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Benjamin Wittes: The Collapse of the President’s Defense: Weekend Reading

Benjamin Wittes: The Collapse of the President’s Defense https://www.lawfareblog.com/collapse-presidents-defense: 'President Trump’s substantive defense against the ongoing impeachment inquiry has crumbled entirely—not just eroded or weakened, but been flattened like a sandcastle hit with a large wave. It was never a strong defense. After all, Trump himself released the smoking gun early in L’Affaire Ukrainienne when the White House published its memo of Trump’s call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. That document erased any question as to whether Trump had asked a foreign head of state to “investigate”—a euphemism for digging up dirt on—his political opponents. There was no longer any doubt that he had asked a foreign country to violate the civil liberties of American citizens by way of interfering in the coming presidential campaign. That much we have known for certain for weeks. The clarity of the evidence did not stop the president’s allies from trying to fashion some semblance of defense. But the past few days of damaging testimony have stripped away the remaining fig leaves. There was no quid pro quo, we were told—except that it’s now clear that there was one. If there was a quid pro quo, we were told, it was the good kind of quid pro quo that happens all the time in foreign relations—except that, we now learn, it wasn’t that kind at all but the very corrupt kind instead. The Ukrainians didn’t even know that the president was holding up their military aid, we were told—except that, it turns out, they did know. And, the president said, it was all about anti-corruption. This was the most Orwellian inversion; describing such a corrupt demand as a request for an investigation of corruption is a bit like describing a speakeasy as an alcoholism treatment facility. As this tawdy fact pattern has become increasingly exposed, the only defense that remains to the president is that it does not amount to an impeachment-worthy offense—an argument difficult to square with either the history of impeachment or its purpose in our constitutional system...

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Note to Self: Council on Foreign Relations: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Session Two: It’s not clear to me thatanyone who thought they had a lot of political influence twenty years ago now thinks they have more save, possibly, for Sheldon Adelson and our strange modern analog of Richard Neville, 16th Earl of Warwick: Rupert the Kingmaker. But even Rupert...

Look: the basic business model of Fox News is there are many people in America whose view of the world was not being validated by any of the major news networks. This was a market opportunity. Rupert Murdoch pursued this market opportunity. The form in which Roger Ailes and his successors pursued it took the form of scaring the piss out of old people, so their eyeballs would stay glued to the screen so they could be sold fake diabetes cures and overpriced gold funds.

But it is not at all clear to me that Rupert the Kingmaker thinks he’s in control now. There are other people willing to play the same game. Fox News tried to go in against Trump a little bit in 2016, and yet very quickly reversed course. I would like someone to tell me why: what did they see that made them not just get in bed with Trump but tie themselves spread-eagled to the mattress? David From once said: "We thought Fox News worked for us, but then we learned we worked for Fox News." Who, now, does Fox News think it must work for—or lose its audience and its profits?

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Income and Wealth Distribution, or, Watching Professional Republicans Sell Their Souls Back in 1992: Hoisted from the Archives

Inbox 31 brad delong gmail com Gmail

I have long wanted an undergraduate to write a senior thesis about this episode. I have never found one to advise to do so:

Hoisted from the Archives: The income distribution came on to the stage that is America's public sphere between February 14 and December 12, 1992. And the rhetoric of "X% of gains in per capita income over years Y-Z went to the top W%-iles of the income distribution" became a one in American political-economic discourse over that time period as well. Over those ten months then-New York Times economics reporter Sylvia Nasar wrote eight stories about income inequality in America. All of them were pitched at a high substantive and intellectual level—they would have fit into the New York Times's later Upshot (which has recently refocused at a less analytically-substantive level as concerned with "politics, policy, and everyday life"). This was, needless to say, very unusual for the New York Times.

Sylvia's first story addressed the peculiar fact that the "80's Boom", as Reagan Republicans and the New York Times called it, had seen the poverty rate not diminish but rise. Sylvia attributed that rise to union-busting, and a growing disparity between high- and low-wage jobs springing from a decline in relative manufacturing employment and possibly from boosted high-wage white-collar productivity from computerization. Her second story, on March 5, took a turn. Instead of continuing to investigate the causes of rising poverty and wage stagnation in a decade of supposed boom, it focused on "who had reaped the gains" from "the prosperity of the last decade and a half". It highlighted the "Krugman calculation". It began:

Populist politicians, economists and ordinary citizens have long suspected that the rich have been getting richer. What is making people sit up now is recent evidence that the richest 1 percent of American families appears to have reaped most of the gains from the prosperity of the last decade and a half. An outsized 60 percent of the growth in the average after-tax income of all American families between 1977 and 1989—and an even heftier three-fourths of the gain in average pretax income—went to the wealthiest 660,000 families, each of which had an annual income of at least $310,000 a year...

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Weekend Reading: Monica Potts: In the Land of Self-Defeat

