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October 2016

Bayesianism versus Smoothing: In Which I Surrender Unconditionally to Cosma Shalizi

Surrender alesia Google Search

I think it is time for me to issue an unconditional intellectual surrender to Cosma Shalizi. Watching Nate Silver and his now http://fivethirtyeight.com over the past two election cycles has convinced me that the Bayesian framework he throws around his model is a major obstacle to people's understanding what is going on.

What is going on is made up of three things:

  1. Polling--that is, asking people what they think of the election candidates in a structured way.

  2. Aggregation--so that you are not just using one sample of 1000 to assess the current mood of the electorate but instead have something like 1/5 of the sampling standard error.

  3. Smoothing--imposing structure on the time series, both that it ought to be close to "fundamentals" and that it ought not to change too quickly.

Continue reading "Bayesianism versus Smoothing: In Which I Surrender Unconditionally to Cosma Shalizi" »


Caitlin MacNiel: Sucks To Be You! Trump Won’t Pay Pollster Almost A Million Bucks: "Donald Trump is stiffing the first pollster his presidential campaign hired--to the tune of almost $1 million.... The Trump campaign would not comment.... Fabrizio, a veteran GOP pollster, was hired by the Trump campaign in May at the recommendation of Paul Manafort, who has since left the campaign..." (Live from the Republicans' Self-Made Trump Hell)


Procrastinating on October 31, 2016

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Over at Equitable Growth: Must-Reads:

Continue reading "Procrastinating on October 31, 2016" »


Links for the Week of October 30, 2016

Most-Recent Must-Reads:

  • Anton Howes: Is Innovation in Human Nature?: "Most theories... assume that innovation is in human nature...
  • Economist: Hands Off the Bank of England: "Politicians who casually attack the central bank’s integrity are playing with fire..."

Most-Recent Links:

Continue reading "Links for the Week of October 30, 2016" »


Henceforth, If You Say "Economic Anxiety" without Irony and without Subtle Detailed Explanation, You Will Be Permanently Muted, Blocked, or Sent to Spam. Just Saying...

Matthew Yglesias: @mattyglesias: "I think one driver of different views on the "economic anxiety" meme is how much of this stuff you get on a daily basis:

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Continue reading "Henceforth, If You Say "Economic Anxiety" without Irony and without Subtle Detailed Explanation, You Will Be Permanently Muted, Blocked, or Sent to Spam. Just Saying..." »


Must-Read: News magazines that have spent all of the current millennium so far making excuses for Britain's Conservative and Unionist Party have been playing with fire. Now there is some sign they are aware of just how badly they and Britain are getting burned. Let us hope that it is not too late, and that they do not backslide:

Economist: Hands Off the Bank of England: "Politicians who casually attack the central bank’s integrity are playing with fire..."

Continue reading " " »


Late October 2012: Weekend Reading: Josh Jordan Department: There Are Republicans Who Keep Separate What They Believe to Be True and What They Tell the Proles...

Preview of Test

...People who know that it is absurd to say that the policies proposed by JEB! will produce 4%/year growth.

People who know that it is absurd to say that enacting Paul Ryan's deregulation agenda will rapidly boost U.S. GDP per capita to more than $300K/year.

And then there are people like:

Josh Jordan: Nate Silver’s Flawed Model: "The New York Times number cruncher lets his partisanship show...

...“Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything, Kent. Forty percent of all people know that.” — Homer Simpson.

In the days before the first debate in Denver, President Obama held more than a four-point lead in the Real Clear Politics average, and Romney had been left for dead by most of the media. Then the debate came, and overnight Romney seemingly rid himself of the weaknesses that had been tacked on to him by over $100 million dollars in negative advertising. Now here we are a few weeks later with a dead heat in nationwide polls.

Continue reading "Late October 2012: Weekend Reading: Josh Jordan Department: There Are Republicans Who Keep Separate What They Believe to Be True and What They Tell the Proles..." »


Inequality: Brown University Janus Forum

Brown University Janus Forum Lecture: Inequality: Is America Becoming a Two-Tiered Society?

