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?
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.
Niall Ferguson: Krugtron the Invincible:
For too long, Paul Krugman has exploited his authority as an award-winning economist and his power as a New York Times columnist to heap opprobrium on anyone who ventures to disagree with him. Along the way, he has acquired a claque of like-minded bloggers who play a sinister game of tag with him, endorsing his attacks and adding vitriol of their own. I would like to name and shame in this context Dean Baker, Josh Barro, Brad DeLong, Matthew O'Brien, Noah Smith, Matthew Yglesias and Justin Wolfers. Krugman and his acolytes evidently relish the viciousness of their attacks, priding themselves on the crassness of their language. But I should like to know what qualifies a figure like Matt O'Brien to call anyone a "disingenuous idiot"? What exactly are his credentials? 35,550 tweets? How does he essentially differ from the cranks who, before the Internet, had to vent their spleen by writing letters in green ink?
I acknowledge it.
I suppose I might answer the question too, for I think Matt O'Brien is completely 100% qualified to call Niall Ferguson a "disingenuous idiot" whenever he chooses.
Peter Baker has a book to sell, about the unsuspected steely-eyed realpoliticks of what Charles P. Pierce calls “the Avignon Presidency”, so the NYTimes Sunday magazine has a loooong excerpt explaining that Dubya totally did not ask ‘how high’ whenever Darth Cheney said ‘jump’…
Somehow this engulfs Noah Smith--on weblogging hiatus. He responds at the appropriate level, properly focusing on the ethology of the Egyptian plover::
We are now ready to take the next steps in our successful "digital first" strategy. This is an exciting but also challenging opportunity for all journalists at the Financial Times. It means changes in work practices, a further shift of resources to ft.com and a significant reshaping of the newspaper.
Paul Krugman: On Knowing What You Don't Know:
Brad DeLong catches Niall Ferguson making another whoopsie. And while chasing NF isn’t worth the effort for its own sake, I think there is a broader lesson here: namely, the importance of knowing what you don’t know. My own unpleasantness with Ferguson began when he tried to weigh in on monetary versus fiscal policy without understanding basic macroeconomics. Later, he tried to critique official inflation numbers without knowing enough about that subject to tell the difference between the experts and the cranks. Now he’s demonstrating, rather embarrassingly, that he doesn’t know how to read CBO reports. What I find amazing is the failure to learn the meta-lesson here…. If you think you’ve found a massively important fact that somehow all the economists have missed--like a drastic deterioration in CBO’s estimate of the long-run US budget outlook, somehow missed by everyone else reading the agency’s reports--you really, really want to be sure that you’re not just misreading the numbers. Knowing what you don’t know is very important.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
Niall Ferguson: Niall Ferguson: The Shutdown Is a Sideshow. Debt Is the Threat:
A year ago, the CBO's extended baseline series for the federal debt in public hands projected a figure of 52% of GDP by 2038. That figure has very nearly doubled to 100%…
A year ago, the CBO was required by law to calculate its extended baseline by assuming that all of the tax cuts originally put in place in 2001 and 2003 would expire at the end of 2012, and never be reinstated. A year ago the CBO warned everybody who read its report about this, and told them to look not at the extended baseline but at the alternative scenario--which this year shows a 2038 debt-to-GDP outcome not 48% points worse but instead 30% points better than last year's.
No. I don't know whether Niall Ferguson does or doesn't understand the CBO's reports. I really do not know what he thinks he is doing. What he is doing with thing alike this--pretending that there has been an extraordinary deterioration over the past year in the CBO's long-term budget outlook when everyone who understands the budget and CBO knows that there has been an improvement is further misleading the readers of the Wall Street Journal editorial page, and further shredding his credibility with his peers.
