## Pigs Fly!

Mark Halperin of ABC says that his entire career up to this moment has been spent hurting America:

How ‘What It Takes’ Took Me Off Course: MORE than any other book, Richard Ben Cramer’s “What It Takes,” about the 1988 battle for the White House, influenced the way I cover campaigns. I’m not alone. The book’s thesis — that prospective presidents are best evaluated by their ability to survive the grueling quadrennial coast-to-coast test of endurance required to win the office — has shaped the universe of political coverage. Voters are bombarded with information about which contender has “what it takes” to be the best candidate. Who can deliver the most stirring rhetoric? Who can build the most attractive facade? Who can mount the wiliest counterattack? Whose life makes for the neatest story? Our political and media culture reflects and drives an obsession with who is going to win, rather than who should win.

For most of my time covering presidential elections, I shared the view that there was a direct correlation between the skills needed to be a great candidate and a great president. The chaotic and demanding requirements of running for president, I felt, were a perfect test for the toughest job in the world. But now I think I was wrong. The “campaigner equals leader” formula that inspired me and so many others in the news media is flawed.

Case in point: Our two most recent presidents, both of whom I covered while they were governors seeking the White House. Bill Clinton and George W. Bush are wildly talented politicians. Both claimed two presidential victories, in all four cases arguably as underdogs. Both could skillfully serve as the chief strategist for a presidential campaign. But their success came not because they convinced the news media (and much of the public) that they would be the best president, but because they dominated the campaign narrative that portrayed them as the best candidate in a world-class political competition. In the end, both men were better presidential candidates than they were presidents.

For instance, being all things to all people worked wonderfully well for Bill Clinton the candidate, but when his presidency ran into trouble, this trait was disastrous, particularly in the bumpy early years of his presidency and in the events leading up to his impeachment. The fun-loving campaigner with big appetites and an undisciplined manner squandered a good deal of the majesty and power of the presidency, and undermined his effectiveness as a leader. What much of the country found endearing in a candidate was troubling in a president.

When George W. Bush ran in 2000, many voters liked his straightforward, uncomplicated mean-what-I-say-and-say-what-I-mean certainty. He came across as a man of principle who did not lust for the White House; he was surrounded by disciplined loyalists who created a cheerful cult of personality about their candidate. As with Mr. Clinton, though, the very campaign strengths that got Mr. Bush elected led to his worst moments in office. Assuredness became stubbornness. His lack of lifelong ambition for the presidency translated into a failure to apply himself to the parts of the job that held less interest for him, often to disastrous effects. The once-appealing life outside of government and public affairs became a far-less appealing lack of experience. And Mr. Bush’s close-knit team has served as a barrier to fresh advice.

So if we for too long allowed ourselves to be beguiled by “What It Takes” — certainly not the author’s fault — what do those of us who cover politics do now? After all, Mr. Cramer’s style of campaign coverage is alluring in an election season that features so many candidates with heroic biographies and successful careers in and out of politics. (Not to mention two wide-open races.) Well, we pause, take a deep breath and resist. At least sometimes. In the face of polls and horse-race maneuvering, we can try to keep from getting sucked in by it all. We should examine a candidate’s public record and full life as opposed to his or her campaign performance. But what might appear simple to a voter can, I know, seem hard for a journalist.

If past is prologue, the winners of the major-party nominations will be those who demonstrate they have what it takes to win. But in the short time remaining voters and journalists alike should be focused on a deeper question: Do the candidates have what it takes to fill the most difficult job in the world?

Two big things mar the op-ed. First: the assertion of equivalence between Clinton's mistakes and Bush's. Clinton was a pretty good president, after all. Bush is not.\

Second: missing from the op-ed are two words: "I'm sorry."

And there is a third. Halperin writes:

When George W. Bush ran in 2000... [I] liked his straightforward, uncomplicated mean-what-I-say-and-say-what-I-mean certainty. He came across as a man of principle who did not lust for the White House; he was surrounded by disciplined loyalists who created a cheerful cult of personality about their candidate...

Carlyle Group CEO David Rubenstein had a different reaction to George W. Bush:

David Rubenstein: you know if you said to me, name 25 million people who would maybe be President of the United States, he wouldn't have been in that category...

That was the reaction of everybody not on Bush's payroll who has met Bush I have talked to--everybody except our elite Beltway press, that is, people like Mark Halperin.

## Note to Self: Six Interesting Questions About Corporate Nationality:

1. Does it matter that a huge hunk of Citigroup is owned by Alaweed
ibn Saud rather than some guy who lives on Kentucky or Alberta?

2. Does it matter that Applied Materials--the company that makes the
equipment other companies use to make the chips other companies use to
make the gadgets other companies use to market the lifestyle--has its
headquarters in San Jose, California rather than in Stuttgart or
Shanghai?

3. Does it matter that Applied Materials has its engineers in San
Jose, California and not in Kuala Lampur or Rio de Janeiro?

4. Does it matter that venture capital firm Kleiner-Perkins is in Palo
Alto, California and not in Tokyo or Milan?

5. Does it matter that Citigroup's headquarters is in New York rather
than in London or Bombay?

6. Does it matter that Apple's iPods are made in Shenzhen, China,
rather than in Austin, Texas, or Window Rock, Arizona?

Related Issues:

• National regulation: class A stock
• National regulation: official supervision and merchant management
• Sovereign wealth funds
• IBM and Lenovo
• James Fallows on the :-) and China: resources, assembly, and design
and marketing
• Political pressure, financial pressure, and post-WWI technology
transfer from Germany to the U.S.; was political or national financial
pressure used?
• Peter Drucker and his predictions about pension-fund socialism
• Gazprom and P&O?

## Beowulf, Starring Angelina Jolie as "Mom"

A very well done comic-book movie. An excellent story. But it is not the story of Beowulf. It is a different story.

"The Thirteenth Warrior" is a better Beowulf. It may or may not be a better movie. I am not sure.

## WTF? What Good Are Lobbyists Then?

All the assembled lobbyists of America cannot support a Legal Seafoods on K Street?

What good are they?

We took refuge in the Bombay Palace...

## Hoisted from Comments: Low-Tech Cyclist Watches the Utterly Disgusting Fecklessness of the Washington Post

Hoisted from Comments: Low-Tech Cyclist Writes:

Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: I know bringing up Fred Hiatt is like shooting fish in a barrel on this score, but the WaPo has a subset of its unsigned editorials where it comments on what it calls "the ideas primary."

