Friday, April 18, 2014

ingen kan tvivla på min absoluta lydnad av vår ledare Krugman

His bleg is my command. Paul Krugman requires an answer to The Question "How Do You Say “Nobody Could Have Predicted” In Swedish?" ingen kunde ha förutspått

Kossack Kontra Karter Kontumly

Kos et al (OK Kos et Jedius Lewifillius) understate the glorious accomplishments of Jimmy Carter (no I'm not kidding I mean it). They both have fun with Rand Paul's unwise question "When is the last time in our country we created millions of jobs?" and his incorrect false reality not based and totally absurd answer "It was under Ronald Reagan." Correct answer (if one rounds) since January (since then non farm employment has increased by about 1,684,000) or no rounding (and un-deseasonalized data are a bitch) in the past year (really past 11 months since last april) Been a longgggg time since we saw that (hell the kiddo is so young that maybe 11 months to him is like a decade to me although it is but as a blink of an eye to Aqua Buddha). Unfortunately Kossacks seem not to have learned about the effete elite's tool called "division" (or maybe they believe in solidarity and oppose abhor and abnegate division). So they report employment growth per president and years per president but don't report employment growth per year by president. It's not so hard The only challenge is Obama pres for 5 1/6 years from inauguration to last data with (non farm) employment growth of around 5,220,000 so oh just over a million a year. Now compare Bush II 0.16 million per year Clinton 2.86 million per year Bush I 0.65 million per year Reagan 2.02 million per year Carter 2.58 million per year Yes the rate of employment growth per year (in jobs per year) was higher under Carter than Reagan. Of course given that employment grew under Carter growth in percent of employment per year was higher too. Yes growth per year was higher under Reagan than Obama,but Reagan wasn't inaugurated to manage an economy in free fall. Here my complaint is that partisan Democrats (hell we are talking Kossacks) try to avoid mentioning Carter and therefore allow partisan Republicans and non partisan just about everyone to agree that the Carter presidency was a disaster. It was if all you care about is price stability. If you have sane, semi-sane or quarter-sane priorities it wasn't.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Komment on Kos

Markos Moulitsas founder editor and owner of the number one traffic political blog, key to the election of two senators(Webb and Tester) vital to the Democratic Senate majority in the 110th congress wrote "So to win back the majority, Republicans have to win those two seats in WV and SD, and four more from Arkansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, and North Carolina. All the while, they must hold their two endangered seats in Kentucky and Georgia. That's called "running the board."" I comment: kos and Putin, Kossacks and cossacks. Komrad Kossacks, It seems our fearless leader, like the shirtless leader of Russia, doesn't know "What would you need Alaska for?" We may need that seat to have a Senate majority.

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Not ready for prime time thoughts on inflation expectations

Over at Angry Bear I have continued my imitation of an old economist who never learned modern macro theory or econometrics who is analyzing new data with old ideas and techniques (note that Stephen Colbert is not really conservative so don't assume that I am ignorant about developments in my field since 10 years before I became and economist (also note the key anti-weasel word "assume")).

My latest is to estimates some Phillips curves. From the exercise, I learn that Mark Sadowski knows more about the macro-monetary policy literature than I do (OK I knew that -- I focus on oh growth or something or maybe robust econometrics). Nick Rowe also suggested that the results are just what one expects if the FOMC successfully targets the inflation rate (this is true). I replied at length in comments and copy and paste my reply here

Nick Rowe

April 13, 2014 7:14 am

This sort of result is exactly what you should expect. if the central bank is targeting inflation. The whole point of inflation targeting is to ensure that expected inflation does not vary over time, so you should not be able to estimate any effect of expected inflation on actual inflation.


Robert: Nick yes. The results are consistent with what central bankers call "anchored inflation expectations" and would occur if inflation were successfully targeted. There are two problems. First inflation has not been successfully targeted, inflation has not been equal to the target -- this could be because the true target is 0 to 2% not 2 % (or 2-4% as a goal not a target in the 80s). Second TIPS breakevens *are* still correlated with lagged inflation. There are two facts (both reported at this blog) one is that lagged inflation has a negative correlation with wage inflation, the other is that the R squared od TIPS breakevens on lagged inflation is about 50%.

