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October 2015

BENGHAZI!!!

Live from the Kansas Union: Let me say that we should all pause, and express our sympathy for the sorrow of the family and friends of Ambassador Stevens, Sean Smith, Tyrone S. Woods, and Glen Doherty, murdered in a cowardly fashion in Libya on September 11, 2012.

And let me also say that it is appropriate for us to express, for Boehner, McCarthy, Ryan, Gowdy, and the clown show that is the rest of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives, our scorn, contempt, and slight regard:

Jeet Heer: Why Republicans Turned Benghazi Hearing into Blumenthal Hearing: "This was supposed to be the eighth congressional hearing...

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Live from the Kansas Union: I must say, it was not the most encouraging thing in the world to hear Kansas State Senator Jim Denning, R-8th (Metcalfe Ave. to Pflumm Rd., 95 St.-135 St.), say that:

  1. he knew that they had done bad in 2011, and
  2. they had the votes to fix it in 2015, but
  3. they didn't dare pass a bill that fixed it,
  4. because Brownback had threatened to veto such a bill--and made it very clear he would not welcome having to exercise his veto.

Made me think that someone should put their foot down. Someone should send Senator Denning a copy of Edmund Burke's 1774 Speech to the Electors of Bristol.

And, to quote from the movie "Animal House", that foot is me. So, Senator Denning, here you are:

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Live from Crow's Coffee: Nate Silver's http://fivethirtyeight.com is killing it on the 2016 election story.

A squib from Paul Krugman crosses my desk, praising the highly-estimable Nate Silver, and his http://fivethirtyeight.com. Indeed, let us all praise the the highly-estimable Nate Silver, and his http://fivethirtyeight.com. Most recently:

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Must-Read: Not that we know what the right model is, mind you. But Adair Turner believes that it is more likely than not that the model the Federal Reserve is currently using to make its forecasts off of--the model that sees steady non-recessionary U.S. economic growth even with imminent interest-rate lift-off--is the wrong model:

Adair Turner: Debt Déjà Vu: "Financial markets have repeated the same error--predicting that US interest rates will rise within about six months...

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Today's Economic History: Adam Smith: "A Manifest Violation of the Most Sacred Rights of Mankind"

"To prohibit... people... from making... employing their stock and industry in the way that they judge most advantageous... is a manifest violation of the most sacred rights of mankind..."

Adam Smith: An Inquiry Into the Nature and Causes of The Wealth Of Nations: "While Great Britain encourages in America the manufacturing of pig and bar iron...

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Live from the Roasterie: You do get the feeling that nobody working at Politico--certainly not Eli Stokols or Marc Caputo--has any idea what a "serious" policy proposal might be. Campaigns churn out broad directions and talking points. Democratic campaigns try pretty hard to make the broad directions and talking points consistent with reality because they want them validated by those outside who really know the details of the issues. Republican campaigns by and large do not care about making their broad directions and talking points consistent with reality--they know those outside who want inside jobs will be willing to say whatever is needed to make the candidate sound good;

Richard Mayhew: The Soft Bigotry of No Expectations: "(Trigger Warning: Politico link [by Eli Stokols and Marc Caputo)

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Must-Read: I continue to fail to understand the apparent thinking of the center of the Federal Reserve. The following argument seems to me to be obviously correct:

  1. Asymmetric risks and the strong desirability of not returning to the zero lower bound after interest-rate lift-off call for raising interest rates not early and slow but late and fast.
  2. That plus the strong desirability of making it clear by actions that show their consequences in the data 2%/year for the PCE chain index--2.4%/year for the core-CPI--is a target and not a ceiling means that optimal risk management is to wait until rising inflation is present in the data before beginning lift-off
  3. The risks of damaging credibility via error are much less if the policy is to delay lift-off until there are signs of rising inflation as opposed to lifting-off as soon as demand plus the shakily-estimated Phillips curve say rising inflation is coming.
  4. Committee harmony is lost, whether there are formal dissents in December or not.

Even if the center of the Federal Reserve has not internalized Staiger, Stock, and Watson and pretends that their estimated Phillips curve is is the eternal truth of The One Who Is--on the grounds that "you need a forecast to make policy"--interest rate increases in December make no sense, and interest rate increases in March make no sense unless core inflation starts trending up right now:

FRED Graph FRED St Louis Fed

Tim Duy: Fed Struggles With The High Water Mark: "If we get two more reports hovering around 200k a month [in employment growth]...

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Things to Read for Your Morning Procrastination for October 20, 2015

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Must- and Should-Reads:

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Monday Smackdown Watch: Paul Krugman Admonishes Me on My Making Out of Milton Friedman Not a Golden, But a Paper-Money Calf

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Over at Equitable Growth: Paul Krugman: Milton, Money, and Interest Rates: "I have a moderate disagreement with Brad DeLong...

