The caricature of Ryan and people like him is that… they talk big about dignity while ignoring the difficulty of getting essentials like food and health care. Well, it’s not a caricature: Ryan says never mind having enough to eat, it’s about spirituality:
The left is making a big mistake…. What they’re offering people is a full stomach and an empty soul. People don’t just want a life of comfort. They want a life of dignity, they want a life of self determination…
Um, yes, but how dignified can you be on an empty stomach? How much self-determination do you have? And who is supposed to value dignity over having enough to eat? Children…. Affluent politicians have no business lecturing people having trouble buying food or having trouble paying for health care about dignity, is just stunning. READ THE WHOLE THING
And that is, I think, putting it very charitably:
Rashid Khalidi and Judith Butler:: "Whether one is for or against Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) as a means to change the current situation in Palestine-Israel, it is important to recognize that boycotts are internationally affirmed and constitutionally protected forms of political expression....
We are now witnessing accelerating efforts to curtail speech, to exercise censorship, and to carry out retaliatory action against individuals on the basis of their... support for BDS... impos[ing] a political litmus test on speakers and artists when they are invited to speak or show their work.... [Only by] rejecting blacklisting, intimidation, and discrimination... can these institutions live up to their purpose as centers of learning and culture...
Shorter Judith Butler: our blacklisting of Israeli academics without private means (i.e., who rely on institutional funding to attend and travel to conferences) is good; your blacklisting of us for blacklisting Israeli academics is bad.
Perhaps she wants to take the line that letting Israeli academics attend if they have private means purges her of sin?
Just as in the Jim Crow South African-Americans could vote if they paid the poll tax and could read and interpret the state constitution to the registrar's satisfaction or if they had grandparents who had voted before 1865?
It smells. It smells badly. A rhetoric professor really should know better, or think more clearly, or something.
January 2, 2008: Did Bob Reich Assassinate Tony Judt's Cat?: I was surprised to read:
'Supercapitalism': An Exchange: Tony Judt: I am surprised that Robert Reich resents my "use" of his book for the expression of some general thoughts on its topic. Taken for itself, after all, Supercapitalism would have merited at best a short notice. However, Reich's letter is welcome all the same. It helpfully reasserts the book's argument; and by its resort to invective—"jeremiad," "screeds," "emotionally gratifying," "capitalist hobgoblins," etc.—-his letter offers an instructive insight into Reich's own thought processes... his critics (me, on this occasion) are dismissed as "denigrators" of economic growth, enemies of capitalist globalization who pave the way for nativism: in short, prole-worshipping nostalgics.... If the Professor of Public Policy at UC Berkeley really thinks that we can improve upon the "cacophony" that passes for public debate with talk of "citizen values" and "leaders who inspire us" and that anything else is "brainless neo-Ludditism," then he is himself a depressing illustration of the problem he purports to address.
This visual evidence of derangement surprised me, because I remembered Tony Judt's Postwar as being rather good--and his books on the post-WWII French intellectuals, Sartre and his circle, as being excellent. And I, at least, quite liked Supercapitalism. Clearly I am going to have to go back and read Judt's review of Reich...
The New York Times > Washington > Social Security, Growth and Stock Returns: In barnstorming the country over Social Security, administration officials predict that American economic growth will slow to an anemic rate of 1.9 percent as baby boomers reach retirement. Yet as they extol the rewards of letting people invest some of their payroll taxes in personal retirement accounts, President Bush and his allies assume that stock returns will be almost as high as ever, about 6.5 percent a year after inflation.
Paul Campos: A painful case: "Although Clarence Thomas is still only 65 — i.e., practically a youngster by the late Politburo-style demographics of the contemporary Supreme Court — he seems to be moving into the Abe Simpson period of what is likely to be... a 40-plus year tenure....
Yesterday he regaled an audience at a college in Florida with these sociological observations:
My sadness is that we are probably today more race and difference-conscious than I was in the 1960s when I went to school. To my knowledge, I was the first black kid in Savannah, Georgia, to go to a white school. Rarely did the issue of race come up. Now, name a day it doesn’t come up. Differences in race, differences in sex, somebody doesn’t look at you right, somebody says something. Everybody is sensitive. If I had been as sensitive as that in the 1960s, I’d still be in Savannah. Every person in this room has endured a slight. Every person. Somebody has said something that has hurt their feelings or did something to them — left them out. That’s a part of the deal.
Hendrik Hertzberg: Jan Brewer’s Speech on Arizona’s Anti-Gay Bill : The New Yorker: "It was obvious almost from the evening of Friday, February 21st... that Governor Jan Brewer would veto it whether she wanted to or not.
Mitt Romney told her to; more important, so did locally influential fellow-Republicans like the state’s two U.S. senators, McCain and Flake. The “business community,” from groovy GoDaddy to Mormon Marriott, recoiled in such horror that you’d think the bill would also have raised the top marginal tax rate. When the N.F.L. strongly suggested that a new venue would have to be found for Super Bowl XLIX, the bill, already in the I.C.U., flatlined. And yesterday, just hours before Brewer stepped to the podium, Major League Baseball, invoking the memory of Jackie Robinson, did a solemn dance on the corpse.
Jon Perr: Georgia Republicans are Killing Hospitals--and People: "By now, millions of Americans--most of them in red states-- are growing familiar with the 'coverage gap'.
Thanks to their rejection of the Affordable Care Act's expansion of Medicaid in states they control, GOP leaders are leaving at least five million people in an insurance "dead zone," earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but too little to obtain federal subsidies to purchase coverage... with as many as 17,000 people forecast to needlessly die each year for lack of health insurance. But GOP obstruction won't just kill people in places like Texas, Mississippi and many more. As the case of Georgia shows--where over 600,000 residents will fall into the coverage gap and as many as 1,175 will die this year--Republican policy is killing hospitals, too.... A fourth rural hospital in Georgia is shutting its doors due to a lack of patients who can pay for their medical expenses:
C. Northcote Parkinson was the first to identify the phenomenon of "injelitance"--the jealousy that the less-than-competent feel for the capable.