You can explain the styllized fact which I just reported, but not the one I reported February 25 2013

Also there are survey's of price level forecasts made by people chosen as experts. I haven't reported much on this, but I have been looking at median CPI forecasts from the Livingston survey

Here I note that Volcker seems to have had significantly less inflation fighting credibility than Arthur Burns -- a very standard argument for how actual expectations differ from adaptive expectations is in total contrast with the data.

Here I note that decade averages Livinston median forecast errors correspond almost exactly to decade averages of unemployment.

All are evidence that very crude models of expectations work very well -- when modelling expectations. Now the Livingston team changed the survey in 2003 and I haven't dowloaded data from post 2003 surveys. My excuse is that I am keeping them for out of sample forecasts and giving myself no chance to data snoop. The real reason is that I am lazy. So I only have one year ahead forecasts of inflation up to 2004 (forecasts made in 2003).

Here is a a scatter of lagged annual personal consumption deflator excluding food and energy inflation and the annual CPI inflation forecast calculated from the mediian Livinston CPI forecast. I look at data since 1990 (recall the expecations unaugmented Phillips curve fits the data 1990-2013 well). There is no sign from the Livingston survey that inflation expectations are anchored.

update:graph corrected (actually corrected twice)

Between the TIPS results (for recent years for which FRED has TIPS data) and the Livinston survey results (for older years before they changed the survey) I am willin to assert that inflation expectations are not anchored at all -- that TIPS purchasers and Livinston survey participants do not believe that the FOMC is successfully targeting inflation year by year (actually the TIPS breakevens are 5 year breakevens).

I should add that the median Livingston participant makes extremely anchored forecasts of inflation over the long term (10 years IIRC) forecasting around 2.5% (IIRC) in survey after survey.

Not ready for prime time, but I am convinced that the key issue is downward nominal rigidity not anchored inflation expectations.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

QODT Chait on Corn

Chait wrote "David Corn, who appears to possess incriminating video of everybody in America" I hasten to add that Corn obtains these videos by honorable means and has thereby provided a great service to his country and the world. So please please David don't release the video of me ... well you know the one. Wait what's that little two letter word "in". Ohhh not all US citizens, but all US residents. Well in that case I denounce David Corn as the big brother of the 21st century from the safety of Rome.

I for one welcome our large eared overlords

In the middle of an e-mail exchange on the topic of whether it is reasonable to speculate that Charles Koch suffers from paranoid schizophrenia I wrote

I think there is actually evidence that a strange race of alien beings (obviously including Obama) are taking over the planet. First point of contact somewhere in Indonesia. They have some mystical power -- call it charisma which makes them extremely popular.

The evidence ? Joko Widowo Mayor of Jakarta and super popular candidate for President of Indonesia. See Economist article entitled "Yes he can" See his face (OK the hair is different)

Born 1961 . Hmm who else was born 1961 ?

Implausible ? Maybe but I mean how likely is it that a half Kenyan whose middle name is Hussein and who just happened to have lived in Indonesia would be elected 11 years after September 11 and 2 years after arriving in Washington ? Are you willing to claim it is all a coincidence ? I am.

But just in case it isn't, I for one welcome our new large eared overlords. We haven't done a very good job on our own, and their results so far are promising.

Wednesday, April 09, 2014

More on Chait's Hate of Politifact

In the post below, I linkened to Jon Chait denouncing Politifact for calling the DNSC's add asserting that Republicans proposed eliminating Medicare the lie of the year 2011. I was actually looking for his earlier post denouncing Politifact for rating the claim "pants on fire". I didn't read the more recent (that is Dec 20 2011) post, but I'm glad I have since it includes the wonderful snark "Politifact has a shaky grasp on the term fact, which is a problem if you’re in the fact-assessing business." and "Is that “ending Medicare?” Well, it’s a matter of opinion. At some point, a change is dramatic enough that it is clearly ending the program. If you proposed to replace Medicare with a plan to give everybody two free aspirin on their 65th birthday, I would hope Politfact would concede that this would be “ending Medicare,” even if you call the free aspirin “Medicare.”"

(I like my own example in which the Medicare insurance program for the elderly is eliminated and a post office in Idaho is named "Medicare" but I'll take "two free asprin" and call it for Chait.)

In both posts, Chait notes that, when they should be discussing whether political claims of fact are true, Politifact denounces claims because they are criticisms of entitlement reform and Politifact thinks that entitlement reform is good.

