Elon James White watches Nino Scalia confess that he is unable to believe in molecular biology:
Justice Scalia: Not Down with Science: Justice Scalia’s concurrence in the case on patenting genetic material, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, Inc., definitely stood out. Apparently, Scalia doesn’t believe in the science behind the case.
John Holbo on Kevin Williamson:
Minority Outreach Report: It’s the comments that get me, and make me sorry for all the times I’ve said, ‘A-ha! so there are two Confusatrons!’ rather than saving that line for a more special occasion…. The inability of conservatives to keep their alternative reality stories straight is inducing a kind of minority outreach-as-Crisis On Infinite Earths continuity collapse. There’s our world – call it Earth-1… in which Dems got better on civil rights in the 60’s, and Republicans got worse. The Southern Strategy. Then there’s Williamson’s World – sort of like Earth-3, a reverse earth… [where] the parties reverse realigned. LBJ and the Democrats fought against civil rights, right through the 60’s, but Barry Goldwater, William F. Buckley and Lee Atwater teamed up to stop them. But there’s also… Earth-1 Bizarro World, where everything is like it is in our world, only civil rights bad, so the Republicans are the heroes and the Dems the villains on civil rights in the 60’s. Last but not least, you have Earth-3 Bizarro World, where… Republicans have championed civil rights all along – but that’s wrong, not right! It shows how Republicans have betrayed their base!
In comments, near as I can score it, Williamson is fighting a three-front war, trying to stop an incursion of Democrats/historians from Earth-1 into Earth-3, while also trying to keep Bizarros from both Bizarro Worlds at bay. Plus I’m convinced that at least a quarter of the contributors to the thread are false-flag trolls….
[I am] grateful we’ve got Williamson.
Kevin Drum sends us to:
Jim Manzi: "When interpreting the physical health results of the Oregon Experiment, we either apply a cut-off of 95% significance to identify those effects which will treat as relevant for decision-making, or we do not. If we do apply this cut-off… then we should agree with the authors’ conclusion that the experiment “showed that Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes in the first 2 years.”
The study did not show that Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes.
The study failed to show that Medicaid generated [statistically] significant improvements in measured physical health outcomes.
The confusion of a failure to show statistical significance with a showing of a failure to have substantive significance is a basic, sophomoric error.
For it to "show that Medicaid coverage generated no significant improvements", the study would have had to have produced an 0.95 confidence interval that excludes significant improvements, wouldn't there? And there is no such interval.
So: Naughty, naughty, Jim Manzi!
Neyman-Pearson is not a trolley car. You cannot get off it where you want. You have to ride it to the end of the line.
Niall Ferguson (April 22, 1995):
It is not too much to infer from these emotive phrases some kind of sexual attraction [for Carl Melchior]…. [T]here is no question that the attraction Keynes felt for him strongly influenced his judgment…. [T]hose familiar with Bloomsbury will appreciate why Keynes fell so hard for the representative of an enemy power. Only those--like Robert Skidelsky--who seek to rescue his reputation as a monetary theorist may find Keynes's conduct less easy to account for.
Though his work at the Treasury gratified his sense of self-importance, the war itself made Keynes deeply unhappy. Even his sex life went into a decline, perhaps because the boys he liked to pick up in London all joined up…
Last week I said something stupid about John Maynard Keynes…. I was duly attacked for my remarks and offered an immediate and unqualified apology. But this did not suffice for some critics, who insisted that I was guilty not just of stupidity but also of homophobia…. To be accused of prejudice is one of the occupational hazards of public life nowadays. There are a remarkable number of people who appear to make a living from pouncing on any utterance that can be construed as evidence of bigotry….
Keynes’ sexual orientation did have historical significance. The strong attraction he felt for the German banker Carl Melchior undoubtedly played a part in shaping Keynes’ views on the Treaty of Versailles and its aftermath….
I have labored long and hard to expose precisely what was wrong about the theories that condemned homosexuals, Jews and others to discrimination and death. I have also tried to explain what made those theories so lethally appealing…. I doubt very much that any of my vituperative online critics have made a comparable effort to understand the nature and dire consequences of prejudice. For the self-appointed inquisitors of internet, it is always easier to accuse than seriously to inquire. In the long run we are all indeed dead, at least as individuals. Perhaps Keynes was lucky to pre-decease the bloggers because, for all his brilliance, was also prone to moments of what we would now call political incorrectness….
What the self-appointed speech police of the blogosphere forget is that to err occasionally is an integral part of the learning process. And one of the things I learnt from my stupidity last week is that those who seek to demonize error, rather than forgive it, are among the most insidious enemies of academic freedom.
