#moralresponsibility Feed

Leo Strauss Gives a Cheer for His Right-Wing Principles: Fascist, Authoritarian, Imperial: Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading: Leo Strauss gives a cheer for his right-wing principles: fascist, authoritarian, imperial. I wonder what form his critique of the Nazi regime from those principles actually took?:

Leo Strauss: Paris, May 19, 1933: "Dear Mr. Löwith: On your behalf I have in the meantime made the necessary overture to Groethuysen, who is in London. Besides this I had occasion to speak with Van Sickle, the head of the Rockefeller Foundation, and informed him about you, your situation, your work and your interests. He made a note of your name, so I am sure he will remember it when he comes across it in Fehling’s letter. As concerns me, I will receive the second year. Berlin recommended me, and that was decisive. I will also spend my second year in Paris, and I will attempt in this time to undertake something that will make my further work possible. Clearly I have major “competition”: the entire German-Jewish intellectual proletariat is assembled here. It’s terrible—I’d rather just run back to Germany. But here’s the catch. Of course I can’t opt for just any other country-one doesn’t choose a homeland and, above all, a mother tongue, and in any event I will never be able to write other than in German, even if I must write in another language. On the other hand, I see no acceptable possibility of living under the swastika, i.e., under a symbol that says nothing more to me than: you and your ilk, you are physei subhumans and therefore justly pariahs. There is in this case just one solution. We must repeat: we, “men of science"-as our predecessors in the Arab Middle Ages called themselves-non habemus locum manentem, sed quaerimus... And, what concerns this matter: the fact that the new right-wing Germany does not tolerate us says nothing against the principles of the right. To the contrary: only from the principles of the right, that is from fascist, authoritarian and imperial principles, is it possible with seemliness, that is, without resort to the ludicrous and despicable appeal to the droits imprescriptibles de l’homme to protest against the shabby abomination...

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John Cochrane Prostitutes Himself to Republican Politicians Department: Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from 2015

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Noah Smith: John Cochrane Smackdown: "John writes: 'My surprise in reading Noah is that he provided no alternative numbers. If you don't think Free Market Nirvana will have 4% growth, at least for a decade as we remove all the level inefficiencies, how much do you think it will produce, and how solid is that evidence?...' I don't really feel I need to produce an alternative to a number that was made up as a political talking point. Why 4 percent? Why not 5? Why not 8? Why not 782 percent? Where do we get the number for how good we can expect Free Market Nirvana to be? Is it from the sum of point estimates from a bunch of different meta-analyses of research on various free-market policies? No. It was something Jeb Bush tossed out in a conference call because it was 'a nice round number', after James Glassman had suggested '3 or 3.5'. You want me to give you an alternative number, using the same rigorous methodology? Sure, how about 3.1. Wait, no. 3.3. There we go. 3.3 sounds good. Rolls off the tongue..."

I must say, Cochrane here reminds me of one of my most favorite quotes from tank economist Paul M. Sweezy:

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Who Are the Tankies, and Why Do They Fight for Dystopia?

Il Quarto Stato

Note to Self: And, of course, the curious thing is that when the chips are down it is the authoritarianism rather than the aolition of private property that is the key: Urban Dictionary: Tankie: "The term derives from the fact that the divisions within the communist movement first arose when the Soviet Union sent tanks into communist Hungary in 1956, to crush an attempt to establish an alternative version of communism which was not embraced by the Russians. Most communists outside the eastern bloc opposed this action and criticised the Soviet Union. The 'tankies' were those who said 'send the tanks in'. The epithet has stuck because tankies also supported 'sending the tanks in' in cases such as Czechoslovakia 1968, Afghanistan 1979, Bosnia and Kosovo/a (in the case of the Serbian state)...


German classical liberal Max Weber... saw that [really existing] socialism could become nothing but a synonym for bureaucratic despotism. For:  

History shows that wherever bureaucracy gained the upper hand, as in China, Egypt, it did not disappear. A progressive elimination of private capitalism is theoretically conceivable. What would be the practical result? The destruction of the [dehumanizing] steel frame of modern industrial work? No! Simply that also the top management of the socialized enterprises would become bureaucratic. There is even less freedom, since every power struggle with a state bureaucracy is hopeless.

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Monday Smackdown: Fafblog: Condi Rice Complains to Customer Service!

Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from the Archives: We Miss Fafblog: Condi Rice Complains to Customer Service!: Not even Fafblog can deal with the Bush administration at the appropriate level. However, it is trying. Here Fafnir interviews Condi Rice:

RICE: First of all, we don't send prisoners off to be tortured, Fafnir. We just transport prisoners to countries where torture happens to be legal and where they happen to end up getting tortured.

FB: Well that explains everything then! It's all just a wacky misunderstanding, like that episode a Three's Company where Jack sends Janet off to Uzbekistan to get boiled alive by the secret police.

