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August 2012

Microblogging: August 27, 2012


State of Working America

A Platonic Dialogue About Quantitative Easing, or, Summoning the Inflation Expectations Imp

RT @RBReich: @FareedZakaria. Biggest Romney lie of all is he has better ideas for fixing economy. See

RT @felixsalmon: Best Tube sign ever RT @ronniejoice: WARNING: DO NOT GO TO FARRINGDON STATION.

RT @ezraklein: Team Romney began with three premises for how to win this election. They’re all gone:

RT @dailykos: Mitt Romney comes full circle on abortion: ‘It’s been settled for some time in the courts’

RT @DemocratMachine: Mitt Romney’s multiple-choice on the issue of abortion. Wants to repeal Roe during primaries and acts like the issue is settled now |

995 Fifth Avenue, NY NY, 16th Floor

Does Tampa Mark the End of the Exceptional America of Alexis de Tocqueville?

RT @LOLGOP: BREAKING: Republicans to accidentally nominate the creator of ObamaCare. Developing… |

Michael Cohen on Michael Grunwald: Why Obama should run on the success of the stimulus

“TOM SMITH (R-PA): Uh, having a baby out of wedlock. SCOLFORO: That’s similar to rape? SMITH: No, no, no, but… yes”

Romney Really Goes All-in in Support of ObamaCare…

Continue reading "Microblogging: August 27, 2012" »

Does Tampa Mark the End of the Exceptional America of Alexis de Tocqueville?

We are live at Project Syndicate:[1]

When French politician and moral philosopher Alexis de Tocqueville published the first volume of his Democracy in America in 1835, he did so because he thought his France was in big trouble--and had lots to learn from America.

The grab for centralized power by the absolutist Bourbon monarchs followed by the great French Revolution and Napoleon's Empire had destroyed the good parts of the French neofeudal order as well as the bad. In Tocqueville's imagination, at least, the subjects of the neofeudal order had been eager to protect their particular liberties and jealous of their spheres of independence. They had understood that they were embedded in a nationwide web of obligations, powers, responsibilities, and privileges.

But for the Frenchman of 1835, Tocqueville thought, adopting:

the doctrine of self-interest as the rule of his actions… [has produced] egotism… no less blind…. [W]e have destroyed an aristocracy, and we seem inclined to survey its ruins with complacency…"

To sick France in 1835 de Tocqueville counterposed healthy America, in which attachment to the idea that people should pursue their self-interest was no less strong, but was different. It was, he thought, because Americans understood that they could not flourish unless their neighbors prospered as well: they thus pursued their self-interest, but their interest "rightly understood".

Continue reading "Does Tampa Mark the End of the Exceptional America of Alexis de Tocqueville?" »

Romney Really Goes All-in in Support of ObamaCare...

Philip Klein:

All credentialed media checking into the Republican National Convention are being given a swag bag [with]… Mitt Romney’s book, No Apology, in which he suggested his approach to health care in Massachusetts could be accomplished in the rest of the country…. [P]age 177… Romney describes his Massachusetts health care law and writes:

We can accomplish the same thing for everyone in the country, and it can be done without letting government take over health care.

This language… Romney thought his Massachusetts health care law could be a model for the nation. Such phrasing complicated his argument for why his law was different from President Obama’s national one…

Elspeth Reeves: Race Takes Over the Race

As Jonathan Chait quoted somebody who badly wishes to remain anonymous, this is going to be the very last presidential election in which a candidate is willing to throw the votes of all other ethnicities away in an attempt to maximize their share of the white-people's vote.

Elspeth Reeves:

Race Takes Over the Race: Mitt Romney says that Obama allowed a waiver for the work requirement for welfare -- if states have a better way of getting recipients into jobs -- so that the President could "shore up his base." Romney probably didn't mean the Republican governors who asked for the waivers but, fitting with his campaign's recent message, poor black people who take white people's money.

On MSNBC's Morning Joe Monday, Chris Matthews tore into Republican National Committee chair Reince Priebus about the welfare attacks and Romney's birther jokes…. Priebus said Romney was just talking about his Michigan roots, and accused Matthews of being unable to take a joke. Matthews yelled that "The first joke he ever told in his life is about Obama's birth certificate."

Romney's advisers believe Romney "needs a more combative footing against President Obama in order to appeal to white, working-class voters and to persuade them that he is the best answer to their economic frustrations," The New York Times' Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg reported. And as we pointed out on Friday, if Romney gets 61 percent of the white vote, he wins. If you have any doubt that Romney is playing the race card, check out his YouTube page….

"Last I checked, John McCain never suggested openly that his rival's base was welfare recipients. Or did I miss that part?" The New Republic's Alec MacGillis tweets. In July, an unnamed Romney adviser told BuzzFeed's McKay Coppins that Romney would boldly go where McCain would not in 2008. Romney "believes it's time to vet the president," the aide said. "He really hasn't been vetted; McCain didn't do it." On conservative blogs, "vetting" means calling Obama a leftist foreigner. The first person from the Romeny campaign to dip a toe into that was surrogate John Sununu, who said Obama needed to learn how to be an American in late July. Romney tried it Friday with a birther joke…

Vaughan Bell: Unusual Cognitive Dissonance...

A dark and complex past « Mind Hacks:

[O]ne of the world’s pioneering anthropologists has been found to have been a member of both the Nazi SS and the French resistance during the Second World War. Gerardo Reichel-Dolmatoff retains legendary status in anthropology and particularly in Colombia, where he first lived with many of the country’s remote indigenous people during the 1950s and 60s founded the first department of anthropology. He died in 1994 but his legend has only grown since his passing…. He was actually born in Austria but talked little about his past. This is not surprising….

