Wingnut welfare is an important, underrated feature of the modern U.S. political scene. I don’t know who came up with the term, but anyone who follows right-wing careers knows whereof I speak: the lavishly-funded ecosystem of billionaire-financed think tanks, media outlets, and so on provides a comfortable cushion for politicians and pundits who tell such people what they want to hear. Lose an election, make economic forecasts that turn out laughably wrong, whatever — no matter, there’s always a fallback job available.

Obviously this reality has important incentive effects. It encourages conservatives to espouse ever-cruder positions, because they don’t need to be taken seriously outside their closed universe.

- Wingnut Welfare and Work Incentives -

The joke was that Obama wasn’t joking:

There are no jokes there. There’s just Obama saying what he has to say and Luther saying what Obama actually believes.

And what Obama believes is that the press is often sensational, trivial, and fearmongering. He thinks they hype negative stories for weeks on end and then refuse to admit their mistake when the horror fizzles. He thinks he gets the blame for catastrophes but little credit for solutions. He thinks the media has a deep bias toward negative stories (which, of course, we do).

Rand Paul goes full Strangelove: The “anti-drone” candidate is okay with droning American citizens:

Greenwald also questions Paul’s larger strategy here of trying to tie up loose, dovish ends on foreign policy: “I don’t get his strategy: he’s never going to attract GOP hawks, so why dilute what makes him interesting/unique?” That’s the big strategic oddity hanging over all of Paul’s shifts to the right on foreign policy. There are now several politicians considering presidential runs and 501©(4)s being set up solely for the purpose of combating Rand Paul’s allegedly “isolationist” views, even as Paul has fallen in line behind the GOP’s more traditional, hawkish foreign policy. Why is Paul shedding what makes him unique and interesting on foreign policy, when the party’s hawks aren’t buying it anyway?

One posibility is that he, like his father before him; is a complete fraud and cares little to nothing about his rehtoric about freedom and liberty.

We’re Checking the Wrong “Privilege”:

Cultural capital—what “privilege” often, but not always, refers to these days—is a seductive concept. It tells us that the rich stay rich through the discreet perpetuation of cultural preferences. Privilege isn’t just money or luxury goods; it’s also about the foods you eat, the shows you watch. When you first learn about it, likely in Sociology 101, cultural capital can seem like a way to explain everything. The problem, however, is that landlords, health providers, and universities don’t accept cultural capital in lieu of monetary payment.

Privilege is a bad argument. Whenever I’ve asked how “checking privilege” somehow leads to individual or collective action that affects positive change, the answer is always hand waving and platitudes.

Major Libertarian Thinker On Human ‘Failures’: ‘It Is Best They Should Die’:

The fact that Cato and Reason both reacted so swiftly is a testament to the central place Spencer holds in the development of libertarian thought. According to Rothbard, who the elder Paul describes as the “founder of the modern libertarian movement,” Spencer’s Social Statics is the “greatest single work of libertarian political philosophy ever written.” Yet this foundational libertarian text does not say what Root and Cato claim that it said. Indeed, if Social Statics is, indeed, the “greatest single work of libertarian political philosophy ever written” then that is the most damning indictment of libertarianism imaginable.

This is why it’s a waste of time to argue with libertarians. Both Cato and Reason just flat out denied the text of the book said what it clearly says.

This is exactly how Reason reacted to being called out of publishing Holocaust denials. The PDFs are online but they claim they didn’t publish what you can clearly see they published.

Why not admit you were wrong; apologize and move on?

Rand Paul’s Favorite Philosophers Think Poor People Are ‘Parasites’:

Spencer’s own philosophy can safely be described as genocidal libertarianism. In Social Statics, the book Rothbard raises up as the “greatest single work of libertarian political philosophy ever written,” Spencer argues that “[i]nconvenience, suffering, and death are the penalties attached by nature to ignorance, as well as to incompetence.” They are also, he adds, “the means of remedying” these traits. “By weeding out those of lowest development” Spencer explained, “nature secures the growth of a race who shall both understand the conditions of existence, and be able to act up to them… . Nature demands that every being shall be self-sufficing. All that are not so, nature is perpetually withdrawing by death.” Rather than proving nature’s cruelty, Spencer believed that this deadly game “purif[ied] society from those who are, in some respect or other, essentially faulty.” If a man or woman is “sufficiently complete to live,” then they should live. But if “they are not sufficiently complete to live, they die, and it is best they should die.” Needless to say, Spencer saw no place for what he labeled “[a]cts of parliament to save silly people.”

The good old days when libertarians didn’t bother to pretend to care about the poor. These days they pretend that government programs are the cause of poverty. Because poverty didn’t exist in pre-new deal America. And something-something didn’t you read Atlas Shrugged?

The standard defense of this is to claim that that isn’t libertarianism or to claim a straw man. Or that the free market magic will somehow prevent this.

You can fondle the cube, but it will not respond.:

It looks like the gold bubble is over and the price will be back to the pre-crisis trend line about the same time that the economy, unemployment and other metrics reach the pre-crisis trend lines. So it’s time to dust off the

Today the world’s gold stock is about 170,000 metric tons. If all of this gold were melded together, it would form a cube of about 68 feet per side. (Picture it fitting comfortably within a baseball infield.) At $1,750 per ounce — gold’s price as I write this — its value would be about $9.6 trillion. Call this cube pile A.

Let’s now create a pile B costing an equal amount. For that, we could buy all U.S. cropland (400 million acres with output of about $200 billion annually), plus 16 Exxon Mobils (the world’s most profitable company, one earning more than $40 billion annually). After these purchases, we would have about $1 trillion left over for walking-around money (no sense feeling strapped after this buying binge). Can you imagine an investor with $9.6 trillion selecting pile A over pile B?

Beyond the staggering valuation given the existing stock of gold, current prices make today’s annual production of gold command about $160 billion. Buyers — whether jewelry and industrial users, frightened individuals, or speculators — must continually absorb this additional supply to merely maintain an equilibrium at present prices.

A century from now the 400 million acres of farmland will have produced staggering amounts of corn, wheat, cotton, and other crops — and will continue to produce that valuable bounty, whatever the currency may be. Exxon Mobil XOM -1.37% will probably have delivered trillions of dollars in dividends to its owners and will also hold assets worth many more trillions (and, remember, you get 16 Exxons). The 170,000 tons of gold will be unchanged in size and still incapable of producing anything. You can fondle the cube, but it will not respond.