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December 2011

Lindsey Beyerstein and Dylan Matthews on Ron Paul on Twitter

A thread:

Beyerstein Lindsay Beyerstein @ @dylanmatt Paul's disqualified himself to be POTUS on multiple counts, but he's also the only coherent critic of the drug war, "GWOT", etc. 13 minutes ago

delong J. Bradford DeLong @ @Beyerstein @dylanmatt I don't want to vote for somebody who thinks it was a mistake to go into Iraq in 2003 and to go into Europe in 1944 12 minutes ago

Beyerstein Lindsay Beyerstein @ @delong @dylanmatt Ron Paul: Even a stopped clock is right twice a day. 8 minutes ago

delong J. Bradford DeLong @ @Beyerstein @dylanmatt A stopped clock is right twice a day. Ron Paul--right once a day. Opposition to U.S. intervention in WWII crazy scary 6 minutes ago in reply to ↑

@Beyerstein Lindsay Beyerstein @delong @dylanmatt Paul is right twice a week, max. And, like a stopped clock, right for the wrong reasons. Cf. WW2, abortion, money.

Twitterstorm delong: December 31, 2011

  • polit2k Tim Coldwell MT @delong: Failing Up With Joshua Foust: Meet The Evil Genius Massacre-Denier Who Shills For War Profiteers… #browsings 14 minutes ago

  • leighblue Leigh Caldwell Brad @Delong has obviously started the New Year drinks early, as he's tweeting Daily Mail articles about chimpanzees. Or is it subtle satire 4 hours ago

  • chgreer Christopher Greer @ @dylanmatt @delong It's sad that the person talking about changing some policies--e.g. foreign wars--is also such a racist kook.

  • EricBoehlert Eric Boehlert what a sad, ugly attempt by @powerlineblog to smear Paul Krugman w/ antisemitism; #juststop #tcot 3 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • tcarmody Tim Carmody "No Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned… nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers" - 1215 A.D. 3 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • MattZeitlin Matt Zeitlin I've never had an ex boyfriend, but getting all these texts from Obama et al is pretty much the same thing, no? 2 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • BetseyStevenson Betsey Stevenson Unbelievably true & an incredible waste MT: @mattyglesias: Everything about using health insurance in America is exhausting & horrible. 1 hour ago Retweeted by delong

  • cstross Charles Stross The freemium Sims on iPad tries to make you pay real money for simoleons. Why bother? Enslaving your Sims is cheaper and far more fun! 59 minutes ago Retweeted by delong

  • emptywheel emptywheel So report saying you're Bangladeshi when you're really Yemeni? Too bad! So sad! DC Circuit says that's still enough to hold you indefinitely 54 minutes ago Retweeted by delong

  • daveweigel daveweigel @ @TheStalwart @TPCarney I think it'll be Romney, Paul, Santorum, and... uh... uh... oops. 34 minutes ago Retweeted by delong

  • delong J. Bradford DeLong Why the ProPublica Remap Yarn is Nonsense « Calbuzz 4 hours ago

  • delong J. Bradford DeLong @ @ATabarrok Congratulations. You are the very first defender of David Gordon. 4 hours ago

  • jab27 John B. @ @mark_dow Not to mention there wasn't anything "secret" about the liquidity swaps. That's almost more disingenuous than using "bailout" IMHO 6 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • New Economic Perspectives: Fannie and Freddie Fantasies 5 hours ago

  • delong J. Bradford DeLong Mark Thoma Sends us to William Black on Peter Wallison's Fake Narrative on the Financial Crisis 5 hours ago

  • TheStalwart Joseph Weisenthal Bingo. I only care about the Wilshire. RT @StockSage1: Best way to prove that you are old media/WS 1.0.....keep quoting in Dow terms

Yes, Virginia, the Yen Is Overvalued

Paul Krugman:

A Yen For Yenm: Japan has expected inflation that is around 2 points less than in other safe haven countries, but it has long interest rates that are only about 1 percentage point lower; Japan is a high real rate country. And this pushes up the value of the yen.

Just to be clear, this is a bad thing from Japan’s point of view; the country really needs more exports, and the high yen prevents that.

Another reason why you really, really don’t want to get into a deflation trap.

Mark Thoma Sends us to William Black on Peter Wallison's Fake Narrative on the Financial Crisis

Mark Thoma:

Economist's View: Peddling a False Narrative on the Financial Crisis: Richard Green:

Choice words from William Black: He writes:

If one had to pick one person in the private sector most responsible for causing the global financial crisis it would be Wallison. ... He complained during the build-up to the crisis that Fannie and Freddie weren’t purchasing more affordable housing loans. He now claims that it was Fannie and Freddie’s purchase of affordable housing loans that caused the crisis. He ignores the massive accounting control fraud epidemics and resulting crises that his policies generate. Upon reading that Fannie and Freddie’s controlling officers purchased the loans as part of a fraud, he asserts that the suit (which refutes his claims) proves his claims.

The piece is long, but worth reading in its entirely. 

Here's more on Black from Adam Levitin at Credit Slips:

A New Theory of the Role of the GSEs in the Housing Bubble, by Adam Levitin: Bill Black has an interesting new take on the role of Fannie and Freddie in the housing bubble. He sees their investment in non-prime mortgages as being driven by executive compensation, rather than a fight for market share against investment bank securitization conduits or govt affordable housing policy. The government affordable housing policy point has been repeatedly debunked (and Susan Wachter and I have a new paper that adds to this debunking via an examination of the commercial real estate bubble, where there was no government involvement whatsoever). Black is not, however, able to disprove the market share theory. What he does point to is that the GSE's involvement with nonprime mortgages was as whole loans kept in portfolio, rather than securitized (and also via purchases of MBS), which he says was a move to increase the short-term yield for the GSEs and thus maximize short-term executive compensation.

I think this is an interesting theory, but there are a few data points necessary to make it work, and I'm skeptical that they all support Black. ...

Let me note one other thing. The attempt by many on the right of the political spectrum to blame the financial crisis on government attempts to help the disadvantaged despite an abundance of evidence debunking this view annoys me, and annoys me a lot, but that shouldn't be confused with support for Fannie and Freddie. As I've argued in the past, it's very difficult to find a justification for their existence (the best I can do is conditional lukewarm support). Saying Fannie and Freddie didn't do it -- and they didn't -- is not the same as saying that Fannie and Freddie have, on net, been beneficial. I don't think that's clear.

Quote of the Day: December 31, 2011

"[A]s William Morris put it so finely in The Dream of John Ball: 'Men fight and lose the battle, and the thing that they fought for comes about in spite of defeat, and when it comes it turns out not to be what they meant, and other men have to fight for what they meant under another name.'"

-Christopher Hitchens, Letters to a Young Contrarian

Liveblogging World War II: December 31, 1941

Martin Gilbert:

As 1941 came to an end, Hitler told his circle of friends and confidants at Rastenburg: 'Let's hope 1942 brings me as much good fortune as 1941', and in his New Year message to the German people, he declared: He who fights for the life of a nation, for her daily bread and her future, will win; but he who, in this war, with his Jewish hate, seeks to destroy whole nations, will fail.'

America’s Financial Leviathan: Project Syndicate

America’s Financial Leviathan: Project Syndicate: In 1950, finance and insurance in the United States accounted for 2.8% of GDP, according to US Department of Commerce estimates. By 1960, that share had grown to 3.8% of GDP, and reached 6% of GDP in 1990. Today, it is 8.4% of GDP, and it is not shrinking. The Wall Street Journal’s Justin Lahart reports that the 2010 share was higher than the previous peak share in 2006.

Lahart goes on to say that growth in the finance-and-insurance share of the economy has:

not, by and large, been a bad thing....Deploying capital to the places where it can be best used helps the economy grow...

But if the US were getting good value from the extra 5.6% of GDP that it is now spending on finance and insurance – the extra $750 billion diverted annually from paying people who make directly useful goods and provide directly useful services – it would be obvious in the statistics. At a typical 5% annual real interest rate for risky cash flows, diverting that large a share of resources away from goods and services directly useful this year is a good bargain only if it boosts overall annual economic growth by 0.3% – or 6% per 25-year generation.

There have been many shocks to the US economy over the past couple of generations, and many factors have added to or subtracted from economic growth. But it is not obvious that the US economy today would be 6% less productive if it had had the finance-insurance system of 1950 rather than the one that prevailed during the past 20 years.

There are five ways that an economy gains from a well-functioning finance-insurance system.

First, people are no longer as vulnerable to the effects of fires, floods, medical disasters, unemployment, business collapses, sectoral shifts, and so forth, because a well-working finance-insurance system diversifies and thus dissipates some risks, and deals with others by matching those who fear risk with those who can comfortably bear it. While it might be true that America’s current finance-insurance system better distributes risk in some sense, it is hard to see how that could be the case, given the experience of investors in equities and housing over the past two decades.

Second, well-functioning financial systems match large, illiquid investment projects with the relatively small pools of money contributed by individual savers who value liquidity highly. There has been one important innovation over the past two generations: businesses can now issue high-yield bonds. But, given the costs of the bankruptcy process, it has never been clear why a business would rather issue high-yield bonds (besides gaming the tax system), or why investors would rather buy them than take an equity stake.

Third, improved opportunities to borrow allow one to spend more now, when one is poor, and save more later, when one is rich. Households are certainly much more able to borrow, thanks to home-equity loans, credit-card balances, and payday loans. But what are they really buying? Many are not buying the ability to spend when they are poor and save when they are rich, but instead appear to be buying postponement of the “unpleasant financial retrenchment” talk with the other members of their household. And that is not something you want to buy.

Fourth, we have seen major improvements in the ease of transactions. But, while electronic transactions have made a great deal of financial life much easier, this should have been accompanied by a decrease, not an increase, in the finance share of GDP, just as automated switching in telecommunications led to a decrease in the number of telephone switchboard operators per phone call. Indeed, the operations of those parts of the financial system most closely related to technological improvements have slimmed down markedly: consider what has happened to the checking operations of the regional Federal Reserve Banks.

Finally, better finance should mean better corporate governance. Since shareholder democracy does not provide effective control over entrenched, runaway, self-indulgent management, finance has a potentially powerful role to play in ensuring that corporate managers work in the interest of shareholders. And a substantial change has indeed occurred over the past two generations: CEOs focus much more attention than they used to on pleasing the stock market, and this is likely to be a good thing.

Overall, however, it remains disturbing that we do not see the obvious large benefits, at either the micro or macro level, in the US economy’s efficiency that would justify spending an extra 5.6% of GDP every year on finance and insurance. Lahart cites the conclusion of New York University’s Thomas Philippon that today’s US financial sector is outsized by two percentage points of GDP. And it is very possible that Philippon’s estimate of the size of the US financial sector’s hypertrophy is too small.

Why has the devotion of a great deal of skill and enterprise to finance and insurance sector not paid obvious economic dividends? There are two sustainable ways to make money in finance: find people with risks that need to be carried and match them with people with unused risk-bearing capacity, or find people with such risks and match them with people who are clueless but who have money. Are we sure that most of the growth in finance stems from a rising share of financial professionals who undertake the former rather than the latter?

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? Yet Another Washington Post Edition

Outsourced to Dean Baker:

Social Security Is NOT Selling Government Bonds: In an article discussing the implications of the extension of the payroll tax cut, [Jia Lynn Yang of] the Washington Post told readers:

This year, the Social Security system projects that it will pay out $46 billion more in benefits than it will collect in cash. It made up for the shortfall by redeeming Treasury bonds bought in years when there were cash surpluses.

This is not true. The Social Security trust fund is projected to earn $114.9 billion in interest on the bonds it holds. It will use a portion of these earnings to pay current benefits. It will not be redeeming its bonds.

DeLong Smackdown Watch: What Does Robert Lucas Believe Edition?

I had written that Robert Lucas's expressed views are:

consistent with (a) Ricardian equivalence, plus (b) either that (i) all government spending is transfers, or that (ii) the government purchases exactly the same things the private sector had purchased, or that (iii) the economy is (α) a rigid cash-in-advance economy with interest-inelastic money demand, plus (β) the government needs to maintain the same ratio of money balances to spending as the average economic agent.

Robert Waldmann points out that the (iii) part of this is simply wrong. Lucas's statements are not consistent with (a) plus (b)(iii).

Hoisted from comments: Robert Waldmann:

Brad DeLong: What Does It Mean to Say That an Economist "Believes" in a Model?: I think the key passage is "the same multiplier with a minus sign." This is not a reference to Say's law or an assumption that the velocity of money is constant. It is clearly an attempt to appeal to the IS-LM model and argue that Hicks would agree that fiscal policy would not work if there were Ricardian equivalence. It is a statement bout multipliers which makes no sense in a rigid cash in advance economy…

Ezra Klein's Central Bank Dissenter of the Year Award

A better world was possible. A better world is possible:

Ezra Klein: Central bank dissenter of the year: Charles Evans. While some on the Federal Reserve’s board of governors are worried that the central bank is doing too much and risking inflation, Evans has argued that the Fed isn’t doing enough to boost the economy. The president of the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago, Evans is one of the few bankers who seems to recognize that 9 percent unemployment should, as he put it, set policymakers’ hair on fire as much as a slight uptick in inflation usually does.

I would have given it to Adam Posen...

Ezra Klein's Central Bank of the Year Award

A better world was possible. A better world is possible:

Ezra Klein: Central bank of the year: Sweden’s Riksbank. It’s hard to avoid noticing that Sweden has dodged the economic woes that are ailing most of the world. Part of the credit here goes to deputy governor Lars Svensson, who spearheaded Sweden’s extremely aggressive monetary policy. In 2009, the Riksbank -- Sweden’s central bank -- was the first bank to experiment with a negative interest rate. And it had assets on its balance sheet equal to a stunning 25 percent of GDP, a sign of how much cash it was injecting into the economy, compared with just 15 percent for the Federal Reserve. The bold moves worked: Sweden is now growing at a healthy clip.