Here we have a classic case from the anthropologists at Savage Mind, who are both positively green with envy at Jared Diamond's ability to make interesting arguments in a striking and comprehensible way, and also remarkably incompetent at critique.
Over at the Washington Center for Equitable Growth: I Am Sorry. What Was Tim Geithner Looking at in January 2008?: Saturday Focus: February 22, 2014: "Steven Perlberg:
Tim Geithner January 2008 FOMC Minutes: “The World Is Still Looking Pretty Good”: “In January 2008–right as the U.S. economy entered a recession–the former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman (and later Treasury Secretary) was still very optimistic….
You know, we have the implausible kind of Goldilocks view of the world, which is it’s going to be a little slower, taking some of the edge off inflation risk, without being so slow that it’s going to amplify downside risks to growth in the United States. That may be too optimistic, but the world still is looking pretty good. Central banks in a lot of places are starting to soften their link to the dollar so that they can get more freedom to direct monetary policy to respond to inflation pressure. That’s a good thing. U.S. external imbalances are adjusting at a pace well ahead of expectations. That’s all good, I think. As many people pointed out, the fact that we don’t have a lot of imbalances outside of housing coming into this slowdown is helpful. There’s a little sign of incipient optimism on the productivity outlook or maybe a little less pessimism that we’re in a much slower structural productivity growth outlook than before. The market is building an expectation for housing prices that is very, very steep. That could be a source of darkness or strength, but some people are starting to call the bottom ahead, and that’s the first time. It has been a long time since we’ve seen any sense that maybe the turn is ahead. It seems unlikely, but maybe they’re right. In the financial markets, I think it is true that there is some sign that the process of repair is starting. Having said that, though, I think it is quite dark still out there…. Like everyone else, we have revised down our growth forecast. We expect very little growth, if any, in the first half of the year before policy starts to bring growth back up to potential....
What was he looking at in January 2008 to say that? READ MORE
George Orwell: 1984: Chapter 29: "Winston was gelatinous with fatigue.
Gelatinous was the right word. It had come into his head spontaneously. His body seemed to have not only the weakness of a jelly, but its translucency. He felt that if he held up his hand he would be able to see the light through it. All the blood and lymph had been drained out of him by an enormous debauch of work, leaving only a frail structure of nerves, bones, and skin. All sensations seemed to be magnified. His overalls fretted his shoulders, the pavement tickled his feet, even the opening and closing of a hand was an effort that made his joints ache.
Jessica Sequeira: Political Hatred in Argentina: An Interview with Uki Goñi: "Two days before I met with Uki Goñi, his analysis of president Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and the crisis in Argentina was the top article on the Guardian website. Goñi is a correspondent for British newspapers, covering events in Argentina, but his professional experiences before this are enough for a number of lives.
He arrived in the city in his early twenties and began work as a journalist at the Buenos Aires Herald, an English language daily and the city’s only newspaper reporting on missing people during the dictatorship. Over the next decade he focused on his band Los Helicópteros, and then wrote three books: El Infiltrado. La verdadera historia de Alfredo Astiz, on the activities of the ESMA, an illegal detention center during the country's National Reorganization Process (1976-1983) responsible for disappearances, tortures, and illegal executions; Perón y los Alemanes, on Perón's involvement with Nazi spies in the country; and The Real Odessa, on Nazi criminals' escapes to Argentina. I spoke with Goñi on February 4, 2014 at Oui Oui Café in the Palermo Hollywood neighborhood of Buenos Aires, on a sunny summer morning. READ MORE
Dylan Scott: Unprecedented Attack On Evolution 'Indoctrination' Mounted In Missouri: "A Missouri lawmaker has proposed what ranks among the most anti-evolution legislation in recent years, which would require schools to notify parents if 'the theory of evolution by natural selection' was being taught at their child's school and give them the opportunity to opt out of the class....
State Rep. Rick Brattin (R), who sponsored the bill, told a local TV station last week that teaching only evolution in school was "indoctrination."... The bill is one of several anti-evolution proposals that have already appeared in statehouses across the country.... Unsurprisingly, the proposal has drawn criticism from... science teacher organizations.... [Glenn] Branch.... Evolution inextricably pervades the biological sciences; it therefore pervades, or at any rate ought to pervade, biology education at the K–12 level. There simply is no alternative to learning about it; there is no substitute activity. The value of a high school education in Missouri would be degraded"...
Richard Perez-Penafeb: Christian School Faulted for Halting Abuse Study:
For decades, students at Bob Jones University who sought counseling for sexual abuse were told not to report it because turning in an abuser from a fundamentalist Christian community would damage Jesus Christ. Administrators called victims liars and sinners.... Former students and staff members who said they had high hopes that the Bob Jones brand of counseling would be exposed and reformed after the university hired a Christian consulting group in 2012 to investigate its handling of sexual assaults.... Last week, Bob Jones dealt a blow to those hopes, acknowledging that with the investigation more than a year old and nearing completion, the university had fired the consulting group, Godly Response to Abuse in the Christian Environment, or Grace, without warning or explanation....
Igor Volsky: This New Study Proves That Background Checks Save Lives: "Missouri’s decision to repeal its law requiring all handgun purchasers to obtain a 'permit-to-purchase' (PTP) verifying they passed a background check led to a 16 percent increase in the state murder rate, a new study from Johns Hopkins Center for Gun Policy and Research has found....
