Central Spain, August 1812
Whilst marching from Portugal to a position which commands the approach to Madrid and the French forces, my officers have been diligently complying with your requests which have been sent by H.M. ship from London to Lisbon and thence by dispatch to our headquarters.
We have enumerated our saddles, bridles, tents and tent poles, and all manner of sundry items for which His Majesty's Government holds me accountable. I have dispatched reports on the character, wit, and spleen of every officer. Each item and every farthing has been accounted for, with two regrettable exceptions for which I beg your indulgence.
Buy it. Buy it now. Buy three and give two away...
Rick Perlstein: The Invisible Bridge: The Fall of Nixon and the Rise of Reagan
Very brief preview:
Rick Perlstein: "To me, Reagan’s brand of leadership was what I call 'a liturgy of absolution'....
...Who wouldn’t want that? But the consequences of that absolution are all around us today. The inability to contend with climate change. The inability to call elites to account who wrecked the economy in 2008. The inability to reckon with the times when we fall short.... When Samantha Power is chosen to be ambassador to the U.N.; she’d written a magazine article in 2003 in which she wrote American foreign policy needed a 'historical reckoning' for crimes 'committed or sponsored'. That’s the kind of reckoning we were having in the 1970s, with the Church committee. Marco Rubio brought this up in her confirmation hearing and asked her for examples of the crimes, and the response was that America is the greatest country in the world and has nothing to apologize for. So that’s where we’re at today.... He believed strongly that moderates had no place in the Republican Party.... Pundits then and now believed the problem for Republicans was an inability to broaden their base. Reagan always insisted on the opposite..."
From the hag and hungry goblin,/That into rags would rend ye,
The spirit that stands/By the naked man
In the Book of Moons, defend ye,
That of your five sound senses,/You never be forsaken,
Nor wander from/Yourselves with Tom,
Abroad to beg your bacon.
Over at Equitable Growth: I have been waiting to post this until now when there are only twelve months before the end date of my bet with Noah Smith on whether inflation would break 5% over any twelve-month period without a high-pressure labor market. I took the "no". He took the "yes" and did so, from my perspective, irrationally--he only took 50-1, while he should have demanded odds an order of magnitude greater. That the final twelve-month window of our bet is now running means it is time to set out my thoughts on the trahison des clercs of so much of the academic economics profession over the past seven years. READ MOAR
Via Mark Ames:
Of course it's not a Holocaust Denial "Special Issue"! Only three of the seven articles--Greaves's "FDR's Watergate: Pearl Harbor" about how the real story is how the communists destroyed that anti-communist bulwark that was Imperial Japan, App's "The Sudeten German Tragedy" about just who were the real victims here, and North's "World War II Revisionism and Vietnam"--take the neo-Nazi line!
Max Gladstone: Choice of the Deathless:
Battle demons and undead attorneys, and win souls to pay back your student loans! At the elite demonic-law firm of Varkath Nebuchadnezzar Stone, you'll depose a fallen god, find romance, and maybe even make partner, if you don't lose your own soul first.
"Choice of the Deathless" is a necromantic legal thriller by Max Gladstone, Campbell Award-nominated author of Three Parts Dead and Two Serpents Rise. The game is entirely text-based--without graphics or sound effects--and powered by the vast, unstoppable power of your imagination.
- Explore a fantasy realm with a rich and evolving backstory, based on the novels published by Tor Books.
- Play as male or female, gay or straight, dead or alive (or both).
- Build your career on carefully reasoned contracts, or party all night with the skeletal partners at your firm.
- Navigate intrigue and mystery in a world of scheming magicians and devious monsters.
- Look for love in at least some of the right places.
- Balance student loans, sleep, daily commute, rent payments, and demonic litigation—hey, nobody said being a wizard was always fun.
A correspondent writes, apropos of http://fivethirtyeight.com:
Nate Silver's extraordinary and unique excellence is to take a look at a complicated but relatively unsophisticated spreadsheet model of a situation and then, every day, telling an excellent narrative story about a piece of the model. That is the way that http://fivethirtyeight.com could be a huge success. But he seems to be following a different strategy. The stories are more:
Here is some data, here is how we built it, here is the chart, here is an interesting fact about the chart...