Liveblogging World War II: December 30, 1941

Winston Churchill speaking to the parliament of Canada:

World War II Today: Suddenly the explosion of pent-up German strength and preparation burst upon Norway, Denmark, Holland, and Belgium. All these absolutely blameless neutrals, to most of whom Germany up to the last moment was giving every kind of guarantee and assurance, were overrun and trampled down. The hideous massacre of Rotterdam, where 30,000 people perished, showed the ferocious barbarism in which the German Air Force revels when, as in Warsaw and later Belgrade, it is able to bomb practically undefended cities. On top of all this came the great French catastrophe. The French Army collapsed, and the French nation was dashed into utter and, as it has so far proved, irretrievable confusion. The French Government had at their own suggestion solemnly bound themselves with us not to make a separate peace.

It was their duty and it was also their interest to go to North Africa, where they would have been at the head of the French Empire. In Africa, with our aid, they would have had overwhelming sea power. They would have had the recognition of the United States, and the use of all the gold they had lodged beyond the seas.

If they had done this Italy might have been driven out of the war before the end of 1940, and France would have held her place as a nation in the counsels of the Allies and at the conference table of the victors. But their generals misled them.

When I warned them that Britain would fight on alone whatever they did, their generals told their Prime Minister and his divided Cabinet, “In three weeks England will have her neck wrung like a chicken.” Some chicken; some neck.


Quote of the Day: December 30, 2011

"In the name of heaven, Catiline, how long do you propose to exploit our patience? Do you really suppose that your lunatic activities are going to escape our retaliation for evermore? Are there to be no limits to this audacious, uncontrollable swaggering?

"Look at the garrison of our Roman nation which guards the Palatine by night, look at the patrols ranging the city, the whole population gripped by terror, the entire body of loyal citizens massing at one single spot! Look at this meeting of our Senate behind strongly fortified defences, see the expressions on the countenances of every one of these men who are here! Have none of these sights made the smallest impact on your heart? You must be well aware that your plot has been detected. Now that every single person in this place knows all about your conspiracy, you cannot fail to realize it is doomed. Do you suppose there is a single individual here who has not got the very fullest information about what you were doing last night and the night before, where you went, the men you summoned, the plans you concocted? What a scandalous commentary on our age and its standards! For the Senate knows about all these things. The consul sees them being done. And yet this man still lives! Lives? He walks right into the Senate. He joins in our national debates – watches and notes and marks down with his gaze each one of us he plots to assassinate.

"And we, how brave we are! Just by getting out of the way of his frenzied onslaught, we feel we are doing patriotic duty enough. But yours was the death which the consul should have ordered long ago. The calamity which you have long been planning for each one of us ought to have rebounded on to yourself alone.

"The noble Publius Scipio Nasica, who was chief priest but held no administrative office, killed Tiberius Gracchus, although his threat to the national security was only on a limited scale. Shall we, then, who hold the office of consuls, tolerate Catilina when he is determined to plunge the entire world into fire and slaughter?…

"The Senate once ordained that Lucius Opimius, who was at that time consul, should take measures to protect the state from harm. Thereafter, not one single night was allowed to elapse. Because of a mere suspicion of treason, Gaius Gracchus, the son, grandson and descendant of highly distinguished men, was put to death. A man of consular rank, Marcus Fulvius, was also killed, and so were his children. A similar resolution of the Senate entrusted the national safety to the consuls Gaius Marius and Lucius Valerius; and thereafter not one day went by before the vengeance of the state brought a violent end to the tribune of the people Lucius Saturninus and the praetor Gaius Servilius.

"But look at us, on the other hand. For the past twenty days we have allowed the powers which the Senate has given into our grasp to become blunt at the edges. We have an entirely appropriate decree – but it is left buried in the archives like a sword hidden in its sheath. According to this decree, Catilina, it is evident to all that you should have been instantly executed. And yet you are still alive – and living with an effrontery which bears not the smallest sign of subsiding and is indeed more outrageous than ever. Members of the Senate, my desire is to be merciful. Yet in this grave national emergency I also do not want to seem negligent; and as things are I blame myself for culpable inaction..."

--Marcus Tullius Cicero, In Catilinam I

"Quo usque tandem abutere, Catilina, patientia nostra? quam diu etiam furor iste tuus nos eludet? quem ad finem sese effrenata iactabit audacia?

"Nihilne te nocturnum praesidium Palati, nihil urbis vigiliae, nihil timor populi, nihil concursus bonorum omnium, nihil hic munitissimus habendi senatus locus, nihil horum ora voltusque moverunt? Patere tua consilia non sentis, constrictam iam horum omnium scientia teneri coniurationem tuam non vides? Quid proxima, quid superiore nocte egeris, ubi fueris, quos convocaveris, quid consilii ceperis, quem nostrum ignorare arbitraris? O tempora, o mores! Senatus haec intellegit. consul videt; hic tamen vivit. Vivit? immo vero etiam in senatum venit, fit publici consilii particeps, notat et designat oculis ad caedem unum quemque nostrum.

"Nos autem fortes viri satis facere rei publicae videmur, si istius furorem ac tela vitemus. Ad mortem te, Catilina, duci iussu consulis iam pridem oportebat, in te conferri pestem, quam tu in nos [omnes iam diu] machinaris.

"An vero vir amplissumus, P. Scipio, pontifex maximus, Ti. Gracchum mediocriter labefactantem statum rei publicae privatus interfecit; Catilinam orbem terrae caede atque incendiis vastare cupientem nos consules perferemus?…

"Decrevit quondam senatus, ut L. Opimius consul videret, ne quid res publica detrimenti caperet; nox nulla intercessit; interfectus est propter quasdam seditionum suspiciones C. Gracchus, clarissimo patre, avo, maioribus, occisus est cum liberis M. Fulvius consularis. Simili senatus consulto C. Mario et L. Valerio consulibus est permissa res publica; num unum diem postea L. Saturninum tribunum pl. et C. Servilium praetorem mors ac rei publicae poena remorata est?

"At [vero] nos vicesimum iam diem patimur hebescere aciem horum auctoritatis. Habemus enim huiusce modi senatus consultum, verum inclusum in tabulis tamquam in vagina reconditum, quo ex senatus consulto confestim te interfectum esse, Catilina, convenit. Vivis, et vivis non ad deponendam, sed ad confirmandam audaciam. Cupio, patres conscripti, me esse clementem, cupio in tantis rei publicae periculis me non dissolutum videri, sed iam me ipse inertiae nequitiaeque condemno…"

What Does It Mean to Say That an Economist "Believes" in a Model?

Noah Smith uses the phrase "X believes" as shorthand for "X's statements are consistent with a model in which". I think that is a misleading way to think about it.

Noah Smith:

Noahpinion: The Great Ricardian Equivalence Throwdown!: Paul Krugman wrote a post about the idea of Ricardian Equivalence (the idea that the timing of taxes doesn't matter), and why it doesn't imply that fiscal stimulus can't work…. Krugman cited some remarks by uber-macroeconomist Robert Lucas:

If the government builds a bridge, and then the Fed prints up some money to pay the bridge builders, that’s just a monetary policy. We don’t need the bridge to do that. We can print up the same amount of money and buy anything with it. So, the only part of the stimulus package that’s stimulating is the monetary part.


But, if we do build the bridge by taking tax money away from somebody else, and using that to pay the bridge builder — the guys who work on the bridge — then it’s just a wash. It has no first-starter effect. You apply a multiplier to the bridge builders, then you’ve got to apply the same multiplier with a minus sign to the people you taxed to build the bridge. And then taxing them later isn’t going to help, we know that…

Krugman… Ricardian Equivalence says that the timing of taxes can't matter… not that the level of government spending can't matter. Mark Thoma concurred….

Then Krugman came under fire from David Andolfatto, who says that Lucas's statement was obviously not talking about Ricardian equivalence….

[A]ll actually agree on the most important point!… Ricardian Equivalence doesn't say whether or not government spending helps or hurts the economy. Everyone agrees about that!

Lucas is restating Say's Law. Say's Law says, basically, exactly what Lucas says: If you take money from Person A and give it to Person B, then total output (GDP) will be unchanged. This is a very common argument for why stimulus can't work. Lucas is saying that A) Say's Law holds, and that B) you can't get around Say's Law by taxing people in the future instead of today…. So, Lucas is saying: (Say's Law in the static case) + (Ricardian Equivalence) = (Say's Law in the dynamic case)

I think Noah Smith is wrong here. Say's Law does not say that fiscal policy cannot affect spending but monetary policy can. Say's Law says that neither monetary nor fiscal policy can affect the level of spending because supply creates demand. Say's 1803 Treatise on Political Economy is reasonably clear on this:

Jean-Baptiste Say (1803): A Treatise on Political Economy, Book I, Chapter XV: [I]t is production which opens a demand for products…. [M]oney is but the agent of the transfer of values. Its whole utility has consisted in conveying to your hands the value of the commodities, which your customer has sold, for the purpose of buying again from you; and the very next purchase you make, it will again convey to a third person the value of the products you may have sold to others. So that you will have bought, and every body must buy, the objects of want or desire, each with the value of his respective products transformed into money for the moment only…. [T]o say that sales are dull, owing to the scarcity of money, is to mistake the means for the cause…. Sales cannot be said to be dull because money is scarce, but because other products are so. There is always money enough to conduct the circulation and mutual interchange of other values, when those values really exist. Should the increase of traffic require more money to facilitate it, the want is easily supplied…. [M]erchants know well enough how to find substitutes for the product serving as the medium of exchange or money…

Say in 1803 does not believe that a shortage of liquidity can crimp the pace of spending: if buyers do not have cash, he says, sellers will extend credit.

Lucas, by contrast is saying that (a) monetary policy can affect spending by expanding the money supply, but (b) fiscal policy cannot. That is--if it is to be a coherent argument--a claim that (i) the government must maintain the same ratio of money balances to spending as any other economic entity (which is simply not true) and (ii) that money demand is interest inelastic (which is also simply not true).

Now there is a sense in which this is a totally fruitless exercise: there is no point in trying to set out what the coherent model underlying somebody's thinking is when in fact there is no coherent model underlying their thinking. That's what I think is going on here. And so I think that Noah has deepened the darkness when he claims that Lucas believes in Say's Law: he doesn't.

Noah concludes:

[T]he big, important point is that, Ricardian Equivalence or no, Say's Law is just not right, and Lucas was therefore making a very unorthodox and controversial claim.

I agree that Lucas is wrong. But to say "Lucas believes in Say's Law" is, I think, not quite the right way to put it, for Lucas's statements are not consistent with Say's Law.

Lucas's statements are consistent with (a) Ricardian equivalence, plus (b) either that (i) all government spending is transfers, or that (ii) the government purchases exactly the same things the private sector had purchased, or that (iii) the economy is (α) a rigid cash-in-advance economy with interest-inelastic money demand, plus (β) the government needs to maintain the same ratio of money balances to spending as the average economic agent.

But I also think it would be wrong to say that Lucas believes one of:

  • (a) and (b)(i)
  • (a) and (b)(ii)
  • (a) and (b)(iii)(α) and (b)(iii)(β)

I think the right way to say it is that Lucas's statements are consistent with the underlying model of:

  • (a) and (b)(i)
  • (a) and (b)(ii)
  • (a) and (b)(iii)(α) and (b)(iii)(β)

but that he has almost surely not thought the issues through enough to have a coherent model in his mind.

Twitterstorm delong: December 29, 2011

  • samdolnick Sam Dolnick There will be no Friday in Samoa. They're switching time zones; go to bed on Thurs and wake up on Saturday. #jealous? 3 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • tanehisi Ta-Nehisi Coates I think at this point it really is safe to say that @ronpaul is just lying. Not that anyone who would vote for him much cares... 56 minutes ago Retweeted by delong

  • Investors Are More Confident in Countries That Can Devalue and Inflate 5 hours ago

  • joshtpm Josh Marshall Live from the fever swamp: I've just been attacked on Ron Paul's behalf by a guy with the twitter handle "Lil' Eichmann" #awesome 21 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • mattyglesias mattyglesias Please tell me a clever hacker from The Weekly Standard composed this week's Nation cover as a parody. 28 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • DemocratMachine VivaMachine! "I can't say I'll kill Big Bird, for pete's sake, i'm running for President" - Mitt Romney, first draft of "Sell Sesame Street" speech 28 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • abumuqawama Andrew Exum "Also, 'Maureen Dowd' is satire intended for distribution internal to the NYT. We deeply regret its accidental, twice-weekly publication." 28 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • pdacosta Pedro da Costa What's the opposite of a vigilante? 10-year Treasury yields back below 2 percent as market rallies. 28 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • rortybomb Mike Konczal Reading Lorie Tarshis' 1947 "The Elements of Economics." First Keynesian textbook, disappeared after coming under attack. Great stuff. 28 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • davidmwessel David Wessel RT @TheAtlantic: The real price of a TV set has fallen more than 96% in the last 70 years: 28 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • daveweigel daveweigel It ain't gonna beat itself. RT @JenFreespiritS: @daveweigel Beat the dead horse agan, why don't you? 28 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • thegarance Garance Franke-Ruta "Paul’s commitment is only to limiting federal power, not proactively protecting individual rights." 28 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • DemocratMachine VivaMachine! For $1000 a month, you can get the Democrat Machine Survival Report, a report telling you valuable news, like how you can give us more money 27 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • dangillmor Dan Gillmor Minneapolis newspaper's weasly explanation of failing to give credit where due: from @romenesko 27 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • waltershapiroPD Walter Shapiro With no sense of irony, Perry is now appealing to activist federal judges to disregard the Tenth Amendment and put him on Virginia's ballot. 27 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • MattZeitlin Matt Zeitlin Do any of the executive's post-9/11 powers allow the US to forcibly repatriate Adam Posen to the Fed? 27 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • noamscheiber Noam Scheiber What I appreciate about Ben Nelson: He spent lots of time making Dem policies crappier to aid re-election to a seat he's giving up. Thanks!