Augusto Oyuela-Caycedo, an anthropologist at the University of Florida, has been researching the background of this legendary figure…. Oyuela-Caycedo began his investigation as a tribute to his friend and mentor only to discover a grim past well documented in the Nazi archives. At one point in the presentation, he is brought to tears as he reads a description of how the yet-to-be Austrian anthropologist murders an old man with a pistol. It turns out that Reichel-Dolmatoff was a member of both the Nazi Party and the SS, in the personal guard of Hitler himself and a participant in Gestapo death squads. He later trained guards in the Dachau Concentration Camp….

Reichel-Dolmatoff did not seem to make the typical Nazi exit from Europe. He had what is vaguely described as a ‘mental crisis’ in 1936 and was declared unfit for the SS and publicly expelled from the Nazi party. Curiously, he turned up immediately afterwards working for the anti-Hitler resistance in France and continued to support the French resistance after he arrived in Colombia in 1939, to the point where he was eventually awarded the National Order of Merit by the French president.

Reichel-Dolmatof’s subsequent anthropological work is completely devoid of Nazi overtones – no hints of eugenics or ‘racial hygiene’ – and throughout his life he attempted to demonstrate the amazing diversity of the native peoples of Colombia, the Amazon and the Sierra Nevada mountains.

The case raises a number of difficult questions. The nature of Reichel-Dolmatof’s ‘mental crisis’ remains completely obscure. As the Spanish-language magazine Arcadia asks – how did a young Nazi end up working in Colombia for a Hitler resistance movement? Was it a crisis of conscious or something more opportunistic?…

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?: David Warsh on David Brooks

Economist's View: David Brooks is 'a Slippery Fellow':

David Warsh on David Brooks:

Brooks is a prestidigitator, that wonderful word borrowed from the French, descended from the Latin, meaning juggler, deceiver. He is all the more successful because of his earnest nice-guy manner. But he’s a slippery fellow, frequently passing off Tea Party sleight-of-hand as moderate magic…

Paul Ryan's Guru Ayn Rand Lays Down the Law on Jesus Christ

Daisy's Dead Air: Letter from Ayn Rand to Sylvia Austin, July 9, 1946, in Letters of Ayn Rand, p. 287:

There is a great, basic contradiction in the teachings of Jesus. Jesus was one of the first great teachers to proclaim the basic principle of individualism -- the inviolate sanctity of man's soul, and the salvation of one's soul as one's first concern and highest goal; this means -- one's ego and the integrity of one's ego. But when it came to the next question, a code of ethics to observe for the salvation of one's soul -- (this means: what must one do in actual practice in order to save one's soul?) -- Jesus (or perhaps His interpreters) gave men a code of altruism, that is, a code which told them that in order to save one's soul, one must love or help or live for others. This means, the subordination of one's soul (or ego) to the wishes, desires or needs of others, which means the subordination of one's soul to the souls of others.

This is a contradiction that cannot be resolved. This is why men have never succeeded in applying Christianity in practice, while they have preached it in theory for two thousand years. The reason of their failure was not men's natural depravity or hypocrisy, which is the superficial (and vicious) explanation usually given. The reason is that a contradiction cannot be made to work. That is why the history of Christianity has been a continuous civil war -- both literally (between sects and nations), and spiritually (within each man's soul).

Yes, Republicans Lie All the Time, About Everything--and the Boston Globe Helps Them: John Sununu Edition

Outsourced to Dan Kennedy:

John Sununu levels a false accusation | Media Nation: John Sununu makes a false claim today in his Boston Globe column…. The former Republican senator writes that Brad DeLong, an economist at the University of California at Berkeley, had called on Harvard University to fire the historian Niall Ferguson over his recent Newsweek cover story on the alleged failures of President Obama. “A Berkeley professor more or less demanded that Harvard ‘fire his ass’” is how Sununu puts it…. In the online version of his column, Sununu helpfully provides a link to DeLong’s blog post. And here is what DeLong actually wrote:

Fire his ass.

Fire his ass from Newsweek, and the Daily Beast.

Convene a committee at Harvard to impose proper sanctions on this degree of intellectual dishonesty.

In an “update,” DeLong clarifies his Harvard reference: “Not that I claim to know what the proper sanctions are, you understand. But we should be inquiring into what they are.”

Now, let me hasten to say that I’m troubled by DeLong’s actual position — that Harvard should look into disciplining Ferguson. But that is a long, long way from calling on Harvard to fire him. And I should note that DeLong and a number of other critics contend that Ferguson went far beyond expressing anti-Obama opinions, veering into deliberate falsehoods in order to bolster his argument that Obama’s presidency is a failure….

My issue isn’t with DeLong or Ferguson, though. It’s with Sununu, who has blithely and wrongly slimed DeLong. Perhaps because he didn’t name DeLong, he thought it was all right. Perhaps he thought including the phrase “more or less” would get him off the hook.

Finally, what is up with the Globe’s editors? If I can click on Sununu’s link, so could they.