Niall Ferguson certainly thought so in 1995. Donald Markwell, author of Donald Markwell (2006), "John Maynard Keynes and International Relations: Economic Paths to War and Peace", emails me a copy of Niall Ferguson's 1995 Spectator article, with its claim that Keynes's belief in "the ideas contained in The Economic Consequences of the Peace" "owed as much to his homosexuality as to his Germanophilia…" for "there is no question that the attraction Keynes felt for [Carl Melchior] strongly influenced his judgment…"
But that is not what he says today:
My disagreements with Keynes’s economic philosophy have never had anything to do with his sexual orientation. It is simply false to suggest, as I did, that his approach to economic policy was inspired by any aspect of his personal life.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
I occasionally get the question of what the above phrase means. It was my tagline when I wrote at my own blog and it is on the rotating lines at the top of this blog. It is a quote from Herbert Hoover, a strong believer in eugenics along with everything else. The full quote is as follows:
In its broad aspects, the proper feeding of children revolves around a public recognition of the interdependence of the human animal upon his cattle. The white race cannot survive without dairy products.
In a sense, what Hoover is doing here is combining his very real concern for nutrition and food distribution with his racial sensibilities. The intertwining of racial ideology and social reform was all too common in the early 20th century and engaged in by figures ranging from Theodore Roosevelt to Margaret Sanger.
You can see this quote on Google Books in the very exciting journal The Dairy World (and what a wide world it is), 1922, Volume 1, p.18. Also, the equally thrilling publication The Milk Dealer, Volume 11, 1921, p. 86
…. Yglesias makes the connection between Hoover’s remarks and the soon skyrocketing milk prices (due to the Truman-era poison pill on milk without a farm bill). Obama’s plot to destroy white people is now clear for all to see!!!
Underbelly: 250 Years Ago: Boswell Takes Breakfast: Jame Boswell begins to appreciate the douceurs of London life:
I breakfasted with lord Eglinton. He generally breakfasts with his family above stairs, whom I shall now paint. It consists of three. In the first place, Miss or Mrs. Brown, who has lived with him seven or eight years. She is a good-looking woman, and I dare say is the best of her profession that ever existed. She is quiet, good-humoured, and diligent at slight pretty work. She is neither avaricious nor extravagant. She has a degree of laughing simplicity that is agreeable so far, but when she shows it too much it appears foolish. Next, there is Mrs. Reid the housekeeper, who has been a great many years with my Lord. She is a good hearty wife, tells an old story, and looks after the family affairs most diligently. She is a Jacobite and a keen churchwoman, yet is she wantonly enough minded, and is not displeased that young people of different sexes should solace themselves with the enjoyment of each other. The third is Mrs. Charles Crookshanks. ...
--Boswell's London Journal 1762-63 (Frederick A. Pottle, ed.)
I refuse to believe that anybody names Mrs. Charles Crookshanks has any existence outside a Henry Fielding novel…
And what good is an internet that cannot direct me to an ebook version of The Georgian Bawdyhouse?
David Graeber wrote, about his book Debt:
[S]cholars of Greece, Mesopotamia, and Islam, Medievalists, Africanists, historians of Buddhism, and a wide variety of economists... none have noticed any glaring errors... it’s remarkable that someone who is not an area specialist actually more or less gets it right (remember, these are scholars often loathe to admit even their own colleagues in the field get it more or less right.)... meticulously researched and has stood up to scholarly review...
I protested that David Graeber's chapter 12, at least, got quite a large number of things wrong.
For one thing, Graeber thinks that the participants in the meetings of the Federal Reserve's decision-making body--the Federal Open Market Committee--are eighteen private bankers and one person, the Chair, appointed by the President. In actual fact the participants in FOMC meetings consist of (a) the seven Governors of the Federal Reserve (of whom one is Chair) all of whom are appointed by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate, and (b) the twelve heads of the regional Federal Reserve Banks, all of whom must be approved by a majority vote of the Governors and who are not private bankers seeking profits but rather heads of government-sponsored enterprises that do not view maximizing their bottom lines as their goals. Rather than one out of nineteen, all nineteen FOMC participants are either chosen by the President (with the advice and consent of the Senate) or by the President's appointees. Graeber does not get it right. If you want to understand today's economy, it is important to know whether one of nineteen or all of its top decision makers serve because the President and his appointees want them to. It is important to know whether eighteen of them or zero of them are private bankers. It is important to know whether the Federal Reserve is very akin to the American Petroleum Institute or the Federal Trade Commission.
This is a big deal. This stuff matters. It is a glaring error, along the lines of claiming that adolescent females in Samoa speak to no males save their fathers, uncles, and brothers. It is a glaring error, along the lines of claiming that high-status adult males among the Yanomamo behave like the seventeenth-century Quaker followers of William Penn rather than like Akhilleus son of Peleus. (And, yes, I have a very large bone to pick with Napoleon Chagnon for translating the Yanomamo self-description as "fierce" rather than "noble" or "manly"--as in Sigifrith the Atheling, or Arjuna of the Arya, or Horatius Cocles virtus holding the bridge against Lars Porsenna. But that is for another time and place.)