N. Gregory Mankiw and J. Bradford DeLong

Faculty Club at Brown University :: 5:30 PM - 8:00 PM :: October 17, 2016


My Presentation:

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Continue reading "Inequality: Brown University Janus Forum" »


Late July 2012: Is This the Silliest Thing Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post Has Ever Written?

Hoisted from 2012: [Is This the Silliest Thing Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post Has Ever Written?][]: Suggestions for sillier things welcome:

Continue reading "Late July 2012: Is This the Silliest Thing Glenn Kessler of the Washington Post Has Ever Written?" »


Why and how the Republicans made their Donald Trump hell, in one sentence:

Michael Kranish (2012): The story behind Mitt Romney’s loss in the presidential campaign to President Obama: "As Romney’s campaign plane landed... at around 6 p.m. on Election Day, he turned on his iPad and opened the Drudge Report....


Comment of the Day: Bruce J.: Revisiting Mitt Romney's 2012 Prediction of a Failed Treasury Auction...: "Why, it's almost as if Mitt didn't understand any of this stuff.

It takes no knowledge of macroeconomics to find a company with good credit, leverage it to the hilt, loot it and walk away from the burning hulk when you torch it for the insurance money: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZPtjyqgZAUk

Pretty much the business model of Bain Capital...


Procrastinating on October 28, 2016

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Over at Equitable Growth: Must-Reads:

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Romney Secret 47% Video Transcript Annotated

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it. XXXI pieces, from soup to nuts, below the fold:

Continue reading "Romney Secret 47% Video Transcript Annotated" »


Post-Election "Free Gifts" Conference Call: Part XXX: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XXX: Post-Election "Free Gifts" Conference Call:

Romney "Gifts" Call

Even though the _New York Times _ was listening in on the 2012 Romney post-election car conference call, they do not appear to have made a transcript. Thus we have only about ten minutes--half the call. What we have may well not be a fair representation of what was actually said.

Nevertheless, it is not to Romney's credit:

Continue reading "Post-Election "Free Gifts" Conference Call: Part XXX: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


On the Trail: Part XXVIII: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XXVIII: On the Trail:

After Romney said that it was "high risk" for him to try to talk to modern American women on live TV, the audience suggested that he use Ann Romney as a surrogate. Romney seemed to be of two minds:

On the one hand he worried about keeping her off-screen "so that people don't tired of her, or start attacking".

On the other hand, when Hilary Rosen accused Ann Romney of knowing nothing about the problems women who have to earn money in the labor market face "not having worked a day in her life", the campaign immediately pivoted and attacked Hilary Rosen for denigrating what stay-at-home moms do as not valuable, and it was, Romney said: "very valuable... gave her a platform she wouldn't have had otherwise.... I think she will be extraordinarily helpful..."

I see this as Romney starting out as a Mormon Patriarch, echoing Perikles of Athens from 2400 years ago:

The greatest glory of a woman is to be least talked about by men, whether they are praising you or criticizing you...

And then Romney remembers that he is a modern American politician appealing to an electorate, more than 50% female, which is not as enthusiastic about Mormon Patriarchy as he is.

Continue reading "On the Trail: Part XXVIII: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


"Poor as a Church Mouse": Part XXVII: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XXVII: "Poor as a Church Mouse":

Shades of George W. Bush at the Al Smith dinner in 2000: "This is an impressive crowd, the haves, and the have-mores. Some people call you the elite. I call you my base..."

Continue reading ""Poor as a Church Mouse": Part XXVII: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


Dignity and Media: Part XXVI: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XXVI: Dignity and Media:

WTF?!

"The View is high risk because of the five women on it, only one is conservative. Four are sharp-tongued and not conservative, Whoopi Goldberg in particular..."

Talking to modern American women is "high risk"?

Continue reading "Dignity and Media: Part XXVI: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


Villification: Part XXV: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XXV: Villification:

And after having said that Obama is both:

  • "a failure.... a bad guy... did bad things... corrupt..."
  • "just... not up to the task... in over his head..."

