Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Vox vs Vox And also "and" vs "AND

I think that Zack Beauchamp and Matt Yglesias are both wonderful bloggers. Also Yglesias sent me to Beuchamp's latest. However, I think they need to have a talk about the exact meaning of "and."

Beuchamp just wrote "James O’Keefe had dressed up as a pimp and taped himself asking employees at the liberal community organizing group ACORN for help setting up a brothel. "

Now that use of "and" is consistent with formal logic. O'Keefe did indeed do both of those things. However, it is not correct given ordinary English usage of "and" as explained by Yglesias

When it was pointed out to Hoyt that this is false, he replied — with emphasis in the original — that

“The story says O’Keefe dressed up as a pimp and trained his hidden camera on Acorn counselors. It does not say he did those two things at the same time.”

Look. The New York Times is a great newspaper. Its writers and editors are familiar with communication in the English language. So is Hoyt. The writers and editors who worked on that story screwed up. It’s bad to screw up. But it’s not the worst thing in the world. To have the error pointed out to you and somehow pretend that the error wasn’t made is, however, unforgivable. Nobody can seriously maintain that the sentence as written doesn’t convey simultaneity.

And also by Neddy Merril

By the way, this is the first time I've read of O'Keefe discussing setting up a brothel.

Following (as usual) DeLong and Separately Krugman on Blanchard

Like Brad DeLong, I found reading Olivier Blanchard's brilliant, brief and concise article on DSGE jarring.

I find his critique of DSGE entirely convincing. However, he doesn't. He wrote " I see the current DSGE models as seriously flawed, but they are eminently improvable and central to the future of macroeconomics. "

He notes the flaws that (in my words)

1) the core assumptions are absurd and have yielded false implications (the models can be fiddled to eliminate those implications as one would expect if the approach were "a dangerous dead end").

2) After the fiddling, the models are too richly parametrised to estimate so the implications are the result of conventions and not of any interaction with reality.

3) the models have normative implications which are clearly nonsense.

and 4) only the economists who write the literature can understand it.

Sure sounds like a "dangerous dead end" to me.

Blanchard responds to the straw person who says DSGE is a dead end as follows (I mean that literally -- the is all of the defense DSGE models in the article)

The pursuit of a widely accepted analytical macroeconomic core, in which to locate discussions and extensions, may be a pipe dream, but it is a dream surely worth pursuing. If so, the three main modeling choices of DSGEs are the right ones. Starting from explicit microfoundations is clearly essential; where else to start from? Ad hoc equations will not do for that purpose. Thinking in terms of a set of distortions to a competitive economy implies a long slog from the competitive model to a reasonably plausible description of the economy. But, again, it is hard to see where else to start from. Turning to estimation, calibrating/estimating the model as a system rather than equation by equation also seems essential. Experience from past equation-by-equation models has shown that their dynamic properties can be very much at odds with the actual dynamics of the system.

So he argues that DSGE is a good approach, because he can't think of another one. So, just for example, it is necessary to start with plainly false assumptions about individual behavior, because one obviously can't start with observations of individual behavior and estimate behavioral patterns (note there are more than 240 data points). Also one must start with a competitive model, because OJ Blanchard said you must.

He argues that one must start from DSGE because he can't think of an alternative *and* dismisses other approaches without considering them. I think that Blanchard genuinely doesn't think there is any macro but DSGE macro. I note in passing that he has friendly relations with Paul Krugman, Larry Summers and Brad DeLong.

OK his conclusion (includes) "DSGE models can fulfill an important need in macroeconomics, that of offering a core structure around which to build and organize discussions. " Krugman notes that this sounds just like the defense of Marxist theory he used to hear. I ask why the core structure couldn't be national income and product account identities and the definitions of wage inflation, price inflation and interest rates ?

Monday, August 22, 2016

Highly Defamatory !

Reading about Melania Trump suing UK Tabloids, I learn who was upset at an article in the late lamented Gawker about the clinic that does* Donald Trump's hair

After Gawker ran a thorough investigation into whether Donald Trump's infamous hairdo is the work of Ivari International, a hair clinic which conducts patented hair restoration treatments, the site also heard from Harder [lawyer for Hulk Hogan and now Melania Trump]. This time he was working on behalf of clinic founder Edward Ivari, who called the story "false and defamatory."