Continue reading "Yes, Republicans Lie All the Time, About Everything--and the Boston Globe Helps Them: John Sununu Edition" »

The Sympathetic View of Mitt Romney: Rick Perlstein Says Romney Is a Normal Guy Who Just Thinks He Has to Out-Richard Nixon Richard Nixon to Become President

Rick Perlstein: What Mitt Romney Learned From His Dad:

In the video above, today's Romney insists there is no reason to question the distribution of wealth in America except for envy of the rich – did his rich dad question the distribution of wealth in America out of envy for the rich? – and that it was a subject only appropriate for discussion in "quiet rooms." (His dad didn't talk about it in quiet rooms; he talked about it at a Sunday worship service at the 1972 Republican convention, praying, "Help us to help those who need help.") Even if Mitt Romney is not the most right-wing candidate for the nomination, when he wins it, in a Republican Party becoming more extreme with every passing day, he may still be – because the party won’t have it any other way – the most right-wing nominee in the history of the country.

It wasn't that way at first, of course. Four years ago, Romney announced his presidential candidacy — anyone remember? — in front of a state-of-the-art hybrid car. Positioning himself as an ecology president, he boasted about his father – "The Rambler automobile he championed was the first American car designed and marketed for economy and mileage" – and pointed to the car next beside him as "the first giant step away from our reliance on the gasoline engine."

Now, of course, he's a global warming denier. Little Willard is all grown up now. He's his own man. And he's the the likely Republican nominee. Which now means he's Wall Street's man. And Focus on the Family's, and the Tea Party's, and Grover Norquist's too…

On the Eve of The Republican Convention, Mitt Romney Crosses the Aisle and Endorses ObamaCare

Zack Ford:

VIDEO: Romney: Just two weeks after a Romney spokesperson faced a barrage of conservative criticism for highlighting the success of the governor’s Massachusetts health care law, Romney himself bragged that the measure has expanded access to women’s health care services, including contraception. During an interview with Fox News on Sunday, Romney said he was “very proud” of Romneycare — which includes an individual mandate — for providing coverage to all women and men:

ROMNEY: With regards to women’s health care, look, I’m the guy that was about to get health care for all of the women and men in my state. They’re talking about it on the federal level, we actually did something. [...]

CHRIS WALLACE (HOST): So you’re saying, look at Romneycare?

ROMNEY: Well, absolutely. I am very proud of what we did, and the fact that we helped women and men and children in our state… And then with regard to contraceptives, of course Republicans, myself in particular, recognize that women have a right to use contraceptives. There is absolutely no validity whatsoever to the Obama effort to try and bring that up…

Department of "Huh?!": Paul Ryan Campaign Message

Eschaton: Image:

Great to correct the record, but exactly where did the working class image of a guy that nobody out of DC had heard of 2 weeks ago come from?

Ralph Vartabedian et al.:

John "Sly" Sylvester, a radio commentator and Democratic operative in Madison, Wis., was dining at a Mexican restaurant in Washington with then-Wisconsin Sen. Russ Feingold about 20 years ago when a young Paul Ryan walked up. "He was our waiter," Sylvester said. Feingold knew Ryan's late father and, as they chatted, Ryan "said he even used to listen to my show when he was a kid," Sylvester recalled. Examples like that have helped Ryan, soon-to-be the GOP's vice presidential nominee, burnish his credentials as a youthful working-class guy.

"I don't know about you, but when I was growing up, when I was flipping burgers at McDonald's, when I was standing in front of that big Hobart machine washing dishes, or waiting tables, I never thought of myself as stuck in some station in life," Ryan recently told a crowd at a high school in suburban Denver. "I thought to myself, I'm the American dream on the path or journey so that I can find happiness however I define it myself."

It drew big applause.

And yet Ryan, 42, was born into one of the most prominent families in Janesville, Wis., the son of a successful attorney… grew up in a big Colonial house on a wooded lot, and his extended clan includes investment managers, corporate executives and owners of major construction companies….

After graduating in 1992 from Miami University, a public college in Ohio, he went to work as an intern and then as a committee professional staffer on Capitol Hill for Sen. Bob Kasten, a Wisconsin Republican, who was defeated that same year by Feingold. When Kasten was voted out, Ryan lost his job. He went to work at the Tortilla Coast restaurant on Capitol Hill, where he ran into Feingold. In 1993, he left behind his hourly job and began as a speechwriter at Empower America, the think tank formed by former congressman and George H.W. Bush Cabinet secretary Jack Kemp and other conservatives, according to a Ryan campaign spokesman.

The spokesman said people could interpret the candidate's messages about his youth "however they like, but I don't know that I'd say it's a message of humble beginnings. Rather a message of hard work and upward mobility. And, of course, work was also important as a young man with the passing of his father while still in high school."

But there was also more to it than work. Ryan's rise to political power and financial stability was boosted by family connections and wealth. The larger Ryan family has repeatedly helped the candidate along in his career, giving him a job when he needed one and piling up tens of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions.

In the year after his father's death, Ryan's maternal grandmother set up the Ryan-Hutter Investment Partnership, which remains an important part of Ryan's finances with assets of up to half a million dollars, according to the congressman's 2011 financial disclosure statement. Ryan continues as the general partner running the entity for the family.

Academics vs. Jounamalists Once Again: Alexis Madrigal Watches the Fareed Zakaria Trainwreck

Alexis Madrigal:

Maybe Fareed Zakaria Should Be Punished With Aggregation Duty: A dose of web journalism could give Zakaria a more rigorous sourcing ethos: Aggregation. It's the bane of old-school journalists who hate that some web kids out there take their hard-won reporting and wise analysis and throw it into content-management systems with a new byline on top. (They particularly hate the word "content," and love to scarequote it.)  And I understand that. If you put in a lot of work, you want people to see it. To the victor, go the spoils, etc….

