April Fools' Festival, Day XVII: Note that the Insane Clown Posse picture at the top right is not a happy clown. This is an insane clown. And this is a somewhat dangerous clown...
Shorter Thomas Friedman: Because my cell phone company drops calls when I take the Acela, it is very important that Michael Bloomberg run for President in 2012. He should run on the platform of Obama's policies. Thus he should split the vote for those policies between two candidates, and so raise the chances for Mitt Romney--who is running against those policies--to squeak in.
Live from Downtown Portland: Starbucks is now also a wine bar, serving hipster staples like truffle mac & cheese and artichoke-goat cheese flatbread?! I must live in a cave…
It does make sense: having disrupted the coffee shop in the morning and afternoon, why not use the fixed and network assets to disrupt the evening wine bar business next?
I wonder if live music and slam poetry is next?
I confess I am gobsmacked: I really thought this April Fools' Festival thing would be a trawl through my archives.
But no! Things going on today beat anything I can ressurrect:
I thought that this was going to be mostly pieces from the archives, but no!
It is perhaps 19 years too late for Mickey Kaus to have a "There's gambling going on here!" Colonel Renault moment with respect to Fox News and its place in the conservative media ecosystem in which he has embedded himself, no?
And, of course, there are all the golden oldies, including:
Live from teh Roasterie: After a winter spent on the prairie along the Lower Missouri River, I find myself drinking quad lattes on a semi-regular basis. Is this a sign of successful adaptation? Or is this a sign of danger?
Kept Simple watches John Podhoretz star in the clown show:
Here is JPod saying that explicit racism is cool as long as you're using it just to get votes. https://t.co/80ACvgXBBH— kept_simple (@kept_simple) March 17, 2015
So this is a measure of Bibi's commitment to Israeli democracy: He just warned his supporters that Arabs are voting in large numbers.— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) March 17, 2015
@JeffreyGoldberg why don't you just tweet "Bibi stinks" every 45 seconds? It's about the same.— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) March 17, 2015
@jpodhoretz Because I'm running on battery and have other things to do. Btw, what do you think about Bibi's warning about Arabs voting?— Jeffrey Goldberg (@JeffreyGoldberg) March 17, 2015
@JeffreyGoldberg gee, what a shocker he'd try to scare right wingers to the polls. Whoever heard of such a thing. Get me my smelling salts.— John Podhoretz (@jpodhoretz) March 17, 2015
Nighttime Must-Read: Senator Tom Cotton (R-AR): "We have to stand up to Iran’s attempts to drive for regional dominance. They already control Tehran increasingly they control Damascus and Beirut and Baghdad and now Sana’a as well..."
Crime... teen drug and alcohol abuse... teen pregnancy... domestic violence... child molestation is way down.... David Brooks is cooking up off-the-cuff sociological theories to explain SOMETHING THAT ISN'T EVEN HAPPENING. And then he is recommending big changes in American culture and society...
Monday Smackdown Watch: Perhaps the most urgent question of the day is: nature or nurture. Is the absence of empathy for the human condition on the part of writers for the pre-Gabriel Snyder Old New Republic a result of their nature--that the New Republic of Marty Peretz and those willing to go the extra mile to cater to his bigotries were predisposed to hire such people--or of their nurture--that their discussions while at the Old New Republic trained them to make arguments like this one?
The estimable Patrick Nielsen Hayden, widely-envied by many not least for his office in the Flatiron Building, administers today's Monday Smackdown:
Speaking of Apple, David Graeber demonstrates that he has less idea of what a "laptop" is and when it was invented than your average housecat:
The greater the need to improvise the more democratic the cooperation [within companies] tends to become. Inventors have always understood this, start-up capitalists frequently figure it out, and computer engineers have recently rediscovered the principle.... Apple Computers is a famous example: it was founded by (mostly Republican) computer engineers who broke from IBM in Silicon Valley in the 1980s, forming little democratic circles of twenty to forty people with their laptops in each other’s garages...
Terry Pratchett: The Pratchett Quote File v6.0:
I once absent-mindedly ordered Three Mile Island dressing in a restaurant and, with great presence of mind, they brought Thousand Island Dressing and a bottle of chili sauce.
In which John Cochrane demonstrates that he understands freshman-level monetary economics less well than a duck understands advanced materials science:
It's no longer enough to have an April Fools Day.
It's no longer enough to have an April Fools Week.
It looks like we need an April Fool's Month. I do know that the question is not whether to laugh or cry, but rather of how much to do of both.
