Krugman > Drezner. As if you need me to tell you that.

Krugthulu snorts at opinionmakers who demanded Bush bills that exploded the deficit, held up Ireland as an economic model and now act like like the budget crisis is some passive-tense disaster that just sort of happened because ordinary people are stupid. Dan Drezner calls that silly because polls supported cutting taxes and invading Iraq. Drum points out that polls always supported those things but, until Bush, nobody actually did them because informed people understood that they were bad policy.

I would add two things.

(1) Popular opinion is not exactly an inexorable force to which politicians swing like algae on a harbor rock. If you have enough money and enough media outlets you can make people care about any damn thing you want.

Do people remember 2003 anymore? The only people thinking hard about Iraq right after 9/11 either worked in the White House or knew personally someone who did. Once Bush and his neocon advisers decided to go to Iraq it took a full-court press by FOX, the internet right, talk radio, nonstop screaming hysteria from the bully pulpit and a healthy dose of processed bullshit fed to pet reporters like Judith “fucking right” Miller. It also took an incredible amount of naked lying. The decayed corpse of Hermann Goering pretty much nailed it.

If you care enough and have enough resources public opinion just doesn’t mean anything. It might be relevant for third rail issues like Medicare and Social Security (that is to say, they have support that no amount of screaming on FOX can budge) and yet Republicans keep taking a tire iron to those anyway. That is nigh inexplicable unless you dismiss the idea that public opinion has even a small influence on the GOP agenda.

(2)
If anything the recession is an even more obvious point in Krugman’s favor. The most obviously stupid move in the whole affair came when a bipartisan team of wise men decided late in the Clinton Administration to deregulate the banking industry. In a sense bankers are like algae on a harbor rock: at least collectively they don’t have any complex or hidden motives. They want to get rich and they will follow whatever incentive system government creates (whether it means to or not) to get wealthy as fast as possible. Those bizarre investment decisions of the early aughts make perfect sense if you consider that the people who made them made a fortune and kept it. So their firms caught fire and blew up. Who cares? Those “stupid” bankers are still stupid rich. Unless the rules change and/or a lot of people go to jail, you can bet any money that they will make the same decisions again.

Harder to understand is why a small band of respected leaders such as Phil Gramm, Bob Rubin and Alan Greenspan set out on what amounted to a holy jihad against accountability and transparency in banking. “The public” did not demand banking reform because “the public” had no idea what banking reform is. Alan Greenspan, on the other hand, must have had some idea where his jihad was leading. Uncle Alan represented Charles Keating in 1984.

I will repeat Krugman’s conclusion because the point cannot be made enough.

[T]he larger answer, I’d argue, is that by making up stories about our current predicament that absolve the people who put us here there, we cut off any chance to learn from the crisis. We need to place the blame where it belongs, to chasten our policy elites. Otherwise, they’ll do even more damage in the years ahead.

Alternatively: LEARN, GODDAMNIT. LEARN.






90 replies
  1. 1
    David Broder says:

    If Krugman was a serious commentator, he’d meet the Republicans half way and invade half of Iraq.

  2. 2
    Triassic Sands says:

    Otherwise, they’ll do even more damage in the years ahead.

    If it’s a choice between learning or even more damage, I think we can expect more damage. Learning is so hard.

  3. 3
    p.a. says:

    Harder to understand is why a small band of respected leaders such as Phil Gramm, Bob Rubin and Alan Greenspan set out on what amounted to a holy jihad against accountability and transparency in banking.

    Sarcasm seldom works in print; it requires the tonalities of speech.

  4. 4
    mr. whipple says:

    Harder to understand is why a small band of respected leaders such as Phil Gramm, Bob Rubin and Alan Greenspan set out on what amounted to a holy jihad against accountability and transparency in banking.

    Um, because they were paid well by the invisible hand?

  5. 5
    ThatLeftTurnInABQ says:

    And by trying to shift the blame to the general populace, elites are ducking some much-needed reflection on their own catastrophic mistakes.

    If I had my way, they’d be ducking something a lot harder than much-needed reflection. I want those fuckers dead. I’d be willing to settle for less, but hey, let’s start the negotiations from a maximalist position seeing as how that’s what the other side always does.