  • genericpoints Louis Theran “@delong: Hoisted from the Archives Friends of Ron Paul Edition” // They think Churchill was mean to Hitler. #WTF 8 minutes ago

  • jontalton jontalton RT @delong: Econbrowser: The Year in Review: Fantastical Pseudo Economics 2 hours ago

  • CraigCheslog Craig Cheslog MT @delong: Lew Rockwell--the Man Who Ran Ron Paul's Racist Scamming Newsletters--Sends Me a Fund-Raising Email... 3 hours ago

  • binarybits Timothy B. Lee @ @delong I don't understand why people write articles like that without mentioning Vanguard. "Buy a vanguard index fund" is not difficult. 28 Dec

  • nazarioz nazarioz Fascinating read. And btw, "the angels' share" is a perfect name RT @delong: The Mystery of the Canadian Whiskey Fungus

  • stegermeister Benjamin Steger @ @delong Either Ron Paul is a racist, anti-semite or he swindled thousands of his own followers. Rock, meet hard place.

Hoisted from the Archives Friends of Ron Paul Edition: Yes, People at Lew Rockwell's Ludwig von Mises Institute Think Churchill Was a War Criminal for Not Making Peace with Hitler in May 1940. Why Do You Ask?

Let's all remember Ron Paul's friends at the Ludwig von Mises Institute. In this case, David Gordon:

Ludwig von Mises Institute: Given this sorry record, it is hardly surprising that the renewed outbreak of world war in September 1939, which returned Churchill to the British cabinet as First Lord of the Admiralty, brought a new hunger blockade of Germany.... Franklin Roosevelt rivaled his British counterpart in his disregard for the rules of civilized warfare. Long before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on that "date which will live in infamy," December 7, 1941, Roosevelt hoped that the Chinese would bomb the major cities of Japan. Because of the presence of closely packed together wooden buildings, entire cities could readily be set afire.... Roosevelt was anxious for confrontation with the Japanese. Roosevelt's stationing of the Pacific Fleet at Pearl Harbor was intended to provoke them....

The moral offenses of Churchill and Roosevelt were not confined to violations of the laws of war.... Hitler wished to expel [the Jews] from Germany, and those willing to emigrate were actively encouraged to do so.... Roosevelt did virtually nothing to help.... Neither did he show much interest in efforts to settle the Jews elsewhere. Churchill, despite his frequently expressed sympathy for Jews and Zionism, was little better....

[W]as it not a clear moral imperative to avoid the outbreak of war and, if possible, to secure the evacuation of the Jews from parts of Europe likely to fall under German control? Further, once war broke out, was it not imperative to end the war as soon as possible? Churchill rejected all efforts to reach a settlement [ending World War II]. He continued the hunger blockade, a move that could only exacerbate the most extreme Nazi policies...

Liveblogging World War II: December 29, 1941

Martin Poppel:

29th December 1941: A grim journey to the Russian front: You can’t distinguish fields at all, just a monotonous, bleak landscape. No real villages, only little settlements. Houses? No, only shabby huts made of wood, each one like all the rest. The whole thing makes a dreary and wretched impression on us.

We stop for some time near Bialystock and change engines. …

A transport train carrying wounded men stops nearby. It’s a wretched sight which makes it clear to us how bitterly this war is being fought. It consists of ordinary goods wagons with straw in them for the wounded to lie on. Filthy and louse-ridden, with inadequate dressings and hardly any medical orderlies, no heating – that’s how the boys are brought home.

As soldiers, we understand the situation better when a railway official explains that there are around 3000 wounded men passing through here every day. Our excellent ambulance trains simply can’t cope any more. In the ensuing silence, each of us thinks that a decent soldier’s death in action would be better than to be brought home in a train like that, like animals to the slaughter.

Investors Are More Confident in Countries That Can Devalue and Inflate


Joe Weisenthal:

CHART OF THE DAY: This Is Our Vote For CHART OF THE YEAR: A phrase you sometimes hear in financial markets is 'punish the printer.' The idea is that countries that are printing a lot of money will see their currencies dive. But a defining characteristic of 2011 was that markets loved printers. Specifically, countries that were able to print their own money saw their borrowing costs plunge, while countries (even fiscally responsible ones) that didn't have this ability saw their borrowing costs jump. (Our) favorite example of this is Sweden vs. Finland. The former is outside of the euro zone and can print its own money; the latter uses the Euro and can't. Historically, the two countries have borrowed money at roughly the same rate. Both are considered to be stable and fiscally disciplined.

In this chart, the green line is the yield on the Finnish 10-year bond. The orange is the Swedish 10-year bond. Starting in the Spring, Finland began to pay a penalty, but still, the two roughly moved in the same direction. It was in late November, when the European crisis got to its hairiest point (even Germany had a failed auction) that you really saw the difference. Finnish yields spiked at the same time Swedish yields plunged. Investors flocked to the country that could print its own money. This defining idea of 2011 also resulted in ultra-cheap rates in the UK, Japan, and of course the U.S.

Quote of the Day: December 29, 2011

"We often consider dilemmas that have to do with fairness to be moral dilemmas. A fascinating, well-known finding involves what is known as the ultimatum game. Two people are involved in this game and they are only allowed one round. One person is given twenty dollars, and he has to split it with the other player, but he determines the percent split. Both players get to keep whatever amount of money is first offered. However, if the player who is offered the money refuses the offer, then neither gets any.

"In a rational world, the player who gets offered the money should take any offer because that is the only way he will come out ahead. That, however, is not how people react. They will accept the money only if they think it is a fair offer, ranging from at least six to eight dollars. Ernst Fehr and his colleagues used transcranial electric stimulation to disrupt brain functioning in the prefrontal cortex and found that when the function of the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex was disrupted, people would accept lower offers while still judging them to be unfair.

"Since suppression of this area increased selfish responses to unfair offers, it suggests that this area normally inhibits self-interest (taking any offer) and reduces the impact of the selfish urges on the decision-making processes, and thus plays a key role in implementing behaviors that are fair. More evidence for this region’s inhibiting selfish responses is from Damasio’s group, which has given moral tests to adults who have had injuries to this area since childhood. Their answers were excessively egocentric, as was their behavior. They exhibited a lack of self-centered inhibition and did not take another’s perspective. people who acquire these types of lesions as adults, such as the patients Damasio tested with the moral dilemma problems, can compensate better, which suggests the neural systems that had been impaired at an early age were critical for the acquisition of social knowledge. Many examples of moral circuits have been identified, and they seem to be distributed all over the brain…"

--Michael S. Gazzaniga, Who's in Charge?: Free Will and the Science of the Brain

DeLong Self-Smackdown Watch: "One Would Expect an Authorial Team Including an Economist to Sneer…"

Ann Marie Marciarille and J. Bradford DeLong, Bending the Health Cost Curve: The Promise and Peril of the Independent Payment Advisory Board, _ HEALTH MATRIX (forthcoming 2012):

Relative weights or relative value units (RVUs) are the core of the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule. RVUs are designed to account for the relative costliness of resources used to provide each service and reflect the relative levels of time, effort, skill, and stress involved.[121] Physician services, in short, have been distilled to these components: time, effort, skill, and stress. The origins of assigning relative weights to physician effort and skill trace back to the invention of RBRVS. Harvard Medical School Professor William Hsiao rationalized the most common Medicare physician services in a kind of medical time study, based on his understanding of the time, effort, skill and stress involved in these services in 1992.[122] These relative weights are updated at least every five years. As reported by MedPAC, “in completing its review, CMS receives advice from a group of physicians and other professionals sponsored by the American Medical Association and physician specialty societies.”[123]

William Hsiao’s legacy is a system that systematically undervalues cognitive services, and systematically overvalues medical procedures.[124] As a result, specialty physician services enjoy continued dominance in the delivery and budget of the Medicare program.

At this point, one would expect an authorial team including an economist to sneer in Hayekian fashion at thumb-fingered government regulatory bureaucracies. Government is one-size fits all and cannot process detailed information; private actors in markets are more efficient and flexible, economists might say. They must, under pressure of competition, create better ways of classifying expenditures and reimbursing providers than the rigid command-and-control accounting system of Dr. William Hsiao.[125]

If the economist co-author were to say this, however, he would be wrong. It is a fact that the bulk of private insurers use Dr. Hsiao’s work and the RVS as a baseline against which to make their own pricing and reimbursement decisions.[126] The market cannot magically create information out of thin air. It has to be created by somebody, somewhere—and that somebody is Medicare. As the largest paying unit in America’s health care system, it would be surprising if Medicare did not turn out to be both the price and the administrative-process leader whose judgments are taken as a baseline that other purchasers use in making their own pricing and reimbursement decisions…

Lew Rockwell--the Man Who Ran Ron Paul's Racist Scamming Newsletters--Sends Me a Fund-Raising Email This Morning...

Has the guy no decency? Does he not think that--unless he is nothing but a user using Ron Paul--now would be a time to be quiet?

The absence of normal hman empathy and social reciprocity is remarkable.

The "Chaiman and CEO":

After Ludwig von Mises's death in 1973, the Austrian School—and therefore the undiluted cause of liberty and prosperity—was in the doldrums. There were great Austrian economists teaching—preeminently Murray N. Rothbard—but they were isolated, and the pro-Fed Chicago School was in the ascendant. The great books were difficult to come by, and young people had almost no place to go, to learn about real free market and sound money, and their intellectual foundations.

You can understand why Margit von Mises, his widow, was so thrilled to learn of plans for a Mises Institute a few years after her husband's death, and gave it her blessing. Murray literally clapped his hands in glee when he heard. Since then, the Austrian School has blossomed, and not only in the US, but around the world. We have masses of brilliant students, and of faculty, too. Top journalists and businessmen, financiers and professionals, swell our ranks. We hope you will join us as well.

Our programs for students and scholars, and everyone else, are booming. All the great books are available for free online, and cheaply in physical form. Videos, audios, and thousands of articles, too, Our journal and other scholarly publications are in demand. Our website is massive and growing. Grad students and undergraduates compete to be our summer fellows. Of course, we want to work with every student, every economist, every professor, every person interested in the Austrian School and the related libertarian ideas, wherever they are. Meanwhile, our Distinguished Counsellor, Dr. Ron Paul, has introduced millions more to our ideas.

There is so much important work to do. We face a menacing State, a crazed Fed, and all its assembled liars on campus and off. But we also have the one weapon such people fear: the truth. And our ideas are on the march. Please help us move forward in 2012 to wipe the floor—intellectually speaking!—with the Keynesians, the socialists, the fascists.

Your generous, tax-deductible donation of $100, $500, $1,000, or more would be magnificent, and so needed. $50, $25, or any amount would help. Join us in this all-important fight. We can do nothing without the help of good people like you. Please link arms with us.

Llewellyn H. Rockwell, Jr.
Chairman and CEO
Ludwig von Mises Institute

Gene Healy Wriitng in 2009 on Those Who Welcomed 9/11

Gene Healy:

Good News: 9/11 Didn’t ‘Change Everything’: On the eighth anniversary of the terrorist attacks on New York and D.C., things are going much better than most of us dared hope in the initial aftermath of that horrible day.  We’re still a secure, prosperous, and relatively free country, and the fear-poisoned atmosphere that governed American politics for years after 9/11 has thankfully receded.

Not everyone’s thankful, however.  Boisterous cable gabber Glenn Beck laments the return to normalcy. The website for Beck’s “9/12 Project” waxes nostalgic for the day after the worst terrorist attack in American history, a time when “We were united as Americans, standing together to protect the greatest nation ever created.” Beck’s purpose with the Project?  “We want to get everyone thinking like it is September 12th, 2001 again.”

My God, why in the world would anyone want that?  Yes, 9/12 brought moving displays of patriotism and a comforting sense of national unity, but that hardly made up for the fear, rage and sorrow that dominated the national mood and at times clouded our vision. 

But Beck’s not alone…. Less than a month after people jumped from the World Trade Center’s north tower to avoid burning to death, David Brooks asked, “Does anybody but me feel upbeat, and guilty about it?” “I feel upbeat because the country seems to be a better place than it was a month ago,” Brooks explained, “I feel guilty about it because I should be feeling pain and horror and anger about the recent events. But there’s so much to cheer one up.” One of the things that got Brooks giddy was liberals’ newfound bellicosity. That same week, liberal hawk George Packer wrote:

What I dread now is a return to the normality we’re all supposed to seek: instead of public memorials, private consumption; instead of lines to give blood, restaurant lines… ”The only thing needed,” William James wrote in ”The Moral Equivalent of War,” ”is to inflame the civic temper as past history has inflamed the military temper.” I’ve lived through this state, and I like it.

There’s something perverse, if not obscene, in “dreading” the idea that Americans might someday get back to enjoying their own lives.  “Private consumption!”  “Restaurant lines!”  The horror!  The horror!… National unity has a dark side.  What unity we enjoyed after 9/11 gave rise to unhealthy levels of trust in government, which in turn enabled a radical expansion of executive power and facilitated our entry into a disastrous, unnecessary war….