A correspondent--I presume who wishes me ill--informs me--probably because I mentioned @seanmcarroll in a tweet earlier today--that Lubos Motl, often wrong but never in doubt, has been opining on "Sleeping Bae", which he analyzes about as well as a fish would analyze Lorentz invariance.
Live from La Farine: Izabella Kaminska: "How Nuts Are Markets When the Most Reasonable Analysis of an Asset Class Pumped by the Great and Good in Tech Is a Parody Sub-Reddit Entitled 'Buttcoin'?"
I missed this when it went by last September...
BitCoin's blockchain: wonderful, promising innovation in distributed trustworthy computing. BitCoin: not a safe liquid store of value--hence unlikely to be a durable unit of account, or even medium of exchange...
Why do I like Earl Grey tea so much? Too much time spent watching "Star Trek: The Next Generation" when I was younger? Something magical and psychoactive about the inedible bergamot? Grey himself, however, never got a chance to watch ST:TNG, so it cannot be 100% the first...
.@mallelis Stash Earl Grey Double Bergamot…— J. Bradford DeLong (@delong) February 5, 2015
It has been my experience that most "QuickStart" guides do not accurately capture the typical experience of the first-time user.
The Zelig Project, however, has a QuickStart guide that does so admirably and completely:
I have not yet heard anybody say on Fox News that the current Nor'easter is "Obama's Katrina", but surely somebody will. And in the meantime:
Weigel: "Swine Flu: The swine flu outbreak of April 2009!... Hugh Hewitt asked whether a botched response would destroy the Obama presidency. 'A death toll is a death toll, and if one begins to pile up in the U.S. the at least four-day delay in moving decisively to control legal entry into the country from Mexico will be entered in President Obama's account.'"
Weigel: "The Underwear Bomber: Then-DHS Secretary Janet Napolitano responded to the lucky apprehension of a dim terrorist by saying 'the system worked,' inspiring a NYT news analysis.... 'Hurricane Katrina was a crisis on a different order of magnitude than this event,' wrote Peter Baker, 'certainly, but the politics of attack and parry do not dwell on context or proportionality.'"
Weigel: "*The Haiti earthquake: Dan Kennedy argued that Haiti was not 'Obama's Katrina,' as Haiti is not part of the United States.... But... the *Wall Street Journal... a guest op-ed titled 'Haiti: Obama's Katrina,' and pointing out that 'the death toll from Katrina was under 2,000 people' while 'deaths in Haiti as of yesterday are at least 150,000.'"
Weigel: "The BP oil spill: 'This was, of course, New Orleans' Katrina and Mississippi's Katrina,' said Brian Williams during an interview with the president. 'And you're familiar now that it's getting baked in a little bit in the media that BP was President Obama's Katrina. And it's also getting baked in that the administration was slow off the mark. Is that unfair?' Spoiler: He did think it was unfair."
Weigel: "Hurricane Sandy: To be fair, it was mostly just Sean Hannity saying this. 'With the horrifying images of Sandy’s devastation now contrasted with the president’s constant campaigning,' he said on Nov. 1, 2012, 'this is starting to look like, in my opinion, Obama’s Katrina'... before the administration's response to Sandy, and Chris Christie's praise for it, helped make New York and New Jersey two of the only states where the Obama vote increased from 2008 to 2012. (The others? Mississippi and Louisiana.)"
Weigel: "Benghazi/IRS/NSA: 'If the president does not soon regain control of the narrative,' wrote Todd Eberly, 'he is likely to suffer the same fate as his predecessor--a collapse in public confidence and a vastly diminished second term.'"
Weigel: "Obamacare: Ron Fournier even argued that the website crisis might be Obama's Katrina and Iraq. 'The crises came after a series of unrelated events that had already caused doubt among voters about the presidents,' explained Fournier. 'To borrow a cliché, Katrina was the last straw.'" And @LOLGOP: "Hope this blizzard isn't another Obama's Katrina.... One before... 10 million gained insurance...”
@LOLGOP: Ebola: "Hope this blizzard isn't another Obama's Katrina. In the last one, no Americans died of Ebola..."
