Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
Outsourced to Jonathan Chait: George Will Keeps Getting Nuttier: "George Will hates climate science, and everything that springs from climate science, including any non-carbon-intensive mode of transportation, like fuel-efficient cars, or, heaven forbid, trains.
Will’s column today celebrates his belief that Americans are once again disproving President Obama’s Big Government Social Engineering by flocking to ever-larger and less-fuel-efficient vehicles:
Have consumers thanked him for trying to wean them from their desire to drive large, useful, comfortable, safe vehicles that he thinks threaten their habitat, Earth? The 2013 numbers tell the tale of their ingratitude. In 2013, for the 32nd consecutive year, the best-selling vehicle was Ford’s F-Series pickups. This supremacy began, fittingly, in the first year of Ronald Reagan’s deregulatory presidency.
selling vehicle in the U.S. But the single best-selling vehicle by itself accounts for less than 5 percent of all vehicles sold. The single most popular item on a long list does not, by itself, tell you what all customers want. (To explain this concept in terms Will might understand: If the Yankees have the biggest television audience of any baseball team, it would not prove that most baseball fans love the Yankees.)
Outsourced to Jason Sattler: Bob Woodward Attacks President Obama For Being Right: "Here’s a president who made all the right calls, even though his decisions were often 'opposed by his political advisors' or were 'unpopular with his fellow Democrats'... responsible for 'one of the most courageous decisions I had ever witnessed in the White House'.
The Washington Post‘s Bob Woodward read about a president who did these things and decided that former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ new memoir of serving in both the Bush and Obama adminstrations, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, is a “harsh critique of Obama’s leadership.” Woodward... focuses on the rift with the president over the Afghanistan War. But it’s clear that the former secretary ultimately recognized that there was little hope of a successful outcome in the conflict that began in the aftermath of 9/11 — but not because of any decision President Obama made.
Scott Lemieux attempts to carry on a dialogue with the frozen, starving remnants of reasonable moderate conservatives. It's a difficult task, but I'm glad he's trying:
Scott Lemieux: Leave David Aloonnnnnnnnnnnnne!: "It ain’t easy defending a column as bad as David Brooks’s yesterday. Reihan Salam tries, and his entry is squarely in that odd category of contrarianism: 'if we imagine the column being criticized was making a much different argument than it actually was, it would be much better':
David Weigel @ Slate: Ruth Marcus, David Brooks, and reefer madness:
Whoever's been drugging the tap water in the Acela, please just stop. Your efforts have resulted in complementary columns in the Washington Post from Ruth Marcus and in the New York Times from David Brooks. Unless... did they come up with these columns all by themselves?
Rania Khalek says that the Nation "habitually reinforces Israeli apartheid by privileging Jewish voices over Palestinian ones..."
Rania Khalek writes: "@RichardKimNYC Listing the Palestinians who've written for The Nation since 2008 comes across as the "but I have X black friends" defense."
Dennis Perrin: Obit For A Former Contrarian:
Bright spring afternoon. Hitch and I spend it in his fave D.C. pub just down the street from his spacious apartment. At the long polished bar, he sips a martini, I swig Tanqueray on ice offset by pints of ale. The pub's TV is flashing golf highlights while the jukebox blasts classic rock. We're chatting about nothing in particular when the juke begins playing "Moonshadow" by Cat Stevens. Hitch stops talking. His face tightens. Eyes narrow. I know this look--I saw it on Crossfire when he nearly slugged a Muslim supporter of the Ayatollah's fatwa against Salman Rushdie. I saw it during a Gulf War panel discussion at Georgetown when he responded to some pro-war hack with a precision barrage of invective, followed by the slamming down of the mike, causing a brief reverb in the speakers. And here it was again.
Jim Sleeper: David Brooks Explains More Than He Intended:
Some Yale students who took David Brooks' faintly self-serving course on "Humility" last year are buzzing about his New York Times column today, which skewers a certain type of elite college student's ambition to become a "Thought Leader."
"The Thought Leader is sort of a highflying, good-doing yacht-to-yacht concept peddler," Brooks explains, using his best comic-sociology idiom. "Each year, he gets to speak at the Clinton Global Initiative, where successful people gather to express compassion for those not invited. Month after month, he gets to be a discussion facilitator at think tank dinners where guests talk about what it's like to live in poverty while the wait staff glides through the room thinking bitter thoughts."
Brooks quickly turns some bitter thoughts of his own toward recent college grads--like those he taught at Yale last year and in 2002--who are "networking" desperately to make it as writers but will end up like flies trapped in spider webs of assignments that may earn them some real money but leave them "incapable of thinking outside of consultantese."
But then, suddenly, Brooks seems to turn to writing about himself.
The tragedy of middle-aged fame is that the fullest glare of attention comes just when a person is most acutely aware of his own mediocrity. By his late 50s, the Thought Leader is a lion of his industry, but he is bruised by snarky comments from new versions of his formerly jerkish self. Of course, this is when he utters his cries for civility and good manners, which are really just pleas for mercy to spare his tender spots.
What makes the column still more revealing and sad is that, far from serving up an older but wiser man's humility, it recycles what Brooks has been saying quite often since even when he was younger and, one might have hoped, less cynical. Read the chapter on "The Intellectual Life" in his breakout book, Bobos in Paradise. It's all there, from youthful networking to end-of-the road emptiness.
Or consider the following excerpts from his columns of 2004 and 2005, about college-grad anxieties. Amid his endless efforts to ingratiate himself to bright undergraduates, Brooks often discloses a cankered, gnawing, neo-connish resentment as dark and deep as the brilliant humor he wields in order to insinuate it into our perceptions of social life. Now, though, this game seems to be circling disturbingly back to Brooks himself.
Brooks began his career looking worshipfully for something solid to believe in, something he tried to find in William F. Buckley and later thought he saw in George Bush and the WASP prep school and collegiate traditions that had shaped both Buckley and Bush and that Brooks had always envied from somewhere just outside the gates. (He attended the University of Chicago, a truly fine university, but never got over having missed out on joining the WASP elite at Yale whose graces he'd glimpsed at the Grace Church elementary school in Manhattan.)
Far more important to Brooks than George Bush himself was a kind of social and personal strength for which Brooks yearned so ardently that he'd projected it onto a whole class: His very first column for The New York Times -- "Bred for Power," September 13, 2003 -- pondered how the old prep schools had forged the Yale-burnished confidence of two of that year's emerging presidential candidates -- not only Bush but also his most prominent challenger at that point, "Howard Brush Dean III," as Brooks made a point of identifying him.
Far from lampooning Dean's privilege -- as he would John Kerry's a few months later, when Kerry had become the actual Democratic nominee -- Brooks credited Dean as well as Bush with an "amazing faith in their gut instincts" and "impregnable" self-esteem. This he attributed to their rigorous rites of passage in the wealthy, reigning Protestant Establishment of their youth.
They and their cohort had become "tough, loyal to each other, and ready to take command without self-doubt," according to a book on the subject that Brooks quoted. But even more revealingly, Brooks added, Bush and Dean "appear unplagued by the sensation, which destroyed Lyndon Johnson and Richard Nixon, that there is some group in society higher than themselves."
That sensation plagues and obsesses Brooks himself. Never mind that it fits Bush imperfectly and that Brooks claimed that it didn't apply at all to the prep-school and Yale-bred candidate who became Bush's Democratic opponent, John Kerry -- or to Ted Kennedy, whom Brooks called a "Chicken Little" for his opposition to the War in Iraq. The heart of Brooks' insight here lies in his mentioning Nixon and Johnson. That signals his struggles with his own inner Richard Nixon and his gnawing anxieties about class, ethnicity, and assimilation.
"The Protestant Establishment is dead now, and nobody wants it back," Brooks claims disingenuously at the end of that column, adding quickly that at least that establishment "did have a formula for producing leaders. Our culture, which is freer and fairer, does not."
He has left, us and himself, with an important question: What can we do if we lack an establishment that's at least cohesive enough to resent, as Nixon resented it?
The problem is that Brooks has been stuck trying to answer that question for almost as long as he has been writing. "I went around looking for well-bred WASPs who would defend WASPdom," he told the Atlantic in 2000, "but they've internalized their own oppression and they don't. I mean, you could make a case that the world of John McCloy and Dean Acheson was a better world than we have now. I half considered making that case. But as a Jewish kid from New York it's not really my place to defend the people who would keep people like me out."
"Not really?" Shortly before 9/11 and barely a year after saying that it wasn't his place to defend the old WASP establishment, Brooks, an editor at the conservative Weekly Standard, wrote "The Organization Kid," a long article for the Atlantic about Princeton that mourned the loss of the old Ivy establishment's character-building ways, foreshadowing his maiden Times column about Bush and Dean.
The article was a sensation in the Ivy colleges, and soon after 9/11, barely a year after praising the old establishment in it, Brooks, an editor at the conservative Weekly Standard, was invited to teach a course at Yale by Donald Kagan, John Gaddis, Charles Hill, and other conservatives who were working to restore Yale's old conduits to that very establishment and to toughen Yale students up for the Iraq War.
Yale offered the perfect place and occasion for Brooks to urge whatever remained of the old establishment to renew itself in its war-making glory under its own legatee, President George W. Bush, Yale Class of 1968. Kagan, Gaddis, and Hill were passionately committed to Bush's grand strategies; Brooks, in a column for the weekly Yale student paper The Herald of Nov. 8 2002, urged Yale students to support the impending war. He admonished campus critics of the war as follows:
...idealism seems in short supply these days, even at Yale. I've been amazed at how many people think we can retreat into the gated community of our affluent campuses and not take action to defeat tyranny abroad. There seems to be a pervasive micromania afoot: We have to think small because grand visions never work, and if we try to champion democracy in Iraq we will only screw it up. This micromania tips over into cynicism, so you hear pseudo-sophisticates say the interest in Iraqi regime change is all about oil -- a concept so detached from the realities of the world petroleum markets that it doesn't bear a minute's scrutiny.
"I don't expect that most people at Yale are going to support the efforts of President George W. Bush, DC '68, to change the Iraqi regime," Brooks concluded. "All I ask is that if there is a war, you rethink your position. Then the principled position will be: Now that we're here, let's do it right. Because at that point the people who truly want to champion democracy in Iraq, rather than just kill Saddam, will need all the help they can get."
So effective were Brooks, Kagan, Gaddis, Hill and their ilk in discrediting and defeating critics of the war like Howard Dean and John Kerry that they helped to stampede Americans into destroying Iraqi hopes and American interests in the Middle East in the grandest strategic foreign-policy blunder in our history. (Here's how it ended, for Iraqis, and for Kagan, Gaddis, and Hill.
During the 2004 presidential campaign, Brooks lampooned, hilariously, the hordes of liberal Thought Leaders who rushed to John Kerry's side like Athenian warriors lusting to make something triumphant out of what Brooks called the "melted marshmallow" at the candidate's core. His delight back then in filleting bi-coastal liberals leaves me wondering now what thoughts the "wait staff" must have as it glides through dinners at the Heritage Foundation and American Enterprise Institute, where people don't bother to talk about what it's like to live in poverty.
Brooks wonders about that, too, now, of course. During the 2008 campaign, he saw that American conservatives were doomed, if not indeed dangerous, because they couldn't reconcile their sincere yearning for ordered, even sacred republican liberty with their knee-jerk obeisance to every whim and riptide of the casino-like financing, consumer marketing juggernaut that's dissolving republican virtues and even sovereignty before their very eyes.
They couldn't keep blaming all this on liberals, feckless and hypocritical though liberal elites can certainly be. Brooks had begun his career by working for William F. Buckley, Jr., who wrote that conservatives "should stand athwart history, yelling 'Stop!'" But even Buckley realized toward the end of his life what most voters, too, had seen: Too much of what conservatives claim to want to stop is coming from themselves for them to displace the blame onto people like Kerry, whom Brooks now finds himself covering as Secretary of State, a man trained, after all, by that good old WASP establishment, not the flip-flopper with only sculpted marshmallow at his core whom Brooks gave us in 2004.
Brooks' fine-spun, Ivy-obsessed ressentiment (here's a quick explanation of that term) emerged again in 2005 his "Life Lessons From Watergate," a column prompted by the news that a long-time Washington bureaucrat, Mark Felt, had been the real "Deep Throat" in Watergate.
What should have prompted fresh reckonings with the American republic's triumph over Nixonian perversity at that time and of the public's continuing need for official truth-telling and reportorial vigilance prompted instead a snarky account by Brooks of what he thinks we should all resent about Ivy elitists who'd brought Nixon down in the Watergate scandal.
"The most interesting part of this Deep Throat business," Brooks began -- the dismissiveness of that phrase "Deep Throat business" already signaling that he'll dodge the profound importance of Watergate -- "is [the Washington Post reporter and recent Yale graduate] Bob Woodward's description... of the state he was in when he met Mark Felt. He had graduated from Yale,... but he had no idea what he wanted to do with his life."
Brooks tells us that Woodward was gripped by "starting-gate frenzy," which he characterized as the fate of all elite college grads, who must scramble disingenuously and sometimes brutally to ingratiate themselves with the right people, especially the more privileged of their classmates and alumni, to blunt the shock of their being "spit out into the vast, anarchic world of adulthood, surrounded by a teeming horde of scrambling peers."
Sound familiar? Today's column merely reprises this, for the umpteenth time. In 2005, Brooks continued,
Their elders tell them to take their time and explore, advice that is of absolutely no comfort. Failure seems but a step away. Loneliness hovers. They often feel stunted and restless (I haven't moved up in six months!), so they adopt a conversational mode -- ironic, self-deprecatory, post-pubescent fatalism -- that masks their anxiety. .... In college they were discussing Dostoyevsky; now they are trapped in copy-machine serfdom...
They find that people who used to be just friends are now competitors in the frantic scramble... Entering the world of the Higher Shamelessness, they begin networking like mad, cultivating the fine art of false modesty and calculated friendships,... weighing who will be crucial members of their cohort, engaging in the dangerous game of lateral kissing up, hunting for the spouse who will look handsomely supportive during some future confirmation hearing....
Here Brooks is close to his knowing resignation of today, describing the qualities his hero Edmund Burke would have dreaded in a protégé. In 2005, as in 2013, he tells young readers that there's no escape:
This is now a normal stage of life. And if Bob Woodward could get through something like it, perhaps they will, too. For that is the purpose of Watergate in today's culture. It isn't about Nixon and the cover-up anymore. It's ... about the two young men who found exciting and challenging jobs, who slew the dragon, who became rich and famous by doing good.... Woodward was nervous once, like you.
But Woodward is not a man whom admires. The column is deeply cynical, in a fine-spun way, even with its faux-upbeat, ironical ending. And the message being telegraphed to us from Brooks' inner Nixon is that since Woodward wasn't really as bold and high-souled in exposing the Watergate scandal as you have thought, we might as well forget about Nixon's faiblesses.
The same day that this Watergate column ran, Brooks' Times Washington bureau colleague Elisabeth Bumiller, like Woodward a Yale graduate, wrote an eerily similar put-down of Woodward masquerading as "News Analysis." Bumiller called Woodward's account of his first meetings with Felt "a parable about how the city really works. Aficionados ferreted it out instantly in the first paragraphs of Bob Woodward's tale...."
Almost as if she were determined to echo Brooks, Bumiller wrote that "Mr. Woodward, anxious and confused about his future, nonetheless displayed the kind of terrier instincts that would later serve him so well." Thus she joined Brooks in casting Woodward as a reporter who comforts the comfortable by following them around and transcribing their thoughts.
Bumiller's Woodward story ran under the apparently irreverent headline, "If They Gave Nobels for Networking...," and it told readers this:
"If I hadn't taken a course with Paul Wolfowitz decades ago, I probably wouldn't be in Washington," said I. Lewis Libby, Vice President Dick Cheney's chief of staff, who in 1973 was a student in Mr. Wolfowitz's political science class at Yale.
Admittedly, Wolfowitz, Libby, and Cheney weren't models for too many Yale undergraduates by 2005. But Woodward recruits Yale undergraduates as his research assistants every year. So why shouldn't young, would-be Thought Leaders at Yale have the benefit of Bumiller's and Brooks' competitive inside coaching, as well? Every morning, a stack of free New York Times editions appears in the vestibules of Yale's twelve residential-college dining halls, where students can read columns like these over breakfast.
They're eating out of Brooks' hand. He's writing to them about themselves, with a presumptive intimacy few columnists can muster, because he's writing about something that's arrested in him, for reasons I'll explain on another occasion. Lion of punditry though Brooks has certainly become, part of him is still too much with the kids who are reading his columns and lining up to take his courses.
Today's column announces, more honestly than the one about Woodward and perhaps even more honestly than Brooks intends, that those who set out to follow him will likely end up not as Platonic guardians of the American republic in the best Yale tradition but as what he, himself, remains: a fatalistic, "lateral-kissing up," consultanese-spouting pitch-man for our casino-financing, consumer-groping juggernaut.
Perhaps Brooks' forthcoming book will succeed where even his most brilliant successes as a Thought Leader have failed. Perhaps his new book will summon from the old colleges whose traditions still obsess him a new generation of Burkean, civic-republican leaders, more noble than "Thought Leaders" for whom "the fullest glare of attention comes just when a person is most acutely aware of his own mediocrity" and "is gravely concerned about the way everything is going to hell."
Ann Coulter email@example.com: Thanks To Real "Fairness" You Can Save Your Retirement, Make Lots of Money, and Watch a Liberal's Head Explode--All at the Same Time:
Dear Fellow Red-Blooded American,
If you want to warm a liberal's heart, tell them you, as a conservative, support one of their most sacred doctrines--"fairness."
Then explain to them what fairness is not...
Fairness is NOT "redistributing" someone else's success...
Fairness is NOT changing the rules for those who are getting close to retirement...
And fairness is NOT doling out money to those who won't work.
No matter how they sugar-coat it, taking wealth from one who has earned it, to give it to another who hasn't, is not fair... it is stealing. (Oh, and speaking of wealth, keep reading and I'll introduce you to someone who can help you increase yours...)
What Real Fairness IS
Contrary to liberal mythology, fairness--REAL fairness--is succeeding through your own hard work and abilities under the same rules that apply to all. And that, as you know, is at the heart of a free-market economy.
Let me tell you about Dr. Mark Skousen, someone who understands these free-market principles perhaps better than anyone. He is one of the most influential free-market economists today.
