Conservatives at work

George Skelton (who the LA Times should be featuring more prominently) on what the California Republicans won in our state budget struggled:

"The compromise budget is pretty conservative for most people's money. It increases spending by only 1% and doesn't raise taxes. It strips $1.3 billion from public transit and freezes payments to the elderly poor, blind and disabled. It provides a tax break for Californians who buy yachts out of state."
From your yacht, you can see the snarled traffic!


Leona Helmsley Is Dead at 87

Fortunately, this trailblazer lived long enough to see her motto, "Only the little people pay taxes," become the fiscal policy of the United States.


True story of the National Security State

A friend of mine is writing a spec "Weeds." So she did some research, looking up all these pot websites. Then she got an e-mail from the FBI telling her to quit it.

Watch what you do, watch what you say, y'all!

Cleaning out my net news wire, get up on that bandstand and play your ass off edition

Tom Benjamin explains how YOU can make money owning a sports team -- while claiming you lose money! (As a writer in Hollywood, this isn't surprising.)

• Speaking of sports, a profilette of former Yankee organist Eddie Layton.

• Speaking of music, transcripts of the famous Buddy Rich rants. (Probably from "Dial M for Musicology," but I can't remember.)

• And from the nature poem, (via Kit Stolz, who's as gloomy as I am about the climate.)


The Scooter

Lots of tributes today, but as someone who spent many an hour in front of WPIX Channel 11, I remember him as a poet:

My Secret

When I'm driving
To Yankee Stadium and back,
I do it so often.

I don't remember passing lights.
I don't remember paying tolls
Coming over the bridge.

Going back over the bridge,
I remember...

August 19, 1992
Oakland at New York
Mike Moore pitching to Mel Hall
Fifth inning, one out, bases empty
Yankees lead 4-1

Six centuries?

I'll take it.


Coach Karl

The thing I have always thought about Karl Rove's genius is that he's like a coach who runs up 60-3 scores against The Citadel and Arkansas State, and loses his bowl game when he finally faces opponents who can tackle.

The fact that the Democrats were bothThe Citadel and, more recently, the opponents who can tackle? I attribute that to a mid-season coaching change.


Real estate counterfactual

In fact, thinking about the crazy real estate market we had here in SoCal, my mind turns to the stomach-churning story of a couple days ago -- how we're way overdue for a catastrophic earthquake. The "what if" question is, imagine that earthquake happening in 2001, or 2003, as the market was really getting crazy. One can see how you're driven to the Great De-randomizer in the Sky in the face of such contingency.

Annals of capitalism, we know better than people in the field edition

I saw this post by Atrios about the SoCal market. Here's the lead:

Major lenders are repossessing homes in Southern California much faster than they can sell them, a development that could set off a downward spiral of price cuts and more foreclosures.
And since I happen to have a physical copy of the LA Times right on my kitchen table, I thought I'd go read it. Here's the part I want to pull out:
To move their growing inventories, lenders solicit local agents to do what they call broker price opinions. These involve the agent's physically examining the home, getting an estimate to clean up any damage, checking to see what similar homes in the neighborhood have recently sold for and suggesting a price.

Thanks to globalization, requests for BPOs can come from the other side of the world. Ocwen Financial Corp., a Florida mortgage company that is trying to sell 753 foreclosed homes in California, has outsourced its BPO review office to India.

Agents who work with Ocwen e-mail their reports to India, where they are processed and sent to the company's headquarters in West Palm Beach. Asset managers there decide on the price.

"We're here and they're not, but they resist our expertise," said Jason Bosch, president of Home Center Realty, an Inland Empire firm that works with Ocwen and other lenders. Home Center has put 42 lender-owned homes on the market since the beginning of the year. Only two have sold.

Bosch cited one house in Perris that a lender listed for $427,000. Home Center received an offer of $419,000, but the lender said it wouldn't budge. The would-be buyer moved on to a more flexible seller.

Ten days later, the lender lowered the price to $417,000, where it still sits.
People who keep telling me that businesses aren't run anything like those government bureaucrats need reminding that all large organizations tend to resemble each other.


Why we fight

Phil Ford at Dial M:

Humility is the right attitude in the face of The Tradition -- the great accumulated weight of thought we might imagine being kept in some Great Book, the Book of All Books, by the Recording Angel of Academia. Sometimes, when I've done something I think is clever, I think I'm pretty awesome. But nothing I've ever done, or ever will do, will amount to more than a footnote in the Great Book. And this is the same attitude everyone must learn in college. It's a bit like the "Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei" episode in Kill Bill.
I might note that we don't really preserve the tradition by treating everything as if it were 1948, or 1498 for that matter. But it's The Book of All Books that is endangered by our barbarism and our callous disregard for the earth that we wrote it on. I don't want it to have to be preserved in a cave, on the high ground.