He really needs to stop.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
Adam Liptak finds and quotes a Republican hack from Stanford being hackish, without even the "balance" of a single non-hack quote beside it:
However one interprets the Constitution, there remains the practical question of whether the nation’s creditors would continue to lend to the United States if the president did take unilateral action. “I don’t think anyone in their right minds would buy those bonds,” Michael W. McConnell, a law professor at Stanford, said of debt issued without Congressional authorization.
But people will always buy bonds--the question is always at what price. 25 basis points above Treasuries? 100 basis points?
McConnell is simply in the business of burning a piece of his academic reputation in order to play for Team Republican right now. And Liptak is playing along...
In recent weeks, ProPublica has published a major—and scathing—investigative series on the dangers of Tylenol's main active ingredient, acetaminophen. Two years in the making, this series shows yet again the essential role of investigative journalism in providing public information that can literally save lives…
But… But… But… When I read the (very good) article, it felt like a "1 person-month" article, not like a "10 person-years" article. 10 person-years should buy you not one article but four full books on medical safety.
I mean, if I had set out to write a Tylenol safety story, I would have started by googling "site:cdc.gov tylenol overdoses", immediately gotten to http://download.journals.elsevierhealth.com/pdfs/journals/0749-3797/PIIS0749379711001826.pdf and http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21294217, started making calls to the authors, and then--armed with data--gone to visit my local hospital. I would, I think, expect to be done in a month.
Why did it take ProPublica 10 person-years? And what more did they get in their story that wouldn't have been in the 1 person-month story?
I do not understand modern American journalism. I do not understand it at many levels…
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
Those of us who came to Washington in 1993 to work for the Clinton administration, and who thought that we were going to be part of a centrist bipartisan governing coalition, were astonished to find not so--that we could not get a single Republican vote in the House or the Senate for policies--short-term fiscal stimulus in a recession, long-term deficit reduction, market-friendly health-care reform, non-punitive welfare reform, public safety--that were certainly less to the left of the technocratic good-government center than George H.W. Bush's policies that had picked up oodles of Democratic votes were to the right.
The gossip in the Treasury Department then was that Republican Senate Leader Bob Dole (R-KS) had explained what was going on to our boss Treasury Secretary Lloyd Bentsen more-or-less like this:
Look: Clinton is not a legitimate president. 57% of the voters voted for a more conservative Texan. Only the fact that Perot really does not like Bush and did not drop out once he had made his policy point got your guy in. Minority presidents don't get to impose their policy priorities on the country. Our task now is not to help govern, but to demonstrate that a minority president like Clinton cannot legitimately govern--and when we demonstrate that Clinton cannot govern, we will get our majorities in 1994 and our majorities and the presidency in 1996 and things will be back to normal.
Felix Salmon: The JP Morgan apologists of CNBC:
I don’t know which producer at CNBC had the genius idea of asking Alex Pareene on to discuss Jamie Dimon with Dimon’s biggest cheerleaders, but the result was truly great television. What’s more, as Kevin Roose says, it illustrates “the divide between the finance media bubble and the normals” in an uncommonly stark and compelling manner. The whole segment is well worth watching, but the tone is perfectly set at the very beginning:
Simon Wren-Lewis: mainly macro: Austerity, growth and being economical with the truth:
Just imagine it. A leader in the New Scientist or Scientific American saying that politicians have won the climate change argument because of recent heavy snow. So why is that idea inconceivable, but a leader in the Financial Times saying that recent UK growth proves critics of austerity are wrong goes without comment? It has nothing to do with economists being divided about the wisdom of austerity: as I said, there are arguments on austerity that should be debated, but this is not one of them. It cannot be because austerity is so politicised, because climate change is also highly politicised. It cannot be excused by saying that leaders are just opinions: you do not expect opinions in serious newspapers to be based on deliberate misrepresentation. So what is going on here? Would anyone from the FT care to comment?
Note: The offending editorial was not by Chris Giles but by the FT Editorial Board. I apologize to Chris for the original, now deleted, headline...