RICE: I'd also like to point out that whenever we send a prisoner to a country that routinely tortures prisoners, that country promises us NOT to torture them.

FB: And then they get tortured anyway!

RICE: Yes, they do! It's very strange.

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Note to Self: Is there somebody I should read who has thought deeply and powerfully about these issues?: Homer's Odyssey Blogging: "Like Little Birds... They Writhed with Their Feet... But for No Long While...": I love [David] Drake. I love the Odyssey. But I am distressed to find myself somewhat more sympathetic than I want to be with Plato's recommendation that only "hymns to the gods and praise of famous men" be allowed in the Just City because allowing more would lead to sensation and melodrama and would excite the baser instincts of men. And I have now opened up the following can of worms: How do we educate people to read—listen—watch—properly, so that they become their better rather than their worse selves? Mind you, I do not wish that the Odyssey were otherwise (or that David Drake wrote otherwise). But I do wish we teachers taught better how to read—and listen—and watch...

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Note to Self: F--- you, @jack. Twitter keeps—somehow—reversing my view from "Latest Tweets" to your algorithmic "Home", showing me first tweets I am likely to engage in. But tweets I am likely to engage in are not the tweets I want to see. You are hacking my brain, @jack—and not in a good way.

Thus you have made yourself my enemy: Things that advertise on Twitter I will not buy. Opportunities for me to cheaply degrade your reputation and reduce your wealth I will gladly take advantage of.

Quite stunning that you have developed such potentially useful tool, @jack, and yet have managed to make yourself so thoroughly my enemy, isn't it? One might say it requires a close-to-unique talent...

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Writing Bulls--- for the WSJ Op-Ed Page as a Career Strategy: The Nine Unprofessional Republican Economists

The extra quarter's worth of data from the new BEA NIPA release raises this, once again, to the top of the pile: Note the contrast between the path of investment, on the one hand, implicit in the growth forecast of the effects of the Trump-Ryan-McConnell tax cut that Robert J. Barro, Michael J. Boskin, John Cogan, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Lawrence B. Lindsey, Harvey S. Rosen, George P. Shultz and John. B. Taylor, and, on the other hand, reality:

Real Gross Private Domestic Investment Real Potential Gross Domestic Product 1 06 FRED St Louis Fed

If you are even 10% in the explain-the-world business—if you are even 1% in the explain-the-world business—such a sharp disjunction between what you had predicted and the outcome calls forth curiosity, interest, and explanations of why you think you went wrong and what your future research projects will be to figure it out.

Only if you are 100% in the I-am-engaging-in-vice-signalling-by-writing-bulls----to-please-my-political-masters business are you left doing <crickets> in response to such a very sharp disjunction between your predictions and reality.

Yet as I listen to each and very one of the Nine Unprofessional Republican Economists, all that I hear is: <crickets>...

Come to think of it, none of the nine has dared to see that Steve Moore is unqualified to serve on the Federal Reserve, either—and two of the nine, Taylor and Lindsey, are, I am assured, in his corner...

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A Perfect Post for April Fools' Day: Larry Lindsey and John Taylor, and Now Kevin Hassett Editio

Clowns (ICP)

Larry Lindsey and John Taylor: "PLEASE APPOINT US TO SOMETHING!! WE ARE LOYAL!!!! WE ARE NPOSTLTE PEOPLE!!!!!! PLEASE!!!!!!!!"

At some level, this is hilarious: HA HA HA!!!

Greg Mankiw has said the obvious: that Stephen Moore is not qualified to be a Fed Governor. Kevin Hassett—Kevin Hassett!—appears to are frantically trying to organize internal opposition to the nomination of a grotesquely-unqualified governor who admits he is grotesquely-unqualified. Kevin:

As the process moves forward, if Steve ends up being the nominee, he'll have good explanations for his positions. You're right that he's gone through his career being a pundit and having really interesting things to a whole range of topics, but as a nominee you have to be more careful about every little word that he says. I'm sure that he's going to be pulling back his op-eds and preparing for confirmation, should that [nomination in fact] arise..."

And so John Taylor and Larry Lindsey decide that now is the time for them to demonstrate that they are NO PLATE OF SHIT TOO LARGE TO EAT people, as far as a Republican White House is concerned. note that they do this even though they may well in so doing alienate Banking-Committee Republican senators with likely long future tenures who this it kinda important that the Fed be, you know, a functional institution. Or are all the Repubilcan senators on the Banking Committee NPOSTLTE people too?

David Patten: Trump Fed Nominee Stephen Moore Targeted by Liberal Resistance: "Moore's roster of big-name advocates include... Bush economic adviser Larry Lindsey... two-time runner-up to serve as Fed Chairman John Taylor...