Ford goes on (because, amazingly, his isn't really a post about sleep-debt-fueled fretting over the apocalypse, it's about teaching):
If the knowledge you seek is really worth attaining, it's worth showing some respect first. The professor who demands respect isn't necessarily demanding it for himself alone (although he might be). Ideally, the respect you demand is for the enterprise you share with the student, something that's bigger than both of you. Undergrads especially need to discover that there is something bigger than them.
I'm certainly enough of a Tory to appreciate that.


Things are hectic because I am working on a cable show and writing a pilot and thinking about writing another pilot, because times is tough. But I promise to finish Matt and Ezra -- I've got the ending figured out and everything. I know no one cares but me, but I do care.

Awesome day!



Digby does some awesome chronicling of the death of the republic!

Foux la fa fa


The Ballad of Matt and Ezra (3)

I don't know what the point of this is, except I'm enjoying it. Previously (see below) we left Ezra telling Gilbert Arenas about health care, while Matt cooled his heels:

Ezra starts elucidating
While the cooling Matt is waiting
Out among the sad displays --
Off-branded stuff from Frito-Rays,
Sea salt-vinegar flavored snuff --
Matt stalks out, hot. Enough’s enough.

Abandoned and alone, he stalks.
And above him, floating where he walks,
A cloud pours rain -- but just on him.
When you're M.Y., you just can't win.
Like his shoes, his hopes are soggy:
It's hard, sometimes, being bloggy.

No future joy, he contemplates,
Could adequately compensate
For this pain now. Like Young Werther,
Why (he thinks) go any further --
Had he a gun, he'd fire it.
But where, in D.C., to acquire it?


The Ballad of Matt and Ezra (2)

I was out of town dropping the kid off at sleepaway camp (his first one, he's looking forward to it, Mrs. D and I are terrified). Here's some more stanzas:

So Ezra shrugs, and Ezra goes
And Matt remains with meth-mouthed hos
Feeling sick (and looking sicker
In that wan fluorescent flicker).
But it's no cheeseball liquor shack
When Ezra enters the room in back.

Of its swank words cannot speak.
Its paneling's endangered teak,
Hot waitresses keep oysters iced,
And of-the-moment chanteuse Feist
Goes mouth agape when she sees Ez:
"My favorite blogger's here!" she says.

Gilbert Arenas turns at this
And grabs our Ezra by the wrist.
Ez starts to fawn, but Gil demurs:
"My swag is but .8 of yours.
I'm paid to ball, but you're the player.
Come, fill us in on single-payer."

Noted with pleasure

Phil Ford at Dial "M" for Musicology uses Biggie's "10 Crack Commandments" as a guide for academics. Sample:

"Number six: that goddamn credit, dead it/You think a crackhead payin' you back, shit, forget it

For 'crackhead,' think 'student with a late paper.' For 'credit,' think 'extension.'

UPDATE:Breaking sports music news -- Jets coach Eric Mangini's a Mozart fan.


The Ballad of Matt and Ezra

Sort of based on this post. The dynamic of two people together, one of whom is way more popular than the other, is always funny to me, I guess because if I didn't think it was funny I couldn't have gotten through high school.

Oh, and it's to be continued if I find the time to continue it. Sorry.

Yglesias and Ezra Klein
Went out one night to buy some wine
Got to their local liquor store
(Guarded by a meth-mouthed whore)
Where fluorescents flashing gas
Flickers off the plexiglass

The proprietor of the place was churlish
Till he saw Ezra. Then, he girlish-
-Ly squealed: “OMG, I know that face!
A leading blogger’s in my place!
In back I’ve got a special treat!”
“But Matt? – “ “Your hanger-on can cool his feet.”


Another way Hollywood is like Washington

From Yglesias:

"His [Steve Clemons'] perspective, he says, is that Washington is 'a corrupt town.' From that perspective, he says that 'the political-intellectual arenas is essentially a cartel' -- a cartel that's become extremely timid and risk-averse in the face of a neoconservative onslaught -- and 'blogs allow smart people to break the cartel.'"
It's the groupthink, stupid!


Overheard at Hollywood Toyota

A male employee, fortyish, is talking to a female employee.

Male employee: Yeah, so I went down to San Diego last night to see Rush.

Female employee: [inaudible]

Male employee: Yeah, Rush is not a woman's group. I always wanted a girlfriend who was into Rush, but...you know "Tom Sawyer?"

Female employee: [inaudible]

Male employee: But your son does! Nah, he probably doesn't.