  6. 6

    Popular opinion is now the metric?

    When popular opinion overwhelmingly indicated a withdrawel from Iraq, and Bush responded with an increase in troop committment (the Surge), it was lauded as true leadership.

    As pointed out, popular opinion never favors an increase in taxes. Yet when Clinton showed leadership and raised taxes, which eventually led to a surplus, he was castigated for it, and it required Al Gore to cast the tie breaking vote in the Senate. Uncle Alan favored removing these taxes when Bush came into office, for he feared the excessive surpluses we might have to endure.

  7. 7
    David in NY says:

    I remember, before the bubble burst, on news radio in New York, all the ads for interest-only, no money down, “no credit check” mortgages (or some combination of these features). It was nuts. Selling such mortgages was nearly criminal, my wife and I said. I’m pretty sure, however, that nobody forced the institutions selling those loans to make them. Of course, there were people willing to take mortgages out on those terms — why not? But the mortgage lenders had to start the whole thing or it never would have happened. And the banks had to be willing to “securitize” the crap these policies generated, in order to blow up the economy.

    In other words, Drezner ought to know better.

  8. 8
    Keith G says:

    Preach it!!

    Remember that the meme of tax and spend liberals was ingraved into public opinion while the Reagan administration raised taxes and spent.

  9. 9
    Warren Terra says:

    You focused on Iraq – which makes sense, it is where the we were treated to a full-year publicity campaign of unprecedented magnitude and where the degree of outright lying was epic – but it’s worth pointing out that the even bigger budget buster was the Bush tax cuts, and these were profoundly unlike anything the public was consulted on.

    Running in 2000, Bush (iirc) did offer tax cuts – but he didn’t promise huge deficits, and he certainly would never have said openly that most of the tax cuts should go to the top 1 percent.

    And that’s Bush, the guy who lost the national popular vote (not to mention the electoral College if Florida either were capable of running an election or had been permitted by the Supreme Court to scrutinize the results of their problematic election). Gore, to the extent that he ran a coherent campaign, ran on the idea of “the lock-box” – using the surplus to shore up future revenue problems. Indeed, I say “to the extent that he ran a coherent campaign” because the idea of the lockbox and the momentum of Clinton’s economic performance were about all he had going for him, against a far slicker campaign, an energized Republican base, and a national media that had decided that they hated him and quite liked his opponent.

    Instead of either of the 2000 campaign proposals, at least as described by their proponents (Krugman, although partially muzzled by his editors, was vicious in his dissection of Bush’s nonsensical budget math in the 2000 campaign), we got ludicrously large tax cuts, benefiting primarily those who had the least need of any such assistance, and instead of starting to pay down the debt accumulated under Reagan we got bigger deficits than ever before.

  10. 10
    Warren Terra says:

    @mr. whipple:

    Harder to understand is why a small band of respected leaders such as Phil Gramm, Bob Rubin and Alan Greenspan set out on what amounted to a holy jihad against accountability and transparency in banking.

    Um, because they were paid well by the invisible hand?

    This is very true of Gramm and Rubin, but not so much of Greenspan, who hasn’t cashed in in the same way, and stayed on at the Fed long after he could have done so. I tend to believe that Greenspan wreaks his special havoc because he’s a true believer. A true believer principally in his own greatness, so his fervent belief doesn’t demand of him the sort of ideological consistency that an external faith might, but a true believer nonetheless. Sadly, to the extent that he does have external beliefs, they’re really, really bad ones.

  11. 11
    Nicole says:

    @Warren Terra:

    I tend to believe that Greenspan wreaks his special havoc because he’s a true believer. A true believer principally in his own greatness, so his fervent belief doesn’t demand of him the sort of ideological consistency that an external faith might, but a true believer nonetheless.

    And that’s where you can really see Ayn Rand’s effect on him. I agree with you.

  12. 12
    Brachiator says:

    @David in NY:

    I’m pretty sure, however, that nobody forced the institutions selling those loans to make them. Of course, there were people willing to take mortgages out on those terms.

    The Big Lie, of course, is that the evil federal government forced banks to give loans to undeserving blacks and Latinos. There is also an ongoing myth that President McCain tried hard to get rid of Fannie Mae and that bad Democrats and their minions, poor people, prevented him from helping Real Americans.