That is unlikely to get Nate to where he wants to be, and should be...
I think this is insightful. If I were Nate Silver, therefore, I would focus on building a relatively small number of quantitative models of complicated situations, and then turn my energy to successfully telling a series of narrative stories about each of them...
Tanvi Misra: How Turbans Helped Some Blacks Go Incognito In The Jim Crow Era: "There's a weekly trial on the Internet...
...about who may be stealing culture from whom. Earlier this week, the defendants were Iggy Azalea and white gay men. A while back, it was Macklemore and the Harlem Shakers...
But after diligent searching for the website at which the records of these weekly trials are held, I am forced to conclude that she was just using a metaphor. There are not any real such trials--and that is a bitter disappointment to me...
Reading Francis Parkman's Montcalm and Wolfe and remembering one reason why I was so annoyed at Edward Said's Orientalism. The rhetorical moves that Said denounces as orientalist are made by Parkman, but they are not directed at Beijing or Delhi or Baghdad or Cairo: they are directed at Paris. Said never bothered to read deeply enough in the British literature on history and in the history of British political attitudes to realize that what he objected to was not specifically orientalist but rather British nationalist, with its core expression being: "No Popery or wooden shoes!"...
Robert Waldmann: Comment on Intellectual Origins of Reagan-Thatchernomics: "That is a long and interesting list...
...Somewhere the crime wave seems to have fallen between to stools (between 17 and 18). I think that, to be fair to both, especially Feldstein, you should number separately.
Huntington's willingness to criticize democracy and praise deference to superiors is amazingly frank...
Trying to be quicker on (18)-(30) which I will ascribe to "Mad Dog" (to avoid an concerns about context)
On (18) ["the democratic surge of the 1960s raised again in dramatic fashion the issue of whether the pendulum had swung too far..."]: His courage amazes me. Even George Will doesn't question Democracy so bluntly any more.
On (19) ["the vigor of democracy in the United States in the 1960s thus contributed to a democratic distemper... the expansion of governmental activity... and the reduction of governmental authority..."]: The word "distemper" is pejorative. Think of trying to tell a Tea Partier that a reduction in "government authority" is "distemper". I think they would lose their tempers. Again amazing frankness (I refer to Mad Dog, who may or may not have anything to do with a Harvard prof.)
From John Maynard Keynes's 1926 pamphlet The End of Laissez-Faire13: "The economists... furnished the scientific doctrine...
by which the practical man could solve the contradiction between egoism and socialism which emerged out of the philosophising of the eighteenth century and the decay of revealed religion. But... I hasten to qualify it. This is what the economists are supposed to have said. No such doctrine is really to be found in the writings of the greatest authorities. It is what the popularisers and the vulgarisers said.... The language of the economists lent itself to the laissez-faire interpretation. But the popularity of the doctrine must be laid at the door of the political philosophers of the day, whom it happened to suit, rather than of the political economists.
The policies that enabled the creation of our Second Gilded Age were born at the end of the 1970s out of a particular reading of the political economy of that moment.
Were the ideologues and the intellectuals of the right correct back when they claimed in the late 1970s that the economic problems of the 1970s were the result of "too much government" or of "an excess of democracy"? I think not. But in order to evaluate the argument we need to remember what it was.
Over at Department of "WTF?!" Chris House on Traditional Macroeconomic Models and the Great Recession,: Someone Who Remembers 1997-8 writes in comments:
I was more struck by this:
Chris House: Traditional Macroeconomic Models and the Great Recession:
Macroeconomists were caught completely off-guard by the financial crisis. None of the models we were accustomed to use provided insights or policy recommendations.... Neither the New Keynesian model nor its paleo-Keynesian antecedent feature a meaningful role for financial market failures. As a result, the policy response to the crisis was largely improvised. This is not to say that the improvised policy actions were bad. Improvisation guided by Ben Bernanke was about as good as we could hope for. Nevertheless, for the most part, the models we were accustomed to use to deal with business cycle fluctuations were simply incapable of making sense of what was going on.... While I typically do not grant much credence to heterodox economists, in this instance Professor Wray’s diagnosis is completely correct...