Ken Jacobs: Sub par reporting on the ACA:
In a story that purports to illustrate how the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will hurt fast food businesses, Venessa Wong at Bloomberg News inadvertently shows how small those impacts are likely to be…. The average shop has $800,000 a year in sales. A $4,000 annual increase on a store with $800,000 in sales is an increase of 0.5% relative to sales… 3 cents per Sandwich… I suspect that most customers won’t mind…. Health benefits have positive impacts on worker productivity and reduce absenteeism and turnover….
Scott Lemieux: I Am Outraged That Liberal Journalists Don’t Love Ted Cruz!y:
Ted Cruz + Politico = hacktacular!
As Republicans form a circular firing squad, nervous Democrats continue to believe that this is a depressing time when the future of Obamacare is on the line…. But young people, who as a group support President Obama, aren’t likely to buy Koch lies. And Hollywood progressives are about to unveil a strange-bedfellows alliance with insurance companies that will spend tens of millions of dollars telling Americans the truth…. So why the jitters?…
Americans have been told that the public doesn’t support the president’s signature achievement. This is true in only the most literal sense of the word…. Consider a September 15 NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll…. The overall figure--43 percent support Obamacare and 54 percent oppose it--that received wide coverage, just as similar poll numbers have in the past…. [But] 16 percent oppose it because it isn’t liberal enough. In other words, 59 percent of the American public either supports Obamacare or wants it to go further.
Jonathan Chait: Today in Conservative Obamacare Self-Delusion:
Republicans have whipped themselves into a frenzy over [ObamaCare] through a process of self-deception…. The most important news about the law--the lower-than-expected premiums and sharply falling health-care inflation--doesn’t exist at all, and the fate of the law can instead be tracked through a procession of exaggerated or completely imaginary events all showing its rapid collapse…. A perfect example comes via a National Review report from the House Republican meeting today. Influential Republican Jim Jordan waxes enthusiastic about the agreed-to plan to threaten to default on the national debt in order to force President Obama to destroy his own health-care plan:
"All the momentum is in our direction. Warren Buffett said yesterday, ‘Scrap the bill.’ The AFL-CIO said last week, ‘Repeal the bill if you’re not going to fix it.’ Everyone knows this thing isn’t ready. Everyone knows,” said Representative Jim Jordan of Ohio, a former Republican Study Committee chairman, referring to the health-care law.
Wait. Warren Buffett said scrap the bill?… It turns out a right-wing site called Money Morning quoted Buffett saying the following:
Buffett insists that without changes to Obamacare average citizens will suffer. "'What we have now is untenable over time,' said Buffett, an early supporter of President Obama. 'That kind of a cost compared to the rest of the world is really like a tapeworm eating, you know, at our economic body
The quote was picked up by Jeffrey H. Anderson of the Weekly Standard… and ricocheted around the conservative-news world, implanting itself in Jordan’s mind…. The Buffett quote came from… 2010… “what we have right now” refers to the pre-Obamacare status quo…. Buffett today told the Omaha World-Herald he has no idea where these stories came from and strongly supports Obamacare: Stories saying that Warren Buffett wants to “scrap Obamacare” are false, the Omaha investor said Tuesday.
“This is outrageous,” Buffett said in a World-Herald interview Tuesday. “It's 100 percent wrong ... totally false…. I've never suggested nor thought Obamacare should be scrapped,” said Buffett, who has supported Obama's political campaigns. “I support it. It relates to providing medical care for all Americans. That's something I've thought should be done for a long, long time.”
Anderson hilariously issued an “update” to his completely false item, in which he notes: “It appears that Buffett made his anti-Obamacare comments in 2010, thereby showing that he, like most of the American people, has opposed Obamacare since even before it was passed.” This is also completely untrue…. But the Jim Jordans of the world are probably never going to read untrustworthy lame-stream media organs like the Omaha World-Herald. Trusted sources like Jeffrey H. Anderson have told them once again what they know to be true: Obamacare is collapsing, and even its staunchest supporters know it.