Five of the last seven Ideas Primary editorials have been on the Social Security 'crisis.' There have been 15 editorials in this series. One has been on global warming - the greatest crisis of our era - and two have been on our greatest domestic crisis, the lack of universal health care and the upcoming crisis in the Medicare trust fund. None have been on Iraq and the power vacuum we've created in the center of the Middle East.

Interesting set of priorities, huh?

As I have said before, there is something very wrong with everybody who is currently helping to put the Washington Post in newsprint on the streets of Washington these days. In the future everybody involved is going to be claiming that they spent the Graham-Downie-Hiatt years representing tobacco companies or lobbying for the government of Sudan.

## Richard Baldwin on Martin Feldstein’s View of the Dollar

Baldwin writes:

Feldstein’s view on the dollar | vox - Research-based policy analysis and commentary from Europe's leading economists: In a May 2007 essay, Martin Feldstein argued that a drop in US mortgage refinancing would raise US personal saving and this would necessitate a fall in the dollar. That’s looking pretty good at the moment.... Something that stumps every undergraduate, and not a few PhD economists, is how a nation’s trade deficit, or more precisely, its current account deficit can be two things at once: #1) The gap between national investment and national savings, and #2) the difference between exports and imports. This is not a ‘can be’ relationship; it is a ‘must be’.

Number two requires no explanation; it’s just a definition. Number one follows from a line or two of national-accounts algebra. A nation’s aggregate purchase of goods is the sum of what its public and private sectors spend on consumption and investment. Its aggregate sales of goods equal the value of what its public and private sectors produce and this, in turn, is its aggregate income. Plainly, the difference between a nation’s spending and earning must be its trade balance with the rest of the world; if its aggregate purchases exceed its production/income, then some foreign goods must, on net, be coming in to satisfy the excess demand. Finally, since income must be either consumed or saved, the spending-earning gap is also the investment-saving gap; consumption cancels from both sides of the equation.

Feldstein makes a bold simplification that helps him to think clearly about the messy world. He takes US savings and investment as primitives and views the value of the dollar as the variable that adjusts to make things fit. As he writes it: “This line of reasoning leads us to the low level of the U.S. saving rate as the primary cause of the high level of the dollar.”... The US’s net purchase of foreign goods is predetermined by its savings/investment gap and the dollar must jump to make people happy buying and supply the necessary net flow of foreign goods.... The real explanation comes in understanding why US savings was so low relative to its investment.

Feldstein focuses on personal savings. “Two primary forces have been driving down the household saving rate,” he wrote, “increasing wealth and, more recently, mortgage refinancing.”... Feldstein not only calls the dollar’s drop, he links it to developments in the US housing market. True, his logic did not lead him to predict the subprime crisis, but that is more a matter of how, not what.... The rest of the essay discusses why the foreign exchange market didn’t anticipate the adjustment that Feldstein said must occur. His reasons are less remarkable – Asian official intervention and myopic investors....

Feldstein... also considers... that the whole thing could unwind.... “The primary risk... is that the decline of the dollar and the rise of the saving rate will happen at different speeds, leading to domestic imbalances.”... If the US saving rate rises without a dollar drop, there is no narrowing of the trade gap to offset the closing saving/investment gap. Aggregate demand falls and we get a US recession... “the domestic weakness will occur unless the dollar decline precedes the rise in saving.”

Put that way, it sounds paradoxical. It seems better to phrase it thus:

The domestic U.S. recession will occur unless the fall in the dollar and the boom in exports preceded the cutback in consumption spending...

For a rise in savings is a fall in consumption spending.

## Comment Policy: A Reminder

A reminder: if I notice them, comments that I regard as factually false or as rhetorically destructive to the ongoing conversation will get deleted, if I notice them--I don't have time to moderate this properly, but I am trying. I am anxious to run an informative seminar. I am not enthusiastic about hosting a foodfight.

The place to comment on the comment policy is here: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/comment-policy-a-seminar-.html

An earlier comment policy page: http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2005/03/dealing_with_tr.html

The best thing on comment policy I have ever read: http://nielsenhayden.com/makinglight/archives/006036.html

## Hoisted from Comments: Andres Directs Us to the Sons of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg

I had alays thought that Julius Rosenberg was guilty, and that Ethel Rosenberg was judicially murdered. Now their sons write to make a strong case that Julius's execution was primarily not an act of retribution and to deter future espionage but rather part of a cover-up to boost the reputation of the FBI and other agencies. Andres directs us:

Grasping Reality with Both Hands: Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Now that Brad has brought up McCarthyism and someone else has brought up Alger Hiss, let me pull an anne and bring up another case of Cold War victimization/witch hunting:

http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/17/opinion/l17rosenberg.html?_r=1&n=Top/Opinion/Editorials%20and%20Op-Ed/Letters&oref=slogin The Case of the Rosenbergs: Their Sons’ View. A Spy’s Path: Iowa to A-Bomb to Kremlin Honor (November 12, 2007):

“A Spy’s Path: Iowa to A-Bomb to Kremlin Honor” (front page, Nov. 12), about a Soviet spy who helped steal atomic secrets during World War II, provides powerful evidence that our parents, Ethel and Julius Rosenberg, were wrongfully executed. History students are taught that our father headed a conspiracy that stole “the secret” of the atom bomb (historians are uncertain about the role of our mother). Meanwhile, government officials sat on the story of the spy revealed in your article. Later in the article, a historian is quoted as saying, “It would have been highly embarrassing for the U.S. government to have had this divulged,” and so they kept it a secret, preferring to make a scapegoat of our father.

For decades we have argued that the evidence presented at the trial, even if it were legitimate, revealed no significant secrets about the theory or construction of the first atom bombs. In fact, the material allegedly passed was full of errors. We have noted that Klaus Fuchs, the British scientist who confessed to spying, had provided much more detailed and accurate information. Since 1999 the American public has known about the successful spying of another atomic scientist, Theodore Hall. This latest revelation shows there was an even more significant breach of the Manhattan Project. Furthermore, as early as 1948, two years before our parents’ arrests, the United States government knew about the effective spying of Dr. George Koval. This vindicates our major argument: the charge that Julius and Ethel Rosenberg stole the secret of the atom bomb was a fraud from the moment that the prosecutors, with the connivance of the Atomic Energy Commission, made that case.