Has Chris House:
never heard of Walter Bagehot, Hyman Minsky, or Charlie Kindleberger?
not think that they were macroeconomists?
unaware of the debates and discussions and modeling exercises carried out around the 1997-98 East Asian financial crisis and the 1994-5 Mexican crisis?
unaware of all the credit-channel work on the Great Depression?
It is a great mystery...
World War I Reading List: Late Summer 2014:
As an emergency measure, given the continued shortage of high-quality DeLong smackdowns on the internet, on to the next Kindle screen of chapter 11 of David Graeber's Debt: The First 5000 Years:
This, too, is double-plus unhood, as Winston Smith might say...
Claudio Borio (2012): The Financial Cycle and Macroeconomics: What Have We Learnt? "[']The financial cycle[']... denote[s] self-reinforcing interactions between perceptions of value and risk...
...attitudes towards risk and financing constraints, which translate into booms followed by busts... [that] amplify economic fluctuations and possibly lead to serious financial distress and economic dislocations.... Equity prices can be a distraction.... Interest rates, volatilities, risk premia, default rates, non-performing loans, and so on.... Combining credit and property prices appears to be the most parsimonious way to capture the core features....
Jonathan Chait vs. Peter Suderman on ObamaCare:
Jonathan Chait: Libertarian Accidentally Shows Obamacare Success: "The Commonwealth Fund has a new survey...
...showing that the proportion of adults lacking health insurance has fallen by a quarter, from 20 percent of the population to 15 percent. (Most respondents, including 74 percent of newly insured Republicans, report liking their plan.) Also, this week, the Congressional Budget Office again revised down its cost estimates for Medicare, which now spends $50 billion a year less than it was projected to before Obamacare passed. Also, the New England Journal of Medicine recently estimated that 20 million Americans gained insurance under the new law.
The latter study comes in for criticism by Peter Suderman, Reason’s indefatigable health-care analyst.
I have decided that "Thursday Idiocy" adds too much negativity to this blog. Besides: it depresses me. So I want to fold the negativity into the Monday Smackdowns, and use Thursday to blog from the future...
Here is something from 2114:
Consider twentieth-century American science fiction writer Robert A. Heinlein.
Methinks the New York Times Magazine needs more energy in its editorial office...
Number of paragraphs in which various intellectuals are mentioned:
Inaugural Michel Camdessus Central Banking Lecture on Financial Stability’, at the IMF
CHRISTINE LAGARDE: Oh, my goodness. Madam Chairman, you have impressed us enormously with a rich, dense, very informative and very candid read — your read of the current situation and how monetary and macroprudential — monetary policy and macroprudential tools could be used in sequence, in parallel, in different circumstances. And I would like to, maybe following the Stradivarius analogy of Michel, to stay loyal to (our man ?) today, what would you say? Would you say that macroprudential tools are second fiddle to the main Stradivarius of monetary policy? Or would you say that, depending on circumstances, macroprudential tools become the premier violon and have to deal with the issues as a first line of defense?
Let me get this straight:
How does he reconcile (1) and (2)? Word salad: "The congressional fuss over the renewal of its charter is... political grandstanding. The Ex-Im Bank is portrayed... by tea party conservatives as a citadel of 'crony capitalism'... government bloat that’s bleeding taxpayers.... This is... wildly misleading. It suggests... Congress is getting serious about trimming... when it isn’t..."
"Let's not do a good thing because some people I don't like will claim that it is a more important good thing than it is" is an argument one level of rationality below "get off my lawn!" or "old man yelling at clouds".
A Note: Prolegomenon to Any Useful Discussion of Modern American Finance (Brad DeLong's Grasping Reality...): In a standard economic transaction...