Opinion In the Land of Self Defeat The New York Times

Weekend Reading: I saw this in Kansas City, of all places—where, IIRC, one firm dropped out of funding the Chamber of Commerce because it was going on roadshows outside trying to attract jobs to the region. It thought more mployers might force it to pay higher wages: Monica Potts: In the Land of Self-Defeat https://www.nytimes.com/2019/10/04/opinion/sunday/trump-arkansas.html: "What a fight over the local library in my hometown in rural Arkansas taught me about my neighbors’ go-it-alone mythology—and Donald Trump’s unbeatable appeal.... I returned to Van Buren County at the end of 2017 after 20 years.... I’ve realized that it is true that people here think life here has taken a turn for the worse. What’s also true, though, is that many here seem determined to get rid of the last institutions trying to help them, to keep people with educations out, and to retreat from community life and concentrate on taking care of themselves and their own families. It’s an attitude that is against taxes, immigrants and government, but also against helping your neighbor.... I realized this after a fight over, of all things, our local library.... The library board wanted to increase the pay it could offer a new head librarian, who would be combining her new job with an older one, to 25 an hour.... The library has historically provided a variety of services for this community. It has offered summer reading camps for children and services like high-speed internet, sewing classes and academic help. I grew up going to the library and visited it often when I returned. It was always busy. I thought people would be supportive. Instead, they started a fight.... The first comment came from Amie Hamilton, who reiterated her point when I interviewed her several months later. 'If you want to make 25 an hour, please go to a city that can afford it', she wrote. 'We the people are not here to pay your excessive salaries through taxation or in any other way'. There was general agreement among the Facebook commenters that no one in the area was paid that much... and the people who do actually earn incomes that are similar—teachers and many county officials—largely remained quiet.... When a few of us, including me, pointed out that the candidate for the library job had a master’s degree, more people commented on the uselessness of education. 'Call me narrow-minded but I’ve never understood why a librarian needs a four-year degree', someone wrote. 'We were taught Dewey decimal system in grade school. Never sounded like anything too tough'.... The library fight was, itself, a fight over the future of rural America, what it meant to choose to live in a county like mine, what my neighbors were willing to do for one another, what they were willing to sacrifice to foster a sense of community here. The answer was, for the most part, not very much...

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Podcast: Trump's Impact on the Economy

Cotto/Gottfried: What Happens to America's Economy If Trump Is Reelected? Brad DeLong Explains https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZZEI4jRqEo&feature=youtu.be: "Donald Trump... if he manages to secure a second term, what would four more years of his presidency mean for America's economy? Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury Brad DeLong, who now is an economics professor at UC Berkeley, addresses this hugely important question¸—and much more—on 'Cotto/Gottfried.'... See more episodes here: https://wtcgcottogottfried.blogspot.com/. San Francisco Review of Books main page: http://www.sanfranciscoreviewofbooks.com...

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For the Weekend: The New Colossus

Statue of liberty Google Search

Emma Lazarus: The New Colossus: "Not like the brazen giant of Greek fame, With conquering limbs astride from land to land; Here at our sea-washed, sunset gates shall stand A mighty woman with a torch, whose flame Is the imprisoned lightning, and her name Mother of Exiles. From her beacon-hand Glows world-wide welcome; her mild eyes command The air-bridged harbor that twin cities frame.

"Keep, ancient lands, your storied pomp!" cries she With silent lips. "Give me your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore. Send these, the homeless, tempest-tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door!"...

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Hoisted from the Archives: From 2007: Your One-Stop Shop for All Your 70th Anniversary Leftist Sectarian Polemic Blogging Needs

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives: From 2007: Your One-Stop Shop for All Your 70th Anniversary Leftist Sectarian Polemic Blogging Needs https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/03/your_onestop_sh.html: In anticipation of the 70th anniversary of the bloody Stalinist suppression of the Partido Obrero de Unificación Marxista in the Barcelona May Days, we are--thanks to Jacob Levy--proud to bring you the latest in sectarian Marxist polemics blogging. First, we have Eric Hobsbawm declaring that George Orwell was a Traitor to Humanity by telling the truth about what he saw in Spain:

Eric Hobsbawm: "Writers supported [the Republican cause in] Spain... Hemingway, Malraux, Bernanos and virtually all the notable contemporary young British poets-Auden, Spender, Day Lewis, MacNeice did. Spain was the experience that was central to their lives between 1936 and 1939.... Polemics about the civil war [within the Left]... have never ceased since 1939. This was not so while the war was still continuing, although such incidents as the banning of the dissident Marxist Poum party and the murder of its leader Andrés Nin caused some international protest. Plainly a number of foreign volunteers... were shocked by... the behaviour of the Russians and much else...

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Hoisted from the Archives: John Holbo (2010): If Those Women Were Really Oppressed, Someone Would Have Tended to Have Freed Them by Then

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John Holbo (2010): If Those Women Were Really Oppressed, Someone Would Have Tended to Have Freed Them by Then http://crookedtimber.org/2010/04/13/if-those-women/: "Having made one non-libertarian-related post, I can now say, with a good conscience, that Bryan Caplan has responded to his critics. It is a wonder to behold.... A lot of the trouble here obviously rotates around the issue of systematic social oppression. Caplan barrels straight through like so: 'there’s a fundamental human right to non-violently pressure and refuse to associate with others'.... Caplan doesn’t notice that, even if he’s right about this fundamental human right, he’s no longer even defending the proposition that women were more free in the 1880’s, never mind successfully defending it. He’s defending the proposition that there is a fundamental right, which can be exercised, systematically, to make women much less free, that was better protected in the 1880’s. So if women value this libertarian right more than freedom, they might rationally prefer that sort of society. But even so, they should hardly regard themselves as more free, for enjoying this right. Rather, they should regard themselves as (rationally) sacrificing liberty, a lesser value, for love of libertarianism, a higher value and separate jar of pickles altogether...

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Hoisted from the Archives: Why Everybody Should Be Short Louis Althusser and His Intellectual Children

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives: Why Everybody Should Be Short Louis Althusser and His Intellectual Children https://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2007/06/why_everybody_s.html: William Lazonick (1982), "Discussion of Resnick and Wolff, Feiner, Jensen, and Weiss," +Journal of Economic History_, 42:1 (March), pp. 83-85 http://links.jstor.org/sici?sici=0022-0507%28198203%2942%3A1%3C83%3ADORAWF%3E2.0.CO%3B2-G: "I find the title of this session—'Marxist Approaches to Economic History'—to be inappropriate.... First, what we have heard here are not "approaches" but one approach repeated four times.... Second... the approach presented here... relates not to economic history... not even an approach to the actual study of social history.... It is philosophical thinking about how one might develop an analytical framework for studying feudalism, capitalism, and so on...

