#politics Feed

This Is What a President Looks Like—For the Weekend

If you won't vote for this guy over the incompetent buffoon that is Donald Trump, do me a favor and please never vote again. You are too much of an easily-grifted moron for your voting to be a good idea for anybody: Joe Biden & Ady Barkan: In Conversation https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V4CLoiA3vfQ:

.#fortheweekend #moralresponsibility #politics #2020-07-10

De Tocqueville: "Property... a... badge of fraternity. The wealthy... elder... but all... members of one family..."—Noted

Alexis de Tocqueville: Recollections. http://www.gutenberg.org/files/37892/37892-h/37892-h.htm: ‘The steward of my estate, himself half a peasant, describing what was taking place in the country immediately after the 24th of February [1848], wrote: "People here say that if Louis-Philippe has been sent away, it is a good thing, and that he deserved it...." This was to them the whole moral of the play. But when they heard tell of the disorder reigning in Paris, of the new taxes to be imposed, and of the general state of war that was to be feared... and when, in particular, they learnt that the principle of property was being attacked, they did not fail to perceive that there was something more.... I was at once struck by a spectacle that both astonished and charmed me.... In the country all the landed proprietors, whatever their origin, antecedents, education or means, had come together, and seemed to form but one class: all former political hatred and rivalry of caste or fortune had disappeared from view. There was no more jealousy or pride displayed between the peasant and the squire, the nobleman and the commoner; instead, I found mutual confidence, reciprocal friendliness, and regard. Property had become, with all those who owned it, a sort of badge of fraternity. The wealthy were the elder, the less endowed the younger brothers; but all considered themselves members of one family, having the same interest in defending the common inheritance. As the French Revolution had infinitely increased the number of land-owners, the whole population seemed to belong to that vast[116] family. I had never seen anything like it, nor had anyone in France within the memory of man... .#equitablegrowth #history #noted #politicaleconomy #politics #2020-07-07

Lecture Notes: The Rise of Socialism, -350 to 1917

Let us talk about the rise of socialism, as background to the rise of really existing socialism—the system that lived behind what Winston Churchill called the Iron Curtain from 1917-1991, that shook the world, and that in the end turned out to be far, far, far from the brightest light on the tree of humanity’s good ideas.

Let us very briefly race through history—moral, intellectual, political, and social—from the year -350 to the year 1917, when Lenin and his Bolshevik Communist Party staged their coup in Russia.

There was a profound shift from the belief in “divine right” and “natural order” as the fundamental grounding for an unequal society to enlightenment values—that human institutions should be rationally designed on the basis of a rational understanding of human psychology in order to attain the greatest good of the greatest number, and thus that inequality is not given by the gods or by the requirements of nature, but rather is a thing to be allowed to the extent that it incentivizes cooperation and industry and thus enriches us all.

Back in the century of the -300s, Aristotle had taken it for granted that a good society was only possible if the society allowed for philosophy. And philosophy was only possible if you had a leisured upper class. And a leisured upper class was possible only with large scale-unfree labor—serfdom, or its harsher cousin slavery. Thus it was and thus it would always, be unless and until humans obtained the fantasy technologies of the mythical Golden Age...



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Convincing Biden Victory in South Carolina: Warren's My Guy, But I Will Happily Work Very, Very Hard for Biden...

Note to Self: For the record, of those above, my rank ordering of who is likely to make the best president goes: Warren, Bennet, Klobuchar, Patrick, Biden, Booker, Buttigieg, Steyer, Delaney, Yang, Sanders, Gabbard...

Impressively done by Joe Biden and his team: kudos:


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Weekend Reading: Plutarch: Norm-Breaking and the Collapse of the Roman Republic


After this episode of political norm-breaking, thereafter every Roman politico on the make (except for Cicero) drew the obvious conclusion: if you wanted to have a successful career, you needed to have a loyal mob in Rome and a loyal army outside—or be closely allied with somebody who did. And the road to Marius-Sulla-Pompey-Caesar-Brutus-Antony-Octavian was well-paved: Plutarch: Life of Tiberius Gracchus http://penelope.uchicago.edu/Thayer/E/Roman/Texts/Plutarch/Lives/Tiberius_Gracchus*.html: 'This is said to have been the first sedition at Rome, since the abolition of royal power, to end in bloodshed and the death of citizens; the rest 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...