The Unaccompanied Children: "CHUCK TODD: 'Speaking of immigration, are you surprised that the president is going to be in Texas and not go to the border?...' SUSAN PAGE: 'It's a Katrina moment, right?... And you're going to the fundraiser and you're not going to the border where there's this crisis?' --MSNBC 7/7/14"
No More Mister Nice Blog: "The IRS: 'It has been a rough week or so for the Obama administration. From Benghazi to the tapping of reporters' phones to the IRS admitting that it targeted conservative groups for extra scrutiny, the press is in a frenzy, and many are questioning President Barack Obama's future.' --Todd Eberly, Baltimore Sun, 5/17/13"
No More Mister Nice Blog: "Sexual Assault in the Military: 'Scandals Represent Obama's "Katrina Moment"' --Darryl Watson, PolicyMic, 5/16/13"
No More Mister Nice Blog: "Hurricane Isaac: 'On August 30, 2012, Obama held a campaign rally at the University of Virginia. At that same time 'people in Louisiana were dealing with what the National Hurricane Center called "life-threatening hazards" caused by Hurricane Isaac.' --Conservative Daily News blog, 8/31/12"
No More Mister Nice Blog: "MF Global: 'MF Global collapse is Obama's Hurricane Katrina' --The Market Oracle blog, 3/25/12"
No More Mister Nice Blog: "**The S&P Downgrade: 'Obama's Katrina Moment?' --Patrick Ruffini, 8/24/11"
No More Mister Nice Blog: "Missouri River Floods: 'My friend Andy in Nebraska City says that city is expecting the flood waters to rise to a point where it will cover 1st and 2nd street. My friend Brian in Council Bluffs already has his truck packed up in case he and his wife have to leave quickly.... The only national news coverage, at all, is concerning Ft. Calhoun Nuclear Plant.... Why is the media silent? Why is the national media refusing to cover this story fully, and point out what is going on? Because, this is Obama's Katrina moment, and he has blown it.' --For God and Liberty blog, 6/27/11"
No More Mister Nice Blog: "Unemployment: 'Expect unemployment to remain over 9% through the midterm elections--compared to a rate of just 6.9% in November 2008, when Obama was elected. It's that number, rather than anything going on right now in the Gulf of Mexico, which is really "Obama’s Katrina".' --Felix Salmon, 6/4/10"
No More Mister Nice Blog: "Fort Hood: 'Could Be Obama's Katrina' --Lynne Wooley at Human Events, 11/11/2009"
No More Mister Nice Blog: "The ARRA: 'Is the Stimulus Obama’s Katrina?' --Bill Dupray, American Conservative, True/Slant, 11/17/09. 'Make no mistake, the economic crisis and Obama's failure to create real jobs with his stimulus package means we're looking at this president's Katrina.' --James Pinkerton, Fox News, 7/6/09
No More Mister Nice Blog: "Swine Flu: 'Coming epidemic of swine flu could be Obama's Katrina' --Martin Schram, Scripps Howard News Service, 8/28/09
No More Mister Nice Blog: "General Motors: Republicans hope General Motors is President Obama's Hurricane Katrina' --Politico, 6/28/09"
No More Mister Nice Blog: "Kentucky Ice Storm: 'Obama's Katrina on Ice: More than 700,000 homes are still without power in Kentucky due to a massive ice storm that struck the state six days ago, forcing Gov. Steve Beshear to mobilize his entire state's Army and Air National Guard, a total of 4,600 men and the largest call-out in Kentucky's history.... Our Hawaiian-borne President, basking in the glow of an overheated Oval Office and dining on $100/lb steak, has been utterly disinterested...' --Confederate Yankee blog, 2/1/09"
Sabrina Siddiqui: "Hurricane Katrina: "A new Public Policy Polling survey... found that 29 percent of Louisiana Republicans said Obama was responsible for the Katrina response. Twenty-eight percent put the blame on President George W. Bush, whose administration did in fact oversee the federal response to Katrina. Nearly half (44 percent) of the Louisiana Republicans polled didn't know who to blame..." --August 21, 2013
No More Mister Nice Blog: "Affordable Housing: 'A friend emails: "Obama's KATRINA. A little dramatic?" Maybe. Obama's record on "affordable housing," as described in the Globe story, isn't a case of gross ineptitude in a catastrophic regional emergency. It's not even a symbol of endemic governmental dysfunction. (Although: Is there a bigger Petri dish for corrupt incompetence than the "public-private partnership"? Think cable TV franchises.) But the Globe account does seem to capture what's most likely to be wrong with an Obama administration.' --Mickey Kaus at Slate, 6/30/08"
There needs, I think, to be some sort of special prize for the last two...