    Strangely, Republicans cannot get over believing their own lies, and so their “remedy” for an economy wrecked by deregulation and bad tax policy is even more deregulation and bad tax policy.

  13. 13
    Martin says:

    @Warren Terra: I think most of the 2000 election result came down to the GOP having successfully worn voters out on Democratic administrations. Basically, they turned the Clinton presidency into such a circus that voters punished the Dems rather than the GOP simply to get out from under all of the bullshit.

  14. 14
    Sly says:

    “The American Public is the unindicted co-conspirator” is just another way of flogging the Reagan/Thatcher consensus of the early eighties that the middle-class has become too politically and economically powerful. That the full employment principle of Keynesianism was primarily responsible for the high inflation of the 70s and the appropriate response was the neoliberal “disciplining” of the masses through the abolition of any and all public infrastructure and the gutting of labor protections. You want to know why wages have declined since the 80s? That’s why.

    It goes back to Andrew Mellon’s advice to Herbert Hoover: “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate… it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people.”

    And you see it in the Republican plan” for job creation: Fire public workers, increase the pool of available labor and thus drive down employment costs, and the increase in hiring will make up for the loss in aggregate wages. The entire purpose is to get people to work harder and longer hours for less money.

    This is not something you can honestly sell to anyone who doesn’t make a significant portion of their income from capital gains.

  15. 15
    pandera says:

    Deee-amn boy. I haven’t read a post like this from you in like…ummm – ever. Well done. We are all going to have to get a hell of a lot angrier at the mad actors playing at being an unbiased media and the sociopaths they are supporting for anything to ever change. Let’s get angry people – these people do not care about you.

  16. 16
    Sly says:

    @Warren Terra:

    I tend to believe that Greenspan wreaks his special havoc because he’s a true believer.

    “‘Atlas Shrugged’ is a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”
    Alan Greenspan, 1957.

  17. 17
    David in NY says:

    @Brachiator:

    The Big Lie, of course, is that the evil federal government forced banks to give loans to undeserving blacks and Latinos.

    Of course, but nobody listening to the avidity in those advertisements could have believed that the people paying for them were anything but thrilled to be making those loans (and collecting their fees and selling the loans off to the big banks who laundered them). Of course it’s a Big Lie — that’s all Republicans do these days.

    By the way, I heard Neil Barofsky (inspector general of TARP and former SDNY AUSA in charge of morgtgage fraud) confronted with this claim in a public forum at NYU. The shorter version of his response was, “Bullshit.”

  18. 18
    Joel says:

    hate to make this a dick-measuring contest, but if it were to go that route:

    Daniel W. Drezner (born August 28, 1968 in Syracuse, New York[1]) is currently a professor of international politics at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, the author of several books, the author of many Op-Ed pieces in major publications, a blogger, and a commentator.

    In 2005, he was denied tenure by the University of Chicago.[2]

  19. 19
    Woodrow L. Goode, IV says:

    An even better rejoinder to assholes who say “The polls support it” is that wingnuts pick and choose what polls they obey.

    People overwhelmingly support the right to get an abortion. People overwhelmingly oppose cutting funding to Planned Parenthood. A majority has always felt that gun control was more important than gun ownership.

    People like clean air and clean water and safe food. We like inexpensive drugs from Canada. We like education funding and unions.

    None of that has ever mattered to a wingnut. But when the polls support them, then it’s all about the polls.

  20. 20
    David in NY says:

    @Sly: You know, that Greenspan quote is incoherent. Except the part about “poor people deserve to die” — that’s pretty clear.

  21. 21
    Brad says:

    Your last quote reminds me more and more how I’m feeling about politics.

    “Strange game, the only winning move is not to play.”

    Not true of course (with regard to politics), but god I am tired of the same old arguments every decade.

  22. 22
    long ago says:

    A picture to keep in mind:

    Republicans deregulating the banking industry:

    http://krugman.blogs.nytimes.c.....ible-hand/

  23. 23

    @David in NY:

    Of course, there were people willing to take mortgages out on those terms—why not?

