#acrossthewidemissouri Feed

I Concede: The Haters and the Trolls and the Botnets of Macedonia Have Rendered Their Verdict, and I Accept It: @Austan_Goolsbee has won, and will represent Neoliberal Economic Academia in the next round of the 2019 Chief Neoliberal Shill Twitter Challenge. Austan Goolsbee will face off against noted ex-academic and San Francisco flaneur @Noahpinion in the semifinals of the meetup region.

Truth be told, it is probably for the best: I would never in a million years have had the ovaries to present Rahm Emmanuel with a dead fish to tell him what I thought of him:


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Please Help Me Out Here!

The Charge of the Brexit Brigade: “Forward, the Brexit Brigade!”
Was there a man dismayed?
Not though the soldier knew
Someone had blundered.

Theirs not to make reply,
Theirs not to reason why,
Theirs but to do and die.
Into the valley of Death
Rode the six hundred.

White papers to right of them,
Pollsters to left of them,
Presslords in front of them
Volleyed and thundered...

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Why Would Anybody Sane Ever, Ever Choose Brett Kavanaugh Over Amy Barrett?

Why would anybody sane ever, ever choose Brett Kavanaugh over Amy Barrett as the swing vote to eviscerate Roe versus Wade? People have advanced three reasons:

  1. They just do not think girls are serious—other things being equal (or, indeed, not equal), choose the man.
  2. Amy Barrett has faith and principles: they do not know what the key issues will be 20 years from now, and they are scared to appoint somebody who may turn out to be like Justices Kennedy and Souter, actually have principles and faith, and so go off the reservation.
  3. Amy Barrett does not believe that the president is above the law—princeps legibus solutus est is not one of her judicial principles.

Things are definitely not equal. There are lots of reasons to fear Brett Kavanaugh does not have a judicial temperament in addition to the fact that he is now lying about sexual assault of a 15-year-old 35 years ago: Stephanie Mencimer: The Many Mysteries of Brett Kavanaugh’s Finances – Mother Jones: "Who made the down payment on his house? How did he come up with $92,000 in country club fees?...

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Republicans Today: The Aristocrats!

The aristocrats! Sign a letter supporting Brett Kavanaugh as a man of good character, get falsely smeared as the real perp in his attempted rape case. Republicans! Josh Marshall: My Take on Where We Are With Kavanaugh #5 (A Very Bad Night for Kavanaugh): "Ed Whelan, a key player in DC’s conservative judicial establishment, posted a lengthy twitter thread in which he made a highly conjectural argument that... Prof. Blasey Ford’s alleged attacker was actually a classmate of Kavanaugh’s named Chris Garrett.... Garrett is now a middle school teacher in Georgia and had actually signed a letter which a number of Kavanaugh’s classmates sent to the Senate in July attesting to Kavanaugh’s character. Blasey Ford put out a statement tonight stating categorically that she knew both Kavanaugh and Garrett at the time and that there is no way she could have mistaken one for the other...

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Note to Self: On Georgetown Prep and Brent Kavanaugh: "So Kavanaugh has described this wonderful, honorable producer of gentleman, this Jesuit school he attended. And the priests who run this school let kids choose as their yearbook quote, as Judge did, 'Certain women should be struck regularly, like gongs'? Sounds like a lovely place..."

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The Tulsa Riot: Hoisted from the Archives

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives: 1921—six years after the Ku Klux Klan revival sparked by "Birth of a Nation"—the early 20th Century's "Uncle Tom's Cabin" in reverse: 39 officially dead, 800 wounded, more than 35 blocks destroyed, more than 10000 people left homeless: Erik Loomis (2016): Tulsa: "The Tulsa Race Riot is one of the most shameful events in all of American history and as we know, that’s a high bar to meet...

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Back in my day—which was a decade and a half a decade before Brett Kavanaugh's—the view from the co-ed prep schools of Sidwell Friends and Georgetown Day was that, while the boys from all the single-sex prep schools needed watching, those from Georgetown Prep who showed up to parties and drank were out-of-control in an... unusual way: Amanda Terkel and Arthur Delaney: Alumnae Of Christine Blasey Ford's High School Circulate Letter Of Support | HuffPost: "Ford’s allegations against Brett Kavanaugh are 'all too consistent with stories we heard and lived while attending Holton', they wrote...