My protest was received with hoots:
Seriously?... petty stuff…. We can all pick over tiny details in books and engage in hermeneutic readings…. It’s not hard.…. [W]hat’s going to be remembered, David’s book with its intellectually revolutionary message, one that has inspired so many young economists that I meet or DeLong’s pedantic complaints about ambiguous meanings and contentious issues.… Who wins in the contest for etiquette? I don’t know. But who wins the intellectual argument? Again, let history decide. But I’m thinking Graeber.
And David Graeber:
[F]or all [DeLong's] blustering about how my chapter 12 was full of factual errors, he had never managed to identify more than one--a minor point about the number of reserve board governors who are Presidential appointees (the main point, about the Fed not being part of the government and not operating under Presidential oversight DeLong does not contest)…
But it wasn't one error, David.
It seemed that I had a discourse-situation problem. (I) Graeber's default seemed to be to claim that his book Debt was error-free. (II) If challenged on any point, his mode of operation appeared to be to retreat--admit error--and then counterattack claiming that this error is minor--no matter how glaring it was--and that the fact that people are attacking that error shows how totally right the rest of the book was.
So how to stake out a marker that there are dozens of errors, without wasting a lot of time doing so?
And there are dozens of errors: the Federal Reserve is not a council of eighteen private bankers plus a presidential appointee as their chair; Korean-American shopkeepers do not long to treat everybody else in Brooklyn the way Saul and Samuel treated the people of Amalek; Apple Computer--this was a hilarious one--Apple was not founded by ex-IBM engineers who formed little democratic circles of twenty to forty people with their laptops in each other's garages--there were neither laptops nor garages big enough to hold 20 in Silicon Valley in 1978, nor was Apple either Democratic or made up of any ex-IBM employees--the fact that people are as happy to hold the debt of the Swiss government than the debt of the U.S. government shows that it is not fear of being bombed by the US Air Force that makes countries seek to buy U.S. Treasury bonds; the Federal Reserve is perfectly constitutional, as is the FDA, the FCC, the EPA, the FTC, etc.; Nixon did not close the gold window because of the mounting costs of the Vietnam War; there is nothing that makes Iraq more likely than any other corner of the world to be the source of the next forward leap in human society; the Federal Reserve does not lend private banks money at the prime rate--you really don't know whether to laugh or cry at passages like: "For those who don't know how the Fed works: technically, there are a series of stages. Generally the Treasury puts out bonds to the public, and the Fed buys them back. The Fed then loans the money thus created to other banks at a special low rate of interest ('the prime rate')". Et cetera.
It was a puzzle that I could not solve.
At the end January I noticed David Graeber was on Twitter tweeting things like:
David Graeber @davidgraeber: considering the misery & devastation DeLong's NAFTA inflicted on Mexico, it's hardly surprising
David Graeber @davidgraeber: @delong author of economic catastrophes arrogantly inflicted only on others (NAFTA), lashes out at such as tried to warn him at the time
David Graeber @davidgraeber: they feel history passing them by. Even the IMF seems to take me more seriously than DeLong these days
And a light bulb went on in my head.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps:
Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner eating an awful lot of paste: How to Save the Republican Party: Commentary Magazine:
Barack Obama should have lost the 2012 election. The economy… was weak…. The signature legislative achievements of the president’s first term—the Affordable Care Act and the stimulus package—were so unpopular that on last year’s campaign trail he rarely mentioned them…. [T]he Republican Party… was regarded as highly energized and poised to win. Michael Barone, one of the most knowledgeable political observers in America, predicted Mitt Romney would comfortably defeat the president. “Fundamentals usually prevail in American elections,” Barone wrote four days before the election. “That’s bad news for Barack Obama.” And yet Obama won going away, defeating Romney by 126 electoral votes (332 to Romney’s 206) and winning the popular vote by nearly 5 million…
I want you to pause and reread those last two sentences. Four days before the election Michael Barone got the popular vote edge wrong by 7% and got the electoral vote edge wrong by 218. And Gerson and Wehner use Barone as their "expert" to back up their claim that "Barack Obama should have lost the 2012 election",
You might say that Barone's fantasy-based meltdown was something new--that before 2012 he was a keen-eyed and reality-based observer of American politics. Not so! Here's Barone from eight years ago:
Sarah Palin consumes 25% of her daily requirement of calories, and obtains no other nutrients at all…
Career opportunities: There’s also this sort of thing:
What message did Sarah Palin send to her CPAC ’13 audience Saturday, and thence to the world, by sipping from a Big Gulp soda during her speech and, in conclusion, brandishing it as if it were a trophy? Oh, I know what message she intended to send: Don’t tell us real Americans how to live our lives. We’ll decide what’s best for ourselves and our children. Stop treading on our liberty. But… the message Sarah Palin sent was this: Republicans will start winning elections again by telling Americans they should be proud of acting stupid.
