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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

"If Only Obama had Done the Things Obama Actually Did" J-chait

Jon Chait remains as enthusiastic about Barack Obama as I am, so it isn't surprising that he wrote a blog post entitled "If Only Obama had Done the Things Obama Actually Did". But the title does raise a question. Is Chait dumping on the very serious centrists (cough David Brooks couch) who argued that Obama should reach out to Republicans by proposing reasonable centrist policies which he had proposed (as Chait often does) or is Chait hippy punching (as Chait does when he isn't Republipunching).

The first two words in the post answer the question "Matt Stoller" OK here comes some hippy punching (I haven't read past "Stoller"). In contrast, something is very predictable. I almost always agree with Chait (unless he is writing about charter schools and neglects to mention that he is married to a manager of a charter school company).

Charlie Pierce has been there and done that. No need to read his post to get the point -- the subtitle is thermonuclear

"I'm Going to Guess This Isn't a Winning Democratic Platform for 2020

Also, Rand Paul is not a major figure in American politics."

Just imagine a Pierce Chait debate -- might be the critical mass of snark which causes the false vacuum to decay ending the universe (which on balance wouldn't necessarily be a good thing)).

Now hippy punching can be fun, but really guys, pick on someone in your league -- it isn't nice to dunk on a junior high school guard.

Sunday, January 13, 2019

The Ethics of Clinical Trials

In a clinical trial the therapy is decided by a pseudo random number generator. How can this be ethical ? People are treated differently for no reason related to different interests different values and priorities or even different merit (assuming merit can differ).

There is a utilitarian rational for clinical trials. Through such trials doctors learn, and that knowledge is useful to future patients. But this rationale is utterly rejected as ethically unacceptable, because it was used to justify depraved experiments.

I think the current discussion of the ethics of clinical trials is based on a mixture which is partly consequentialist and partly deontological, and that it is incoherent, because people feel the need to claim it is totally both, while the two are inevitably in conflict.

So it is asserted that physicians must act in the interest of the patient – each and every patient. It is also argued that clinical trials are morally acceptable. This does not make sense.

It is only possible if the expected welfare of the patients is identical under the two treatments over which one randomizes. Any difference, no matter how tiny, in expected welfare would compel the use of only the current standard therapy, or of only the new experimental therapy.

I think the failed effort to avoid this is to reject the concept of expected welfare. It is argued that it is OK to do one or the other because one does not know which is better for the patient.

It would be OK if one were to say all probabilities must be rounded to 0, 1 or 0.5 so we don’t know means each is exactly equally likely. However, this approach would make life strange and brief. In particular it would rule out general anesthesia for any procedure not necessary to save a life. The chance of death is very low but demonstrably not zero. Don’t operate unless you would operate with a 50% chance of killing the patient would rule out almost all surgery. We must make choices under uncertainty and can’t pretend that all uncertainty is the same and survive for long.

Consider 2 examples.

Another is that there are 2 treatments, and, with best estimates, with treatment A the probability that the patient lives is 50% and with treatment B the probability is 30%.

Another is that there are 2 treatments, and, with best estimates, with treatment C the probability that the patient lives is 50% and with treatment D the probability is 30%.

According to current medical ethics, one must provide treatment A not treatment B but one may chose treatment D or treatment C. This always is based on the assertion that the interests of the patient is all that matters. Yet I have assumed that, for the patient, the two pairs of choices are identical. This can’t make sense.

In the first case there is an unobservable difference between patients of type 1 or type 2 where if they are type 2, then treatment A kills them on the spot. 10% of people are of type 2 (as learned from decades of painful experience). If someone is of type 1, their chance of surviving with treatment A is 5/9. In contrast with treatment B all have a 30% chance of living. With decades of painful experience it is known with essentially complete certainty that the probabilities are 50% and 30%.

In the second case, there aren’t two types, but the evidence on treatment C is preliminary based on a small (phase II) trial. The fraction who survived in the trial was 50% but the 95% confidence interval is 20% to 80%. The null that the true chance is 30% is not rejected at standard confidence intervals. By standard reasoning it is time for a phase III trial with randomization.

In each case, we know that giving A not B might cause a patient to die who would otherwise live and our best estimate of the probabilities of survival are higher with A than with B and higher with C than with D. I think the difference is that one learns something by randomizing and giving half of the patients D and that this outweighs the expected deaths due to the randomization.

I think it is possible to believe people have a right to care, and also conduct randomized trials, if one says there must be a standard of care, and all people have right to that. That one may deviate if the weight of evidence suggests that an experimental therapy is better, but that such deviation is a matter of utilitarian total expected welfare maximization not individual rights which trump average interests.

But it is not easy or comfortable to believe this, so I think that doctors have decided to rely on statistics but reject the very concept of probability. The logical inconsistency might cause some discomfort. It would cause more if the concept of probability weren’t so utterly alien to normal human thought. But in any case the tension between believing in rights and believing those rights don’t always trump utilitarian calculations clearly causes more discomfort.

Friday, January 11, 2019

Incurious George

When incurious George made a total mess of everything, I hoped the man in the yellow hat would save the day. But I didn't photoshop it.

When you gotta go, you gotta go. If that's not an emergency, what is ?

Rep. Matt Gaetz (R-FL) said that he doesn’t want President Donald Trump to declare a national emergency to fund the wall because of the precedent it would set for the next Democratic President, according to a Thursday Wall Street Journal report.

“I don’t want the next national emergency to be that some Democrat President says we have to build transgender bathrooms in every elementary school in America,” Gaetz said.

I can't help assuming that (perhaps because of the fear of trans bathrooms) Gaetz was about to piss his pants as he answered the question. What is it with Republicans and pee (no don't answer that question -- I don't want to know).

Also, uh Donald, if you've lost Matt Gaetz, you've lost.

Wednesday, January 09, 2019

Charlie I like you a lot, but if you factcheck you better check the facts

The very wonderful Charlie Pierce faceplants here

In an interview with Anderson Cooper, she [@AOC]posed a top marginal tax rate of 70 percent, or 20 percent lower than that which existed under Eisenhower, but 20 points higher than it was after JFK's tax cut,

In fact, after JFK's tax cut the top marginal tax rate was 70% not 50%. Rep Ocasio-Cortez is proposing exactly the top marginal rate imposed during the period of most rapid GDP growth since FDR died.

On the other hand

the entire conservative movement decided to make her a national brand, and it did its job splendidly well, and then she did the rest. Did they actually think that a collection of aging gray-boys was going to out-heckle a former NYC bartender? Did they think they were going to beat someone of her age and obvious savvy on social media? (Didn't getting whipped like rented mules by the Parkland survivors teach them anything about that?) She literally danced in their faces, and then she danced in their faces again. And people loved it in ways the gray-boys will never understand.

is wonderful.

Tuesday, January 08, 2019

Rare Yglesias Google Fail

(most boring title after "Worthwhile Canadian Initiative" but I couldn't resist) Web savvy ultra wonk Matthew Yglesias wrote "There’s no polling on specific brackets or exactly who counts as rich that I can find," Matty just google [income to be rich poll]. Jeez. Americans have varying ideas of how much money you need to earn each year to be considered "rich," but most people say you need to bring in at least $1 million per year. Notice that the possibility that one is rich because of high wealth not high income is too weird to even mention. That's rich.

Sue Me Julian

not for publication, but published here h.t. Evan Hurst CONFIDENTIAL LEGAL COMMUNICATION NOT FOR PUBLICATION. Julian Assange has published the largest leaks in the history of the CIA, State Department, Pentagon, the U.S. Democratic Party, and the government of Saudi Arabia, among many others, as well as saving Edward Snowden from arrest. Predictably, numerous falsehoods have been subsequently spread about WikiLeaks and its publisher. Falsehoods have also been spread by third parties: media competitors, click-bait sites, political party loyalists, and by those linked to the governments WikiLeaks or Julian Assange are litigating or have litigated (U.K., U.S., Ecuador, Sweden), which seek his arrest (U.S., U.K.), expulsion (Ecuador), or who have formal criminal investigations (U.S., Saudi Arabia, Australia), or who have banned or censored WikiLeaks (Saudi Arabia, Turkey, China). Since Mr. Assange's unlawful isolation and gagging on March 28, 2018, the publication of false and defamatory claims about him has accelerated, perhaps because of an incorrect view that Mr. Assange, due to his grave personal circumstances, can no longer defend his reputation. These defamation efforts have reached a new nadir with the recent front page fabrication by Guardian newspaper, which falsely claimed that Julian Assange had multiple secret meetings with Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, right down to a made up description of latter's pants at the fabricated meetings ("sandy coloured chinos") [see https://theintercept.com/2019/01/02/five-weeks-after-the-guardians-viral-blockbuster-assangemanafort-scoop-no-evidence-has-emerged-just-stonewalling/]. It is clear that there is a pervasive climate of inaccurate claims about WikiLeaks and Julian Assange, including purposeful fabrications planted in otherwise 'reputable' media outlets. In several instances these fabrications appear to have the intent of creating political cover for his censorship, isolation, expulsion, arrest, extradition and imprisonment. Mr. Assange's isolation, ongoing proceedings and pending extradition also increase the legal and ethical burden on journalists, publishers and others to get their facts straight. Consequently journalists and publishers have a clear responsibility to carefully fact-check from primary sources and to consult the following list of defamations to ensure they do not spread and have not spread falsehoods about WikiLeaks or Julian Assange. The purpose of this list is to aid the honest and accurate and to put the dishonest and inaccurate on notice. Defamation List v1.3 the absense of any claim from this list does not imply that the claim is not false or defamatory It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is, or has ever been, charged with an offence by the United Kingdom or Sweden [see https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is, or has ever been, an agent or officer of any intelligence service [see https://defend.wikileaks.org/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks is, or has ever been alleged by the U.S. government to be, a State "foreign intelligence service". It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks or Julian Assange has ever been contacted by the Mueller investigation. It is false and defamatory to suggest that there is any evidence that the U.S. charges against Julian Assange relate to the Mueller investigation. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange or Wikileaks is, or has ever been alleged by the U.S. government to be: Russian, Russian owned, a Russian subsidiary, contracted by Russia, Russian staffed, based in Russia, "in league" with Russia, an "arm of Russia" or a "Russian cutout" [see https://defend.wikileaks.org/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that the U.S. government claims that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks directed, conspired, colluded or otherwise engaged in a crime, to obtain information from the Democratic National Committee or John Podesta [in fact, the government has made no such claim]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that the Democratic National Committee has claimed that Julian Assange directed, conspired, or colluded to hack the Democratic National Committee or John Podesta [in fact, the DNC makes no such claim: https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/WikiLeaksDNC.pdf]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks was alone in publishing allegedly hacked Democratic Party materials in 2016 [in fact, most U.S. media organizations did so: Politico, the Hill, The Intercept, Facebook, Wordpress and Twitter, and every major press outlet, including CNN and the New York Times, republished, see https://www.courthousenews.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/WikiLeaksDNC.pdf]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever met or communicated with Paul Manafort [see https://theintercept.com/2019/01/02/five-weeks-after-the-guardians-viral-blockbuster-assangemanafort-scoop-no-evidence-has-emerged-just-stonewalling/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever met or communicated with George Cottrell [see https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/1068475150314676225]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks or Julian Assange privately provided information about its then pending 2016 U.S. election-related publications to any outside party, including Nigel Farage, Roger Stone, Jerome Corsi, Donald Trump Jr., Michael Flynn, Michael Flynn Jr., Cambridge Analytica, or Rebecca Mercer [it is defamatory because it falsely imputes that Julian Assange acted without integrity in his role as the editor of WikiLeaks, associates with criminals, or has committed a crime]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks has ever colluded with or conspired with, or compromised the integrity of its journalism for, any political campaign or State [in fact, published communication records show WikiLeaks doing exactly the opposite: rejecting approaches by Cambridge Analytica and the Trump campaign for information on its pending publications, see https://defend.wikileaks.org/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange was in communication with Roger J. Stone during, or prior to, the U.S. 2016 presidential election [in fact, the only message sent from WikiLeaks was a demand that Mr. Stone cease falsely stating that he had "communicated" with Julian Assange]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that there was a "back channel" between Julian Assange and Roger J. Stone during, or prior to, the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Nigel Farage met with Julian Assange during, or prior to, the U.S. 2016 presidential election. It is false and defamatory to suggest that the purpose of Nigel Farage's meeting with Julian Assange in 2017, after the U.S. election, was in any way improper or not journalistic. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks or Julian Assange timed the publication of its series on John Podesta to conceal the Access Hollywood "grab them by the pussy" video of Donald Trump [in fact, it is well documented that the video release was moved forward three days to be on the day of WikiLeaks' publication, see https://consortiumnews.com/2018/07/19/inside-wikileaks-working-with-the-publisher-that-changed-the-world/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is "anti-American" or "anti-U.S." [in fact, he has an abiding love for the United States, see https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/julian-assange-wikileaks-has-the-same-mission-as-the-post-and-the-times/2017/04/11/23f03dd8-1d4d-11e7-a0a7-8b2a45e3dc84_story.html]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange and WikiLeaks have not published critical information on Russia, Syria or Donald Trump [in fact, WikiLeaks has published hundreds of thousands of documents on Russia, millions on Syria, and thousands on Donald Trump, see https://wikileaks.org/spyfiles/russia/, https://search.wikileaks.org/?query=russia%7Cputin%7Cmoscow#results, https://wikileaks.org/syria-files/ & https://search.wikileaks.org/?query=trump#results]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever worked for, or has ever been employed by "Russia Today", "RT" or the Russian government. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange was "given a show", "made a host", or "hosted a show" on RT [in fact, in 2012, he and two British companies, Dartmouth Films and Journeyman Pictures conceived, produced and distributed "The World Tomorrow", which was licensed to a dozen broadcasters and newspapers, only one of which was RT]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks "works with RT" or "works with Russian State media" [in fact, only once, for one publication in 2012, was RT part of a consortium of nearly two dozen re-publishers of WikiLeaks' series on the private surveillance industry, the SpyFiles]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks arranged for Edward Snowden to go to Russia [in fact, WikiLeaks gave legal assistance to Mr. Snowden to obtain asylum in Ecuador, but the U.S. government cancelled Mr. Snowden's passport mid-flight, stranding him in a Moscow transit lounge for 40 days [see https://edwardsnowden.com/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange applied for a Russian visa in 2010 or obtained a Russian visa in the year 2010 or subsequently. It is false and defamatory to suggest that there was a "Russian plan" to "smuggle", or to otherwise remove, Julian Assange from the Ecuadorian embassy in London or that Fidel Narvaez, or anyone else, was in contact with the Russian embassy in London in relation to such a claimed plan [see https://therealnews.com/stories/ecuadorian-ex-diplomat-report-claiming-assange-met-manafort-is-false]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange was made an Ecuadorian diplomat to Russia [in fact, his diplomatic credentials were lodged to the government of the United Kingdom and he was appointed as an Ecuadorian diplomat to the United Kingdom; at no point were they lodged with Russia]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks or Julian Assange claimed that any person or entity was their source for WikiLeaks' 2016 U.S. election publications [it is defamatory because Julian Assange's professional reputation is substantially based on source protection]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks does not have a perfect record of accurately verifying its publications. It is false and defamatory to suggest that the U.S. government has ever denied the authenticity of a WikiLeaks publication. It is false and defamatory to deny that DNC Chair Donna Brazile and Senator Elizabeth Warren admitted that Julian Assange was, in fact, correct and that the DNC had indeed "rigged" the 2016 primary election in favour of Hillary Clinton [see https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/926250463594516480 and https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/926094515261378561]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that John Podesta or Donna Brazile deny the authenticity of emails about them published by WikiLeaks [in fact, Brazile confessed that WikiLeaks was correct and she had indeed shared debate questions with the Hillary Clinton campaign https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/843216277225308161]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that the French government found that "MacronLeaks" were hacked by Russia [in fact, the head of the French cyber-security agency, ANSSI, said that they did not have evidence connecting the hack with Russia, see https://wikileaks.org/macron-emails/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks "targetted" the French presidential election of 2017 and published "MacronLeaks" during that election [in fact, WikiLeaks published MacronLeaks after the election]. It is false and defamatory to suggest any of the MacronLeaks published by WikiLeaks are inauthentic or that President Macron attempted to make such a claim after the publication by WikiLeaks. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks has ever stated that Russia was not behind the attempted murder of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal [in fact, Julian Assange stated that it was "reasonable" to view Russia as "the leading suspect"]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks has ever stated it was not appropriate to expel Russian diplomats and spies over the attempted murder of Sergei Skripal. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Ecuador isolated and gagged Mr. Assange due to his comments on Sergei Skripal [in fact, he was isolated over his refusal to delete a factually accurate tweet about the arrest of the president of Catalonia by Spain in Germany, along with U.S. debt pressure on Ecuador. The president of Ecuador Lenin Moreno admitted that these two countries were the issue, see https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/]. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange does not have political asylum or is merely "seeking asylum" [in fact, he won his asylum case in relation to U.S. government moves to prosecute him on August 16, 2012 and was granted formal refugee status under the 1951 Refugee Convention, see https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange "fled" to the Embassy of Ecuador [in fact, he walked into the embassy and lodged an asylum claim; it was not until 10 days later that the UK government issued a warrant for his arrest. see https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is, or has been, "hiding" in the embassy [in fact, his location is well known and his formal legal status is "political refugee"; it is incorrect to suggest that refugees, by virtue of being in the jurisdiction of refuge, are "hiding"]. It is false and defamatory to deny that Julian Assange has been formally investigated since 2010 and charged by the U.S. federal government over his publishing work [it is defamatory because such a claim falsely imputes that Mr. Assange's asylum is a sham and that he is a liar, see https://defend.wikileaks.org/]. - It is false and defamatory to suggest that such U.S. charges have not been confirmed [in fact, they have, most recently by Associated Press (AP) and the Washington Post in November 2018]. - It is false and defamatory to suggest that the U.S. government denies the existence of such charges. - It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is not wanted for extradition by the U.S. government [in fact, public records from the Department of Justice show that the U.S. government says it had been intentionally concealing its charges against Mr. Assange from the public specifically to decrease his ability to "avoid arrest and extradition"]. - It is false and defamatory to suggest that the U.S. government has not publicly confirmed that it has an active grand jury, or pending or prospective proceedings, against Julian Assange or WikiLeaks, each year since 2010. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange's asylum is "self-imposed" or that he is "free to walk out any time he likes" [in fact, the UK government states that he will be immediately arrested, the U.S. government seeks his extradition and the exits to the embassy are under 24-hour surveillance; it is self-evident that refugees, having been compelled by the risk of persecution to seek asylum are not "free" to return to the area of risk, any more than one is free to leave a house with a bear on the porch, see https://defend.wikileaks.org]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange applied for political asylum over "sex allegations" or "extradition to Sweden" or to "avoid questioning" [in fact, he formally applied for and received political asylum over the U.S. grand jury proceedings against him; the UN and the Swedish courts found that Sweden was improperly refusing to question him, not the other way around, see https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is merely a "guest" of the embassy and does not have refugee status, including under the 1951 Refugee Convention, or that the UK is not a party to the Convention, or that Julian Assange received only "diplomatic asylum" or that his refugee status is, in any sense, improper or incomplete [it is defamatory because it suggests that Julian Assange committed a crime by applying for asylum, which is false, see https://defned.wikileaks.org/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange, as a political refugee, does not have the right to voice his political opinions or a right to communicate them [it is defamatory because it falsely suggests Mr. Assange is a liar when he states he has never agreed to be gagged and when he asserts that it is a fact that refugees have the legal right to express political opinions and because his reputation is to a significant degree based on the accuracy of his statements and in being the world's best-known free speech proponent and practitioner]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange did not have the right to apply for asylum or committed an offence in doing so [in fact, he has not been charged with an offence in the UK at any time and a "reasonable excuse" is a complete defence against any hypothetical future charge of "failing to surrender" under UK law and there has been no legal finding that his defence is invalid, see https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that the terminated Swedish preliminary investigation started prior to the U.S. grand jury proceedings [in fact, the U.S. grand jury proceedings started in June 2010, three months before the Swedish preliminary investigation]. It is false and defmatory to suggest that the dropped Swedish preliminary investigation against Julian Assange ever had any legitimacy whatsoever [in fact, already by August 2010, the Chief Prosecutor of Stockholm found that "no crime at all" had been committed, and SMS messages from the alleged complainant showed that she "did not want to accuse Assange of anything", that she felt "railroaded by police and others around her", and that "police made up the charges"; documents from the UK government prove serious impropriety by the State, and the United Nations Working Group on Arbitrary Detention (UN WGAD)found Sweden's conduct to be illegal, see https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/]. It is false and potentially defamatory to suggest that the UN WGAD decision finding Julian Assange to be unlawfully detained in the UK is not legally binding [in fact, the UN has released two statements in response to such false reporting, stating that the decision is "legally binding" https://twitter.com/UN_SPExperts/status/1076107846629158914]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever been charged with, or committed, an offence in the United Kingdom. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever "breached his bail", "jumped bail", absconded, fled an arrest warrant, or that he has ever been charged with such at any time. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has a sentence to serve or has ever avoided serving a sentence. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange fled Sweden [in fact, the State prosecutor granted him permission to leave, he was not wanted for arrest or charged with an offence at the time he left Sweden, and he left for a publicly scheduled talk in Geneva, see https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has been accused by any person of raping them [in fact, both so-called Swedish "complainants", who were falsely reported to have made such an accusation, denied that they had been raped, see https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that the Swedish preliminary investigation was closed due to an inability to proceed caused by Mr. Assange or a statute of limitations [in fact, the prosecution abandoned the entire preliminary investigation, the arrest warrant was dropped, and the file closed and destroyed as the direct result of Julian Assange filing a case against the government of Sweden for its abuse of legal due process; the UN WGAD also twice found that Sweden had acted unlawfully, see https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange was never interviewed by Swedish officials or has ever attempted to avoid being interviewed by Swedish officials [see https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that there was ever a charge, case or prosecution against Julian Assange in Sweden [in fact, the matter never reached beyond the "preliminary investigation" stage]. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is false and defamatory to deny that WikiLeaks is a media organization [in fact, WikiLeaks has won many media awards, is registered as a media organization, has been repeatedly found to be a "media organization" by the UK courts, and employs top journalists who (including Julian Assange) are members of their respective media unions, see https://defend.wikileaks.org/]. It is false and defamatory to deny that Julian Assange is an award-winning editor, journalist, publisher, author and documentary maker who has won the highest journalism award in his country, among many others. [https://defend.wikileaks.org/about-julian/] It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks has ever, through intent or negligence, revealed a source [in fact, in the case of alleged source Chelsea Manning, the allegation by the State is that Manning spoke, in a knowing breach of WikiLeaks' security rules, to a reseacher for Wired magazine, Adrian Lamo, who promised him journalistic confidentiality, only to then inform on him to the FBI]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks is a "group", that it has "members" or that Julian Assange is a "member" of WikiLeaks [in fact, WikiLeaks is a publication and a publishing organization; it has a highly accomplished salaried staff, not members; it is not al-Qaeda]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks has ever directed, conspired, or colluded in a criminal manner with its sources. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange claimed "informants deserve to die" [in fact, Der Spiegel signed a statement refuting a false claim that he did, see https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/762711823216996352]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks or Julian Assange has asserted that the Syrian government did not conduct chemical attacks during the war in Syria [in fact, WikiLeaks has published millions of documents from the Syrian government, including Bashar al-Assad's personal emails https://wikileaks.org/syria-files/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks publications have caused deaths [in fact, the Pentagon's General Robert Carr, who was assigned to look at their impact, admitted under oath in the trial of Chelsea Manning that the U.S. government had not been able to find any such incidents]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange or WikiLeaks recklessly published unredacted U.S. diplomatic cables [see https://wikileaks.org/Guardian-journalist-negligently.html]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that any of WikiLeaks' claims about its 2017 CIA leak, Vault 7, "were later retracted" [the series had no retractions]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks or Julian Assange ever published millions of records about female voters in Turkey [see https://wikileaks.org/10years/distorted-facts.html]. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is not an Australian citizen. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a "hacker". It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange was charged with an offence at any time by Bermuda. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever extorted the United States government. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange filed a lawsuit against Ecuador over trivialities [in fact, he filed an injunction to force the state to cease illegally gagging and isolating him since March 28, 2018 and moving to void his asylum after his publication of the largest leak in CIA history. Contrary to false reports, his cat hasn't even been at embassy since well before the inunction was filed, see https://justice4assange.com/Protection-Action.html and https://defend.wikileaks.org/]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever neglected an animal or has ever been asked by a state to take "better care" of an animal [see https://justice4assange.com/Protection-Action.html]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever called to overthrow the Spanish state by calling for the independence of Catalonia [in fact, he never called for the independence of Catalonia]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange's reporting on the violence and censorship inflicted against Catalans in any way connected to Russia [in fact, the managing editor of El Pais, David Alandete, was fired for spreading this false claim]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that the Catalan government, or any other entity, paid Julian Assange to report on the violence and censorship inflicted against Spain's Catalan minority, or to otherwise support their right to self-determination [in fact, Spanish prosecutors confirmed that there were no records of Mr. Assange receiving such payments contrary to what had been falsely reported]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is "far right". It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a racist. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a paedophile. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a rapist. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a murderer. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a member of the Muslim Brotherhood. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever proposed that he not publish, censor or delay a publication in exchange for any thing. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever agreed to do anything or to not do anything as a condition of his asylum. It is false and defamatory to suggest that the administration of President Rafael Correa imposed any conditions in exchange for his refugee status or asylum. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange is a criminal or has a criminal record [in fact, his convictions for offences as a teenager in Australia have been expunged]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange called the Panama Papers "a Soros-funded attack against Putin" [see https://twitter.com/wikileaks/status/717810984673484800]. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks or Julian Assange has ever published, uttered or tried to promote a "conspiracy theory". It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks or Julian Assange has ever suppressed materials critical of Israel, Russia or any other State. It is false and defamatory to suggest that WikiLeaks possessed unpublished leaked material on the Trump campaign or the GOP or Russia and surpressed it. It is false and defamatory to suggest that Julian Assange has ever hacked the state of Ecuador. Other important facts and corrections to false reporting can be found at https://defend.wikileaks.org/, https://justice4assange.com/, https://wikileaks.org/, https://twitter.com/wikileaks, https://twitter.com/assangedefence/, https://twitter.com/assangelegal and https://twitter.com/khrafnsson/

Monday, January 07, 2019

It wasn't that long ago Ms Rubin

In a generally excellent column on what the authoritarian depravity of Donald Trump shows about the utter worthlessness of the Republican party that won't stand up to him, Jennifer Rubin understates Ted Cruz's hypocrisy.

She notes that Cruz is not denouncing Trump's absurd claim that he can over rule the Constitution by declaring an emergency even though

It wasn’t too long ago that Republicans such as Sen. Ted Cruz (Tex.) and anti-immigrant activists denounced President Barack Obama for the executive order launching Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

It wasn't as long ago as the launch of DACA. The linked article is dated November 19, 2014. DACA was ordered on June 15, 2012 more than two years earlier. In fact, DACA was not all that controversial when ordered. The controversy focused on comprehensive immigration reform including a path to citizenship, or, at the very least the DREAM act which, unlike DACA would have granted legal permanent resident status (a green card) and a path to citizenship. Also unlike DACA, an effort to just declare a DREAM act by executive order would have been an unconstitutional violation of the Immigration and Naturalization Act of 1965.

In contrast, DACA was clearly within the discretion Congress granted to the executive, as is shown by the absense of controversy over the very similar exexutive order issued by Ronald Reagan and the legally identical executive order issued by George H W Bush.

Cruz's utter hypocrisy is demonstrated by the fact that he denounced DAPA not DACA. The controversial order attempted to extend deferred action to parents of americans. Suddenly, that which was clearly OK when Reagan, Bush Sr and Obama did it was unacceptable, because too many people were covered or ... hell I can handle Euclidean and non-Euclidean geometry but not logical logic and Republican logic.

DAPA was blocked by a reactionary judge in Texas (where else) but not on the grounds that the INA didn't give the executive branch the authority to defer action, but on the grounds that the Administrative Procedures Act implied that a period of public comment was required before the new regulation was imposed.

The nonsensical claim that DACA exceeded Obama's authority follows logically from the nonsensical claim that DAPA excceded his authority. The claims are absolutely inconsistent with the plain text of the INA which clearly grants the executive broad discretion. I am not a lawyer let alone an expert on immigration law, but I am aware of no expert on immigration law who has claimed to find any merit in Cruz's absurd argument. I stress again that it had nothing to do with the anti DAPA decision by the trial judge who may hate immigration, but can't ignore the plain text of the law.

The GOP is worse than you imagine possible even while denouncing "the GOP's Dismal State".

Sunday, January 06, 2019

A viral ad

This ad is clearly designed to go viral also I enjoyed it, so I want to reward them. Notice one aspect of the viral strategy -- the ad lasts amazingly long. TV ads are 30 seconds long, because they have to pay for every second. The shame shame shame goes on incredibly long -- because youtube doesn't charge by the second and making a strong impression is key to making people share it or uh copy a link to their low traffic blog (hey but every bit helps).

Thursday, December 27, 2018

Some Thoughts on Immunotherapy of Solid Tumors

A) CAR CD28

The question is why CARs don’t infiltrate solid tumors & why they don’t proliferate as much when targeted against a solid tumor as they do when targeted against a leukemia or lymphoma. I think it could be because their CD28 doesn’t interact with cd80/86 so they become anergic. The story is that proteins from leukemias are presented by antigen presenting cells, but when cells in solid tumors die, their proteins are not processed by peripheral blood leukocytes (PBLs) but rather stay in the poorly vascularized tumor and are metabolized by other cancer cells.

If this is the problem, then there are well established approaches to overcoming it

1) Ablation. If there are multiple tumors then killing many cells in one (with x-rays or liquid nitrogen or whatever) is useful. This causes inflatimation and releases large amounts of tumor antigens attracting the attention of PBLs which then present the antigens

2) Vaccination. The targets of CARs are very well defined. If the CARs are not activated by tumors, they can be activated by inoculating with target antigens and adjuvant.

3) In vitro activation. The CARs can be activated in vitro before they are infused. The idea is to infuse memory CARs not resting CARs. An advantage of in vitro activation is that one doesn’t have to worry about damaging test tubes’ livers. It could be done with target antigen, IL15-IL15rAlpha, and anti CD-28 (maybe on beads or something because one better not infuse anti-CD28 into people).

I wonder how many groups are trying each of these approaches. I think it should be a large number.

B) Ordinary CD8 killers.

I know of three trials at the NCI each of which adds to anti PD1: Kevin Conlon adds anti-PD1, the Geraldine H. O'Sullivan Coyne, adds anti-CTLA4 and the Tim Gretens adds ablation and anti-CTLA4. I think some might get together and ablate and add IL15. They might also add an antibody such as anti-mesothelin.

There is also a much simpler way to redirect a TCR to a target – a bifunctional antibody with anti target and anti CD3. Amgen is trying this with the melanoma maturation antigen. I never got the logic of CARs – why does the modified TCR have to be a chimeric protein held together with amino bonds and not a CD£-anti-CD3 complex ? I do think that if one uses the anti-CD3 approach it is necessary to have activated CD8 killers, which can be obtained with any antigen especially including inoculation with non self HLA. Here the variable chains of the TCR don’t matter as the cells are targeted with anti CD3.

C) NK cells

There is a group trying trifunctional targeting antibody, anti FC III (also known as CD16) and IL-15 ClinicalTrials.gov Identifier: NCT03214666. I don’t see why just plain gamma globulin with Fc (which sticks to Fc III and Fc IV) and systemic IL-15 wouldn’t work as well. In any case, it seems to me that if one is causing NK cell proliferation and Fc IV expression with IL15, then one really wants a tumor specific monoclonal (again anti Mesothelin or maybe something new like the Hopkins (Vogelstein group) anti KRAS g12v presented with HLA A2 monoclonal.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Paul Ryan wouldn't recognize a free market if one bit him

Robert Costa and Mike DeBonis wrote an excellent retrospective on the career of Paul Ryan

‘He was the future of the party’: Ryan’s farewell triggers debate about his legacy

They are quite harsh, but not, I think, quite harsh enough.

My comment

This is an excellent article. Tough but fair with no sugar coating but also no discourtesy. However, there is one clear error. Costa and DeBonis wrote " to apply free-market principles to create opportunities in impoverished communities. The tax bill included a provision creating low-tax “opportunity zones,”"

Establishing opportunity zones might be good policy, but such zones are completely inconsistent with free market principles. The idea is to tilt the playinf field in order to favor the poor. The free market principle utterly rejected by advocates of opportunity zones is that the government shouldn't play favorites and should leave market incentives unaffected except as absolutely necessary to raise funds for necessary purposes.

Only someone unclear on the concept could think that the radical intervention in the economy with the aim of achieving higher welfare is based on free market principles, when it is clearly a rejection of free market principles.

Jack Kemp was a very decent man who genuinely wanted to help the poor. He also believed that he believed in free markets. But he wouldn't have recognized a free market if he tripped over it.

I think establishing opportunity zones is good policy. I do not think highly of free market principles. The fact that people who present themselves as advocates of the free market also propose non free market policies is just one reminder that free market principles can not solve our problems.

Now I think it is clear why Ryan and Kemp mistake social engineering for free markets. Opportunity zones would increase post tax profits and increase the budget deficit. They are consistently pro-business, if one considers the interests of businessmen to be only short term post tax profits and ignores any costs from the deficits the two of them created (with help from Roth, Reagan, McConnell and Trump but Ryan and Kemp are the men deficit lovers must love best).

The fact that Ryan was reputed to be more thoughtful than other Republicans demonstrates the utter idiocy of the party as a whole.

Again. I appreciate this excellent article.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Kidz theze dayz

I am quite confused. I see a racially integrated group of 4 long haired kids escorted by an (also young) scary looking police officer in riot gear.
Guess what banner they are bearing ?

Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Wizard of Odds

Dorothy was in a strange land and had no idea what would happen next. The good witch of the North said she should follow the scientific method to a sound forecast. Unfortunately, neither she (nor anyone else) explained what exactly the scientific method is.

As she wandered down the yellow brick forking path of endless options, Dorothy was surprised by the voice of a heuristic firmly attached to a degenerate prior. She freed the heuristic from the prior and discovered that he was amazingly swift and flexible. She suggested that with his enormous speed he could quickly reach a sound conclusion.

The disconsolate heuristic sang that he could “If I only had a brain”

And they wandered off to find a shiny extremely strong hypothesis test with a razor sharp ax. The hypothesis test was rigidly chopping down the same deadwood. Dorothy said that his great destructive power could help him clear the way to the truth. All he needed to know was a promising direction, and he could eliminate all plausible but false hypotheses, leaving only the truth. The sorrowful hypothesis test explained that he had no idea how to create hypotheses or to decide which ones were worth testing and sang that he could find the truth “If I only had a heart”.

Having heard of the wonderful Wizard of Odds who could solve all of their problems, they made a bee-line for the land of Odds. On the way they stumbled over a cowardly line. The cowardly line said he made no claim about expected values or disturbance terms, because he claimed to be nothing other than what he was, the king of the summary statistics, the OLS regression.

They said that with his daring contempt for consistency and lack of any fear of bias, he surely cold provide them with a forecast. The lion explained that he could fit but didn’t forecast – that treating an OLS regression as a forecasting model might appeal to the foolish heuristic and might follow from implausible hypotheses which were easy to test and reject, but he couldn’t do it because he didn’t have the courage.

Finally they arrived at the City of Odds where they met a wonderful Wizard of Odds named Thomas Bayes who dramatically provided the probability of any conceivable event based on any conceivable data set. They were in awe until Toto barked. The Wizard boomed that they should pay no attention to the arbitrary prior behind the curtain.

Then Dorothy gave up on the effort to solve the problem of induction. And Toto too.

Saturday, December 08, 2018

Anti anti Centrism

Charlie Pierce wrote a great post on the abuse of the word "centrist" as a term of abuse.

Then he criticized Bernie Sanders (whom I ask to sit out 2020 please). I am shocked to find myself almot to the left of someone who actually had a drink with Alexander Cockburn, but I think there is a lot to be said for demanding it all immeediately.

On "Centrist" you wrote [I comment]

Sanders here is being almost preternaturally optimistic [true] , to the point of being unacceptably [false*] glib [true] , about the difficulty of getting McConnell and the Republicans to do anything of the sort. [skip] that's a short route to chaos and a return to general minority status [very false **].

The fact is that there is a natural center in American politics [skip] It happens to be the solid place whence [false ***] can be launched real progress.

* it is irritatingly glib but that glibness is useful and not just to own the cons but also to appeal to the naive. I don't like Sanders's glibness. Nor did I like Reagan's, and I'm pretty sure that Kennedy would have gotten on my nerves in 1960 if I could have heard what he was saying (a uterus got in my way, plus I didn't know how to speak during most of his presidency). I am not the voter who matters. I always vote for Democrats (or Charles McMathias). The audience is those who sometimes vote, but only if beguiled by some preternatural optimism.

** Ask Sen McConnell how reliable sowing chaos is as a path to minority status. The Democrats are in opposition. The house passing popular measures (with 70% support) which are blocked by Republicans in the Senate is not their path to general minority status. The problem is something else ****

***"Whence" ? No Whither. Real progress is launched with slogans ("happy days are here again" was not a solid policy proposal) and dishonest promises (Obama didn't really think there could be health reform without a mandate (although the Republicans are proving that his 2008 bogus proposal actually works ... better than the old system anyway). Real progress lands in the solid center it is launched by those who have (or fake) preternatural optimism.

**** The real problem is that Democrats care about policy and are semi honest (case in point is H Clinton who lost to Trump, because she was perceived to be dishonest and, what's worse, is honest). The Democratic house would tie itself into knots trying to write a solid centrist Medicare for all Bill. "All" would be redefined to mean 90 % or 95%, and the party would tear itself apart fighting over which. The fools would actually pay for it with no aid from Rosy (the riviting) Scenario. There would be months of struggle with problem making "problem solvers".

Sending the Senate a bill declaring Medicare shall be available for all and this shall be financed by soaking the rich, would be deadly to Republicans. Trying to write a solid bill which could be implemented the second it was signed by Trump ?!? would be pure policy porn appealing only to nerds.

That's why Sanders is smart to talk about what others should do. Clinton would be scheduling meetings to discuss drafting a bill right now if Trump hadn't ended her effort to replace politics with solid policymaking.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Jeffreys prior

Over at twitter I learned a lot. I claimed (and claim) that there is no such thing as an uninformative prior. I also claim that the penalty functions multiplied by likelihoods and called priors are not priors. This lead to a debate which was as uninformative as prior debates on the topic. A lot of my obsessions are semantic.

I was also taught about someone called Harold Jeffres who presented something which he called a prior. OK so Wikipedia taught me (twitter being unsuited for explaining things to me (or anyone)). His prior is proportional to the square root of the determinant of the Fisher information matrix. The Fisher information matrix is -1 times the second derivative of the expected log likelihood with respect to a parameter vector theta evaluated at the true theta. It is also the variance covariance matrix of the gradient of the log likelihood at the true theta (the two matrices are identical).

The Fisher information matrix is a function of theta. A penalty which depends on the Fisher information matrix is a function of theta. It can be called a prior (I reserve the term for sincere beliefs).

The point of Jeffreys's prior is that it is invariant under any reparametrization of the model. if phi = g(theta) and g is one to one, then the posterior distribution of phi given Jeffreys's prior on phi will imply exactly the same probabilities of any observable event as the posterior distribution of theta given Jeffrey's prior on theta.

This is true because if theta is distributed according the Jeffres's prior on theta, and phi = g(theta) then phi is distributed according to Jeffreys's prior on phi.

The gradient of the expected log likelihood with respect to theta is the gradient with respect to phi times the Jacobian of g. This means that Jeffrey's prior transforms the way probability densities do and the Jeffreys prior on theta implies the same distribution of phi as the Jeffreys prior on phi.

I am quite sure this is simply because the gradient of the expected log likelihood with respect to theta is a gradient of a scaler valued function of theta. for any scaler valued h(theta) I think the square root of (the gradient of h)(the gradient of h)' would work just as well. For example, if one used the gradient of the likelihood rather than the log likelihood, I think the resulting prior would be invariant as well.

Now except for the expected log likelihood, the Hessian (second derivative) is not equal to minus the product of the gradient and the gradient prime. That implies that for every h() except for the log likelihood there are two invariant priors the square root of the determinant of the expected value of (the gradient times the graident prime) and the square root of the determinant of the expected value of the second derivative.

I think this means that the set of invariant priors is basically about as large as the set of possible probability distributions of theta. Given a prior over theta, invariance implies a prior over any one to one function of theta, but this seems to me to be a statement about how to transform priors when one reparametrizes (which is just the formula for calculating the probability density of a function of a variable with a known probability density).

The log likelihood is a very popular function of parameters and data, but I see no particular reason why a distribution calculated using the log likelihood is more plausible than any other distribution. I don't see any particular appeal of Jeffreys prior. I think one does just as well by choosing a parametrization and assuming a flat distribution for that parametrization.

I don't think I have ever seen Jeffreys prior, that is, I don't think I have ever seen it used.

Friday, November 16, 2018

I disagree with Jennifer Rubin

Conservatives object to the Washington Post defining never-ever-ever Trumper Jennifer Rubin as a conservative. Reflecting, I had to admit that I hadn't disagreed with anything she wrote for months. Now, finally, I do. But, sadly, this isn't evidence that she is still a conservative. She has clearly become a radical centrist third way mugwump (RC3WM).

She argues that the 2018 blue wave shows that Democrats should reject Bernie Sanders and rely on a poll conducted by "The Third Way".

I think this is nonsense consisting entirely of setting up an oxymoronic straw man and pretending that values shared by conservatives, liberals, centrists, progressives, socialists, and fascists belong to conservatives.

Her column.

My comment

I don't see any evidence that people rejected Sen Sanders's policy proposals, which are actually fairly moderate. It is very easy to get issue poll results one wishes by choosing the questions. Notably, the ACA is only moderately popular (50% approval) while Medicare for all has 70% approval (recently including Donald Trump).

On entitlements the moderate centrist approach is to achieve trust fund solvency with balanced tax increases and benefit cuts. The vast majority of the public wants more generous pensions, expanded medicaid and an increased Medicare budget.

The case that Americans are conservative is that they believe in hard work (and the family). Notably, this is the position of mainstream and left wing Democrats. Conservatives have convinced each other than non-conservatives are Leninist hippies. Totally aside from the fact that "Leninist hippy" is an oxymoron, very few people are Leninists and very few are hipplies.

Conservatives point to the free love socialist demon Nancy Pelosi- who is the mother of 5 children. I'm sure she loves them dearly but I think it has something to do with her deep religious faith which prevented her from using artificial birth control (see flustered Stephen Colbert). I don't know if she has changed her views,since she has had perfectly natural menopausal birth control for about 3 decades by now.

The idea that conservatives have something to offer which a majority of Americans want is based on falsehoods about the alternative (which have convinced a solid minority of Americans but which are, nonetheless false).

Elisabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Corry Booker, and Sherod Brown are Berny Sanders with better manners. They have the same policy proposals. I really hope one of them is elected in 2020.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Kevin Drum discusses single parent households

Disqus won't let me comment, so I post my comment on this post here

I am honestly impressed that you didn't mention lead. So I will. The single parent household peak came later than the murder peak -- as one would expect. Single parent households last (until another marriage & good luck with that Ms single mom). You graph a stock (OK 3 stocks) each correspond to flows -- births to single moms and separations of couples. Teenage births peak when the girls (and 18 and 19 year old women) in queston had maximum lead exposure as babies and toddlers. The boys (and men) aren't always even identified on birth certificates, but ages of mothers and fathers are usually similar. Haty marriage (including of couples who are racing to be spouses before they are parents) are less likely to last. [update: I meant to type "Hasty marriages" but, in fact, Haty marriages don't last long either]

I am surprized to be more piombophobic than you, but I think it was lead. Certainly the evidence on lead and teenage pregnancy looks similar to the evidence on lead and crime.

In any case, to understand causes, it is almost always better to look at flows than stocks.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Totally Twitty Fiskin of Antoine Levy

Antoine Levy has some ideas about how the European Central Bank could help uncompetitive economies on the European perifery. I would like to read it and decide if he has good ideas. Unfortunately, to do so, I have to sfogare (let off steam) with some francophobic Euroskepticism. This is therapy. don't waste time reading it

"The euro improved the credibility of monetary policy for many member states, but " You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means. What is this "credibility" ? Why is it desirable ? It is a magic word. it's origin was the claim that credibile disinflation would not cause high unemployment. I suffer from a bileous humor when the moon is in the 7th house, Jupiter aligns with Mars, and I read "credibility". I propose a definition "credibility is that all of which has been lost by those who insisted Europe could have balanced budgets and tight money without decades of enormous unemployment". Chemists don't often talk of phlogiston and thermodynamicists haven't tried to weigh caloric in centuries, but economists still use "credibility" as a magic word which (in the VoxEU post only partially) justifies policies which have caused vast suffering.

In any case, credibility certainly does not mean consistently missing a declared target, nor is it consistent with "below but close to" being used in definition of that target.

"At the time of its inception, the euro area was often derided by (mostly Anglo-Saxon) economists as an incomplete and sub-optimal currency area. According to its detractors, the union lacked enough private and public risk-sharing channels, and factor mobility, to justify relinquishing monetary sovereignty (e.g. Eichengreen 1992)." I submit that "Eichengreen" is not an Anglo Saxon name (unless his ancestors came over straight from Saxony). Barry Eichengreen is no more Anglo-Saxon than I am. The USA is not an Anglo-Saxon country. We are of all ethnicities. The two words used to indicate people who use English as a means of communication is "human being" (I note that the quote snearing at Anglo-Saxons is written in the bastard language born of Anglo-Saxon and Norman). The word for people who's first language is English is "anglophone." Most of us are neither Angles nor Saxons.

"After a decade of apparent success, both in the convergence of living standards and in the stabilisation of monetary aggregates," Odd priorities. The first claim is not, I think, well supported by data. Italy fell further behind the core during that decade, and Italy is considerably larger than Ireland and Greeced combined.

"It is widely considered that, while the euro improved the credibility of monetary policy in many member states that had previously been relying on frequent depreciations to maintain competitiveness, it may have done so at the expense of sorely needed monetary autonomy in crucial times. " In other words, while the Euro is good because it prevents countries from relying on frequent depreciatino to maintain competitiveness, it is bad because it prevents countries from relying on frequent devaluations to maintain competitiveness. The crucial times are time when a devaluation of the Greek, Spanish, Portoguese and Italian currencies are long long over due. The conviction is that without the crutch of devaluation we would find a way to compete. Oddly, Europe doesnt' kick away the actual crutches used by paraplegics. Nor do European physicians rely on bleeding patients. I can only hope that European economists will reach the 1900 level of European medical science before I die.

Is there a way to improve stabilisation mechanisms in the euro area, while preserving the trade-enhancing and institutional benefits of integration afforded by the common currency? What trade enhancing benefits ? It is possible to measure them using a natural experiment. If they are non-negligible, then Denmark's trade will have grown less compared to Euro block countries. If this were the case, I would have heard of it. There is, I think, essentially no evidence that the Euro has had any trade-enhancing effect. It clearly had a housing bubble enhancing effect. I don't know what an "institutional" benefit might be. I can only assume that it is a declaration that the less democratic influence there is on policy the better. The case was not that democracy is vulgar in itself. It was promised that technocracy would give better results. The post would not exist without proof that this promise was broken. The soi-disant* technocrats know little about technique, they are, in fact, oligarchs who speak power to truth, that is, to the data.

I've agreed with a many lines but now " These misalignments, in turn, required internal devaluation and painful fiscal consolidation," They did not. The painful fiscal consolidation was imposed by the stability and growth pact. It was not required by anything else. Why has painful fiscal consolidation not been "required" of Japan ? Tell me about the painful fiscal consolidation of Iceland ? I hate to admit it, but Republican fiscal insanity in the USA has not had painful effects -- because we aren't bound by the stability and growth pact which is the cause of vast suffering.

OK I get to the proposal. It is based on the assumption that asset purchases matter even if the returns on the assets are identical. It is just assumed that demand in a country is stimlated if the ECB purchases bonds issued by that country's government. No reason is given for this assumption. Levy admits that there might not be "first order" effects, Here I think "first order" is being used as a fancy way of saying "any" or at best "measurable". The final argument is that there can't be exchange rate stability and autonomous monetary policy along with free capital flows. No reason is given why free capital flows are required. No costs of pre-1992 capital controls are discussed. No advantages of eliminating them is asserted.

I'd say the problem here is that the discussion takes as granted the assumptions that EU efforts since I arrived in Europe (1989) have been basically sound and just need to be tweaked a bit. The possibility that the Euro was a mistake, that the 1992 single market was a mistake, and the stability and growth pact was an insane mistake are not considered. The discussion is limited to a proposal whose effectiveness is not asserted by its author, just on the grounds that the many policies which have worked in other continents are just ruled out and unmentionable in decent society.

* vedete quanto sono non anglo-sassone

Friday, July 20, 2018

Politico End Zone Dance

The cover article of politico is a concession by Blake Hounshell that he was wrong and that I and many others were right.

I enjoy a little end zone dance in comments

The case is overwhelmingly convincing. Also none of the critical evidence is new. As you now are no longer a russiagate skeptic, you should concede that you were foolish in February. All the (100% convincing) arguments you present here were valid then and made by many many people (including me in a twitter tiff with you).

You still insist on your personal definition of the word collusion to mean ... well I don't know what but it has nothing to do with the dictionary definition "secret or illegal cooperation or conspiracy to deceive others" or common usage.

Nothing in the definition or common usage implies that collusion must be competently executed to be collusion nor must it be well organized, effective or successful. The assertion that the Trump campaign was not competent enough to collude is a catagory error. It was convenient to Republicans some of whom are shameless enough to use a plainly invalid argument when they have no valid argument.

You should have stuck to the dictionary definition and note that collusion does not imply competent collusion. Alternatively, you could have avoided the word -- there is no need to use it except in the context of the Sherman antitrust act. In this, you (and many others) meekly followed Donald Trump who insists on inserting the word (written with a sharpie) whether or not it is relevant. It is not relevant to this article, but, you too, won't let it go.

As is often the case, a supposedly neutral journalist (you) allowed political operatives to redefine a word for their convenience. Now that you admit that you were wrong, you should also admit that you should have known (or seek another field of work) and that you shouldn't have allowed someone to redefine a word, and insist that no discussion of the topic can omit the conveniently redefined word.

Also, I told you so. You should have been able to understand my argument and should have been convinced back when I explained things to you in February.