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Hurricane Florence

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Hurricane Florence Update Statement

Hurricane Florence Tropical Cyclone Update
NWS National Hurricane Center Miami FL       AL062018
900 AM EDT Thu Sep 13 2018


Data from an Air Force Reserve Unit Hurricane Hunter aircraft and
NOAA Doppler weather radars from Morehead City and Wilmington,
North Carolina, indicate that Florence has changed little. Maximum
sustained winds remain near 110 mph (175 km/h). The latest minimum
central pressure based on data from the aircraft is 957 mb (28.26

LOCATION...33.2N 75.2W

Forecaster Stewart

Note to Self: Talking Points on Trump:

  • We have no idea how bad Trump‘s trade and immigration policies will turn out to be.

  • The policy as Trump says he want wants to pursue would be very bad indeed. But it is not clear if they are competent enough to implement any policies.

  • Nevertheless, an army of chaos monkeys has a destructive power all its own.

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Self-Locating Belief and the Sleeping Beauty Problem Once Again...


Note to Self: Apropos of the Sleeping Beauty Problem: Adam Elga: Self-Locating Belief and the Sleeping Beauty Problem...

There are three π here:

  1. π1: a parameter of nature that describes the probability that the coin, when tossed, will come up heads: π1 = 1/2
  2. π2: a number that Sleeping Beauty should keep in mind when deciding at what odds to bet that the coin came up heads if she wants to make money: π1 = 1/3
  3. π3: a number that Sleeping Beauty should tell a third party who asks her: "I'm going to make one and only one bet this week as to how this coin came out. What number should I have in mind in deciding at what odds to take heads if I want to make money?": π3 = 1/2

Which of these π1, π2, π3 is the "right" answer Sleeping Beauty should give?

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American Politics Has Always Been Partisan; American Policy Not so Much...

Note to Self: My take was always that American politics was partisan but that American policy was not: that they were always enough people in the middle open to technocrat arguments to make the Hamiltonian Madisonian machine broadly work.

But when that vital center disappears.... When party discipline becomes strong because the people in the center believe they have to mobilize their base by toeing the party line....

Well, then you are reduced to a vain Downsian hope that people can assess and remember whose policies worked and whose policies failed...

He is the best young organizer-activist I have seen: Will Bunch: Dying from ALS, Ady Barkan will save U.S. democracy if it's the last thing he does: "A onetime running and outdoor enthusiast who now uses a motorized wheelchair to zip around, Ady Barkan says it’s been getting harder just within the last few weeks for him to lift his fork and eat his meals...

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Note to Self: "The Song of Everlasting Sorrow" and Historical Patriarchy...

Note to Self: The Song of Everlasting Sorrow and Historical Patriarchy: I was reading, as one does—I do not remember why I was reading this, however—an English translation_ of poet, landlord, scholar, bureaucrat, drunkard Bai Juyi's Song of Everlasting Sorrow. And I was struck by four short lines:

Tang Poems English Translation

The overturning of the natural order as a consequence of the love of Emperor Xuanzong for Lady Yang Guifei was so great that all cross the empire parents wished for girl- rather than boy-children...

This struck me as having obvious bearing on my ["Historical Patriarchy"][] lecture...

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Noah Feldman: Southern District of New York Will Tear Into Trump Organization: "This isn’t over. In the span of one week, we learned that the Office of the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York had both secured a guilty plea from Trump Organization lawyer Michael Cohen and offered an immunity deal to the company’s chief financial officer, Allen Weisselberg...

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How Much Is Left of Donald Trump's Brain? The Level of Cognitive Decline Here is Close to Being Absolute...


Rob Beschizza: President Trump colors U.S. flag wrongly in classroom photo opg: "Maybe Trump should kneel before it a while, so he at least knows what it looks like. I've created a useful graphic of the Trumpamerica Flag:


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Just think: if the New York Times had been willing to play ball with Nate Silver, they could have things of this quality—rather than more of their standard politician-celebrity-gossip and "Javanka are going to save us all" that has done so much to empower the Orange-Haired Baboons of the world: Nathaniel Rakich: 538 Election Update: How Our House Forecast Compares With The Experts’ Ratings: "FiveThirtyEight’s forecast is a tad more bullish on Democrats’ chances overall than the three major handicappers...

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Josh Marshall: We Know Trump Is Guilty. We’re Having a Hard Time Admitting It: "The greatest conceit in public life today is the notion that we don’t already know President Trump is guilty... of... conspiring... with a foreign power... and then continuing to cater to that foreign power either as payback for the assistance or out of fear of being exposed...

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Nate Silver's Forecast Today Is That the California Republican Congressional Delegation Will Be Cut in Half This November...