State legislators eliminated the permit requirement in June of 2007, as part of a larger firearms bill granting criminal and civil immunity to homeowners who use deadly force against intruders.... Removing the licensing requirement contributed to an “additional 55 to 63 murders per year in Missouri between 2008 and 2012.” The increases occurred in the first full year after the repeal, during which the state saw “large increases in the number of guns diverted to criminals and in guns purchased in Missouri that were subsequently recovered by police in border states that retained their PTP laws.” The analysts controlled “for changes in policing, incarceration, burglaries, unemployment, poverty, and other state laws adopted during the study period that could affect violent crime,” a press release for the study says....
Republican efforts to curtail early voting... disproportionately hurt racial minorities.... The problem, of course, is that limiting Democratic voting means limiting African-American voting. And in a country that for much of its history denied African Americans the right to vote, pushing laws that make it harder for African Americans to exercise that right touches the rawest of nerves. As long as many African Americans feel the GOP doesn’t want them to vote, it’s unlikely anything the GOP says to African Americans is going to have much positive impact.
The good news for Republicans is that changing their views on early voting, voter ID, and the voting rights of ex-prisoners doesn’t mean changing their stated ideals.... When it comes to... members of the military serving overseas, Republicans are quite happy to defend the principle that it should be easier to vote.... The choice Republicans must make isn’t ideological. It’s strategic. They can either keep trying to make the electorate more white, or they can begin, seriously, to try to make the GOP more black (and brown). In the short term, the former is a safer bet. In the longer term, given the way America is changing demographically, it’s suicide. So far, for all their much-hyped African-American outreach, Republicans are still choosing door number one.
Subscribers to CNN host Newt Gingrich's email list are receiving supposed insider information about cancer "cures," the Illuminati, "Obama's 'Secret Mistress,'" a "weird" Social Security "trick," and Fort Knox being "empty."... CNN has been helping Gingrich build his list by not only employing him, but also by promoting Gingrich Productions and its website.... Gingrich Productions has sent at least 15 sponsored emails for Stansberry & Associates since June 2013. Stansberry is a disgraced financial firm that was fined $1.5 million by the Securities and Exchange Commission for engaging in "deliberate fraud" and profiting from "false statements." The firm sells financial products by pushing conspiracies about the Obama administration.... Gingrich's team previously claimed to distance the former speaker from Stansberry after questions surfaced about a sponsored email suggesting Obama would win a third term....
Gingrich is part of a movement where, as MSNBC's Chris Hayes noted, "much of conservatism is a con and the base are the marks."... The New Republic's Ben Adler wrote in a piece about Gingrich and fellow hucksters Herman Cain and Mike Huckabee that they "are pioneering a new, more direct method for post-campaign buckraking. All it requires is some digitally savvy accomplices--and a total immunity to shame."...
The following are the subject line and quotes from some of the sponsored emails Gingrich Productions has sent to its list in the past six months.
"American Doctor Releases Cancer Cure Before Government Spies Find it." An August 29, 2013, email from Health Revelations claims that "cancer was cured back in 1925," and "the annual flu shot is nothing more than a BALD-FACED SCAM." The email takes readers to a page claiming that "Cancer, Diabetes, Heart Disease and Alzheimer's" have been "DEFEATED" but suggests the government is covering up such cures.
"The Illuminati [Secret Society] Puts a Deathgrip on America." A December 31, 2013, Wall Street Daily email claims that the "Illuminati was behind every consequential wealth event of the past year" including bitcoin. The Illuminati is a frequent player in conspiracy theories.
"Obama's 'Secret Mistress' Exposed." A December 12, 2013, email from Laissez Faire Club claims that "President Obama has made painstaking efforts to keep his 'secret mistress' hidden from the American public, and he has succeeded brilliantly... until now."
"WhistleBlower: 7 Deadly Drugs the Government Wants You to Swallow." The Health Sciences Institute claimed in a November 19, 2013, email that an "insider near Washington D.C. has just blown the lid off the 7 Deadly Drugs the U.S. Government can't wait for you to swallow." The email assured Gingrich readers that it's not a conspiracy theory since the "whistleblower has concrete evidence 'the powers that be' are shoving pure poison down your throat... and laughing all the way to the bank."
"Weird Trick Adds $1,000 to Social Security Checks . . ." A September 12, 2013, Newsmax Media email claimed that they've "stumbled upon this weird trick that can add $1,000 to monthly Social Security checks." (For more on this email claim, see here.)
"Fort Knox is Empty (the Gold's Missing...)." An August 20, 2013, Wall Street Daily email claimed, "Whispers are swirling around Capitol Hill that Fort Knox is empty" and "the U.S. government has been shipping gold to nations like China (as collateral for a weak dollar)."
"New Scandal in the White House?" A cryptic July 11, 2013, Stansberry & Associates email claimed that there's a "big new scandal brewing in the White House" and "when this scandal is ultimately exposed, it's going to have major implications not only for Barack Obama, but also for our entire country."...
Instead of addressing a subtle and complicated issue with (at least!) two sides, the law’s critics keep turning it into a single-sided moral diatribe about the work ethic and the supposed damage Obamacare is doing to it. A perfect illustration is a recent New York Times Economix column by Casey Mulligan.... The genesis of Mulligan’s article is the surprisingly famous appendix to that CBO report—the part where the agency predicts that the Affordable Care Act will be associated with a reduction in the workforce of the U.S... voluntary job leaving by those who have been “locked” into their jobs by fear of losing health insurance... those who are deterred from working by higher marginal tax rates....
I had forgotten about this. It made me laugh at the time. It makes me laugh now:
Well, again I think the problem is a very simplistic and monocultural perspective on communication and meaning. I would think that editors would want articles with a communicational genre that relates to their purpose and audience. The style and organization would vary accordingly. Anything on the forefront of a particular area, particularly social theory would confront what Michael Shapiro calls the "dilemma of intelligibility". That is, at stake in the writing process is the confrontation of creativity with intelligibility. To communicate "effectively" is to sacrifice creative distance in order to produce understandable frames of reference. Communication operates within cultural bounds working constantly to restrict meaning in order to increase circulation.