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Telling lies about what the law has been in the past in the hope of persuading people that this is how the law should be in the future: this is a very strange mode of rhetoric indeed...

I suppose we owe this to Sir Edward Coke: "I am afraid we should get rid of a great deal of what is considered law in Westminster hall, if what Lord Coke says without authority is not law..."—William Best (1824).


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I used to push back against those who said that, with Trump administration immigration policy, the cruelty is the point. I can no longer do so. In Guatemala, Maria Isabel Bueso would die quickly for lack of cutting-edge treatments:

Farida Jhabvala Romero: Feds to Reconsider Case of Bay Area Woman Getting Lifesaving Treatment Who Faces Deportation: "Maria Isabel Bueso has overcome many challenges as a result of the debilitating genetic disease she was born with that eventually left her confined to a wheelchair, breathing through a device and reliant upon weekly treatments to survive. She trained to become a dance teacher and now is an instructor, and she graduated summa cum laude from California State University, East Bay—where she set up a scholarship fund for students with disabilities. She also advocates for people with her disease and other rare illnesses, traveling to Washington, D.C., to lobby for medical research. Now, Bueso is fighting for her life once more. Immigration authorities previously told her and her family to leave the U.S. by mid-September—or face deportation to her home country of Guatemala...

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Jess Phillips: House of Commons: ""Tonight I will vote against a general election just like I will vote against pretty much anything the current PM put in front of me.... I have no faith in literally anything the prime minister says. There is no distance that I could trust him.... The PM is playing some bully boy game, of some bully boy public school that I probably won't understand. [Tory MP shouting] Sorry, would the hon gentleman like to make an intervention? Crack on.... Yesterday I watched Conservative colleagues begging him to tell them what he wanted... to give them a deal to vote for. This is some game that three men in No. 10 have come up with to try to game the system so that they win.... Personally I will not vote for any election that falls before October 31st..... "It's just a shame that quite a lot of the people who are sat in front of me who know that what happened over the last two days is wrong are too cowardly to actually say in here, in public, what they're all saying in the tea rooms. "You've all crowed and given sympathy to me about the problems that we have in the Labour Party and you have just sat by silently as your colleagues were marched out.... "We shouldn't go on conference recess. We shouldn't be proroguing parliament. We are currently in a national crisis. This is not a game. This is not some toy we can play with.... I'm meant to believe the PM is really doing this because he has a vision for the people in this country? He has a vision that comes to him every night and it is his own face..."

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In the modern world, it is not tariff reduction but regulatory harmonization that is required for grasping increased benefits from the world division of labor. We need to work to level up rather than level down or level stupid, but we need to work to level the regulatory landscape. The Brexit hope is for a free-trade zone with the United States but also with "national sovereignty" over regulatory matters. That is just not how it works:

N. Piers Ludlow: Did We Ever Really Understand How the EU Works?: "Michael Gove... referred... to a free trade zone... from Iceland to Turkey of which Britain would, he was confident, still be part... irrespective of the outcome of the referendum. But this focus on tariffs was quaintly anachronistic, because ever since the 1980s the main target of European liberalisation efforts has... been... non-tariff barriers... regulatory convergence...

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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I Want My Country Back!

Note to Self: I Want My Country Back!: It is a really strange situation. It has a lot of "if he were nots":

  • If he were not president, Trump’s family would already have moved for a guardianship ad litem...

  • If he were not so authoritarian, we would be profoundly sad that someone—hate him, love him, simply be amused by him—has been such an entertaining celebrity...

  • And if he were not so deranged, we would be in the streets demanding the constitutional order be observed and wondering just what we should do when someone begins taking him seriously and literally when he says that the Washington Post and Catherine Rampell are the enemies of the people, when he says what we really need to do is get rid of the judges, when he says we should let the guys in the mirrored sunglasses in the security agencies do their thing.

It is not an America I ever thought that I would live in, I must say...

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What Is This "White" You Speak of, Kemosabe?: Hoisted from the Archives

Lone ranger and tonto Google Search

Hoisted from the Archives: _What Is This "White" You Speak of, Kemosabe?: One way to look at Nixon's 'Silent Majority' strategy was that it involved the redefinition of lots of people as 'white'—people who wouldn't have been 'white' even thirty years before, back when they were seen as not-quite-real-American ethnic immigrants living in ghettos and serving the corrupt Democratic political machines against which the Republicans fought—probably entangled in organized crime, too.

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Important to today, I think, is that the aliens in Ossian's Ride are refugees: Henry Farrell: Ossian’s Ride: "In 1959 the famous British astronomer Fred Hoyle published his novel, Ossian’s Ride... a future Ireland miraculously transformed into a technological superpower.... Hoyle wasn’t really interested in talking about Ireland.... Instead, he wanted to score points in an internal fight over British identity... responding to the Christian apologist C.S. Lewis, who regularly denounced Hoyle as a secular atheist on radio and had written his own science fiction novel, That Hideous Strength, a decade before. The villain of Lewis’s book was a sinister institute called NICE, which Satanic aliens wanted to impose contraception, lesbianism, secularism and surrealist art on an unsuspecting Britain.... Hoyle riposted with a novel where rational and benevolently ruthless aliens used an organization called ICE to pull the priest-ridden republic next door into the technological age. His satirical portrait of Ireland told British readers that the world was being transformed around them, and that even their most backwards seeming neighbor would outstrip them if they didn’t embrace modernity. The irony of history is that Hoyle’s parody is now the truth...