...And it was thought that even on this occasion Tiberius would have given way without difficulty had persuasion been brought to bear upon him, and would have yielded still more easily if his assailants had not resorted to wounds and bloodshed; for his adherents numbered not more than three thousand. But the combination against him would seem to have arisen from the hatred and anger of the rich rather than from the pretexts which they alleged; and there is strong proof of this in their lawless and savage treatment of his dead body. For they would not listen to his brother's request that he might take up the body and bury it by night, but threw it into the river along with the other dead.

Nor was this all; they banished some of his friends without a trial and others they arrested and put to death. Among these Diophanes the rhetorician also perished. A certain Caius Villius they shut up in a cage, and then put in vipers and serpents, and in this way killed him.

Blossius of Cumae was brought before the consuls, and when he was asked about what had passed, he admitted that he had done everything at the bidding of Tiberius. Then Nasica said to him,

What, then, if Tiberius had ordered thee to set fire to the Capitol?

Blossius at first replied that Tiberius would not have given such an order; but when the same question was put to him often and by many persons, he said:

If such a man as Tiberius had ordered such a thing, it would also have been right for me to do it; for Tiberius would not have given such an order if it had not been for the interest of the people. Well, then, Blossius was acquitted, and afterwards went to Aristonicus in Asia, and when the cause of Aristonicus was lost, slew himself.

But the senate, trying to conciliate the people now that matters had gone too far, no longer opposed the distribution of the public land, and proposed that the people should elect a commissioner in place of Tiberius. So they took a ballot and elected Publius Crassus, who was a relative of Gracchus; for his daughter Licinia was the wife of Caius Gracchus. And yet Cornelius Nepos says that it was not the daughter of Crassus, but of the Brutus who triumphed over the Lusitanians, whom Caius married; the majority of writers, however, state the matter as I have done.

Moreover, since the people felt bitterly over the death of Tiberius and were clearly awaiting an opportunity for revenge, and since Nasica was already threatened with prosecutions, the senate, fearing for his safety, voted to send him to Asia, although it had no need of him there. For when people met Nasica, they did not try to hide their hatred of him, but grew savage and cried out upon him wherever he chanced to be, calling him an accursed man and a tyrant, who had defiled with the murder of an inviolable and sacred person the holiest and most awe-inspiring of the city's sanctuaries.

And so Nasica stealthily left Italy, although he was bound there by the most important and sacred functions; for he was pontifex maximus. He roamed and wandered about in foreign lands ignominiously, and after a short time ended his life at Pergamum...

I do wonder how exactly I am supposed to read those last sentences: is Nasica's agency here in that he ended his life or that he went to Pergamum. but I have little Latin and less Greek: "οὕτω μὲν ὑπεξῆλθε τῆς Ἰταλίας ὁ Νασικᾶς, καίπερ ἐνδεδεμένος ταῖς μεγίσταις ἱερουργίαις: ἦν γὰρ ὁ μέγιστος καὶ πρῶτος τῶν ἱερέων, ἔξω δὲ ἀλύων καὶ πλανώμενος ἀδόξως οὐ μετὰ πολὺν χρόνον κατέστρεψε περὶ Πέργαμον..."

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Scheduled for Squawk Box: January 2, 2020 6:50 AM EST: Talking Points


From: xxxx@nbcuni.com
Subject: Your Squawk Box segment this Thursday, January 2: Please get to the studio at UC Berkley by 6:40am est
Body: The anchors will be Joe and Becky. You’ll share the segment with Shermichael Singleton, political consultant, contributor at The Hill. The discussion will be about "running against the Trump economy". Trump has had the best 3 year performance out of every president since Reagan, since being elected. How does one run against this? Who has the potential to compete? Can Trump keep it up, how? Please send thoughts and talking points.

  • Jump in the S&P over the past eight years from 1300 to 2600 3200 [1]

    • A 1.5x 1.8x in the valuation ratio
    • A 1.16x due to inflation
    • A 1.15x due to an increase in the fundamental earning power underpinning each share of stock
      • All of that is due to buybacks. None of that is due to greater business earning power
      • Thus the optimism with respect to the valuation ratio—even given limited opportunities to earn money elsewhere—somewhat puzzles me
      • Plus there is the joker in the deck: will the wage share remain depressed indefinitely?
      • Usually I'm a "150% of your net worth in stocks" guy
      • Now we are moving money out, and I'm a "50% of your net worth in stocks" guy
  • The talk I hear about the "strong Trump economy" makes no allowance for the difficulty of the dive he has faced relative to that that other presidents face...