Friedman: "Reinventing the consignment shop on the web will save the U.S. economy. Also, PR pitches work with me." http://t.co/9Nq06LLVhs— billmon (@billmon1) December 22, 2013
@douglasstruth Friedman is such a perfect parody of himself, it's a recursive loop. Someday he's going to disappear up his own belly button.— billmon (@billmon1) December 22, 2013
Sasha Issenberg (2006): Boo-Boos in Paradise:
A few years ago, journalist david brooks wrote a celebrated article for the Atlantic Monthly, “One Nation, Slightly Divisible,” in which he examined the country's cultural split in the aftermath of the 2000 election, contrasting the red states that went for Bush and the blue ones for Gore. To see the vast nation whose condition he diagnosed, Brooks compared two counties: Maryland's Montgomery (Blue), where he himself lives, and Pennsylvania's Franklin (a Red county in a Blue state). “I went to Franklin County because I wanted to get a sense of how deep the divide really is,” Brooks wrote of his leisurely northward drive to see the other America across “the Meatloaf Line; from here on there will be a lot fewer sun-dried-tomato concoctions on restaurant menus and a lot more meatloaf platters.” Franklin County was a place where “no blue New York Times delivery bags dot driveways on Sunday mornings … [where] people don't complain that Woody Allen isn't as funny as he used to be, because they never thought he was funny,” he wrote. “In Red America churches are everywhere. In Blue America Thai restaurants are everywhere. In Red America they have QVC, the Pro Bowlers Tour, and hunting. In Blue America we have NPR, Doris Kearns Goodwin, and socially conscious investing.”
By the end of the May 2009 NYRB/PEN symposium on "The Crisis and How to Deal with It",, Niall Ferguson was interrupting Bill Bradley to say that he was "not to blame for AIG" and condemning Paul Krugman's calls for expansionary fiscal policy when monetary policy was tapped out at the zero lower bound as "the Soviet model".
None of that made it into the version of the symposium published in the New York Review of Books.
Here's the end of the symposium, with what the NYRB dropped between what was said and what it printed in bold:
Alex Pareene: Hack List No. 4: David Brooks: The Columnist:
It seems a pleasant life to be a Columnist. He writes a few hundred words once, or at most twice a week. He’s paid more to read those words out loud to people at elite colleges and conferences. Naturally, people frequently want to know where a Columnist comes from and how they come to have columns.>The Columnist begins as a Young Conservative Intellectual. It is important for the Young Conservative Intellectual to be a converted radical, so he will have a story of his foolish young radicalism and of his conversion, which he will credit to William F. Buckley and Milton Friedman. He finds meaning in seriousness as a concept. He admires Edmund Burke. The Columnist will be a public intellectual, not a mere pundit. He will be wry, but never funny. Lightly ironic, but never sarcastic. If he mocks, it will always be gently.
Andrew Sullivan: Fournier Digs In:
Like many other veterans of the Village... Ron Fournier... never liked... Obama.... [The] repudiation of so much that came before... rankles.... And so Fournier’s dogged and constant attempts to drag this presidency to the low levels of its predecessor.... The latest is a classic, down to its melodramatic title: “This Is The End Of The Presidency”... so preposterous and lazy an argument it beggars belief.
Dan Drezner: Why I don't need to take Charles Lane seriously any more:
Earlier in the week the Washington Post's Chuck Lane wrote an op-ed arguing in favor of Jeff Flake's amendment to cut National Science Foundation funding for political science. In fact, Lane raised the ante, arguing that NSF should stop funding all of the social sciences, full stop....
I would be curious if anybody can point to things he has written in the past, say, five years that have taught them anything--other than "it taught me what sad shape the Washington Post editorial page is in". Anybody? Anybody? Bueller?
Paul Krugman: Counterattack of the Deficit Scold Deadenders:
The deficit scolds have not had a good year. They’ve seen their forecasts of fiscal disaster fizzle; they’ve seen their favorite economic analyses crash and burn; they’ve seen the rise of a faction with actual power in the Democratic party that refuses to acknowledge their wisdom. This last bit is crucial: deficit scoldery has always depended on the illusion of consensus.... What the scolds have left, however, is a significant part of the press corps that hasn’t gotten the memo... [and] believes... normal journalistic standards should be set aside when the deficit is concerned....
And so, as Kevin Drum points out, [Lori Montgomery in]... WaPo has a report on the apparent mini-budget deal that simply takes it for granted that the failure to achieve a large-scale deficit reduction plan is a terrible failure.... It’s even worse than Drum suggests... an editorial posing as a news report... deeply misleading reporting on the facts.... We are told:
Where would that leave the nation’s financial outlook? Not in a particularly good place.... Congressional Budget Office projections show the red ink receding over the next two years. But annual deficits would start growing again in 2016 as the baby-boom generation moves inexorably into retirement. And the debt would again soar.
Ah. So we look at the CBO’s latest projection.... See that debt soar! Or, actually, be more or less stable for the next decade. In fact, CBO’s projections are distinctly non-alarming even 20 years out.
It’s also curious who the article cites as authorities.... Bill Bixby... the fiscal responsibility reward... [he] gave to Paul Ryan. When challenged on that award, Bixby responded with an outright falsehood:
Paul Ryan... Bixby announced, had “earned his Fiscy Award really by being the first [congressman] in several years to step forward with a specific scorable budget plan that would actually solve the nation’s long-term structural deficits.”...
[But] Ryan’s plan... wasn’t... “scorable”--he had instead simply given the CBO estimates for future revenue and spending, prompting the organization to note that its analysis “does not represent a cost estimate...”.
The article doesn’t quote anyone on the other side.... There are... plenty of people at think tanks who don’t consider the deficit a pressing issue... plenty of analysts you could quote who aren’t professional deficit scolds. But none of those people gets mentioned in the article.
The thing is, this kind of “reporting” has actually been normal on matters fiscal. The only surprise is that so little has changed.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
And we have yet another article wondering why Prime Minister Obama didn’t just eliminate the American health insurance industry.... The answer, of course, is that Obama didn’t take single payer “off the table.” It was never on the table. The idea that there were 60--hell, that there were 30--votes for single payer in the Senate is sheer fantasy. Diaz-Alvarez doesn’t even try to explain how “a president willing to nationalize health care” could have actually gotten the relevant legislation enacted. (Again, given that the answers tend to be self-refuting things like “threaten to primary legislators who aren’t running for anything” or “offer to campaign for candidates in states where you’re enormously unpopular” this is probably for the best.) Rather, this is a teleological argument. Single payer is more efficient, therefore policy outcomes should naturally gravitate in that direction and if they don’t the only explanation must be that the president--the sole meaningful inhabitant of the American political universe--must be obstructing it.
I’ve already said enough about this line of argument, but wow....
As a corrective, I strongly recommend Alex Pareene’s piece on Elizabeth Warren. The White House isn’t where transformations begin; it’s where if they’re successful, they end.
Chuck Lane is on the offensive on Twitter!