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America’s Superpower Panic: Project Syndicate

America s Superpower Panic by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate and America s Superpower Panic Project Syndicate

Project Syndicate: America’s Superpower Panic: History suggests that a global superpower in relative decline should aim for a soft landing, so that it still has a comfortable place in the world once its dominance fades. By contrast, US President Donald Trump's incoherent, confrontational approach toward China could seriously damage America’s long-term interests.

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Note to Self: Why was Jonathan Weisman's economic policy reporting for the Washington Post so execrable back in the mid-2000s? A person who was, as they say, very, very, very, very, very familiar with the matter:

Jonathan's big problem is that he's not that deep into the issues, and he has no backup. There's nobody that he can go to in that building to tell him 'this was how X was trying to mislead you' or 'this is Y's history' or 'be very careful here: if you get this detail Z wrong, they'll come down on you extremely hard'...

In retrospect, I think we can conclude that it was not that Weisman was mismanaged by the Washington Post editorial staff: I'm happy to believe that there was gross mismanagement, but gross mismanagement does not lead one to contrast the view of Paul Krugman with that of Donald Luskin or of a White House aide who does not dare give his name and say "economists furiously debate". That is someone who has made a deliberate decision to make their career by being a complaisant mouthpiece for insider anonymous sources

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Note to Self: Let me say that I am 100% behind Roxane Gay here. When Jonathan Weisman was covering economics and monetary policy, he was a "Paul Krugman and Donald Luskin disagree about the shape of the earth: who can tell who is right?" guy. Those of us who talked to him took the incompetence for granted—and more than that: a willful desire to not understand the issues because then he might be unable to properly suck up to the sources he wished to suck up too.

Given that history, my mind is closed on the incompetence question. And I'm happy to listen on the racism one:

Roxane Gay: "Guys, Jonathan Weisman emailed me to say he thinks I owe him an 'enormous apology'. The audacity and entitlement of white men is fucking incredible. I am legitimately shocked. Like. What? He also emailed my assistant. WTF? And he also emailed Harper Collins. Uhh, @nytimes, get your boy...

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Very interesting to see: usually—always IIRC, with the possible exception of Alan Greenspan's use by the Bush administration in 2001 to support their tax cut—Fed Chairs and ex-Fed Chairs try as hard as they can to avoid choosing a partisan side. It appears that they have, as a group, decided that that is no longer possible: Clair Jones: Former Fed chairs gang up on Trump : "Every living former US Federal Reserve chair has ganged up on US President Donald Trump in an op-ed with the Wall Street Journal.... 'When the current chair's four-year term ends, the president will have the opportunity to reappoint him or choose someone new. That nomination will have to be ratified by the Senate. We hope that when that decision is made, the choice will be based on the prospective nominee's competence and integrity, not on political allegiance or activism. It is critical to preserve the Federal Reserve's ability to make decisions based on the best interests of the nation, not the interests of a small group of politicians....' The Journal article is diplomatic, eloquent and reflective. Everything that Trump isn’t, then. The trouble is, in an era of short attention spans and pick-A-side politics where the Fed chair finds himself regularly called out on Twitter, relying on things like evidence, or a coherent argument, might not cut it.... Earlier this year, when addressing Trump’s threat to replace Powell, former Fed vice-chair Stan Fischer put it bluntly. If the US President used his re-election in 2020 to choose a Fed chair with views close to his own, there was a chance of the US becoming 'a Third World country'. Stark and not exactly politically correct. If they are to retain their independence, though, the world’s central bankers might need a bit more of Fischer’s zing...

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HOLY TOLEDO, BATMAN!!: This could end tomorrow, simply, easily, if Pence would invoke or McConnell call for the invocation of Amendment XXV: Betty Cracker: Holy Toledo: "This is just…well, watch for yourselves if you didn’t see it live:

VoteVets: Donald Trump cares so little about mass shootings that he says it happened in the wrong city ("Toledo"). What's worse, he seemingly read it off the teleprompter, meaning the entire White House didn't care enough to get it right, either....

Fellow citizens, we either kick the Republicans out of power at every level, or their insanity will engulf this country completely. We’re more than half way there right now. It really is as simple as that...

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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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Enormous Possibilities in China...

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Note to Self: There are immense possibilities in China.

On the screen earlier today we saw Chinese military politician Peng Dehuai, who did command the army that inflicted the greatest defeat on an American army ever in the retreat from the Yalu River. But during the years of the Great Leap Forward he was the Chinese politician who did most to serve the people. And we are desperately short of his like in both Beijing and Washington, both of which are facing very different but, I think, equally grave crises of governance. Sp here is a poem he wrote in 1958 on an inspection tour of the Great Leap Forward famine:

Grain scattered on the ground, potato leaves withered;
Strong young people have left to make steel;
Only children and old women reap the crops;
How can they survive the coming year?
Allow me to raise my voice for the people!

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A Smart Approach to China-U.S. Relations

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Consider a country that is the global superpower.

Its military is best-of-breed. Its reach extends from Japan to the West Indies to the Indian Ocean, and beyond. Its industries of the most productive in the world. It Is predominate in world trade. It dominates global finance.

But, when this global superpower looks to the west, across the sea, it sees a rising power—a confident nation with a larger population, hungry for wealth, hungry for preeminence, seeing itself as possessing a manifest destiny to supersede the old superpower. And, unless something goes horribly wrong with the rising power to the west, its rise is indeed all but inevitable.