    • Trump was handed very good cards
    • Taking account of the difficulty of the dive, I think you have to say that:
      • The Clinton economy turned out much better than expected (due to good policy)
      • The Obama economy turned out better than expected (due to good but inadequate policy)
      • The Trump economy has turned out as expected—but with extra damage done by the trade war, which has on net hurt manufacturing and agriculture, and with no investment boom
      • The Reagan economy turned out somewhat worse than expected—policy incoherence between the tax cutter, the defense spenders, and Paul Volcker really stomped the entire economy over 1981-3 and the Midwest over 1981-1987.
      • The George H.W. Bush economy turned out worse than expected—they took their eye off the ball on the S&L crisis
      • The George W. Bush administration really _ _ the pooch...
  • It looks like we have dodged a recession...

    • We have had a manufacturing recession, but domestic manufacturing is no longer an important enough sector for a manufacturing recession to bring down the economy as a whole...
    • The Trump economy is very weak in productivity growth and the wage share, and those are very worrisome for long-term trends.
  • The most striking aspect of the political situation is the strong divergence between Trump's good unemployment and inflation numbers and his lousy approval numbers

    • Yet perhaps what should surprise me the most is that his approval numbers are so high
    • Policy incoherence while you insult people on Twitter would not have seemed to me to be a governing strategy that many Americans would approve of...
    • It's not just not doing your job...
    • It's undignified
    • Yet he has his fans—and very few of them are beneficiaries of his tax cut, and there are no beneficiaries of his trade war or his foreign-born sliming...
      • Perhaps all his fans think they will benefit from his tax cut?
      • Recall John Steinbeck: "We didn’t have any self-admitted proletarians. Everyone was a temporarily embarrassed capitalist..."
      • A new paper out by Alberto Alesina and Stephanie Stantcheva on how Americans think there is much more and Europeans think there is substantially less upward mobility than in fact there is—and how in real life there is more in Europe than in America

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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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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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Immigration and American Politics


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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Hoisted from the Archives: What Was the Point of Robert Woodward's "The Agenda"?

What the Washington Post's headline writers thought that Bob Woodward's The Agenda: Inside the Clinton White House was about back in 1994:

Clinton Felt Blindsided Over Slashed Initiatives; 'We're Losing Our Soul' in Cutting Deficit. President and the Fed Forge New Relationship; Greenspan's Economics Lesson Etches Deep Impression in the Clinton Plan. Memo From Consultants Rattles the White House; 'Turkey' of a[n Economic Deficit-Reduction] Plan Still Needed Selling. A War Among Advisers For the President's Soul; Decision-Making, Clarity of Vision Suffer

According to the Washington Post's headline writers (and according to pretty damn near everybody else who read The Agenda that I have talked to), Woodward's book tells the story of a president who (a) feels "blindsided" by their actions, (b) feels that the policies his administration is adopting means that he is losing his soul, (c) finds that the Republican Federal Reserve Chair's views are etching a deep impression on policy, (d) finds himself stuck with a "turkey" of an economic plan, (e) has advisors who fight fiercely in order to (f) control a wishy-washy president, and as a result (g) decision-making suffers and (h) clarity of vision is lost.

Now I was there.

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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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What Are Our Plans?

Signing of the Constitution by Louis S Glanzman Teaching American History

The Council on Foreign Relations asked me to come be on a panel on a small conference they were running on the "democratic recession". They were even willing to spring for a JetBlue mint-class lie-flat bed-seat on a nonstop. So I went Video here. Transcript here.

But is there—or, rather, in what sense is there—a "democratic recession"?

I think you need to separate out three different meanings of democracy:

  1. Alexis de Tocqueville’s democracy: social democracy—where everybody can stand on their own two feet and look everyone else in the eye, rather than lowering their gaze and tugging their forelock.

  2. John Judis’s thing: public-square democracy—where everybody can stand up, pick up a megaphone, speak, and actually be heard.

  3. Real, political democracy—where the material and ideal interests of the people are properly represented and aggregated in the formation of the decisions that we collectively make as we govern our own destinies.

