#moralresponsibility Feed

Hoisted/Smackdown: FLASH: Clive Crook and Jack Shafer Upset Because People Informing People Are Claiming to Be Journalists


I was performing one of my standard rants last week at lunch: about how—with very honorable but notably rare exceptions—you should view everything you see on a video screen or read in any medium from somebody paid to be a "journalist" through a hermeneutics of grave suspicion: Assume, unless and until demonstrated otherwise, that they are working for, in this order: (1) their sources, (2) their editors, (3) their advertisers, and (4) for you not at all—they simply are not interested in being a trustworthy information intermediary informing you about the world.

I got some pushback. So it is time to hoist this again from 2005. In one short week, pieces crossed my desk from both Jack Shafer and Clive Crook. Both made it very clear that, in their minds, informing people about the world is positively unprofessional for a journalist (that is the point of Shafer's attack on Klein and Yglesias) or simply not a relevant consideration (that is the point of Crook's relative exaltation of Cramer and dissing of Stewart):

FLASH: Monday Smackdown Clive Crook and Jack Shafer Upset Because People Informing People Are Claiming to Be Journalists: Hoisted from 2015: http://www.bradford-delong.com/2015/02/flash-clive-crook-and-jack-shafer-upset-because-john-stewart-and-ezra-klein-pretty-sure-earth-is-not-flat.html "Two things that crossed my desk last week that offend the shape of reality itself, and really do deserve to be smacked down.

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From Thomas Jefferson to Lafayette, 16 June 1792

Thomas Jefferson (1792): To Lafayette, 16 June 1792: "Philadelphia June 16. 1792. Behold you then, my dear friend, at the head of a great army, establishing the liberties of your country against a foreign enemy. May heaven favor your cause, and make you the channel thro’ which it may pour it’s favors...

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Jefferson, Adams, Malone, and the French Revolution: Weekend Reading

https://www.icloud.com/keynote/0Uxk8rt4DCJ1QcuwjVSsxI2yg | http://www.bradford-delong.com/2018/07/jefferson-adams-malone-and-the-french-revolution-weekend-reading.html

Thomas Jefferson was a great man and a small man. We know the great man well. Biographers like Dumas Malone however, try hard to keep us from knowing the small man: the one who was too approving of the Jacobins and the Terror; the funder of the first Journalistic Slime Machine; the owner of the sex-slave Sally Hemings:

Dumas Malone (1962): Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty (New York: Little, Brown), pp. 45 ff.: "Early in the year, Jefferson, writing a private letter to William Short [TJ to Short, Jan 3, 1793; Ford, VI, 153-7], now at The Hague...

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Thomas Jefferson to William Short, 3 January 1793: Weekend Reading

Thomas Jefferson: To William Short, 3 January 1793: "Philadelphia Jan. 3. 1793. Dear Sir...

...My last private letter to you was of Oct. 16. since which I have recieved your No. 103. 107. 108. 109. 110. 112. 113. and 114. and yesterday your private one of Sep. 15. came to hand.

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America the Loser: Project Syndicate

Il Quarto Stato

Project Syndicate: America the Loser: The American century ended on November 8, 2016. On that day, the United States ceased to be the world’s leading superpower–the flawed but ultimately well-meaning guarantor of peace, prosperity, and human rights around the world. America’s days of Kindlebergian hegemony are now behind it. The credibility that has been lost to the Trumpists–abetted by Russia and the US Electoral College–can never be regained... Read MOAR

Carbon Blogging: Robert J. Samuelson Is Incompetent/The Washington Post Is a Bad Paper: Monday Smackdown/Hoisted

Preview of Carbon Blogging Robert J Samuelson Is Incompetent The Washington Post Is a Bad Paper Monday Smackdown Hoisted

That the Washington Post still gives Robert J. Samuelson a platform is a shameful thing. That it ever gave Robert J. Samuelson a platform is a bad thing: Monday Smackdown/Hoisted: In That Case... Plant the Trees This Afternoon!: Mark Thoma does an evil deed by telling me that somebody should take note of Robert Samuelson. And he's right: somebody should. But why does it have to be me?

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From Atrios: What A Strange Publication: "I really have a had time understanding the people who work at the NYT..."

He is noting what Vivian Wang and her editors say this morning:

  1. We are not very good at our jobs.
  2. "Millenials" and "females" are not proper audiences for a "national publication".