Not only have some of us forgotten “what this country has already done… when imagination is joined to a common purpose,” it’s as if some of us are trying to erase the memory of our complicity in the last eight years — to forget that in the face of a crisis we did transcend our stale differences and cut the president a blank check that paid for disaster. How can we not question the scale of our leaders’ ambitions? How short would our memories have to be?…

Paul Krugman: Exchange Rates and Wages


Exchange Rates and Wages: Exchange Rates and Wages A followup to my post about modern Chicago economists forgetting what Milton Friedman knew: recent events have actually given us a dramatic demonstration of the reality of nominal wage stickiness…. [D]espite crushing unemployment, wages in Ireland and Latvia have come down only slightly — but Iceland, by letting its currency devalue, achieved a quick 30 percent fall in wages relative to the euro zone. And international macroeconomists know that the behavior of real exchange rates — exchange rates adjusted for relative inflation — is a prime piece of evidence for price stickiness. Not only do real rates move very closely with nominal rates, but the behavior of real rates changes dramatically when you move from floating to fixed rates or vice versa.

It would be one thing if people like [John] Cochrane had a serious critique of all this evidence, and of the decades-long research agenda that has confirmed the importance of price stickiness. But what’s clear in this discussion is that these guys are simply unaware of all this work, and feel entitled to make proclamations a priori.

What went wrong with the economics profession?

Hoisted from the Archives: Friedrich Hayek's Accursed Love for Gold

March 2009:

A Note on Friedrich Hayek and Lionel Robbins in the Great Depression...: Larry White continues his war with Milton Friedman over Friedman's condemnation 25 years ago of "the London School (really Austrian) view that I referred to... when I spoke of 'the atrophied and rigid caricature [of the quantity theory] that is so frequently described by the proponents of the new income-expenditure approach and with some justice, to judge by much of the literature on policy that was spawned by the quantity theorists'. This time I appear to be Friedman's proxy:

Lawrence White: DeLong acts as though he is unaware (though elsewhere he has indicating having read my paper) Hayek's and Robbins' monetary policy norm was not that the central bank should let a deflationary monetary contraction procede. Rather, the central bank should stabilize nominal income MV, meaning expand M to offset a drop in V, and expand the monetary base to offset a drop in the money multiplier...

Since Friedman can no longer speak, let me say that I still agree with him. I think that White's painting of Hayek and Robbins as people who wanted to stabilize MV is completely wrong--it is Ben Bernanke and the inflation targeters who want to stabilize MV, not Hayek and Robbins. If you had asked Hayek back at the time, he would have said that increasing the monetary base from 1929-1933 in order to offset the decline in monetary velocity was the very last thing that he wanted to see done. Stabilizing MV at its 1929 level was not on his or Robbins's agenda by any means.

In fact, he did say so.

Let me pull out his 1932 denunciation of monetary policies that stabilize the price level:

Hayek (1932), "The Fate of the Gold Standard": ...the extraordinary influence exercised by two particular representatives of... the concept of a systematic stabilization of the price level... Irving Fisher and Gustav Cassel... succeeded in making the concept of price stabilization as the objective of monetary policy into a virtually unassailable dogma... the influence of which upon actual developments it is impossible to overestimate....


It was not a big step from the desire to be released from the unpleasant necessity of adapting the general standard of living to the lower level of national income by reductions in wages and prices, to a theoretical justification of a monetary policy which rendered inoperative the tendencies of the gold standard in that direction.... The most important error is the distinction drawn between temporary movements of gold... [which] should not be allowed to bring about any changes in the domestic volumes of credit, and 'genuine' movements.... What is left unexplained in this is why movements of gold should under any circumstances represent movements of capital that are not genuine.... [T]he great monetary theorists of the classical period from Ricardo onwards always insisted that a non-metallic circulation of money ought always to be so controlled that the total volume of all money in circulation changes in just the same way as would happen if gold alone were in circulation....

[T]he artificial prevention of the fall in prices... up to 1929... is not meant to depict the fall in prices which has occurred since then as innocuous.... Instead of prices being allowed to fall slowly [from 1918 to 1929]... such volumes of additional credit were pumped into circulation.... Whether such inflation merely serves to keep prices stable, or whether it leads to an increase in prices, makes little difference...

Today I would note that Hayek appears to share the gold fetishism of von Mises and others: the "great monetary theorists" insist that the proper monetary policy has the money supply "controlled [so] that the total volume of all money in circulation changes in just the same way as would happen if gold alone were in circulation".

Thus if improvements in gold mining technology halve the cost of production of gold and so double the price level, that--according to Hayek--does not produce any price system distortions that lead to overinvestment and require a prolonged and painful liquidation to put things right. But if a fiat-money government were to undertake policies that double the price level in the absence of improvements in gold mining technology, that would produce price system distortions that lead to overinvestment and require a prolonged and painful liquidation to put things right.

Needless to say, there is no coherent model of a monetary economy in which this could possibly be correct.

Thus I interpret it as the survival at a prelogical level of a deep attachment to a cost-of-production theory of value, whereby it is the sin of the Mammon of Unrighteousness for anything that can be produced as cheaply as fiat money is to actually have value, and that sin must bring fearful retribution from the Gods of the Market.

Ron Paul Offers Jacob Levy a $224 Value for Just $99--and Levy Buys It

Jacob Levy:

Ron Paul continued | Bleeding Heart Libertarians: I want to help rescue libertarianism from the kinds of Confederacy- and Jim Crow-sympathizing, race-baiting and sometimes just plain racist filth.... Murray Rothbard, the activist-author-scholar who was probably the single most influential member of the modern libertarian movement... supported Strom Thurmond for President in 1948. He and his longtime associate Lew Rockwell pushed hard in the 1980s and early 90s for a “paleolibertarian” alliance with white cultural conservatives; they were involved with Pat Buchanan‘s campaign in 1992. Rockwell in particular went in for race-baiting, suggesting at one point that the problem with the Rodney King beating was that it was videotaped, impairing the ability of the police to get away with it. And Rockwell, as many know by now, was Ron Paul’s Congressional chief of staff in the 1970s and, later, partners with Ron Paul on his profitable line of newsletters. As Julian Sanchez and Dave Weigel reported four years ago, Rockwell was widely known to be the ghost-writer for the newsletters, though they went out under Ron Paul’s name.

[T]heir Buchananite, racist, culturally conservative “paleolibertarianism” was always in part directed against other libertarians. But it was also in part a money-making enterprise for Rockwell and Ron Paul directed at a particular segment of the public, a way to sell an ersatz anti-statism to white subscribers who wanted monthly updates on the Trilateral Commission, the Israel lobby, the homosexual AIDS lobby, the Federal Reserve, criminal blacks, and the rest of The Crisis At Hand.

There’s no way to deny that the newsletters are “legitimate” topics to question Paul about…. [T]he real problem isn’t about answering questions about their authorship.  It’s about coming to terms with why the people writing under Paul’s name thought (accurately, it seems) that his fans and subscribers wanted this kind of thing, why Paul was associated with that kind of political movement in the first place. Naming the author would be a first step, but no more than that.

And yet, of course… here we are.  If you think, as I do, that there’s great moral urgency in ending the drug war, in undoing the militarization of American police and the growth of the carceral state, you have some reason to root for Ron Paul to do well in the primaries. His hands are dirty with racist filth; but Weber taught us that there is no governing with clean hands. And all the other candidates who either have presided over or intend to preside over the drug war have or will have blood on their hands...

If you go to "the issues" section of Ron Paul's campaign web site, you read:

A Pro-Life Champion… The Right Remedy [health care]… Restore America's Prosperity… Strong, Secure, Respected… End the Fed… Lower Taxes Protect Gun Rights… Workers' Rights [i.e., no unions]… Standing Up for Homeschooling… Secure Our Borders… Energy Independence…

The Ron Paul campaign's issues aren't your issues, Jacob--unless, of course, you really do want to define yourself as a one-issue voter...

Quote of the Day: December 28, 2011

"What an incredible coincidence it is that our moon fits exactly over our sun. Talk to astronomers and they’ll tell you that Earth’s moon is relatively much bigger than any other moon round any other planet. Most planets, like Jupiter and Saturn and so on, have moons that are tiny in comparison to themselves. Earth’s moon is enormous, and very close to us. If it was smaller or further away you’d only ever get partial eclipses; bigger or closer and it hide the sun completely and there’d be no halo of light round the moon at totality. This is an astounding coincidence, an incredible piece of luck. And for all we know, eclipses like this are unique. This could be a phenomenon that happens on Earth and nowhere else.

"So, hold that thought, okay?

"Now, supposing there are aliens. Not E.T. aliens – not that cute or alone. Not Independence Day aliens – not that crazily aggressive – but, well, regular aliens. Yeah? Regular aliens. It’s perfectly possible, when you think of it. We’re here, after all, and Earth is just one small planet circling one regular-size sun in one galaxy. There are a quarter of a billion suns in this one galaxy and quarter of a billion galaxies in the universe; maybe more. We already know of hundreds of other planets around other suns, and we’ve only just started looking for them. Scientists tell us that almost every star might have planets. How many of those might harbour life? The Earth is ancient, but the universe is even more ancient. Who knows how many civilisations were around before Earth came into existence, or existed while we were growing up, or exist now?

"So, if there are civilised aliens, you’d guess they can travel between stars. You’d guess their power sources and technology would be as far beyond ours as supersonic jets, nuclear submarines and space shuttles are beyond some tribe in the Amazon still making dugout canoes. And if they’re curious enough to do the science and invent the technology, they’ll be curious enough to use it to go exploring. “Now, most jet travel on Earth is for tourism. Not business; tourism. Would our smart, curious aliens really be that different from us? I don’t think so. Most of them would be tourists. Like us, they’d go on cruise ships. And would they want to actually come to a place like Earth, set foot – or tentacle, or whatever – here? Rather than visit via some sort of virtual reality set-up? Well, some would settle for second-best, yes. Maybe the majority of people would.

"But the high rollers, the super-wealthy, the elite, they’d want the real thing. They’d want the bragging rights, they’d want to be able to say they’d really been to whatever exotic destinations would be on a Galactic Grand Tour. And who knows what splendours they’d want to fit in; their equivalent of the Grand Canyon, or Venice, Italy, or the Great Wall of China or Yosemite or the Pyramids?

"But what I want to propose to you is that, as well as all those other wonders, they would definitely want to see that one precious thing that we have and probably nobody else does. They’d want to see our eclipse. They’d want to look through the Earth’s atmosphere with their own eyes and see the moon fit over the sun, watch the light fade down to almost nothing, listen to the animals nearby fall silent and feel with their own skins the sudden chill in the air that comes with totality. Even if they can’t survive in our atmosphere, even if they need a spacesuit to keep them alive, they’d still want to get as close as they possibly could to seeing it in the raw, in as close to natural conditions as it’s possible to arrange. They’d want to be here, amongst us, when the shadow passes. “So that’s where you look for aliens. In the course of an eclipse totality track. When everybody else is looking awestruck at the sky, you need to be looking round for anybody who looks weird or overdressed, or who isn’t coming out of their RV or their moored yacht with the heavily smoked glass.

"If they’re anywhere, they’re there, and as distracted – and so as vulnerable – as anybody else staring up in wonder at this astonishing, breathtaking sight.

"The film I want to make is based on that idea. It’s thrilling, it’s funny, it’s sad and profound and finally it’s uplifting, it’s got a couple of great lead roles, one for a dad, one for a kid, a boy, and another exceptional supporting female role, plus opportunities for some strong character roles and lesser parts too…"

--Iain M. Bank, Transition

Liveblogging World War II: December 28, 1941

Teodore Locsin:

The Philippine Diary Project: Today they bombed Manila again. Again the ships still in the Pasig River drew the Japanese fire. From 11:45 a.m. till 1:10 p.m., Japanese bombers, free from any threat of anti-aircraft fire, swooped down the river raining bombs. They hit the Letran College, the Intendencia building again, Engineer Island, the NARIC bodega near the mouth of the river, the San Fernando Fire Station in Binondo, and, their aim improved from practice, some of the ships in the river were hit.

Jesse Taylor on Rick Perry

Reacting to Rick Perry's suing in federal court to get on the Virginia primary ballot…

Jesse Taylor:

Countdown to Iowa: I'm not entirely sure what happens if the Fourth Circuit doesn't allow Perry to get on the ballot. Does he propose abolishing it? Or does he praise it for respecting state rights?

julian Sanchez to Jim Rutenberg and Serge Kovaleski of the New York Times: "Have You No Decency, Sirs? Have You No Decency?"

Julian Sanchez:

The New York Times on Ron Paul’s Newsletters: With Ron Paul’s now-infamous newsletters once again making headlines, I… decided that there wasn’t much to add to the long piece Dave Weigel and I wrote for Reason back in 2008…. Apparently, The New York Times agreed. On Monday, they ran a piece that amounts to a couple paragraphs of “fresh tops” aimed at trying to make the piece current, followed by a very light, very lazy rewrite of our article. It cites exactly the same essays and materials we did, takes for granted the identity of Paul’s chief ghostwriter and newsletter editor (which our article spent a fair amount of space publicly establishing for the first time), and even interviews exactly the same sources on the same subjects. (I’ll buy that any reporter would have phoned Ed Crane up; I’ll eat my left shoe if the authors had the first idea who Carol Moore or Mike Holmes were before they read our piece.)

Please don’t take my word for it, though: Compare for yourself. This isn’t a “follow-up” story. It’s a sloppy paraphrase…. [T]hey could use our material without citing the original source.  Or very nearly: A few sentences from the very end, they acknowledge one tidbit was “first reported in Reason,” which is a rather brazen implicit deception, given that the same is true of almost everything else in the article. The sad thing is, if they’d been willing to open with a candid reference and link, they could’ve saved the time spent revisiting ground we covered and actually contributed something to the story.