When I was in school, there was a lot of talk about population groups (classified by gender, ethnicity, class, income, etc.) not performing as well as they could academically because society — in some cases, other members of the population group — sent them the message that they must be stupid because they were poor or women or black. I think there’s something to that, people are affected a lot by what society tells them to think of themselves. And I think it probably is happening to conservatives today, to some extent.
Math is hard, let’s go drink big gulps.
Hey! Young conservative kids! If Sarah Palin jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too?
When The GOP Told Whitey I Aint Gonna Take It No More: Yesterday, a CPAC breakout session on reaching out to black voters broke down in shouting and acrimony as a handful of ‘disenfranchised whites’ attacked the premise of the session (along with black complaints about slaveholders), got into a verbal fight with a black female attendee and with all that managed to unite the crowd against the black woman as the one who somehow spoiled all the fun…. [T]he whole imbroglio ended with denunciations of the black woman who was the one person to go into freak out mode — pretty understandably — on hearing the merits of chattel slavery being argued in the 21st century at a panel on racial tolerance and outreach. (And I’m using ‘freak out mode’ here in the most positive sense.) And that, I think, goes to the heart of the enterprise, this panel, itself…. The panel (“Trump The Race Card: Are You Sick And Tired Of Being Called A Racist When You Know You’re Not One?”) was run by an African-American man named K. Carl Smith (founder of something called “Frederick Douglass Republicans”) whose schtick is to rant against Democrats as the party of the Confederacy and the Ku Klux Klan… preaching/ranting to a crowd of Republicans (an almost entirely lilly white party) against the racism, softness on paramilitary violence and Confederacy-love of the Democratic party (roughly half of which is made up of non-whites). There’s just too much denial, bad faith and comedy there under high pressure for the center to hold. And you can’t tempt the gods of farce on such an epic scale and not have a blow up.
I am trying to excerpt a short paragraph from John Holbo for my "Noted for [Day X]" feature: This is what I come up with…
This is far too long. But I cannot compress it and stll do it justice. What do I do? To have every single "Noted for [Day X]" to have a:
line is deeply inadequate as well…
You know who else besides Theodore Adorno thought that German jazz was a degenerate art form?
World’s Wrongest Man Ventures Latest Prediction: Michael J. Boskin — former George W. Bush economic adviser, Hoover Institute fellow, and staunch advocate of conservative anti-tax doctrine — appears today, as is his wont, in The Wall Street Journal op-ed pages to warn that the Democratic president’s economic policies will lead us to misery…. Four years ago, Boskin penned a Journal op-ed whose thesis was captured in the headline, “Obama’s Radicalism Is Killing The Dow.” That was the signal for the Dow to go on a tear…. In 1993, Bill Clinton enacted an economic program centered around some public investment, coupled with deficit reduction with higher taxes on the rich. Boskin was very, very sure it would fail…. He made a series of predictions: “The new spending programs will grow more than projected, revenue growth will be disappointing, the economy will slow, and the program will reduce the deficit much less than expected.” Boskin repeated his prophecies of doom in a summerlong media blitz. Boskin labeled Clinton’s plan “clearly contractionary,” insisted the projected revenue would only raise 30 percent as much as forecast by dampening the incentive of the rich, insisted it would “take an economy that might have grown at 3 or 4 percent and cause it to grow more slowly,” and insisted anybody who believed in it would “Flunk Economics 101.” (The preceding pre-Internet quotes are all via a Lexis-Nexis search.) As it happened, literally every Boskin prediction turned out to be the opposite of reality….
Boskin decided to take his talents back to Washington. He had spotted a brilliant new economic mind in Texas governor George W. Bush. "These people were immensely impressed with him, how quick he was to pick stuff up," Boskin said. "His instincts were all very good, very much market-oriented; that created a very, very favorable impression." Boskin… did return to public punditry to insist that George W. Bush’s tax cuts would reduce revenue by far less than the official forecasts predicted….
Now, in defense of Boskin, he is probably suffering from a large dose of bad luck on top of a horrendously wrong ideology…. If you chained a thousand Boskins to a thousand keyboards for a thousand years, eventually one of them would make a correct prediction…. [I]n addition to being in thrall to a rigid and disproven ideology, Boskin suffers from unbelievably bad timing. Any investors who have actually put real money on the line after listening to him deserve the punishment they’ve received.
Brad DeLong : Great Depression Revisionism Blogging: The Council on Foreign Relations Crashes-and-Burns in Real Time...: The speaker's list for the Council on Foreign Relations "A Second Look at the Great Depression" conference on March 30 is out, and it is a doozy--even the Heritage Foundation would never have dared to put forward a speaker's list so partisan, so biased, and with so few speakers with more than an inch-deep knowledge of the Great Depression. Jamie Galbraith, Nick Taylor, and Jonathan Alter are all by themselves holding down the center and the left of the political spectrum. And Jamie and Richard Sylla are the only people holding down the non-Chicago and non-goldbug-wingnut part of the economic spectrum.