I absolutely agree that the article would have been defamatory were it false. I don't see how a hair clinic can survive the allegation that it had something to do with Trump's hair. But I also think that Ivari can only claim he was defamed by asserting that Trump's hair is appalling. "My business will be damaged if it is even suspected that I had something to do with the deceased weasel which seems to have nested on Mr Donald Trump's head" would convince a jury. But Ivari et al might be evicted from Trump Tower if the case went to trial and he made that argument.

* yes that is the indicative mode. I asserted that, in his suit, Ivari lied and that his employees weave hair on the Trumpkin. I note I am typing this in Italy where there is no difference between libeling a public and a private figure and each can be prosecuted as the crime of "calunnia*". So sue me (and also denounce me which is worse). Please. *spelling error corrected. Thanks Marco.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

In which I Chait Chait

I want to start by noting that Jon Chait is one of my favorite bloggers. My main complaint about his blog is that he doesn't post often enough. I have a very high opinion of Chait. I enjoy his writing because he is (to use the term he chose) "mean". When commenting on his blog, I try to follow his example. Jon Chait argued that one should not argue with straw men. He wrote that rather than distance oneself from "some in my party" one should always name and quote at least one person with whom one is debating. I think this is a very important principle.

Needless to say, no one sticks to this principle. For example consider Jon Chait on Clinton defenders

In the eyes of their enemies, the Clintons are criminals on a world-historic scale; in the eyes of their supporters, innocent victims of a massive smear campaign. The reality is that their venality is rather ordinary. There’s a reason the term politician is synonymous with lying, calculation, and ambition — these are common qualities for politicians. The Clintons are common politicians, motivated in general by a desire to implement policy changes they think will make the world a better place, but not immune to trimming and getting rich in the process. None of their behavior is disqualifying, given the number of elected officials, presidents included, who have done the same. Neither does it justify it.

Note that Chait doesn't name any Clinton supporters who think the Clintons are 0% guilty of any unethical conduct. Contradicting both the (un-named and un-quoted) enemies and the (un-named and un-quoted) supporters Chait wrote that the Clintons are " not immune to trimming and getting rich in the process." That should teach all those people who think that the Clintons are immmune to "getting rich in the process." These people aren't named, because Chait hasn't found any (personally I am confident that there are at least two people in the world who think the Clintons aren't rich -- those people are either totally ignorant or so rich that they think only billionaires are rich). I think the number of people who think that the Clintons are immune to trimming is probably greater than the numbe who think they haven't become rich. I'm sure there are people who see no trimming in having Ricky Ray Rector killed and then applauding Lionel Jospin when he said it is disgraceful that the death penalty hasn't been eliminated. I'm sure there are more people who don't know that Bill Clinton did both those things. But I think only a tiny fraction of Clinton supporters suspect them of an inability to trim.

Chait has set up an imaginary Clinton supporter straw person. Notably, he didn't express an opinion one way or another on the question of whether both Clintons are more nearly "immune to trimming and getting rich in the process" than 90% of other politicians. He didn't address that question anywhere in the essay. For example he didn't assert that Bernie Sanders has higher ethical standards than Clinton.

Yet in his concluding sentence he wrote "her [Clinton's] lax approach to rule-following and ethical conflicts." This follows no effort at all to demonstrate that her approach is lax given the ordinary English meaning which is "laxer than is usual" not "laxer than Kant's ideal citizen of a realm of ends".

Throughout Chait shifts back and forth from discussion of perceptions to discussion of reality. I would have no problem with an essay on how Bill Clinton's wife must be above suspicion, but the words "her lax approach" would not appear in that essay.

I have three more complaints. Throughout Chait does not consider the fact that Bill and Hillary Clinton are two different people. I am fairly confident that an alien who generally understood English but hadn't figured out how the singular and the plural are distinguished would guess after reading the essay that "the Clintons" is a single being.

I object to Chait's abuse of polling data. To argue that Clinton has a problem with young people he looked at a single poll, the Pew poll which showed Clinton winning by an anomalously low margin.

The most recent Pew Survey finds Clinton winning the under-30 vote by a mere 11 percentage points, 38 percent to 27 percent, less than half the margin Barack Obama carried four years ago.