...it is no mystery where the value to both sides comes from. When I buy a double espresso from Café Nefeli for $2.25, the coffee is more valuabe to me then $2.25 is. Were I to consider only the experience and not worry about fairness consideration--that is, if I did not worry about thinking that I was turning into a chump--I would pay $5.00 for a double espresso (if Café Nefeli were the only possible place I could get one and if that is what they charged) and count myself happy. And sometimes $10.00.
Jacob Levy (2008): "There is no modern work to teach alongside Theory of Justice and Anarchy, State, and Utopia...
...that really gets at what's interesting about Burkean or social conservatism.... The problem is... that history keeps right on going--and so any book plucked from the past that was concerned with yelling "stop!" tends to date badly to any modern reader who does not think he's already living in hell-in-a-handbasket.... Oakeshott has his own version of these problems; doesn't "Rationalism in Politics" end up feeling faintly ridiculous by the time he's talking about women's suffrage?...
Yes, he does:
No sooner do I manage to get my act together to deal with the shortage of high-quality DeLong Smackdowns by starting a close reading of David Graeber's Debt but Cosma Shalizi manages to show up with a high-quality DeLong smackdown. So the reading of the first text page of Graeber's chapter 11--which is, I think, thorough in chapter 11, if not chapter 7--and the first five historical errors he commits must wait until next week.
The eminent Cosma Shalizi writes:
Adam Smith: Smith: Wealth of Nations, Book I, Chapter 8: "The liberal reward of labour...
...as it encourages the propagation, so it increases the industry of the common people.... A plentiful subsistence increases the bodily strength of the labourer, and the comfortable hope of bettering his condition, and of ending his days perhaps in ease and plenty, animates him to exert that strength to the utmost. Where wages are high, accordingly, we shall always find the workmen more active, diligent, and expeditious, than where they are low; in England, for example, than in Scotland; in the neighbourhood of great towns, than in remote country places. Some workmen, indeed, when they can earn in four days what will maintain them through the week, will be idle the other three. This, however, is by no means the case with the greater part.
Alfred Marshall (1885): Cambridge Inaugural Lecture: The Present Position of Economics "It is commonly said that those who set the tone of economic thought...
...in England in the earlier part of the century were theorists who neglected the study of fact, and that this was specially an English fault. Such a charge seems to be baseless. Most of them were practical man with a wide and direct personal knowledge of business affairs. They wrote economic histories that are in their way at least equal to anything that has been done since. They brought about the collection of statistics by public and private agencies and that admirable series of parliamentary inquiries, which have been a model for all other countries, and have inspired the modern German historic school with many of their best thoughts.
Chris McDaniel manages, in Ed Kilgore's words,to turn the GOP into "a debating society over the propriety of accepting minority votes..."
We haven’t conceded and we’re not going to concede right now. We’re going to investigate.... 35,000 Democrats crossed over.... Many... did vote in the Democratic primary just three weeks ago which makes it illegal. We... have a... law... that says you cannot participate in a primary unless you intend to support that candidate. And we know good and well that these 35,000 democrats have no intention to do that. They’ll be voting for Travis Childers in November. We know that. They know that. And so that makes their actions illegal.
So we’re going to be fighting this.
I remember that I found this, by Amartya Sen, totally convincing when I first read it 32 years ago. And I still find it totally convincing today:
Amartya Sen: Just Deserts: "This book... a collection of [P.T.] Bauer’s essays...
...gives an excellent account of his main theses on development policy and international relations. It also presents his approach to economic equality and inequality in general, and places his discussions of development against the background of some of the broadest issues of political economy.... I shall argue that Bauer’s approach—in spite of its power and appeal—is fundamentally flawed, and that his analysis cannot bear the weight of the conclusions that he rests on it.