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I Said "Pass the Baton" to Those Further Left than I, Not "Bend the Knee"

Pass the baton olympics Google Search

Last night at dinner at Iyesare, Noah Smith admonished me for not making it clear that I said "pass the baton" to those further left, not "bend the knee". So here I make that clear, and repost:

Carville-Hunt "Two Old White Guys" Podcast:

Al Hunt: Brad, your critique is brilliant.... Your solution that worries me. Turn it over to the left, and then try to make their proposals slightly more palatable. I don't see how that becomes in any fashion a winning coalition, legislatively or politically.

Brad DeLong: I said: pass the baton, right? I said: pass the baton.

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Professional Republicans, Not Professional Economists: How Low can They Go?

How to Be an Unprofessional Republican Economist in Four Easy StepsAmong the professional Republicans, Ross Douthat joins Greg Mankiw in opposition to Steve Moore. So far, they are the only two I have seen—and Greg Mankiw is the only economist:

Ross Douthat: Why are people up in arms over Steve Moore for the Fed?: "The consensus in conservative academic think tank land is that Moore is an enormous hack, and this was true long before his Trump boosterism. Trump wants to nominate him because he's against Fed tightening, which is probably correct policy, but Moore pretty clearly is only taking that view because it's Trump's view and he likes Trump...

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Note to Self: There are few enough things in the world or concerning the state of the (non-House) federal government to be thankful for these days. But one i that, despite his enormous deficits and unfitness for the office of president, Donald Trump is not a chickenhawk:

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Hoisted from the Archives: Why We Have Good Reason to Hate Chickenhawks

I need an adult How are you supposed to even play Muscovy in ironman eu4

Hard Power, Soft Power, Muscovy, Strategy, and My Once-Again Failure to Understand Where Niall Ferguson Is Coming From: Live from Le Pain Quotidien: In which I once again fail to understand where Niall Ferguson is coming from:

Niall Ferguson: The ‘Divergent’ World of 2015: "Hard power is resilient...

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Mark Bauerlein (2006): On Michael Bérubé: Weekend Reading

Clowns (ICP)

I wonder if Mark Bauerlein has become a Trumpist? Yes indeedee, he has—not anti-anti-Trump, but the Full Monty: "President Trump is the only one who can stop the left now": Mark Bauerlein (2006): On Michael Bérubé: "An assigned essay topic that was claimed by a conservative student to be anti-American, a claim rightly judged by Bérubé a silly exaggeration. Still, the tendentiousness of the question is plain. Here is the final sentence: 'Analyze the U.S. constitution (original document), and show how its formulation excluded [the] majority of the people living in America at that time, and how it was dominated by America’s elite interest'...

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REMIND YOURSELF: We Are with Her!

WE ARE WITH HER!!

Looking Forward to Years During Which Most if Not All of America's Potential for Human Progress Is Likely to Be Wasted:

  • With each passing day Donald Trump looks more and more like Silvio Berlusconi
  • Bunga-bunga governance
  • With a number of unlikely and unforeseen disasters
  • And a major drag on the country
    • Except in states where his policies are neutralized.

Nevertheless, remember: WE ARE WITH HER!

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"Passing the Baton": The Interview

Bernie Sanders news a Clinton era Democrat makes the case for the left Vox

I would say that Zack has it slightly wrong here. There is not one core reason for passing the baton. There are three reasons: a political reason, a policy-implementation reason, and a we've-learned-about-the-world reason:

Here's Zack Beauchamp: Zack Beauchamp: A Clinton-era Centrist Democrat Explains Why It’s Time to Give Democratic Socialists a Chance: “The Baton Rightly Passes To Our Colleagues On Our Left”: "DeLong believes that the time of people like him running the Democratic Party has passed.... It’s not often that someone in this policy debate — or, frankly, any policy debate — suggests that their side should lose. So I reached out to DeLong to dig into the reasons for his position: Why does he believe that neoliberals’ time in the sun has come to an end?...

...The core reason, DeLong argues, is political. The policies he supports depend on a responsible center-right partner to succeed. They’re premised on the understanding that at least a faction of the Republican Party would be willing to support market-friendly ideas like Obamacare or a cap-and-trade system for climate change. This is no longer the case, if it ever were.... The result, he argues, is the nature of the Democratic Party needs to shift. Rather than being a center-left coalition dominated by market-friendly ideas designed to attract conservative support, the energy of the coalition should come from the left and its broad, sweeping ideas. Market-friendly neoliberals, rather than pushing their own ideology, should work to improve ideas on the left. This, he believes, is the most effective and sustainable basis for Democratic politics and policy for the foreseeable future....

Here's me: We are still here, but it is not our time to lead.... Barack Obama rolls into office with Mitt Romney’s health care policy, with John McCain’s climate policy, with Bill Clinton’s tax policy, and George H.W. Bush’s foreign policy. And did George H.W. Bush, did Mitt Romney, did John McCain say a single good word about anything Barack Obama ever did over the course of eight solid years? No, they f---ing did not.... While I would like to be part of a political coalition in the cat seat, able to call for bids from the left and the right about who wants to be part of the governing coalition to actually get things done, that’s simply not possible...