I think there should be a rule for commentators that only polling averages with explicit and defensible rules for inclusion and weighting should be discussed. update: I should have guessed that Nate Silver has calculated the average. In post convention polls, Clinton-Trump averages 21% or approximately twice Pew's 11% and similar to Obama-Romney. Chait cherry picked the Pew poll.

end update

Also he compared Clinton-Trump to Obama - Romney without making the source of the Obama-Romney datum clear. The participle "carried" to me implies that he is discussing an exit poll. It is not legitimate to Compare an August poll to an exit poll. He looks at the difference in support not the ratio of support. This is important, because he is discussing a poll in which only 65% of the subset of respondents said they were voting for Clinton or Trump. His point would not have been supported by the equally valid calculation (Clinton - Trump)/0.65 vs (Obama -Romney)/(98 or 99% or whatever). This is bogus.

Then (and worse) Chait equates " the Democratic electorate as a whole. " "Voters who supported Sanders in the primary, but who have not embraced Clinton" and those who reflect "the heart of Sanders’s appeal ". here

But the professional left does not reflect the Democratic electorate as a whole. Voters who supported Sanders in the primary, but who have not embraced Clinton, are actually less liberal on the whole than Clinton’s supporters. That is because the heart of Sanders’s appeal was to good-government voters who embraced his image as an authentic practitioner of earnest, uncorrupted politics.

This is nonsense. The only data he mentions are the views of "Voters who supported Sanders in the primary, but who have not embraced Clinton" a small minority of a minority of the Democratic electorate. These people are a minority of Sanders supporters. Their views can't teach us what was the heart of his appeal. The analysis is nonsense.

Finally Chait argues that The Clinton Foundation does good work fighting AIDS and poverty, but has to be eliminated to eliminate the appearance of conflict of interest. His arguments logically imply that some people whose lives could be saved will just have to die of AIDS or malnutrition for the greater good. I think this is his view -- the work of the Clinton Foundation isn't important. My guess is that, if pressed, he would argue that the same money would be given even if the Clinton name were not used. This is inconsisent with the ordinary English meaning of the word "leverage" in "The purpose of the Clinton Foundation is to leverage Clinton fame into charitable donations." Now Chait is bold and might just argue that the lives which would be saved by the Clinton Foundation will have to be sacrificed for the greater good. The stakes are high and this is actually arguable. But Chait didn't bother to argue this.

Saturday, August 20, 2016

To Be Sure

This article is brilliant.

My comment isn't.

I have a very bad habit of contesting the "to be sure" paragraphs in which non Republicans concede that Republicans aren't totally wrong about everything. To be sure, I understand that consideration of the arguments of the criticized group should be automatic. However, the paragraphs tend to be nonsense.

In this excellent article there are only "to be sure" sentences (the case contra the GOP is so strong that the most generous observer would have trouble writing an entire paragraph).

One is "... Democrats have in the past described mainstream GOP nominees in near-apocalyptic terms too." No doubt true. In the defence of those Democrats, I can only note that the last election of a mainstream GOP nominee was followed by a near-apocalypse (mostly economic but also in Iraq). The claim that W. Bush is a dangerous extremist became quite respectable in 2007 or so (not when he said he was above the law and had the authority to lock up a US citizen arrested in the USA up indefinitely without trial but rather later.

Also on Vietnam in '68 there was not much denunciation of this and there is evidence it happened and it is appalling.On 2000, it's not Democrats fault that there was such a close election and such an unususal supreme courte decision. Democrats worked with Bush (say on no child left behind) and many voted to authorize him to decide whether to invade Iraq.

At least you didn't Balliance (TM) your critique of the GOP by noted the extreme rhetoric of Democrats who argued in 1972 that employees of the Committee to Reelect the President broke into the DNC headquarters and argued in 1974 that the President obstructed justice. I think that "to be sure" clause is as convincing as the ones you felt obliged to write.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

True Fact

It is no exaggeration to say that, since Trump decided to Breitbart his campaign, I haven't dared click http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/ for fear I might laugh myself to death.

OK really true fact, not laugh myself to death but I honestly worried that Charlie Pierce's snark on the latest Trump insanity might be too tooooo much.

So now Trump is preventing me from surfing to http://www.esquire.com/news-politics/politics/ . Just one more reason to hate him (as if I needed more reasons after he *made* me retweet Jonah Goldberge *and* Erick fucking Erickson.