Our parents were sacrificed so that United States intelligence agencies could save face and cover up their negligence.

Robert Meeropol
Michael Meeropol
Easthampton, Mass., Nov. 15, 2007

## Jason Kottke on the Amazon Kindle eBook Reader

Jason writes:

15 Things I Just Learned About the Amazon Kindle - Boing Boing Gadgets: Its eBooks have DRM (filetype: .AZW), but it supports unprotected Mobipocket books (.MOBI, .PRC), .TXT files, HTML, and Word. Some files can be transferred over USB, while others have to be emailed to the special per-device Kindle email. (More on that later.) It has a web browser.... You can download text and other files to the device from the web for later storage.... It can play Audible audiobooks... MP3s copied to its internal storage... on random shuffle... a human-powered search query system powered by Amazon's Mechanical Turk... you'll pay for RSS, but not the web. Mobipocket DRM'd files will not work on the Kindle.... PDF is not supported.... GIF and JPEG are supported... only two fonts: Caecilia and Neue Helvetica... the only two file formats this thing can read natively are .AZW and .TXT. That's a huge bummer.

As for the plaintiffs’ lawyers, they are likely to pocket around $1.5 billion of the settlement money, which means that Merck will wind up feeding the beast, just like every other company that finds itself embroiled in a mass tort. That money will go to funding the next mass tort... A good newspaper story on this would answer three questions about these cases: 1. Is the settlement too large or too small as a sanction on Merck--as a two-by-four to the head of the CEO to make sure that he understands that his job is to curb the enthusiasm of his marketing product when he has a new product with dangerous side effects? 2. Are the lawyers' fees too large or too small--does it give lawyers too much of an incentive to crank up this mass-tort machine as a way of providing drug companies with an incentive to do the right thing? 3. Does the settlement money get to the people who were harmed--to the victims? My answers in this case to these three questions right now are: (1) probably about right, (2) I don't know but I fear too large, and (3) somewhat but not largely. My first beef with Joseph Nocera is that his story does nothing to help me get better answers to any of these questions. My second beef is that his story pushes a less-informed reader towards answers--too large, too large, and no--that are largely wrong. My third beef is that Joseph Nocera doesn't set out any ideas about how one might create a better system. My fourth beef is that Joseph Nocera pushes readers wrong answers by playing intellectual three-card monte--if he's going to make a big deal about how large the 27,000 case number is, he has a moral obligation to set it alongside the 30,000 net excess heart attack death number. And my fifth beef is that Nocera knows damned well that he has a moral obligation to raise the level of the debate, and that he is ducking that obligation. Why oh why can't we have a better press corps? ## Not Nearly as Bad as It Might Have Been Typhoon Sidr hits Bangladesh: 1,723 Dead in Bangladesh Cyclone: PARVEEN AHMED: The official death toll from a savage cyclone that wreaked havoc on southwest Bangladesh reached 1,723 Saturday — the deadliest storm to hit the country in a decade. Military helicopters and ships joined rescue and relief operations and aid workers on the ground struggled to reach victims. Tropical Cyclone Sidr tore apart villages, severely disrupted power lines and forced more than a million coastal villagers to evacuate to government shelters. The latest death figure tallied to 1,723, with 474 deaths reported from worst-hit Barguna district and 385 from neighboring Patuakhali, a military spokesman, Lt. Col. Moyeenullah Chowdhury, told reporters in the capital, Dhaka. Rescuers battled along roads that were washed out or blocked by wind-blown debris to try to get water and food to people stranded by flooding. Some employed the brute force of elephants to help in their efforts. "We sent a relief team in a jeep, but they had to return halfway as the roads and channels were unpassable," M. Shakil Anwar of CARE Bangladesh said by telephone from nearby Khulna city. The roads were strewn with fallen trees and covered in muddy sludge, Anwar said. Small ferries — which are the only means of transport across the numerous river channels that crisscross the area — were flung ashore by the force of cyclone winds. "We will try again tomorrow on bicycles, and hire local country boats," Anwar said. He added that they planned to distribute dry foods and other emergency rations among 500 families of the area. On Saturday, the army deployed helicopters to deliver supplies to the remotest areas, while navy ships delivered supplies and dispensed medical assistance to migrant fishing communities living on and around hundreds of tiny islands, or shoals, along the coast... ## Yet Another Thought on Ross Douthat on Race and Modern Republicanism... Ross Douthat wrote: Ross Douthat: Gerard Alexander's essay on "The Myth of the Racist Republicans" goes further than I would in downplaying Republican racism, but I think his point on this score is basically right: ...Segregationists simply had very limited national bargaining power.... Segregationists wanted policies that privileged whites. In the GOP, they had to settle for relatively race-neutral policies: opposition to forced busing and reluctant coexistence with affirmative action. The reason these policies aren't plausible codes for real racism is that they aren't the equivalents of discrimination.... Kevin Phillips was hardly coy about this in his Emerging Republican Majority. He wrote in 1969 that... "the Republican Party cannot go to the Deep South"-—meaning the GOP simply would not offer the policies that whites there seemed to desire most—-"the Deep South must soon go to the national GOP"... So the GOP ended up bidding race-neutrality - which a conservative party would have naturally favored anyway, and which is not racism - and symbolic gestures like Reagan's opposition to MLK Day, his support for Bob Jones University's tax exemption, and so forth. These code words and gestures were real and shameful, and contemporary apologies like Ken Mehlman's mea culpa are entirely appropriate. But more often than not, I would submit, pundits who harp on this shame tend to do so because it's an easy way to leap to Krugman's conclusion that race explains everything he doesn't like about contemporary American politics, when in fact an awful lot of it is explained by the fecklessness of his liberal forebears. Douthat's claim that it is inappropriate to "harp of this shame" of Republican "symbolic gestures" reminds me of Nixon Attorney General John Mitchell and of William Safire. William Safire wrote in his obituary for John Mitchell: William Safire: "Watch what we do, not what we say." Coming from the law-and-order campaign manager with the visage of a bloodhound, that epigram was interpreted as the epitome of political deceptiveness. But his intent was to reassure blacks that, foot-dragging poses aside, the Nixon Justice Department would accomplish desegregation. Mitchell knew that the appearance of a tilt toward white Southerners would ease the way for acceptance of steady civil rights progress for blacks... Safire and Mitchell thus go further than Douthat. Douthat says that the symbols were unimportant and did no harm because they were not policy substance. Mitchell and Safire say that the symbols were more than smoke-and-mirrors--that the anti-Black posturing was actually a source of faster progress on civil rights. I have heard Douthat's or Safire and Mitchell's argument a lot of times, applied to: • Abortion • Tolerance • Fiscal policy • Race relations The "these Republicans are really good people--they just talk like thugs" or "these Republicans are really especially good people because they sound like thugs" is just not very convincing at any level. ## Apres Moi le Deluge Intellectual History Blogging Re: Michael Sonenscher, Before the Deluge: Public Debt, Inequality, and the Intellectual Origins of the French Revolution. The book begins: The phrase après moi le deluge... by... Mme. de Pompadour... and the various attitudes toward impending disaster it might have been intended to express... have often been associated with the French Revolution.... [T]he phrase was current... before 1789... applied to public debt. This... was how it was used... by Victor Requeti, Marquis de Mirabeau.... Mirabeau applied the phrase to... government borrowing and, more particularly, to the practice of using life annuities to fund the costs of government debt. Life annuities, he wrote, were the quintessence of what he called "that misanthropic sentiment [ce sentiment ennemi] après moi le deluge."