Vivian Wang: Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez: A 28-Year-Old Democratic Giant Slayer: "Before Tuesday’s victory catapulted her to the front of the political conversation, Ms. Ocasio-Cortez seemed to find readier audiences with outlets such as Elite Daily, Mic or Refinery29—websites most often associated with millennial and female audiences—than with national publications..."

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Not since Henry VIII Tudor Have We Seen the Like!

Clowns (ICP)

Disappointment, surprise, bluster, promises he cannot keep, illogic, threats, a promise to destroy the company...

President Donald Trump writes:

(1) Surprised that Harley-Davidson, of all companies, would be the first to wave the White Flag. I fought hard for them and ultimately they will not pay tariffs selling into the E.U., which has hurt us badly on trade, down $151 Billion. Taxes just a Harley excuse-be patient! #MAGA

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If you are a white citizen, things are still normal. But will they be normal in five more years? Back in 2000 I would not have believed that the Republican Party would nominate and then fall into lockstep behind a President who tortured people. Time to ask the Rubin question: Look at all the future scenarios for five years out, and ask yourself: What might we wish in five years that we had done today?: Tor Ekeland: "My dad was tortured by the Gestapo: for 4 days and thrown in a concentration camp for being in the Norwegian Resistance...

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Lee McIntyre: "Cognitive scientists recommend using a "truth sandwich" to report lies: : ay the truth, then show the liar telling the lie, then fact check it. Otherwise the well known 'repetition effect' allows the news media to be used to amplify lies..."

Brian Stelter: "Journalists, 'you need to face something squarely: You're confronted with radical hacking of your own systems of operation. This requires radical rethinking of those systems' --@DanGillmor" https://medium.com/@dangillmor/dear-journalists-stop-letting-liars-use-your-platforms-as-loudspeakers-cc64c4024eeb


Eliana Johnson and Annie Karni: Nielsen becomes face of Trump’s border separations: "Kelly’s status in the White House has changed in recent months, and he and the president are now seen as barely tolerating one another. According to four people close to Kelly, the former Marine general has largely yielded his role as the enforcer in the West Wing as his relationship with Trump has soured. While Kelly himself once believed he stood between Trump and chaos, he has told at least one person close to him that he may as well let the president do what he wants, even if it leads to impeachment—at least this chapter of American history would come to a close..."

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Let Me Distract Myself By Thinking About Something Less Depressing than Trump. Let Me Think About... L. Cornelius Sulla!

Battle of the colline gate Google Search

(Late) Weekend Reading: The opening of Cicero’s Pro Roscio Amerino, According to Stephen Saylors Roman Blood. I would pay serious money for a Saylor translation of the whole thing, with stage directions and audience catcalls. Just saying:

Cicero stepped forward to the podium, cleared his throat and coughed. A wave of skepticism ran through the crowd. A botched opening was a bad sign. At the accuser’s bench Gaius Erucius made a great show of smacking his lips and staring up at the sky.

Cicero cleared his throat and began again. His voice was unsteady and slightly hoarse:

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(Late) Monday Smackdown: No, Ron Unz Does Not Tell It Straight. Why do You Ask?


Why would anybody claim that Holocaust denier David Irving was the defendant rather than the plaintiff in Irving v. Penguin Books and Lipstadt? I mean, that's what the case is called. And the plaintiff's name does come first. And why would anybody claim that David Irving lost his "fine central London home" because "Jewish movie producers and corporate executives" funded a lawsuit and he had been "forced to defend himself without benefit of legal counsel"?

Ron Unz has long been my poster child for the point that being mentally quick does not mean that you are smart, or intelligent, or wise. Turning your smartness to find reasons not to mark your beliefs to market but rather to justify prejudices you got from God-knows-where is no way to go through life, son.

Here is where Unz picks up and propagates the false neo-Nazi line that Holocaust denier David Irving was not the plaintiff but the defendant in Irving v. Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt: Ron Unz: The Remarkable Historiography of David Irving: "Irving is an individual of uncommonly strong scholarly integrity....is unwillingness to dissemble or pay lip-service to various widely-worshiped cultural totems eventually provoked an outpouring of vilification by a swarm of ideological fanatics drawn from a particular ethnic persuasion...

