Ten Years Ago on Grasping Reality: July 1-7, 2008

  • My belief that DHE had any goals other than to suck up to Republican donors and politicians was wrong: Douglas Holtz-Eakin Burns His Credibility: "Holtz-Eakin said, “Sen. Obama can say what he wants this week… but this is about his record. It reveals what his true values are”—that he voted for something that would raise taxes on low-income voters, Holtz-Eakin claimed.... This is, I think, a bad mistake for Doug Holtz-Eakin. If McCain wins in November, Holtz-Eakin will need credibility with Democratic as well as Republican senators. And if McCain doesn't win in November, Holtz-Eakin will need credibility with Democratic as well as Republican economists...

  • Lehman's Off Balance Sheet Entities News: They disturb Jonathan Weil quite a bit...

  • Jim Hamilton Assumes the Role of Dr. Doom: Time to start sending out more stimulus checks--advances on next April's refund checks...

  • The Singularity Is in Our Past...: Will McLean writes: "A Commonplace Book: Buying Power of 14th Century Money: In the second half of the 14th century, a pound sterling would: Support the lifestyle of a single peasant laborer for half a year, or that of a knight for a week. Or buy: Three changes of clothing for a teenage page (underclothes not included) or Twelve pounds of sugar or A carthorse or Two cows or An inexpensive bible or ten ordinary books or Rent a craftsman’s townhouse for a year or Hire a servant for six months... "Think of a world in which a pound of sugar costs two weeks' wages...

  • Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (John F. Harris Edition): "John F. Harris of the Politico, formerly of the Washington Post, confesses that he doesn't even try to do his job of informing Americans about which politicians would make good presidents and legislators--furthest thing from his mind.... I do wonder how he can look at himself in the mirror in the morning. It is a mystery...

  • Atlantic Monthly Death Spiral Watch: Tim Burke reminds us of what may have been the worst article published by the Atlantic Monthly, ever: "Easily Distracted: Political Notes: I keep flashing back to Mark Bowden’s willingness to be a front man for security functionaries eager to normalize torture. Bowden’s article assured readers that 'harsh interrogation' had reached a point of trust-worthy technocratic professionalism in Israel and now potentially the United States. Don’t worry, he said: professionals only use it when they need to, only against those individuals who have knowledge that our trusted leaders must have. It’s won’t be as if some sweaty thug in a filthy gulag is ripping off fingernails just to intimidate a political dissident, that’s only a danger with unprofessional regimes that torture unnecessarily. I mean, it’s not as if we’d be doing something that an infamous authoritarian regime used extensively against dissidents. Besides, who needs moral capital when you’ve got stealth bombers, right?..."

  • Peter Beinart is weighed down under an enormous karmic burden for acts of intellectual evil in the past: Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Peter Beinart Strikes Again Edition): "It is safe to say that Peter Beinart makes a very serious, thoughtful, argument that has never been made in such detail or with such care: "Balancing Act: The Other Wilsonianism The contrast with the development of modern conservative foreign policy is instructive. When William F. Buckley, James Burnham, and the other founding editors of _National Review+ set out in the 1950s to devise a conservative approach to the Cold War, they did so in the full knowledge that their views were wildly outside the political mainstream. (In fact, Buckley and Burnham did not even live in Washington.) Yet they continued to elaborate and refine them, making few concessions to political necessity, until in 1976 and 1980, when Ronald Reagan brought first the Republican Party, and then the entire country, around to their worldview..." Burnham's and Buckley's foreign policy was "Rollback": a titanic Manichean struggle of total Cold War against a totalitarian adversary that could not be softened or negotiated with or contained—that was Buckley's and Burnham's critique of Harry S Truman, Dean Acheson, George F. Kennan, George Marshall, and the other graduates of what Nixon called "Acheson's Cowardly College of Communist Containment." What was Ronald Reagan's foreign policy?... Once George Shultz, Nancy Reagan, and Nancy Reagan's astrologer had wrested control of the Reagan administration foreign policy apparat from Alexander Haig and Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Reagan (and even more so George H.W. Bush) was squarely in the "Containment"—not the "Rollback"—tradition. To Peter Beinart's claim that Reagan's foreign policy was "Buckley['s and] Burnham['s]... conservative approach to the Cold War," all I can do is laugh and say: "Klaatu Barada Nikto!!" Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

  • Ulysses Simpson "Sam" Grant Blogging: "I felt like anything rather than rejoicing at the downfall of a foe who had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought, and one for which there was the least excuse..."