You Mean Your Former Profession Mr Spicer

“There are doctors who help people who have done bad things, there are lawyers who defend bad people,” he said. “I don’t think it’s unique to my profession.” said Sean Spicer of the profession in which he just made himself unemployable.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Michael Gerson

Michael Gerson is my favorite Republican (my dad prefers David Brooks). I thought highly of Gerson long before he denounced Trump (I even liked the speeches he wrote for Bush). I have long wondered how a nice guy like Gerson could end up in a party like that. I assumed that it was single issue pro-life punditry (I was wrong). Second hypothesis devout Protestant identity politics (getting there). But now he explains (with great integrity he described how he actually came to his current views back when he was young and uh non-expert).
But my political identification had begun to shift by 1984, and I cast my first presidential vote for Ronald Reagan. For me, exposure to economics had an ideologically sobering effect. (A young liberal can’t be too careful in his or her reading.) In addition, Walter Mondale and his running mate, Geraldine Ferraro, had turned conservative religious people into a rhetorical skeet target. And Reagan himself — who had demonstrated personal courage and a capacity to govern — seemed to embody something hopeful and decent about the country.
Even now, I am shocked by the second sentence. I have been exposed to economics and it sure hasn't convinced me to support Reagan or Reaganism. I think that liberalism (unlike Conservatism, GOP support, Marxism & most world views) stands up well in the face of wide reading. I would be interested in reading more about Gerson's exposure to economics. I am willing to bet it is to microeconomics 101 (first semester only - second semester gets to explaining how the implications of the models of complete information and perfect competition taught 1st semester really depend on clearly false assumptions) not say, Friedman's critique of the Phillips curve. The third sentence declares that conservative denomination identity politics was very important. Notably, it is clear that Gerson was not a single issue anti abortion kid -- Carter was pro choice. Note also that Walter Mondale was a minister's son and stressed that fact. I think this was clearly sectarian conflict -- an echo 30 years ago of the 30 years war. I have no idea what Gerson has in mind. I read it as saying "I decided to be loyal to my tribe". Then there is Reagan. There is no hint of any evidence that he had demonstrated ability to govern. Obviously "hopeful" is important. But look at "personal courage". Gerson seems to be saying he might never have gotten involved with the GOP if it weren't for John Hinckley. I think it is immensely admirable to admit the emotional basis of political views. It is very rare -- usually people describe reasons for their votes not causes. I'm sure my decision to vote for Democrats has an even less mature basis. However, since I have been a Democrat since before I was 3, I can't explain how I became one.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Major Scoop Here

I was very impressed by this Daily Beast story on Russian use of twitter for propaganda.

In particular, being now in Sardinia, I was interested in user Marcel Sardo. I clicked this link to remind myself that I don't read German.

But who is this international man of twittintrigue ?

Here is his profile. I am not as impressed as I had been by the scoop that he is pro-Russian propagandist.

Tuesday, August 09, 2016

Pseudo Journalist Joe Concha Libels Bill Maher

This post not only demonstrates incompetence. It is clearly libelous. Please read it before reading my comment. non disclaimer. I am writing this in Italy. The standard for libel & for calunnia of a public figure is making a false damanging statement. I am absolutely not protected by the first amendment. Calunnia is a crime punishable by prison. I have no fear that Concha might sue or denounce me. The reason is that I can prove my claim (which follows) My comment Maher certainly did not give $1 million to the Obama 2012 re-election campaign. Even after citizens united, contribution to campaigns are limited. The donation was to a super pac of some kind. This isn't a detail. It casts doubt on this entire post. The problem is that, since super pacs are not officially linked to candidates, the distinction between donating to help Obama (as Maher claimed) and donating to a "Clinton affiliated entity" may be a distinction without a difference. What does it take to be "Clinton affiliated" according to Assange ? I'd guess that the two are discussing the exact same $ 1 million. Assange didn't name the entity. It is possible that the name would have proven Maher to be a liar, but I think it more likely that he didn't name it, because it would show that your suspicions are unfounded. Google tells me that the super pac is "Priorities USA Action" http://www.npr.org/2012/03/28/149512215/bill-mahers-obama-superpac-donation-causes-stir . Google also tells me that Priorities USA action is now helping Clinton http://prioritiesusaaction.org/pro-clinton-super-pac-launches-biggest-ad-buy-yet/ After 3 minutes of googling, it is very clear to me that the million donated to a pro Obama pac is the exact same million donated to a "Clinton affiliated entity". Maher's claim and Assange's are perfectly consistent. You present absolutely no evidence which casts any doubt on Maher's honesty. By the way, either you knew that Maher didn't donate a million to Obama's campaign (as you asserted) or you recklessly disregarded the truth of falsehood of your claim. You are supposed to have some role of some kind in reporting on politics, so if you were not reckless you would have known that your claim was false. It is also, in the context of your insinuations, damaging to Maher. This post is libelous. I'm sure Maher won't sue you, but I suggest you correct your gross material error, just in case he does,

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Ballance RIP

Nothing lasts forever, not even the Washington Post's devotion to Ballance. If Trump had said the earth is flat, they could have written "Opinions on shape of planet differ. Both sides have a point". but if he asserts (in the same tweet) that it is flat, spherical, and a dimensionless abstract idea, they are forced to note he is nuts.

