No, John Taylor's Piece Doesn't Say What Taylor Says It Says: Noah Smith to the Rescue! Weblogging
Moishe ben Amram and the "Nation of Takers": Wednesday Hoisted from the Archives from the Reign of Rameses II Weblogging

Noted for March 20, 2013

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  • Scott Lemieux: Well, If It Affects Me, That’s Different!: "Rob Portman has decided that he’s only comfortable denying fundamental rights to strangers: 'Sen. Rob Portman has renounced his opposition to gay marriage, telling reporters from Ohio newspapers Thursday that he changed his position after his son Will told the Ohio Republican and his wife Jane that he is gay.' This is a classic example of what Mark Schmitt calls 'Miss America' compassion…. 'I’m tired of giving quasi-conservatives credit…. Senator Pete Domenici’s daughter’s mental illness made him an advocate for mandating equitable treatment of mental and physical well-being in health insurance…. Again, I’m all for it…. But what has always bothered me about such examples is that their compassion seems so narrowly and literally focused on the specific misfortune that their family encountered… shouldn’t it also lead to a deeper understanding that there are a lot of families, in all kinds of situations beyond their control, who need help from government?… Shouldn’t it call into question the entire winners-win/losers-lose ideology of the current Republican Party? Shouldn’t it also lead to an understanding that if we want to live in a society that provides a robust system of public support for those who need help — whether for mental illness or any of the other misfortunes that life hands out at random — we will need a government with adequate institutions and revenues to provide those things?… These Senators are like Miss America contestants, each with a "platform"…. Mr. Oregon: "Suicide Prevention"…. Mr. New Mexico: 'Mental Health Parity'…after the "platform segment" they return to play their obedient part in a degrading exercise that makes this country crueler and government less supportive…. It’s not too likely that you’ll see Miss Alabama adopt “Income inequality” as her platform or Miss Colorado, “Corporate tax evasion.” Nor is a Senator likely to have a family experience with lack of health insurance, or personal bankruptcy, or Food Stamps.'"

  • Alec MacGillis: RNC Plan 2013: Authors' Own Words at Odds With Recommendations: In reading through the report's 99 pages I had a nagging sense that what it was recommending was directly at odds with what I remember hearing not long ago from the very people putting forward the report. To wit: Page 7: “The Republican Party needs to stop talking to itself. We have become expert in how to provide ideological reinforcement to like-minded people, but devastatingly we have lost the ability to be persuasive with, or welcoming to, those who do not agree with us on every issue.” "@Reince: Obama sympathizes with attackers in Egypt. Sad and pathetic." (Sent on September 11, the night that four Americans were killed in Benghazi.)

History Channel: Obama Isn’t the Devil | Benjy Sarlin: Reince Priebus Says Self-Deportation Is 'Not Our Party's Position' -- But It Is | Cosma Shalizi: Ten Years of the Three-Toed Sloth | Karl Polanyi: The Essence of Fascism | Daniel Davies: What would you do: Part 2, the Island of Surpyc | Brad DeLong (2011): "Austerity" in the Context of the Global Economic Downturn | David Corn: Iraq 10 Years Later: The Deadly Consequences of Spin | Ta-Nehisi Coates: The Ghetto Is Public Policy |

  • Julian Sanchez (2005): Project Much?: I should be beyond surprise of this sort, but it’s still a little striking to see self-righteous dudgeon and disingenuous horseshit combined in such close proximity and copious quantity. Glenn [Reyold]’s reminding everyone of his 'link-rich refutation' of the 'revisionist' claim that democracy promotion wasn’t part of the rationale for invading Iraq. Since most of his readers presumably were, like, alive and paying attention in the run-up to the war, I can only assume that this is a case of self deception, in which case it’s a fairly heroic instance…. Seriously now… gimme a break. If someone sells you 'a Porche with a nice stereo system' and you then discover you’ve actually bought a Dodge Dart, are you supposed to be mollified because it actually has had a nice stereo system installed? Democratization was supposed to be a happy side effect of eliminating the WMDs—that was why we had to do this right the f@#& now before the 'smoking gun' came in the form of a 'mushroom cloud', why we couldn’t keep pushing for a diplomatic solution. Anyone else remember that?… Here’s what I’d call 'revisionism': Pretending that the imminent danger of some kind of WMD attack-by-terrorist-proxy hatched in Iraq wasn’t, by an overwhelming margin, the major prong of the case for the war and a necessary condition of building public support for it. Saddam Hussein had been an evil fucker for a long, long time. How many people outside the neocon clique were clamoring for his ouster until the scare scenarios started being floated?"