In general, when you have a panel at a conference about an issue, you find (a) the smartest and best-informed person who thinks "yes," (b) the smartest and best-informed person who thinks "no," and (c) somebody thoughtful in the middle to hold the balance. That is... not the strategy that the Council on Foreign Relations has followed in this case.
Over the weekend I have gotten
two three four copies of the program in the email--all with accompanying commentary that sounds somewhat... panicked:
The CFR Board is aware of the situation...
Who would you recommend as replacement speakers? Preferably not more New Deal-denialists..."
The CFR... is... perhaps belatedly getting worried about a lack of balance...
A perverse part of me wants to watch them go ahead...
They are looking to make the speaker's list less biased...
@HeerJeet Ludwig von Mises called detective fiction part of "the artistic superstructure of the epoch of labor unionism and socialization"
Paul Krugman is sad:
Gene Sperling Doesn't Respect Me: So, after reading the Bob Woodward saga of the alleged “threat” from Gene Sperling, the White House supereconwonk, I went through my own correspondence with Gene, and couldn’t find anything threatening — although I guess you could read his injunction, at one point, to “take care” in an ominous tone of voice. Hey, don’t I rate some proper intimidation?
This came out much nastier to Max than I had thought it would, or intended, or intended to intend. I apologize, and withdraw:
How China and the U.S. misunderstand one another: None of this is to criticize Ezra, of course, but just to supplement on his “myth of scheming” – the idea that Washington has successfully convinced the world that its leaders are constantly running sophisticated schemes, when in fact they’re usually struggling to keep up – with Beijing’s own myth of harmony. Why not criticize Ezra? Especially since he has no special expertise on China's foreign and defense policies?
"I would argue, however, that the actor who really got inside Lincoln’s head was John Wilkes Booth,” he said, garnering “ooohs” from the audience. “Really? 150 years later and it’s still too soon?”
Yep. Still too soon.
… and, I presume, nothing with understanding the present either!
A correspondent who must not wish me well directs me to the latest path of radioactive fallout from Robert Murphy's 5000-word "only jerks use Bayes's Rule to update their beliefs" post:
Suppose I bet… $500 that Team X would win the Superbowl, and then I lost. Would you guys say that was a foolish thing, and that I obviously didn't understand Mises? Suppose I take an umbrella with me to work, because I see thunderclouds and make a prediction about the future. Would you email me Rothbard's critique of econometrics?
No… you would say, "Bob is making a bet. This doesn't have anything to do with Austrian economics. He isn't misapplying the theory, and he's not jeopardizing the integrity of the movement because--as the author of several study guides on Mises and Rothbard--surely Murphy knows Austrian economics has nothing to do with predictions about the future."
Quote of the Day: Defining "Politically Plausible" Down: avid Brooks… wrote (inaccurately) that the White House doesn't have a proposal to avert the sequester, "let alone one that is politically plausible"…. [Ezra Klein asked:] "What would you like to see [the White House] offer?"
My fantasy package, and I'm not running for office, would include a progressive consumption tax, and it would have chained CPI, and it would have a pretty big means-test of Medicare. I'd direct you to Yuval Levin's piece in the Times a few days ago, which seemed sensible.
I guess I shouldn't complain about this. I mean, props to Brooks for admitting that he went overboard, and props for being willing to talk to Ezra about it in a good natured way. Still, I have to chuckle when he complains about Obama not proposing a "politically plausible" plan, and then offers up an alternative that includes a progressive consumption tax, something that Republicans have been unrelentingly opposed to for decades…. I think we really need to have a little chat about just what "politically plausible" really means.
The Thunderdome… Two enter. One leaves…
How did I miss this?:
Andrew Gelman: Politics Done Right: Sotomayor Scorecard on Day 1: "In favor: Barack Obama, Lani Guinier, Gerald Torres, Alberto Gonzales, Alan Dershowitz, The American Diabetes Association. Against: Richard Epstein, Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, John Yoo, Greg Mankiw's grandmother… [had] the strongest reaction… 'shocked and appalled to see someone who makes so much save so little'…. [But] with a job for life, full health care, and... a pension... why save?…. Mankiw's remark is... a comment on his grandmother's charming but naive conception of household economics--even in a case of a childless federal judge, she would've missed the point of spending one's money. I have no comments on the reasoning of Dershowitz, Yoo, and the rest."
Non-economic reasoning? Economic non-reasoning? Non-economic non-reasoning. I'm not sure what to call rejecting Bayes's Rule…
Suppose that for some reason--never mind why--you were back in 2009 confident--70% sure--that Bernanke's policies were inappropriate and disastrous, because if they were adopted they were near-certain--90%--to bring 10%/year if not 20%/year inflation soon--by 2012.
Then 2012 rolls around. No inflation. What, then, come 2013 is your subjective probability that Bernanke's policies are inappropriate and disastrous?