... [T]hey were a way of drawing bills on posterity. Like all forms of public credit... consumed wealth before it was produced... leaving a state... having to face the future without the accumulted assets... to maintain its long- term domestic prosperity and external security... could... destroy... "civilization." I am going to have to go read Mirabeau pere's Etretiens d'un Jeune Prince avec Son Governeur. It sounds to me that the phrase is applied by Mirabeau pere to describe not a feckless government that borrows long (to fund wars, canals, or harbors) but rather a feckless father who invests the family wealth in annuities that end on his death. After all, from the viewpoint of long-run governmental fiscal prudence, life annuities are not the quintessence of badness--they are, in fact, vastly preferable to consols. It is only from the viewpoint of the dynastic family that life annuities are especially bad. Is this a good thing to do at the very opening of a book that presents itself as deriving new insights from close readings of old texts?... ## A Historical Document: A Lawyer's Brief for the Mid-Twentieth Century Democratic Party From Dean Acheson (1955), A Democrat Looks at His Party: p. 23 ff: From the very beginning the Democratic Party has been broadly based... the party of the many... the urban worker; the backwoods merchant and banker; the small farmer... the largelandowners of the South, who saw themselves as being milked by the commerical and financial magnates gathered under Hamilton's banner; the newly arrived immigrants... the party of the underdog.... The many have an important and most relevant characteristic. They have many interests, many points of view, many purposes to accomplish, and a party which represents them will have their many interests, many points of view, and many purposes also. It is this multiplicity of interests which, I submit, is the principal clue in understanding the vitality and endurance of the Democratic Party.... The base of all three opponents [Federalist, Whig, and Republican] has been the interest of the economically powerful, of those who manage affairs.... The economic base and the principal interest of the Republican Party is business.... This business base of the Republican Party is stressed not in any spirit of criticism. The importance of business is an outstanding fact of American life. Its achievements have been phenomenal. It is altogether appropriate that one of the major parties should represent its interests and its points of view. It is stressed because here lies the significant difference between the parties, the single-interest party against the many-interest party, rather than in a supposed division of attitudes... consservative... against... liberal.... [...] At the end of the [nineteenth] century there was a lesser, but serious, missed opportunity for Democratic leadership in President Cleveland's failure to grasp the significance of the Populist and labor unrest... and in his cautious and unimaginative approach to economic depression. The unrest... did not spring from a radical movement directed against the established order... or the constitutional system. It grew out of conditions increasingly distressing... on the farms and in the factories. Its purposes were the historic purposes of the Democratic party... to keep opportunity open, opportunity not merely to rise from barefoot boy to President but for people to find in their accustomed environments useful, respected, and satisfying lives.... The conditions and popular response had many points of similarity to those of the 1930s. Grover Cleveland... followed the right as he saw it... through a conservative and conventional cast of mind. The agitation seemed to him... a threat to law and order.... Coxey's Army was met with a barrage of injunctions and... the Capitol police.... The Pullman strike was smashed by federal troops who kept the mails moving, the union leaders imprisoned, and the union crushed. And the financial panic was dealt with through the highly orthodox and [highly] compensated assistance of Mr. Morgan. The underlying causes... were neither understood nor dealt with... an opportunity was missed.... If, to take one of them, the problems arising out of the concentration of industrial ownership had been tackled when they were still malleable and subject to effective treatment, we might have been spared some aches and pains that are still with us. But with all this, Grover Cleveland holds an honored place.... When the Congress showed signs... of declaring war on Spain, Cleveland put an end to the business for the duration of his administration by saying... that, if the Congress did declare war, he would refuse to direct it as commander in chief.... [...] [T]he Democratic Party is not an ideological party.... It represents too many interests to be neatly labeled or to be imprisoned.... It has to be pragramatic.... In the Democratic Party run two strong strands--conservatism and pragmatic experimentation.... [T]he difference between our parties has not been and is not between a party of property and one of proletarians, but between a party which centers on the dominant interests of the business community and a party of many interests, including property interests.... They believe in private property and want more and not less of it. This makes for conservatism. American labor is now known throughout the world for its conservatism.... the whole stress on seniority grows out of this. Pension rights are property interests of impressive value.... [W]hen a particular kind of property descends in the hierarchy of importance, its owners more and more turn for the protection of their interests to the party of many interests. The owners of land--the farmers--are the most crucial.... Small businesmen, also, are apt to find concern for their problems and welfare lost in the party of business on a larger scale.... But perhaps the strongest influence toward conservatism comes from the south, where for historical reasons all interests... are predominantly Democratic.... Southern conservatism is an invaluable asset. It gibes the assurance that all interests and policies are weighed and considered within the party before interparty issues are framed.... The South also faces us with an equal and opposite truth. It is that some of the most radical leaders of modern times have come from the South. We tend to see men like Watson, Tilman, Vardaman, and Huey Long chiefly in terms of their bellowings about White Supremacy. But if we drain this off--and the if is admittedly of major importance--what we should see is that the mass support of these men was formed by the dispossessed. Huey Long's "share-the-wealth" program was aimed explicitly at th Southern Bourbons.... The tragedy of the South has been that racism has corrupted an otherwise respectable strain of protest and experimentation in the search for economic equality.... For all the apparent contradiction in the fact that the Southern racist belongs to the same political party as the New York supporter of the FERC, the inner logic that holds them togehter is that each speaks for the dispossessed, whether in his rural or urban form. What enables the Democratic Party to contain both elements is the fact that the party since the Civil War has made the Legislature the special province of the Southern Democrat, and the Executive the special province of the Northern Democrat.... Entwined with the strand of conservatism in the Democratic Party is the strand of empiricism. A party which represents many interests and is composed of many diverse groups must invariably know that human institutions are made for man and not man for institutions.... Such a party conceives of government as an instrument to accomplish what needs to be done.... This is not so easy for htose who are persuaded that human behavior is governed by immutable laws, whether they are the laws expounded in the Social Statics of Herbert Spencer or those in the Das Kapital of Karl Marx.... [T]o the Manchester Liberals the Factory Acts ran squarely counter to economic principles and could end only in disaster. The "forgotten man," in the phrase invented by William Graham Sumner... was the producer whose wealth was tapped by the government to bear the cost of the social programs for those whom Sumner regarded as weak.... In the last century the economically powerful have stood to gain by the doctrine of laissez-faire.... It was those whose