    It’s unfair to equate the average home buyer with the average home mortgage lender. Many people took those loans because the lenders bribed paid perfectly legitimate fees to brokers to steer the borrowers into them. Yes, borrowers could have stuck to their guns and demanded 30 year fixed mortgages, but the principal blame belongs with the lenders who were pushing the crazy loans.

  24. 24
    David in NY says:

    @Joel: At the time, Drezner’s denial of tenure was thought to be connected to his connection with something as plebeian as blogging.

  25. 25
    Mnemosyne says:

    Shorter elites, per Krugman: You fucked up — you trusted us!

  26. 26
    David in NY says:

    @Roger Moore: I did not mean to imply that there was necessarily any fault on the part of a home buyer offered such a deal. And I hoped it was clear that I thought the lenders (“nearly criminal”) were the ones primarily at fault.

  27. 27
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @David in NY: Fletcher isn’t exactly bupkis….

    He could have it back-asswards and chair the department at Chicago, or be right and chair the department at a teacher’s college somewheres.

    The merit of the argument matters — and I don’t see a lot of merit.

    As for the people, and popular opinion, in the run-up to Iraq, no one’s quoted Brecht yet?

    After the uprising of the 17th June
    The Secretary of the Writer’s Union
    Had leaflets distributed in the Stalinallee
    Stating that the people
    Had forfeited the confidence of the government
    And could win it back only
    By redoubled efforts. Would it not be easier
    In that case for the government
    To dissolve the people
    And elect another?

  28. 28
    Gregory says:

    In a sense bankers are like algae on a harbor rock

    I’d say more like pond scum.

    Krugman probably didn’t have the space to point out that Bush’s policies became unpopular during his tenure, and his Administration liked to claim that Bush didn’t govern according to polls. Now his apologists are saying he was only doing the people’s bidding, massive disinformation campaigns notwithstanding. Yeah, right.

  29. 29
    David in NY says:

    @Davis X. Machina:

    Fletcher isn’t exactly bupkis…

    My parents called it “landing butter-side up.” I personally would rather be in Boston.

  30. 30
    Gregory says:

    @Warren Terra:

    it’s worth pointing out that the even bigger budget buster was the Bush tax cuts

    Word. And OMB director Mitch “Deficits” Daniels was among those leading the charge to cut taxes on himself and the other super-rich, and yet the so-called “liberal media” has now anointed him as a true fiscal hawk. Feh.

  31. 31
    Redshift says:

    @Roger Moore: I think you and David are actually in violent agreement. It’s the asymmetry of information and resources that means that, even if there were people who took advantage of these amazing deals who couldn’t possibly afford them, it’s still the fault of the lenders who were quite capable of figuring out they couldn’t afford them, and not borrowers who are in any case dealing with the largest amount of money they will ever work with in their lives, and ought to be forgiven if they can’t figure out on their own exactly how many times their annual income they can “afford.”

  32. 32
    Mark S. says:

    That is nigh inexplicable unless you dismiss the idea that public opinion has even a small influence on the GOP agenda.

    It’s also explicable when you realize the GOP follows a particularly stupid ideology. Tax cuts always good, job creators, government is the problem. They’ve also got a much more compliant media.

  33. 33

    @Jim Kakalios:

    full employment, or close to it, no deficit, these things are anathema to greenspan and anyone of his ilk, that might be in the position to have the levers of government in their grubby little paws.

    money is a powerful motive, but it is also a proxy for power. those that have the power, get the money, perhaps indirectly, but, they have the thing, money is supposed to buy.

    a deficit economy, is a tinkerers economy, that gives the greenspans of the world, power. then maybe money.

  34. 34
    Redshift says:

    The real response to the wingnut “it was those undeserving poor people” meme here is to point out who has the power in the mortgage transaction. When I got my first mortgage, I had to go through all kinds of hoops to qualify, including sitting through a class, because I couldn’t demand a mortgage, the lender could just say no if they didn’t think I’d pay up.

    That, presumably, is why the wingnuts had to make up the Fannie and Freddie business, because “poor little lenders at the mercy of irresponsible borrowers” was by itself too much to swallow for at least some of their target audience.