In the lie of the year post

The item explaining this year’s choice largely consists of irrelevant filler. For instance, Politifact quotes a worried budget scold:
"In terms of creating a national conversation about fiscal reform, the last thing we need is demagoguing attacks against people who have put forward serious policy proposals," said Jason Peuquet, a policy analyst with the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. "It’s very worrying."
Yes, if your agenda is to encourage politicians to propose deficit reduction, then you’ll be worried about any criticism of any deficit reduction proposal, accurate or otherwise. So what?
Notice here how criticism from a "bipartisan" organization is presented as fact checking. Evidently there can be no "bipartisan" errors and there were WMD in Iraq.

In the pants on fire post

"2. Politifact: "Republicans say that future spending projections for Medicare are not sustainable, and the program requires changes."

Obviously this has no relevance to the truth of the Democrats' ad."

This is in what is supposed to be a fact check of an ad which did not assert that the current Medicare program is sustainable. It is a matter of opinion, but also a matter of opinion which has nothing whatever to do with the claims of fact which are allegedly being checked.

In the Lie of the year post Chait goes on to conclude "But it’s not a partisan issue. Politifact had some genuine Democratic lies to choose from. Politifact is just a plain shoddy, not-very-smart group, and this is true when they’re calling Republicans liars as well."

Clicking the concluding clause leads to Chait complaining that Politifact falsely rates the true Republican assertion that the ACA includes Medicare cuts as false. It is clear that it is not a partisan issue, it is an ideological issue. Politifact considers criticism of any proposed Medicare cuts to be so bad that it's the moral equivalent of a lie (and I'm sure of proof that the critic is fat, stupid and a lousy tipper). This isn't partisanship, this is epistymology -- Politifact defines false to mean "either not corresponding to reality or criticizing cuts to the Medicare budget"

Well this too long post is two years too late too. The fact that MSM villagers inside the beltway (and in Florida) consider the desirablity of cutting social security and Medicare to be objective facts so that advocating such policy isn't advocacy is now about as well known as the location of Ukraine. But I still find it shocking.

Opinions on Shape of Planet don't differ, one side has a sense of shame.

It is too early to say that the Kochtopus has sung it's swan song, but is sure seems that they have thrown about as much bullshit in the melting pot as it can hold. Their latest attacks "In Iowa, they're going after Rep. Bruce Braley with a ... charge that he supported Obamacare ... and "health insurance companies stand to make billions" off the law." Now the Koch supported operatives don't really believe that anything which leads to high corporate profits is bad any more than Obama or Braley do. They are serving two capitalists by denouncing profit as theft and accusing democrats of being insufficiently hostile to profit. Of course, the phrase "both sides" in "opinions on shape of planet differ, both sides have a point" already invokes the unfortunate tendency to consider the range of respectably opinion to go from the main stream of the Democratic party on right (as in the case "Opinions on WMD in Iraq don't differ. Both sides don't have a point").

In reality there are more than two sides. For example the Koch propaganda seems to correspond to the sincere views of Jane Hamsher who was (and for all I know still is) sure that the ACA was a bill to be killed because it was soft on health insurance industry profits.

But not even a very serious centrist villager could believe in a Teadog firebagger alliance of those who attack capitalism from the right and from the left. I think it is clear that opportunistic betrayal of the sacred tenets of hippy punching is the one thing that can make those guys admit, say, that they were totally wrong about Paul Ryan and worse much worse, that Paul Krugman was right.

When Ryan attacked the Medicare cuts in the ACA (and also in his budgets) he betrayed the VSP cause of cutting entitlements. To them acceptable debate includes any number of magic asterixes and claims that the CBO has scored something when it was ordered to assume that reduced tax rates don't imply reduced revenue (by Ryan who absolutely has the authority to order them to do that when scoring his roadmap as he did). But Mediscare is beyond the bounds (This also includes the true claim rated pants on fire with 4 Pinocchios and lie of the year that oh say Ryan wants to end Medicare and replace it with a fundamentally different program which he, exercizing his first amendment rights, choses to name "Medicare")

Waldman[n] minds think alike

Waldmann is a rare name in the USA and even Waldman isn't so common. Oddly there are many prominent Waldmans on the internet (including Kagro X). I find it odd to find Paul Waldman's name in The Washington Post (right at at the moment). But I just had a very odd experience. Waldman wrote something which I very strongly believe and like to argue ... well he wrote it better than I would have. The point is I almost feel as if I wrote
We like to pretend that science and religion can carve out their unique spheres (what Stephen Jay Gould called "non-overlapping magisteria"), but as well-intentioned as that may be, it's just not true.