Being fast, knowing to how to find the good stuff in other people's work, and knowing how to sell a story may be success factors on par with talking up city councilors, chatting up local residents, or calling scientists. It's easy to see the downsides in such a skill set. If you're going fast, you make mistakes (which commenters graciously point out with vim and vigor). You do not independently verify everything…. Scoops are not your holy grail. Plus, because you are fundamentally in the distribution game, you get to know the icky quantified insides of web ecology and psychology a bit too well. But… the best of the aggregators out there are learning some fascinating things about how to be good online and all of them are training themselves into certain habits of thought. Our own Rebecca Greenfield mentioned this to me this morning when she read about Fareed Zakaria's liberal take on sourcing quotes in his book. As told to the Washington Post:

"As I write explicitly [in the book], this is not an academic work where everything has to be acknowledged and footnoted," his said. The book contains "hundreds" of comments and quotes that aren't attributed because doing so, in context, would "interrupt the flow for the reader," he said….

Let's put aside the assertion that people do not attribute quotes they did not hear with their own ears…. "On the web, we're a lot of things, but you would never lift a quote and not provide a link or a source. It's just bizarre," Greenfield said to me. "Maybe it has to do with the idea that you would so obviously be caught, but it's also just how the job works."… [W]e're training our aggregators to recognize the value in other people's work (and brands). We're telling them, "You're as good as the people you link to." 

And that's the opposite of how print editors have traditionally thought…. [R]eferences to other publications are regularly stripped out of text headed to publication whenever possible at every magazine I know of. And man, how many bloggers out there have written a great story only to see the Wall Street Journal (or the Times or Newsweek, etc) rip off the idea and execution without so much as a hat tip?…

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?: New York Times/David Brooks Edition

Outsourced to Don Taylor:

[David Brooks's] statement that the [Bowles-Simpson] fiscal commission [chairmen's mark did] nothing to address Medicare is absurd.

The commission chairmen’s mark assumed the implementation of the Affordable Care Act, took faster, more direct steps to limit the tax advantage of employer paid health insurance than the cadillac tax, had more aggressive cuts to Medicare than anyone has called for so far, called for a new physician payment system to end the SGR charade, mandated a move of dual eligibles to managed care, would have implemented the malpractice reforms that Republicans wanted, and called for a strengthened Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) by allowing it to focus on hospitals beginning in 2014…. You don’t have to like or agree with the ACA, but it does plenty to reform Medicare (see title III). And the deficit commission went even further by correctly saying that the ACA was the only horse we have to ride so lets ride it, and here are some more steps to go further…

Florida Republican Charlie Crist Crosses the Aisle and Endorses Obama

Maggie Haberman:

Crist endorses Obama: Former Florida Gov. Charlie Crist… endorsing the president in a Tampa Bay Times op-ed in which he excoriates his own former party, and further stokes the suspicion on both sides that he is setting himself up for a future run….

As Republicans gather in Tampa… an element of their party has pitched so far to the extreme right on issues important to women, immigrants, seniors and students that they've proven incapable of governing for the people. Look no further than the inclusion of the Akin amendment in the Republican Party platform, which bans abortion, even for rape victims.

The truth is that the party has failed to demonstrate the kind of leadership or seriousness voters deserve.

Pundits looking to reduce something as big as a statewide election to a single photograph have blamed the result of my 2010 campaign for U.S. Senate on my greeting of President Obama. I didn't stand with our president because of what it could mean politically; I did it because uniting to recover from the worst financial crisis of our lifetimes was more important than party affiliation. I stood with our nation's leader because it was right for my state.

President Obama has a strong record of doing what is best for America and Florida, and he built it by spending more time worrying about what his decisions would mean for the people than for his political fortunes. That's what makes him the right leader for our times, and that's why I'm proud to stand with him today…

Liveblogging World Wr II: August 25, 1942

World War II Day-By-Day: Day 1090 August 25, 1942:

Battle of the Eastern Solomons. Overnight, Japanese destroyers Kagero, Isokaze, Kawakaze, Mutsuki and Yayoi shell Henderson Field, Guadalcanal, shaking up the US Marines but causing little damage. Following the battle yesterday, Japanese believe 2 US carriers are badly damaged (in fact only USS enterprise is damaged), so they send the invasion convoy back towards Guadalcanal. At 6 AM, 6 Douglas SBD dive-bombers from Henderson Field find the convoy 150 miles North of Guadalcanal, sinking troop transport Kinryu Maru and damaging cruiser Jintsu (24 killed). 4 USAAF B-17 bombers from Espiritu Santo sink destroyer Mutsuki as she takes troops off Kinryu Maru (41 killed, 11 wounded). Destroyer Yayoi rescues survivors from both Kinryu Maru and Mutsuki. It is obvious the troop convoy cannot get through, so the invasion is postponed.

Stalingrad. Richthofen’s Luftflotte 4 again pulverizes the city but probing attacks by German 6th Army into the Northern suburbs are held by counterattacks from Soviet 62nd and 64th Armies. Stalin decides that the city must be held at all costs; to avoid the impression that Stalingrad is being evacuated, no factories are to be destroyed or machinery removed. Tractor factories, converted to manufacture tanks, roll T-34s straight off the production line and into combat.

Continue reading "Liveblogging World Wr II: August 25, 1942" »

Microblogging: August 25, 2012

The Clear and Present Danger Chronicles: Goldbugs, GOPsters, The Ryan, and Oh Dear FSM Are They Really That Dumb?

