Archive

  • AND I THOUGHT DISPLAYING RESOLVE WAS IMPORTANT.

    AND I THOUGHT DISPLAYING RESOLVE WAS IMPORTANT. Apparently not . Henry Kissinger : �If you mean, by �military victory,� an Iraqi government that can be established and whose writ runs across the whole country, that gets the civil war under control and sectarian violence under control in a time period that the political processes of the democracies will support, I don�t believe that is possible,� Mr. Kissinger told BBC News. This is odd coming from a guy who, according to Bob Woodward , thought that "the problem in Vietnam was that we lost our will". By one reading, it could be argued that Kissinger is trying to redefine success down in order to make it easier to declare victory and leave. By another, he could be trying to salvage his reputation as a realist by jumping off of a war that's really not his. In any case, suggesting that victory is impossible can hardly be seen as a positive contribution to the problem of losing our "will", although it's nice to see that Kissinger is once...
  • SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT.

    SOUTHERN DISCOMFORT. I�ve learned a lot of lessons from the 2006 elections, including this: The argument for a non-southern strategy simply drives some people batty . They lose any mathematical facilities they once had. Or worse: They blithely cherry-pick election results and poll data. They reach inaccurate conclusions built upon the soft foundation of non-quantifiable statements riddled with terms like "some" or "many" or "a whole lot." Again, I'm not sure what the root causes of this phenomenon are. But I suspect that these behaviors have, um, "a whole lot" to do with the rather inconvenient truths that were revealed on November 7. --Tom Schaller
  • STRAIGHT TALK.

    STRAIGHT TALK. That new cable fun show, John McCain Will Say Almost Any Damn Thing, rolled into George Stephanopoulos ' joint this weekend, where the Straight Talker flipped, flopped, and flew. Gaze in awe. I swear, if I walked up to the man, and whispered that I could deliver a precinct in Manchester, he'd give me his car on the spot. That he plainly doesn't know what he's talking straight about, however, is a more alarming problem. If you throw the privacy rights of 51 percent of the American people back to the states -- and that is what the debate over choice really is, all scriptural filigree aside, an argument about the right to privacy -- you are not a "federalist," the historical antecedents of whom were the advocates of a strong central government empowered to tell the states what the national interest really was. (As best I can recall, Ronald Reagan was the first one to take this particular scam for a spin.) What you are proposing is a return to the doctrine of "states'...
  • MCCAIN AND ABORTION: THE DANCE OF DISINGENUOUSNESS.

    MCCAIN AND ABORTION: THE DANCE OF DISINGENUOUSNESS. John McCain has come out for overturning Roe . Frankly, I'm not sure what this tells us that we didn't already know . McCain has already expressed support for the draconian ban in South Dakota, and voted to confirm Robert Bork and Samuel Alito . And in case McCain apologists once again mention that McCain "said that if his daughter wanted an abortion, he would leave the decision up to her," I note that the fact that McCain wouldn't dream of applying general bans on abortion to people in his social circles doesn't make him a pro-choicer; it makes him a Republican . John McCain's daughter won't have a problem getting an abortion whether Roe is good law or not, but a lot of other women won't be so lucky. Social conservatism for thee-but-not-for-me is pretty much what social conservatism means in this country. And his justification for supporting the overturning of Roe is also classically dishonest: MCCAIN: I don�t think a constitutional...
  • Poland: Yet Another Worker Shortage

    I feel so old. Back when I learned economics, they taught you that in free markets prices adjusted to bring supply and demand into line. But, these days we keep hearing about how there are labor shortages that can only be addressed by finding lower paid workers in other countries to take the jobs. According to the NYT, the latest case is Poland , where apparently all the construction workers have gone to work in Western Europe. What makes this story especially annoying to those of us who learned the old economics is that the wages of workers in the occupations facing shortages have been falling relative to the wages of workers in occupations not facing shortages. Many economists have sought to explain the relative decline in wages for less-educated workers as the result of skill-biased technical change (i.e. computer technology reduces the relative demand for less educated workers), but how do we reconcile a story of skill-biased technical change with recurring shortages of the...
  • Thoughts on Milton Friedman