Monday, April 07, 2014

Komment on Krugman on Kapital

Krugman suspects that super rich class interest has something to do with fear of inflation. I comment I am very sympathetic to inflation phobia phobia. I didn't get the big fuss in the 70s (OK I wasn't managing a budget -- for most of them I lived with mom and dad and 78-9 in college dorms). But there are other explanations of the pattern. 1. Open letters and such are signed by people in the same social network -- They get their friends to sign. People sign proclamations and petitions by their natural allies on the I'll sign yours today if you sign mine tomorrow principle. A better source of data would be say the U Chicago survey of prominent economists. 2. Republicans are against expansionary policy when Democrats are in the White House. They had no problem with fiscal stimulus in 2008. I recall Reganauts bashing Volcker in 81-2 (Volcker -- a Democrat hmm). 3. The 70s weren't especially horrible, but, in the 20th century, they are unique (except for 37-8) because the economy did badly with a Democrat in the White House. It wouldn't make sense to look to the source of income of the 0.1% to find why Carter is considered by Republicans to be a particularly bad President. Most recent Presidents who were much worse are Republicans (the exception may be Johnson with Vietnam but in that he was acting like a Republican). There are clear partisan reasons to advocate tight monetary policy now and to portray the 70s as worse than '81-2 or '08-now. I don't think it is proven that the partisan gap is principally based on class interests.

Krugman on Kapital

I comment on Kevin Drum commenting on Paul Krugman (do click the links) I think that Krugman is wildly over theorizing and that even you (Drum) and Cowan are over theorizing a little. It is absolutely clear that when you ask people why they fear inflation they assert that inflation implies increasing prices without increasing wages (or nominal incomes generally). Most people assume that the alternative to double digit inflation was stable prices with the same high nominal wage growth without reduced employment. Let's ask a Nobel memorial prize winner who asked research assistants to ask people . There is nothing there about the rich and the poor or about COLAs or anything as sophisticated as you, Cowan and especially Krugman assume. As noted by Krugman, the median household didn't do so badly in the 70s. Look you could also try for a political economy (Krugman) or psychology (Drum) based explanation for why the median US adult wants the foreign aid budget to be cut by 5% of total Federal Spending (without noting the detail that it is currently less than 1%). I shouldn't be totally surprised that two economists slip in the assumption that people are more or less rational, but with your more relevant educational qualifications you should know better (you usually do especially if by economists one means economists other than Krugman).

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Time For a Blogger Ethics Panel

Only now do we learn of Kevin Drum's personal interest in Antitrust enforcement actions regarding Apple. On Mar. 25, 2014 9:58 AM GMT* he wrote about anti-competitive practices by Google (new motto don't be competently evil) Apple and other firms " new evidence suggesting that several big Silicon Valley firms had explicitly agreed not to hire away each others' workers." and proposed that the DOJ "Throw the book at them." But his readers had to wait almost 6 hours to find out on Tue Mar. 25, 2014 3:51 PM GMT that he personally stood to benefit from the throwing of books at Apple and other firms.
My indignant comment You did not disclose your conflict of interest in this earlier post advocating severe enforcement of anti trust law on Apple and other firms. Your personal stake in price fixing by Apple should have been disclosed in your post on wage fixing by Apple et al. From DOJ action, you, Kevin Drum stood to gain five dollars and, in addition, in addition I say 84 cents (how Orwellian). There is also the issue of irrational hatred of Apple. Drum also wrote "my Windows tablet mysteriously died last night, so for now I'm back to my old Android tab anyway". He actually owns an android tablet (OK) and a Windows tablet (an actual Windows tablet) but not an iPad. Clearly a sign of extreme prejudice. *hey wait wasn't it2:58 AM in California at 9:58 GMT ? Does Drum blog in the middle of the night (type I at 1:06 AM Rome time). Update: Two counthem two (2 II due) !! comments from Kevin Drum himself pulled back 1 – 2 of 2 Anonymous Kevin Drum said... Actually, I own an iPad, and Android tablet, and a Windows tablet. Believe it or not, the Windows tab is the best of the bunch. 5:54 AM Delete Anonymous Kevin Drum said... Oh, and MoJo timestamps are Pacific time, not GMT. 5:55 AM Delete OK so any hatred of his iPad would be rational and daylight blogging. I stand corrected.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

I'm so hip I tweet (or is that I'm so hep I twit?)