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The Blocked Southern and Midwestern Global Warming Conversation

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I find myself thinking about XXXXXX and her points about experiential, personal narrative hooks, and about XXXXXX today and XXXXXX yesterday on effects on the United States.

As I said yesterday, the U.S. climate is, on average, marching north by 4 miles a year. And it is becoming more variable: thermodynamics tells us that a system with more energy will over time occupy more configuration states, and in the U.S. midwest the extra configuration states are predominantly hotter, wetter configuration states: rather than hot dry air moving northeast from the deserts, hot wet air is moving northwest from the Gulf of Mexico. Witness this year's floods in the Mississippi, Missouri, and Arkansas watersheds. Yet in the U.S Midwest the factual conversation drawing of the links between climate change—screw it: global warming—global warming and weather disasters that farmers and workers and bosses and power-brokers in Malawi and Mozambique have, farmers and workers and bosses and power-brokers in Davenport, IO, are unwilling even to begin.

I made a pitch to the XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX XXXXXX about five years ago that the highest and best use of their money was to start documenting the links between global warming and four state-area agriculture. No traction at all: collecting facts was viewed as, in some way, dangerous. I keep thinking about how in a lot of America the public sphere of factual discussion and debate is profoundly broken. I can think of nothing to do other than keep trying to roll the boulder up the hill, and keep saying to myself: "we must imagine Sisyphus happy". And I look across the table at XXXXXX XXXXXX and I ask him for help.

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Immigration and American Politics

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I want to thank XXXXXX XXXXXX. I confess I had thought that if the President started putting migrant children in cage, the immediate reaction would not be that this might well be a clever political move. I do have a sense that for a lot of people who know better on the Republican side, they think there's mileage to be gained by characterizing bedrock American values as if they were foreign and "cosmopolitan" values. And it is very nice to hear XXXXXX pushing back.

In fact, I really do not understand XXXXXX XXXXXX's claim that the President has "put the Democrats in a box" on immigration. As I read the Gallup Poll, by 64% to 35% Americans want immigration continued at the same level or increased. 37% want the level decreased. The President wants the level of immigration decreased—illegal immigration and legal immigration alike, and we certainly shouldn't have any judges whose parents were born in Mexico. Trump is on the side of the late Sam Huntington—who liked to rant about how the immigration of Cubans had ruined Miami, and "would the last American leaving please remember to bring the flag."

How is abandoning the 64% position for a 35% position putting your opponents in a box?

New High in U S Say Immigration Most Important Problem

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I Want My Country Back!

Mussolini rally Google Search

Council on Foreign Relations: The Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: We really don’t know the consequences of this degree of income inequality: the distribution of income was never this bad before, and it continues to get worse.

We did have, in the thirty years before the New Deal, a whipsaw.

First, we saw the rise of the progressive movement. Lots of people, even people for whom America was then doing very, very well, begin to say: "Wait a minute, this can’t go on. There’s something fundamentally wrong!"

Thus you had Teddy Roosevelt attacking the "malefactors of great wealth". You had Andrew Carnegie saying "he who dies rich, dies disgraced"—and that, in fact, if you leave anything at all to your children, you should be ashamed of yourself.

But then we had the whipsaw.

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Monday Smackdown/Hoisted from the Archives: Four Huge Mistakes in One Short Piece by John Taylor

Smackdown

Hoisted from the Archives: Four huge mistakes in this here by John Taylor:

  1. That the low-interest rate economy of 2004-2007 was in an inflationary boom, rather than an economy that barely managed to reach any definition of "full employment" even though supercharged boy three things—low interest rates, expansionary fiscal policy, plus a huge irrationally-exuberant asset-price bubble.

  2. That low interest rates since 2007 represent a discretionary choice by central banks, rather than reflecting the fact that any central bank wanting to avoid permanent depression must accommodate itself to the low level fo the Wicksellian neutral interest rate.

  3. That as of 2017 interest rates were about to normalize.

$. That the Republican policy package of regulatory rollback and tax cuts for the rich would provide a large boost to investment spending and, through that channel, productivity growth.

None of those have panned out as intellectual bets.

Yet John Taylor today exhibits no visible curiosity as to why they did not.

This strongly suggests to me that none of them were meant seriously in the first place—that it was always disinformation, and never an analytical judgment, and thus subject to revision as knowledge advanced:

John Taylor (March 2017): Sluggish Future: Policy Is The Problem: "Secular stagnation... raises inconsistencies and doubts. Low policy interest rates set by monetary authorities... before the financial crisis were associated with a boom characterized by rising inflation and declining unemployment—not by the slack economic conditions and high unemployment of secular stagnation. The evidence runs contrary to the view that the equilibrium real interest rate—that is, the real rate of return required to keep the economy’s output equal to potential output—was low prior to the crisis. And the fact that central banks have chosen low policy rates since the crisis casts doubt on the notion that the equilibrium real interest rate just happened to be low. Indeed, in recent months, long-term interest rates have increased with expectations of normalization of monetary policy.... The United States needs another dose of structural reform—including regulatory, tax, budget, and monetary—to provide incentives to increase capital investment and bring new ideas into practice.... There is hope for yet another convincing swing in the policy-performance cycle to add to the empirical database...

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Monday Smackdown: Every Time I Try to Get Out, They Pull Me Back In... Clive Crook Edition

Stop or I Shoot Myself TV Tropes

Hoisted from Two Years Ago: I must say, afgter two years I think Duncan Black was much too kind here. My remarks at the time: Monday Smackdown: Every Time I Try to Get Out, They Pull Me Back In... Clive Crook Edition_: So after a pep talk from Noah Smith Saturday night about how it is time to become kinder and gentler—to look for opportunities to praise for being smart people who in the past I have criticized for being really really really dumb—I wake up Monday morning, and I wince because Duncan Black has been reading the once-thoughtful Clive Crook again....