    I am a bit slow commenting on the passing of Milton Friedman because I was travelling and having connectivity problems (in Montainview, CA, the homeland of Google), but I will now chime in with my two cents. First, I would take issue with claims about him being proven right on macroeconomic questions. Milton Friedman was the author and main promulgator of the money growth rule. His gospel was that we did not need the Fed, we just needed a computer that would increase the money supply by 3 percent annually. While central banks did experiment with this approach (including the Volcker Fed), I don't think that anyone in the world (not even Milton Freidman at the time of his death) still believes that this is a good way to manage monetary policy. One can view the current inflation targeting fad as a variant of the money rule, but even here there are few advocates of a strict target. Most proponents of inflation targetting support targetting with a human face, which is little different than...
  • BEST EVER.

    BEST EVER. Oh, Matthew , Matthew, Matthew . Allow me to retort. The 1986 Boston Celtics. The 1985 Los Angeles Lakers. The 1972 Los Angeles Lakers. (Don't worry. We're getting there.) The 1967 Philadelphia 76'ers. The 1964 Boston Celtics. (Almost) The 1996 Chicago Bulls. Maybe. --Charles P. Pierce
  • THE DEMONS OF THE PAST.

    THE DEMONS OF THE PAST. Charlie 's succeeded in baiting me out of Tapped semi-retirement with this post . I went and looked up Fred Barnes 's article "From Bradley to Barkley" and I have to say that it's pretty definitively the worst piece of sports writing ever. It isn't actually an "attempt to re-cast the NBA as a 'conservative' sport based on the fact that one of its stars was Charles Barkley , who then was making silly mouth-noises about being a Republican." Rather, the conservatism of mid-1990s pro hoops is grounded in a larger schematic. Liberal sports are "non-violent ( mostly), collective, and less than triumphal -- in a word, McGovern esque." Sports "where violence is supposed to be kept to a minimum and intricate teamwork matters, are liberal." So far, so good clich�. Then comes the trouble. Barnes places football in with the rightwing no-teamwork sports. This is, I promise you, a conclusion you could only reach if you'd literally never seen a football game. Meanwhile...
  • FRIEDMAN OBIT ROUNDUP.

    FRIEDMAN OBIT ROUNDUP. Yesterday I noted that Milton Friedman had just died, joining John Kenneth Galbraith as the second towering figure of 20th-Century economics to die this year. Now the obituaries are out in most major publications (here's the New York Times ). Berkeley economist and blogger Brad DeLong submitted his own to Salon . It's a sensitive, nuanced portrait of "an enlightened adversary" with whom left-of-center economists tangled at their "peril." While Friedman is best known for his ceaseless advocacy of free-market economics and extreme hostility to government (and even to public schools and parks), DeLong highlights his broader "pragmatic" libertarianism: his staunch opposition to the draft during Vietnam, his criticism of the War on Drugs, and his hatred of deficit spending. Love him or hate him, DeLong suggests, Friedman was no hack: he was dogged, articulate, and passionate in his views. If you're looking instead for a full-throated condemnation of Friedman, his...
  • INGRAHAM.

    INGRAHAM. It's becoming increasingly clear that the new congressional majority is going to take seriously what Donald Segretti used to call "ratfucking" -- low-tech political creepery of a peculiarly scummy variety -- in the context of the last few elections. While a lot of people rightly were concerned about hacked voting machines and organized voter suppression, and other forms of massive fraud, a whole universe of relatively less complicated dirty tricks got organized around the national Republican political apparatus. We got a glimpse of it in 2002, when the Republicans ran a phone-bank-jamming operation in New Hampshire that's subsequently sent a couple of people to the sneezer, a scandal with an actual criminal body-count that very few NH Democrats believe has been plumbed fully to its depths yet. This time around, there was the robo-calling that actually hit the media in real time, and which seems to have caught Harry Reid and Barack Obama 's attention. Now there's this . There...

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