Unlike Dave Weigel, I’m no longer a journalist, so I actually don’t care about being credited for long-ago reporting on a topic I had no intention of ever returning to. What I do care about is de facto deception of the audience by lazy journalists eager to pass off their regurgitation as reporting—which seems to be rather  a habit at the Times. I imagine they get away with it because their scribes are normally lifting from people who aspire to work there one day—but since, again, I’m no longer a journalist, I don’t feel any particular qualms about pointing it out….

When it’s an isolated factoid or a quote, I say lift and godspeed. When you’re doing little more than recapitulating an earlier article wholesale, however, and when it is actually directly relevant to the story that this topic has been exhaustively investigated and discussed within the very movement you’re writing about… well, in those cases, if you don’t have any professional scruples, at least have a little fucking shame.

Twitterstorm delong: December 27, 2011

  • waltershapiroPD Walter Shapiro With no sense of irony, Perry is now appealing to activist federal judges to disregard the Tenth Amendment and put him on Virginia's ballot. 59 minutes ago Retweeted by delong

  • delong J. Bradford DeLong "Edward Gorey's "The Trouble with Tribbles"" By Shaenon K. Garrity… 13 minutes ago

  • MattZeitlin Matt Zeitlin Do any of the executive's post-9/11 powers allow the US to forcibly repatriate Adam Posen to the Fed? 2 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • noamscheiber Noam Scheiber What I appreciate about Ben Nelson: He spent lots of time making Dem policies crappier to aid re-election to a seat he's giving up. Thanks! 2 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • MattZeitlin Matt Zeitlin Starting to think that the only feasible Fed decision/nondecision of Obama's that mattered was Bernanke's reappointment 2 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • Judd Legum: FACT CHECK: Ron Paul Didn't Decide He Had Never Written or Read His Newsletters Until 2001 6 hours ago

  • waltershapiroPD Walter Shapiro With both Gingrich and Paul repudiating their newsletters, their loyal subscribers were the biggest suckers since heyday of P.T. Barnum. 7 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • McCormackJohn John McCormack Gingrich applauded Romneycare when it passed in April 2006… via @allahpundit 23 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • DemocratMachine VivaMachine! We may have helped create those Gingrich divorce papers too. Perhaps. #haHa #p2 26 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • DemocratMachine VivaMachine!

News: Newt Gingrich was a deadbeat dad, causing his wife to resort to a church fooddrive. Also, Ron Paul is scared of gay toilets #p2

26 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • stegermeister Benjamin Steger @ @delong Either Ron Paul is a racist, anti-semite or he swindled thousands of his own followers. Rock, meet hard place. 5 hours ago

  • MacroScope MacroScope RT @delong In Praise Of Jeremy Stein, Obama's New Fed Board Nominee | The New Republic 6 hours ago

  • MarkThoma Mark Thoma RT @delong: Shorter Stephen Williamson: call Krugman is wrong if I pretend Lucas said something different 8 hours ago

  • Joseph Force Crater @ @delong Newt compared himself to Yamamoto

We Have Defeated Ourselves

Paul Krugman:

The Defeatism of Depression: The Defeatism of Depression A number of people have asked me to weigh in on David Brooks’s piece today. Sorry, not gonna do a tit-for-tat. Let me instead just make a more general point.

All around, right now, there are people declaring that our best days are behind us, that the economy has suffered a general loss of dynamism, that it’s unrealistic to expect a quick return to anything like full employment. There were people saying the same thing in the 1930s! Then came the approach of World War II, which finally induced an adequate-sized fiscal stimulus — and suddenly there were enough jobs, and all those unneeded and useless workers turned out to be quite productive, thank you.

There is nothing — nothing — in what we see suggesting that this current depression is more than a problem of inadequate demand. This could be turned around in months with the right policies. Our problem isn’t, ultimately, economic; it’s political, brought on by an elite that would rather cling to its prejudices than turn the nation around.

Mark Thoma: Un-Unpivoting

Mark Thoma:

Economist's View: Un-Unpivoting: While I try to find something to post, a quick thought. A few weeks ago Paul Krugman said:

What strikes me is just how wrong-headed the Obama administration’s “pivot” away from jobs and toward the deficit back in 2010 really was. It was bad economics; but it was also really bad politics, shifting the debate to exactly the ground where the right tends to have an (undeserved) advantage.

The good news for Democrats is that Obama is now in the process of unpivoting.

But the political establishment and the Very Serious Pundits are doing their best to turn the discussion back to deficit reduction.They already are.

Don't let them.

Jared Bernstein, last June:

Brad DeLong: Jared Bernstein Advises the White House: Someone just asked me, “How does the White House pivot from targeting deficits to targeting jobs?” How’s this? “Based on new information, we are now pivoting from targeting deficits to targeting jobs!”

OK, I’m not a speechwriter.  But that’s the gist.  And by no means should that preclude us from setting a balanced path toward a sustainable budget.  It’s just too early to set down that path.

Newt Gingrich as Con Man

Brody Mullins and Janet Adamy:

Gingrich Applauded Romney's Health Plan: Newt Gingrich voiced enthusiasm for Mitt Romney's Massachusetts health-care law when it was passed five years ago, the same plan he has been denouncing over the past few months as he campaigned for the Republican presidential nomination…. "The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system," said an April 2006 newsletter published by Mr. Gingrich's former consulting company, the Center for Health Transformation. The two-page "Newt Notes" analysis… continued: "We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100% insurance coverage for all Americans."...

R.C. Hammond, a spokesman for Mr. Gingrich, said the April 2006 essay shouldn't be read as an endorsement of Mr. Romney's health plan…. Mr. Hammond said the Newt Notes essay wasn't written by Mr. Gingrich himself…

America cannot be great until the Republican Party as we know it dissolves itself back into the primordial slime from whence it sprung.

Center for Health Transformation: Newt Notes: April 2006:

The most exciting development of the past few weeks is what has been happening up in Massachusetts. The health bill that Governor Romney signed into law this month has tremendous potential to effect major change in the American health system.

We agree entirely with Governor Romney and Massachusetts legislators that our goal should be 100% insurance coverage for all Americans. Individuals without coverage often do not receive quality medical attention on par with those who do have insurance. We also believe strongly that personal responsibility is vital to creating a 21st Century Intelligent Health System. Individuals who can afford to purchase health insurance and simply choose not to place an unnecessary burden on a system that is on the verge of collapse; these free-riders undermine the entire health system by placing the onus of responsibility on taxpayers. 

The Romney plan attempts to bring everyone into the system. The individual mandate requires those who earn enough to afford insurance to purchase coverage, and subsidies will be made available to those individuals who cannot afford insurance on their own. We agree strongly with this principle, but the details are crucial when it comes to the structure of this plan. Under the new bill, Massachusetts residents earning more than 300% of the federal poverty level (approximately $30,000 for an individual) will not be eligible for any subsidies. State House officials had originally promised that there would be new plans available at about $200 a month, but industry experts are now predicting that the cheapest plan will likely cost at least $325 a month. This estimate totals about $4000 per year, or about 1/5 of a $30,000 annual take-home income.

While in theory the plan should be affordable if the whole state contributes to the cost, the reality is that Massachusetts has an exhaustive list of health coverage regulations prohibiting insurers from offering more basic, pared-down policies with higher deductibles. (This is yet another reminder that America must establish a cross-state insurance market that gives individuals the freedom to shop for insurance plans in states other than their own.)

In our estimation, Massachusetts residents earning little more than $30,000 a year are in jeopardy of being priced out of the system. In the event that this occurs, Governor Romney will be in grave danger of repeating the mistakes of his predecessor, Mike Dukakis, whose 1988 health plan was hailed as a save-all but eventually collapsed when poorly-devised payment structures created a malaise of unfulfilled promises. We propose that a more realistic approach might be to limit the mandate to those individuals earning upwards of $54,000 per year.

While the Commonwealth’s plan will naturally endure tremendous scrutiny from those who assert that the law will not work as intended, Massachusetts leaders are to be commended for this bipartisan proposal to tackle the enormous challenge of finding real solutions for creating a sustainable health system. I hope that Massachusetts’ initiative to provide affordable, quality health insurance for all continues to ignite even more debate around the subject of how to best address our nation’s uninsured crisis and the critical problems within the health system at large.

On a different note, I am pleased to report that our work on accelerating the Right-to-Know movement continues to build. Leaders in Washington are now demanding that Medicare disclose its data, and CHT is helping to carry the message to the states. During my recent trip to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, our work on accelerating the Right-to-Know movement played a key role. My host in South Dakota was state senator and majority whip Tom Dempster, who is the recognized leader in South Dakota healthcare policy.

Senator Dempster is responsible for passing legislation in 2005 that requires all hospitals in the state to post the prices of their 25 most commonly-performed procedures. The law takes full effect on July 1, 2006, and will be the first of its kind in the country. The Sioux Falls Argus Leader did a poll last year that found 85 percent of South Dakotans supported this law. Senator Dempster said he looks forward to working with CHT to develop transformational ideas relating to Medicaid, health insurance, and their state employee health plan.

Also, last month the Center held a two-day Pandemic Influenza Strategic Simulation with our partner and CHT member, Booz Allen Hamilton. The exercise, hosted by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce at their Washington headquarters, was sponsored by MedImmune and Securitas. We were honored to be joined by 150 leaders of pandemic influenza preparedness planning drawn from federal, state, and international government organizations, as well as by business and health sector leaders.

Thanks both to Booz Allen’s excellent facilitation of the event and the insights shared by all who attended, participants have told us that they regarded the event as a great success. We expect to release a report of strategic simulation’s results and findings by the close of this month. (For more information, please contact Robert Egge, the director of CHT’s Health Preparedness and Homeland Security Project, at 202-375-2001 or [email protected].)

Finally, I want to take a moment here to challenge the Congress to put forth genuine effort to fix major faults compromising the quality of our health system. The House absolutely must pass a health IT bill this year. Hurricane season is fast approaching – how many lives will be lost this year to our disconnected, paper-based health system?

Judd Legum: FACT CHECK: Ron Paul Didn't Decide He Had Never Written or Read His Newsletters Until 2001

Judd Legum:

FACT CHECK: Ron Paul Personally Defended Racist Newsletters: Here’s what Paul told CNN on December 21:

PAUL: I never read that stuff. I never — I would never — I came — I was probably aware of it 10 years after it was written… Well, you know, we talked about [the newsletters] twice yesterday at CNN. Why don’t you go back and look at what I said yesterday on CNN, and what I’ve said for 20-some years. It was 22 years ago. I didn’t write them. I disavow them and that’s it…

When the newsletters first arose as an issue in 1996, Paul didn’t deny authorship. Instead, Paul personally repeated and defended some of the most incendiary racial claims in the newsletters. In May 1996, Paul was confronted in an interview by the Dallas Morning News about a line that appeared in a 1992 newsletter, under the headline “Terrorist Update”: “If you have ever been robbed by a black teenaged male, you know how unbelievably fleet of foot they can be.” His response:

Dr. Paul denied suggestions that he was a racist and said he was not evoking stereotypes when he wrote the columns. He said they should be read and quoted in their entirety to avoid misrepresentation…

In the interview, he did not deny he made the statement about the swiftness of black men.

“If you try to catch someone that has stolen a purse from you, there is no chance to catch them,” Dr. Paul said.

Paul also defended his claim, made in the same 1992 newsletter that “we can safely assume that 95 percent of the black males in [Washington, DC] are semi-criminal or entirely criminal” Paul told the Dallas Morning News the statistic was an “assumption” you can gather from published studies.

Paul’s failure to deny authorship was not an oversight. He was repeatedly confronted about the newsletters during his 1996 campaign and consistently defended them as his own. A few examples:

– In 1996, Ron Paul’s campaign defended his statements about the rationality of fearing black men. (“[W]e are constantly told that it is evil to be afraid of black men, it is hardly irrational.”) The Houston Chronicle reports, “A campaign spokesman for Paul said statements about the fear of black males mirror pronouncements by black leaders such as the Rev. Jesse Jackson.” [Houston Chronicle, 5/23/96]

– Paul said that his comments on blacks contained in the newsletters should be viewed in the context of “current events and statistical reports of the time.” [Houston Chronicle, 5/23/96]

– Paul defended statements from an August 12, 1992 newsletter calling the late Rep. Barbara Jordan (D-TX) a “moron” and a “fraud.” Paul also said Jordon was “her race and sex protect her from criticism.” In response, Paul said “such opinions represented our clear philosophical difference.” [Roll Call, 7/29/96]

– “Also in 1992, Paul wrote, ‘Opinion polls consistently show that only about 5 percent of blacks have sensible political opinions.’ Sullivan said Paul does not consider people who disagree with him to be sensible. And most blacks, [Paul spokesman Michael] Sullivan said, do not share Paul’s views.” [Austin American Statesman, 5/23/96]

Contrary to his statements to CNN last week, it was not until 2001, that he first claimed that newsletters were not written by him. He told the Texas Monthly in the October 2001 edition that “I could never say this in the campaign, but those words weren’t really written by me.” The reporter noted, “until this surprising volte-face in our interview, he had never shared this secret.”