Romney immediately pivots too: THEY'RE GOING TO VILLIFY ME!

Projection, much?

The big questions with respect to Mitt Romney's career are always: Just how did he get so rich? Did he take a reasonable share of value-creation activities that made us all richer? Or was he a rent-seeking parasite--someone who successfully held up productive activities and took an outsized share in return for not blocking them, a financial robber baron of the late twentieth century?

The natural way to answer this question would have been for Romney to trot out testimonials from the clients of Bain Capital. Who were the great entrepreneurs whom Bain Capital funded? What were the high-profit high-value high-wage paying companies that got their chance to scale up their success because Bain Capital was there, with financing and with key insights into markets and strategy?

But Romney never seemed to want to talk about those. "I ran the Salt Lake City Olympics" seemed to be the only thing he wanted to point to. He did not even want to say: "I was a very good Governor of Massachusetts." And so he was on the defensive with respect to his business career throughout the campaign: the job-killer union-buster pension-stealer partner-hold-upper.

It was and is a puzzlement. On the finance side, Warren Buffett has always talked constantly about the great businesses he has bought and helped expand, and the great operating managers he has backed. But Romney?...

Continue reading "Villification: Part XXV: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


Mid-January 1997: William Safire and the New York Times

I would say that the Sulzburgers owe every subscriber to the New York Times as of January 1997 $1000 for their printing this. What say you all? (Live from the Journamalists' Self-Made Hell):

Duncan Black: The Greatest Hits of the 90s: "Everybody is getting nostalgic. Just so you're ready...

Continue reading "Mid-January 1997: William Safire and the New York Times" »


Revisiting Mitt Romney's 2012 Prediction of a Failed Treasury Auction...

Let's look again at the Asking for Advice/National Bankruptcy: Part VIII of the Romney Secret 47% Video.

The most interesting thing is how certain Mitt Romney was--and, if we can trust Mitt Romney, John Whitehead was. He was certain that the U.S. was on a path to rapidly become "Greece". Why? First, Romney says, because President Obama "would not talk about reforming Social Security or Medicare."

If you try to make sense of what Romney is saying, it is:

Continue reading "Revisiting Mitt Romney's 2012 Prediction of a Failed Treasury Auction..." »


People Are Disappointed with Obama's Policies: Part XXIV: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XXIV: People Are Disappointed with Obama's Policies:

After having his only reaction to incipient Trumpism from the Fox News-addled be to call for the elimination of the civil service, Romney pivots to how he is going to reach the key middle of the electorate. It's worth unpacking the steps of Romney's argument here in logical sequence:

  1. Obama is "a failure.... a bad guy... did bad things... corrupt."
  2. But this key segment of the electorate--"the 5 to 6 or 7 percent that we have to bring onto our side, they all voted for Barack Obama four years ago."
  3. So "they like him... they don't want to be told that they were wrong" to have supported them.
  4. But they are open to be asked "Are you disappointed in his policies that haven't worked?"
  5. And they are open to being told that "they did the right thing" in voting for him, "but he just wasn't up to the task... in over his head."
  6. We Republicans understand the truth about Obama, and that is what animates us.
  7. But these key people "voted for him... don't agree with us... the things that animate us are not the things that animate them."

The problem that Mitt Romney then faced was that the natural question for that "5 to 6 or 7 percent" to ask him was: What policies has Obama gotten wrong? And Romney's replies were:

  • The shock hitting the economy at the end of George W. Bush's term was much bigger than people thought it was back in 2008: "He told you he'd keep unemployment below 8 percent..."
  • A totally fake statistic that confirms my view that Romney had very much the wrong economic policy briefers: "Fifty percent of kids coming out of school can't get a job. Fifty percent."
  • Another fake statistic: "Fifty percent of the kids in high school in our 50 largest cities won't graduate from high school." Blame this one on Alina and Colin Powelll. It doesn't count those who graduate in five years rather than four. It doesn't count G.E.D.'s (which are, IMHO, at least 2/3 of the way from "high school dropout" to "high school graduate").

