Mailvox: now, who said atheists are fat?

A few days ago, one of the less intellectually gifted atheists here was insisting that atheists are not anymore inclined to be overweight than anyone else. That may or may not be true, but it’s hard not to notice that one of the many Biblical precepts rejected by militant atheists of the evangelical variety is the notion of the human body being a temple of God.

PZ’s response to Pharyngula readers pointing out the obvious in this picture was more than a little amusing: “Cinnamonbite and MonkeyBoy are hereby invited to submit photographs of themselves so I can post them and everyone can imagine all kinds of hideous things about them.”

I’m not sure what sort of pagan temples these bodies might indicate, but I must confess that the terms “Lovecraft”, “frog-like” and “Innsmouth” spring insensibly to mind.

A tacit admission of depression

Karl translates Alan Blinder’s unusually frank remarks in the Wall Street Journal:

The only reason we have not recognized an economic Depression is because of utterly unsustainable government borrowing and spending of money it does not have and which it has no hope or intent to ever take in via taxes in the future. In other words, the Government has been lying to you.

There has been no economic recovery and we are in an economic Depression right now and have been since 2008.

There was no economic recovery after the 2001 Nasdaq collapse. The government borrowed and spent about 5% of GDP at the time every year to fake a recovery and we ran a debt-based false “recovery” when in fact we were in a five year long recession marked by an orgy of false “wealth” through bubbling home prices.

Now we’re borrowing and spending 12% – more than double that amount – a year to fake a recovery that has shown up in stock prices, and it mathematically must end the same way.

This is exactly what I attempted to warn everyone of in my economic columns in 2008 and in RGD. GDP is a terrible measure of economic growth because it is so easily gamed through the G component, government spending. What the 78% increase in government debt since the second quarter of 2008 has done is to create $4.1 trillion of fake growth. Needless to say, this is substantial in a $14 trillion economy.

The ironic thing is that if the pre-Keynesian measures that Keynes himself utilized in determining economic growth and contraction are used, it would already be recognized that we were in a depression due to the number of jobless people across the country. But due to the development of sophisticated statistical measures, the government is now able to claim that there is “real” economic growth even as the employment-population ratio continues to fall. Even many economists have forgotten that metrics such as GDP and U3 are merely measures of an observable underlying reality.

But as I have repeatedly pointed out, the map is not the territory, and unfortunately, the present economic map is becoming increasingly inaccurate.

A delusional world of his own

Newt Gingrich isn’t merely a joke candidate, he has either gone seriously off his rocker or he has his staff approaching near-Clintonian levels of shameless spin doctory:

“The literati sent out their minions to do their bidding,” Tyler wrote. “Washington cannot tolerate threats from outsiders who might disrupt their comfortable world. The firefight started when the cowardly sensed weakness. They fired timidly at first, then the sheep not wanting to be dropped from the establishment’s cocktail party invite list unloaded their entire clip, firing without taking aim their distortions and falsehoods. Now they are left exposed by their bylines and handles. But surely they had killed him off. This is the way it always worked. A lesser person could not have survived the first few minutes of the onslaught. But out of the billowing smoke and dust of tweets and trivia emerged Gingrich, once again ready to lead those who won’t be intimated by the political elite and are ready to take on the challenges America faces.”

Gingrich has been finished as a politician for more than a decade. It is a remarkable testimony to the myopic narcissism of the American political class that he is still in denial over it. It’s not the Washington elite that is opposed to Gingrich; they’re the only ones who still take him seriously at all. And they have no need to destroy a man who makes a habit of kneecapping himself. More importantly, the Republican grass roots are not in the least bit interested in a fat little double-talking adultererous Washington insider who completely fumbled his golden opportunity to effect genuine change in government 17 years ago.

Gingrich never had a chance in the first place, but with his self-destructive comments on the Ryan plan, he rendered himself an embarrassment and an absurdity. Gingrich isn’t merely done, he’s rotting in the political compost pile.