There is no evidence that Paul denounced the newsletters in clear terms until he ran for president in 2008 when he said “I have never uttered such words and denounce such small-minded thoughts.” Paul has never explained how this blanket denial squares with his vigorous defense of the writings in 1996…

Quote of the Day: December 27, 2011

"IN THE LATE AUTUMN OF 1937, IN THE STEADY BEAT OF North Sea rain that comes with dawn in that season, the tramp freighter Nicaea stood at anchor off the Belgian city of Ostend. In the distance, a berthing tug made slow progress through the harbor swell, the rhythm of its engine distinct over the water, its running lights twin blurs in the darkness. The Nicaea, 6,320 gross tonnes, of Maltese registry, had spent her first thirty years as a coastal steamer in the eastern Mediterranean, hauling every imaginable cargo from Latakia to Famagusta, back to Iskenderun, down to Beirut, north to Smyrna, then south to Sidon and Jaffa—thirty years of blistering summers and drizzling winters, trading and smuggling in equal proportion, occasionally enriching, more typically ruining, a succession of owner syndicates as she herself was slowly ruined by salt, rust, and a long line of engineers whose enthusiasm far exceeded their skill.

"Now, in her final years, she was chartered to Exportkhleb, the Soviet Union's grain-trading bureau, and she creaked and groaned sorrowfully to lie at anchor in such cold, northern seas. Riding low in the water, she bore her cargo gracelessly— principally Anatolian wheat bound for the Black Sea port of Odessa, a city that had not seen imported grains for more than a century. She carried, as well, several small consignments: flaxseed loaded in Istanbul, dried figs from Limassol, a steel drum of Ammonal—a mining explosive made of TNT and powdered aluminum—en route to a sabotage cell in Hamburg, a metal trunk of engineering blueprints for an Italian submarine torpedo, deftly copied at a naval research station in Brindisi, and two passengers: a senior Comintern official using a Dutch passport with the alias Van Doorn, and a foreign correspondent of the newspaper Pravda traveling under his true name, André Szara.

"Szara, hands thrust deep in pockets, hair blown about by the offshore gale, stood in the shelter of a passageway and silently cursed the Belgian tug captain who, from the methodical chug of the engine, was taking his own sweet time attending to the Nicaea. Szara knew harbormen in this part of the world; stolid, reflective pipe smokers who were never far from the coffeepot and the evening paper. Unshakable in crisis, they spent the rest of their days making the world wait on their pleasure. Szara shifted his weight with the roll of the ship, turned his back to the wind, and lit a cigarette. He had boarded the freighter nineteen days earlier, in Piraeus…"

--Alan Furst, Dark Star

Liveblogging World War II: December 27, 1941






3 P.M., DECEMBER 27, 1941.


British Officers

Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Dudley Pound, First Sea Lord and Chief of Naval Staff
Field Marshal Sir John Dill
Air Chief Marshal Sir Charles Portal, Chief of Air Staff
Admiral Sir Charles Little, Joint Staff Mission
Lieut. General Sir Colville Wemyss, Joint Staff Mission
Air Marshal A. T. Harris, Joint Staff Mission
Brigadier V. Dykes, Director of Plans, War Office
Air Commodore W. F. Dickson, Director of Plans, At r Ministry
Captain C. E. Lambe, R.N., Deputy Director of Plans, Admiralty

U. S. Naval Officers

Admiral H. R. Stark, Chief of Naval Operations
Admiral E. J. King, Commander-in-Chief, U. S. Fleet
Rear Admiral W. R. Sexton, President, General Board
Rear Admiral F. J. Horne, Assistant Chief, Naval Operations
Rear Admiral J. H. Towers, Chief, Bureau of Aeronautics
Rear Admiral R. K. Turner, Director, War Plans Division
Major General Thomas Holcomb, Commandant, U.S. Marine Corps

U. S. Army Officers

General George C. Marshall, Commanding General of the Field Forces and Chief of Staff.
Lieut. General H. H. Arnold, Chief of Army Air Forces and Deputy Chief of Staff
Brigadier General L. T. Gerow, Chief of War Plans Division.

Joint Secretaries

Brigadier L.C. Hollis, R.M.
Colonel E.I.C. Jacob
Commander R.D. Coleridge, R.N.
Captain J.L. McCree, Aide to Chief of Naval Operations
Lt. Colonel P.W. Robinett, G-2, GHQ, U.S. Army
Major W.T. Sexton, Assistant Secretary, W.D.G.S.


ADMIRAL STARK presented a revised draft of ABC 4/1 to the Conference.

ADMIRAL POUND said that he understood the Report of the Joint Planning Committee had already been approved, and that he could not understand why a new draft was being submitted.

REAR ADMIRAL TURNER expained the changes. He said that copies of the changes had been furnished the British section, but that apparently they had not been able to see them before the meeting.

ADMIRAL STARK said that there were few changes. The greater part of the paper had been previously agreed to.

After some further discussion, it was agreed that the paper should be referred to the Joint Planning Committee for reconsideration by both sections and then resubmitted to the Chiefs of Staff at the next meeting.


ADMIRAL STARK brought up ABC 4/2, copies of which were distributed.

AIR MARSHALL PORTAL said that, with reference to the airplane allocations under this operation, he was horrified at hte large number of planes contemplated; he thought it would be a mistake to send uch a large number of planes to a theater of operations where they might not be utilized. He pointed out thta in allocating planes, the large strategy must be the primary consideration, rather than local requirements; that in the matter of Greece it was realized that there was an insufficient number of troops and planes, yet those available had been allocated despite the expectation that the force would be knocked down. Although this happened, the stratgic importance of this operation was great because it delayed the attack on Russia for two months. He urged that in making allocations, the figures be viewed in the spirit of economy, that is, the minimum number that it would be safe to have.

GENERAL ARNOLD said that he had also objected to the large number of planes allocated, and thought the paper should be again referred to the Joint Planning Committee for further consideration.

GENERAL MARSHALL agreed that the paper should be referred back to the Planning Committee. He pointed out, however, that this operation might result in the first contact between American and German troops. Success should not be jeopardized by failure to provide adequate means. A failure in this first venture would have an extremely adverse effect on the morale of the American people. In summing up, he said that this first operation, although in some respects a minor one, could not be treated in a routine manner.

It was agreed that the paper would be referred back to the Joint Planning Committee for reconsideration, in the light of the discussion which had taken place, and revised draft submitted to the Chiefs of Staff at the next meeting.


ADMIRAL STARK brought up WW/1, Joint American-British Strategy, which had been discussed previously.

REAR ADMIRAL TURNER said that the original British memorandum had not been fully agreed to.

ADMIRAL POUND said that the papers had been agreed to as the basis for our joint strategy, subject to some amendments which had been agreed to and to-the inclusion of a revised paragraph on air routes as proposed by General Arnold.

ADMIRAL STARK agreed with Admiral Pound.

It was agreed that the paper would be referred back to the Joint Planning Committee and a revised draft incorporating the agreed amendments and the revised paragraph on routes should be submitted to the Chiefs of Staff at the next meeting.


REAR ADMIRAL TURNER listed the various papers now in the hands of the Joint Planning Committee as follows:

(a) WW/1-- Grand Strategy.

(b) ABC-4/2-- Expedition to Northwest Africa.

(c)Diversion of Reinforcements in the Far East.

It was suggested that a definite statement of priorities should be presented to the Chiefs of Staff at the next meeting. In the meantime, the Joint Planning Committee was to concentrate on the directlve concerning the disposal of reinforcements en route to the Far East.


ADMIRAL STARK asked Admiral Pound if he cared to discuss the matter of unity of command for the Far East as proposed by General Marshall.

ADMIRAL POUND stated that he would like to get it clear in his mind what the United States means by unity of command, particularly how Naval matters would be dealt with.

GENERAL MARSHALL said that it would be impossible to choose anyone for supreme command who would have full technical knowledge of all services. He felt, however, that the matter of appointing a supreme commander would be bound up in the assumption that a man of good judgment would be selected; otherwise the whole project would be a failure. He felt that a man with good judgment and unity of command has a distinct advantage over a man with brilliant judgment who must rely on cooperation.

The whole matter, he said, rests on the consideration as to whether a directlve could be drawn which would leave the Supreme Commander with enough power to improve the situation and still not give him power to destroy national interests or to exploit one theater without due consideration to another.

He then read a suggested form of letter, (See Annex 1,) copies of which were distributed, of instructions to the Supreme Commander, which he stated was purely a form and a basis for further discussion concerning the Far Eastern area. Similar directives might be possible for other areas.

In urging the adoption of unity of command in the Far East, GENERAL MARSHALL said that the Associated Powers are opposed in that area by an enemy who has unity of command in its highest sense; that in light of the present conditions out there, any action whatsoever along this line would be an improvement. The situation in this respect could not be made worse than it exists at present.

ADMIRAL POUND asked, on the assumption that four countries were involved, and a Supreme Commander were chosen for instance, from Power X, who would be on his Staff?

GENERAL MARSHALL replied that, personally, he envisaged a small staff, one representative from each Government possibly, who would act as a sort of liaison officer with local forces. The commander would possess two mobile elements -- one, sea-going vessels and the other, bombardment aviation.

He said that at the present time the situation in the Far East is tragic; that General Brereton, who was the air officer in the Philippines, had left the Philippines with heavy bombers and had been able to establish some contact with local commanders in Borneo and had ended up in Surabaya, Java. The information from General Brereton has been the most heartening from the Far East in the past few days.

MARSHAL DILL observed, with regard to General Marshall's draft, that the restrictions on the commander were too great; that the proposition formed a good basis to work on, but the restrictions would make it very difficult for the Commander-in-Chief to exercise command.

GENERAL MARSHALL agreed that the restrictions were great, but stated that if the Supreme Commander ended up with no more authority than to tell Washington what he wanted, such a situation was better than nothing, and an improvement over the present situation.

AIR CHIEF MARSHAL PORTAL commended the paper for its realism; he observed that it separated a commander's resources in air defense and air offense, which indicated some of the problems of such a proposition. He stated that the primary consideration should be what is sound from a military point of view; that what might be gained by the military aspect of unified command might be lost by the necessity of political considerations. He asked if it would not be possible to give the commander a free hand, and to have all the political questions resoIved, say, in Washington, or, as an alternative suggestion, by a representative in the area, rather along the lines adopted by the British in the Middle East.

GENERAL MARSHALL said that political questions could be settled in Washington. He agreed that his paper had been drawn on realistic lines. He thought Air Marshal Portal was talking more in terms of idealism; that what be desired to do was to start something.

ADMIRAL STARK pointed out that under the provisions ofthe draft directlve, troops of one nation could not be moved out of its own possessions without approval of the home government. He felt that the restrictions were heavy, but realistic; and that it was better to have restrictions first and then remove them, than to fail in establishing the pr. inaiple.

AIR MARSHAL PORTAL pointed out that if the Supreme Commander desired to mdve the air forces of one of the elements of the command, he should know the capabilities of these forces, and that could only be accomplished by having a suitable liaison element.

ADMIRAL KING thought that it would be imposslble to get the idea of.a single Commanders-in-Chief accepted by the governments concerned unless the limitations were imposed. He suggested that the Chiefs-of-Staff Conference predate an outline plan for presentation to the Praline Minister and the President.

ADMIRAL POUND stated that he realized the urgency of coming to a decision in the matter, whatever it might be; and asked, on the assumption that unified command was recommended, how would the many details be workedout? He pointed out that there are a large number of details involved. He thought that it would be difficult to keep the staff of the Commander-in-Chief small for he would have to have representatives of the services of each nation to advise him. The British Chiefs of Staff agreed as to the urgency of getting to a conclusion on the question immediately.

During the discussion it was suggested that the broad outline be prepared and the details worked out later.


ADMIRAL POUND said that it might prove advantageous to the general scheme for reinforcing the Far East if these transports, when they had delivered the 18th British Division at its destination, could be-used for carrying additional reinforcements from the Middle East to the Far East. He asked whether such a proposal would be approved by the United States Chiefs of Staff.

ADMIRAL STARK said that these ships would be available for use as seemed best in the joint cause.

ADMIRAL POUND said that he did not ask for an immediate decision in the matter, but thought it best to draw attention to the possibility that such a request might be made.

The Conference adjourned at 4'30 p.m.

Interest Rates: The U.S. Is Not Just the "Tallest Midget", But One of a Number of "Safety" Countries

Paul Krugman:

America Is Not Exceptional: Ezra Klein points out… the big economic story of 2011 was that the conventional wisdom of Washington about the urgency of deficit reduction was totally contradicted by the bond market. But Ezra makes at least a slight nod in the direction of a new conventional wisdom, which says that it’s about the unique safe haven status of the United States:

This is not, to be fair, a bet on America’s economic strength. It’s a judgment about the rest of the world’s economic weakness. U.S. Treasuries are what savvy investors buy when they’re in a canned-goods-and-ammunition sort of mood and they think gold is overvalued. But though that makes the demand we’re seeing more depressing, it doesn’t make it any less real.

What such stories miss is the fact that interest rates have dropped sharply for every [major, credit-worthy] country that borrows in its own currency…. Note to British readers: every time Cameron takes credit for low British rates, he’s hoping you don’t know that the same thing has been happening in every non-euro advanced country.

What we’re looking at is a world of depressed demand, where government securities look like a good buy everywhere except in countries that either don’t have their own currency or have large debts in foreign currency, making them vulnerable to self-fulfilling panic. It’s a world in which deficit obsession is mad, bad, and dangerous.

Why Reality-Based Economists Focus on Core Inflation

Paul Krugman:

The Core, Not Rotten: There have been many news reports the past few days about declining inflation — very different from this time last year, when warnings of higher inflation (and higher interest rates) abounded…. [E]vents amount to another win for the IS-LM model and the concept of a liquidity trap. They also amount to a win for the concept of core inflation…. Look at the last decade…. Focusing on headline inflation, you would have experienced three inflation panic attacks (and one deflation panic attack), whereas excluding volatile prices would have kept you relatively calm.