Alicublog: New Realities: "Remember when conservatives considered Costco as American as cheeseburgers and credit default swaps?...
The basic idea was [that] large stores selling large lots at large discounts... excited the Common Man and that was what conservatism was all about. (Rick Santorum tried to split the difference in his last Witchfinder General campaign by calling his chosen people "Sam's Club and Costco folks.")... NROniks like Jennifer Graham sneered at a feminist who didn't want to have kids and wind up shopping at Costco.... Larry Kudlow protested John Kerry's NAFTA stance as "trade protectionism" that "undermines the living standards of the near 135 million Americans who shop at Wal-Mart, Kmart, Costco, Target, Home Depot, and Best Buy." This schtick persisted into the early Obama era... added Costco to the honor roll of big companies "in Obama’s crosshairs" for high socialist taxation.... Mitt and Ann Romney went shopping at Costco and gushed about all the stuff they'd bought and would keep in a shed till the election was over and they could quietly get rid of it.
But this week, National Review's Alec Torres headlines,
Costco: The Arugula of Chain Stores
Arugula--the most dreaded of conservative curse-words!
Washington Center for Equitable Growth: Afternoon Must-Read: CBO: Frequently Asked Questions About CBO’s Estimates of the Labor Market Effects of the Affordable Care Act:
Q: Will 2.5 Million People Lose Their Jobs in 2024 Because of the ACA?
We would not describe our estimates in that way. We wrote in the report: “CBO estimates that the ACA will reduce the total number of hours worked, on net, by about 1.5 percent to 2.0 percent during the period from 2017 to 2024, almost entirely because workers will choose to supply less labor.”…
Because the longer-term reduction in work is expected to come almost entirely from a decline in the amount of labor that workers choose to supply in response to the changes in their incentives, we do not think it is accurate to say that the reduction stems from people “losing” their jobs.
John Holbo:& Occam’s Phaser?:
I’m rereading Nozick’s Anarchy, State and Utopia because I got to thinking: what’s wrong with good old fashioned ‘force and fraud’ anyway? Isn’t the Night Watchman state just creeping Soft Tyranny, in Tocqueville’s sense? Plus it’s obviously a moral hazard and generally destructive to private virtue. So Nozick seemed like relevant reading. Some unsystematic liveblogging:
First, Nozick is amusingly harsh, in passing, to fellow libertarians.
Since many of the people who take a similar position are narrow and rigid, and filled, paradoxically, with resentment at other freer ways of being, my now having natural responses which fit the theory puts me in some bad company.
The next time someone tells you that Corey Robin is paranoid, just explain to them that actually you are an orthodox Nozickian about these things.
Next, this classic bit:
One form of philosophical activity feels like pushing and shoving things to fit into some fixed perimeter of specified shape. All those things are lying out there, and they must be fit in. You push and shove the material into the rigid area getting it into the boundary on one side, and it bulges out on another. You run around and press in the protruding bulge, producing yet another in another place. So you push and shove and clip off corners from the things so they’ll fit and you press in until finally almost everything sits unstably more or less in there; what doesn’t gets heaved far away so that it won’t be noticed.
This is true!
Next, he spends a great deal of time answering my question. 150 pages.... His answer is... really quite complicated and ultimately not altogether clear.... I’m not convinced Nozick really has any right, by his lights, to a full-fledged Night Watchman state. Something more minimal would be more respectful of the individual rights that we are, supposedly, respecting at all costs, seems to me...
Robert Farley on Richard Overy's *The Bombing War: Europe 1939-1945:
Overy is not shy about pointing out that the two most democratic major participants in the Second World War also undertook the most murderous strategic bombing campaigns. It is hardly unreasonable to point out that the Axis powers, nevertheless, accounted for the vast majority of civilians deaths in the war, although the extent to which this justified the CBO should be in some dispute.... With respect to the overall impact of the Bombing War, Overy’s answer can best be summarized as follows: the Bombing War destroyed Europe and the Luftwaffe, but not German industry or warmaking capacity. This is a complicated answer, of course, but Overy supports it with strong data....
With the partial exception of Italy, strategic bombing never ruptured the relationship between civilians and politico-military elites sufficiently to bring about a surrender, or even a significant disruption in the warmaking effort.... Overy also discusses the impact of the CBO on the Luftwaffe at some length. The CBO undermined German airpower both directly and indirectly, destroying German fighter strength while also denuding the tactical theaters of air support. It shifted significant German resources to air defense, reconstruction, and damage response. For Overy, this is the key contribution that the CBO made to Allied victory in World War II. The Wehrmacht, deprived of air support and even of air defense in the latter stages of war, was much easier to bring to the edge of defeat that it would have been without the CBO....
Overy does not, however, dwell at any length on how alternative airpower approaches might have produced the same effects at considerably lower cost. The offensive counter-air campaigns on the Eastern Front and in the Mediterranean also devastated German airpower, despite concentrating mostly on operational and tactical effect. Consequently, I struggle to believe that the most efficient way to defeat the Luftwaffe was to send extraordinarily expensive four-engine behemoths over Germany, with the purpose of incinerating German cities....
RAF Bomber Command lost nearly 55000 dead during the war, constituting a death rate of nearly 41 % of all Bomber Command aircrew. The USAAF lost about 30000 dead....
It’s hard for me to dissent from A.C. Grayling’s evaluation of the strategic bombing campaign:
Was area bombing necessary? No.
Was it proportionate? No.
Was it against the humanitarian principles that people have been striving to enunciate as a way of controlling and limiting war? Yes.
Was it against general moral standards of the kind recognized and agreed in Western civilization in the last five centuries, or even 2000 years? Yes.