Your confidence that Bernanke's policies are inappropriate and disastrous should drop. According to Bayes’s Rule--which is a simple principle designed to guard yourself from being vulnerable to Dutch Book attacks--it should drop from 70% to 19%.
Not, however, if you are Robert Murphy.
Austrian economists, you see, don't need no stinking Bayes's Rule.
To suggest that they ought or might change their minds in response to evidence is, in some bizarre way, to impugn their character:
John Cook: "I will now tweet every question Politico's Mike Allen asked President George W. Bush during a May 2008 interview":
I will now Tweet every question Politico's Mike Allen asked President George W. Bush during a May 2008 interview— John Cook (@johnjcook) February 19, 2013
I believe that this is the context:
Jim VandeHei and Mike Allen: complain that President Obama is seeing other people: "President Barack Obama is a master at limiting, shaping and manipulating media coverage of himself and his White House…. Media across the ideological spectrum are left scrambling for access…. The president has shut down interviews with many of the White House reporters… he spends way more time talking directly to voters via friendly shows and media personalities…. [T]his White House has greatly curtailed impromptu moments where reporters can ask tough questions after a staged event… The frustrated Obama press corps neared rebellion this past holiday weekend when reporters and photographers were not even allowed onto the Floridian National Golf Club, where Obama was golfing [with Tiger Woods]…. There’s the classic weekend document dump to avoid negative coverage. By our count, the White House has done this nearly two dozen times…. [T]he White House was exceptionally transparent during the Solyndra controversy, releasing details three times on a Friday." Plus: how dare Senator Cruz send the same quote to us and to the New York Times: "NO SHAME AWARD to N.Y. Times for putting on the front page -- with no indication it wasn't a novel revelation -- a carbon copy of a story that led POLITICO.com on Thursday evening… [Y[ou can't try to pass something off as new, when the people who care the most about the topic have read the same thing 24 hours earlier."
Matt Browner Hamlin: Access doesn't count if it happens on Friday? OK, then. #PoliticoRules
You can't make this stuff up. "Of course everyone agreed back in 2009-10 that fiscal multipliers were not negative but were large when interest rates were low and the economy was overleveraged", says Olli Rehn http://ec.europa.eu/commission_2010-2014/rehn/documents/cab20130213_en.pdf:
European Commission Vice President Olli Rehn complain that Olivier Blanchard killed the Confidence Fairy. No Scooby Snacks for you, Professor Blanchard!
Jonathan Portes: Not the Treasury view...: I pointed out late last year that European Commission Vice President Olli Rehn has been predicting for at least two years that, thanks to the excellent policies recommended by the Commission and the European Central Bank, economic recovery in the crisis economies of the eurozone is imminent. However… he's tried a different tack. Blame the economists…. Rehn… says:
I would like to make a few points about a debate which has not been helpful and which has risked to erode the confidence we have painstakingly built up over the last years in late night meetings. I refer to the debate about fiscal multipliers, ie the marginal impact that a change in fiscal policy has on economic growth. The debate in general has not brought us much new insight.
Much of the rest of the letter is devoted to Mr Rehn's (and presumably the Commission's economists) attempt to debunk the findings of IMF Chief Economist Olivier Blanchard, who found, to no-one's great surprise, that the adverse impacts of fiscal consolidation were indeed much greater than that forecast by the Fund or the Commission.
The consensus is split between "well before 1969" and "when Bill Clinton defeated Al Gore in the 1992 Democratic primary"…
Today Martin Peretz denounces Whittaker Chambers fan Sam Tanenhaus as a left-wing nut job:
Martin Peretz: The New New Republic: Like many readers of the New Republic, I didn't at first recognize the most recent issue of the magazine…. Having read the cover story, I still don't recognize the magazine. "Original Sin," by Sam Tanenhaus, purported to explain "Why the GOP is and will continue to be the party of white people." The provocative theme would not have been unthinkable in the magazine's 99-year history, but the essay's reliance on insinuations of GOP racism ("the inimical 'they' were being targeted by a spurious campaign to pass voter-identification laws, a throwback to Jim Crow") and gross oversimplifications hardly reflected the intellectual traditions of a journal of ideas…
Sam Tanenhaus thus rises in my estimation--surprisingly, for somebody whose book on Whittaker Chambers struck me as significantly flawed in its willingness to give the right-wing icon infinite amounts of slack…
Tanenhaus thus joins the estimable company of, among others, George Soros:
Matthew Yglesias / proudly eponymous since 2002: "It's good to own the magazine": New Republic editor in chief Martin Peretz recently took to the pages of his magazine to accuse George Soros of being a "young cog in the Hitlerite wheel." As Soros points out (follow the link) this charge is false. Peretz, in his response to Soros' response, won't even admit what he accused Soros of doing much less concede that the allegation was false!
It seems to me that when a magazine falsely accuses someone of being a Nazi collaborator that a correction would be warranted.