And what else was Romney going to say? That Obama had not gotten us into enough wars in the Middle East? That he had successfully implemented RomneyCare in the Blue States, and it seemed to be working?

I think the disconnect between Romney-think and Romney campaign-think inside the Romney-bubble--Obama "a failure.... a bad guy... did bad things... corrupt"--and the message Romney was trying to sell to the middle of the electorate--"you did the right thing" in voting for him, "but he just wasn't up to the task... in over his head"--accounted for a lot of the campaign and message dysfunction of fall 2012 on the Republican side.

Continue reading "People Are Disappointed with Obama's Policies: Part XXIV: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


Corruption in Washington: Part XXIII: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XXIII: Corruption in Washington:

Here we have a rant from an "audience member". I presume when he says "CFEC" he means "CFPB"--the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. This makes me think that white men should not be allowed to retire and waste six hours a day watching Fox News: "Solyndra... Eric Holder... the most corrupt attorney general that we had ever... Nancy Pelosi was supposed to give us an honest Congress and has given us just the opposite as speaker... clean house, immediately..."

And Romney's only response? It was to call for getting rid of the civil service. There was nothing about: "You know Fox News's business model is to terrify you to keep your eyeballs glued to the screen? So it can charge its advertisers who sell you overpriced gold funds?"

And Romney's cowardly failure to push back against incipient Trumpism is, in my mind, something of which he should be greatly ashamed today:

Continue reading "Corruption in Washington: Part XXIII: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


Must-Read: In my view, the conservative intellectual crisis is the fact that David Brooks can write--and the New York Times publish--this piece on the conservative intellectual crisis. The only mention of race comes at the end, where Brooks writes that "most young conservatives are comfortable with ethnic diversity and are weary of the Fox News media-politico complex."

There is no acknowledgement that for David Brooks's bosses at the Wall Street Journal, National Review, and the Washington Times, income stagnation for America's middle- and working-classes was a large part of the point. One of America's biggest problems, according to Bill Buckley, Irving Kristol, James Q. Wilson, Russell Kirk, Midge Decter, and company, was that lucky duckies were mooching off of the wealth created by the talented. The idea was to redistribute income upward by destroying the lucky duckies' claims to income: redistributive taxes, unions, high-quality low-cost public higher education, welfare--and then on to cutting back unemployment insurance, Social Security, and Medicare.

But how then did the conservatives of the 1980s and 1990s think that they could wield power? One road was specious claims of the benefits of supply-side tax cuts, repeated often enough to gain credibility via a complaisant press. The second road was via those whom Brooks calls the "sort of cheesy" Republicans: those like Lee Atwater, Karl Rove, and company, who offered the (white, male) lucky duckies the full menu headed by racial supremacy and misogyny: keep the Negroes, the feminizes, the illegals, and the abortionists in their place.

Yes. David Brooks in the 1980s and 1990s writing for his mendacious little magazines and editorial pages was a lucky ducky indeed: it was "good to be a young conservative"then:

David Brooks: The Conservative Intellectual Crisis: "I feel very lucky to have entered the conservative movement... in the 1980s and 1990s... National Review, The Washington Times, The Wall Street Journal’s editorial page...

Continue reading "" »


We Are Professionals: Part XXII: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XXII: We Are Professionals:

It is certainly true that I am not in Romney's core donor demographic.

But if I were, I think this would have led me to put away my checkbook. Here we see how Romney tried to convince his audience of potential donors that he had a professional operation. And what did he do?

Did he talk about the experienced party staff? Did he talk about senior campaign staff who had been mid-level in 2004 and 2008 and been very well-regarded, and mid-level staff who had been well-regarded juniors in 2004 and 2008? Did he talk about people who had successfully run House, Senate, and Governor campaigns in swing states here in the United States and how he had worked to get them on his team?