The first two—social inclusion, and the ability to speak and feel that you have been heard—are important and are valid. But they are not the Big Enchilada.

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CFR Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Transcript and Link to Video

Council on Foreign Relations: The Future of Democracy Symposium: Session Two: Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession


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Do We Have Any Republican Remedies for the Diseases of Republican Government?

Signing of the Constitution by Louis S Glanzman Teaching American History

Note to Self: It was 80 blocks south of here that Alexander Hamilton wrote to the middle class of New York that:

The history of the petty republics of Greece and Italy... feeling sensations of horror and disgust... intervals of felicity... overwhelmed by the tempestuous waves of sedition and party rage...

That is how the rest of the world views Britain and the United States in this age, the age of Brexit and Trump. And I haven’t even raised the strange spectacle of our modern-day Earl of Warwick, Rupert the Kingmaker. Few among middle classes abroad today think that the Anglo-Saxon democracies have it right, deliver the goods.

Hamilton and Madison had plans for republican remedies to the diseases of republican government. What would your remedies be?

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So, Professor Drezner, We Meet Again. And THIS TIME THE ADVANTAGE IS MINE!

Https www typepad com site blogs 6a00e551f08003883400e551f080068834 compose preview post

Dan Drezner appears to mourn for the days when I was his nemesis: Dan Drezner (2005): So How Do Mexicans View African-Americans?: "While Latino critics in the United States have their hands full combating discrimination in the Star Wars movies (link via Glenn Reynolds), Latinos south of the border have a slightly bigger problem.... dealing with their own racial prejudices. Traci Carl explains for the Associated Press: 'President Vicente Fox reversed course Monday and apologized for saying that Mexicans in the United States do the work that blacks won't....' An intriguing angle about this story is the ability of Jackson and Sharpton to go global with... that thing they do (though in this case they have a pretty valid point). Readers are heartily encouraged to predict the next world leader who will be required to mau-mau kowtow to Jackson and Sharpton for something they say. I think it's a toss-up between Silvio Berlusconi and Vladimir Putin.... UPDATE: Brad DeLong objects to this post without saying why he objects. From his comments section, I gather it was my use of the phrase 'mau-mau', which some argue is a racially offensive term. Wikipedia backs them up (though they treat it as a noun and I used it as a verb)—so let me take the opportunity to apologize for using the term...

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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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Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession: Tuesday April 9, 2019, 9:45-11:00 AM

Il Quarto Stato

John Judis and Catherine Rampell are the best people:

Council on Foreign Relations (CFR)... symposium on 'The Future of Democracy' on Tuesday, April 9, 2019 at CFR’s headquarters at 58 East 68th Street in New York. You will be speaking on panel two, 'Economics, Identity, and the Democratic Recession', from 9:45 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. We have confirmed John Judis and Catherine Rampell to join you on this panel. We are still working to confirm a presider.

A session on the state of democratic government in different regions of the world will take place from 8:00 to 9:45 a.m., followed by your session at 10:00 a.m. A few minutes before the session begins, you will be seated onstage with your fellow panelists.

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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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Carville-Hunt "Two Old White Guys" Podcast

Carville-Hunt "Two Old White Guys" Podcast:

Albert Hunt

Edited for Coherence and Clarity


Al Hunt: Brad Delong, a Rubin Democrat, a mainstream, a Clinton-Obama Democrat, if you will, has said in the [intra-]democratic wars: My side has lost. We can't form any coalitions with [even] a handful of moderate Republicans. Cap-and-trade was a Republican idea. Every single Republican basically turned their back.

Uh, Brad, are you there?...

As soon as you're with us, let us know.

Brad, you hit the smiley face.

We are going to ask Brad what this means for the Democratic Party’s [position] on major economic issues.

I think we have Brad, right?

Brad DeLong: [The Machine] says I am here.

Al Hunt: Terrific. I'm talking about your vox[.com] interview. I also note that you are one of the 750 most influential economists. James and I hope to be one of the 70,000 most influential podcasters at some point. We once again have been elevated by our guests.

James [Carville], let me turn it over to you to ask the first couple of questions to Brad about his new thesis.

Brad DeLong: May I first compliment the two of you?