Was it against what mature national laws provide in the way of outlawing murder, bodily harm, and destruction of property? Yes.
In short and in sum: Was area bombing wrong? Yes.
Very wrong? Yes...
And yet, and yet.... I find myself thinking that under the counterforce counter-Luftwaffe planes tactical air war Farley wishes had been fought all of the artillery barrels that were in the Reich pointing skyward would have been on the Russian front pointing east. And it seems to me that in the terror of World War II any American-British policies that set out to save even as many as ten German civilians at the cost of one Russian soldier were not moral policies.
Prairie Weather: Can Mitch McConnell survive so many hits?:
They're coming at him from all sides....
Republicans are buoyant they can capture the Senate this year – but will Mitch McConnell still be there as majority leader?... The Bluegrass Poll, conducted by SurveyUSA for several local TV stations and newspapers, showed McConnell trailing Democrat Alison Lundergan Grimes by four points, 46 percent to 42 percent.... Maybe most troubling for the 29-year incumbent are his persistently low approval ratings — 60 percent disapprove of the job he’s doing in office — which make him as unpopular as Obama in the Bluegrass State. Fifty percent of Kentuckians also view McConnell unfavorably.... TheHill
Time reports that he's still a favorite, though favorite to whom remains a mystery. The logic here seems overly sunny, maybe Koched up:
A new poll that shows Kentucky Sen. Mitch McConnell trailing his Democratic opponent.... McConnell’s spokeswoman told the Louisville Courier-Journal that the campaign was “very comfortable about where this race stands...”
McConnell took over from Bill Frist as head of the Republican Senate caucus at the start of 2007--and his strategy from the get-go was: total gridlock. The idea was that if government failed to function, voters would get angry at Democrats--the party of a working government--the Republicans would retake the Senate, and then he could do some legislatin'. Didn't work. I don't understand why his Republican colleagues haven't thrown him out of the Minority Leader's office already. And I don't understand why he doesn't recognize that, from the viewpoint of the voters of Kentucky, he is Washington--a dysfunctional Washington is a dysfunctional McConnell...
Chris Cilizza is one of the best reporters the Washington Post has now that the Wonkblog crew is heading off to Vox Media. Chris Cilizza also sees nothing odd or ironic in writing:
Chris Cilizza: Why the CBO report is (still) bad news for Democrats: My job is to assess not the rightness of each argument, but to deal in the real world of campaign politics in which perception often (if not always) trumps reality…
Note the assumptions here:
And at this point, all you can do is quote extensively from Plato’s Republic, the passage on the Allegory of the Cave, and urge Jeff Bezos to immediately change the culture of the Washington Post completely so that it can at least try to step up its game...
Political documentaries lionize candidates: It worked for Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, and Barack Obama | Memo explains why the U.S. can kill its own citizens without trial | Koch seizes on “Obamacare Kills Jobs” message | The CBOghazi of Chris Cilizza and Many Others: Journalists have no idea "what will matter" in an election |
Robert Blackwill @ The National Interest: In Defense of Kissinger:
Kissinger judged that if Washington had mounted an all-out private and public human-rights campaign against then president Agha Mohammad Yahya Khan and the Pakistan government, which was correctly convinced that the future of the state was at stake, such a campaign would not have fundamentally altered Islamabad’s policy toward East Pakistan, and the White House’s China initiative could well have collapsed. However, as will be demonstrated at length later in this essay, that hardly meant that he ignored the plight of the Bengali Hindus. Kissinger, both while in office and in his subsequent writings, rejected the proposition that circumstances inevitably force a crude either/or choice between national interests and democratic values, and during this crisis no other nation except India did as much as the United States to directly address the human-rights tragedy in East Pakistan.
One wishes that the chasm between academic and policy-maker perspectives might have produced a certain modesty in Bass’s treatment of these events. Unfortunately, it doesn’t. Instead The Blood Telegram offers a strident, almost willfully biased attack on the personal motives of policy makers whom Bass condemns...
But... But... But...
The University of Michigan's Chris House appears to suffer from the searching-for-false-balance disease.
It's not a big deal.
But it is a neat, clean, and comprehensible example of the damage done by the opinions-of-shape-of-earth-differ disease that Chris House and many others have: the net effect is to excuse the bad faith, ideological partisanship, and failure to do their homework on the part of those working to degrade the quality of our public sphere--and to aid in the drip-drip-drip eroding-away at the influence of those working hard to improve it. Not good. Not good...
Chris House: The Wisdom of Laureates: "Ed Prescott... [has the] most people talking...
is quoted as saying:
It is an established scientific fact that monetary policy has had virtually no effect on output and employment in the U.S. since the formation of the Fed....
Prescott is wrong. It is NOT an established fact the monetary policy has no effect on economic activity. The balance of the evidence suggests the opposite. Monetary policy seems to have clear measurable effects on the economy....
Should we grant Ed Prescott, or Paul Krugman, or Robert Lucas, or Peter Diamond much more credence than other smart observers?... Nobel Prize winners have typically devoted their entire careers to a rather narrow study of a particular area.... They are also often radical thinkers.... Academics are rewarded... for having path-breaking ideas.... An academic who has one or two... might well be viewed as... worthy of a Nobel, even if most of their ideas are crazy.... The price we pay for having unusual insights might be that we often have unorthodox approaches.... Prescott didn’t win the Nobel Prize for having a balanced assessment.... This isn’t limited to Prescott. Even Paul Krugman has been known to say some rather nutty things at times.
The biggest bit that is idiocy is the claim that Nobel Prize winners in general are prone to say "rather nutty things" because saying such is closely linked to what makes them Nobel Prize-caliber. Prescott says nutty things--very nutty things, hugely nutty things, completely nutty things--about what is supposed to be the core area of his expert knowledge on a regular basis. But Krugman? Diamond? Lucas might come within two orders of magnitude of Prescott, but not one (or, if every one, only very rarely). And I see whatever wrong things Krugman and Diamond says as at least three orders of magnitude less than Prescott on the nuttiness scale.