I reply appropriately over at the Equitablog
But Chuck Lane comes back for more!:
A sampler of @delong's "technocratic conversation:" "In my view, Robert Samuelson is a bad person." (1)— Charles Lane (@ChuckLane1) December 12, 2013
So I'm going to deal with this out-of-context drivel here. Note that because Lane doesn't attach citations or links to the out-of-context snippets from me he tweets, I have to hunt them down to put them in context, which takes time. So my patience will not be unlimited. Nevertheless, here goes:
Let me sharply, sharply, sharply dissent from this from Scott Sumner, who begins a weblog post:
One amusing sidelight of Nick Rowe’s recent post was all sorts of people agreeing that they can never understand what Izabella Kaminska is talking about (including Nick and I.) The lazy way out would be to assume that Kaminska is a phony...
That is completely wrong. Almost always, almost everybody I talk to who has read Izabella Kaminska (a) understands what she is saying, and (b) thinks it smart. And (c) I agree: it is smart. The occasions on which individual people I talk to who read IK don't understand what she is saying are rare. The occasions on which most of the people I talk to about an IK article think she is confused are even rarer.
Scott is correct in the concluding sentence of his paragraph:
She probably has valuable things to say...
She does. If he doesn't read her regularly, he should. And he owes her a big post highlighting some of the very smart coverage she provides. She is an important art of the press corps that we need to have.
Yes. She is not an expert on either multiple equilibria in models of monetary dynamics or on the disequilibrium foundations of equilibrium economics. So? It isn't her job to be...
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
Balloon Juice: Media Villagers Demand We Stop Mocking Them » Balloon Juice:
And now Kos has gotten into a full-scale twit-war with Ron Fournier on “Failing Beltway 101“...
Daily Kos: How I failed Beltway 101 taught by Ron Fournier:
You might remember Ron Fournier for such hits as "failed Beltway political startup HotSoup.com", almost quitting his reporter job to go work for John McCain's presidential campaign, and "sending email to Karl Rove encouraging him to 'keep up the fight'". HotSoup.com was pretty awesome, actually.
A bipartisan group of prominent political strategists on Tuesday announced an Internet information venture designed to interact with America's opinion leaders and serve as an antidote to the right-left clash that typifies political discourse on the Web.
The nation so desperately needed an antidote to the right-left clash that HotSoup.com promptly crashed and burned, and Fournier was back to his reportorial hackish ways. These days, it manifests in headlines like:
Obama Wins! Big Whoop. Can He Lead?
And of course, "leading" means capitulating to the GOP and cutting Social Security and Medicare. And I mean that quite literally:
Does he have the guts to anger liberal backers with a budget deal on Social Security and Medicare?
Is he willing to engage sincerely with Republicans?
He's also someone who thought that Sonya Sotomayor had to explain away her "[looking] different than every other family-loving American" during her confirmation hearings. He didn't know that Sen. Chuck Grassley inserted the language requiring senators and their staff go on the exchanges. He thought that Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer's opposition to gun control was a flip flop (it wasn't). You get the idea...
Whatever. Hacks are a dime a dozen in the media world. But what makes Fournier particularly interesting is that he's the editorial director of the National Journal, a respected Beltway publication with a subscription price of over a grand a year. So, you know, you'd expect the person running its newsroom to know a thing or two about politics. But what he lacks in basic political knowledge, he more than makes up in love and affection for Third Way and, not coincidentally, hatred of me. If you're into catty back and forths, meet me below the fold!
Now we turn to ethical issues. My first question, and this is a genuine question, concerns the victims. Let’s detach ourselves from the specifics of the Cain case and consider a general question: If you are the victim of sexual harassment, and you agree to remain silent in exchange for a five-figure payoff, should any moral taint attach to you?
In the old days, somebody who allowed a predator to continue his hunting in exchange for money would certainly be considered a sinner. I’m reluctant to judge people in these circumstances, but I’m inclined to agree. Am I missing something?...
It was, of course, by Ben Stein. As I see it, the New York Times owes every subscriber it sent this to a lifetime refund of all subscription monies they have paid:
The Worst Finance Column Ever Written: FOR decades now... I have been receiving letters from thoughtful readers... about the dangers of a secret government running the world, organized by the Trilateral Commission, or the Ford Foundation, or the Big Oil companies or, of course, world Jewry.... [T]he closest I have recently seen to such a world-running body would have to be a certain large investment bank... a gent in Florida who is sure economic disaster lies ahead (and he may be right, but he’s not), forwarded a newsletter from a highly placed economist at Goldman Sachs named Jan Hatzius....
Dr. Hatzius, who has a Ph.D. in economics from “Oggsford,” as they put it in “The Great Gatsby,” used a combination of theory, data, guesswork, extrapolation and what he recalls as history to reach the point that when highly leveraged institutions like banks lost money on subprime, they would cut back on lending to keep their capital ratios sound — and this would slow the economy. This would occur, he said, if the value of the assets that banks hold plunges so steeply that they have to consume their own capital to patch up losses. With those funds used to plug holes, banks’ reserves drop further. To keep reserves in accordance with regulatory requirements, banks then have to rein in lending. What all of this means — or so the argument goes — is that losses in subprime and elsewhere that are taken at banks ultimately boomerang back, in a highly multiplied and negative way, onto our economy. As the narrator in the rock legend “Spill the Wine” says, “This really blew my mind.”...
A few flaws in his paper... his hypothesis that home prices would fall an average of 15 percent nationwide (an event that has never happened since the Depression, although we surely could be headed in that direction), and that this would lead to a drastic increase in defaults and losses by lenders. This, as I see it, is a conclusion that is an estimation based upon a guess.... His document was mostly about selling fear. A spokesman for Goldman Sachs categorically denies this point and says that the firm’s economic research is held to the highest levels of objectivity and that its economists’ views are completely independent.... His paper is not really what I would call a serious overview.... It is more a call to be afraid... not [a review of] the lessons of history.... Goldman Sachs is a huge name in terms of moneymaking and prestige.... But it has never been clear to me exactly why its people are considered rocket scientists in any other area than making money. Dr. Hatzius’s paper is a prime example.... It... basically misses the point: yes, there are possible macro dangers, but you have to go all the way around Robin Hood’s barn to get to them.... Why, then, is his document circulating?... [It is] a selling document in the real Wall Street sense of selling — namely, selling short.... Goldman Sachs was injecting dangerous financial products into the world’s commercial bloodstream for years....