Duncan Black http://www.eschatonblog.com/2017/07/national-humiliation.html: "People is weird.... [Clive Crook:]...

Suppose a second referendum was called and the result was Remain; suppose the EU said, "Great, glad to have you back."... This cringing submission would raise instinctive euro-skepticism to new extremes and divide the U.K. even more bitterly... a national humiliation... [that] would surpass the Suez Crisis in 1956 and the country's surrender to trade-union militancy in the 1970s—crushing setbacks with far-reaching political consequences. If there were ever a case of "be careful what you wish for," this is it...

This the thinking that leads to pointless catastrophic wars. Let's shoot ourselves in the face just to prove our gun works...

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Monday Smackdown: Batshit Insane American Nat-Cs Department: Intellectual Leading Light Samuel P. Huntington

Smackdown

Apropos of our National Conservatives—our Nat-Cs—here in America today. It is worth remembering how batshit insane is right-wing "class of civilizations" urberguru Samuel Hintington. Witness his firm belief that immigrants from Cuba have ruined Miami: "Anglos had three choices... [i] accept their subordinate and outsider position... [ii] assimilate into the Hispanic community—“acculturation in reverse”... [iii] they could leave Miami, and between 1983 and 1993, about 140,000 did just that, their exodus reflected in a popular bumper sticker: 'Will the last American to leave Miami, please bring the flag'...

Samuel P. Huntington: The Hispanic Challenge: "The persistent inflow of Hispanic immigrants threatens to divide the United States into two peoples, two cultures, and two languages. Unlike past immigrant groups, Mexicans and other Latinos have not assimilated into mainstream U.S. culture, forming instead their own political and linguistic enclaves—from Los Angeles to Miami—and rejecting the Anglo-Protestant values that built the American dream. The United States ignores this challenge at its peril.... Miami is the most Hispanic large city in the 50 U.S. states. Over the course of 30 years, Spanish speakers—overwhelmingly Cuban—established their dominance in virtually every aspect of the city’s life, fundamentally changing its ethnic composition, culture, politics, and language. The Hispanization of Miami is without precedent in the history of U.S. cities...

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Francis Wilkinson: Gun Safety Takes a Back Seat to Gun Culture and Children Die: Weekend Reading

Millie Drew Kelly Girl Fatally Shot by 4 Year Old Brother Heavy com

Francis Wilkinson: Gun Safety Takes a Back Seat to Gun Culture and Children Die: "A mother stored a gun in her car to protect her children. It killed her daughter instead.: On Monday, April 8, Courtney Kelly’s Hyundai Elantra failed. Kelly had just gotten all three kids packed into their car seats in the back. Millie, 6, was on the passenger side. Maddox, 4, was on the driver’s side. Lucas, 2, was strapped in the middle. It was about 5:45 p.m. They were on their way to Maddox’s baseball practice. With the children settled, Kelly was poised to pull out of her driveway on Laurelcrest Lane in Dallas, Georgia. The car wouldn’t start...

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U.S. as Doofus Country, China, and Grand Strategy

Il Quarto Stato

No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate: In the New York Review of Books, Adam Tooze recently wrote that: "across the American political spectrum, if there is agreement on anything, it is on the need for a firmer line against China". He is correct: On this, the bombs-and-bullets people, the geopolitics people, and the blame-somebody-else people are all agreed. The U.S. needs to do something to strengthen its relative position, and that means it needs to start doing something to China.

But that would be going about it the wrong way. Thinking that the right way to do something is to do something to China is a very bad way to think.

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Hoisted from Six Years Ago: To Steal a Line from Leon Trotsky: "Every Man Has a Right to Be Stupid, but John Cochrane Abuses the Privilege..."

Consumer Price Index for All Urban Consumers All Items Less Food and Energy FRED St Louis Fed

Hoisted from the Archives: Stupidity Is a Willed Choice Files: John Cochrane: Reading Paul Krugman calls to mind that I never reacted to John Cochrane's July 2012 failure to mark his beliefs to market and, instead, doubling down on his claim that the biggest risk the U.S. economy faces is that of becoming "Argentina" "quickly".

I must say that if I had been opining stridently about issues of public policy without doing my homework five years ago, and if between then and now events had developed in directions strongly contrary to my expectations, I would not double down on what I had thought then--I would rather try hard to do my homework and to mark my beliefs to market.

And if I were going to criticize people for not citing my work, I would not claim that a sentence they wrote which comes immediately after a four-paragraph quote from me as an example, and I would have read their explanation of why they think expansionary fiscal policy right now does not raise the risks of "fiscal dominance" rather than remain in ignorance of it.

But to each his own!

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Hoisted from the Archives: John Cochrane's Claim in Late 2008 That a Recession Would Be a Good Thing Deserves Some Kind of Award...

Hoisted from the Archives: The fact is that by the end of 2007 the construction sector had rebalanced: there was no excess of people pounding nails in Nevada—even if you did believe the false theory that recessions have recessions do the "necessary work of rebalancing", there was no rebalancing work to be done after 2007. Even a quarter-competent Schumpeterian who kept even half an eye on the data should have been able to recognize that...

More than Two Decades of Macroeconomic History Through the Lens of Four Key Components of Aggregate Demand


To: @johnmlippert: If I may beg a small slice of your attention...

I am tracking down John Cochrane's claims that (i) in your December 23, 2008 article you were "only... on a hunt for embarrassing quotes", (ii) he had "spent about 10 hours patiently trying to explain some basics" to you, and (iii) you took him out of proper context when you wrote: "'We should have a recession', Cochrane said in November, speaking to students and said in November, speaking to students and investors in a conference room.... 'People who spend their lives pounding nails in Nevada need something else to do'."