Curmudgeon v Curmudgeon II

Now Kevin Drum agrees students shouldn't be forced to have facebook accounts. Again I agree. But he doesn't seem to have attended a University in decades.

I am completely out of touch with both kids and universities, plus I'm an old fogey. And if you really want to know the truth, I'm not sure why university professors need to communicate with their students digitally at all. Don't they still meet a couple of times a week in meatspace, like we used to when I was a lad? Can't assignments and office hours and so forth be sufficiently communicated during class time?

But fine. I get it. We all communicate digitally these days, so university professors need to do it too. But you know what? University students actually do know how to use email. Sure, they might consider it something that's mainly used for sending messages to grandma and grandpa, but they all know how to use it. And it has the virtue of being universal, extremely flexible, and supporting embedded links to any old thing you want. Students who plan to find jobs after graduation should probably know how to use it.

Curmudgeon v curmudgeon round two. Wow this is great, something I know about. 1. No meatspace won't do. Students skip classes. Students who are at the lecture seem to manage to not hear simple announcements. Information on the web is so useful that it would be crazy not to use it.

2. e-mail ??? It's hard to e-mail people if you don't know their e-mail address. Did you e-mail this blog post to me ? Of course not. You put it on the web and I came to you.

3. After announcing a change in my office hours in two successive lectures I finally finally followed my own observation in point 1 and updated the web page. See not e-mail a web page for me, the prof, where students surf. You know like a blog but much more boring. My students may thank you for provoking me into putting in the 10 seconds of effort. That is those who come to my office hours. That is no one.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Curmudgeon V Curmudgeon

Kevin Drum cankily complains "If Democrats Want to Appeal to the Working Class, They Really Need Some Policies That Benefit the Working Class" He was ticked off by a genuinely nutso argument that the way to appeal to the working class is through environmentalism. I share his feelings. Especially "I'm feeling a little peevish."

The main point of the post here (emphasis mine)

Why is it that the working class often votes against its own economic interests? Well, let's compare the sales pitches of the Republican and Democratic parties when it comes to pocketbook issues:

Republicans: We will lower your taxes.

Democrats: We, um, support policies that encourage a fairer distribution of growth and....and....working of

There are two problems with the Democratic approach. First, it's too abstract to appeal to anyone. Second, it's not true anyway. Democrats simply don't consistently support concrete policies that help the middle class. Half of them voted for the bankruptcy bill of 2005. They've done virtually nothing to stem the growth of monopolies and next to nothing to improve consumer protection in visible ways. They don't do anything for labor. They're soft on protecting Social Security. They bailed out the banks but refused to bail out underwater homeowners. Hell, they can't even agree to kill the carried interest loophole, a populist favorite if ever there was one.

My comments

I very much agree with this post. In particular I am sure that Democrats would win more elections if they were more populist and that they are influenced by campaign donors. I think what set you off (and what set me off) was the really nutso idea of switching the debate to the environment -- Democrats shouldn't change the subject from people's pocketbooks, because their position is more popular.

However, I'm grumpy too and your claims of fact are odd.

Now I get really grumpy, because I scrolled up to the post to get the word "virtually" and couldn't click back down in the comment box. Also disqus forces me to use internet explorer, because it doesn't work with my Chrome and I hate that. So grrr get off of my lawn and more comment below.

I agree with this post but your claims of fact are odd (and disqus is made me start over grrr). I note the ultimate weasel word "virtually" in your claim that Democrats' policies have marginally helped the working and middle classes. That is, you know the claim is false (virtually true = untrue).

I have a modified A and B

A) Republicans: "We will cut your taxes and we did if you ignore payroll taxes and no we don't just cut taxes for the rich; why do you think that you anti-Republican liberal; ohhh you are a declared George HW Bush supporter who just hit the yes button when Clinton said that in a debate (this happened). well it's unfair to say we only care about the taxes of rich people. Think of all the times we complain about the 47% (AKA the retired and much of the working class).

B) Democrats We cut your taxes, but then you voted for a RepublicanHouse and the House Republicans insisted they be raised right back up again.