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Weekend Reading: What I think of James Carville: Substituted in "James Carville" for "Sadie Burke"

Weekend Reading: What I think of James Carville, but substitute in "Bill Clinton" for "Willie", and substitute in "James Carville" for "Sadie Burke": Robert Penn Warren: All the King's Men: "He announced in the Democratic primary.... It was hell among the yearlings and the Charge of the Light Brigade and Saturday night in the back room of Casey's saloon rolled into one, and when the dust cleared away not a picture still hung on the walls.... There was just [Bill Clinton], with his hair in his eyes and his shirt sticking to his stomach with sweat. And he had a meat ax in his hand and was screaming for blood. In the background of the picture, under a purplish tumbled sky flecked with sinister white like driven foam, flanking [Bill Clinton]... [James Carville]...

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Weekend Reading: Lara Putnam and Gabriel Perez-Putnam: What Dollar Stores Tell Us About Electoral Politics

Washington Monthly What Dollar Stores Tell Us About Electoral Politics

Weekend Reading: Lara Putnam and Gabriel Perez-Putnam: What Dollar Stores Tell Us About Electoral Politics: "Roughly 200 of the 3,200-odd counties in the United States have a Whole Foods. No more than 650 have Cracker Barrels. A swingy, politically diverse state like Pennsylvania has fourteen Whole Foods, twenty-five Cracker Barrels, and sixty-seven counties. Six Pennsylvania counties have both, and forty-three have neither. Here’s a better way to track hardship across space: SNAP-authorized dollar stores. There are over 30,000 dollar stores in the United States, and about two-thirds of them are authorized to accept Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program payments. Each SNAP-authorized dollar store location reflects a series of specific locational assessments: that rent here is low, low-income demand is high, and the number of folks on food stamps who will rely on this store for groceries will make up for the cost of stocking goods that meet USDA authorization criteria. It’s no surprise, then, that congressional districts with more SNAP-authorized dollar stores are less well off, with lower life expectancies, lower educational attainment rates, and lower median incomes...

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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. ..


#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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Debt-Derangement Syndrome: No Longer Fresh at Project Syndicate—Long Version

Debt Derangement Syndrome by J Bradford DeLong Project Syndicate

Debt-Derangement Syndrome: Standard policy economics dictates that the public sector needs to fill the gap in aggregate demand when the private sector is not spending enough. After a decade of denial, the Global North may finally be returning to economic basics.

For the past decade the public sphere of the Global North has been in a fit of high madness with respect to its excessive fear of government debts and deficits. But this affliction may be breaking. In the past two weeks I have noted two straws in the wind.

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Note: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War: Hoisted from the Archives

Berlin No More Walls Pamela Anderson

Hoisted from the Archives: Note: The Ten Americans Who Did the Most to Win the Cold War:

  • Harry Dexter White: Treasury Assistant Secretary* who was the major force behind the Bretton Woods Conference and the institutional reconstruction of the post-World War II world economy. He accepted enough of John Maynard Keynes's proposals to lay the groundwork for the greatest generation of economic growth the world has ever seen. It was the extraordinary prosperity set in motion by the Bretton Woods' System and institutions--the "Thirty Glorious Years"--that demonstrated that political democracy and the mixed economy could deliver and distribute economic prosperity.

  • George Kennan: Author of the "containment" strategy that won the Cold War. Argued--correctly--that World War III could be avoided if the Western Alliance made clear its determination to "contain" the Soviet Union and World Communism, and that the internal contradictions of the Soviet Union would lead it to evolve into something much less dangerous than Stalin's tyranny.

  • George Marshall: Architect of victory in World War II. Post-World War II Secretary of State who proposed the Marshall Plan, another key step in the economic and institutional reconstruction of Western Europe after World War II.

  • Arthur Vandenberg: Leading Republican Senator from Michigan who made foreign policy truly bipartisan for a few years. Without Vandenberg, it is doubtful that Truman, Marshall, Acheson, and company would have been able to muster enough Congressional support to do their work.

  • Paul Hoffman: Chief Marshall Plan administrator. The man who did the most to turn the Marshall Plan from a good idea to an effective aid program.

  • Dean Acheson: Principal architect of the post-World War II Western Alliance. That Britain, France, West Germany, Italy, and the United States reached broad consensus on how to wage Cold War is more due to Dean Acheson's diplomatic skill than to any single other person.

  • Harry S Truman: The President who decided that the U.S. had to remain engaged overseas--had to fight the Cold War--and that the proper way to fight the Cold War was to adopt Kennan's proposed policy of containment. His strategic choices were, by and large, very good ones.