No. This is what he said:

I have a very good team of extraordinarily experienced, highly successful consultants...

Not party staff. Not professionals. Consultants--who bounce from campaign to media gig to free appearances as "strategists" and then back to campaigns. People whose principal aim is to preserve and enhance their media-centered social network rather than believers in your cause focused on getting you into office and your policies implemented.

And then he said:

A couple of people in particular... Karl Rove equivalents... [who do] do races all over the world. In Armenia. In Africa. In Israel. I mean, they work for Bibi Netanyahu in his races...

"Work for Bibi Netanyahu." Right.

Continue reading "We Are Professionals: Part XXII: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


Educating the American People: Part XXI: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XXI: Educating the American People:

Here Romney expresses his low opinion of the American electorate. In this, he sells them short. I believe that in order to win the center of the American electorate in a presidential race, you need to demonstrate to them two things:

  1. I share your values.
  2. I and my team am competent to do the job.

It's not that the voters are uninterested in policies, it's that they know they cannot learn enough to judge. So they--I think accurately--focus on values and competence.

Successful Republicans have traditionally focused on the first--or had a complaisant press do the first for them. But it is very difficult for Republicans to do, because the requirement that they cling to their base has made it hard since Reagan's retirement for them to claim that they share American values--unless they luck into or frame the contest as a khaki election.

Romney's message, however, was more of the second: that Obama was a jumped-up affirmative action candidate, who--like all affirmative action candidates--was unqualified for the job. He left the "Obama is a Kenyan Muslim socialist" for the fever swamps of his coalition. But he did little to stamp it out, either...

Continue reading "Educating the American People: Part XXI: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


Romney: My Election Will Summon the Confidence Fairy!: Part XX: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XX: Romney: My Election Will Summon the Confidence Fairy!:

I have remarked before on the strong disconnect between the future "Greece" scenarios that Romney was confident were in our then future and the expectations of financial markets, which were expecting a lot more of the liquidity trap and secular stagnation. But the fact that financial markets disagree with Mitt Romney did not give him any pause, or undermine his belief that he understood them, and could predict them--never mind that he could not even now-cast them.

And here he went completely unhinged: all that had to be done was to elect Mitt Romney, and:

there will be a great deal of optimism about the future of this country. We'll see capital come back, and we'll see—without actually doing anything—we'll actually get a boost in the economy...

While if Obama is reelected:

The "Taxageddon," as they call it, January 1st, with this president, and with a Congress that can't work together, it really is frightening, really frightening in my view...

S P 500© FRED St Louis Fed

We have seen real stock-market gains of 14%/year during Obama's second term.

You would think that somebody as good as Mitt Romney is supposed to be would have done some rethinking by now. You would think that somebody as good as Mitt Romney is supposed to be would have noted, say, that the only Democratic president under whom the stock market has not done extremely well was Carter, while the only Republican president under who the stock market has done extremely well is Reagan, and done some rethinking here.

And this raises the question: Where is the grift? Is Romney the mark, whose grifting briefers--who know better--allow him to believe that all he has to do is take office and the Confidence Fairy will return? Or is Romney the grifter here, and are his donors the marks?

Continue reading "Romney: My Election Will Summon the Confidence Fairy!: Part XX: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


We Need a Bigger Navy: Part XIX: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XIX: We Need a Bigger Navy:

This is the type of thing that makes those of us experts who support Romney say: "He's just pretending to be this dumb. When he says that the navy is smaller than at any time since 1917 and the Air Force smaller than at any time since it was founded in 1946, he knows that the navy and air force aren't really weaker than they were then--he just wants to boobs in the debate audience to think that they are weaker."

Not a very high regard for the citizens of the United States of America, I must say...

And Obama's comeback--in the debate--is masterful:

The one thing Obama got wrong is that he did not believe that the Republican congressional leadership would decide that it was so enthusiastic about the sequester.

And, of course, once the Republicans decided to go for the sequester in early 2013, Romney no longer cared about the size of the navy and the air force. Urgent and important before the election. Not worth his time in the public sphere after.