So I (and others) asked Chris House where his ideas were coming from: what evidence made him generalize from Prescott; to the quartet of Prescott, Lucas, Krugman, and Diamond; and then to the quartet of Nobel Prize winners in general?
The conversation did not go terribly well. Samples:
Stephen Bainbridge: The media is ignoring the moral equivalence between Obamajams and Christie's bridge:
So at worst NJ Governor Chris Christie created some traffic jams as political payback.... Democrats... and their allies in the liberal mainstream media [are] all worked up.... But where were the latter when Obama knowingly repeatedly flew into Los Angeles and created massive Obamajams so that he could rake in political payoffs by the billions from his liberal Hollywood groupies.... I've had personal experience of Obama's incredibly deleterious effect on our traffic. To me, the difference between jams for payback and jams for payola is trivial. But because he's a Democrat, nobody in the media cares about the latter.
Is there any way to read Bainbridge other than that he is really, really angry that (a) a Black man (b) is President and (c) dares to visit Los Angeles (d) with secret service protection in order to (e) maintain his political coalition and (f) raise money for electoral campaigns?
Which of these six do you suppose makes Bainbridge angriest?
Yes, it's funny. But the normalization of the crazy is perhaps the most worrisome thing.
Colin Powell made his Iraq presentation at the UN ten years ago today, on February 5th, 2003.
As much criticism as Powell has received for this—he calls it "painful" and something that will "always be a part of my record"—it hasn't been close to what's justified. Powell was much more than just horribly mistaken: he fabricated "evidence" and ignored repeated warnings that what he was saying was false.
President Googly: Google Bus Protests:
In the past month, the situation with the tech buses has gone from mildly annoying to slightly worrisome to bone-chilling. I've heard every side of this argument six different ways by now and I'm really quite hopeless that the root causes can ever adequately be addressed. Furthermore, I've never seen the DFH contingent so thoroughly stink up an issue (i.e., the housing shortage not the damn bus stops) that genuinely calls for a vigorous progressive response.
The most interesting part to me is how unhinged the whole debate is becoming and the weird interaction between a genuine public policy dilemma and a semi-professional Left that's piling on with all kinds of non-answers. This is probably old hat for Bay Area natives, but I'm a neoliberal from back East and I'm not accustomed to finding myself on the "conservative" side of an issue. Also, if you click through to the details of the "protest" at a random Google employee's house in Berkeley, the details are really, really creepy and it is not at all unreasonable to fear for this guy's personal safety.
From my perspective, this bunch of protesters is important to have because they make it impossible to sustain with good faith the argument that neoconservatives have no point at all. They do have a point.
So I was reading:
Jagadeesh Gokhale, Ph.D., and Angela C. Erickson: The Effect of Federal Health Care ‘Reform’ on Kansas General Fund Medicaid Expenditures
and I ran across this graph:
and the paper's accompanying conclusion:
By 2023, 21 percent of the Kansas population is projected to be on Medicaid under the PPACA—up from 13 percent currently. Kansas Medicaid expenditures are projected to grow by an additional $4.7 billion (29 percent) beyond the increase projected without PPACA.... With ongoing court and congressional challenges, the final chapter of the PPACA law and state Medicaid spending has yet to be written. However, since a federal court judgment has declared PPACA unconstitutional, Kansas lawmakers should vigorously oppose the implementation of PPACA’s health exchanges and other administrative and operational infrastructure...
And then there is, by Gokhale alone, a 2013 update on the Cato Institute's website:
and the paper's updated conclusion:
Kansas’ lawmakers face a crucial decision about whether to expand Medicaid according to the dictates of the ACA. That decision would expand the program and possibly improve health outcomes for low income households. However, that benefit must be weighted against the lost opportunities to spend on other budget programs that are also valuable.... The incremental 10-year cost to the Kansas general fund from expanding Medicaid of $625 million would arise “at the margin”.... It may be better to spend the $625 million on other Kansas budget items...
But there is one number that I cannot find on either graph or in either version of the policy brief:
That $8 billion is the amount of federal dollars the U.S. government will commit to match 100% of extra costs for the first three years and 90% for the next seven if Kansas expands the Medicaid program as ObamaCare envisions. And that is money that will not flow to Kansas if Medicaid is not expanded by Kansas.
The argument that Kansas has better things to spend its $625 million on over the next decade than on expanding Medicaid rings a little hollow when you reflect that cutting $625 million over the next decade from ACA-projected levels reduces what Kansas can buy by not $625 million but rather $8.625 billion. Kansas would have to get 14 times as much state welfare out of a dollar spent elsewhere than out of a dollar spent on its Medicaid program for that argument to apply.
But, I suppose the honchos of the Cato Institute and of the Kansas Policy Institute think, if you don't mention and certainly don't stress the $8 billion number, maybe Kansas's Republican state legislators won't understand what they are doing in rejecting Medicaid expansion.
Here's the context of all mentions of this $8 billion over the next decade--all mentions of the word "match" in the 2013 version of the policy brief:
That's it. No $8 billion number anywhere I can find.
I could go on. I could point out that Gokhale's claims that sustaining the high match rate that produces the $8 billion number is "infeasible" are grossly overstated--and that we will see whether they are true or not in two years, when we will see whether Gokhale's claim that the "100 percent match rates specified for the first three years of the ACA's implementation" are "simply not feasible". That applies to his (12), (10), (7), (6), (3), (2), and (1). I could point out that his claim that federal Medicaid spending would not boost the Kansas economy rests on a bizarre and empty assertion that in the health care sector and the health care sector alone supply curves do not slope upward. That applies to his (11), (10), and (4). I could point out that his claim that federal lawmakers recognize that "such generous matching of new state Medicaid spending on account of Medicaid expansion is, in reality, infeasible" is simply a lie--a misrepresentation of the meaning of proposals and counterproposals in failed 2011 Supercommittee negotiations. That takes care of his (12), (10), and (6).