  • I would now revise this to say that "unskilled" occupations are, many of them, not that different from looking after children in that they both are (a) physically demanding, (b) emotionally wearing, (c) mentally challenging, (d) easy to do badly with small lapses of attention: "Skilled" Occupations: Very many people can do it well, not because it is easy to do but because it is one of our core human competences: we are driven to learn how to do it well at a deep, basic, powerful level to an even greater degree than we are driven to learn how to throw rocks to hit small moving animals. Thus looking after children is different from skilled occupations—it pays poorly because the supply of people who can do it is not small. And looking after children is different from unskilled occupations—it is hard to do because it is (a) physically demanding, (b) emotionally wearing, (c) mentally challenging, (d) easy to do badly with small lapses of attention...

  • Berkeley Morning Coffeeshop Blogging: Sign in Brewed Awakening: "All Occupied Seats Must Be Justified by a Purchase." I have heard of Justification by faith, and Justification by works, but not of Justification by purchase...

  • John Yoo Lies Again: Spencer Ackerman: "In last week's interminable Yoo/Addington hearing, John Yoo accused Vanity Fair reporter and Torture Team author Philippe Sands of lying about interviewing him. Brian Beutler... tracked Sands down.... 'The idea, of course, is that someone who hates America so much that he's willing to fabricate all sorts of untrue allegations about Yoo (and, perhaps, other administration veterans) is not to be believed. When I heard this interchange, though, I emailed Sands and asked him to clear the air. He was fairly unambiguous: "I never claimed to have interviewed him! As set out in my book: we debated." So who's telling the truth? Well, Yoo's right about approximately one thing: Sands did testify before the very same House panel, on May 6 of this year. But that's about the extent of it. In his prepared remarks, Sands submits that, "[o]ver hundreds of hours I conversed or debated with many of those most deeply involved. They included... the Deputy Assistant Attorney General at DoJ (Mr Yoo)"...'"

  • Nurture vs. Nature in Math Skills: John Timmer: "Scandinavian countries such as Norway and Sweden score very high on gender equality measures; in these nations, the gender gap on math performance is extremely small. In contrast, nations at the other end of the spectrum, such as Turkey and Korea, had the largest gender gap.... The frightening thing, from a male perspective, is that a lack of gender equality also seems to be holding down girls' reading scores. Female superiority in reading tests is slightly lower than average in Turkey, but the gap is actually wider in countries with greater equality between the sexes. In Iceland, for example, girls outscore boys by well over 10 percent. The math gender gap thus joins a long list of differences in test scores that were once ascribed to biology, but now appear to be caused by social influences..."

  • Washington Post Death Spiral Watch (Yet Another David Broder Edition): Matt is (a) right to be worried [about 2008], but (b) wrong in thinking that things were very different back in 1974. His problem is that he assumes that David Broder does not casually lie—that back in 1974 David Broder really was pleased at the prospect of "the American people remind[ing] Richard Nixon... that in this country, no one, not even the president, is above the law..." and really was worried "about the fundamental commitment of the American people," but has not been worried since. Broder wasn't. He seems, instead, to have thought that it would be exciting if impeachment would fail, and looked forward to the prospect of Richard Nixon getting his political revenge...

  • Walter Jon Williams: Implied Spaces: Walter Jon Williams's sword-and-singularity novel ("which sense of singularity?" you ask; that would be telling) Implied Spaces is highly recommended...

  • New York Times Death Spiral Watch (David Brooks Edition): Jared Bernstein tells us that Mark Schmitt writes, apropos of the execrable David Brooks: "Brooks also completely mishandles the analysis of Obama's donors that is at the heart of the column. First, he makes it sound like Obama is lying: 'When he is swept up in rhetorical fervor, Obama occasionally says that his campaign is 90 percent funded by small donors. He has indeed had great success with small donors, but only about 45 percent of his money comes from donations of 200 dollars or less...' It's not that complicated: 90 percent of his donors are <200 dollars and they account for 45% of the money. Either number is staggering, totally unprecedented, as is the ratio. But because these smaller donors are not required to provide occupational information, they don't figure at all in Brooks' analysis..

  • Washington Post Death Spiral Watch: A Fred Hiatt Trifecta: Spencer Ackerman: "You Leave Me Breathless: How awesome it must be to be a Washington Post edit writer. First, enable Bush’s disastrous crusades. Then, when someone criticizes Bush from the left—particularly if that person stands a good chance at becoming president on a promise to roll back the Bush legacy—take Bush’s explanations for his policies at face value; formulate those policies at their most generic; and profess incredulity that anyone could disagree with with such sensible goals...