  • Dwight D. Eisenhower: As first commander-in-chief of NATO, played an indispensable role in turning the alliance into a reality. His performance as President was less satisfactory: too many empty words about "rolling back" the Iron Curtain, too much of a willingness to try to skimp on the defense budget by adopting "massive retaliation" as a policy, too much trust in the erratic John Foster Dulles.

  • Gerald Ford: In the end, the thing that played the biggest role in the rise of the dissident movement behind the Iron Curtain was Gerald Ford's convincing the Soviet Union to sign the Helsinki Accords. The Soviet Union thought that it had gained worldwide recognition of Stalin's land grabs. But what it had actually done was to commit itself and its allies to at least pretending to observe norms of civil and political liberties. And as the Communist Parties of the East Bloc forgot that in the last analysis they were tyrants seated on thrones of skulls, this Helsinki commitment emboldened their opponents and their governments' failures to observe it undermined their own morale.

  • George Shultz: Convinced Ronald Reagan--correctly--that Mikhail Gorbachev's "perestroika" and "glasnost" were serious attempts at reform and liberalization, and needed to be taken seriously. Without Shultz, it is unlikely that Gorbachev would have met with any sort of encouragement from the United States--and unlikely that Gorbachev would have been able to remain in power long enough to make his attempts at reform irreversible. *Also, almost surely an "Agent of Influence" and perhaps an out-and-out spy for Stalin's Russia. If so, never did any intelligence service receive worse service from an agent than Stalin's Russia did from Harry Dexter White....

#hoistedfromthearchives #politics #security #history #highlighted

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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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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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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REMIND YOURSELF: Representation

Keep this near the top of working memory...

  • 180.8 million people are represented by the 49 senators who caucus with the Democrats.
  • 141.7 million people are represented by the 52 51 senators who caucus with the Republicans.
  • 65.9 million people voted for Hillary Rodham Clinton and Tim Kaine to be their president and vice president
  • 63.0 million people voted for Donald Trump and Mike Pence to be their president and vice president.

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Scarce: Sharice Davids (D) and Kevin Yoder (R) in KS-03: "It's a bit surprising that the Republicans are pulling out this early in a nominally red district (R+4), but early polling had Davids already up by 8. Yoder, who had been endorsed by Trump, committed the grievous crime earlier this summer of supporting asylum for migrants who were victims of domestic violence. Unforgivable for the cultists...

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

Clowns (ICP)

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

Clowns (ICP)

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

Clowns (ICP)

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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Ask Not For Whom the Global Warming Bell Tolls...: Live at Project Syndicate

Hurricane olivia pictures Google Search

Project Syndicate: Ask Not For Whom the Global Warming Bell Tolls...: Scarcely had I begun my first lecture of the fall semester here at the University of California, Berkeley, when I realized that I was too hot. I desperately wanted to take off my professorial tweed jacket. A tweed jacket is a wonderful but peculiar costume. If all you have for raw material is a sheep, it is the closest thing you can get to Gore-Tex.... Over the past 20 years, professorial garb has become increasingly uncomfortable, even here on the east side of the Bay. The climate now feels more like that of Santa Barbara.... The problems associated with global warming will be neither mere inconveniences, nor as far off as we would like to think. There are currently two billion near-subsistence farmers living in the six great river valleys of Asia, from the Yellow all the way around to the Indus. These farmers have limited means and few non-agricultural skills. It would not be easy for them to pick up and relocate.... The snow melt from the region’s high plateaus has always arrived at precisely the right moment, and in precisely the right volume.... Another billion people depend on the monsoon arriving at the right time, and in the right place.... Cyclones in the Bay of Bengal.... 250 million people living at or near sea level in the greater Ganges Delta, the world will face a long train of catastrophe. The international community is in no way prepared....

“No man”—nor nation, region, or country–“is an island entire of itself.… And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee.” Read MOAR at Project Syndicate

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

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

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

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

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

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Adolf Hitler Interviewed by George Sylvester Viereck in 1923: Weekend Reading

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George Sylvester Viereck: Great interviews of the 20th century: Adolf Hitler: "'When I take charge of Germany, I shall end tribute abroad and Bolshevism at home.' Adolf Hitler drained his cup as if it contained not tea, but the lifeblood of Bolshevism....

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