Continue reading "We Need a Bigger Navy: Part XIX: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


How much backup did David Frum get back in 2009 when he wrote his "Waterloo" piece warning about the self-made hell into which the Republicans were descending?

Nancy LeTourneau: The Republican Waterloo: "The so-called “right-wing media” has ejected the GOP leadership from their epistemic bubble...

Continue reading "" »


The Roots of Growth: Review of Joel Mokyr: "A Culture of Growth"

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The roots of growth: Brad DeLong examines a study that places the origins of the Industrial Revolution in fifteenth-century Europe.

A Culture of Growth: The Origins of the Modern Economy
Joel Mokyr Princeton University Press: 2016.
ISBN: 9780691168883

What is modern economic growth? Going by the best available measure (it might be more honest to say 'guess'), today's average material living standards and economic productivity levels are some 20 times what they were in the agricultural era (about 6000 BC to AD 1500). And the efficiency with which humanity uses technology and organization to transform resources into useful commodities is currently growing at 2% per year — perhaps 100 times the rate common before the Industrial Revolution... Read MOAR at Nature


Late September 2012: Mitt Romney and "Those People": Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates Weblogging

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Mitt Romney and "Those People": Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates Weblogging: Ta-Nehisi Coates:

No One Left To Race-Bait To: Dave Weigel points out the difference between the covert racism of a young cagey Pat Buchanan in the days of the Southern strategy, and overt racism of the pariah Pat Buchanan banished to Fox News…. Calling the first black president a "drug dealer of welfare" is… Buchanan deploying symbolism. The problem is that the world has changed, and this is precisely the kind of rhetoric that would end a presidential candidacy today.

Continue reading "Late September 2012: Mitt Romney and "Those People": Reading Ta-Nehisi Coates Weblogging" »


Winning the Middle: Part XVIII: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XVIII: Winning the Middle:

And then the fit passes. The moocher- and loser-loathing werewolf turns back into the centrist manager-politician. Romney talks about how his task is to convince the "independents that are thoughtful". And he says that it is doable. And here we lose our video for a few minutes.

Nobody in Romney's camp has ever volunteered to fill in what he said between the end of the first and the start of the second video file. Which is too bad. We presume that it is not seen as a big winner for Romney...

Continue reading "Winning the Middle: Part XVIII: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


47%!: Part XVII: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XVII: 47%!:

And now we come to the famous--and revelatory--47% passage. The number "47%" seems to play a very strong role inside Romney's brain. It is, respectively:

  1. the size of the Democratic base...
  2. the share of Americans who don't pay taxes...
  3. the share of Americans who are losers who believe they are entitled victims who will never "take personal responsibility and care for their lives..."

What appears to have happened to Romney is that three briefings, each of which referenced 47%, each of which he only half-understood, have collided inside his brain and formed themselves into a Monstrous Regiment named "47%" that threatens America.

The first briefing, I presume, was about the partisan polarization of America's electorate these days. People told Romney that the Democratic base was solid. 1984 was the last time that a Democratic presidential candidate wound up with less than 46% of the two-party vote. Romney has absorbed this briefing. Thus he is focused on rallying the base and winning the middle. He has been told not to go after the Democratic base and he has internalized it:

There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him.... My job is not to worry about those people...

The phrase that is supposed to follow here is "in the context of this campaign: I won't win their votes". And then Romney is supposed to follow that with: "But, of course, I will be President of the United States of America. As President, I will care deeply about them and strive to help them learn to live better lives..."

The problem is that Romney feels that he has to explain why the Democratic base comprises of 47% of the electorate. And so he reaches into his brain for another briefing about the 47%:

These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. And he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that's what they sell every four years...

Now we all know that, of the 47% who "pay no income tax", 10%-points of them are elderly and retired: they are more likely to be in the Republican base than in the Democratic base. We all know that 28%-points of them are paying payroll taxes, but because they are not making much money their notional income tax burden is covered by their EITC: a message of cutting payroll taxes would connect, but that's not what Romney means by "our message of low taxes".