And: Our current bunch of leftists are wonderful people.... They’re social democrats, they’re very strong believers in democracy. They’re very strong believers in fair distribution of wealth. They could use a little more education about what is likely to work and what is not. But they’re people who we’re very, very lucky to have on our side. That’s especially opposed to the people on the other side, who are very, very strange indeed. You listen to [Never Trump conservatives]... about all the people they had been with in meetings, biting their tongues over the past 25 years, and your reaction can only be, “Why didn’t you run away screaming into the night long ago?”...

And: We learned more about the world. I could be confident in 2005 that [recession] stabilization should be the responsibility of the Federal Reserve. That you look at something like laser-eye surgery or rapid technological progress in hearing aids, you can kind of think that keeping a market in the most innovative parts of health care would be a good thing. So something like an insurance-plus-exchange system would be a good thing to have in America as a whole. It’s much harder to believe in those things now. That’s one part of it. The world appears to be more like what lefties thought it was than what I thought it was for the last 10 or 15 years. ..

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#politics #politicaleconomy #moralresponsibility #highlighted #orangehairedbaboons

The State of America's Political-Public Sphere

Il Quarto Stato

One of my twitter threads from yesterday: I think it is fair to say that the already-broken American political public sphere has become significantly more broken since November 8, 2018.

On the center and to the left, those like me in what used to proudly call itself the Rubin Wing of the Democratic Party—so-called after former Treasury Secretary Bob Rubin, and consisting of those of us hoping to use market means to social democratic ends in bipartisan coalition with Republicans seeking technocratic win-wins—have passed the baton to our left. Over the past 25 years, we failed to attract Republican coalition partners, we failed to energize our own base, and we failed to produce enough large-scale obvious policy wins to cement the center into a durable governing coalition.

We blame cynical Republican politicians. We blame corrupt and craven media bosses and princelings. We are right to blame them, but shared responsibility is not diminished responsibility. And so the baton rightly passes to our colleagues on our left. We are still here, but it is not our time to lead.

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Real Gross Domestic Product FRED St Louis Fed

Note to Self: Current forecast for 2018QIV GDP growth: 2.0%. Current forecast for 2019Q1 GDP growth: 1.5%. All of these people are now very, very quiet:

  • Robert J. Barro, Michael J. Boskin, John Cogan, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Lawrence B. Lindsey, Harvey S. Rosen, George P. Shultz and John. B. Taylor: How Tax Reform Will Lift the Economy: "A conventional approach to economic modeling suggests that such an increase in the capital stock would **raise the level of GDP in the long run by just over 4%. If achieved over a decade, the associated increase in the annual rate of GDP growth would be about 0.4% per year...

  • Robert Barro (endorsed by Mike Boskin): How US Corporate-Tax Reform Will Boost Growth: "Gauging the effects of the tax-law changes on the costs (referred to as user costs) that businesses attach to investment in equipment and structures. Then I estimate long-run responses of the capital-labor ratio to the changes in user costs.... If we thought of C-corporations as corresponding to the whole economy, the changes in capital-labor ratios would imply a rise in long-run real per capita GDP by about 8.4%.... I made a rough downward adjustment of the long-run level effect from 8.4% to 7%...

  • James C. Miller III, Douglas Holtz-Eakin... Barry W. Poulson... Charles W. Calomiris... Donald Luskin... 95 others: Pass tax reform and watch the economy roar: "A twenty percent statutory rate on a permanent basis would, per the Council of Economic Advisers, help produce a GDP boost 'by between 3 and 5 percent'.... It is critical to consider that $1 trillion in new revenue for the federal government can be generated by four-tenths of a percentage in GDP growth. Sophisticated economic models show the macroeconomic feedback generated by the TCJA will exceed that amount—more than enough to compensate for the static revenue loss...

  • Susan Collins: Twitter: "On @MeetThePress today said that she had talked to [Holtz-]Eakin, Lindsay and Hubbard and they believed that the supply side stimulus would produce an increase on government revenue. This is problem when other side alleged serious people are really hacks.

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Jill Abramson, Formerly of the New York Times, Has Both a Depraved Heart and a Social Intelligence Deficit

At one point, Jill Abramson formerly of the New York Times had something like this—the lead of an written by Jake Malooley—on her computer screen:

Vice cop

She then copied the text from "when..." to the second "...Darfur" and pasted the three sentences it into an editing window in her manuscript:

Vice cop

She then did not:

  1. enclose it in quotation marks,
  2. add "(quoted from Jake Maloolley: https://www.timeout.com/chicago/things-to-do/vice-cop)", or
  3. move it to a "scratch-sources" part of the document.