John Harwood's claim that Dean Baquet's first priority is turning the New York Times into a trusted information intermediary runs on to and then sinks offshore of the reef that is Thomas Friedman:
I gotta say, I really do not think David Bell has a clue how badly he looks to every liberal under 40--and even to some of us who are 54--when he feels he has to:
To be the kind of person who doesn't quit in protest but stays to influence is one thing. But if one is the kind of person who quits in protest, when one does not do so ones silence speaks loudly indeed.
David Keohane: Further reading: "Cliff Asness or teenage Twitter rant?"
Stolen from http://unfogged.com
My quality of life is diminished by the fact that I am not a fluent reader of rot13. Is there a good online drill site?
Yes, I am happy that I am able to postpone reading further in chapter 11 of David Graeber's Debt: My First 5000 Mistakes for another week...
Amity Shlaes: What triggered Krugman’s pulling some kind of imagined rank on Asness was that Asness, along with me and others, signed a letter a few years ago suggesting that Fed policy might be off, and that inflation might result. Well, inflation hasn’t come on a big scale, apparently. Or not yet. Still, a lot of us remain comfortable with that letter, since we figure someone in the world ought always to warn about the possibility of inflation. Even if what the Fed is doing is not inflationary, the arbitrary fashion in which our central bank responds to markets betrays a lack of concern about inflation. And that behavior by monetary authorities is enough to make markets expect inflation in future...
I will react by asking, to the air, one and only one four-part question:
Consider whether one should line up with Amity Shlaes--along with William Kristol, Niall Ferguson, James Grant, David Malpass, Dan Señor, and the rest of that motley company--against Ben Bernanke. Suppose that one has no special expertise on the issue. Suppose that Ben Bernanke has studied that issue for his entire adult life.
Wouldn't anybody with a functioning neural network greater than that of a moderately-intelligent cephalopod recognize that such a lining-up was an intellectual strategy with a large negative prospective α?
Wouldn't--after the intellectual strategy's large negative-α returns have been realized--anybody with a functioning neural network equal to that of a moderately-intelligent cephalopod recognize that it was time to perform a Bayesian updating on one's beliefs, rather than doubling down and claiming that: it's not over--the inflationary pressures are building minute-by-minute?
Wouldn't--when thinking about how to double-down on one's negative-α intellectual strategy, and placing even more of one's mental and reputational chips on the claim that expanding and keeping the Federal Reserve's balance sheet beyond $1.5T generates excessive and dangerous risks of inflation, and that any such expansion ought to be stopped and reversed--anybody with a functioning neural network even less than that of a moderately-intelligent cephalopod recognize that phrasing one's doubling-down in the voice of John Belushi on a very bad day would be unwise, would be likely to call forth mockery and scorn on the same rhetorical level that one had chosen, and would make one a figure of fun and merriment?
And, when the readily-predictable tit-for-tat responses at the rhetorical level one chose do in predictable and due course manage to arrive, that to respond by whinging and sniveling and feeling offense would be unwarranted--would demonstrate only that whatever functioning neural network one does have was not fully connected to reality?
Responding to Krugman is as productive as smacking a skunk with a tennis racket.... Let's not be fooled by chicanery (silly Paul, you are no Rabbit).... An honest Paul Krugman (we will use this term again below but this is something called a "counter-factual").... Also remember, much like when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor, nothing is over yet. The Fed has not undone its extraordinary loose monetary policy and is just now stopping its direct QE purchases.... Paul, and others, should by now know the folly of declaring victory too early....
This isn't a screed where I claim to have invented my own consumption basket showing inflation is rising at 25% per annum - though some of those screeds are interesting.... We have indeed observed tremendous inflation in asset prices.... If one counts asset inflation it seems we've indeed had tremendous inflation.... Where effects did show up, it actually caused rather a lot of inflation....
Mostly Paul is wrong, and twisting the facts, and doing so as rudely and crassly as possible, yet again. The rest of the JV team of Keynesians who have also jumped on board are doing the same thing, just with more class and less entertainment value than the master.... Paul will continue to be mostly wrong, mostly dishonest about it, incredibly rude, and in a crass class by himself (admittedly I attempt these heights sometimes but sadly fall far short). That is a prediction I'm willing to make over any horizon, offering considerable odds, and with no sneaky forecasts of merely 'heightened risks'. Any takers?
This: "Note to Self: CBO and Part D"
OK, self-of-six-months-ago, what about the Congressional Budget Office and Medicare Part D do you want me to note?