And TNR never bothered to run a correction. Memo to Frank Foer: you need to. Badly.
And Sam Tanenhaus joins the company of Hilary Clinton:
Ezra Klein: I think it's fascinating that Marty Peretz doesn't understand why people don't like him after his magazine lies about them. [Hilary Rodham Clinton] didn't snub you, Marty. She treated you with precisely the lack of respect you deserved after that shameful debacle.
Ezra Klein: I'm genuinely curious if [ex-New Republic editor Andrew Sullivan's] recitation of Clinton's personal failings is some sort of barely submerged explanation for why Sullivan published and championed a dishonest, fearmongering article meant to sink the Clinton health care plan -- and it was recognized as such even at the time. Thanks to The Atlantic's open archives, you can read the fairest man in journalism, James Fallows, take it apart in a feature article called "A Triumph of Misinformation." McCaughey's article, which Sullivan commissioned, published, and praised, was, Fallows said, "simply false." Yet Sullivan still touts it in his biography...
Marty Peretz: When Hillary Snubbed Me: Hillary is known to snub people all the time. In fact, she even snubbed me once at a reception at the White House. I was talking to someone in the Rose Garden, and she came over to greet the someone with whom I was already chatting. That someone, in turn, introduced me, saying, "Of course, you know Marty Peretz," which actually she did not. I had never been in a room with Hillary that didn't also contain a thousand other people. That didn't phase her at all. And she responded, "Indeed, I do," and turned on her heel and left. I don't have an explanation. Except that The New Republic was not especially enamored of her health plan which, in retrospect, has impeded health reform for a decade and a half. As it happens, we had published a devastating analysis of the proposal by Elizabeth McCaughey; and somehow, in the mysteries of Washington, this became the vivid center of the debate. The White House actually put out what I recall as a nine page rebuttal to the TNR critique, another tactical mistake in the genius presidency. Anyway, it is to this article that her snub to me may be attributed. But it could be something even more petty.
And, of course, there is so much more…
The owners and supporters of Ron Paul-linked internet domains are appalled to learn that Ron Paul wants to use the United Nations to take their stuff. But why are they surprised? Ron Paul's newsletters were a pure grifting operation. Why would they think he has changed?
Ron Paul Calls on United Nations to Confiscate Domain Names of His Supporters: Earlier today, Ron Paul filed an international UDRP complaint against RonPaul.com and RonPaul.org with WIPO, a global governing body that is an agency of the United Nations. The complaint calls on the agency to expropriate the two domain names from his supporters without compensation and hand them over to Ron Paul.
"They are going to cull the herd, so that instead of having billions, we'll only have hundreds of millions of human beings on the face of the planet." -- Alan Keyes, expelling the logic behind Obama's gun safety proposals.
These are the kinds of people who are assistant secretaries in Republican administrations. Just saying...
In "The Big Lebowski" it was a joke. On the pages of National Review it is serious.
Have they no editors? Have they no minds?
The Corner: President Obama issued a statement yesterday to commemorate International Holocaust Remembrance Day. He noted that survivors who bore witness to “the horrors of the cattle cars, ghettos, and concentration camps have witnessed humanity at its very worst and know too well the pain of losing loved ones to senseless violence.”… Nazism… is hardly “senseless.” By the early 1930s, the Nazi party had hundreds of thousands of devoted members and repeatedly attracted a third of the votes in German elections; its political leaders campaigned on a platform comprising 25 non-senseless points…. [M]any sensible Germans were persuaded…. [Obama's] sanitized version of events, both past and present, is surely more comforting. It’s also truly senseless.
The amusing thing is that when I first heard of David Graeber's Debt, I thought it might well be a useful corrective to some of the sillinesses of economists, and it went into my "to read" pile with a presumption that I would learn a considerable amount from it:
Back in September 2011, I wrote that Graeber was justifiably annoyed at having his summary of anthropological findings dismissed by Austrians as "nonsensical":
David Graeber: On the Invention of Money: [S]tandard economic accounts of the emergence of money from barter... wildly wrong.... [Robert M.] Murphy apparently felt honor-bound to respond…. Murphy didn’t even consult [my] book... but [relied on] an inaccurate summary of my position someone had made in another blog! We are not, in other words, dealing with a work of scholarship....
[W]hat anthropologists observe when neighbors do engage in something like exchange with each other, if you want your neighbor's cow, you'd say, "wow, nice cow" and he'd say "you like it? Take it!" — and now you owe him one.... [T]he real question is not how does barter generate some sort of medium of exchange that then becomes money, but rather, how does that broad sense of "I owe you one" turn into a precise system of measurement — that is: money as a unit of account? By the time the curtain goes up on the historical record in ancient Mesopotamia, around 3200 BC, it's already happened. There's an elaborate system of money of account and complex credit systems...