RT @DeanBaker13: #MattMiller tells readers the problem is broken U.S. health care system, not Medicare. Reality breaks into the #WAPO

RT @memeorandum: Huckabee rallies Missouri pastors to Akin’s side, attacks GOP establishment (Mike Huckabee / CNN)

Nick Rowe: Supertanker and canoe Phillips Curves, and inflation targeting

Big Picture: A Divided Federal Reserve

Paul Krugman: Inflation Lessons - RT @nickconfessore: Republican FEC commissioners say that under Citizens, corporations may compel employees to campaign for candidates.

RT @David_Shorr: Ya think GOP leaders wish their party would just stick to the Hyde Amendment truce? |

RT @altmandaniel: RT @richardhine: The Economist: Romney has “meaningless policies,” and “is now committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses” |

Janet Novack: Romney’s Taxes: It’s The Carried Interest, Stupid

RT @irincarmon: Romney “was cleaning his dog whistle and it just went off.” love you @jsmooth995 #uppers |

RT @richardhine: The Economist: Romney has “meaningless policies,” and “is now committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses”

RT @davidfrum: @joshtpm Still, Sparta had a good run, and it was very gay. |

RT @KagroX: I like the strategy of Mitt Romney making jokes about the perceived paucity of document disclosure. |

Continue reading "Microblogging: August 25, 2012" »

Spinning for Romney: Momma Always Told Me That If You Can't Say Something Nice Don't Say Anything at All Department

Robert Waldmann: contrasts Alan Blinder:

You definitely don’t want to draw attention to differences [in opinion] at all. You’re not helping the candidate. [The candidate] should know that you think he’s wrong on this or that, but you shouldn’t go blasting that to the media…

Douglas Holtz-Eakin:

The candidate takes the policy position and you as an individual or economist might have some different ideas but you support the policies the candidate’s chosen. Once the decision’s made, you’re done.

And Glenn Hubbard:

Consider keeping Bernanke, top Romney adviser says: Glenn Hubbard, economic adviser to the Republican presidential candidate, said he would advise a possible President Romney that Bernanke should "get every consideration" to stay on beyond January 2014…. "Ben is a model technocrat. He gets paid nothing for getting kicked around all the time. I think they ought to pat him on the back…. I may or may not agree with him, but that's very different from saying I question his motives. I wish politicians would stop doing that…"

The context is Mitt Romney's declaration that Ben Bernanke does not share his economic views, and does not focus on "maintaining the monetary stability that leads to a strong dollar".

What Blinder leaves out is that it is not clear that you always want to help the candidate: perhaps the candidate's policies are so whacka-whacka that the candidate is the greater evil, or perhaps by drawing a line in the sand now you can materially increase the chances of better policies in the future for only a small chance of worse policies now.

What Holtz-Eakin leaves out is that an economic advisor's job is not "done" when a soundbite that sounds good to a spinmaster has been selected in the heat of the campaign, and that the fact that Holtz-Eakin thinks it is is a good argument for keeping him far from high federal office.

Glenn Hubbard is simply saying what he believes--and what I believe Romney believes--to be true.

The Economist Comes Out Against Mitt Romney

It would have been nicer to see this a year and a half ago, but still nice to see:

The presidency: So, Mitt, what do you really believe?: [C]ompetence is worthless without direction and, frankly, character. Would that Candidate Romney had indeed presented himself as a solid chief executive who got things done. Instead he has appeared as a fawning PR man, apparently willing to do or say just about anything to get elected…. [H]e is now committed to needlessly extreme or dangerous courses that he may not actually believe in but will find hard to drop… lack of details means that some attractive-sounding headline policies prove meaningless (and possibly dangerous) on closer inspection. Behind all this sits the worrying idea of a man who does not really know his own mind.

America won’t vote for that man; nor would this newspaper…

David Karol vs. the Hax of Politico

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

Who’s the Party? Episode XXXIII — : Politico… Paul Ryan’s rise…. [Jonathan Martin and Mike Allen and Katie Glueck] declare that:

the establishment has withered and power has flowed away from party bosses to new media forces.

These “new media forces” turn out to be leading figures at The Wall Street Journal editorial page,the Weekly Standard, the National Review and the Heritage Foundation. Inevitably, William Kristol is mentioned and quoted….

Are any of these people “new media”, new to the GOP or really new anything? More broadly, since when are these guys NOT part of the Republican establishment?…

It’s nothing new for political players to combine journalism with kingmaking. The party press of the 19th Century is well-known. Slightly more recently, William Randolph Hearst had more than a little to do with Alf Landon’s nomination by the Republican National Convention in 1936, and he was a recent convert to the GOP at the time, unlike the players mentioned in the Politico article. Henry Luce’s Time was, along with the New York Herald Tribune, an important factor in Wendell Willkie’s nomination by the GOP in 1940. Let’s not even talk about the role of the Chicago Tribune in Illinois Republican politics during the time of Col. McCormick. This is all as American as apple pie. Party “establishments” are not comprised of just Governors, state chairman and people who have the word “party” on their business cards AND NEVER HAVE BEEN. Political reporters, of all people, should know that.

TBogg: Peggy Noonan Is a Democratic Mole!

Peggy Noonan:

[Romney] must use humor, for three reasons. One is that wit breaks through and sharpens all points. Another is that it is natural to him. Before the voting in Iowa, he wryly told a friend that the caucuses were like the LaBrea Tar Pits: “No one comes out the way they went in.” On a conference call recently, he asked a question of his staff. No one answered. Mr. Romney waited. “Bueller? Bueller?” he said, in a perfect imitation of Ben Stein.