2018 House Forecast FiveThirtyEight

I don't think that is good enough.

I think they ought lose more.

Of the fourteen California Republican representatives, eleven—Cook, McCarthy, Nunes, Calvert, Hunter, LaMalfa, Walters, Valadao, Denham, Royce, and Knight—all voted for the tax bill that targeted their core supporters—the prosperous largely-white upper middle class of California that carried Hoover, Nixon, and Reagan to the presidency—with a bullseye. That bill added their state and local taxes—money that their constituents never saw—into the federal tax base, and then taxed them not on the income they received but on money they never saw. Why? Because they are, now, working not for their constituents who have loyally supported them, but for the plutocrats who now fund them and the lobbyists whom they hope to work for in the future.

Mimi Walters' constituents alone are going to have one billion dollars a year taken out of their paychecks as a result of the SALT provision. This money comes out of the prosperous upper middle class of those who have been the backbone of the Republican Party and for whom America has worked very well. But they are of no longer any concern to Republican politicians—their donations are not needed because much more money is provided by plutocrats in these post-Citizens United days, and their votes are unlikely to swing elections to produce national-level senators or electors for the Republican Party.

Of those Republican incumbents running for reelection this year, only Tom McClintock and Dana Rohrbacher were willing to put their constituents above plutocrats and lobbyists in the vote last December. (Young Kim and Dianne Harkey are non-incumbents running in current Republican-held seats.) The rest have broken their contracts with their districts, their voters, and their supporters. Even if you thought they belonged in the House as of last November, you really cannot believe they belong in the House now. Four is the maximum number of Republican representatives the Republican voters of California ought to send to the House this November...


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It is necessary to remember, every day, what Dan Froomkin reminds us of: THIS IS NOT NORMAL. This was a private cabinet meeting. Yes, there are always lots of leaks and lots of complaisant reporters who work for sources generating a cloud of misinformation in an attempt to seek personal advantage in the court that is the White House. But "our principal is an idiot" is a message that people in the White House rarely wish to send. But that is, as Dan Froomkin points out here, the message that the Whire House insiders are saying: Dan Froomkin: THIS IS NOT NORMAL: "In private FEMA remarks, Trump’s focus strays from hurricanes..."

Sunday Morning Twitter: Functional Finance/A Better World Is Possible Tweeting...

Preview of Sunday Morning Twitter Functional Finance A Better World Is Possible Tweeting

A better world—a better twitter—is indeed possible...

Suresh Naidu: I will stake my fancy economics job on this: Nothing in @Ocasio2018's policy program is inconsistent with a 2018 understanding of economics.

Wojtek Kopczuk: I missed it before, by my favorite colleague to disagree with. Congratulations on tenure @snaidunl!

Suresh Naidu: Sigh you drew me out. Tell me which policy is infeasible and not addressing some market failure?

Wojtek Kopczuk: They are inconsistent with the government budget constraint. And her MMT support is definitely inconsistent with mainstream economics.

Suresh Naidu: MMT is totally consistent with lots of mainstream macro when the economy is demand constrained (and fiscal theory of the price level when its not). it is unfortunate its adherents dont see that. And budget constraints are endogenous.

Ivan Werning: What do you have in mind?

Suresh Naidu: Oh crap a real macroeconomist. I think stripped of mysticism, MMT is really boils down to "fiscal mutipliers greater than 1", which could be true in demand constrained economy.

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Some of My Less Polite Thoughts from Aspen

Farmer and the Cowman

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Aspen: Security: Reactions to the Four Ex-National Security Advisors Panel

Aspen—Maroon Bells

Aspen: Security: Nine Reactions to the Four Ex-National Security Advisors Panel: Most important:

  • Joe Nye—and the others—should not have pretended that that the Trump Administration has a strategy, and is some sort of unitary actor. It doesn't. It isn't. For the right analogies, we need to reach back to the Tudor or Stuart dynasties—a King Charles II Stuart without the work ethic, mostly concerned with his mistresses, his parties, and deference to himself; easily bribed by the King of France, &c.; plutocrats maneuvering and using access to advance their interests; other kleptocrats manuevering and using access to advance their interests; and a few technocrats—a Pepys, a Godolphin—trying to hold things together. Graham Allison's three analytical perspectives—rational actor-organizational process-bureaucratic politics—are not sufficient to understand this thing. We need a fourth perspective: weak chaos monkey king, perhaps?...

