a guy with a very powerful weapon can be brought down by 8-12 unarmed bodies piling on him at once.  Would it work?  Would people do it?  I have no idea; all I can say is that both these things would be more effective than banning rifles with pistol grips.

Continue reading Megan McArdle, fighting back, and the detractors of both.