Alass dear Ballance I knew ye well. A trope of infinite jest. Now no more

Donald Trump is amazing. I would have guessed his achievements were impossible

Donald Trump is not a humble man. At the Republican convention he said a lot about things that "I alone" can achieve.

It is not easy to accept the validity of such a claim. The natural reaction is to reject it. But Donald Trump was right. He and he alone could make Eugene Robinson and Robert Kagan agree on anything.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Nate Silver Claimed That Matt Kibbe Has A tiny Penis

I missed this at the time, but I am shocked shocked by the incivility going on here.

it’s roughly a thirtyfold exaggeration. [skip] Matt Kibbe [skip]did the equivalent of telling people that his penis is 53 inches long.

Nate Silver did the equivalent of saying that Kibbe's penis is less than 1.8 inches long.

I haven't measured mister Kibbe's penis, and my love of data and fact checking I shall never measure Kibbe's penis. However, I dare to say that, if I exaggerated as Kibbe did, I would claim that my penis is 135 inches long (division will teach the reader if any that even people with small penises can be daring).

Not Trending on Twitter

I am struck by the fact that #wrathofkhan is not trending on twitter. Only two tweets with that hashtag referred to Khizr Khan. I think this means that respect for the heroism of captain Khan and the sorrow and courage of his parents (combined with deep anger at Donald Trump) is stronger than the temptation to tweet a perfect pop culture reference. That means very very strong.

I would be ashamed to write a joke including the name "Khan". I feel a bit funny about this post.

update: well the resistance of temptation was impressive while it lasted

https://twitter.com/brianbeutler/status/759816869888925696

https://twitter.com/joshtpm/status/759922270206824448

https://twitter.com/mattyglesias/status/759553640013172736

sigh

Thursday, July 28, 2016

Guccifer

Most Republicans and many Democrats argue that Hillary Clinton should be indicted, because she used a private server for work e-mails and it might have been hacked. In contrast, no one is arguing that Colin Powell should be indicted although he used a private personal e-mail account for work, didn't have a *.gov e-mail account. Oh and by the way, Powell's e-mail account is known to have been hacked. Just as background Charlie Savage and Nicole Perlroth mention this publicly known fact.
The original “Guccifer” (pronounced GUCCI-fer) is a real person: Marcel Lazar Lehel, a Romanian hacker who used the pseudonym Guccifer to hack various accounts belonging to American celebrities and government officials, including members of the Bush family, former Secretary of State Colin L. Powell, and Sidney Blumenthal, an informal adviser to Hillary Clinton. Mr. Lehel was arrested in Romania in 2014 for hacking the email accounts of several Romanian officials. In April, he was extradited to the United States to face hacking charges and pleaded guilty in May before a federal judge in Alexandria, Va. While awaiting sentencing, Mr. Lehel claimed to have hacked Mrs. Clinton’s private email server, but federal officials have found no evidence to support his claim.
Even after all these decades, I find the Clinton rules amazing. Also, the headline "Is D.N.C. Email Hacker a Person or a Russian Front? Experts Aren’t Sure" is a case of extreme Ballance. No expert quoted in the article expressed any doubt that Guccier 2.0 is a Russian front.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Google ad Fail

Don't be malvaggio.

I often think that I sure hope that Google sticks to "don't be evil" because if they decided to be evil they could do a lot of damage since they know so much about us. In p articular google ads (the part of google that, you know, actually generates revenue) are scary. The google system knows about every good or service for which I have shown a hint of interest.

So I am delighted that I was a good mark for a scram product which the ad claims will teach me English in my sleep.