  • James Fallows Gets Shrill and Unbalanced on the Media: James Fallows calls out David Mark of the Politico as exhibiting "classic and depressing Beltway 'could be perceived as problematic' style.... Please. If someone thinks certain views are outrageous, then say so. Not that they could be misperceived that way if not fully explained, et cetera." I don't see why America needs journalists like David Mark, or organizations like the Politico. I really do not...

  • EconomistMom Talks About Barack Obama and Fiscal Responsibility: "It’s clear how little the advice from the outgoing Clinton Administration was heeded by the incoming Bush Administration. Sigh..."

  • Barry Eichengreen on Asian Macro Policy: "I am aware that what I am arguing Asia needs now – monetary tightening, currency appreciation and fiscal stimulus–is the same thing that the Bush Administration has been arguing for three years. But the fact that the advice is old hat and that it comes with unwelcome associations should not lead to its rejection..."

  • Sovereign Wealth Funds are Non-Market (or Quasi-Market) Actors in a Global Market Economy_: Non-market actors in a market economy: a historical parable: Trade around the Indian Ocean before 1500 was a largely peaceful, stable process. Empires, kingdoms, sultanates, and emirates ruled the lands around the ocean, but they did not have the naval strength or the orientation to even think of trying to control the ocean's trade. Pirates were pirates--but only attacked weak targets, and needed bases, and for the land-based kingdoms providing bases for pirates disrupted their own trade. Then came 1500, and a new entity appeared in the Indian Ocean: the Portuguese seaborne empire...

  • Transparency...: Deborah Solomon: "Paulson, at a meeting in the Kremlin that was open to reporters, told Putin his discussions with Russian Finance Minister Alexei Kudrin were productive, including their talks about Russia’s sovereign wealth fund. 'We don’t have a sovereign wealth fund', Putin interrupted, telling Paulson that he must be confusing Russia with someone else..."

  • The Abyss Has Drilled Fracking Laser Holes in Our Skulls with Its Stare...: Gary Farber: "We've always known that our current torture regime came from back-engineering the SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance and Escape) training given some U.S. military personnel intended to enable them to resist the horrible tortures used by the KGB, Chinese Communists.... 'The only change made in the chart presented at Guantánamo was to drop its original title: “Communist Coercive Methods for Eliciting Individual Compliance”...' How evil have we become? The abyss has drilled fracking laser holes through us with its stare. Remind me why we were the good guys in the Cold War, and WWII, again? The guys who wrote the Nuremberg Principles? Please tell me; I really could use a reminder now. And I'd like to know how we can regard ourselves as the same people any more. I'd really, really, like to know..."

  • Now That's What I Call a Comment Policy!: Troll Threat Condition Red: "Making Light: Got it in one: #1 ::: Teresa Nielsen Hayden ::: (view all by) ::: July 01, 2008, 10:51 AM: I'm hereby declaring open season on anything unfamiliar that comes through the door. Newbies: behave or die..."

  • DeLong: Why We Should Presume Free Trade Is Win-Win: A Multisector Stolper-Samuelson Finger Exercise

  • China and Walmart: Champions of Equality?: We need to remind politicians and the public that the gains from trade are broadly shared. Every time the discussion over trade is diverted towards the problems facing specific producers, be they farmers in France or textile workers in the U.S., we miss the central point. Trading allows everyone, and especially the poor, to buy things that they could not otherwise afford...

  • The HRC Campaign: I don't know what a staff that becomes "consumed with trading personal invective, hurling expletives, and trashing one another in print" is called, but I would not call them "loyalists." HRC was badly served...

  • Distributed Co-Creation

  • New York Times Death Spiral Watch (Energy/Speculation/Journalism/Internet Timothy Egan Edition): Back in 2001, Paul Krugman hit the point that deliberate and illegal market manipulation—artificial supply restrictions—were the principal factor driving California's energy crisis no less than seven times in less than five months. As he deservedly patted himself on the back last month: "Various notes on speculation: During that whole period, I was pretty much the only voice in a major news outlet even suggesting that market manipulation might be a central factor..." And indeed, market manipulation somehow escaped mention in the very same section of the very same paper he was writing for--in articles written by news-division reporters like Joseph Kahn and Tim Egan that I can find. Maybe it's the fault of the NYTimes search engine, but all it finds is reporters like Kahn and Egan giving "he said-she said" accounts--charges of market manipulation by PUC Chairs balanced by claims from energy companies that they simply "played by the rules" with no way for non-expert readers to evaluate them...