...[who] has been arguing that demands for tight money are, in fact, contrary to the bankers’ own interests:

It was Milton Friedman who insisted, over and over again, that in any but the shortest of runs high nominal interest rates were not a sign that money was tight–that the central bank had pushed the market interest rate above the Wicksellian natural rate–but rather that money had been and probably was still loose, and that market expectations had adjusted to that.

Friedman did in fact make that claim. But... he was wrong. READ MOAR

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Monday Smackdown: Michael Kinsley and "Extremism"

*Live from La Farine: I gotta get back to posting and praising *real DeLong smackdowns--or at least get back to making more fun of David Graeber.

But this is such a target-rich environment! Outsourced to the extremely sharp Scott Lemieux:

Scott Lemieux**: "That Word 'Extremism', I Do Not Think...": "Michael Kinsley is, in 2015, being paid to write a column...

...and this month’s insight is that Donald Trump is not qualified to be president. You can’t get that kind of analysis from just anybody! You would think that pursuing this line of argument wouldn’t be much a challenge, but he manages to step into a rake or ten along the way:

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Must-Read: If you work really, really hard, you might be able to make something not completely unintelligible out of Andrew Sentance. You might agree with Paul Krugman that interest rates need to be even lower to provide people with an incentive to consume and invest at the economy's sustainable non-inflationary potential. But you might go on to say that interest rates need to be higher to curb people's desires to engage in overleverage, bubbles, and Ponzi schemes--that debts of extraordinarily long duration with extraordinarily low rates of amortization is asking for trouble.

But if you did that, you would be advocating not tight money but, rather, a higher inflation target. Amortization rates and durations of debt, you see, depend primarily on nominal interest rates. While the Wicksellian real rate to balance aggregate supply and aggregate demand and make Say's Law true in practice is a real interest rate. And a higher inflation target is the way to make a bigger wedge between the two.

So even if you try really, really hard to make something not completely unintelligible out of Andrew Sentance, you conclude that he has no idea what he is talking about:

Paul Krugman: Nutcases and Knut Cases: "Monetary permahawkery takes two forms...

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Live from Crow's Coffee: The time for David Brooks to say "Wait a minute! This Affordable Care Act is a lot like RomneyCare--why are Republican office-holders pretending it isn't?" was 2009. The time for David Brooks to say "Wait a minute! The Federal Reserve is following Milton Friedman's economic policies--why are Republican office-holders pretending it isn't?" was 2010. Given that he has done so much to help create the problems with the Republican Party today, at least he could own his own past words, and apologize to all of us. Is David Frum that much braver than David Brooks?

Ezra Klein: David Brooks: The Republican Party Is Producing "Leaders of Jaw-Dropping incompetence": "There is an oddity to Brooks's nostalgia...

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Liveblogging World War II: October 19, 1945: Nuremburg Indictment

Indictment:

INDICTMENT: INTERNATIONAL MILITARY TRIBUNAL THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, THE FRENCH REPUBLIC, THE UNITED KINGDOM OF GREAT BRITAIN AND NORTHERN IRELAND, AND THE UNION OF SOVIET SOCIALIST REPUBLICS

-against-

HERMANN WILHELM GOERING, RUDOLF HESS, JOACHIM VON RIBBENTROP, ROBERT LEY, WILHELM KEITEL, ERNST KALTENBRUNNER, ALFRED ROSENBERG, HANS FRANK, WILHELM FRICK, JULIUS STREICHER, WALTER FUNK, HJALMAR SCHACHT, GUSTAV KRUPP VON BOHLEN UND HALBACH, KARL Doenitz, ERICH RAEDER, BALDUR VON SCHIRACH, FRITZ SAUCKEL, ALFRED JODL, MARTIN BORMANN, FRANZ VON PAPEN, ARTHUR SEYSS-INQUART, ALBERT SPEER, CONSTANTIN VON NEURATH, and HANS FRITZSCHE, Individually and as Members of Any of the Following Groups or Organizations to which They Respectively Belonged, Namely: DIE REICHS REGIERUNG (REICH CABINET); DAS KORPS DER POLITISCHEN LEITER DER NATIONALSOZIALISTISCHEN DEUTSCHEN ARBEITERPARTEI (LEADERSHIP CORPS OF THE NAZI PARTY); DIE SCHUTZSTAFFELN DER NATIONALSOZIALISTISCHEN DEUTSCHEN ARBEITERPARTEI (commonly known as the 'SS') and including DER SICHERHEITSDIENST (commonly known as the 'SD'); DIE GEHEIME STAATSPOLIZEI (SECRET STATE POLICE, commonly known as the 'GESTAPO'); DIE STURM ABTEILUNGEN DER NSDAP (commonly known as the 'SA'); and the GENERAL STAFF and HIGH COMMAND of the GERMAN ARMED FORCES, all as defined in Appendix B, Defendants.