Also New York magazine thinks that if I read Jon Chait on Putin, I am probably interested in Pokemon's in Rihanna's booty (but the insights of New York magazine never struck me as frighteningly well informed)

Friday, July 22, 2016

The Curious Incident of the Doge at the Right Time

I am reflecting on the birth of US democracy. This is not because I fear I witnessed the onset of it's fatal illness in Cleveland. I am optimistic -- really -- not worried at all that the second act of world Fascism will be farce (absurd enough almost even to overshadow the ridiculousness of Mussolini himself).

I am thinking about George Washington. First I assume that both God and Marx are dead and I don't think the (relative) success of continent scale democracy in the USA was willed by God or historical law. I think the normal expectable outcome of the US war of independence was lord protector George Washington who wasn't as blood thirsty as Cromwell, or, maybe emperor Washington who didn't cause a huge war, because conquering native Americans required only a large war.

I think, and will assume, that two key events in world history include General George Washington surrendering his commission to Congress and President George Washington deciding not to run for re-election in 1996 to make sure he wasn't President for life. I assume that in these two cases (and I suppose others during the long sad comedy of human history) history was made by a single person. A question (of purely academic interest) is why he didn't seize monarchic power. The joke title refers to the elected Doges of Venice who, once elected, had royal power.

I think that Washington was motivated by genuinely heroic vanity -- that he cared more about what people said about him than anything else. I think he made history, because it was necessary to his self esteem to have a glorious place in history. Washington surrendering his commission was portrayed a heroic painting totally unlike any previously painted. I think he did it partly with the possibility of that painting in mind.

This was the re-crossing of the Rubicon -- the effort to undo what Caesar had done and to surpass him in the history books. He is not known to have muttered under his breath "alea iacta est" but I bet he thought it. The odds weren't good, but we haven't crapped out yet.

I think actual historians have assembled overwhelmingly strong evidence that Washington was motivated by an extraordinary obsession with his place in history . There is a letter to Washington advising him to break the promise he made to Congress to retire to private life and to preside over the Constitutional Convention (sorry no link). It argues that it would be dishonorable for him if it were thought that he valued his personal honor above the interests of the nation. Here the magic history making word "honor" clearly refers to reputation at least as much as virtue.

This reminds me of Mount Vernon. From a distance, the mansion is spectacularly impressive as it looks over the Patomac. The river is visible from an impressive portico which is equally visible from the river (which is no longer used for commerce). The impressive pillars are made of painted wood, but sand was mixed in the paint to make ersatz granite. Show not substance was key.

This reminds me of something Alex de Tocqueville wrote without any explicit reference to Washington

When I arrived for the first time at New York, by that part of the Atlantic Ocean which is called the Narrows, I was surprised to perceive along the shore, at some distance from the city, a considerable number of little palaces of white marble, several of which were built after the models of ancient architecture. When I went the next day to inspect more closely the building which had particularly attracted my notice, I found that its walls were of whitewashed brick, and its columns of painted wood. All the edifices which I had admired the night before were of the same kind.

So it's a coincidence Alexis? Suuuuure.

Update: note that I did not, did not write that the Republicans contempt for the founding prinnciples of the Republic placed it in danger, but it shall be saved by Donald Trump because of the characteristic he so conspicuously shares with George Washington. I did not write that his colossal vanity shall save Democracy in America from its terrible enemies in the Republican party. Since 2004, I have carefully refrained from making any predictions about the outcomes of US presidential elections. Alea acta est all over again. I will only note that and that the odds of snake eyes are 35 to 1 (this doesn't mean I question Nate Silver).

update 2: minds think alike. Michael Gerson (my favorite Republican) wrote "The Caesarian option — rolling the dice with a populist authoritarian, using democratic majorities to undermine democratic structures — is common in history." Alia indeed. Interestingly he also noted US problems other than Trump. I would say the other problems are that there are other Republicans. He noted wage stagnation (that is increased inequality) Congress (Republican and bocked by GOP filibusters before) and the politicized Supreme Court (as in Bush V Gore which affected his personal employment).

His argument is that Trump broke with the Republican tradition, but, in passing he conceded that the rest of them are part of the problem not part of the solution

[my comments in brackets]

A

nd our institutional challenges are not imaginary: A long-term, wage-earner recession (to which Republicans have offered little practical response). Educational mediocrity concentrated in high-poverty communities [Republicans fight state or Federal spending on such schools]. Congressional dysfunction [due entirely to Republicans]. A Supreme Court that seems overly political and outcome driven [that is the Republican appointees (other than Sauter and Stevens) who change legal doctrine from case to case but always serve the GOP, large corporations and the rich].