Instead, she first deleted the word "Jason":

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Commonwealth Club: Annual Economic Forecast Event (January 25, 2019): Relevant Files

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Commonwealth Club: Annual Economic Forecast

Short-Run Economic Forecast: The Economic Forecast: Commonwealth Club Non-Public Event Opening Statement

Talking Points and Snippets from Commonwealth Club January 25, 2019 Forecast Event

General Talking Points: Commonwealth Club Talking Points (January 25, 2019): Forecasting and Steve Moore Edition

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Yes, There Are Individual Economists Worth Paying Respect to. But Is Economics Worth Paying Respect to?

Lorenzetti ambrogio bad govern det The Allegory of Good and Bad Government Wikipedia

Blush. To be one of fifteen good economists name-checked by Larry Summers genuinely makes my day—nay, makes my week.

But this gets into a topic I have been worrying at for a long time now. And so let me try once again to say what needs to be said, for I do have to admit that, contrary to what Larry maintains, Fareed Zakaria does have a point when he says that "events have hammered... nails into the coffin of traditional economics" and that, while the question mark at the end is important, it is time to speak of "the end of economics?". Yes, there are very many good economists worth listening to. But does economics as a whole have any claim to authority, or is it better for outsiders' first reaction to be to dismiss its claims as some combination of ideology on the one hand and obsequious toadying to political masters on the other?

Open right now on my virtual desktop, as has been true about 5% of the time over the past fourteen months, is an article forecasting the economic effects of the 2017 Trump-McConnell-Ryan tax cut by nine academic economists: Robert J. Barro, Michael J. Boskin, John Cogan, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Lawrence B. Lindsey, Harvey S. Rosen, George P. Shultz and John. B. Taylor: How Tax Reform Will Lift the Economy: We believe the Republican bills could boost GDP 3% to 4% long term by reducing the cost of capital. It is, bluntly, unprofessional.

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Larry Summers: Has economics failed us? Hardly: "My friend Fareed Zakaria... writing... “The End of Economics?,” doubting the relevance and utility of economics and economists. Because Fareed is so thoughtful and echoes arguments that are frequently made, he deserves a considered response. Fareed ignores large bodies of economic thought, fails to recognize that economists have been the sources of most critiques of previous economic thinking, tilts at straw men and offers little alternative to economic approaches to public policy...

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I think that this does not get what is going on, exactly. It's the Gingrich Rule and the Trump Rule. The Gingrich Rule is this: if the president of your party is not a success and not perceived to be a success, you might well lose your congressional seat at the next election. Those who follow the Gingrich Rule thus have one focus when the presidency is held by the opposite party: make the president look like a failure—and to hell with the well-being of the country. And those who follow the Gingrich Rule thus have one focus when the presidency is held by your own party: make the president look like a success—and to hell with the well-being of the country. But what if—as is the case with Trump—nothing you do can make him look like a success? Well, you might still squeak through if your voter base has a heavy partisan advantage as long as the party loyalists support you. And that means you have to at least appear to support the president, and make sure that the president never gets mad enough at you to make you a target. Want to understand Republican legislators right now? It's these two rules: (1) Try to make Trump look like a success. (2) Try not to make Trump mad at you. This is, however, not fear of Trump—it's fear of the voters you need in your corner next November—fear that the moderates will conclude that you are a loser because Trump looks like a loser, and fear that the base will conclude that you are a loser because you are not loyal enough to Trump. Actually, I would be surprised if we did not have a lot of Republican Senators refusing to run in 2020: it's much better for your future lobbying career to retire than to lose. Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee), Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia), Bill Cassidy (R-Louisiana), Susan Collins (R-Maine), John Cornyn (R-Texas), Tom Cotton (R-Arkansas), Steve Daines (R-Montana), Mike Enzi (R-Wyoming), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Cory Gardner (R-Colorado), Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina), Cindy Hyde-Smith (R-Mississippi), James Inhofe (R-Oklahoma), Jon Kyl (R-Arizona), Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky), David Perdue (R-GA), Jim Risch (R-Idaho), Pat Roberts (R-Kansas), Mike Rounds (R-South Dakota), Ben Sasse (R-Nebraska), Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska), Thom Tillis (R-North Carolina), take note: A.B. Stoddard: Trump's Loyal Senate Republicans: "Republican officeholders would rather cross the voters than cross Trump, even as the bottom is falling out on the numbers.... John Cornyn... up for re-election next year... complained about the damage being done by the shutdown, saying that it’s 'Outrageous that federal prosecutors at Department of Justice and investigators at FBI, who we depend on to enforce the law are missing paychecks because of shutdown'. Yet after years of expressing scepticism about the efficacy of a border wall, he tells the Washington Post that he now won’t vote for a bill to reopen government without wall funding because, he said, 'the president won’t sign it'.... McConnell... could put spending bills that have passed the House... up for a vote on the Senate floor. But since the bills might pass, embarrassing Trump and risking a presidential veto, he won’t. What’s driving this partisan unity is not ideological solidarity, but fear.... When Murkowski was asked by the Post if she believed her GOP colleagues were afraid of the president she replied, 'I think some are, absolutely'...