Do you by chance remember the larger context of Cochrane's "pounding nails" comment, and do you have any idea why he now claims that you took him out of context? Or what he thinks the proper context would have been?

I would be grateful for any light you can shed on this.

Yours,

Brad DeLong brad.delong@gmail.com


John M. Lippert: "Hi Professor DeLong.

Thanks for your note. Professor Cochrane’s complaint is something of which I became aware several months after we published our story in 2008.... The bottom line is that Bloomberg did not respond to Cochrane’s comments. He never sent them to us, despite my request that he do so.

When we became aware of his complaint, we saw no reason to make a correction. Cochrane made the ‘pounding nails’ comment at a Chicago Booth forum at the Gleacher Center in downtown Chicago in November 2008. It was part of an ongoing lecture series, as I recall. It was kind of a big event, with a couple hundred people. So they may have a recording that you can access.

Good luck with your inquiries.

Tks,

John Lippert

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Economists Think of Most Lawyers Like Cats Think of Small Birds: Hoisted from the Archives

Hoisted from the Archives: Economists Think of Most Lawyers the Way Cats Think of Small Birds: June 13, 2002: I find that right-wingers Glenn Reynolds, Tom Maguire, and company have elevated me to the high and mighty rank of Democratic Party Hack. Alas! The real ideological partisans scorn me: I have too great a tendency to think about what I should say and then say what I think, rather than to simply jerk my knee and line up in my assigned place on some ideology- or patronage-based team.... Reynolds and company want very badly to say something critical about... Paul Krugman. Unfortunately for them, Krugman's recent column has nothing to take exception to.... So since they can't argue substance, they decide to try to argue procedure.

I can imagine what they thought: "Paul Krugman quotes Brad DeLong! And he doesn't say that DeLong was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Clinton administration!! That's 'material nondisclosure'!!! Krugman has done a bad thing!!!!" Never you mind that this isn't an issue on which there is any partisan dispute, and thus that 'disclosure' of the partisan allegiance of one's sources is not relevant. To an economist like me this style of—let's be polite, and call it "lawyerlike"—discourse is sad.... Try your best to make the listener forget what the big issue is (in this case, is Krugman right?)--and, instead, argue that there is something wrong with your adversary's procedure. This is, I think, the reason that we economists regard most lawyers like cats regard small birds: Flighty things. Unable to keep their minds focused on what matters. And our lawful prey.

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What to Do About China?: Live at Project Syndicate

What to Do About China by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate

Live at Project Syndicate: What to Do About China?: BERKELEY–In a recent issue of The New York Review of Books, the historian Adam Tooze notes that, “across the American political spectrum, if there is agreement on anything, it is on the need for a firmer line against China.” He’s right: On this singular issue, the war hawks, liberal internationalists, and blame-somebody-else crowd all tend to agree. They have concluded that because the United States needs to protect its relative position on the world stage, China’s standing must be diminished.... But that is the wrong way to approach the challenge.... It is entirely foreseeable that America’s attempt to “get tough” with China could accelerate its own relative decline, effectively handing China the semi-hegemony it is already approaching.... So, what should the US do to shore up its position vis-à-vis China?... The US could start to become what it would have been if Al Gore had won the 2000 presidential election, if Hillary Clinton had defeated Trump, and if the Republican party had not abandoned its patriotism... Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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Interview: "NAFTA Is Just Not a Big Deal for the U.S.": Hoisted from the Archives from 2017

Shenzhen skyline 2015 Google Search

Joseph Ford Cotto: J. Bradford DeLong says "NAFTA is just not a big deal for the U.S.", explains why: "Support for Bernie Sanders and the Donald did not rise out of nowhere, after all. In such turbulent waters as these, it is important to seek the guidance of a wise, seasoned captain. Insofar as the sea of dollars and cents is concerned, J. Bradford DeLong is just that fellow. He is "a professor of economics at UC Berkeley, a weblogger for the Washington Center for Equitable Growth http://equitablegrowth.org/blog, a research associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former deputy assistant secretary of the U.S. Treasury in the Clinton administration .... He also writes the weblog Grasping Reality: http://bradford-delong.com," as DeLong's U.C.B. biography explains. Dr. DeLong recently spoke with me about many topics relative to our nation's economy. Some of our conversation is included below....

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Henry Farrell: The American Right's Torquemada Option: Weekend Reading

Handmaid s tale Google Search

Henry Farrell: The American Right's Torquemada Option: "On the Ahmari/Kimball/Peterson/Deneen thing. When anti-modern conservatives decide that the liberal world is depraved they can either withdraw from it-the Benedict Option, or cleanse it of the corruption of tolerance. Call it the Torquemada Option https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nemesis_the_Warlock. And the moderate success that some modern figures-such as Orban-have enjoyed in taking over the university system and forcibly purging it of those who would pollute our youth with gender studies and the like give old time reactionaries like Kimball some hope it can be done...

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Jeremiah: 22 KJV: Weekend Reading

Jeremiah: 22 KJV: "Thus saith the Lord: 'Go down to the house of the king of Judah, and speak there this word, and say: "Hear the word of the Lord, O king of Judah, that sittest upon the throne of David, thou, and thy servants, and thy people that enter in by these gates. Thus saith the Lord: 'Execute ye judgment and righteousness, and deliver the spoiled out of the hand of the oppressor; and do no wrong, do no violence to the stranger, the fatherless, nor the widow, neither shed innocent blood in this place...