Is it possible that Dr. Hatzius’s paper was a device to help along the goal of success at bearish trades in this sector and in the market generally? His firm says his paper, like all of its economists’ work, was not written to support any larger short-trading strategy. But economists, like accountants, are artists. They have a tendency to paint what their patrons, who pay them, want to see.... Goldman has a fascinating culture. It is sort of like what I imagine the culture of the K.G.B. to be...
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? Why did nobody at the New York Times lose their job over the hiring and persistent retention of Ben Stein?
I apologize to Niall Ferguson for disputing his use of Shadow Stats to claim that "double-digit inflation is back." http://t.co/esyYf3QV— Justin Wolfers (@justinwolfers) February 19, 2013
Niall Ferguson apologizes for pretending to be a homophobe just to please a crowd. What about apologizing for pretending to be an economist?— Justin Wolfers (@justinwolfers) May 4, 2013
Obama linked himself to Lincoln in '08. Blows off 150th Anniversary of Lincoln's Gettysburg Address. Meh http://t.co/pRsWHwnPlk— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) November 19, 2013
I was like "Wait, who seriously gives a shit that Obama isn't going to Gettysburg?" Of course the answer is @ron_fournier.— Josh Barro (@jbarro) November 19, 2013
Why won't @ron_fournier lead Obama to Gettysburg? Get out your GPS, Ron. Your country needs you.— Josh Barro (@jbarro) November 19, 2013
Why won't Obama LEAD? RT @ron_fournier This is what happens when a WH stops giving straight answers. Saw it happen to Bus and Clinton too.— Tom Hilton (@TVHilton) November 19, 2013
Back in November 2011, I wrote that Richard Just was not doing a good job as editor of the New Republic: Am I Miss Informed?: American Elections "Department of 'Huh?!'" Department. I was annoyed by his publishing Bill Galston's insistence that:
Of the states that Obama won in 2008, he is certain to lose Indiana, he will be hard-put to reproduce his razor-thin edge in North Carolina, and his chances of prevailing in Florida appear well short of 50-50. Those three states alone accounted for 53 of Obama’s 365 electoral votes in 2008. Given all this, it would political malpractice for the Obama campaign not to go all-out in Ohio. At the same time, they should focus on fortifying the president’s standing in Pennsylvania, a state that traditionally has given Democratic presidential candidates a share of the popular vote about two percentage points higher than their national average. Winning Pennsylvania is a necessary condition of Democratic victory; winning Ohio is a sufficient condition…
This is beyond the remit of the Washington Center for Equitable Growth. Nevertheless, every American who has given, still gives, or contemplates ever giving money to the Washington Post for any purpose needs to read Ta-Nehisi Coates:
Ta-Nehisi Coates: Richard Cohen in Context:
I read the entire column. I saw the preceding grafs where Cohen offers a rough history of the Dixiecrats and segregationists wing of America. And then I read this:
Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled—about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York--a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts—but not all—of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.
The problem here isn't that we think Richard Cohen gags at the sight of an interracial couple and their children.
The problem is that Richard Cohen thinks being repulsed isn't actually racist, but "conventional" or "culturally conservative."
Obstructing the right of black humans and white humans to form families is a central feature of American racism. If retching at the thought of that right being exercised isn't racism, then there is no racism.
Context can not improve this. "Context" is not a safe word that makes all your other horse-shit statements disappear. And horse-shit is the context in which Richard Cohen has, for all these years, wallowed. It is horse-shit to claim that store owners are right to discriminate against black males. It is horse-shit to claim Trayvon Martin was wearing the uniform of criminals. It is horse-shit to subject your young female co-workers to "a hostile work environment." It is horse-shit to expend precious newsprint lamenting the days when slovenly old dudes had their pick of 20-year-old women. It is horse-shit to defend a rapist on the run because you like "The Pianist". And it is horse-shit for Katherine Weymouth, the Post's publisher, to praise a column with the kind of factual error that would embarrass a j-school student.
Richard Cohen's unfortunate career is the proper context to understand his column today and the wide outrage that's greeted it. We are being told that Cohen finds it "hurtful" to be called racist. I am sorry that people on the Internet have hurt Richard Cohen's feelings. I find it "hurtful" that Cohen endorses the police profiling my son. I find it eternally "hurtful" that the police, following that same logic, killed one of my friends. I find it hurtful to tell my students that, even in this modern age, vending horse-shit is still an esteemed and lucrative profession.
Yglesias isn’t being entirely fair here. Yes, Richard Cohen’s habit of inserting staggeringly racist bon mots into his columns is an unfortunate embarrassment for the Washington Post. But this must be weighed against the extraordinary capacity for keen political and social analysis he brings to the table. Prior to reading Cohen’s column, had it ever occurred to anyone that some Republican primary voters, including a fair number of Iowans, might prefer that their party nominate a candidate positioned to Chris Christie’s right in 2016? You can’t put a price on political insights like that.
Niall Ferguson emailed me, asking me to please note on my weblog his "Krugtron" posts.
I'm going to use the magic of globalization and the internet to outsource this task to the low-wage laborers of Logan Circle, as they frantically try to keep the hamster wheels of their weblogging efforts spinning fast enough to keep from triggering the electric shock:
Matthew Yglesias: Niall Ferguson names and shames me:
The historian Niall Ferguson has decided for some reason to drag your humble blogger into his feud with Paul Krugman:
Brian Buetler: How the media is blowing the Obamacare rollout:
The Obamacare model effectively enlists for-profit insurers to fulfill the function of state-based single-payer systems. It pools risk in the individual market across states, but allows several carriers to compete for enrollees. For a system like this to work, though, the companies themselves need to operate like public utilities. The Affordable Care Act takes important steps in this direction, but doesn't eliminate all of the private insurance market's worst incentives. This automatic retention strategy is just one manifestation. Let this be a reminder to the Democrats on Capitol Hill and in the White House who killed the public option. It could've been designed as a default plan for cancelees...
Michael Hiltzik: Another Obamacare horror story debunked:
Deborah Cavallaro is a hard-working real estate agent in the Westchester suburb of Los Angeles who has been featured prominently on a round of news shows lately, talking about how badly Obamacare is going to cost her when her existing plan gets canceled and she has to find a replacement.... "Please explain to me," she told Maria Bartiromo on CNBC Wednesday, "how my plan is a 'substandard' plan when... I'd be paying more for the exchange plans than I am currently paying by a wide margin."