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Everyone who gets a C in first-semester statistics knows that if your sample is random you do not have to double the number of data points when the population doubles. You do not have to increase the number of data points at all. And in the interest of trying to lowball civilian war deaths. Fake and fuzzy math in the service of trying to loball civilian war deaths is not just stupid. It is evil: Stephen Moore (2006): 655,000 War Dead? A Bogus Study on Iraq Casualties: "I was surprised to read that a study by a group from Johns Hopkins University claims that 655,000 Iraqis have died as a result of the war.... The key to the validity of cluster sampling is to use enough cluster points.... Curious about the kind of people who would have the chutzpah to claim to a national audience that this kind of research was methodologically sound.... Another study in Kosovo cites the use of 50 cluster points, but this was for a population of just 1.6 million, compared to Iraq's 27 million...

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Hoisted from the Archives from 2016: Ben White: "Ben White: Morning Money: "Larry Kudlow and Steve Moore... [were] confident he and Kudlow could help nudge Trump away from his protectionist trade policies.... Moore noted that Trump has largely stopped talking about big tariffs on Chinese goods. Kudlow added: 'I think Mr. Trump does not want to see a wall of tariffs. He's actually pushed that rhetoric aside in recent months'...

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Hoisted from the Archives from 2005: Kevin Drum: The Wall Street Journal Editorial Page Is More of a Joke than Ever: "Stephen Moore's maiden outing as a member of the WSJ editorial board.... Moore's sermon today is about the wonders of supply side economics.... 'President Ronald Reagan chopped the highest personal income tax rate from the confiscatory 70% rate that he inherited when he entered office to 28% when he left office and the resulting economic burst caused federal tax receipts to almost precisely double.'... Tax revenue doubled!... First, we should adjust for inflation.... Population increased... tax revenue was $2,283 per person in 1980 and $2,694 per person in 1990. That's not double. It's an increase of 18%... a lot of that is due to consistent tax increases throughout the 1980s.... We can play this game with any decade.... Adjusting for inflation and population growth... 70s produced an increase... of 25%. The Clinton 90s produced... 40%.... Reagan produced the slowest growth in... any decade since World War II. That's a real supply side triumph. Welcome to the Journal, Steve. You guys deserve each other...

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Why do people do this? Because it gets you invited back on to CNN. Why does it get you invited back on to CNN? That remains a mystery to me, and to others: Brad Reed: Trump-Loving Economist Caught Red-Handed 'Making Up Numbers' by Ann Guest: "Washington Post columnist Catherine Rampell busted Trump-loving economist Stephen Moore on Friday when he falsely claimed that we are seeing vast 'deflation' in the United States economy thanks to interest rate hikes by the Federal Reserve.... 'Wait, wait, wait!' interjected Rampell. 'There is no deflation!' 'Yeah there is', Moore replied. 'No there is not', she shot back. 'Look at the Consumer Price Index!'... Rampell then nailed Moore for his false warnings during the Obama presidency that it was unwise for the Fed to keep interest rates low because it would lead to hyperinflation—despite the fact that the economy at the time was deeply depressed and much more in need of easy money...

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The curious thing is that Rod Dreher has never had any problems despising and demonizing those who embrace what he sees as bad men and bad causes. But somehow the Trumpists—the Trumpists alone—get a get-out-of-jail-free card from him: Rod Dreher: A Yankee Franco and The Long Defeat: "Conservative Christians will embrace politically a bad man... because unlike left-wing leaders, he doesn’t despise them, and seek to demonize them.... If progressives in America push too hard, and economic conditions are just right, the years ahead may bring about an American Franco—that is to say, a right-wing authoritarian leader who demolishes democracy, and rules by decree... [and] will be popular with half the country.... I deeply wish that the mainstream left... would get a freaking grip on itself, and understand exactly what kind of demons it is calling forth...

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The most remarkable thing about this piece from 2011 is that Robert Barro does not seem to feel under any pressure at all to provide an account of why it was that real GDP per capita was 52,049 dollars in the fourth quarter of 2007 and yet only 49,318 dollars in the second quarter of 2009—and did not surpass its 2007Q4 level again until 2013Q3.

Other adherents than Barro to what Barro calls "normal economics" have put forward three theories:

  • that there was a huge sudden change in American workers' utility functions that made them much less eager to work,
  • that there was a huge sudden forgetting of a great deal of knowledge about how to manipulate nature and organize production, and
  • that there was a great and well-founded fear that Obama was about to impose taxes to turn America into a Venezuela or that Bernanke was about to follow a monetary policy that would turn the U.S. into a Zimbabwe.

They were laughed at.