Third, President Obama can’t stand to be made fun of. His pride won’t allow it, his amour propre cannot countenance a joke at his own expense. If Mr. Romney lands a few very funny lines about the president’s leadership, Mr. Obama will freak out. That would be fun, wouldn’t it?

This Morning It Is David Brin's Turn to Confront Niallism

David Brin: Who is worse? Those who think progress will be easy? Or those who deny progress at all?:

It rankles me to see [technoutopians] dissed by pundits whose depth of insight would not get your toes wet. Niall Ferguson, especially -- a glib lightweight who flounders in the shallow end of the idea pool -- is superficial to a degree that should win him a nice, cushy sinecure at Fox…. Ferguson uses today's parochial social/economic concerns as proof of some grand, generalized, spenglerian decline-of-the-west, and this "demonstrates" that technology-propeled progress is not only a vain hope, but intrinsically impossible…

Microblogging: August 24, 2012

RT @JC_Christian: Todd Akin to join “Connecticut for Lieberman” party |

RT @watertigernyc: We Have No Idea How Vaginas Work #RNCconventionSlogans |

Dean Baker’s take on Niallism: “Ferguson is the gift that just keeps on giving”

RNC Official Furious At New Mexico Gov Disrespecting General Custer, By Meeting Indians

RT @kjhealy: The NYPD accidentally shot a bunch of people while going after Johnson. Relevant for the common “Armed Libertarian Saves the Day” fantasy. |

RT @emptywheel: So first Mitt invited Arpaio and now Mitt’s considering bumping Rubio and yet he aspires to getting 38% of Latino vote? |

FLASH: ST. LOUIS, MO—Rep Senate candidate Todd Akin demands Romney release long-form birth certificate |

RT @emptywheel: Romney: No one has ever held be down and forcibly cut off my long hair. #romneyjokes |

Continue reading "Microblogging: August 24, 2012" »

Niallism Watch: Robert Waldmann Wonders Why Niall Ferguson Believes in the Inerrancy of Karl Marx

Good catch from Robert Waldmann. Perhaps--but probably not--there are still people on the PEN-list who believe that appeal to the authority of Karl Marx is an argument because he is inerrant. But, otherwise, Niall Ferguson is AALLLOOOONNNNNEEEEEE!

Niall Ferguson:

Fact checked and--oh no! I really did get that wrong. It was the government that created the middle class, as well as the Golden Gate Bridge! Remind me to tell Karl Marx about this. It will come as news to him that, contrary to his life's work, the superstructure in fact created the base. "

Robert's Stochastic Thoughts:

Uh, Professor Ferguson, it may be true as you assume that Karl Marx was absolutely right about everything, but, uh, those of us who care about data would like some evidence.

The fact that Marx said something doesn't mean it is correct.

I don't know how to break this to you, but he was human.

I tell you, the NewsDailyWeekBeast has lots of explaining to do…

Greg Sargent: Mitt Romney’s Birther Joke

Mitt Romney’s birther joke:

On the trail just now in Michigan, Mitt Romney made a birther funny: Romney:

I love being home, in this place where Ann and I were raised. Where both of us were born...No one’s ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.

The Obama campaign quickly put out a response….

Governor Romney’s decision to directly enlist himself in the birther movement should give pause to any rational voter across America.

The Romney campaign is trying to shut down the story right now, releasing statements claiming that Romney has always maintained Obama was born in the United States and that Romney was merely making a paean to his birthplace. Of course Romney fully believes Obama was born in the United States…. [T]hat’s the point — he’s still willing to dabble in birther humor… to rev up his base… for a cheap laugh…. [I]t looks to me like a major mistake. Coming just after days spent debating Todd Akin’s “legitimate rape” remark, this is again a reminder of the extreme voices in the GOP…. And it seems less than presidential… raise[s] questions about Romney’s judgment, temperament, and character. Wow.

And Laura D'Andrea Tyson Is Not a Niallist: She Still Believes That the Facts About Medicare Matter a Lot

Laura D'Andrea Tyson: Evidence vs. Ideology in the Medicare Debate:

When formulating public policy, evidence should be accorded more weight than ideology, and facts should matter more than shibboleths. The Romney-Ryan plan for Medicare reform depends on assertions that are ideologically consistent. But the Republicans plan is not supported by the evidence and does not survive serious scrutiny. Perhaps that’s why the Romney campaign has been deliberately misrepresenting President Obama’s Medicare record….

[ACA] reforms to slow the growth of Medicare spending… include both voluntary and mandatory changes in how providers deliver health care to promote better care coordination at lower cost, reward the quality and outcomes of services rather than their volume and reduce fraud and abuse…. [T]he creation of accountable-care organizations…. Health experts believe that these organizations will significantly improve care and lower costs… based on evidence, not ideology. Medicare beneficiaries will also benefit from reforms that penalize hospitals for preventable re-admissions….

Continue reading "And Laura D'Andrea Tyson Is Not a Niallist: She Still Believes That the Facts About Medicare Matter a Lot" »

Matt O'Brien @ObsoleteDogma Wins the Internet Today with His: "The Age of Niallism: Ferguson and the Post-Fact World"

It is really nice to think that I have in a very small way helped build a space that nurtures and brings to the world's attention such a strong intellectual talent with good judgment as Matt O'Brien @ObsoleteDogma. I hereby award him the coveted goggles, red cape, and zeppelin with pressurized passenger compartment:

Xkcd Blagofaire

Use them for good, Matt! With great power comes great responsibility!