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(Early) Monday (Self?) Smackdown: Baiae and LA as Causes of Republican Downfall? Seriously?

Roman republic orgy Google Search

The scary thing is that I do not know whether Tom Holland:

  1. did not notice that Niall Ferguson was misinterpreting his work...
  2. does not care that Niall Ferguson was misinterpreting his work on the grounds that "all publicity is good publicity", or whether...
  3. I am misinterpreting Tom Holland's work, and Holland really does agree with Ferguson—that it was the orgies of Baiae rather than, in Lucan's phrase, because "Caesar could brook no superior and Pompey could brook no rival...", and, as Plutarch put it, the right-wing decision to break the norms by which political clashes "though neither trifling nor raised for trifling objects, were settled by mutual concessions, the nobles yielding from fear of the multitude, and the people out of respect for the senate..."

A Twitter thread:

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Yes: Last Fall the Unprofessional Republican Economists Were Lying About Corporate Taxes, Investment, and Growth. Why Do You Ask?

There were "economists" last fall telling us that the Trumpublican tax cut was going to raise real wages in America substantially and soon: Robert J. Barro, Michael J. Boskin, John Cogan, Douglas Holtz-Eakin, Glenn Hubbard, Lawrence B. Lindsey, Harvey S. Rosen, George P. Shultz, John. B. Taylor; Larry Lindsey and Douglas Holtz-Eakin; James Miller, Charlie Calomiris, Jagdish Bhagwati; Kevin Hassett; Greg Mankiw; and the others. The people who last fall were telling us that the Trumpublican tax cut was going to raise wages by boosting growth by a number they decided was 0.4% per year—get us an extra 80 billion dollars of prosperity each year growing over time—all did so by pointing to the investment channel: (a) the tax cut would make investment more profitable, (b) we would then have about 800 billion a year of extra investment, (c) the added production made possible by that investment would be 80 billion a year, (d) and eventually wages would rise. (a) has happened. (b) was supposed to take effect quickly—this year. But (b) has broken down: business investment "should" be jumping from 13% to 17% of total production. It is not. So far it has jumped from 12.4% to 13.1%—one-sixth of the jump we were promised:

Gross private domestic investment Domestic business FRED St Louis Fed

This comes as no surprise: Paul Krugman: Tax Cuts and Leprechauns: "The immediate effect of cutting the corporate tax rate... a big fall in taxes collected from corporations...

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For the Weekend: Dante Alighieri and Guido da Montefeltro


Dante Alighieri: Inferno 27:

"And now, I pray you, tell me who you are:
do not be harder than I’ve been with you,
that in the world your name may still endure.”

After the flame, in customary fashion,
had roared awhile, it moved its pointed tip
this side and that and then set free this breath....

"While I still had the form of bones and flesh
my mother gave to me, my deeds were not
those of the lion but those of the fox.

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The Damnation of the Professional Republican Policy Intellectuals


I have long known that the thoughtful and pulls-no-punches Amitabh Chandra has no tolerance for fuzzy thinking from Do-Gooder Democrats. He is one of those who holds that not even a simulacrum of utopia is open to us here, as we muck about in the Sewer of Romulus here in this Fallen Sublunary Sphere. ”There are always trade-offs“, he says. “Deal with it“, he says. But here he leans to the other side, and, well, snaps: Amitabh Chandra: "GOP thinktanks https://twitter.com/amitabhchandra2/status/1007261629547982849 are the biggest milksops. From healthcare policy to environmental policy, from national security policy to fiscal policy, they have tacitly endorsed a mountain of anti-market + anti-growth + anti-America policies so as not to not upset their political masters...

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Is it worse than back in the day when Eduardo Porter was writing stories that counterposed you and Donald Luskin as equally authoritative figures equally likely to be right about the economy, or when Mickey Kaus had a career saying you were too shrill, and whether Bush was lying about his tax cuts was irrelevant to the debate in the public sphere? Paul Krugman: "I'm finding it really painful to read the IG report stuff. FBI malpractice, combined with major media malpractice, got us Trump. This was obvious in real time. And many media organizations are still doing it in their reporting today..." https://twitter.com/paulkrugman/status/1007595490198937601

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Monday Smackdown: Stupidest Man Alive Donald Luskin Retains His Crown!

I know I promised only one Smackdown a week—or, at least, only one non-DeLong Smackdown a week. But...