The absence these days of what I regard as high-quality critiques of my writings on the internet poses me a substantial intellectual problem, since I have this space and this feature on my weblog: the DeLong Smackdown Watch. What should I do with it? I have decided that, until and unless my critics step up their game, I'm going to devote the Monday DeLong Smackdown space to a close reading of chapter 11 of David Graeber's Debt: The First Five Thousand Years. And to telegraph the conclusion: yes, like chapter 12, chapter 11 of David Graeber's Debt: The First Five Thousand Years is itself in chapter 11, if not chapter 7:
And so we get to the beginning of the text of chapter 11 of David Graeber's Debt:
Thom Hartmann: The Second Amendment was Ratified to Preserve Slavery: "The real reason the Second Amendment was ratified...
...and why it says "State" instead of "Country"... was to preserve the slave patrol militias in the southern states, which was necessary to get Virginia's vote.... Patrick Henry, George Mason, and James Madison were totally clear on that... and we all should be too. In the beginning, there were the militias. In the South, they were also called the "slave patrols," and they were regulated by the states. In Georgia, for example, a generation before the American Revolution, laws were passed in 1755 and 1757 that required all plantation owners or their male white employees to be members of the Georgia Militia, and for those armed militia members to make monthly inspections of the quarters of all slaves in the state. The law defined which counties had which armed militias and even required armed militia members to keep a keen eye out for slaves who may be planning uprisings.
Andrew O'Hehir: The Empire Strikes Back: How Brandeis foreshadowed Snowden and Greenwald: "In the famous wiretapping case Olmstead v. United States...
...argued before the Supreme Court in 1928, Justice Louis Brandeis wrote one of the most influential dissenting opinions in the history of American jurisprudence. Those who are currently engaged in what might be called the Establishment counterattack against Glenn Greenwald and Edward Snowden, including the eminent liberal journalists Michael Kinsley and George Packer, might benefit from giving it a close reading and a good, long think.
A commenter who wishes me ill sends me to something I had not seen before:
John Cochrane (December 25, 2013); What to Do When ObamaCare Unravels: "The unraveling of the Affordable Care Act...
...presents a historic opportunity for change. Its proponents call it “settled law,” but as Prohibition taught us, not even a constitutional amendment is settled law--if it is dysfunctional enough, and if Americans can see a clear alternative. This fall’s website fiasco and policy cancellations are only the beginning. Next spring the individual mandate is likely to unravel when we see how sick the people are who signed up on exchanges, and if our government really is going to penalize voters for not buying health insurance. The employer mandate and “accountable care organizations” will take their turns in the news. There will be scandals. There will be fraud. This will go on for years...
The absence these days of what I regard as high-quality critiques of my writings on the internet poses me a substantial intellectual problem, since I have this space and this feature on my weblog: the DeLong Smackdown Watch.
So what should I do with it? Counter-smacking inadequate and erroneous smack downs is not terribly satisfying.
But there is one task from April Fool's Day 2013 left undone. Then I dealt with chapter 12 of David Graeber's Debt: The First 5000 Years in the manner that that chapter richly deserved to be dealt with. But nobody has taken an equivalent look at the earlier chapters.
So, henceforth, now, until and unless my critics step up their game, I'm going to devote the Monday DeLong Smackdown space to a close reading of chapter 11 of David Graeber's Debt: The First Five Thousand Years. Let's go!
Arthur C. Clarke (1971): Reunion: "People of Earth, do not be afraid...
...We come in peace--and why not? For we are your cousins; we have been here before.
You will recognise us when we meet, a few hours from now. We are approaching the solar system almost as swiftly as this radio message. Already, your sun dominates the sky ahead of us. It is the sun our ancestors and yours shared ten million years ago. We are men, as you are; but you have forgotten your history, while we have remembered ours
Jim Sleeper: Brooks, Wieseltier: Cries of American Weakness by the People Who Weakened America: "Cries for American military preparedness are growing louder and louder by the day, rising, circling, and echoing one another...
...in a frenzy that even the awfulness of events in Ukraine and many other places doesn’t quite explain. The reason, according to Leon Wieseltier, David Brooks, and other prophets of American Destiny, is that (as I quoted Wieseltier here on March 10) President Obama “is not raising the country up, he is tutoring it in ruefulness and futility…”
Marisa Lingen has it 100% right on this.