Matt O'Brien:

The Age of Niallism: Ferguson and the Post-Fact World: Bluster cannot make untruths true: People who believe facts are nothing think you'll fall for anything. Call it Niallism.

Continue reading "Matt O'Brien @ObsoleteDogma Wins the Internet Today with His: "The Age of Niallism: Ferguson and the Post-Fact World"" »

Hey! All You Economists for Romney! How Many Agree with Him that Ben Bernanke is not "maintaining the monetary stability that leads to a strong dollar" and ought to be fired?

How many of you agree with Mitt Romney that Ben Bernanke is not "maintaining the monetary stability that leads to a strong dollar" and ought to be fired?

Sign in in comments, please...

Trying and Failing to Understand Niall Ferguson's Behavior

For some reason I do not understand, James Fallows and Ta-Nehisi Coates like this from Stephen Marche:

The real issue isn't the substance of Ferguson's argument, though, which is shallow and basically exploded by this point in time. It isn't even the question of how such garbage managed to be written and published. It is, rather, why did Ferguson write it? The answer is simple but has profound implications for American intellectual life generally: public speaking. 

Ferguson's critics have simply misunderstood for whom Ferguson was writing that piece. They imagine that he is working as a professor or as a journalist, and that his standards slipped below those of academia or the media. Neither is right. Look at his speaking agent's Web site. The fee: 50 to 75 grand per appearance. That number means that the entire economics of Ferguson's writing career, and many other writing careers, has been permanently altered. Nonfiction writers can and do make vastly more, and more easily, than they could ever make any other way, including by writing bestselling books or being a Harvard professor. Articles and ideas are only as good as the fees you can get for talking about them. They are merely billboards for the messengers. 

Continue reading "Trying and Failing to Understand Niall Ferguson's Behavior" »

Liveblogging World War ii: August 24, 1942

Bill Stone:

Second World War Books Review:At about 1500 hours, the advancing kampfgruppen of von Strachwitz's Panzer Detachment from 2nd Panzer Regiment and 2nd Battalion, 64th Panzer Grenadier Regiment, approached Stalingrad's northern suburbs of Latashanka, Rynok, and Spartanovka (named Spartakovka on period maps but Spartanovka after the war) and the Stalingrad Tractor Factory south of the Mokraia Mechetka River.

There they encountered gunfire from heavy antiaircraft guns and antitank guns operated by women, as well as infantry hurling grenades. However, virtually every one of these first rounds fired in the battle for Stalingrad missed Strachwitz's tanks. The Germans were more accurate in response, smashing 37 different antiaircraft gun positions. When the Germans later examined these positions, the reason for the Soviet inaccuracy became obvious—the gun crews were composed entirely of civilian women, apparently factory workers and members of Stalingrad's antiaircraft defense (MPVO). Essentially these defenders were locals who had received only rudimentary instruction....

By nightfall the thrust by Sixth Army's XIV Panzer Corps to the Volga River north of Stalingrad placed the Stavka's defenses in the entire southern sector of the Soviet-German front in peril. In addition to threatening the city itself, the panzer advance had also driven a deep wedge between Eremenko's Stalingrad Front and Southeastern Front, severing most communications between Moscow and the Caucasus. Compounding this threat, southwest of the city the spearhead of Hoth's Fourth Panzer Army had reached Tinguta Station, only 35 kilometers southwest of Stalingrad's southern suburbs, in position to cut off the withdrawal routes of Lopatin's 64th Army back through the city...

Mitt Romney Says America Is in Trouble Because of People Like Mitt Romney

As John Stewart says, sometimes life makes his job just too easy:

Emily Friedman: HOPKINS, Minn. - Mitt Romney….

I'm going to champion small business. We've got to make it easier for small businesses. Big business is doing fine in many places - they get the loans they need, they can deal with all the regulation

said Romney, speaking to a group of supporters at a private fundraiser in Minnesota. Romney then added that the reason that big businesses are "doing fine in many places" is because they are able to invest their money in "tax havens":

They know how to find ways to get through the tax code, save money by putting various things in the places where there are low tax havens around the world for their businesses…. But small business is getting crushed…

Barry Eichengreen vs. Paul Ryan

Barry Eichengreen

One thing that Barry does not note is that real Randites--like Paul Ryan was, or at least claimed to be, back in 2005--are opposed to the whole financial apparatus that keeps us from having to carry bars of gold around: fractional-reserve banking, paper money, credit cards, checks, bills-of-exchange--they don't like it…

Paul Krugman: Golden Ferrets, I Mean Fetters

Paul Krugman:

Golden Ferrets, I Mean Fetters: Well, Romney did compare the Tea Party to a ferret in a dishwasher.

But seriously, it appears that a push for a return to the gold standard — the Golden Fetters that played such a large role in propagating the Great Depression — is going to be part of the Republican platform. Bear in mind that the incessant warnings of runaway inflation from the expansion of the Fed’s balance sheet have been wrong, wrong, wrong; and that exchange rate flexibility has been crucial to most of the success stories of this crisis, from Poland to Sweden to Iceland. Nonetheless, the GOP is convinced that what we need to do is base future monetary policy on a doctrine that has totally failed in recent years. After all, Francisco d’Anconia says that it’s the only way.

