What to do?

Painting of Tommy

I have a bad knee, probably a torn meniscus. (That’s what my physiatrist thinks.) He’s been working on it for a year: acupuncture, massage, a couple of steroid shots. He’s at the point now where he thinks I need to consider surgery. (Which means an MRI, which means orthos can always find some justification for surgery. Between 36-76 percent of asymptomatic patients show tears on MRI.)

And there’s a sizable chance of deep vein thrombosis after the surgery.

So I’ve been doing a lot of reading, and I’m not so sure. Surgery has a 20-30% failure rate, it would put me on crutches for weeks (have I mentioned I live alone?) and I’d have to do a month of physical therapy ($50 co-pay for each visit, which adds up to a shitload of money).

And then we have that famous study which indicates the surgery has more of a placebo effect, anyway.

So I think to myself: “Self, what happened in the old days? Was everyone permanently crippled after hurting their knee?” Seems unlikely, says I. So I do some more reading, and I find that contrary to conventional wisdom, there are other things I can try. Like a cold compression brace, and electrical stimulation to bring blood flow to the area, thus encouraging healing.

So that’s what I’m going to try. I’m really, really tired of limping.

The con-artist wing of the Democratic party

Stress Test: Reflections on Financial Crises

Matt Stoller reviews “Stress Test,” Tim Geithner’s new book:

There are a few glaring problems with how Geithner portrays this debate. First of all, his main foil during the crisis was a fellow technocrat, former International Monetary Fund (IMF) official Simon Johnson, who actually had significant crisis-management experience parachuting into panicked countries and imposing structural reform on their bankers. Johnson became increasingly irate as he saw Geithner diverge from what Geithner himself at the US Treasury and the IMF forced on other countries: conditions. Geithner was hard on oligarchs when they were foreign, but when it was US bankers, well, then the wall of money argument triumphed. In fact, in a paper released in 2013, it was revealed that financial firms with a personal relationship with Geithner himself saw an abnormal 15% bump in share prices when Geithner’s name was floated for Treasury Secretary, and a corresponding though smaller, abnormal decline when his nomination was on the rocks due to his being caught not paying taxes by Senate investigators.

In 2009, Johnson published his essential argument about the US bailouts in an article titled “The Quiet Coup.” Johnson’s argument was political—he portrayed Geithner’s strategy as fundamentally entrenching a political oligarchy. That article put forward the theory that through the bailouts, America’s democratic system was being replaced by rule by financial titans. Geithner has never acknowledged that power was involved in the bailouts; those with power are loath to admit it exists. Critics of Geithner come as close as possible to calling him personally corrupt and have even marshaled the evidence that his cronies did fantastically well.

The second problem with Geithner’s argument is that the reform bill passed in the aftermath, the Dodd-Frank financial-reform law, is inconsistent with the wall of money theory. In the book, Geithner argues that Treasury lacked the legal ability to deal with large failing banks, to put them in a sort of bankruptcy process. Dodd-Frank provides those tools. However, according to Geithner’s wall of money, this doesn’t matter. Either you provide the assurance and everyone gets paid off, or it’s a collapse. If that’s true, why pass Dodd-Frank? Geithner wants it both ways.

The third problem is housing. Economists Amir Sufi and Atif Mian lead the charge in arguing that the Geithner strategy failed to restart the economy because it focused on leverage at the large banks rather than leverage among households, i.e., foreclosures. The shape of the Geithner policy architecture is two-tiered: The financiers recovered; everyone else did not. And the economy, even today, sputters along at just above stall speed because of this. Geithner halfheartedly admits he should have done more here, but then in the book he argues that there was absolutely no more that could be done. It’s a non-apology apology. Even in that, he’s inconsistent. He said on The Daily Show recently that he supported the judicial modification of mortgage debt for bankrupt homeowners, a pivotal policy, while in his book he says he didn’t think it was “fair” or “economically effective.”

So that’s a rehash: wall of money versus the real economy, or Tim Geithner versus Elizabeth Warren populist school or Simon Johnson technocratic school or however you want to frame it. Yes, there are disagreements on how to run society.

This piece sums him up nicely:

And then there’s the mystery of how he managed to climb up the career ladder so quickly. He never really explains how this happens. He wasn’t a good student. He notes, as a grad student, that he mostly played pool. “During my orals, when one professor asked which economics journals I read, I replied that I had never read any. Seriously? Yes, seriously. But not long after we returned from our honeymoon in France, Henry Kissinger’s international consulting firm hired me as an Asia analyst; my dean at SAIS had recommended me to Brent Scowcroft, one of Kissinger’s partners.”