I put this in the tickler file three years ago, to see whether OPEC could raise prices and oil would go to $30 a barrel and whether lower oil prices would in fact trigger an oil patch and global superzoom, as "there will be no limits to growth in the global economy in a few years when... oil... becomes, for all practical purposes, free... the lower oil prices go, the more money the frackers can make...". Look today, and what do we see: 75 dollars a barrel. Not: 30. Nor: "for all practical purposes, free":

Crude Oil Prices Brent Europe FRED St Louis Fed

And the promised oil patch superboom—"the lower oil prices go, the more money the frackers can make..."? Employment in Oklahoma City relative to the nation as a whole:

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Monday Smackdown: Finally We Find What Makes Clive Crook Stop Being an Anti-Anti-Trump Poseur!


A correspondent who wishes me ill writes and asks me what I think of Niall Ferguson and Clive Crook these days. I won't rise to the bait for Niall, but I will note that trade issues have made Clive Crook forget that back in November 2016 he decided to swim with what he saw as the tide carrying him to his niche as an anti-anti-Trump poseur. The talk about how we must be measured in our response—must listen carefully and respectfully to those with "the intelligible and legitimate opinions of that large minority" who will, after they have been marinated in Fox News, applaud Trump's actions—is gone, 100% gone:

Clive Crook: Congress Must Blunt Trump’s Assault on Trade: "What Trump did last week matters...

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After the Next Nuclear Fire...: Hoisted from 2007

Nuclear explosion Google Search

Hoisted from the Archives: Rather more urgent than I thought it would be 27 months ago: After the Next Nuclear Fire...: In the early 1980s the U.S. NSA—or perhaps it was the Defense Department—loved to play games with Russian air defense. They would send probe planes in from the Pacific to fly over Siberia. And they would watch and listen: Where were the gaps in Russian sensor coverage? How far could U.S. planes penetrate before being spotted? What were Russian command-and-control procedures to intercept intruders? And so on, and so forth.

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Note to Self: I wouldn't call Thrush-Watkins etc. a "mistake" by the New York Times as much as a strategic decision. I always thought that Harris, VandeHei, Allen & co. worked for their sources first, their bosses second, and their readers not at all—and that's how thy shaped Politico. Hiring a politics team from Politico got them what they paid for. And that is what the New York Times wanted to do...

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Teddy Roosevelt (2007): "We Have Traveled Far...": Weekend Reading

Ptowntedd jpg 1 280×834 pixels

How to make proper use of the good parts of an at best ambiguous past: Teddy Roosevelt: "There is nothing easier than to belittle the great men of the past by dwelling only on the points where they come short of the universally recognized standards of the present...

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Rick Petree: "He was more cogent, more linear: I suspect this is, again, a sign of mental deterioration. There have been many instances of him not knowing the words to our most common songs. I recall a Pentagon ceremony where he gave up singing entirely & waved his hands in time with the music. It's not at all funny...

...You don't unlearn the words to the national anthem. If you knew them in high school (a military academy, in this case), you know them for the rest of your life, unless your brain starts to deteriorate.... I agree on his basic level of intelligence. Never stellar. However, having been around him a bit over the years in NYC, he's way off his own mark of 10-20 years ago. He was more cogent, more linear. He could follow a discussion, make multi-part points over a period of minutes. He had greater concentration and focus. His vocabulary was notably larger. IMO, he's no better than 50-60% of what he was 20 years ago..."


Matt O'Brien: "The funniest thing is Niall Ferguson now says he's 'going back to what I do best'. What's that, writing conspiracy theories about how inflation is 'really' 10%? Or attacking the Fed for doing its job? Or falsely saying Keynes didn't care about the long run because he was gay?..."

The interesting question is why are those who call themselves conservatives on the brink of extinction in so much of academia. Some self reflection from Niall Ferguson on this might be useful. But it might not. And I am not holding my breath: Jacob T. Levy: "If it appears that a powerful right-wing professor is the source of the suppression of disagreement on campus, that just further proves that left-wing student political correctness is the real threat. #unfalsifiable:"

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Paul says: "hyperinflation is coming any day now" and "minimum wages at their current levels are killing millions of jobs" are joining "there is no such thing as global warming" and "evolution is false" as destroyers of "conservatives" in academia: *Paul Krugman: "Today's column has nothing directly to do with... the puzzling failure of wages to grow faster despite what look like tight labor markets https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/04/opinion/conservative-free-speech.html...