I would point out that, as Paul Krugman knows well, Francisco d'Anconia--and Ayn Rand, and Paul Ryan--say not that a gold standard but a gold coinage is the only way: none of these paper bills or checks or credit cards or bills of exchange or fractional-reserve banking…

Microblogging: August 23, 2012

RT @pamspaulding: RT @thinkprogress: Trump prepares for role at GOP convention by spreading dangerous myth that vaccines cause autism

RT @AmandaMarcotte: F#@$ me, people are uneducated. RT @umamijones: So if they don’t make it to the implantation stage, it means the eggs are unfertilized. |

RT @marieharf: How can Ryan say he disagrees with the sequester when he voted for it, praised it, and helped sell it to other Rs?

Wonkette: Maybe This Shot-Up Navy Veteran Lady Will Think Twice Before ‘Startling’ A Sheriff In Her Back Yard Again

RT @grossdm: Coin Harvey, of course, being an awesome fin de siecle figure who wanted to abandon gold standard for silver #attendedhistorygradschool |

RT @dailykos: Ann Romney retroactively rebuts Mitt’s newest excuse for tax return secrecy

RT @oliverdarcy: Send @campusreform a VIDEO of your LIBERAL PROFESSOR & we will pay you $100 if it leads to a news story. |

RT @RafalcaRomney: #BlessObamasHeart He thought Congressional Republicans might have wanted to put America’s interests ahead of the Koch Brothers’ profits. |

RT @sfpelosi: Network convention cuts mean Americans will have seen more of @RafalcaRomney than Romney family? This will not end well. |

RT @jamisonfoser: Kinda hilarious Party that whines Obama wasn’t “vetted” in ’08 is nominating dude who won’t talk about taxes or abortion. |

RT @DemocratMachine: Can’t wait for the Debates when Romney picks the questions he’s willing to answer |

Continue reading "Microblogging: August 23, 2012" »

Preview of Joshua Hausman's Economics Job Market Paper, Courtesy of Miles Kimball: Effective Expansionary Fiscal Policy in the Great Depression

Vet1931 eq xDC pdf  1 page

Joshua Hausman on Historical Evidence for What Federal Lines of Credit Would Do:

Perhaps the best historical analogies to Miles’s Federal Lines of Credit Proposal are 1931 and 1936 policy changes that gave World War I veterans early access to a promised 1945 bonus payment. In 1924, Congress passed a bill promising veterans large payments in 1945.

When the depression came, veterans’ groups lobbied congress for immediate payment. Congress partially acquiesced in 1931, giving veterans the ability to borrow up to 50 percent of the value of their promised bonus beginning on February 27. (Prior to this, veterans could take loans of roughly 22.5 percent of their bonus.) For the typical veteran, this meant being able to borrow about $500. For comparison, in 1931 per capita personal income was $517. The loans carried an interest rate of 4.5 percent, but interest did not have to be paid annually. Rather, the amount of the loan plus interest would be deducted from what was due the veteran in 1945. In fact, the interest rate was lowered to 3.5 percent in 1932, and then forgiven entirely in 1936. But there is no reason to think that this was expected at the time.

Despite their ability to take loans, veterans continued to demand immediate cash payment of the entire, non-discounted, value of their bonus. Tens of thousands of veterans camped in Washington, DC from May to July 1932 to lobby for immediate payment. Finally, in 1936, congress granted their wish, giving veterans the choice of taking their bonus in cash or leaving it with the government where it would earn 3 percent interest until 1945.

Continue reading "Preview of Joshua Hausman's Economics Job Market Paper, Courtesy of Miles Kimball: Effective Expansionary Fiscal Policy in the Great Depression" »

Jeremy Lott: My Thoughts on Rapegate

Jeremy Lott:

My Thoughts on Rapegate: Your diarist was not shocked to hear Missouri senatorial candidate Todd Akin’s thoughts on rape and conception…. I was not shocked because, though Akin put it more baldly and offensively than most, I heard variations on that theme growing up in pro-life Baptist circles. Folks would ask the rape question. Since there is no good answer, people, like Akin (“From what I understand from doctors…”), would reach for “science” to muddy the waters. That answer is not absurd on its face….

The uproar over Akin’s dumb comments is infuriating to pro-lifers because this is the debate that Planned Parenthood and Nancy Pelosi want to have. Oppose abortion generally — as most Americans now do? Then you’re not against sex-selective abortions, abortions as contraception, abortion as an absolute legal right right up to the moment of full delivery (and, according to some trailblazing theorists, for some time after). No, you’re really an apologist for rapists. You probably want to take away condoms and the pill, too.

Unfortunately, it looks like Todd Akin and Paul Ryan--and many other Republicans who follow bishops--really do want to take away condoms and the pill.

The place where I think Jeremy's logic fails is where he says "there is no good answer". There is a good--or at least a not-terrible--answer from the ensoulment-occurs-at-the-moment-of-fertilization perspective. The rapist is guilty. The child-to-be is innocent. The mother-to-be is imposed upon. The least-bad answer from the ensoulment-occurs-at-the-moment-of-fertilization perspective is to say that this is what the government is for: have the public fisc pay the mother-to-be handsomely to bear and if she wishes raise the child. There won't be that many rape claims--especially in this age of DNA testing--and the cost of the program is a small minus relative to what is, from the ensoulment-occurs-at-the-moment-of-fertilization perspective, a huge plus.

But nobody, literally nobody, who claims to hold to the ensoulment-occurs-at-the-moment-of-fertilization perspective will ever go there…