  35. 35
    Sly says:

    @David in NY:
    It’s perfectly coherent if you understand the lingo and vision of Objectivism as it pertains to economics. “Reason” means the efficient distribution of wealth through the unregulated marketplace. “Justice” means the penalties one pays for not being smart enough to participate in the market.

    The problem with Objectivism was never that it wasn’t a coherent philosophy. It certainly is. The problem is that it is both anarchistic and utopian. Like the Puritans who believed that if everyone who had access to the Bible then everyone would come to the same interpretation of all verses contained therein and thus differences in theology would disappear, Objectivists believe that uniform and perfect symmetry of economic information between buyer and seller will always occur naturally and those who deserve to succeed will do so.

    A notion that is completely fucking absurd.

  36. 36
    Redshift says:

    @Mark S.: The big tell that conservative policies are not generally supported by the will of the people (as opposed to more easily manipulated public opinion) is that they have to lie about them constantly, claim a mandate for actions they studiously avoid mentioning when they’re campaigning, etc. The other big tell is which side is working to make it easier for people to vote, and which is working to make it harder.

    If you have popular policy proposals, like health care reform, you ride into office on a wave of popular support. If you don’t, you ride into office on a wave of fear and anger.

  37. 37
    David in NY says:

    @Sly: Well, I think Orwell, had he had the misfortune to live long enough, could have written a whole essay on the use of the words “reason” and “justice” that you describe. Or maybe he already had.

  38. 38
    Tim, Interrupted says:

    Harder to understand is why a small band of respected leaders such as Phil Gramm, Bob Rubin and Alan Greenspan set out on what amounted to a holy jihad against accountability and transparency in banking.

    Also hard to understand: Why the Obama administration has not gone after these sociopaths, of which Krugman writes, with a vengeance.

    Anyone?

  39. 39
    ericblair says:

    @Sly:

    It goes back to Andrew Mellon’s advice to Herbert Hoover: “liquidate labor, liquidate stocks, liquidate farmers, liquidate real estate… it will purge the rottenness out of the system. High costs of living and high living will come down. People will work harder, live a more moral life. Values will be adjusted, and enterprising people will pick up from less competent people.”

    My fervent desire is to take people who think like Mr. Mellon did and dump them naked on a tropical island with a million dollars’ worth of $20 gold Liberty coins and see how far that liquidity gets them. You only think like that when you’re so far up Wall Street’s ass that you see finance as the only thing of value in the world.

    I remember reading how concerned Greenspan is with his social status and reputation. I wouldn’t be surprised if a lot of the Greenspan-instigated financial disasters were primarily caused by trying to make the people who invited him to parties happy.

  40. 40
    Chris says:

    @Sly:

    The problem with Objectivism was never that it wasn’t a coherent philosophy. It certainly is.

    Long as you’re bringing up coherence and ideology, Hannah Arendt had an interesting quote about that:

    Ideological thinking orders facts into an absolutely logical procedure which starts from an axiomatically accepted premise, deducing everything else from it; that is, it proceeds with a consistency that exists nowhere in the realm of reality. The deducing may proceed logically or dialectically; in either case it involves a consistent process of argumentation which, because it thinks in terms of a process, is supposed to be able to comprehend the movement of the suprahuman, natural or historical processes.

  41. 41
    David in NY says:

    @Redshift:

    [I]t’s still the fault of the lenders … and not borrowers who are in any case dealing with the largest amount of money they will ever work with in their lives ….”

    That’s nicely put. And it is not dissimilar to what I remember Barofsky saying, when addressing the point.

  42. 42
    Suffern ACE says:

    Very OT, but I don’t care.

    BIO has ordered ten half-hour episodes of an untitled show starring Sarah Palin’s 20-year-old daughter as she moves from Alaska to Los Angeles with her son, Tripp, 2, to work at a small charity in need.

    Now, back to your regulary sanctioned thread.

  43. 43
    Bob says:

    Isn’t Drezner in that wing of bloggers that became popular because of Instapundit? Along with Megan and such?

  44. 44
    ericblair says:

    @David in NY:

    Well, I think Orwell, had he had the misfortune to live long enough, could have written a whole essay on the use of the words “reason” and “justice” that you describe. Or maybe he already had.

    Closest one is “Politics versus Literature”, from Penguin Essays of George Orwell, pp 370-387. Thankyouhaveaniceday.