interests were suffering under the impact of new forces who looked to government... to manage the thrust of forces in the interest of human values. Now... this... takes... brains.... so the Democratic Party is hospitable to and attracts intellectuals. It has work for them to do... It's a lawyer's brief. Much of what it says about Southern Democrats is unconvincing. And today's Republican Party is not the Republican Party of 1955--if the party of 1955 was the party of wealth, enterprise, and opportunity the Republican Party of today has dropped the enterprise and opportunity parts and added some others that I at least find much less attractive. But a very interesting take. ## Race and Modern Republicans Once Again Ross Douthat, I think, gets this wrong: The GOP and the Race Issue: Southern whites were, and are, natural conservatives who happened to find themselves in the more liberal of the two parties; once Democrats associated themselves with the civil-rights movement, there wasn't anywhere else for white Mississippians and Alabamans to go except the GOP. Gerard Alexander's essay on "The Myth of the Racist Republicans" goes further than I would in downplaying Republican racism, but I think his point on this score is basically right: Liberal commentators ... assume that if many former Wallace voters ended up voting Republican in the 1970s and beyond, it had to be because Republicans went to the segregationist mountain, rather than the mountain coming to them. There are two reasons to question this assumption. The first is the logic of electoral competition. Extremist voters usually have little choice but to vote for a major party which they consider at best the lesser of two evils, one that offers them little of what they truly desire. Segregationists were in this position after 1968, when Wallace won less than 9% of the electoral college and Nixon became president anyway, without their votes. Segregationists simply had very limited national bargaining power. In the end, not the Deep South but the GOP was the mountain. Second, this was borne out in how little the GOP had to "offer," so to speak, segregationists for their support after 1968, even according to the myth's own terms. Segregationists wanted policies that privileged whites. In the GOP, they had to settle for relatively race-neutral policies: opposition to forced busing and reluctant coexistence with affirmative action. The reason these policies aren't plausible codes for real racism is that they aren't the equivalents of discrimination, much less of segregation. ... Kevin Phillips was hardly coy about this in his Emerging Republican Majority. He wrote in 1969 that Nixon did not "have to bid much ideologically" to get Wallace's electorate, given its limited power, and that moderation was far more promising for the GOP than anything even approaching a racialist strategy. While "the Republican Party cannot go to the Deep South"-—meaning the GOP simply would not offer the policies that whites there seemed to desire most—"the Deep South must soon go to the national GOP," regardless. So the GOP ended up bidding race-neutrality - which a conservative party would have naturally favored anyway, and which is not racism - and symbolic gestures like Reagan's opposition to MLK Day, his support for Bob Jones University's tax exemption, and so forth. These code words and gestures were real and shameful, and contemporary apologies like Ken Mehlman's mea culpa are entirely appropriate. But more often than not, I would submit, pundits who harp on this shame tend to do so because it's an easy way to leap to Krugman's conclusion that race explains everything he doesn't like about contemporary American politics, when in fact an awful lot of it is explained by the fecklessness of his liberal forebears. Paul Krugman has a very effective counter to this: White male math - Paul Krugman - Op-Ed Columnist - New York Times Blog: In some correspondence with Larry Bartels, whose “What’s the matter with “What’s the matter with Kansas?”" is must reading for anyone trying to understand modern American political, economy, the issue of how the Democrats lost white males came up. Larry points out that you really need to separate out the South. Here’s what he had to say: Unless you have a peculiar nostalgia for the racially coercive Democratic monopoly of the Jim Crow era, it makes sense to focus on the rest of the country. There, the Democratic share of the two-party presidential vote among white men was 40% in 1952 and 39% in 2004. White men didn’t turn against the Democrats; Southern white men turned against the Democrats. End of story. It's not that feckless liberals alienated their previous natural supporters--it's not the case that, as Ronald Reagan liked to claim, "the Democratic Party left me." It is the case that southern white males left the Democratic Party. Northern white males still seem to like the liberal Democratic Party just fine. Once "feckless liberals" are off the table, Ross seems to want to make two arguments: 1. The Republicans didn't really play the race card ("the GOP ended up bidding race-neutrality... which is not racism - and symbolic gestures like Reagan's opposition to MLK Day, his support for Bob Jones University's tax exemption..."). 2. It did not really matter that Republicans played the race card ("Southern whites were, and are, natural conservatives... once Democrats associated themselves with the civil-rights movement, there wasn't anywhere else for white Mississippians and Alabamans to go except the GOP..."). I think that there is a very good counter to Douthat's (1): if the Republican Party really were bidding race-neutrality--if there platform were one of market opportunity plus respect for the family plus respect for the church plus civil order plus race neutrality--they would get an enormous number of African-American votes. African-American voters are more often than not social conservative. African-American voters are extremely eager to support politicians who genuinely fight and reduce crime. Jack Kemp's Republican Party--one that is truly race-neutral, committed to equality of opportunity, and social conservative--is a natural home for most African-American voters. But we do not have that Republican Party, do we? African-American voters believe that the GOP bids racism, and few who have seen George Allen or Trent Lott on YouTube can disagree. I think Douthat is wrong about (2) as well: it matters that the Republican Party played (and plays) the race card. A Republican Party that was socially conservative and economically classical liberal and retained its long-ago commitment to equality of opportunity--that remembered that it was Abraham Lincoln who freed the slaves--would be a very different Republican Party than the one we see now: it would still have its soul. ## Pay-as-You-Go From Obsidian Wings: The Difference Between The Two Parties In A Nutshell: [I]f Congress does not do something, the AMT is going to hit 23 million families with higher taxes this year. The House has passed a bill preventing this from happening. Since, to their credit, they passed PAYGO rules that require that any tax cut or spending increase be paid for, they had to find some way to raise taxes. They found a loophole that allows various fund managers, who earn millions of dollars a year, to count those millions as capital gains, and thus to pay much lower taxes than the rest of us, and they closed it. For this, they are being excoriated by Republicans. David Dreier thinks that PAYGO rules shouldn't apply to "mistakes": "But anti-tax Republicans said the AMT was a mistake and thus offsets were unneeded. ''What absolute lunacy,'' said Rep. David Dreier, R-Calif., ''paying for a tax that was never intended.''" What a fascinating principle: you don't have to pay for costs you incur by mistake. I wonder if our creditors will go for that? And why not extend it to other things as well? The Iraq war, for instance, was never expected to last this long: why should we bother to come up with the billions and billions of dollars we are still paying for it? If it comes to that, why not just throw fiscal responsibility out the window? As far as I can tell, David Dreier thinks that that's the only non-lunatic thing to do. Similarly: Rep. Jim McCrery (La.), the ranking Republican on the House Ways and Means Committee, argued that such "a fiscal straitjacket" should not even apply to the alternative minimum tax, reasoning that all Congress is trying to do is keep the taxes of 23 million families from going up. Since that is not really a tax cut, he said, its$52 billion cost to the Treasury should not be paid for...