Your list of policies does not include the Obama tax cuts in the ACA ARRA (update:oooops) then the partial payroll tax holidy. They happened. Under Obama the taxes of the working class were cut (until Republicans forced the cuts to be reversed). Under Reagan they increased (payroll tax increases being greater than income tax cuts). You haven't explained how the vast majority of US adults of all classes manage to not know about the simples possible tax cut. I'd say it is a gross failure of the news media to do their job.

In fact Democrats do sometimes run on "we will cut your taxes". Two examples are Clinton in 1992 and Obama in 2008. Hmm what do those two guys have in common ?

The ACA helps the working and middle classes by providing insurance insurance. Even people with employer provided insurance can't be sure that they will always have employer provided insurance. The ACA subsidies are available well up into the middle class reaching zero at an income about four thirds of the median family income. Here I think it is clear why the ACA hasn't convinced working and middle class Americans to vote for Democrats -- only half of poll respondents know about the subsidies at all. Also most of that half assume they are for low income people that is "those people." This is a sign of the power of the division of middle class vs poor (which of course has a lot to do with white vs black) and also a sign of a failure of the news media to do their job.

The ARRA helped the US working and middle classes both by increasing their chances of keeping their jobs (I'm not a US resident hence the third person) and by reducing the cutbacks in services provided by state and local government.

So I agree that Democrats are not egalitarian enough for their own political good. But you can avoid blaming the working class for deciding their are no pocketbook relevant differences between the parties only by ignoring the facts. You know better. You demonstrate it daily and non-virtually admitted it by typing "virtually."

update: and "next to". To not mention HAMP is to be kind to the Democrats but it sort of semi happened.

Sunday, March 09, 2014

Comment on Lemann

Recently Ed Kilgore seemed to me to declare independence from the DLC (saying something about traditional liberalism being both more vulnerable and more valuable than he had thought). More recently Nicholas Lemann wrote an excellent essay in The Washington Monthly in which he gently criticizes the early Washington Monthly and his younger self. It is an excellent essay and well worth reading.

Read it. Then don't read my carping comments below.

I humbly assert that this is an excellent essay. However I will only comment on the parts with which I disagree.

1. A cruel parody of the first two thirds or so of the essay is "When I came to Washington I wanted to disrupt life for comfortably cartels of producers. Now I realize that pre-internet journalism was one of them. It is fine to make life uncomfortably for airline workers (including executives) but not to make it difficult for people like us." Surely you can see the pattern of a young idealist who works for very little and wants things shaken up becoming a not so young exceedingly established retired dean who thinks things have been shaken up to much. I don't think this is fair at all. But I enjoyed typing it. 2.Assange is a journalist. Manning is his source. Assange did not publish huge amounts of classified material by pushing a button. Wikileaks screened the material. Yes there was too much for them to screen, so they collaborated with newspapers. But journalists Wikileaks, The Guardian and The New York Times were doing the same things. Those at Wikileaks were paid much less (if anything) and are not members of the club. That is the difference. You'd really better update before Glenn Greenwald reads this post. He can be very harsh. 3. "What if it turns out that journalism’s social mission and its economic fortunes have simply diverged—that ventures like Klein’s do a superb job of informing the public, but don’t make money? Should we just shrug our shoulders and say, Sorry, if the market won’t support you, you shouldn’t exist?" "Superstar". There is a radical contrast between your guess about the economic fortunes of Ezra Klein and your guess about the economic fortunes of Ezra Klein. I think it is clear that the economic prospects of his venture are solid (ask Josh Marshall). Wonkblog shows how much it costs to produce excellent journalism (very little).

I think the problem with daily Newspapers and TV news is not principally financial (although the financial problems are extreme). A profession which can afford to send hundreds of well paid people into a room to shout questions at a press secretary does not lack enough money to do a better job. You briefly note that the Washington Monthly had a budget of roughly zero (and probably still does). It gets the job done. To choose a middling example CNN has a rather larger budget. It doesn't get the job done.

4. "There was some of this feeling in President Obama’s State of the Union address this year, which evinced a deep weariness with the process of seeking legislation and a preference for executive orders, or for Congress to present solutions to him, rather than vice versa."