Now the federal government does have the power to break its deals with states: no congress can fully bind any future congress. But only in Cato Institute-land does the fact that circumstances may change and the optimal level of Medicaid funding for a state may fall in the future carry the implication that the optimal level of state Medicaid funding for a state is low now.
But the thing that strikes me the most is how anxious both Cato and the KPI appear to be to direct attention away from the numbers: that by failing to commit $625 million, Kansas is losing $8.625 billion.
It's as if they fear that their verbal case would simply dry up and blow away if they were to even whisper the terms of the deal being offered...
Yet More Thursday Idiocy: Outsourced to bspencer: Rod D: "I’m not quite sure how to talk about this Rod Dreher post because it’s so bizarre.
It reads as a whiny appeal for liberals to quit being so mean to creationists and fundies. But if you scratch the surface, you’ll find it’s really a threat. And the threat is basically: “Be careful shoving your beloved SCIENCE down our throats, libs, because SCIENCE also says Black people are stupid.” To make his case, he links approvingly to racist XXXXXXXX Steve Sailer.
One of the things that keeps drawing me to Steve Sailer’s writing is that his beliefs on human biodiversity sometimes lead him to point out inconvenient truths about ideologies informing our common life.
If I’ve given you the impression that Dreher is bullying, racist sxxxhead, I apologize. He’s not. He’s heavy-hearted about what he’s telling us. He’s SAD that black people are stupid and inferior. But don’t you see that he’s left no choice but to be a racist sxxxbag when we insist on forcing our reality down his throat?
“Darwin wouldn’t be surprised to learn which race had invented rap music”–Steve Sailer
I’ve got a few issues.... One... there is no consensus in the scientific community that there are significant differences among the races. Two... there’s a long way to go from acknowledging differences to enacting eugenicist-influenced policies in response to said differences. Three: People are different, period... living full and happy lives.
So, yes, I’m going to call it: Rod Dreher’s post is at threat, and a disgusting one at that.
Once again, Jonathan Chait: Washington Redskins Hire All-Star Villains: "Ari Fleischer, center, presides over meeting of superstar political advisers tasked with saving the Redksins name.
The Washington Redskins, fighting off campaigns to force them to change their team name, have hired not only comically sleazy Washington lawyer Lanny Davis but an entire roster of Beltway super-villains. Dan Snyder... has compiled an all-star team of mendacious sleaze.... Lanny Davis, hapless Clinton hanger-on wannabe and adviser to dictators and crooks.... Ari Fleischer, the face of credibility.... Frank Luntz, crafter of useless focus groups and a spinmeister so sickeningly dishonest he even nauseates Frank Luntz.... And, perhaps most amazing, George Allen. Yes, an organization that’s fighting off allegations of racial insensitivity has decided to consult a man who was remembered as a racist by his high school classmates, remembered as an even more blatant racist by his college classmates, voted against the Martin Luther King Holiday, had a confederate flag and a noose, and then finally lost his Senate seat for being caught on camera using a racial slur.... Who’s really good at fighting off accusations of racial insensitivity? George Allen! Yeah! That guy never loses! Davis, Fleischer, Luntz and Allen — together they will join forces and rule the galaxy take a lot of Daniel Snyder's money, and then eventually lose.
Jonathan Chait: WSJ: Obama Isn’t Hitler But He’s Pretty Hitler-y: "The Journal’s editorial underscores that the widespread mockery of Perkins, far from piling on a bewildered plutocrat, actually understates the broader problem.
Perkins’s letter provided a peek into the fantasy world of the right-wing one percent, in which fantasies of an incipient Hitler-esque terror are just slightly beyond the norm. The Journal editorial defines persecution of the one percent as the existence of public disagreement. Liberals are mocking Perkins, therefore Perkins is basically right. For Perkins to be wrong — for the rich to enjoy the level of deference the Journal deems appropriate — a billionaire could compare his plight to the victims of the Holocaust and nobody would make fun of him at all."
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?
David Lieb: Ex-Missouri GOP Senator Kit Bond Now Lobbying For Medicaid Expansion: "As a Republican senator, Kit Bond voted against... [Obamacare.] Now... Bond is pushing Republican legislators in his home state of Missouri to embrace a key provision of the law by expanding Medicaid eligibility.
Bond said Friday that... "I'm getting involved in Medicaid reform now because if our State sits on the sidelines, I'm concerned hospitals in rural and inner city Missouri won't survive."... The Missouri Chamber of Commerce and Industry declined to say how much it is paying Bond's consulting firm.... Bond already has met with Republican legislative leaders and Democratic Gov. Jay Nixon about the potential to expand Medicaid eligibility. "He understands the issues very well, and we're trying to capitalize on his stature, his relationships that he has and his reputation as a one of the best statesmen that this state will ever have," Mehan said.
Lindsay Beyerstein: The latest work-around for abortion docs: "For 32 years, Dr. Lester Minto performed abortions at Reproductive Services of Harlingen, a modest, one-story building in Harlingen, Texas right next door to the regional branch of the state Department of Health.
Ever since October 31, however, he has been barred from performing abortions. Minto lacks local hospital admitting privileges, which Texas’s new abortion law—H.B. 2—requires all abortion providers to have.... The Rio Grande Valley... with 1.3 million inhabitants... is without an abortion provider. Women in the Valley must now make a 300-mile round trip to Corpus Christi or a 500-mile round trip to San Antonio for a clinic abortion....