So Barro prefers to have no explanation at all for why production per capita was lower than it had been in 2007Q4, and yet maintains unshaken confidence that he has a deep and correct understanding of what determines the level of production. You can't do that—hold that you have the correct theory, and yet not explain how it applies to the world in which you live: Robert Barro (2011): Keynesian Economics vs. Regular Economics: "The overall prediction from regular economics is that an expansion of transfers, such as food stamps, decreases employment and, hence, gross domestic product (GDP). In regular economics, the central ideas involve incentives as the drivers of economic activity. Additional transfers to people with earnings below designated levels motivate less work effort by reducing the reward from working. In addition, the financing of a transfer program requires more taxes—today or in the future in the case of deficit financing. These added levies likely further reduce work effort—in this instance by taxpayers expected to finance the transfer—and also lower investment because the return after taxes is diminished...

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Debating Societies, Talking Points, and Choosing Our Governors

Daniel Webster In The Webster Hayne Debate Photograph by Cora Wandel

Debating Societies, Talking Points, and Choosing Our Governors This is a piece that never came together—on Ted Cruz, Bernie Sanders's henchman Warren Gunnels, JEB!! henchman Franklin Foer, and other people who have paved our way to our current Trumpist detachment of media and political discourse from, you know actual governance.

But here it is, for what it is worth:


With Bill Clinton, or Bill Bradley, or Al Gore, or Barack Obama, or Lloyd Bentsen, or Hillary Rodham Clinton—you listen to them, or you talk to them, and you know there is a mind back there deeply knowledgeable about and wrestling with substantive issues of societal welfare and technocratic policy.

With other high politicians, not so much. I gather that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie boldly stated that Marco Rubio failed his Turing test—and large numbers of observers agreed. Or take Ted Cruz, who starts out with a quite reasonable discourse on the fundamental aims of monetary policy:

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Rand Paul: Protecting Property Holders’ Rights to Discriminate on the Basis of Race: "Is the Hard Part About Believing in Freedom..."

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Rand Paul: Protecting Property Holders’ Rights to Discriminate on the Basis of Race: "Is the Hard Part About Believing in Freedom...": I had thought that my brilliant-but-at-times-highly-annoying coauthor @Econ_Marshall was making a more sophisticated point: that here in America "libertarianism" is a Frankenstein's monster that got its lightning-bolt juice from massive resistance to the Civil Rights Movement.

Dismantling the New Deal and rolling back the social insurance state were not ideas that had much potential political-economy juice back in the 1950s and 1960s. But if the economic libertarian cause of dismantling the New Deal could be harnessed to the cause of white supremacy—if one of the key liberties that libertarians were fighting to defend was the liberty to discriminate against and oppress the Negroes—than all of a sudden you could have a political movement that might get somewhere. And so James Buchanan and the other libertarians to the right of Milton Friedman made the freedom to discriminate—or perhaps the power to discriminate?—a key one of the liberties that they were fighting for in their fight against BIG GOVERNMENT. And this has poisoned American libertarianism ever since.

This—Marshall thinks, and I am more than half agree, is the right way to look at it.

For example, consider when Rand Paul came out of the libertarian fever swamps to Washington https://www.google.com/amp/s/thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/161217-paul-says-he-would-have-opposed-civil-rights-act and began saying that he would have voted against the 1964 Civil Rights Act because it infringed On property holders’ rights to discriminate:

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What Is Going on This Morning Over at "National Review"? Is It Worth Reading? No.

Preview of What Is Going on This Morning Over at National Review Is It Worth Reading No

What is going on this morning over at National Review? Is it worth reading? I read 10 articles, and graded each ops 0-to-10 scale. Total score (out of 100); -45. Beam me up, Scotty. There is no intelligent life there at all:

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We Are with Her!

WE ARE WITH HER!!

Looking Forward to Four Two More Years During Which Most if Not All of America's Potential for Human Progress Is Likely to Be Wasted:

  • With each passing day Donald Trump looks more and more like Silvio Berlusconi
  • Bunga-bunga governance
  • With a number of unlikely and unforeseen disasters
  • And a major drag on the country
    • Except in states where his policies are neutralized.

Nevertheless, remember: WE ARE WITH HER!

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Is Any Conclusion Possible Except that Brett Kavanaugh Is a CRAZYPANTS LIAR?

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How do you avoid the conclusion that Brett Kavanaugh is a CRAZYPANTS LIAR?: Brett Kavanaugh: “I may have met her, we did not travel in the same social circle, she was not a friend, not someone I knew...”

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Brett Kavanaugh: A Multiple Train Wreck in Many Dimensions: Monday Smackdown

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I confess that I have been procrastinating on various things. Why? Because I have been unable to tear my eyes away from the multiple train crash that is the confirmation process... the career... the life of Brett Kavanaugh. My view of this is a third- or fourth-hand view. It is the view of Georgetown Prep from Sidwell Friends. And it may well be wrong. But I think that it is right. So, with that warning, here goes:

The first... oddity... is Brett Kavanaugh‘s reaction to Christine Blasey Ford. It really ought to have been something like this:

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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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Why are they sticking with Kavanaugh? Because the pool of "Federalist Society approved judges who also think the president is essentially unaccountable... is rather thin". There are two agendas here—that of the Federalist Society and that of the Orange-Haired Baboon. If not, the Republicans would not have wedged themselves into this position—they would have said: "OK. Amy Barrett". Anyone sane would have long ago decided that Amy Barrett is the right swing vote to repeal Roe: Mike the Mad Biologist: Several Thoughts On Kavanaugh: "There’s a misunderstanding about the letter of support by the ‘Kavanaugh 65.’ It was meant to defang the charge that he was a drunken pig.... They didn’t think attempted sexual assault allegations were coming, though they probably should have...