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

GOP Dumpster fire in Cleveland

In a pointless pointless exercise I will blog about what I read on blogs and the Washington Post (sorry Brad) about the Republican Convention's first day.

1) Let's insult the popular governor of a very crucial swing state. Campaign manager Paul Manafort and Trump are thin skinned vindictive and stupid. Instead of dodging Kasich questions they decided to force Ohioans to choose (again). This is insane.

2) Roll Call Vote ! I didn't know about the majority of 9 states sign a petition implies a roll call. After running a way for a bit, the chair said enough people in 3 of 9 states changed their minds so a roll call vote on the rules wasn't required. He didn't even name the states. I think he is lying. I also think that some #neverTrumper might sue and it is conceivable that the case won't be dismissed (the GOP does have to follow its own rules).

I don't know if this will dominate the coverage

3) Danger danger. The speakers totally ignore reality.

4) I am actually shocked by Trump's ego, narcissism, imaturity and lack of decency. I am shocked that I am still shocked. He competed with his own convention with an interview on Fox. Fox cut from a mother blaming Clinton for the death of her son to Trump. This is outrageous. Trump is a spoiled child who must always be the center of attention. I am amazed that the utter contempt for all standards of decency isn't being more widely denounced.

update: As usual Charlie Pierce wrote it perfectly

At this point, I couldn't even muster the energy to get angry at the fact that, from the podium of a national convention, the opposing candidate was accused of being half a murderer. There was so much talk about dark betrayals coming from the stage all night that what Smith said got completely lost.

Later, I learned something else. That, during Pat Smith's speech, Trump called into Fox News and forced them to cut away. I learned this just about at the time that He, Trump and Melania were taking their final bows. I got angry then.

end update:

5) Trump's third wife said that he is intensely loyal to his family. Irony died.

Any loyal readers know my theory of The Divine Purpose deducing God's plan from His works. I believe that the supreme being created the earth in order to plumb the utter abyss of stupidity. This means that I fear that once it is plumbed, the Universe will have achieved its purpose and vanish. I have no plans for Friday. Hell after tonight, I have no plans for Tuesday.

update 2: Turns out I was wrong about our Creator's plan. The ultimate abyss of idiocy has been reached and the universe is still here.

https://twitter.com/JarrettHill/status/755242423991709697

Sunday, July 10, 2016

Chait goes full Godwin

QOTD "To be perfectly clear, Trump is not Hitler or a Nazi." is about 10 MegaChaits of shrill, but we get to 100 MegaChaits when Chait feels he needs to explain and defend his bold claim that Trump is not Hitler with

Trump’s racism is not of the genocidal variety, and he is committed neither to a program of Darwinian racial conquest nor the principled imposition of one-party rule. If President Trump does start a world war, it would probably be as a result of blundering rather than a long-term master plan.

So Trump's possible imposition of one party rule would be unprincipled and he probably doesn't have a long-term master plan involving world war (Chait did not add that he makes this last bolded bold claim because he doesn't think that Trump is capable of long-term planning -- that would be a full gigaChait of shrill and I know I am going to have to brush up on my prefixes before this campaign is over).

Chait is 100% serious and makes a fairly convincing case for his (qualified) analogy. He isn't claiming that Trump is Hitler, but he is claiming that the Republicans who endorse Trump are fools or knaves, Hindenbergs or Von Pappens.

Trump’s admiration for ironfisted dictators, not only in Ba'athist Iraq but Russia, China, and North Korea, is the ideological lodestar of his long history of political musings. Over the years, Trump has weaved left and right on health care, abortion, taxes, and even the issues currently central to his campaign, like immigration and trade, but has never wavered from his foundational belief that strong leaders are those who crush their enemies without restraint. Whatever norms or bounds that we think limit the damage a president could inflict are likely to be exceeded if that president is Trump. Those Republicans who publicly endorse Trump because he probably won’t win may be making an error on a historic scale.

Friday, July 01, 2016

Now I understand why Representatives can't control their crazy impulses

Calling Kevin Drum

A House office’s water supply has been tainted by high lead levels and may be unsafe, according to a warning blasted out to congressional offices Tuesday night.

via Steve Benen (of course)

So what evidence is there of actual lead poisoning ?

Lack of impulse control -- check.

Outbursts of Rage -- check.

Inability to Reason -- check.

Physical Violence -- I give it about a week.