Rick Perlstein: The Long Con:
Mitt Romney is a liar. Of course, in some sense, all politicians, even all human beings, are liars. Romney’s lying went so over-the-top extravagant by this summer, though, that the New York Times editorial board did something probably unprecedented in their polite gray precincts: they used the L-word itself. “Mr. Romney’s entire campaign rests on a foundation of short, utterly false sound bites,” they editorialized. He repeats them “so often that millions of Americans believe them to be the truth.” “It is hard to challenge these lies with a well-reasoned-but- overlong speech,” they concluded; and how. Romney’s lying, in fact, was so richly variegated that it can serve as a sort of grammar of mendacity.
Denverite: Roe Anniversary Day: "Scott, if I recall correctly, you’ve done a (very good) post in the past defending Roe on its merits. You might link to it?"
Scott Lemieux (2005): Why Roe Was Right: Foreword: "I promise that the name of this blog will not be changed to 'Scott replies to Matthew Yglesias posts about judicial policy-making', but since I promised (threatened?) a legal defense of Roe v. Wade a couple of months ago before being derailed by grading and the flu, I thought I would use this set of questions as incentive to finally get the thing written.
Before I start my defense of the outcome of Roe as constitutional law, let me deal with the last two points first:
This is the first and it will be the only fundraiser for domestic causes on this weblog. If this weblog has ever been of use or entertainment to you, you owe me, and I am asking for you to pay it forward now and contribute to Ceasefire Oregon: $1, $10, $100, $1000, $10,000, $100,000--whatever it is worth to you.
And let me give the microphone to Gabby Giffords and then to Mike DeLong:
Fifty years from now which will play worse in historical memory: the conservative southern Democrats' massive resistance to try to civil rights in the 1950s and the 1960s or the conservative Republicans' massive resistance to their poorer fellow-citizens getting health insurance in the 2010s?
I cannot tell. I do, however, think that history will judge the second as stupider: practically everyone has somebody uninsured or at risk of rapidly becoming uninsured in their extended family, and throwing federal Medicaid and exchange subsidy dollars down the toilet does run a measurable risk--10%? 20%? 50%?--of send the red state economies as a group back into recession over the next two years.
But things aren't all going their way. Sy Mukherjee reports:
We're now at the point in "Obama's Katrina" when the number of uninsured people in West Virginia has been reduced by a third.— LOLGOP (@LOLGOP) January 21, 2014
Are you a doctor? A specialist, perhaps? A surgeon? If you are, there's a seminar for you, taking place on January 31st in Kentucky. The American Association of Physicians and Surgeons is sponsoring a seminar in how you and your colleagues can 'Keep Obamacare out of your office'....
You can learn all about how the AAPS is fighting to stop maintenance requirements on specialty certifications, delivered by none other than Andrew Schlafly. The DC Update will be delivered by Charlie Sauer, a self-proclaimed economist and former staffer for Jeb Bush and Chuck Grassley... Tea Party challenger in KY-3, Dr. Michael MacFarlane, and Dr. Alieta Eck from NJ-12. More conference highlights will be delivered by Ayn Rand acolytes Josh Umbehr, MD, who runs Atlas MD Family Practice, and Mark Schiller, MD, who runs the Mind Therapy Clinic in the San Francisco area...
John E.: A View of Obamacare:
Way back in the '80´s, during a downturn in the Oil Patch, a Wall Street Journal reporter visited several highly-skilled Texans who suddenly found themselves without work. One, after describing the hardships of raising a family without income, confessed to finally having to accept unemployment insurance. Whereupon he burst into tears, protesting that he was no socialist, and, in so many words, vowing to make the liberals who had so humiliated him with such an indignity, pay, once he was on his feet again, and able to defend himself. That was what made me finally realize some of what we're up against.
John Brown, December 2, 1859:
I, John Brown, am now quite certain that the crimes of this guilty land: will never be purged away; but with Blood. I had as I now think: vainly flattered myself that without very much bloodshed; it might be done.
Belle Waring: David Brooks Says:
Anderson, I’m sorry to hear you’re getting divorced. That’s shitty all around even if the eventual outcome is happier people 2 years down the road. Best luck.
Bloix, I do think you’re allowing your (perfectly natural) feeling that you wouldn’t want people talking smack about you behind your back if you happened to get divorced for reasons they could never understand color your views. See, none of that means we shouldn’t be talking smack about David Brooks. David Brooks has repeatedly, with po-faced seriousness, and to the actual detriment of America’s well-being (if he lulled anybody to sleep when they had their hand on the regulatory tiller somewhere, and I do think he did) talked smack about every other damn person getting divorced in America who made less than $200,000 a year. And quite without hedging.
Gilbert King: The Day Henry Clay Refused to Compromise: "The Great Pacificator was adept at getting congressmen to reach agreements over slavery. But he was less accommodating when one of his own slaves sued him...
To this day, he is considered one of the most influential politicians in U.S. history. His role in putting together the Compromise of 1850, a series of resolutions limiting the expansion of slavery, delayed secession for a decade and earned him the nickname “the Great Pacificator.” Indeed, Mississippi Senator Henry S. Foote later said:
Had there been one such man in the Congress of the United States as Henry Clay in 1860-’61 there would, I feel sure, have been no civil war.”
As I continue to try to figure out where the extraordinary animus against ObamaCare comes from not at the level of office-holder posturing but at the level of real ideology, last night pieces by the thoughtful and knowledgeable Uwe Reinhardt, the smart and hard-working Marty Lederman, and that brilliant man of unsound methods Richard Epstein collided on my computer screen, and then held an all-night insomniac hoedown.
This is the result: Washington Center for Equitable Growth | ObamaCare as Dire Infringement of Individual Liberty and in a “Death Spiral”, and LADYPARTS: (Trying to Be) the Honest Broker for the Week of January 19, 2014