  • Yes, It Is Donald Luskin Time...: If you understand that real wages and nominal wages are two different things, you don't get confused. Does Luskin understand this? I think not. I remember a similar mistake from the past: Luskin's attempt to compute the real exchange rate...

  • New York Times Death Spiral Watch (Maureen Dowd Edition): "Can there be any conceivable, possible reason for a newspaper in good faith to publish this: "Maureen Dowd, July 2, 2008: [Barack Obama] would like to kid around with reporters for a minute, but knows he’s going to be peppered with on-the-record minutiae designed to feed the insatiable maw of blogs and Internet news.... He’s an American who has climbed to the most rarefied stratosphere of American life, only to find that he has to make a major speech arguing that he loves his country.... He’s a man happily married to a strong professional woman who has to defend his wife, as he says, for being “feisty”..." and this: "Maureen Dowd, April 25, 2007: I love the dynamics of a cheeky woman puncturing the ego of a cocky guy.... So why don’t I like it with Michelle and Barack? I wince a bit when Michelle Obama chides her husband as a mere mortal.... Michelle came on strong.... "There’s Barack Obama the... amazing orator, Harvard Law Review, or whatever it was, law professor, best-selling author, Grammy winner. Pretty amazing, right? And then there’s the Barack Obama that lives with me in my house... his 5-year-old is still better at making the bed than he is.”... [P]eople I talked to afterward... worried that her chiding was emasculating, casting her husband — under fire for lacking experience — as an undisciplined child..."

  • Wimpy Ross Douthat Resorts to Half Measures Only!: The only proper way to watch Star Wars is this: "A New Hope" followed by "The Empire Strikes Back" and the first third of "Return of the Jedi." The saga properly ends with the death of Boba Fett and Jabba the Hut, and oru last image of our heroes should be them looking forward into their unknown future struggle with the empire...

  • Washington Post Death Spiral Watch (Joe Stephens Edition): Outsourced to Nate of FiveThirtyEight.com: "Something finally beat out the Vicki Iseman story for its sheer chutzpah and utter irresponsibility. The culprit is [Joe Stephens's] piece from the Washington Post, which alleges that Barack Obama received a "discount" on his 30-year home mortgage when he purchased his house in Hyde Park in 2005. Obama's mortgage rate was 5.625 percent; the Washington Post cites databases stating that the average rate on comparable properties was 5.93 percent. So Obama's rate was 30 basis points better than the average. However, the amount of the loan and the nature of the property are not the only factors that determine a mortgage rate..."

  • Ezra Klein on the New York Times on Rush Limbaugh: "If you happened to be unaware that there's a guy named Rush Limbaugh who hosts a popular program on AM radio, then this New York Times's profile will be an incredibly illuminating read. But if you happen to be aware of that guy already, and are wondering about the implications of the most popular radio host in America being a global warming denialist and self-described "defender of corporate America," then the piece stands as an extraordinary act of editorial cowardice. The profile reads a bit like Gadsby, the famed novel written entirely without the letter "e." Here, the Times appears to have challenged itself to write 8,000 words on Limbaugh without saying anything that could be even remotely interpreted as critical.... [T]hey wrote a puff piece. See? Liberals can be fair and balanced too!..."

  • Ross Douthat Says That He Is Not Now Nor Has He Ever Been a Jesse Helmsian: "The liberal blogosphere wants to know: Why have conservatives lined up to say kind things about the late Jesse Helms?... He simply was an awful bigot, and worse he was an awful bigot who never expressed a shred of remorse, so far as I know, for his toxic approach to issues ranging from civil rights to HIV to foreign affairs. Far from being the sort of politicians who conservatives ought to defend, out of a sense of issue-by-issue solidarity, he's the sort of politician conservatives ought to carefully distance themselves from, because his political style brought (and continues to bring) intellectual disrepute to almost every cause with which he was associated. Inherent to conservatism is the responsibility to stand up and say to bien-pensant opinion: Just because a bigot opposes something doesn't mean it's a good idea. But the necessity (and difficulty) of making that case, whether the issue is affirmative action or "comprehensive" immigration reform or the NEA and Piss Christ, is all the more reason for conservatives to keep their distance from actual bigots, even (or especially) when they're representing the great state of North Carolina in the U.S. Senate.... The man himself has no business in the right-wing pantheon, and the conservatives who have used his death as an occasion to argue that he does are doing their movement a grave disservice..."

  • David Leonhardt Has Been on Fire for the Past Couple of Months


#hoistedfromthearchives

Comments