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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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If those of us on the left and center are ever going to restart a technocratic debate with those on the right, it will be because thinking on the right becomes dominated by people link Brink Lindsey and his posse, rather then the current crew who are haplessly triangulating between their funders and their political masters: Brink Lindsey: [Welcome to capturedeconomy.com(https://capturedeconomy.com/welcome-to-capturedeconomy-com/): "WA new website dedicated to the problems of 'regulatory capture' and 'rent-seeking'—economist-speak for the pursuit of profits through politics...

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The more Geoff Kabaservice insists that William F. Buckley was much more than a Klansman with a big vocabulary, the more people send me things that seem to strongly indicate that he was little more than a Klansman with a big vocabulary—or, possibly, a grifter who wanted to appear to be a Klansman with a big vocabulary. Is that better? Is that worse?: Jeet Heer (2015): National Review's Racism Denial, Then and Now: "[The] massacre at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina, but conservative writer Mona Charen seems to have been doubly upset. Writing in National Review... complained that the prospect that the tragedy could be politically exploited by Democrats was 'even more depressing' than the actions of the killer...

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Willmoore Kendall, Harry Jaffa's Crisis of the House Divided, and the Party of Abraham Lincoln: Hoisted from the Archives

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More about the... rather strange... musings of: Geoffrey Kabaservice: Liberals Don't Know Much About Conservative History: "Buckley’s endorsement of Southern segregation was a moral blot on the conservative movement, and he later acknowledged it as his gravest error. But it’s anti-historical to assume that Buckley was little more than a Klansman with a large vocabulary...

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Thinking About This Again: Extremely wise and interesting on how the more empirical reality tells the Trumpists to mark their beliefs to market, the more desperate they are to avoid doing so: John Holbo: Epistemic Sunk Costs and the Extraordinary, Populist Delusions of Crowds?: "Here’s a thought.... The first rule of persuasion is: make your audience want to believe...

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(Early) Monday Joint Mark Helprin/Ross Douthat/Geoffrey Kabaservice Smackdown!

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I find, on Twitter, the smart Geoff Kabaservice being just weird: Geoff Kabaservice: @RuleandRuin: "POLITICO asked me to expand my tweet previous thread about what liberal historians tend to get wrong about conservatism..." So I go read it, and find a list of 1990s "new voices on the neoconservative/neoliberal front like David Frum, Michael Lind, Andrew Sullivan, Francis Fukuyama, John McWhorter, Richard Brookhiser, Mickey Kaus, Michael Kelly, William Kristol and John Podhoretz..."

And I think: Huh! Wait a minute! Neoliberals aren't conservative! And I think: Mickey Kaus and Michael Kelly were mean and deranged. John Podhoretz and Richard Brookhiser were not smart. Andrew Sullivan and John McWhorter always struck me as more... performance art than anything else. William Kristol was a hack back when he smelled power, but now that he does not is a genuinely quirky, interesting thinker. So are David Frum and Michael Lind. And Francis Fukuyama is a genius—but not a conservative. In general, here—as elsewhere—those who are wise and conservative are not honest, those who are honest and conservative are not wise, and those who are wise and honest and thus worth reading rapidly cease to be conservative. It's like Lasalle's Iron Law of Wages. So I think: Geoff, that's two strikes.

And I read Kabaservice to the end, and find "liberal historians should consider subscribing to the Claremont Review of Books or National Affairs". So I surf on over, and start reading—first Mark Helprin on Charlottesville. And then I stop reading: Mark Helprin: Charlottesville One Year Later: "Enter Antifa, the Communist fascisti as invisible to the mainstream media as were Stalin’s and Mao’s genocides, Castro’s executions, and, with special mention to the New York Times, the Holocaust. They came in ranks: shields, helmets, clubs, etc. But unlike the idiots they came to fight, some of whom had firearms, Antifa had the best weapon of all—well-meaning, overprotected Millennials fed upon virtue signaling..."

I stop readin: when what really gets you mad about Charlottesville is not Nazis and the Klan and "very fine people on both sides", but is rather "Antifa... Communist fascisti... invisible to the mainstream media... well-meaning, overprotected Millennials fed upon virtue signaling..." there is something very wrong with you, mentally and morally—and with the editors who publish you. Denunciations of "virtue signaling" are what people who know they are villains start doing when they think they can no longer pretend to be the good guys.

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