But Romney has been badly briefed. His brain jumps from what was supposed to be an argument that the 47% did not benefit directly from the principal Republican policy proposal of cutting the top-bracket tax break to a belief that the 47% pay no taxes to a belief that they are moochers and takers. And then he is off and running with his description of the Monstrous Regiment of the 47%, the people who are...

...with [Obama], who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what...

And so he washes his hands of them: social scum, unworthy of his time and attention, unreachable:

My job is not to worry about those people—I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives...

What was supposed to be a riff about how the electorate is polarized, the race will be close, and he is focused on putting his effort where it will do the most good to win the votes he can realistically win--that riff has turned into something else, something ugly, something very revealing about Mitt Romney and his view of the world.

Continue reading "47%!: Part XVII: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


Be Proud of Yourself!: Part XVI: Romney Secret 47% Video

Mitt romney 47 video Google Search

I have long thought somebody should go through and annotate the 2012 Mitt Romney: Full Transcript of the 47% Secret Video. So I will now do it.

Part XVI: Be Proud of Yourself!:

Romney on social insurance and the distribution of wealth: "Sen. Rubio says that when he grew up here, poor, that they looked at people that had a lot of wealth, and his parents never once said, "We need some of what they have, they should give us some." Instead they said that you work hard and go to school, someday we might be able to have enough..."

Note how luck--good fortune--plays no role here in Romney's mind: The only way to make sense of this is to believe that Romney thinks that he is rich because God made him rich, and God has mad him rich because he is worthy, and that is true for all rich people, and so it is impious to ask for more in the way of public support, redistribution, or social insurance than a bare minimum.

And, of course, there are people who don't think that Romney's wealth came about through fair play. There are the questions of whether tax fraud--undervaluing assets--played a role in Romney's outsized IRA. People who worked at Bain Capital have claimed to me that Romney held up the organization for nine figures, during this extremely strange period from 1999-2002 during which Romney was "President and CEO" but had "no responsibilities whatsoever" that ended when in 2002 he was finally satisfied with the financial arrangements and so resigned from Bain effective February 1999.

Continue reading "Be Proud of Yourself!: Part XVI: Romney Secret 47% Video" »


Late October 2012: Bonus Politico Blogging: Shorter Mike Allen: I Am Sorry, But Not Very, That I Have Not Been Doing My Job for Like the Past Six Months

Preview of Test

The curious thing was always that in the eyes of the America that watched the third debate, it left them thinking that Mitt Romney was less and Barack Obama more likely to be a good president over 2017-2020...

Bonus Politico Blogging: Shorter Mike Allen: I Am Sorry, But Not Very, That I Have Not Been Doing My Job for Like the Past Six Months: "As an antidote to the (perhaps) irrational Republican exuberance that seems to have seized D.C...

Continue reading "Late October 2012: Bonus Politico Blogging: Shorter Mike Allen: I Am Sorry, But Not Very, That I Have Not Been Doing My Job for Like the Past Six Months" »


Yes, Diana Furchtgott-Roth Is Madame Poll-Unskewing Wingnut of 2016. Why Do You Ask?

Preview of Test

"How national pollsters are helping Hillary Clinton." IIRC, back when Glenn Hubbard hired Diana Furchgott-Roth for the CEA, I asked, "Why is Glenn hiring that wingnut?" Various people assured to me that she was not a wingnut.

Yes she is. This is highly, highly unprofessional. Any time your list of those putting their thumbs on the Democratic side of the scale includes Fox News and the Wall Street Journal, you have lost any standing to appear in polite society (Live from the Republicans' Self-Made Trump Hell):

Diana Furchtgott-Roth: How National Pollsters Are Helping Hillary Clinton: "National polls show wide variations... Clinton up by 9... essentially tied...

Continue reading "Yes, Diana Furchtgott-Roth Is Madame Poll-Unskewing Wingnut of 2016. Why Do You Ask?" »