This exchange makes the issues pretty clear:

"Congress can and must stop this middle class tax hike before Thanksgiving -- without raising taxes," Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Friday. But Pelosi said that "we have an understanding with the Senate that this legislation, in order to go forward, must be paid for." "Raising revenues takes political courage," said House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md. "There is no courage whatsoever in plunging our country into debt, spending and not paying"...

Nobody who calls himself a fiscal conservative has any business being a Republican. Nobody. Shutting down the Republican Party and starting over is the best we can do.

## Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (It's Another David Broder/Washington Post Edition)

I must say David Broder outdoes even himself here:

• May 25, 2006: "[T]he drama of the Clintons' personal life would be a hot topic if she runs for president..."
• September 6, 2007: "[Hillary Clinton's] marriage is the central fact in her life..."
• November 9, 2007: "I plan to leave both subjects [the Giuliani marriages and the single Clinton marriage] alone..."

Why the switch? Greg Sargent opines:

Horses Mouth November 12, 2007 10:15 AM: So Broder won't be writing about the Clinton and Giuliani marriages going forward? Wow, how impressively high-minded of him!... This is kind of funny, because he hasn't shown any such reticence in the past when it comes to looking at the Clintons' union -- far from it.... [B]ack when it really counted -- when the GOP tried to impeach Bill Clinton over his affair -- Broder thought the Clinton marriage was completely fair game. He wrote multiple columns at the time arguing that his affair threw his entire character and even fitness for the Presidency into question.

Yet now, suddenly, when a questioner asks Broder whether he sees serial adulterer Rudy's marriage as fodder for judging his fitness for the Presidency, Broder effectively dodges the allegation of his and the media's double standard by suddenly going all high-minded and saying he won't be discussing the marriages of Rudy or Hillary. The obvious hypocrisy here aside, I propose that we hold Broder to his promise.

## Not Yet Record Oil Prices

Tim Harford sends us to Evan Davis:

BBC NEWS | The Reporters | Evan Davis: Imagine. $100 dollars. It is a lot for a barrel of oil. In fact, it's way up there. Since the 1860s, when people stopped killing whales for oil and dug it up in Pennsylvania instead, the price has averaged a little over$25 a barrel in today's money. We're at four times the long term average price. And as recently as 1998, only nine years ago, oil - on some measures - dipped below $10 a barrel. Although in today's money, for the year as a whole the price was more like 17. It's clear that$100 a barrel is very high. Although it's worth saying, it's still not a record. 1864 was in fact the most expensive year for oil. It was over $104 in today's money. Notwithstanding that record (and most of us in the media will ignore it when talking of record highs in the next few weeks - we'll be using the high of$104.7 reached in 1980 after the Iranian revolution) we can at least say an impending $100 barrel is getting historically significant... ## I Do Not Understand This Felix Salmon writes: Market Movers by Felix Salmon: Did Anyone Other Than Citigroup Have Liquidity Puts? Why hasn't this "liquidity put" thing gotten greater play? I never made it down to the 11th paragraph of Carol Loomis's interview with Bob Rubin, where she introduces the concept more than 900 words into her article. Floyd Norris, today, does a bit better, taking less than 400 words to get to them. A gold star, then, should go to Peter Cohan of BloggingStocks, who read the Loomis article, realized what he was looking at, and promoted the liquidity puts to headline status back on Monday. Liquidity puts are a big thing, and indeed it seems that they were more or less singlehandedly responsible for the downfall of Chuck Prince at Citi. Basically, Citi told the world – and kidded itself – that it had sold billions of dollars in CDOs to investors. In reality, however, those CDOs had "liquidity puts" attached, which essentially transformed the CDO "sales" into glorified (or debased) repos. Any time that the investor found the CDO difficult to sell – and CDOs are always difficult to sell – he had the option to put the CDO back to Citi at par. And that's exactly what happened; it was those return-to-sender CDOs which were written down the same weekend Prince resigned. I do not understand this. Which CDOs? What obligations, exactly, did Citigroup assume? Is this something I already know about under another name? It's not as though Loomis or Norris are comprehensive in their explanations... ## Department of Uh-Oh! Barry Ritholtz writes: The Big Picture | Why Thain Over Fink?: Here's something you may not have heard: The surprise selection of NYSE CEO John Thain as Merrill's new CEO over the more widely expected BlackRock CEO Larry Fink was based on reasons you may not be aware of. What are those reasons? Well, according to CNBC.com, Fink would only agree to take the position if Merrill was willing to give a full and complete accounting of it's subprime exposure: Merrill's selection of Thain was a surprise because the firm had recently indicated to BlackRock CEO Larry Fink that the job was his if he wanted it. CNBC has learned that Fink said he would take the job but only if Merrill did a full accounting of its subprime exposure. At that point, Merrill, which owns 49% of BlackRock, moved in a different direction and decided to go with Thain instead. I obviously have no way to verify that, but I give the benefit of the doubt to CNBC reporters like Charlie Gasparino and Herb Greenberg. (UPDATE: I have just confirmed with Charlie Gasparino that he was the one who's fine investigative work uncovered this; You can see some of the discussion via CNBC video here, right margin, labeled "The New Bull at Merrill"). Note: I don't know who uncovered this. If the story is true, and Fink passed on the position (or was passed over) because of his insistence on a complete sub-prime accounting, apparently not accommodated by Merrill, it makes one wonder what the old lady is hiding. ## Department of Things I Wanted to Go to But Didn't Because I Didn't Find Out About Them Until After They Happened Waterboarding Demonstration: Rally Wed,. 11/14 @ Noon, Sproul Plaza, UC-Berkeley. World Can't Wait! http://myspace.com/sfbaycantwait ## Hoisted from the Archives: Elliott Abrams, William F. Buckley, and Joe McCarthy Celebrate Joe McCarthy's Birthday As Joe McCarthy's birthday comes to an end, let us give the microphone to William F. Buckley, Elliott Abrams, and Joe McCarthy himself: A Conspiracy so Immense: William F. Buckley says: "McCarthy's record is... not only much better than his critics allege, but, given his metier, extremely good.... [he] should not be remembered as the man who didn't produce 57 Communist Party cards but as the man who brought public pressure to bear on the State Department to revise its practices and to eliminate from responsible positions flagrant security risks." Elliot Abrams says: "McCarthy did not need to show that specific employees were guilty of espionage; they needed only to show that there was some evidence that an employee was a security or loyalty risk, and that the State Department... had willfully overlooked it.... What were the charges? They ranged from accusations of actual espionage--handing secret documents over to Soviet agents--to involvement in dozens of Communist-front organizations.... Buckley and Bozell asked, 'Did McCarthy present enough evidence to raise reasonable doubt as to whether all loyalty and security risks had been removed from the State Department?' The verdict rendered here is that he did. In most of his cases McCarthy adduced persuasive evidence; the State Department's efforts stood condemned; and the screams of 'Red Scare' were efforts to occlude the truth." Here's what Joe McCarthy says: Tail Gunner Joe: Joe McCarthy's Senate speech of June 14, 1951: How can we account for our present situation unless we believe that men high in this Government are concerting to deliver us to disaster? This must be the product of a great conspiracy, a conspiracy on a scale so immense as to dwarf any previous such venture in the history of man. A conspiracy of infamy so black that, when it is finally exposed, its principals shall be forever deserving of the maledictions of all honest men. Who constitutes the highest circles of this conspiracy? About that we cannot be sure. We are convinced that Dean Acheson, who steadfastly serves the interests of nations other than his own, the friend of Alger Hiss, who supported him in his hour of retribution, who contributed to his defense fund, must be high on the roster. The President? He is their captive. I have wondered, as have you, why he did not dispense with so great a liability as Acheson to his own and his party's interests. It is now clear to me. In the relationship of master and man, did you ever hear of man firing master? Truman is a satisfactory front. He is only dimly aware of what is going on. I do not believe that Mr. Truman is a conscious party to the great conspiracy, although it is being conducted in his name. I believe that if Mr. Truman bad the ability to associate good Americans around him, be would have behaved as a good American in this most dire of all our crises. It is when we return to an examination of General Marshall's record since the spring of 1942 that we approach an explanation of the carefully planned retreat from victory, Let us again review the Marshall record, as I have disclosed it from all the sources available and all of them friendly. This grim and solitary man it was who, early in World War II, determined to put his impress upon our global strategy, political and military. It was Marshall, who, amid the din for a "second front now" from every voice of Soviet inspiration, sought to compel the British to invade across the Channel in the fall of 1942 upon penalty of our quitting the war in Europe. It was Marshall who, after North Africa had been secured, took the strategic direction of the war out of Roosevelt's hands and - who fought the British desire, shared by Mark Clark, to advance from Italy into the eastern plains of Europe ahead of the Russians. It was a Marshall-sponsored memorandum, advising appeasement of Russia In Europe and the enticement of Russia into the far-eastern war, circulated at Quebec, which foreshadowed our whole course at Tehran, at Yalta, and until now in the Far East. It was Marshall who, at Tehran, made common cause with Stalin on the strategy of the war in Europe and marched side by side with him thereafter. It was Marshall who enjoined his chief of military mission in Moscow under no circumstances to "irritate" the Russians by asking them questions about their forces, their weapons, and their plans, while at the same time opening our schools, factories, and gradually our secrets to them in this count. It was Marshall who, as Hanson Baldwin asserts, himself referring only to the "military authorities," prevented us having a corridor to Berlin. So it was with the capture and occupation of Berlin and Prague ahead of the Russians. It was Marshall who sent Deane to Moscow to collaborate with Harriman in drafting the terms of the wholly unnecessary bribe paid to Stalin at Yalta. It was Marshall, with Hiss at his elbow and doing the physical drafting of agreements at Yalta, who ignored the contrary advice of his senior, Admiral Leahy, and of MacArtbur and Nimitz in regard to the folly of a major land invasion of Japan; who submitted intelligence reports which suppressed more truthful estimates in order to support his argument, and who finally induced Roosevelt to bring Russia into the Japanese war with a bribe that reinstated Russia in its pre-1904 imperialistic position in Manchuria-an act which, in effect, signed the death warrant of the Republic of China. It was Marshall, with Acheson and Vincent eagerly assisting, who created the China policy which, destroying China, robbed us of a great and friendly ally, a buffer against the Soviet imperialism with which we are now at war. It was Marshall who, after long conferences with Acheson and Vincent, went to China to execute the criminal folly of the disastrous Marshall mission. It was Marshall who, upon returning from a diplomatic defeat for the United States at Moscow, besought the reinstatement of forty millions in lend-lease for Russia. It was Marshall who, for 2 years suppressed General Wedemeyer's report, which is a direct and comprehensive repudiation of the Marshall policy. It was Marshall who, disregarding Wedemeyer's advices on the urgent need for military supplies, the likelihood of China's defeat without ammunition and equipment, and our "moral obligation" to furnish them, proposed instead a relief bill bare of military support. It was the State Department under Marshall, with the wholehearted support of Michael Lee and Remington in the Commerce Department, that sabotaged the$125,000,000 military-aid bill to China in 194S.

