Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cruising the Web

Sports Illustrated as a good summary of what the NBA can do regarding Donald Sterling. It's not quite as easy as it's being made to seem for them to force Sterling out as owner of the Clippers. It sounds like the pathway out of this is for the NBA to suspend him indefinitely right now and perhaps levy a huge fine. Then have the owners meet after the season while keeping up pressure on Sterling to sell the team. They can use suspension from all contact with the team as a stick over his head while the possibility of gaining close to a 700% profit on selling the team as the carrot. He paid $12.5 million for the team back in 1981 and could now sell it for more than $700 million. Such a profit could be a nice consolation for his having to sell a team he reportedly loves to dominate while mismanaging. As Marc Tracy writes for the New Republic, the NBA cannot afford to have this guy hanging around now that we are learning about his history of racism that the organization ignored for so long while basically engineering the move of Chris Paul to the Clippers. They have to answer for why they didn't do anything when he was settling lawsuits involving housing discrimination against blacks and Hispanics. And if, as the New York Daily News reports, Sterling's mistress has 100 hours of other tapes of his conversation, he will have even more reason to make this go away without those conversations becoming public. Who knows what else this jerk has said. Let him shuffle off center court with his hundreds of millions.

Larry Koler picks up on a misleading passage from Doris Kearns Goodwin's book, The Bully Pulpit: Theodore Roosevelt, William Howard Taft, and the Golden Age of Journalism, a book that I really enjoyed, but I missed this error. She writes about how southern Republicans were so angry after Teddy Roosevelt had invited Booker T. Washington to dine at the White House. It wasn't southern Republicans, but southern Democrats who were upset. And she demonstrates that by quoting South Carolina Senator Ben Tillman who was a Democrat, but whom she doesn't identify as such. There were very, very few southern Republicans at that time.

Jonah Goldberg isn't impressed with Sonia Sotomayor's worry over supposed micro-aggressions.
So here’s the double standard. According to the doctrine of microaggression, if I innocently ask a Latino, “Where are you from?” I am committing some grave, bigoted, thought crime that the Latino has every right to be furious about. But when some lefty screams at me that I am a white supremacist racist blankety blank based on nothing other than some conjured offense drawn from Marcusian hogwash and hooey, I am not only supposed to stand there, take it, and feel guilty about it — I’m also supposed to repent of my evil ways. Asking a Latino “Where are you from?” might be a faux pas — or it might be a friendly way to start a conversation! But as far as aggressions go, it seems awfully micro, even nano, compared with being called a racist because you asked the question.

Hear, hear. It's time to "kill the media's stereotype of 'incompetent dads.'"

More evidence that laughter is indeed the best medicine. Norman Cousins wrote about this 30 years ago.

A liberal explains why progressives should abandon affirmative action based on race.

Michael Barone has a good summary of all the logical and analytical problems with progressive star of the moment, Thomas Pikety and his book, Capitalism in the Twenty-First Century.
But is his picture of current trends complete? The Manhattan Institute's Scott Winship points out that relying, as Piketty does, on tax returns for the U.S. statistics means omitting income from Social Security, food stamps, public housing, Medicare and Medicaid.

Tax returns count roommates and unmarried partners as separate units when they are part of a larger household.

They don't include employer-paid health insurance -- an increasing share of employee compensation in recent decades.

Including these factors, Winship notes, means that incomes below the top 10 percent have not stagnated but have risen significantly since the 1970s. Increasing inequality is compatible with increases in ordinary people's incomes.

Economist Tyler Cowen takes issue with another of Piketty's assumptions, that the rich can earn 4 to 5 percent on their wealth "automatically, with the mere passage of time, rather than as the result of strategic risk taking."

The French economist, Cowen says, has "a notion of capital as a growing, homogeneous blob" when in fact "sudden reversals and retrenchments are inevitable."

Piketty concedes this is true for people with ordinary incomes. He opposes personal investment accounts in Social Security because there is too much risk of making bad investments.

His assumption that wealthy investors face no similar risks may have seemed plausible in the generation after World War II, when the Fortune 500 list of major companies remained remarkably stable.

But it has made little sense in recent years, when General Motors has gone bankrupt and Google, founded in 1998, is one of the world's most highly valued companies.

"There's a persistent tension," writes Bloomberg's Clive Crook, "between the limits of the data (Piketty) presents and the grandiosity of the conclusions he draws."

Like global warming alarmists, he extrapolates from abstract theory and a few years' trendlines out a century forward -- and presents the results as inevitable.

He also presents them as justifying the confiscation, more or less, of wealth accumulated by private individuals and putting it in the hands of mandarins guided by their supposedly superior sensitivity to public welfare.

There might be less inequality in such a world, but also less economic growth and a lower, though more equal, standard of living.

"In perhaps the most revealing line of the book," Cowen writes, "the 42-year-old Piketty writes that since the age of 25, he has not left Paris, 'except for brief trips.'"

France, where a cozy elite runs government and large corporations, has a 75 percent top income tax rate and essentially zero economic growth. Is that the future American liberals want?
But why let logical analysis interfere with an appealing argument to confiscate wealth. Yeah, that worked out so well for the Soviet Union.

Andrew Klavan contrasts how Peggy Noonan and Maureen Dowd covered the canonization of Pope John Paul II. The contrast is about what you would expect.

How delicious that John Kerry's egregiously offensive remarks warning that Israel could become an "apartheid state" if they didn't join in his peace talks was secretly taped by a Daily Beast reporter while he was talking at the Trilateral Commission. I didn't even know that the Trilateral Commission was still around. I guess when you run the world, you can still hold these worthless confabs. Maybe political leaders (and NBA owners) should stop saying idiotic things just because they think they are talking in private.

Ben Domenech has some good advice for Republicans when they talk about Obamacare.