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 http://www.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2014/03/incompetent-scheming-just-bad-competent-scheming 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.

http://www.economia.uniroma2.it/nuovo/facolta/docenti/docenti.asp?IdProfessore=&IdProfessore=&IdProfessore=187&B1=VISUALIZZA

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 man....party of FDR....um....

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.