Bartiromo didn't take her up on her request. So I will.... I talked with Cavallaro, 60.... Her current plan, from Anthem Blue Cross, is a catastrophic coverage plan for which she pays $293 a month as an individual policyholder. It requires her to pay a deductible of $5,000 a year and limits her out-of-pocket costs to $8,500 a year. Her plan also limits her to two doctor visits a year, for which she shoulders a copay of $40 each. After that, she pays the whole cost of subsequent visits....
As for a replacement plan, she says she was quoted $478 a month by her insurance broker, but that's a lot more than she'll really be paying. Cavallaro told me she hasn't checked the website of Covered California, the state's health plan exchange, herself. I did so.... She's eligible for a good "silver" plan for $333 a month after the subsidy--$40 a month more than she's paying now. But the plan is much better than her current plan--the deductible is $2,000, not $5,000. The maximum out-of-pocket expense is $6,350, not $8,500. Her co-pays would be $45 for a primary care visit and $65 for a specialty visit--but all visits would be covered, not just two. Is that better than her current plan? Yes, by a mile.
If she wanted to pay less, Cavallaro could opt for lesser coverage in a "bronze" plan. She could buy one from the California exchange for as little as $194 a month. From Anthem, it's $256, or $444 a year less than she's paying now. That buys her a $5,000 deductible (the same as she's paying today) but the out-of-pocket limit is lower, $6,350. Office visits would be $60 for primary care and $70 for specialties, but again with no limit on the number of visits. Factor in the premium savings, and it's hard to deny that she's still ahead.
Cavallaro told me a couple of things that are worth considering. First, what she likes about her current plan is that she can go to any doctor of her choice and any hospital. That's not entirely true, because her current plan with Anthem does favor a network. Plainly, however, it's broad enough to serve her purposes. She's concerned that the new plans will offer smaller networks, which is probably true, though it's not necessarily true that the new networks will exclude her favorite doctors, hospitals or prescription formularies.
She also mentioned that her annual income fluctuates. It can be substantially lower, or substantially higher, than it is this year. What if next year she earns too much to qualify for the subsidy?... But that's not the same as saying that "there's nothing affordable about the Affordable Care Act," because at her current income, the act is vastly more affordable to her than what she's paying now.
When she told Channel 4 that "for the first time in my whole life, I will be without insurance," it's hard to understand what she was talking about. (Channel 4 didn't ask.) Better plans than she has now are available for her to purchase today, some of them for less money.
The sad truth is that Cavallaro has been very poorly served by the health insurance industry and the news media.... If her insurance brokers told her what she says they did, they failed her. And the reporters who interviewed her without getting all the facts produced inexcusably shoddy work--from Maria Bartiromo on down. They not only did her a disservice, but failed the rest of us too.
Paul Krugman: Award-winning Paragraphs:
John Taylor has accomplished something sort of amazing: he has managed to write the two worst paragraphs I’ve read this week. Here they are:
Let me start by saying that I have enormous respect for Ezra Klein, whose work in creating and maintaining WonkBlog has, I would argue, made him the brightest spot and the greatest hero twenty-first century American journalism has seen.
And let me start by saying that I also have enormous respect for Jim Tankersley: a smart, honorable, and hard-working reporter who knows immense amounts about the American economy and about public policy, and who tries his best to inform his readers on both print and screen within the limits of the institutional role allotted him.
And let me say that his 1700 word piece on the economy and politics of Tea-Party hub Rome, Georgia can be and has been read with enormous profit by me and people like me.
After reading Suzanne Somers on ObamaCare in the Wall Street Journal, Anil Dash writes:
Next the WSJ will run a denial of income inequality penned by the General Lee from Dukes of Hazzard. (The car will get its math wrong.)
I am afraid all I can offer him today is John Taylor, whose thesis really is: Blame Barack Obama for the shutdown and debt-ceiling debacles of October:
It is a common view that the shutdown, the debt-limit debacle and the repeated failure to enact entitlement and pro-growth tax reform reflect increased political polarization. I believe this gets the causality backward..... [It's the Obama] economic policy changes... growing out of the 2008 financial crisis...
These debacles were, in John Taylor's mind, really not the fault of the Tea Party, the House Republican "grownups" who decided to bless the Tea Party, or the Senate Republican "grownups" who decided not to tell their fellow party members to sit down and behave like grownups.
Besides, John Taylor says, noticing that the Tea Party exists is rude:
Claiming that one political party has been hijacked by extremists... prevents a serious discussion of the fundamental changes in economic policies in recent years, and their effects...
Robert Farley: Repudiate! Refudiate!:
What’s missing [from Friedersdorf's mine] here seems to be an understanding of how the 2008 Republican primary actually played out. To my recollection, the only candidate that ran on an explicit repudiation of Bush administration security and economic policies maxed out at 24.57% of the vote in the meaningless Montana caucus, and averaged well below 10% for the bulk of the campaign despite his aforementioned monopolization of the anti-Bush position. And in 2012, that same candidate rocked all the way to an average of 11% of the GOP primary vote, despite again monopolizing the “repudiate Bush” position. And so, if Democrats in 2016 repudiate Obama to exactly the same extent that Republicans in 2008 repudiated Bush, they’ll likely select… wait for it… a candidate who supports policies that are virtually indistinguishable from the incumbent President.
Perhaps more importantly, the Tea Party reaction, such that it has been, was only incidentally about Bush, and entirely about Barack Obama. I know it bothers Conor to think about his political allies as neo-confederate fanatics largely animated by racial animus, but you go to war with the friends you choose, not the friends you… uh, choose, I guess. And of course, you can tell how much Republicans hate George W. Bush based on the 84-15 majority that thinks he was a good President.
I’ve said it before and (sadly) I suspect I’ll have to say it again: I can appreciate why Conor Friedersdorf takes himself very seriously, but I can’t understand why any progressives take him seriously at all.
Aaron Carroll: Beating a dead horse, WSJ edition | The Incidental Economist:
I’m like the millionth person to pile on this Suzanne Sommers editorial (seriously, what was the WSJ thinking?), but I have to get my two cents in. Jonathan Chait has done his usual masterwork, and Josh Barro crushed it as well. I want to focus on some of her claims about Canada:
It went on to say that young Canadian medical students have no incentive to become doctors to humans because they can’t make any money. Instead, there is a great surge of Canadian students becoming veterinarians....
Yeah, cause doctors are homeless in Canada....
The public interest is not served by a #slatepitch race to the bottom. So I will confine my response to Ira Stoll's ridiculous argument in Time, "JFK Was a Political Conservative", to simply noting that John F. Kennedy, the Democratic president who inspired a generation of liberal idealists, championed liberal labour and civil-rights legislation, and, in accepting the 1960 presidential nomination of New York State's Liberal Party, announced "I'm proud to say I'm a liberal", was in fact a liberal.