I really do feel for the book's editor, David Hartwell, in trying to wrestle this thing. But he really should have changed his name to "Cordwainer Bird" for this project...
Marisa Lingen: Robert A. Heinlein In Dialogue With His Century: Vol. 2: The Man Who Learned Better, 1948-1988, by William H. Patterson, Jr.: "You would think that Robert Heinlein was a writer who could, if he chose...
...offend plenty of people all on his own without any help. But he has not been left to his own post mortem devices in this! Oh no! No, he has the assistance of William H. Patterson, Jr., to make sure that no stone is left unturned if it might have creeping, crawling things under it that represent stomach-turning levels of ignorance....
Oh, sorry, maybe I should start this review more straightforwardly: I did not like and do not recommend this book.
Let’s go with the paragraph that brought actual tears of rage to my eyes:
They [the Heinleins] had both fallen in love with the northern countries on their earlier trips, but Finland (which does not consider itself to be “Scandinavian”) was special even among them, with a national character of fierce resoluteness–sisu–that precisely suited their mood on this occasion. The Suomic “do what must be done” was the only attitude that a free people could possibly take, living next door to the Soviet Union. The Baltic states–Latvia, estonia, Lithuania–did not have it, and they had been eaten up by the USSR.
That last piece of toxically inaccurate drivel... is William Patterson slandering the people of the Baltic states–using Finland to do it, no less!–on his own hook. For fun. Because it suits his own political agenda.... William Patterson was an American of the Baby Boom generation who decided that what a biography of Robert Heinlein most needed–what people reading about Robert Heinlein most needed–was to have lies about these people just tossed into their reading material for giggles. Because, you know, most people who pick up biographies of mid-century science fiction writers read reams about the history of the Baltic region and can easily have this kind of blatant falsehood countered rather than lodged in the back of their brain as the truth about the people of this region. Most of my regular readers know that I am a serious Finnophile. I find it all the more offensive to have Finland used as a club on other countries that did not have the advantages of geography and political support. This is just wrong. I used up all my obscenities on this yesterday when I was reading, and believe me, I used many. Today I’m left drained. Today I can just say: this is so very wrong.
I wish that was only one thing. I wish that was the only time that the staggering arrogance of Patterson’s ignorance made itself known in this volume. But alas...
Blogging from the root cellar as he watches the depredations of the cossacks who are the Office of the Secretary of Defense, Gregory Djerejian closes his eyes and desperately repeats the myth that if only the cossacks weren't misleading the Czar, Batiushka, the Little Father, he would do the right thing and all would be well. George W. Bush needs "better advice on the Iraq war than he is currently getting from the civilian leadership of the Pentagon." Well, Gregory, the cossacks work for and always have worked for the Czar: George W. Bush has the advisors and gets the advice he wants:
Jeet Heer has an excellent review of just why William Patterson's Heinlein biography is inadequate--with pointers as to how to do better:
Jeet Heer: William Patterson's Robert Heinlein Biography Is a Hagiography: "Robert A. Heinlein: In Dialogue with His Century Volume 2: The Man Who Learned Better...
...The science-fiction writer Robert Heinlein once described himself as “a preacher with no church.” More accurately, he was a preacher with too many churches.... a beacon for hippies and hawks, libertarians and authoritarians, and many other contending faiths—but rarely at the same time. While America became increasingly liberal, he became increasingly right wing, and it hobbled his once-formidable imagination. His career, as a new biography inadvertently proves, is a case study in the literary perils of political extremism.... Stranger in a Strange Land (1961)... a counter-culture Bible... equally beloved in military circles, especially for... Starship Troopers (1959), a gung-ho shout-out for organized belligerence... an ode to flogging (a practice the American Navy banned in 1861) and the execution of mentally disturbed criminals, yet Heinlein became a hero to libertarians... The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress....
To quote Robert Benchley, “Having a dog teaches a boy fidelity, perseverance, and to turn around three times before lying down.” Such are the shortcomings of experience. Nevertheless, it’s a good idea to review past mistakes before committing new ones. So let’s take a quick look at the last 25 years.