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Belle Waring: Uses and Abuses of Tarps: Weekend Reading

Gulag map jpg 769×464

Belle Waring: Uses and Abuses of Tarps: "It took me so long to find this quote. I remembered that it was Solovki, yes! And that Maxim Gorky was the visitor! And the tortures with the logs, and being staked out for the mosquitoes, and rolling the prisoners down the stairs, and the brave boy who told all, all! to Gorky and was left behind to be shot the moment Gorky’s ship left the horizon empty and barren! And the tarps. But could I find the quote? I damn sure could not. I was in the position of Edward Gorey’s Mr. Earbrass who starts up in the night having thought of the perfect lines for an epigraph: 'His mind’s eye sees them quoted on the bottom third of a right-hand page in a (possibly) olive-bound book he read at least five years ago. When he does find them, it will be a great nuisance if no clue is given to their authorship'...

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"Neoliberalisms", Left and Right: Hoisted from the Archives

stacks and stacks of books

Hoisted from the Archives: From 2015: _"Neoliberalisms", Left and Right: Today's best piece I have read on the internet is by the extremely sharp John Quiggin: The Last Gasp of (US) [Left-]Neoliberalism: "US neoliberalism is... closer to Blair’s Third Way than to Thatcher....

...[US] neoliberalism maintained and even extended ‘social liberalism’, in the US sense of support for equal marriage, reproductive choice and so on. In economic terms, its central claim was that the goals of the New Deal... could best be pursued through market-friendly policies that would earn the support of the financial sector.... [The] signature issues for US neoliberals were free trade, cuts in ‘entitlement’ spending, and school reform... a ‘grand bargain’, in which Republicans would accept minimal increases in taxation in return for the abandonment of most of the Democratic program. The Clinton administration was explicitly neoliberal.... And, while Obama’s 2008 election campaign was masterfully ambiguous, his first Administration neoliberal through and through.... But developments since then, including the global financial crisis, the failure of school reform and increasing awareness of entrenched inequality have destroyed the appeal of neoliberalism...

I think that John Quiggin is largely correct—if you correct "abandonment" to "reconfiguration".

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The ε-Stigler and the Other Components of Stigler: On George Stigler's 1962 Denunciation of the "Insolence" of Demonstrating Negroes, and Other Topics

School of Athens

Twitter Thread: Daniel Kuehn wrote: "We say something intelligent and on-point about Buchanan or Friedman or Tullock or Stigler and then we try to extrapolate a history of conservatism from it. Generally we're not equipped to do that (I'm certainly not), and should be wary of it. Wary doesn’t mean don’t cross-pollinate. I think the interaction between the two communities is great. Just something to be aware of..."

Let's take the George Stigler vector and project it onto a complete intellectual basis made up of the unit vectors ε, σ, π, β, γ:

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Chris Cook: Defeated by Brexit: Forgetting Our History: Weekend Reading

Weekend Reading: Chris Cook: Defeated by Brexit: Forgetting Our History: "The Brexit negotiations are not really about the UK and 27 other countries. They are about Britain’s long and troubled relationship with Ireland. And while Dublin was prepared for that, it took London completely by surprise.... During the 2016 referendum campaign, John Major and Tony Blair, the former British prime ministers, tried to alert voters to inherent tensions between leaving the EU and preserving the UK’s relationship with Ireland. Their warnings were dismissed as fear-mongering. Ireland attracted almost no attention, but it would be the central pivot on which Brexit would turn. None of this was clear on the morning after the referendum. But nothing was. The prime minister, David Cameron, was preparing to announce his resignation. The people had voted against EU membership, but not for anything to replace it. For new leadership the government would have to wait for the Conservatives to choose a new leader...

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Adam Tooze: Democracy and Its Discontents: Weekend Reading

Il Quarto Stato

Weekend Reading: Adam Tooze is correct when he writes that "across the American political spectrum, if there is agreement on anything, it is on the need for a firmer line against China". The bombs-and-bullets people, the geopolitics people, and the blame-somebody-else people are all agreed. The U.S. needs to do something to strengthen its relative position, and that means it needs to start doing something to China.

But that would be going about it the wrong way. Thinking that the right way to do something is to do something to China is a very bad way to think. The U.S. could still forge a 21st century condominium with China. But all those necessary and needed pieces of action require that the U.S. look and act inwardly, not outwardly:

Adam Tooze: Democracy and Its Discontents: Runciman: "Rather than raging against the dying of the light, Runciman['s How Democracy Ends], like Spengler and Kojève, invites us to adopt a stance of disillusioned realism. If we can see the decline of democratic polities all around us and can diagnose the multiple causes of their eventual demise, that does not excuse us from the responsibility to make them work until the bitter end...

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Adam Tooze: Democracy and Its Discontents: Weekend Reading

Il Quarto Stato

Weekend Reading: Adam Tooze: Democracy and Its Discontent: Levitsky and Ziblatt: "Levitsky and Ziblatt['s How Democracies Die has]... a sobering message: 'American democracy is not as exceptional as we sometimes believe. There’s nothing in our Constitution or our culture to immunize us against democratic breakdown'.... The restoration of democratic norms requires building a new consensus. Levitsky and Ziblatt cite the example of Chile.... Augusto Pinochet... was overcome by a new culture of bipartisan cooperation in the so-called Democratic Concertation. In the US today, the problem lies first and foremost with the GOP. It has repeatedly behaved like an anti-systemic party that does not consider itself bound by common democratic norms... Levitsky and Ziblatt point to... Konrad Adenauer’s CDU.... But what relevance does it have to American politics? Can one seriously imagine anyone in the GOP taking lessons from Angela Merkel and her counterparts?... Levitsky and Ziblatt are strikingly naive when it comes to power...

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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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