Hoisted from Comments/DeLong Smackdown Watch: Gingrich Was Not Worth Writing About in 1992

We have a comment from someone, who may be Bob Woodward, saying that Darman's and Weber's views of Newt Gingrich were not newsworthy in 1992--never mind that he was then the House Minority Whip:

Brad DeLong: Bob Woodward Tells Us Now What He Knew About Newt Gingrich Two Decades Ago: There you go again. For an academic, you repeatedly avoid or overlook facts. You rightly set the standard when you say a journalist should inform "the American people about those who were running their government." Read the entire October 1992 four part series you quote from above. It did just that, describing the attempted management of the economy by then-President Bush and his economic team. Gingrich was No. 2 in the House minority---not someone running the government though he did throw a wrench into it for a month.

And he says that Darman's and Weber's views of Gingrich were not newsworthy in 1993, when Gingrich was leading the Republican charge to see if they could block everything Clinton proposed and make him appear to be a failure in order to gain political advantage. And Darman's and Weber's views of Gingrich were not newsworthy in 1994, when Gingrich's plan to try to block everything Clinton proposed and make him appear to be a failure in order to gain political advantage looked to be working.

And Darman's and Weber's views of Gingrich were not newsworthy in 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998, she Gingrich was Speaker of the House. Or in 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, or 2010. How about in early 2011, when Gingrich looked to be a serious candidate for the Republican nomination building a staff that could run a nationwide primary campaign? Nope, not newsworthy then.

But now, at the end of 2011, now that Gingrich's stock on InTrade has collapsed from 40% to 8%; now, he writes:

Now that Gingrich is running for president all the detail in the current December 2011 story is relevant. You really ought to be embarrassed. And you think this is about the press corps?

Bob Woodward

Bob Woodward Tells Us Now What He Knew About Newt Gingrich Two Decades Ago

Bob Woodward, October 1992:

Primary Heat Turned Deal Into a `Mistake': [George H.W. BushBudget Director Richard] Darman, [Treasury Secretary Nicholas] Brady and [White House Chief of Staff] Sununu met with five congressional leaders to produce an accord that would avert a government shutdown…. The White House team was pleased with the last-minute agreement… no income tax rate increase, the measure that the administration most wanted to avoid. "It was 90 percent an administration-Darman win, 10 percent for everyone else," said one independent budget analyst.

But this plan ran into bipartisan opposition. Conservative House Republicans, led by Whip Newt Gingrich (Ga.) refused to go along with any plan that included taxes, since many had made no-new-taxes pledges of their own. Liberal Democrats then objected to the Medicare cuts. The House voted down the bill on Oct. 6, resulting in a brief government shutdown of all but essential services.

Negotiations continued, and the budget bill that finally passed the Congress in October was less to the administration's liking…

Bob Woodward, December 2011:

In his debut in Washington’s power struggles, Gingrich threw a bomb: Oct. 4, 1990…. Days earlier, Gingrich had dramatically walked out of the White House and was leading a very public rebellion against a deficit reduction and tax increase deal that Bush and top congressional leaders of both parties — including, they thought, Gingrich — had signed off on after months of tedious negotiations….

[George H.W. Bush OMB Director Richard] Darman called Gingrich…. Gingrich told Darman “you’ve got to go” and said that he wanted Bush to be defeated. Gingrich did not dispute Darman’s version of the conversation, but he said he later told him that he had changed his position and did not want to knock off Bush. “I am a loyalist,” Gingrich said, adding that he worked hard for Bush’s reelection in 1992….

Darman asked [Vin] Weber to mediate…. “It was one of the most bizarre experiences of my life,” Weber said, “because I never intended to be either a psychiatrist or marriage counselor. And the sessions were very much of that magnitude. They both should have been laying down! “I had this very strong sense that I was dealing with a couple of people that had grown up without any friends… a couple of kids that were the smartest kids in their school class but nobody liked them.”

Weber said the two did not have real discussions or disagreements about policy…. “I got pretty bored with it all, to be candid, sitting there listening to these guys talk about, you know, ‘Well I thought you liked me, if you liked me, why did you say that about me?’ ” Weber said….

“I know Newt didn’t want Dick Darman to resign,” Weber said. “Newt wanted Dick Darman to sit down and spend hours and hours talking with him. And set up a process of communication that would make sure that everybody knew that, you know, Newt had Darman on the phone any time he wanted him and had his ear on anything he wanted to.” Weber portrayed Gingrich in various ways throughout the 1992 interview, at one point calling him “a high-maintenance friend and ally, needy” and at another saying that “Newt, as you know, views himself as the leader of a vast, national interplanetary movement.”…

The December 2011 story was in the can back in 1992: the interviewing was all done. But the Washington Post's readers weren't worthy of learning it until last week.

Things Woodward knew in 1992, but that I can find no sign of his having written then:

  1. That the "liberal Democrats" who made up the "bipartisan opposition" to the first Bush-Foley-Mitchell budget plan had never promised to support it--it was, after all, "90 percent an administration-Darman win". Darman, Brady, and Sununu had hung tough in the negotiations because they (i) knew that the Democrats greatly wanted to avoid the shutdown, and (ii) thought that they did not need the votes of the Democratic left because they had the votes of the Republican right: the Republican House leadership, including Gingrich, had all promised to support the deal.

  2. That Gingrich hoped that his double-cross of George H.W. Bush would lead to Bush's defeat and the election of a Democratic President in 1992--and in Gingrich's promotion within the Republican Party.

  3. That Gingrich did not have serious substantive policy disagreements with Darman--that Gingrich's goal was for "Dick Darman to sit down and spend hours and hours talking with him. And set up a process of communication that would make sure that everybody knew that, you know, Newt had Darman on the phone any time he wanted him and had his ear on anything he wanted to."

  4. That Weber saw Gingrich in 1992 as a "a high-maintenance friend and ally, needy" who "views himself as the leader of a vast, national interplanetary movement'…

It would have been very nice for the country if Woodward had reported any of these four back in 1992, when it would have informed the American people about those who were running their government rather than informing them about a candidate with an 8.3% InTrade shot at the nomination who can't get his act together to collect signatures to get on primary ballots. Richard Darman and Vin Weber were both leaving government at the end of 1992--Darman to work for the Carlyle Group and Weber to become a lobbyist. Neither was going to have much value to Woodward as an inside source after the 1992 election.

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

Newt Gingrich Says: "Tora! Tora! Tora!"

David Ferguson:

Newt compares campaign’s Virginia debacle to attack on Pearl Harbor | The Raw Story: Talking Points Memo is reporting that Gingrich’s campaign manager Michael Krull has taken to Facebook to vent about the Virginia Republican Party’s judgment that the former Speaker of the House did not qualify to appear on the March 6 primary ballot.

"Newt and I agreed that the analogy is December 1941,” he writes, comparing the campaign’s failure to acquire the 10,000 signatures necessary to compete in the Virginia primary to the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. “We have experienced an unexpected set-back, but we will re-group and re-focus with increased determination, commitment and positive action.”

On December 7, 1941, 353 Japanese bombers mounted a raid on American military assets billeted at Pearl Harbor, a Navy base on the island of Hawaii. According to WikiPedia, 2,402 Americans lost their lives, with 1,282 injured. Eight U.S. battleships were damaged, four of them sunk. 188 U.S. aircraft were destroyed, as well as three Navy cruisers, three destroyers, an anti-aircraft training ship, and one minelayer.

As Raw Story reported earlier, this is the third state primary for which the Gingrich team has failed to collect enough signatures or missed the filing deadline.... Gingrich remains defiant....

John Lithgow dramatizes a Gingrich campaign press release from earlier this year. Merry Christmas!

Twitterstorm delong: December 26, 2011

  • thegarance Garance Franke-Ruta Weigel: 15 Years Ago, Ron Paul Wasn't Claiming Somebody Else Wrote His Newsletters 1 hour ago Retweeted by delong

  • firedoglake Firedoglake Condoleeza Rice Wants a Do-Over After Destroying Iraq 1 hour ago Retweeted by delong

  • pourmecoffee pourmecoffee Here's a one ton 5MB hard drive from 1956 being lowered by forklift off a plane. 59 minutes ago Retweeted by delong

  • mattyglesias mattyglesias Too many liberals have joined the Use Capital Letters Instead of Naming Specific Adversaries caucus. 3 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • ejgraff E.J. Graff Plan B on Plan B? New research proves progressives were right to be upset by restrictions on emergency contraceptives: 4 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • daveweigel daveweigel Folks, we shouldn't have expected MSM to dig up new details on Ron Paul's letters. It's not like this is a former gov of Alaska's emails. 8 hours ago Retweeted by delong

  • GeneHealy Gene Healy I go to searching for worst column. Top of the page: "Are We Going to Roll Up Our Sleeves or Limp On?" he's like the Michaelangelo of mixed metaphors. 25 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • SimonHorrobin Simon Horrobin First toy breakage: 30 mins. More to come given the gross motor skill to enthusiasm ratio. And that's just dad. 24 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • EconOfContempt EconOfContempt Stratfor was hacked? You've got to admit, that's kind of funny. (Who cares abt their client list. Every major corp & gov entity is a client) 24 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • ModeledBehavior Modeled Behavior Thomas Friedman has bad ideas, but at least they're ideas. Bruni is incomparably worse than Dowd or Friedman. I read Frank Bruni with my jaw dropped. How is this happening? Is this an elaborate prank? Some social science experiment? When I think about all the extremely talented thought provoking writers out there.... apologies for crudeness, but what a fucking waste. 24 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • Ihnatko Andy Ihnatko Another holiday tradition: linking to @evanier's story about Mel Tormé and "The Christmas Song." 24 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • Queen_UK Elizabeth Windsor For the avoidance of doubt, Gin O'Clock starts now and finishes at 9am 27th December. Your Christmas Queen loves you. 24 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • KagroX David Waldman So are we to conclude from Gingrich's disqualification that he was attempting to commit "voter fraud" in submitting invalid signatures? 24 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • pandagon Jesse Taylor Both Gingrich and Santorum are Virginia residents, and failed to qualify for the state's ballot. #booksaletime 24 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • matociquala Elizabeth Bear RT @Sherman_Alexie: Gay people don't threaten my marriage; Gorgeous straight women with no boundaries threaten my marriage. 23 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • joshtpm Josh Marshall On contrary, vote fraud claptrap was born in effort to put brakes on voting by whole classes of voters. 23 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • delong J. Bradford DeLong Ricardo J. Caballero (2006): On the Macroeconomics of Asset Shortages 23 Dec

  • delong J. Bradford DeLong David Beckworth: Macro and Other Market Musings: Why the Global Shortage of Safe Assets Matters 23 Dec

  • EricBoehlert Eric Boehlert as `12 prospects slip away we'll c way more RW race hate....Bozell likens Obama to "Skinny, Getto Crackhead"; 23 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • grossdm Daniel Gross So NYT has $15 m for CEO severance, but no money for its podcasts? You know, it is possible to sell ads against audio content. See: radio 23 Dec Retweeted by delong

  • delong J. Bradford DeLong Steven Horwitz: The Paul Newsletters and the Problem of the Paleos 23 Dec »

  • DemocratMachine VivaMachine! Ron Paul('s ghostwriter) outraged #p2 | RT @Reuters: Christmas won't be white in much of United States

  • tsuomela Todd Suomela RT @delong Noahpinion: The liberty of local bullies is a nice coinage for an idea I've tried to convey many times. 31 minutes ago

  • abc_et_cetera Anne Bown-Crawford RT @CraigCheslog: @delong links to one of Ron Paul's solicitation letters for the newsletters he says he didn't read. 3 hours ago

  • Noahpinion Noah Smith @ @delong Government capital is not just a "now more than ever" thing! Take that, UMich seminar skeptics! ;-) 3 hours ago

  • klhoughton klhoughton @Politifact If this (h/t @delong) is Mostly True your Lie of the Year isn't even close to wrong. Brain-dead idiots. 5 hours ago

  • molitron daniel molitor @ scary shit "@delong Ron Paul Offers Conor Friedersdorf a $224 Value for Just $99--and Friedersdorf Buys It 10 hours ago

  • nahumg Nahum Gershon RT @hangingnoodles: still a sizzling mind RT @delong: Francis Bacon: 4 idols 24 Dec

  • mark_dow Mark Dow J'Syracuse! RT @delong Niall Ferguson in Syracuse... 24 Dec

  • jahenfr Jahen F. Rezki RT @rodrikdani: RT @delong: David Romer: Evidence for the Effectiveness of Fiscal Policy 23 Dec

  • peter_c_william Peter Williams “@delong: Yes Virginia, Ron Paul is a Kook via @zite” Guess that's what makes him with developers, gamers and the like 23 Dec

Liveblogging World War II: December 26, 1941

Winston Churchill: Address to the Congress of the United States>:

Members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives of the United States, I feel greatly honored that you should have thus invited me to enter the United States Senate Chamber and address the representatives of both branches of Congress. The fact that my American forebears have for so many generations played their part in the life of the United States, and that here I am, an Englishman, welcomed in your midst, makes this experience one of the most moving and thrilling in my life, which is already long and has not been entirely uneventful. I wish indeed that my mother, whose memory I cherish, across the vale of years, could have been here to see. By the way, I cannot help reflecting that if my father had been American and my mother British instead of the other way around, I might have got here on my own. In that case this would not have been the first time you would have heard my voice. In that case I should not have needed any invitation. But if I had it is hardly likely that it would have been unanimous. So perhaps things are better as they are.

I may confess, however, that I do not feel quite like a fish out of water in a legislative assembly where English is spoken. I am a child of the House of Commons. I was brought up in my father's house to believe in democracy. "Trust the people." That was his message. I used to see him cheered at meetings and in the streets by crowds of workingmen way back in those aristocratic Victorian days when as Disraeli said "the world was for the few, and for the very few."