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The wise and thoughtful Dan Nexon gets this, I think, exactly right. The question is: Why is conservatism intellectually irrelevant in many academic departments and disciplines? The propensity of prominent conservatives to try to ratf--- 20 year olds is certainly part of the problem: Dan Nexon: "This reads like an excuse for publishing an intemperate opinion-editorial in the student newspaper, not an attempt by a world-famous academic to rationalize conspiring to ratf--- an undergrad at an institution with which he is affiliated:"

Niall Ferguson: "I need to grow up and keep out of student politics, no question. But the context is important. Conservatism is on the brink of extinction in much of academia, especially in history. This isn't healthy."

I endorse this: the Vichy French did not behave materially worse than other countries conquered by the Nazis. Britain was very lucky to be an island: #JeSuisSchlossberg: "Probably not fair to talk about Vichy Republicans and Vichy media. After all, the French faced real threats, including to their very lives, after their defeat in WWII, whereas GOP Congress and anti-anti-Trump media types are perfectly safe, just trying to make an extra buck..."

A Few Notes on Higher Education in the Age of Trump: Hoisted from June 10, 2017

Hoisted: A Few Notes on Higher Education in the Age of Trump... (June 10, 2017):

I wrote http://www.bradford-delong.com/2017/06/must-read-two-points-diversity-and-finding-truth-in-the-sense-of-rough-consensus-and-running-code-where-i-think-larry.html: Two points (diversity and finding truth in the sense of rough consensus and running code) where I think Larry Summers is 100% correct. One point (Charles Murray) where I think Larry is broadly right but that things are more complicated. And one point (sensitivity training) where I think Larry Summers is more wrong than right. But more on that anon. Definitely worth reading.

This is the "anon":

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Three Conservatives on Why Charles Murray's Ideas Are Bankupt in the Academic Intellectual Marketplace

Inferno Dante and Virgil among the evil counsellors and Flickr

I have never understood why "conservatives" like Niall Ferguson think that cross-burner Charles Murray is a good standard bearer for their ideas in a university setting. Is it their explicit and deliberate aim to generate counterdemonstrations and further reinforce the link between conservative ideas and white ethnicism in America today? Do they really think that yoking appeals to racial animosity, immutable "racial" differences in intelligence, and white ethnicism to their cause is a winner?

Niall Ferguson won't claim that the immutable-racial-differences arguments in Herrnstein and Murray's The Bell Curve get it right. He will only claim that: "the sheer scale of the discussion that Murray’s work has generated would seem to argue for its importance, regardless of whether one ends up agreeing with him..." In academic speech ideas are not merely presented but evaluated. Cross-burner Murray's ideas have been evaluated by, among others, the impeccably conservative Thomas Sowell, James Heckman, and Glenn Loury. Wouldn't a proper Cardinal Conversation aimed at elevating the debate have featured one of these non-cross-burning conservatives? They would have said something like:

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Niall Ferguson and the Avoidance of Personal Responsibility: Every Accusation a Confession Department: (Early) Monday Smackdown

Inferno Dante and Virgil among the evil counsellors and Flickr

As Mitt Romney said of Niall Ferguson and company, they are: "people who... are dependent... who believe that they are victims, who believe that... they are entitled.... I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives...":

Niall Ferguson descends far into self-parody with this self-smackdown. Jonathan Healey comments:

Jonathan Healey: "Worth pointing out that it also 'might have been avoided' if you'd thought to yourself 'Hang on, a professor with a massive profile trying to find kompromat on a student is a bit off, isn't it?':

Niall Ferguson: From all of this I draw two conclusions. First, it might have been avoided if conservatives at universities did not feel so beleaguered. There is a debate about whether free speech has been restricted on American campuses in recent years. I have no doubt it has. Middle-of-the-road students live in fear that a casual remark will be deemed "offensive" or "triggering" and that social media will be unleashed to shame them. Conservative students have to keep quiet or fight a culture war in which they are hopelessly outnumbered.

The other lesson I have learn[ is that Uncle Jan was right: I do need to grow up. Student politics is best left to students. So I am putting my tweed jacket back on and retreating to my beloved study. It is time to write another book.

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