I disagree entirely. Obama is smart and idealistic and a wonk, but he is not a technocrat. He clearly is inclined to seek common ground and try to find solutions together. He turned to executive orders, because it was obvious to him (as it is to you) that he can seek legislation all he wants, but there won't be any. Clearly this is a case of someone who loved Democracy not wisely but too well finally facing the plain fact that, however wonderful it might be, the legislative process will not occur in the near future except for keeping the lights on and the debt paid on time.

I am never convinced by "evinced". The verb to evince is rarely used and never used when a plain verb wouldn't make the claim clearly false. If we find something in a speech we can say it is stated or displayed or revealed or exposed. You wrote "evinced" because it is so weak a word that a sentence based on it can hardly be false. I propose that you ask yourself why you wrote write "evinced". I think it is because you wanted to make a claim, but knew it was false. Also the word "some" serves only to weasel. It has no meaning in context. It served only to weaken a plainly false claim to a not so plainly false claim.

Saturday, March 08, 2014

The Five Minutes Hate of Chait

Jonathan Chait wrote "The Democratic version of idealism emerged during and after the Clinton administration," This statement implies that Jimmy Carter is not and has never been an idealist.

That is crazy.

My comment

There is only one way to understand your use of "idealism." To you it means killing people for ideals (this also explains how you can imagine that Bush believes in Democracy and freedom in spite of the fact that he also believes he had the power to lock up anyone anywhere indefinitely without trial (and did so).

I generally respect you and the only complaint I usually have with this blog is that you don't post enough. But your definition of idealism convinces me that your inner idiot -- the one which advocated invading Iraq, still lives. You now understand that that decision was insane, but you stick to the insane idea that idealists who don't kill don't count.

If you don't equate idealism with a form of killing, then why did you write the passage I quote ? I ask for information. I think you can present no other explanation.

Note I am not a pacifist and agree that sometimes our ideals require us to kill people. The reason I am appalled is that you don't seem to think anything but killing could ever be the result of ideals.

Of course it is also clear that you think that foreign policy which doesn't involve killing people amounts to nothing.

Also the subtitle is garbled.

Chait's claim is that Obama is a realist but not a Realist, so this is an error "What Is Obama’s Foreign Policy Ideology? Realism — not the same thing as realism!" it can be corrected to "What Is Obama’s Foreign Policy Ideology? Realism is not the same thing as realism!" or to "What Is Obama’s Foreign Policy Ideology? realism — not the same thing as Realism!

Finally, as written it is equivalent to writing "It is realism - not the same thing as realism" The capital R in the subtitle just indicates that the word is the first of the sentence. An irregular single r as in my second correction is meaningful. Capitalizing the first word in a sentence indicates nothing.

Thursday, February 27, 2014

Winston (not Smith) and Myths

Karen Tumulty wrote a good article including one bad sentence on the Republican all the eggs in the Obamacare basket case strategy.

"In Winston’s view, it is a myth that the last midterm election was swung by voter outrage about Obama’s health-care proposal, which was then being debated in Congress."

Well that would be a myth, since the bill was signed months before the 2010 midterms. I'm pretty sure the error is not the fault of "David Winston, a pollster who advises House Speaker John A. Boehner." I think it quite possible that it isn't Karen Tumulty's fault either. I think a copy editor might have decided to save some ink by eliminating un-necessary words editing down from something like

In Winston’s view, it is a myth that [the outcome of] the last midterm [campaign] was swung by voter outrage about Obama’s health-care proposal, which was then being debated in Congress.

As rewritten, the sentence says that the law was debated during the 2010 election campaign. This is arguably true (especially but not only if you think the 2010 campaign started in November 2008). But really debating *in Congress* during an election ? Congress would never do that.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Now that's pretty wiki

The wikipedia lives up to it's name. Earlier today, the capo* of the Sinaloa Cartel El Chapo Guzman was arrested in Mazatlan
MEXICO CITY — Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzmán, the man who supplied more illegal drugs to the United States than anyone else on Earth, was captured by Mexican Navy commandos without a shot early Saturday morning in the Pacific coast resort town of Mazatlan, according to U.S. and Mexican authorities.
here is a screen capture from the wikipedia article on the Sinaloa Cartel
Now the screen capture seems to suggest that it is now early Sunday, almost 24 hours after the arrest. But in Mazatlan it is now 9:15 PM Saturday February 22 2014. *the Italian translation of the word capo is "boss" as in "boss della mafia." What goes around comes around cicciatori