It was Marshall who fixed the dividing line for Korea along the thirty-eighth parallel, a line historically chosen by Russia to mark its sphere of interest in Korea.

It is Marshall's strategy for Korea which has turned that war into a pointless slaughter, reversing the dictum of Von Clausewitz and every military theorist since him that the object of a war is not merely to kill but to impose your will on the enemy.

It is Marshall-Acheson strategy for Europe to build the defense of Europe solely around the Atlantic Pact nations, excluding the two great wells of anti-Communist manpower in Western Germany and Spain and spurning the organized armies of Greece and Turkey-another case of following the Lattimore advice of "let them fall but don't let it appear that we pushed them."

It is Marshall who, advocating timidity as a policy so as not to annoy the forces of Soviet imperialism in Asia, had admittedly put a brake on the preparations to fight, rationalizing his reluctance on the ground that the people are fickle and if war does not come, will hold him to account for excessive zeal.

What can be made of this unbroken series of decisions and acts contributing to the strategy of defeat? They cannot be attributed to incompetence. If Marshall were merely stupid, the laws of probability would dictate that part of his decisions would serve this country's interest. If Marshall is innocent of guilty intention, how could he be trusted to guide the defense of this country further? We have declined so precipitously in relation to the Soviet Union in the last 6 years. How much swifter may be our fall into disaster with Marshall at the helm? Where Will all this stop? That is not a rhetorical question: Ours is not a rhetorical danger. Where next will Marshall carry us? It is useless to suppose that his nominal superior will ask him to resign. He cannot even dispense with Acheson.

What is the objective of the great conspiracy? I think it is clear from what has occurred and is now occurring: to diminish the United States in world affairs, to weaken us militarily, to confuse our spirit with talk of surrender in the Far East and to impair our will to resist evil. To what end? To the end that we shall be contained, frustrated and finally: fall victim to Soviet intrigue from within and Russian military might from without. Is that farfetched? There have been many examples in history of rich and powerful states which have been corrupted from within, enfeebled and deceived until they were unable to resist aggression. . . .

It is the great crime of the Truman administration that it has refused to undertake the job of ferreting the enemy from its ranks. I once puzzled over that refusal. The President, I said, is a loyal American; why does he not lead in this enterprise? I think that I know why he does not. The President is not master in his own house. Those who are master there not only have a desire to protect the sappers and miners - they could not do otherwise. They themselves are not free. They belong to a larger conspiracy, the world-wide web of which has been spun from Moscow. It was Moscow, for example, which decreed that the United States should execute its loyal friend, the Republic of China. The executioners were that well-identified group headed by Acheson and George Catlett Marshall.

How, if they would, can they, break these ties, how return to simple allegiance to their native land? Can men sullied by their long and dreadful record afford us leadership in the world struggle with the enemy? How can a man whose every important act for years had contributed to the prosperity of the enemy reverse himself? The reasons for his past actions are immaterial. Regardless of why he has done what be did, be has done it and the momentum of that course bears him onward. . . .

The time has come to halt this tepid, milk-and-water acquiescence which a discredited administration, ruled by disloyalty, sends down to us. The American may belong to an old culture, he may be beset by enemies here and abroad, he may be distracted by the many words of counsel that assail him by day and night, but he is nobody's fool. The time has come for us to realize that the people who sent us here expect more than time-serving from us. The American who has never known defeat in war, does not expect to be again sold down the river in Asia. He does not want that kind of betrayal. He has had betrayal enough. He has never failed to fight for his liberties since George Washington rode to Boston in 1775 to put himself at the head of a band of rebels unversed in war. He is fighting tonight, fighting gloriously in a war on a distant American frontier made inglorious by the men he can no longer trust at the head of our affairs.

The America that I know, and that other Senators know, this vast and teeming and beautiful land, this hopeful society where the poor share the table of the rich as never before in history, where men of all colors, of all faiths, are brothers as never before in history, where great deeds have been done and great deeds are yet to do, that America deserves to be led not to humiliation or defeat, but to victory.

The Congress of the United States is the people's last hope, a free and open forum of the people's representatives. We felt the pulse of the people's response to the return of MacArthur. We know what it meant. The people, no longer trusting their executive, turn to us, asking that we reassert the constitutional prerogative of the Congress to declare the policy for the United States.

The time has come to reassert that prerogative, to oversee the conduct of this war, to declare that this body must have the final word on the disposition of Formosa and Korea. They fell from the grasp of the Japanese empire through our military endeavors, pursuant to a declaration of war made by the Congress of the United States on December 8, 1941. If the Senate speaks, as is its right, the disposal of Korea and Formosa can be made only by a treaty which must be ratified by this body. Should the administration dare to defy such a declaration, the Congress has abundant recourses which I need not spell out.

In my email, an unusual subject heading:

To: Evans Department Managers & others: faculty@Math.Berkeley.EDU staff@Math.Berkeley.EDU allgrads@Math.Berkeley.EDU

Dear Evans Community,

There have been ongoing problems today with Elevator 1 and Elevator 3. Estimated repair times are not yet fully determined. Please be prepared to wait at the elevator, or take stairs if you are able to do so.

Since Elevator 5 is still under repair, and Elevator 4 is rumored to have just flunked its post-repair safety check, that leaves Elevator 2.

## Most Americans Are Shrill!

55% of voters are members of the shrill, unbalanced cult that believes that George W. Bush has committed impeachable offenses:

Think Progress » Majority believe Bush has committed impeachable offenses: A new American Research Group poll finds that 55 percent of voters believe President Bush has “abused his powers” in a manner that rises “to the level of impeachable offenses under the Constitution,” yet just 34 percent believe he should actually be impeached. Fifty-two percent say that Vice President Cheney has similarly abused his powers, with 43 percent supporting impeachment.