And here are eight more:

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Aspen—Maroon Bells

Aspen: Security: A Question I Did Not Ask Condoleeza Rice: Secretary Rice, in her opening statement, focused on historical roots of our current mishegas, and how the foreign view of the U.S. as a country that is not well-governed, that cannot handle its trade and immigration issues, has been long building.

That reminded me of something that has long puzzled me: Dual containment of Iran and Iraq—that always seemed to me like a very good idea, a very good policy, a profoundly imperfect policy, yes, but the best we could do given that we live, as Cicero said, not in the Republic of Plato but in the Sewer of Romulus.

Back in 2002 we already had a serious global terrorism network problem. "One enemy at a time" is elementary strategy. Yet in 2003 we broke dual containment by invading Iraq. We broke dual containment:

  • without a plan for getting the 300K Arabic-speaking military police optimal for stabilization,
  • without a plan for a post-invasion Iraq not theologically and ideologically in sync with Iran, and
  • without a spur to action in the form of an advanced Iraqi nuclear weapons program.

Why we decided to launch such a war of choice in 2003 has always been opaque to me. Can you make your thinking less opaque to me, as to why this was thought to be a good idea? And what does this say about how good an idea disruption for disruption’s sake is in general?

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My More Polite Thoughts from Aspen...

Farmer and the Cowman

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Aspen—Maroon Bells

Aspen: Development Finance: A common thread in a bunch of the initial comments here was: valuation and assessment. This is a piece of a much broader problem. We have absolutely powerful measures for assessment as far as things that go through the market. We see them every hour on practically every news channel: GDP, employment, wages, equity values, interest rates. We have no similar set of indicators that are brought in front of our eyes and injected into our consciousnesses with respect to any of the broader societal welfare measures that we really want to advance—and the things that we really want Mars to advance. I do not know what the solution to this is. Clearly it is not another report with another set of indicators to add to the cacophony. But I do think we need to settle on a single set of global societal indicators that will have the mindshare that the market financial and other indicators have. I have no answers. I only have a plea for coordination...

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Aspen—Maroon Bells

Aspen: Development Finance Introducing considerations of strategy into development is a very sharp two-edged sword. On the one hand, the Cold War focused the attention of the entire American government on making the redevelopment of northwest and the development of southwestern Europe and of East Asia—Korea and Taiwan and Japan—a success. That was of enormous value in making the US development efforts the greatest successes we have ever had.

In addition, as Barney Frank once said when my colleague Barry Eichengreen was testifying in front of him, the Cold War was worth 60 votes in the House of Representatives. Now we have a much harder row to hoe.

On the other hand, there have been many times over the past 70 years in which strategic logic has overcome development logic. And there are dangers in poisoning the entire effort to the extent that strategic logic takes on too large a place. Walt Whitman Rostow had John F Kennedy primed up talk to Sukarno about all the wonderful things the US was going to do for Indonesian development. But Suharto—sorry, Sukarno, Sukarno, Sukarno—was interested in two and only two things: Irian Jaya, and free cash flow that he could use to reward elements of his political coalition...

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Aspen—Maroon Bells

Aspen: Approaches to Fragility: This started as a joke-of-the-moment, in response to talking about "fragile states" in which farmers fight with herders. But it is more. This is Colorado. However, this is the American West. And of the American West we remember that, at least in Broadway's version of Oklahoma, the farmer and the cowman can be friends. But the farmer and the cowman can be friends only when there is a matriarch with a shotgun in the picture.

One reading of world history is that a huge amount of the civilizing process is accomplished when people's mothers and aunts gain social power. The academe that we have has not thought very hard about how it is mothers and aunts gaining social power, or about what we can do to assist this process in the states me regard as fragile...

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Homer's Odyssey Blogging: "Like Little Birds... They Writhed with Their Feet... But for No Long While..."

Hanging the women in the odyssey Google Search

So let me procrastinate some more this morning...

Let me riff off of something that crossed my desk last night: Emily Wilson's reflections on her translation of the Odyssey, and on the Odyssey itself. There is one passage that always has been, to me at least, horrifyingly freaky in a very bad way. As David Drake—one of my favorite science fiction and fantasy authors—puts it:

Odysseus caps his victory by slowly strangling–the process is described in some detail–the female servants who have been sleeping with Penelope’s suitors. This is only one example (although a pretty striking one) of normal behavior in an Iron Age culture which is unacceptable in a society that I (or anybody I want as a reader) would choose to live in... a hero with the worldview of a death camp guard...


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