And I commented: Indeed. It really looks from the anthropologists that Adam Smith was wrong--that we are not animals that like to "truck, barter, and exchange" with strangers but rather gift-exchange pack animals--that we manufacture social solidarity by gift networks, and those who give the most valuable gifts acquire status hereby.
It seemed to me that there were, in fact, four important and interesting questions:
It seemed likely that Graeber's Debt would provide a perspective I would find interesting and informative on these questions.
But then things went south rather quickly...
Over at Balkinizing, Jason Mazzone screams and leaps at Jeff Toobin:
Balkinization: The Two Toobins: Toobin's opinion columns about the Court for The New Yorker are routinely weak… advocacy dressed up as analysis… succeeding as neither… [a] howler from Toobin's column on the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade:
Some Justices like to assert, or pretend, that the Constitution has a single meaning, and that each case thus has only one correct resolution. This view is especially pronounced among conservatives, who, in recent years, have claimed that they can identify the original intent of the framers and use their eighteenth-century wisdom to resolve any modern controversy.
Perhaps some dumbing down is needed for readers of The New Yorker but surely it isn't hard to describe originalism accurately… [as] original public meaning not intent…. [What does his] authoring poor columns in a national magazine… this tell us about the reliability of old media (books!) versus new?
Google search for "original intent": 2,350,000 results
Google search for "original public meaning": 102,000 results
Attention conservation notice: Self-promotion of an academic talk, based on a three-year-old paper, on the arcana of how Bayesian methods work from a frequentist perspective.
Because is snowing relentlessly and the occasional bout of merely freezing air is a blessed relief, I will be escaping to a balmier clime next week: Cambridgeshire.
"When Bayesians Can't Handle the Truth", statistics seminar, Cambridge University: Abstract: There are elegant results on the consistency of Bayesian updating for well-specified models facing IID or Markovian data, but both completely correct models and fully observed states are vanishingly rare. In this talk, I give conditions for posterior convergence that hold when the prior excludes the truth, which may have complex dependencies. The key dynamical assumption is the convergence of time-averaged log likelihoods (Shannon-McMillan-Breiman property). The main statistical assumption is a building into the prior a form of capacity control related to the method of sieves. With these, I derive posterior and predictive convergence, and a large deviations principle for the posterior, even in infinite-dimensional hypothesis spaces; and clarify role of the prior and of model averaging as regularization devices. (Paper)
Place and time: 1 February 2013, 4-5 pm in MR 12, CMS
And my views on all this hoisted from archives:
Gary Marcus and Ernest Davis:
Bayesian Statistics and what Nate Silver Gets Wrong: The Bayesian approach is much less helpful when there is no consensus about what the prior probabilities should be…. In actual practice, the method of evaluation most scientists use most of the time is a variant of a technique proposed by the statistician Ronald Fisher in the early 1900s. Roughly speaking, in this approach, a hypothesis is considered validated by data only if the data pass a test that would be failed ninety-five or ninety-nine per cent of the time if the data were generated randomly. The advantage of Fisher’s approach (which is by no means perfect) is that to some degree it sidesteps the problem of estimating priors where no sufficient advance information exists. In the vast majority of scientific papers, Fisher’s statistics (and more sophisticated statistics in that tradition) are used.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
Those of us economists who grumble about Bayesian statistics don't want us to move backward to Frequentism but forward to (prior probabilities) x (value of being right) -- the decision-theory counterparts of the so-called risk-neutral valuation method in finance...
Those of us economists who do use frequentist statistics know something very important that Marcus and Davis show no sign at all of knowing: that if you fail to reject the null hypothesis at 0.05, you do not conclude (even provisionally) that the null hypothesis is true--instead, you go gather more data and test again until you can either reject the null against the alternative or reject (the interesting) alternative(s) against the null.
We've got to stop being the stupid party. It's time for a new Republican Party that talks like adults. We had a number of Republicans damage the brand this year with offensive and bizarre comments. I'm here to say we've had enough of that.
Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R-LA)
John Roberts: Please repeat after me: "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear"
Barack Obama: "I, Barack Hussein Obama, do solemnly swear"
John Roberts: "that I will faithfully execute
Barack Obama: "that I will faithfully execute"
John Roberts: "the Office of President of the United States,"
Barack Obama: "the Office of President of the United States,"
John Roberts: "and will, to the best of my Ability,"
Barack Obama: "and will, to the best of my Ability,"
John Roberts: "preserve, protect, and defend"
Barack Obama: "preserve, protect, and defend"
John Roberts: "the Constitution of the United States."
Barack Obama: "the Constitution of the United States."
John Roberts: "So help you God."
Barack Obama: "So help me God."
It is true that saying too much rather than too little does not invalidate the oath. But that last sentence is not in the Constitution.
And if Barack Obama had actually obeyed Roberts's instructions to "repeat after me" and said "So help you God", he would have sounded completely ridiculous.
David Brooks teaches Yale class on humility, compares self to Bono.