I’m sorry, but what? How does this just happen? And it goes on. One day, when Geithner was a junior Treasury civil servant, Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen just called him out of the blue to ask his advice on a matter about which he knew nothing. Why? He doesn’t say—he’s just puzzled. Later on, he advances in Treasury without any real credentials in a department where a law degree or economics PhD is essential. Even Alan Greenspan eventually expressed surprise; he had just assumed Geithner had a doctorate.

Power just always seemed to flow to Geithner, and he never says why. He knows why, of course—he’s an exceptional political climber. He just doesn’t say who was grooming him, why he ended up where he ended up, and what he paid to get there. It’s clear he had ideas about how the world should work, but he pretends otherwise.

Go read it, it’s fascinating. Also, here’s Felix Salmon’s take.


The NRA had to apologize to the whiny ass titty babies with guns!

Now, the truth is, an alert went out that referred to this type of behavior as weird, or somehow not normal. And that was a mistake. It shouldn’t have happened. I’ve had a discussion with the staffer who wrote that piece, and expressed his personal opinion. Our job is not to criticize the lawful behavior of fellow gun owners.

3 Northwest Georgia high school athletes charged with prom night sexual assault…

3 Northwest Georgia senior star athletes have been charged with sexually battery. The assault occurred at a prom night party at the victim’s parent’s mountain cabin in Gilmer County, GA on May the 10th.

The alleged assault occurred more than two weeks ago, on Calhoun (GA) High School’s prom night, when a small post-prom gathering at a cabin in the woods became a raucous event involving 27 students and hours of drinking, according to local authorities. After alcohol had been consumed for several hours, four male party attendees “ended up” in a room with an 18-year-old classmate (“ended up” is the phrasing used by a local news account that flirts with CNN’s now-infamous “THESE BOYS’ LIVES ARE RUINED NOW!” hand wringing). The victim told authorities that she didn’t remember who raped her, just that it was “multiple guys” who inserted a “foreign object” into her vagina, causing tearing and severe trauma that the local sheriff called “substantial” during a press conference last week. Other attendees of the party knew what was happening but did nothing. According to some accounts, the fourth boy in the room was there to barricade the door closed.

The Gilmer County Sheriff’s department began to investigate the incident almost immediately after it was reported. More than 50 people were interviewed regarding the assault. The 3 athletes turned themselves in and are all out on bail. After threats were made from the community all three men were barred from their commencement ceremonies.

All three men turned themselves in at the Gilmer County Jail on Wednesday morning on charges of aggravated sexual battery and underage possession of alcohol. All three later left the jail on bonds of $51,000…

Like the party itself, (Gilmer County Sheriff) Nicholson said, the criminal charges start with a small group and will spread. Investigators interviewed every person who attended the party, and Nicholson said they will arrest those who drank alcohol.

The three men arrested Wednesday may also face another serious charge: rape. They were arrested for sexual battery, meaning they allegedly penetrated the victim with a foreign object. Nicholson said investigators don’t yet have proof about whether the men also had sex with the victim; they are waiting for the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to analyze forensic evidence.

David Cook of the Chattanooga Times Free Press made some observations of the very predictable press inquiries at last week’s news conference with Sheriff Nicholson…

At Wednesday’s news conference, the sheriff laid out the facts in a customary way, then took questions from a crowd of reporters.

Fifteen questions went by before anyone asked about the victim.

Reporters asked about beer, and what kind, and how much. Who supplied it. Was there some mystery drug used to intoxicate the victim?

“Can you tell us how much alcohol we’re talking about?” one reporter asked.

It was scandalous and tabloid-esque, taking nearly five minutes and 15 questions before anyone asked about the woman who’d been so victimized she wound up in the hospital.

Near the end of the news conference, one reporter asked the sheriff what lessons could be learned from this.

“Teenagers and alcohol just do not mix,” he said.

Sheriff, you are right, so right. But this case is about something else entirely, and emphasizing the beer details only diminishes the real violence present in sexual assault.

When there’s a murder, or homicide, or robbery, no one talks about whether the shooters were drunk or how much beer they drank.

It is only within rape where such distortions occur, even though research shows that alcohol is present in about half of all sexual assaults … and half of all violent crimes, as well.

So when we liquify sexual assault, we feed into the dangerous and favorite narrative of misogynists everywhere: that drunken women are consenting, no-really-means-yes women, or that drunken women who cry rape are really just dealing with morning-after regret.


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