  • Democracy in America: The Iraq war: Anniversary of a mass delusion: "TEN years ago yesterday, George W. Bush warned Saddam Hussein that he had 48 hours to step down from power and leave Iraq, along with his sons, or face a US invasion. It's all gone a little hazy now; why exactly did this seem so urgent at the time, again? 'The danger is clear: using chemical, biological or, one day, nuclear weapons, obtained with the help of Iraq, the terrorists could fulfill their stated ambitions and kill thousands or hundreds of thousands of innocent people in our country, or any other…. Terrorists and terror states do not reveal these threats with fair notice, in formal declarations—and responding to such enemies only after they have struck first is not self-defense, it is suicide. The security of the world requires disarming Saddam Hussein now.' This, obviously, was all a fever dream. There were no biological or nuclear weapons; there may have been a few rusty chemical shells lying around, just as there had been for decades. Iraq was not an important sponsor of Islamicist terrorism. Islamicist terrorism was fueled not by fascist dictatorships such as Iraq, but by non-state actors in failed states such as Afghanistan and Somalia; and our invasion of Iraq promptly turned it into precisely the sort of failed-state sectarian war zone that does fuel terrorism. Thousands of American soldiers died in a war in Iraq that only exacerbated the danger of anti-American terrorism. Thousands of Iraqi soldiers died as well, and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians died in the resulting civil war, most killed by the Iraqi militias who emerged in the power vacuum the US invasion created, but many killed by US armed forces themselves. In the name of pre-empting a non-existent threat, America killed tens of thousands of people and turned Iraq into a breeding ground for terrorism. And we spent a trillion dollars to do it. How did America's policymaking community ever commit itself to such a catastrophic delusion? I don't truly understand it now, and I didn't understand it then. I found the developing consensus for an unprovoked attack on Iraq in late 2002 absurd. But I had an advantage: I wasn't living in America at the time. Viewed from the defamiliarising distance of West Africa, the American polity's effort to talk itself into invading a country that hadn't attacked it was baffling and disturbing. That reaction was widely shared in the country where I was living among locals and expats, Americans included. Inside America, the atmosphere was entirely different, as I found after returning from Africa in early 2003. Large numbers of otherwise intelligent people had ended up supporting the war. Why?… [T]he malign influence of intellectual conformity, the fear of being branded anti-patriotic or a foolish apologist for dictators, the nervous self-hatred of an intellectual class cowed into submission by an anti-intellectual president's popularity also all played a role. I remember spending a week in the offices of the New York Times's Outlook section in January; the anxiety to self-police against anything that could be perceived as liberal bias was palpable."

  • David Laidler: The Fisher Relation in the Great Depression and the Great Recession: "The Fisher relation played a very different role in debates surrounding the Great Depression and the more recent Great Recession. This paper explores some of these differences, and suggests an explanation for them derived from a sketch of the idea’s evolution between the two events, thus providing a brief case study of the interaction of economic ideas and economic events that is a central feature.of the History of Economic Thought."

  • Jeffrey Goldberg (2003): "There is consensus belief now that Saddam could have an atomic bomb within months of acquiring fissile material. This is not unlikely, since the international community… is incapable in the long run of stopping a determined and wealthy dictator from acquiring the things he needs…. The argument by opponents of invasion that Saddam poses no 'imminent threat' (they never actually define 'imminent', of course) strikes me as particularly foolhardy. If you believe he is trying to acquire an atomic bomb, and if you believe that he is a monstrous person, than why would you possibly advocate waiting until the last possible second to disarm him?"

  • Jonathan Chait on Arthur Brooks: "If there is one dream of the Obama presidency that died a swift, merciless death with no hope of resuscitation, it was the hope that President Obama would usher in a new era of bipartisan technocracy. As the president explained over and over, he believed he was not imposing an ideological agenda but simply responding to problems. “I’m not interested in another old debate about big government versus small government,” he would say. 'I care about whether government is meeting its responsibilities to the people it represents.' The problems that Obama proposed to address—economic collapse, global warming, the costliest and cruelest health care system in the advanced world—could hardly be called mere excuses to impose liberal ideology. They were undeniably, empirically, crises. To be sure, conservatives and liberals had different means of attacking these problems; but there seemed to be every reason to believe that the ideological gulf could be bridged. George W. Bush had initiated bailouts of the finance and auto industries in 2008, and he had employed Keynesian fiscal stimulus in 2001, when the case for doing so was nowhere near as strong. Obama’s health care plan relied upon private insurance and resembled the plan that Republicans had formulated in 1993. His cap-and-trade program closely resembled a proposal by John McCain. The new president genuinely seemed to believe that he and the opposition could look upon the same set of facts, consult with the economic experts, and reason together toward agreeable solutions. We now know that each of Obama’s proposals was met by overwhelming and often hysterical opposition. In his new book, Arthur C. Brooks, the president of the American Enterprise Institute, both advocates for and offers anthropological evidence of the right’s embrace of totalistic rejection. The Battle is the most celebrated conservative book of the year, and probably the most feverishly promoted, Brooks having spun it off into at least half a dozen op-ed pieces, numerous lectures, some dozen interviews, and gobs of praise in the conservative press from the likes of Paul Ryan, David Brooks, and many others."

  • DougJ: Judis! Play it f#$ing loud: "John Judis has a great piece on what it was like to oppose the Operation Iraqi Freedom in those heady pre-war days…. [O]pposing the war in any way negative consequences for people in media (see Banfield, Ashleigh) and probably for those at think tanks as well, whereas in academia and the military intelligentsia there are generally some rewards (at least professional respect, say) for being right about things. I’ve enjoyed reading the apologies from various ostensibly 'liberal' or 'moderate' media types who cheerled Dear Leader’s quest to spread freedom. Here’s some Slatesters. Here’s everyone’s favorite quasi-paywallee. What you won’t you hear from any of them is the truth, which would sound like this: 'I supported the war because I’m a craven, careerist stooge.'”

On March 19, 2013: