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Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Empty Quarter, Greenwich and the Mason Dixon Line

I recall being surprised to learn that I was born, bred and then living South of the Mason Dixon line. I considered the border between North and South to be the Patomac river (honestly felt I was entering enemy territory when I entered Northern Virginia -- this was very long ago). My dad explained it was the border between Pennsylvania (North) and Maryland (South). My 91 year old mother recently confessed that she had some doubts about moving South of the Mason Dixon line to live with my Dad. The border is now roughly where 270 shrinks into a normal sized highway. The line is arbitrary.

I thought of it when I saw the very common figure showing the empty quadrant of US public opinion. A solid majority is more egalitarian than the center and more socially conservative than the center.

What the hell is this center ? The question is made more difficult by the fact that the two dimensions are indices constructed combining answers to many questions. I am fairly sure that historically the "economic dimension" is the first principle component of the cloud of answers and the "social/identity dimension" is the second. But I am talking about the placement of the axes. It is that arbitrary, unmotivated and unexplained choice which causes the South East quadrant to be empty. One natural placement is that the division between left and right on the economic dimension is the median level of the economic index and the division between socially conservative and socially liberal is the median level of social/identity index. This is clearly not the choice made by *all* political scientists, sociologist and survey researchers. It is clear that the median US adult has left of center views on economic issues and more conservative than centrist views on social/identity issues.

I assert that there is some elitist nonsense going on here. I haven't looked very hard, but I also haven't found any definition of what makes some point (0,0). So I speculate.

Everything is relative, so to the standard statement that public opinion is skewed conservative populist, I assert thatelite opinion is skewed libertarian -- it's that the axes are oddly placed given the data points, not that the datapoints are oddly placed given the axes.

Of course it isn't simply a matter of eliminating a central claim of US political science by adding a constant to the economic index scores and subtracting one from the social/identity index scores. The cloud would look strange because it would end abruptly at the values which are now econmic ultraleft -1 and ultra social conservative +1. The issue isn't just the processing of the answers to questions which are the raw data -- it is also the questions. A large number of people (including some Trump voters) give the left more answer to every economic question and a smaller but still large number give the most conservative answer to every social/identity question. This shows the elite libertarianish skew of the people who chose the questions.

If the economic question is "should the rich be lined up and shot after all their wealth is confiscated or is making them poor punishment enough" then almost all US adults would agree on something with a libertarian. If the social/identity question is "was Moses right that gay sex should be punished with death" again a substantial majority would side with libertarians. But those questions are considered absurd, because they are outside of the range of elite opinion. (indeed as a child of the elite I absolutely oppose killing rich people, killing gay people and oppose killing rich gay people). The point is just that the questions matter. Most of the 10% most egalitarian Americans are to the right of Mao Tse Tung. The most socially conservative are to the left of Cotton Mather (haven't heard much agitation for witch trials lately).

So what is this elite ? My guess is that it would be political scientists, sociologists, and survey researchers. But it could be members of congress. I haven't read the questions, but they might be issues on the Federal Government agenda -- nothing so far left as a top income tax rate of 70% until roughly last week. Or it could be pundits, columnists, "sophisters, economists, and calculators". In any case, the figure tells us as much about the people who chose the questions as about those who chose the answers. !"

Sunday, January 20, 2019

Weak Chait Snark

The smart and ruthless Jon Chait writes of the Trump administration "(petty graft ranging from lavish office expenses to making staff procure high-end hand cream)". Wrong Jon. You meant to write "(petty graft randing from emoluments to emollients)" Also some actual pedantry. As has become common recently, Chait used "singular" to mean "single" here "Here is the crown jewel of the Trump presidency, the singular legislative achievement". This usage error has spread singularly quickly, but "singular" in this context means "strange" not "the only one". The single best way to assert that an event is unique is to type or say "single". I guess that "singular" sounds more literaryular or maybe dramaticular or somethingular. Also "fulsomely" means disgustingly not fully or completely.

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Reagan's Tax Cuts and the Volcker Recession

Max Boot is a candidate member of the Rubin Gerson can't be a conservative anymore, because I always agree with them club of Washington Post columnists. But he is a bit confused about US macroeconmic history and macroeconomics. He wrote

"The deficit spending of the Reagan years was at least justified because it boosted the economy out of a deep recession "

As a matter of timing, this can't be right. The Kemp Roth tax cut was enacted in 1981. Real GDP peaked in 1981q3 -- the tax cut corresponds to the beginning of the recession not the end.

The part that Boot misses (because it has been unimportant for the past 10 years) is monetary policy. It is possible to cause a severe recession in spite of fiscal stimulus by driving the Federal Funds rate up over 19 %. The combination of loose fiscal and very tight monetary policy caused huge real interest rates and a collapse of investment. It also caused an over-valued dollar, a huge surge in imports and deindustrialization.

One can discuss the effects of fiscal policy without considering the response of monetary authorities only when monetary policy is constrained by the zero lower bound. If GDP is determined by the Fed's ideas about what level is consistent with low inflation, then fiscal policy which is, in itself, stimulatory just changes the composition and not the level of demand.

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.

update: I clicked through to an older and excellent Chait article complaining that liberals did't appreciate Obama in 2010 (now liberals do -- the current complaints come from democratic socialists who denounce mere liberals).

He is forces to almost admit that FDR accomplished more than Obama. However, he also demonstrates historical ignorance writing

Roosevelt did not run for office promising to boost deficit spending in order to stimulate the economy. He ran castigating Herbert Hoover for permitting high deficits, then immediately passed an austerity budget in his first year.

It is true that Roosevelt castigated Hoover for permitting high deficits. However, the austerity budget which included an Ocasional Cortezian 63% top marginal income tax rate was The Revenue Act of 1932 (June 6, 1932, ch. 209, 47 Stat. 169). Notably 1932 was Hoover's last year not Roosevelt's first year. The bill was signed by tax and don't spend conservative Hoover.

In fact, in Roosevelt's first budget (spent in fiscal 1934 the first fiscal year for which he proposed a budget) there was a huge increase in Federal Spending. There was an increase in 1933, even though there was already a budget (& recall FDR became president in March not January). I guess the idea of a Republican soaking the rich is incomprehensible, but it happened. (to make a historiographic error avoided by Amity Schlaes should be embarrassing).

The budget passed (by Congress) in Roosevelt's first year increased Federal Government current spending by over 30%. Rather a larger proportional increase than the ARRA. This is not a subtle point.

As an aside, fiscal stimulus does not require deficit spending. The balanced budget multiplier is positive (this claim isn't mere theory it is based on evidence). I do not know why it is regularly asserted that the fiscal stance can be measured by the full employment budget balance (this is a point on which Robert Lucas and Christine Romer sometimes agree & they are both obviously wrong)

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).