Therefore I have been in full harmony all my life with the tides which have flowed on both sides of the Atlantic against privilege and monopoly and I have steered confidently towards the Gettysburg ideal of government of the people, by the people, for the people.

I owe my advancement entirely to the House of Commons, whose servant I am. In my country as in yours public men are proud to be the servants of the State and would be ashamed to be its masters. The House of Commons, if they thought the people wanted it, could, by a simple vote, remove me from my office. But I am not worrying about it at all.

As a matter of fact I am sure they will approve very highly of my journey here, for which I obtained the King's permission, in order to meet the President of the United States and to arrange with him for all that mapping out of our military plans and for all those intimate meetings of the high officers of the armed services in both countries which are indispensable for the successful prosecution of the war.

I should like to say first of all how much I have been impressed and encouraged by the breadth of view and sense of proportion which I have found in all quarters over here to which I have had access. Anyone who did not understand the size and solidarity of the foundations of the United States, might easily have expected to find an excited, disturbed, self-cantered atmosphere, with all minds fixed upon the novel, startling, and painful episodes of sudden war as they hit America. After all, the United States have been attacked and set upon by three most powerfully armed dictator states, the greatest military power in Europe, the greatest military power in Asia-Japan, Germany and Italy have all declared and are making war upon you, and the quarrel is opened which can only end in their overthrow or yours.

But here in Washington in these memorable days I have found an Olympian fortitude which, far from being based upon complacency, is only the mask of an inflexible purpose and the proof of a sure, well-grounded confidence in the final outcome. We in Britain had the same feeling in our darkest days. We too were sure that in the end all would be well.

You do not, I am certain, underrate the severity of the ordeal to which you and we have still to be subjected. The forces ranged against us are enormous. They are bitter, they are ruthless. The wicked men and their factions, who have launched their peoples on the path of war and conquest, know that they will be called to terrible account if they cannot beat down by force of arms the peoples they have assailed. They will stop at nothing. They have a vast accumulation of war weapons of all kinds. They have highly trained and disciplined armies, navies and air services. They have plans and designs which have long been contrived and matured. They will stop at nothing that violence or treachery can suggest.

It is quite true that on our side our resources in manpower and materials are far greater than theirs. But only a portion of your resources are as yet mobilized and developed, and we both of us have much to learn in the cruel art of war. We have therefore without doubt a time of tribulation before us. In this same time, some ground will be lost which it will be hard and costly to regain. Many disappointments and unpleasant surprises await us. Many of them will afflict us before the full marshalling of our latent and total power can be accomplished.

For the best part of twenty years the youth of Britain and America have been taught that war was evil, which is true, and that it would never come again, which has been proved false. For the best part of twenty years, the youth of Germany, of Japan and Italy, have been taught that aggressive war is the noblest duty of the citizen and that it should be begun as soon as the necessary weapons and organization have been made. We have performed the duties and tasks of peace. They have plotted and planned for war. This naturally has placed us, in Britain, and now places you in the United States at a disadvantage which only time, courage and untiring exertion can correct.

We have indeed to be thankful that so much time has been granted to us. If Germany had tried to invade the British Isles after the French collapse in June, 1940, and if Japan had declared war on the British Empire and the United States at about the same date, no one can say what disasters and agonies might not have been our lot. But now, at the end of December, 1941, our transformation from easy-going peace to total war efficiency has made very great progress.

The broad flow of munitions in Great Britain has already begun. Immense strides have been made in the conversion of American industry to military purposes. And now that the United States is at war, it is possible for orders to be given every day which in a year or eighteen months hence will produce results in war power beyond anything which has been seen or foreseen in the dictator states.

Provided that every effort is made, that nothing is kept back, that the whole manpower, brain power, virility, valor and civic virtue of the English-speaking world, with all its galaxy of loyal, friendly or associated communities and states-provided that is bent unremittingly to the simple but supreme task, I think it would be reasonable to hope that the end of 1942 will see us quite definitely in a better position than we are now. And that the year 1943 will enable us to assume the initiative upon an ample scale.

Some people may be startled or momentarily depressed when, like your President, I speak of a long and a hard war. Our peoples would rather know the truth, somber though it be. And after all, when we are doing the noblest work in the world, not only defending our hearths and homes, but the cause of freedom in every land, the question of whether deliverance comes in 1942 or 1943 or 1944, falls into its proper place in the grand proportions of human history. Sure I am that this day, now, we are the masters of our fate. That the task which has been set us is not above our strength. That its pangs and toils are not beyond our endurance. As long as we have faith in our cause, and an unconquerable willpower, salvation will not be denied us. In the words of the Psalmist: "He shall not be afraid of evil tidings. His heart is fixed, trusting in the Lord."

Not all the tidings will be evil. On the contrary, mighty strokes of war have already been dealt against the enemy-the glorious defense of their native soil by the Russian armies and people; wounds have been inflicted upon the Nazi tyranny and system which have bitten deep and will fester and inflame not only in the Nazi body but in the Nazi mind. The boastful Mussolini has crumpled already. He is now but a lackey and a serf, the merest utensil of his master's will. He has inflicted great suffering and wrong upon his own industrious people. He has been stripped of all his African empire. Abyssinia has been liberated. Our Armies of the East, which were so weak and ill-equipped at the moment of French desertion, now control all the regions from Teheran to Bengazi, and from Aleppo and Cyprus to the sources of the Nile.

For many months we devoted ourselves to preparing to take the offensive in Libya. The very considerable battle which has been proceeding there the last six weeks in the desert, has been most fiercely fought on both sides. Owing to the difficulties of supply upon the desert flank, we were never able to bring numerically equal forces to bear upon the enemy. Therefore we had to rely upon superiority in the numbers and qualities of tanks and aircraft, British and American. For the first time, aided by these-for the first time we have fought the enemy with equal weapons. For the first time we have made the Hun feel the sharp edge of those tools with which he has enslaved Europe. The armed forces of the enemy in Cyrenaica amounted to about 150,000 men, of whom a third were Germans. General Auchinleck set out to destroy totally that armed force, and I have every reason to believe that his aim will be fully accomplished. I am so glad to be able to place before you, members of the Senate and of the House of Representatives, at this moment when you are entering the war, the proof that with proper weapons and proper organization, we are able to beat the life out of the savage Nazi.

What Hitlerism is suffering in Libya is only a sample and a foretaste of what we have got to give him and his accomplices wherever this war should lead us in every quarter of the Globe.

There are good tidings also from blue water. The lifeline of supplies which joins our two nations across the ocean, without which all would fail,-that lifeline is flowing steadily and freely in spite of all that the enemy can do. It is a fact that the British Empire, which many thought eighteen months ago was broken and ruined, is now incomparably stronger and is growing stronger with every month.

Lastly, if you will forgive me for saying it, to me the best tidings of all-the United States, united as never before, has drawn the sword for freedom and cast away the scabbard.

All these tremendous facts have led the subjugated peoples of Europe to lift up their heads again in hope. They have put aside forever the shameful temptation of resigning themselves to the conqueror's will. Hope has returned to the hearts of scores of millions of men and women, and with that hope there burns the flame of anger against the brutal, corrupt invader. And still more fiercely burn the fires of hatred and contempt for the filthy Quislings whom he has suborned.

In a dozen famous ancient states, now prostrate under the Nazi yoke, the masses of the people, all classes and creeds, await the hour of liberation when they too will once again be able to play their part and strike their blows like men. That hour will strike. And its solemn peal will proclaim that night is past and that the dawn has come.

The onslaught upon us, so long and so secretly planned by Japan, has presented both our countries with grievous problems for which we could not be fully prepared. If people ask me, as they have a right to ask me in England, "Why is it that you have not got an ample equipment of modern aircraft and army weapons of all kinds in Malaya and in the East Indies?"-I can only point to the victory General Auchinleck has gained in the Libyan campaign. Had we diverted and dispersed our gradually-growing resources between Libya and Malaya, we should have been found wanting in both theaters.

If the United States has been found at a disadvantage at various points in the Pacific Ocean, we know well that that is to no small extent because of the aid which you have been giving to us in munitions for the defense of the British Isles and for the Libyan campaign, and above all because of your help in the Battle of the Atlantic, upon which all depends and which has in consequence been successfully and prosperously maintained.

Of course, it would have been much better, I freely admit, if we had had enough resources of all kinds to be at full strength at all threatened points. But considering how slowly and reluctantly we brought ourselves to large-scale preparations, and how long these preparations take, we had no right to expect to be in such a fortunate position.

The choice of how to dispose of our hitherto limited resources had to be made by Britain in time of war, and by the United States in time of peace. And I believe that history will pronounce that upon the whole, and it is upon the whole that these matters must be judged, that the choice made was right. Now that we are together, now that we are linked in a righteous comrade-ship of arms, now that our two considerable nations, each in perfect unity, have joined all their life-energies in a common resolve-a new scene opens upon which a steady light will glow and brighten.

Many people have been astonished that Japan should in a single day have plunged into war against the United States and the British Empire. We all wonder why, if this dark design with its laborious and intricate preparations had been so long filling their secret minds, they did not choose our moment of weakness eighteen months ago. Viewed quite dispassionately, in spite of the losses we have suffered and the further punishment we shall have to take, it certainly appears an irrational act. It is of course only prudent to assume that they have made very careful calculations and think they see their way through. Nevertheless, there may be another explanation.

We know that for many years past the policy of Japan has been dominated by secret societies of subalterns and junior officers of the army and navy, who have enforced their will upon successive Japanese cabinets and parliaments by the assassination of any Japanese statesmen who opposed or who did not sufficiently further their aggressive policy. It may be that these societies, dazzled and dizzy with their own schemes of aggression and the prospect of early victories, have forced their country-against its better judgment-into war. They have certainly embarked upon a very considerable undertaking.

After the outrages they have committed upon us at Pearl Harbor, in the Pacific Islands, in the Philippines, in Malaya and the Dutch East Indies, they must now know that the stakes for which they have decided to play are mortal. When we look at the resources of the United States and the British Empire compared to those of Japan; when we remember those of China, which have so long valiantly withstood invasion and tyranny-and when also we observe the Russian menace which hangs over Japan-it becomes still more difficult to reconcile Japanese action with prudence or even with sanity. What kind of a people do they think we are? Is it possible that they do not realize that we shall never cease to persevere against them until they have been taught a lesson which they and the world will never forget?

Members of the Senate, and members of the House of Representatives, I will turn for one moment more from the turmoil and convulsions of the present to the broader spaces of the future. Here we are together, facing a group of mighty foes who seek our ruin. Here we are together, defending all that to free men is dear. Twice in a single generation the catastrophe of world war has fallen upon us. Twice in our lifetime has the long arm of fate reached out across the oceans to bring the United States into the forefront of the battle.

If we had kept together after the last war, if we had taken common measures for our safety, this renewal of the curse need never have fallen upon us. Do we not owe it to ourselves, to our children, to tormented mankind, to make sure that these catastrophes do not engulf us for the third time?

It has been proved that pestilences may break out in the Old World which carry their destructive ravages into the New World, from which, once they are afoot, the New World can not escape. Duty and prudence alike command first that the germ-centers of hatred and revenge should be constantly and vigilantly served and treated in good time, and that an adequate organization should be set up to make sure that the pestilence can be controlled at its earliest beginnings, before it spreads and rages throughout the entire earth.

Five or six years ago it would have been easy, without shedding a drop of blood, for the United States and Great Britain to have insisted on the fulfilment of the disarmament clauses of the treaties which Germany signed after the Great War. And that also would have been the opportunity for assuring to the Germans those materials-those raw materials-which we declared in the Atlantic Charter should not be denied to any nation, victor or vanquished. The chance has passed, it is gone. Prodigious hammer-strokes have been needed to bring us together today.

If you will allow me to use other language, I will say that he must indeed have a blind soul who cannot see that some great purpose and design is being worked out here below of which we have the honor to be the faithful servants. It is not given to us to peer into the mysteries of the future. Still, I avow my hope and faith, sure and inviolate, that in the days to come the British and American peoples will, for their own safety and for the good of all, walk together in majesty, in justice and in peace.

And It Came to Pass in Those Days...

Via Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Helge Kåre Fauskanger at Ardalambion:

Making Light: Texts, 2011: Ar túlë entë auressen i etelendë canwa Auhustus i Táraranello, i mo notumnë quanda ambar. Minya notië sina martanë írë Quirinius nánë cáno Sírio. Ilyë queni lender náven nótinë, ilquen véra ostoryanna. Yando Yósef lendë amba Alilëallo, et i ostollo Nasaret, mir Yúrëa, Laviro ostonna, ya ná estaina Vet-Lehem, pan anes maro ar nossëo Laviro, náven nótina as María ye nánë antaina sen vestalessë, ar ye sí nánë lapsarwa.

Írë engettë tassë, i lúmë túlë yassë columnes lapserya. Ar colles yondorya, i minnóna, ar se-vaitanes ar panyane se salquecolcassë, pan lá engë tún nómë mí marmen. Enger mavalli i imya nóressë i marner i restassë, tírala lámáreltar i lómissë. Ar i Héruo vala tarnë ara te, ar i Héruo alcar caltanë os te, ar túra caurë nampë te.

Mal i vala quentë téna: “Áva rucë, pan inyë cára sinwa len túra alassë ya nauva i quanda lien, an anaië cólina len síra Rehtando, ye ná Hristo, i Heru, Laviro ostossë. Ar si nauva tanna len: Hiruvaldë vinimo, vaitana ar caitala salquecolcassë.” Ar rincanen engë as i vala rimbë i meneldëa hossëo, laitala Eru ar quétala: “Alcar i tarmenissen na Erun, ar cemendë rainë atanin pa i sanas mai."