VATICAN CITY--"The next thing he will want us to do", said one cardinal who declined to be identified, "is to associate with tax-collectors and prostitutes!"
Mark Halperin: The Truth About Jeb Bush's Presidential Ambitions: "Finally, the most macro significant question...
...for any Republican putting him or herself forward to beat Clinton is this: what states can you win that Romney lost? For [Jeb] Bush, the easy answer includes Florida, Ohio, Colorado, Iowa, Wisconsin, New Hampshire, and Virginia. If he runs a strong campaign, Bush could perhaps compete in California and possibly New Jersey and Michigan.
In response to this:
Is there a reason why Mark Halperin thinks that Jeb Bush could not take Pennsylvania? Or is Halperin just a bullshit artist who couldn't be bothered to consult his notes? Any Republican who runs strong against a Democrat will in all likelihood win Florida and Ohio, and make Virginia, Colorado, Pennsylvania, Iowa, New Hampshire, Nevada, and Wisconsin competitive. How--aside from this omission of Pennsylvania--is this list of additional states that Jeb Bush could win different from the list of states that any Republican nominee could win if things broke their way?
California? A Republican who takes California in all likelihood has 474 electoral votes. If you are going to claim that Jeb Bush could compete in California, why not claim Massachusetts, Delaware, and Maryland as well? If you are going to claim that Jeb Bush could compete in New Jersey, why not claim Connecticut and Illinois too? And why Michigan rather than Minnesota and New Mexico?
Bloomberg Politics has managed a remarkable launch: a day-one declaration of analytical and intellectual bankruptcy...
...late, just ending a dream about how you run into Warren Buffett and Charlie Munger at the Pilot Travel Center truckstop on I-29 in Council Bluffs. They then buy you beer for two hours and tell you everything they know about how asset pricing works in the real world. When you wake up, you hasten to write it all down. But because you woke up late you have to rush to the gym, and by the time gym finishes it's all gone...
Hopefully not an omen for the weekend...
So I was updating my basic stock-index return-predictability lecture, and moving the files for it into R, and I made an unwise data transformation in annualizing the monthly return on the stock index:
YRETURN <- MRETURN^12
LNYRETURN <- 12*log(MRETURN,exp(1))
And I got into a surprising amount of trouble...
...from which I was rescued by the bootstrap. Take a look, if you care:
Timothy Noah (2007): Has Jonah Goldberg gone soft on Hillary?: "Her name's been removed from his forthcoming book's subtitle...
Three months ago, I speculated that Jonah Goldberg's forthcoming book, then titled Liberal Fascism: The Totalitarian Temptation From Mussolini to Hillary Clinton, was the victim of a swift and violent paradigm shift. The 2006 elections and the right's critical drubbing of Dinesh D'Souza's The Enemy at Home: The Cultural Left and Its Responsibility for 9/11--which proposed a strategic alliance between Muslim theocrats and the American right against the degenerate American left—had rendered conservatism's lunatic fringe suddenly unfashionable. This couldn't, I thought, be good news for a book that portrayed Hillary Clinton as a goose-stepping brownshirt.
We are interrupting our DeLong Smackdown Watches (and other things to bring you news that International Economy is now in the running for the Washington Post for the title of publication that exercises the very least quality control--that takes the least care to make sure that the articles it publishes inform rather than mislead their readers.
Let's turn the mike over to Menzie Chinn:
Menzie Chinn: The Stupidest Paragraph in Perhaps the Stupidest Article Ever Published: Bruce Bartlett brought my attention to this article...
...which Mark Thoma mused was “The Stupidest Article Ever Published”. From "The Inflation Debt Scam", by Paul Craig Roberts, Dave Kranzler and John Williams[, in International Economy]:
Buffer tells us that:
The most shared Facebook headline would be: "Things About Every Healthy Homemade Video Recipe People Should Reasons"
The most shared Pinterest headline would be: "Homemade Chocolate Butter Chicken Peanut Cream Salad Cookie Wedding Recipe"
McSweeney’s Internet Tendency: Unused Audio Commentary By Howard Zinn And Noam Chomsky, Recorded Summer 2002 For The Fellowship Of The Ring (Platinum Series Extended Edition): BY JEFF ALEXANDER AND TOM BISSELL
Chomsky: The film opens with Galadriel speaking. “The world has changed,” she tells us, “I can feel it in the water.” She’s actually stealing a line from the non-human Treebeard. He says this to Merry and Pippin in The Two Towers, the novel. Already we can see who is going to be privileged by this narrative and who is not.