Monday, November 12, 2012

Read Stuff, You Should

Happy Birthday to Wallace Shawn, 69. I sometimes wonder about the overlap between his fans. I mean, presumably the fans of his plays are in a whole different category, but I sort of suspect that if you ask a dozen people, not only will you get several different favorite Shawn roles, but you might get a totally different top five. Me? Vizzini, which I have to assume is the most popular answer, but also his roles in Radio Days, DS9, Clueless, and...oh, I don't know, Shadows and Fog? The Moderns? Toy Story? Himself, in My Dinner with Andre? That's a lot of good choices, but again I'm guessing there are people with a totally different list.

By the way, posting may be a bit erratic this week; I'm helping to fill for Greg while he's taking a much-deserved break, so swing by the Plum Line (plus you'll get Jamelle too, and that's always nice). For that matter, it'll probably be erratic Thanksgiving week, too, because I'll be traveling.

And now, the good stuff:

1. Really smart post by Matt Yglesias about the real incentives for cooperation and obstruction for the (presidentially) out-part in Congress.

2. Good catch from Suzy Khimm: Bill Kristol's much-noticed comments yesterday that the GOP should compromise on taxes wasn't the first time he's said that. This is all pretty predictable, by the way; all that seems to be happening so far in this portion of the GOP blamathon is that each faction is blaming some other faction for causing the defeat by insisting on unpopular policy positions. See also Ed Kilgore.

3. Cuban-Americans probably didn't shift suddenly to Obama; Ben Bishin explains. General important point: exit polls are useful, but a lot of caution is advised, especially when dealing with small groups.

4. Outside money in House races, by Lee  Drutman (via Monkey Cage). I recommend the data here, but I'd be very cautious about the analysis; the relationship between campaign spending and outcomes is notoriously difficult to get a handle on, and note that even the data here are not final totals, so I'd be extra careful. We'll know more in a bit.

5. Today's theme seems to be: read it, but with skepticism. Post-election spin? It's really hard to tell what's right and what's wrong. Alexander Burns hears Republicans blaming their could be true that GOP pollsters were unusually off, and it's very much knowing that Republicans are telling reporters that it was the pollsters who did them in, but remember (1) that doesn't mean that's what they really think, and (2) even if they do really think it, that doesn't mean it's true. For what it's worth, Josh Marshall buys the case for believing it.

6. Garry Wills is cruel, but probably fair, to Mitt Romney. Key point in Romney's future reputation: who exactly is going to defend him?


  1. My favorite Wallace Shawn scene:

  2. I say 'My Dinner With Andre' for Wallace Shawn. That movie...your arty hipster friend says "Hey there's this really great film you have to see!" And you're like "What's it about?" And your friend says "Its Vizzini having dinner with the playwright Andre Gregory, talking about life".

    And you sarcastically say "Ooooookay, that sounds totally AWESOME, DUDE!"

    But then you watch the thing. And amazingly, it really is pretty awesome, dude.

  3. Shawn was great in The Bedroom Window, playing a nebbishy defense attorney. If you haven't seen it, I'm not sure how the movie as a whole holds up today, but Shawn's (brief) appearance is enough reason to watch it if you've got a couple hours to spare (or are a Steve Guttenberg completist).

  4. I always liked the line in "My Dinner with Andre" when he said he took up acting because he needed a day job to sustain his writing career.

  5. "What public service do we expect from Mitt Romney? He will no doubt return to augmenting his vast and hidden wealth, with no more pesky questions about where around the world it is stashed, or what taxes (if any) he paid, carefully sheltered from the rules his fellow citizens follow."

    Is it just Garry Wills who despises the true public service (i.e. wealth creation) or is it endemic to the left?

    1. Is it just anonymous blowhards who believe that accumulating vast and hidden personal wealth (while not investing it in the local economy) is a true public service, or is it endemic to the right?

  6. Does it matter that Romney's polls were off? Is there anything he could have done differently?

    1. Do we really know his polls were that far off? Might this not be spin, as suggested at

    2. That's an interesting article, David. I stick with a more pedestrian interpretation, which I mentioned here the afternoon of the election:

      As Tuesday afternoon moved toward the evening, at no point did Matt Drudge put up the inevitable siren with the blaring headline "Romney/Obama Tied!", referring to Dixville Notch or somesuch.

      If Team Romney even thought they had an inside straight/bank shot chance at winning, its hard to believe that Matt Drudge wouldn't have done his part as Tuesday afternoon wore on.

  7. Hey, speaking of those who would defend Romney's reputation, it seems as though there would be a lot such as Anonymous above, invoking the glories of the invisible hand as supposedly reflected in Bain Capital wealth creation. I've little doubt there would be a large audience for that meme.

    Which leads to probably the strangest aspect of this year's POTUS election: where were the insidery defenders of Bain Capital's activities? I'm not talking about those like Anonymous above; I mean folks that were, however peripherally, affiliated with a firm Bain "invested" in, who would go on tv and say "Yup, we sure saw the wealth being created after the Bain folks dropped by!"

    I'm not being sarcastic. Given the amount Romney apparently made on his business activities, you have to figure that he and his associates darkened many doors on the way to a quarter-billion. They never found anyone, not anyone, who would even - just for the payout alone! - be willing to say that the Bain haters are just that, why our little firm was totally better off after Romney and friends stopped by?

    The hypothetical advocate wouldn't even have to be really an advocate. Just a credible insider willing to take the payoff from the campaign. There was no one like that? They couldn't find anyone?

    That's extraordinary.

    1. I think there may have been a sentiment in the VC industry that Romney was giving them all a bad name. Example here:

      And the same in Equity Capital (his real business):

      Concerns exist that this election could bring increased public attention to the Private Equity industry, and give politicians extra incentive to regulate the industry. [2] In a recent survey of Tech Industry executives, where the Tech executives were questioned on the Presidential election, “78% say that the campaign’s focus on Romney’s roots in private equity have “damaged” the reputation of private equity and venture capital”; [3] and, “65% worry that there could be new regulation of private equity and venture capital investing”. [4] However, there is little reason to be concerned that the election will give politicians an impetus to further regulate the private equity industry.


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