Daniel Davies has some very special advice for Michael Kinsley and company:
Rules for Contrarians: 1. Don’t whine. That is all — Crooked Timber: I like to think that I know a little bit about contrarianism. So I’m disturbed to see that people who are making roughly infinity more money than me out of the practice aren’t sticking to the unwritten rules of the game.
Viz Nathan Mhyrvold:
Once people with a strong political or ideological bent latch onto an issue, it becomes hard to have a reasonable discussion; once you’re in a political mode, the focus in the discussion changes. Everything becomes an attempt to protect territory. Evidence and logic becomes secondary, used when advantageous and discarded when expedient. What should be a rational debate becomes a personal and venal brawl.
Okay, point one. The whole idea of contrarianism is that you’re “attacking the conventional wisdom”, you’re “telling people that their most cherished beliefs are wrong”, you’re “turning the world upside down”. In other words, you’re setting out to annoy people. Now opinions may differ on whether this is a laudable thing to do – I think it’s fantastic – but if annoying people is what you’re trying to do, then you can hardly complain when annoying people is what you actually do.
Binyamin Applebaum: ‘The Map and the Territory’ by Alan Greenspan:
Alan Greenspan… writes… that he has been thinking about bubbles since the financial crisis of 2008…. What economists like to call “the animal spirits” can be incorporated into economic models…. This is promising stuff. It might even make an interesting book. But the subject barely holds Mr. Greenspan’s attention for a single chapter.
Prairie Weather: Experiencing the ACA:
If you're genuinely interested in the experiences of others as they encounter the flawed computer system, then skip down to the comments. The system seems to work pretty damn well.
Dread Pirate Mistermix: Death Panels are in the Past, Let’s Move On:
Atrios: "The obvious thing is that the Republicans totally stepped on their own chances of pointing out what a clusterfuck the Obamacare rollout is. They’ve never had a coherent narrative of just what was wrong with Obamacare, and when actual problems materialized they looked away for some reason." I’d have to consult a psychiatrist or a circus owner to get an expert opinion, but I have a couple of unschooled guesses why the Obamacare rollout isn’t occupying banner headlines on Fox and shooting to the top of Memeorandum…. Goldline isn’t going to pay for ads on a network reporting about petty inconveniences--it’s only the threat of impending apocalypse that moves product.
Every time we think the New Republic cannot decline any further, it proves us wrong.
The politest thing that can be said is that your news, editorial, and personnel judgment is deep down the toilet:
Michael Kinsley (October 10, 2013): Obama Should Just Give in to the Republicans:
President Obama should give in. Yes, this mess is all the Republicans’ fault. Yes, it’s outrageous that they can hold the government hostage in order to reargue a law that’s been voted on, signed, enacted, and upheld by the Supreme Court. Yes, it’s a terrible precedent. Nevertheless, he should give in. He should speak to the nation and say, “I cannot in good conscience put you and this country through the traumatic consequences of a default. The Republicans apparently don’t feel that way…. They don’t care…. The sad truth is that if you don’t care about any of that, it gives you tremendous power over those who do. Perhaps unfortunately, I do care. And I believe the stakes are too high to let this become a testosterone contest…."
David Frum: Peter Baker’s ‘Days of Fire’:
An Italian historian once wryly observed that Italy is a country of many secrets but no mysteries. That line may now be applied to the Bush administration in reverse…. If Bush relied heavily on Cheney at the outset of his administration, that was a choice too…. White House management in the first term could be summed up by the formula Dick Cheney > Karl Rove > Andy Card, with Bush a sometimes amused, sometimes frustrated observer of his administration’s internal power struggles.
During the height of News Corp.’s phone-hacking drama in 2011, journalists at the company’s blue-chip American broadsheet grappled with efforts from higher-ups to muzzle their coverage of the scandal, according to a new book by NPR media correspondent David Folkenflik. Reporters and editors at The Wall Street Journal who were assigned to cover allegations of phone-hacking and other illegal activity at News International, News Corp’s British newspaper division, “told colleagues of stories that were blocked, stripped of damning detail or context, or just held up in bureaucratic purgatory,” Folkenflik reports in Murdoch’s World: The Last of the Old Media Empires…
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
In the New York Times, Ross Douthat: A Teachable Moment:
One of the themes running through my various government shutdown posts has been the importance of seeing the current wave of right-wing populism clearly and weighing its merits and demerits judiciously. That requires understanding the strategic thinking that led to the shutdown in the first place… acknowledging the legitimate sense of political disappointment that underlies the right’s inclination toward intransigence… and most importantly, recognizing that relative to the G.O.P. establishment (such as it is), today’s right-wing populists often have better political instincts and better policy ideas…
"Better political instincts and policy ideas"? Like a caucus that only got 48% of the vote in the last election backing a fringe that stages a tantrum that costs the country $25 billion? Like spending the last three days of the tantrum trying to figure out whether they would rather do a favor to the medical device-manufacturing industry or cut each of their staff's salaries by $12,000/year? Those political and policy instincts?
Ferguson is annoyed with me for attacking him for his views on inflation when he has only written one recent article on the topic. Ferguson thinks I was being very uncivil when I called that 2011 Newsweek column "asinine." Was I being unfair?…. That leaves me with a few questions for Niall:
- Do you still believe that inflation was approximately 10% in 2011?
- If you recognize your inflation claim in the Newsweek piece was wrong (an incorrect statement of fact, not an incorrect prediction), why did you not retract it?
- Do you believe that inflation is approximately 10% today?
- How is it possible to have a sustained period of price inflation around 10% without similar wage inflation—or do you think BLS' wage stats are bogus, too?
- Has the U.S. economy really been in recession for a decade?
- Shouldn't you at least pretend you have something better to do with your time than lose a blog fight with the Politics Editor at Business Insider?
In the process of criticizing me, Ferguson writes: "If you are defending someone against a charge of incivility…" I'm going to stop him right there. I'm not defending anybody against a charge of incivility…. The reason Ferguson wants to talk about civility is that he can't talk about not being full of crap. Ferguson… write[s] popular articles that contain misleading and false claims… causes readers to come away with a worse understanding of the economy than they entered with. He is changing the world for the worse. My contention is not that we haven't been uncivil to Ferguson. We definitely have. My contention is that he deserves it.