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David Frum on the Republican Crack-Up: Hoisted from the Archives from 5.5 Years Ago

The remarkable thing is that the Republicans would not have had to get any concessions out of Obama in order to justly and accurately sell ObamaCare as a profoundly conservative policy initiative--as an attempt to sustain a market-oriented health-care financing system. Obama pre-conceded everything except for Medicaid-expansion block grants to the states, and there is certainly enough wiggle room in the waiver process as it has developed to claim that we effectively have that as well:

David Frum (2010): Waterloo: "Conservatives and Republicans today suffered their most crushing legislative defeat since the 1960s.

...It’s hard to exaggerate the magnitude of the disaster. Conservatives may cheer themselves that they’ll compensate for today’s expected vote with a big win in the November 2010 elections. But:

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Must-Read: Macro Advisors is currently at a 2.5%/year real GDP growth rate forecast for the fourth quarter of 2015, a 1.5%/year tracking estimate for the third quarter of 2015, 3.9% for the second quarter, and 0.6% for the first quarter. That's 2.1% for the year--that's not an economic growth rate that would make anyone think that inflationary pressures are building in the mantle underneath even though they are not visible anywhere in the crust:

Macro Advisors: GDP Tracking:

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Links for the Week of October 12, 2015

Sanzio 01 The School of Athens Wikipedia the free encyclopedia

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Things to Read for Your Evening Procrastination on October 18, 2015

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Must- and Should-Reads:

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Yes, George W. Bush Deserves 10% of the Blame for 9/11, and 110% of the Blame for His Execrable Performance as a President After

Live from Where the Willamette Meets the Columbia: There is no honor anywhere in the Bush clan, and no pride in their deeds at all:

Jeb Bush**: "Does anybody actually blame my brother for the attacks on 9/11?...

...If they do they're totally marginalizing our society. It's what he did afterwards that matters. And I'm proud of him....

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Hoisted from U.S. State Department Archives: Tony Blair Screws the Pooch in Spring 2002 More Massively than I Would Ever Have Believed

Tony Blair Screws the Pooch in Spring 2002 More Massively than I Would Ever Have Believed:

Emails reveal Tony Blair s deal with George Bush over Iraq war was forged before invasion started  Daily Mail Online

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Weekend Reading: Stephen Pinker: How My Mind Works

A correspondent sends me: Stephen Pinker (2013): How My Mind Works

Let me underscore how profoundly uninterested I am in vain and flailing attempts to defend Pinker in comments. That's a rapid road toward getting you out of here. To repeat myself:

Don't hit on students. No matter how much you think you are a nice guy, they can never know whether or not you are threatening to withhold the grades, letters, and mentoring they deserve if they don't come across. To put any young person in such a position is the act of a real asshole. And you are probably less of a nice guy than you think you are.

Professor Edwin Ervin [sic]
Department of Philosophy   University of Miami 
Miami, FL 

June 13, 2013 

Dear Professor Ervin [sic],

I join you and other scholars, writers, and activists in protesting the threat of dismissal of a brilliant and distinguished scholar, Colin McGinn, from the University of Miami for apparently nothing more serious than exchanging sexual banter with a graduate student.

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Things to Read for Your Morning Procrastination on October 17, 2015

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Must- and Should-Reads:

Over at Equitable Growth--The Equitablog

Plus:

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Weekend Reading: Hendrik Hertzberg: Reviewing "An American Life"

Hendrik Hertzberg: Reviewing "An American Life": "We knew about Reagan and war movies...

...What Cannon adds is that Reagan loved peace movies, too.

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Liveblogging World War I: October 16, 1915: Armenian Genocide

Armenian Genocide: Timeline: 1915:

Immunity from prosecution is guaranteed to those carrying out the massacres of the Armenians in Der-el-Zor. 16,000 Armenian deportees from Bursa and Izmid leave Afiyon-Karahisar for Konia. Lord Bryce remarks that Germany could stop the massacres if it wished to do so.20,000 Armenian deportees in transit are murdered in the city and environs of Urfa.


Weekend Reading: Joe Romm: Republicans: Gooing All Out to Sabotage Global Climate

Joe Romm: Republicans are going all out to sabotage a global climate deal: "Over the past year, GOP leaders, driven by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.)...

...have made a radical shift in the party’s public position on climate change. They are now actively seeking to destroy a global climate deal. In any other universe this would be a major news story. But I guess the mainstream media has become so jaded to what the Koch brothers and Tea Party have done to the Republican party at a national level, that this radical shift seems just like another dog-bites-man-story, albeit one where the wound is fatal.

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Trekonomics Panel at New York Comic Con: The Honest Broker for the Week of September 28, 2015

: Trekonomics Panel at New York Comic Con (October 11, 2015)

I have been playing with FOLD, and having fun. Here I take the transcript of the New York Comic Con "Trekonomics" panel created by the extremely-productive-on-long-airplane-flights Izabella Kaminska, add to it, and annotate it...

Hey! Why hasn't the Financial Times paid for her to step back from Alphaville and turn her Beyond Scarcity series of weblog posts into a book?

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