  45. 45
    Emma says:

    Tim: Because in the current political atmosphere it would be the equivalent of suicide and he would not be able to get anything else done. Or haven’t you noticed how hard it has been to get even popular stuff past this verruckten Congress we have? Between the crazy Republicans and the Blue Dog Democrats, Obama has been pushing back the tide with his bare hands.

    And please, don’t mention the bully pulpit. As many a thread today has demonstrated, the ability of the President to mobilize public opinion can’t win squat against a Congress that isn’t listening to the public anyway!

  46. 46
    David in NY says:

    Shorter elites, per Krugman: You fucked up—you trusted us!

    Yes!

  47. 47
    David in NY says:

    @ericblair: Thanks eric, but I was thinking of “Politics and the English Language.” Sorry, don’t have a cite handy.

    Nice, by the way, to crawl out of the swamp of Randian-Greenspanism to Orwell, Arendt, and people who could actually think and appreciate the real world at the same time.

  48. 48
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Suffern ACE: Where did you get that? I like the phrasing “to work at a small charity in need”. Do they mean the charity named Bristol Palin? And what is her background to work at a charity, if not being Grifter, Jr.?

    (May be OT but it’s like a magnet to me.)

  49. 49
    terraformer says:

    Something about you can’t get a man to learn something when his livelihood depends on him not learning it.

    As long as the incentives are there–and our elite class will ensure that is the case–we are all just along for the ride.

  50. 50
    David in NY says:

    @terraformer: “It is difficult to get a man to understand something when his job depends on not understanding it.”
    Upton Sinclair

    A favorite Krugman quote, I believe.

  51. 51
    BTD says:

    Two points: (1)At the end of the Clinton Administration, Lawrence Summers was the Treasury Secretary. Bob Rubin was already at CitiGroup.

    (2) The repeal of Glass Steagall was not the issue regarding the financial bubble, but it can be argued that the deregulation of derivatives was part of the issue. Again, Lawrence Summmers was the driving force in the Clinton Administration contra Brooksley Born.

    FTR, Lawrence Summers was named President Obama’s chief economic advisor. And his protege, Tim Geithner, became and remains Treasury Chief.

  52. 52
    ericblair says:

    @David in NY:

    Thanks eric, but I was thinking of “Politics and the English Language.” Sorry, don’t have a cite handy.

    Ibid, p 348. Read ’em both, it don’t cost any extra.

    Yes, we can talk intelligently about Randianism-Greenspanism, the same way people can write excellent scholarly papers on maggots.

  53. 53
    David in NY says:

    Yes, we can talk intelligently about Randianism-Greenspanism,

    My point: it’s possible, but it won’t be any fun.

    ED: Maggots, on the other hand, are kind of interesting. And probably have a more developed moral compass than Rand et al.

  54. 54
    Mark S. says:

    Along these lines, Jeffrey Goldberg:

    These last eight days, as well as the last 10 years, suggest to me that there is only one American foreign policy; this default foreign policy is interventionist, moralistic, and militarily robust. Everything else is commentary.

    I think if you polled Americans, you would find they favor a much less interventionist foreign policy. A lot of the support Ron Paul gets isn’t for his libertarian domestic policies but his isolationist foreign policy. Most people don’t base their votes on foreign policy unless it’s a war at issue, but to claim Americans broadly support our bipartisan, neo-con interventionalism is an elitist fantasy.

  55. 55
    Lee Hartmann says:

    Shorter Drezner: “Pay no attention to the men behind the curtain”.

  56. 56
    Sly says:

    @David in NY:
    Krugman did a recent post on David Hume, which I think better explains his thinking in this regard and summarized it with this quotation:

    I have long entertained a suspicion, with regard to the decisions of philosophers upon all subjects, and found in myself a greater inclination to dispute, than assent to their conclusions. There is one mistake, to which they seem liable, almost without exception; they confine too much their principles, and make no account of that vast variety, which nature has so much affected in all her operations. When a philosopher has once laid hold of a favourite principle, which perhaps accounts for many natural effects, he extends the same principle over the whole creation, and reduces to it every phænomenon, though by the most violent and absurd reasoning.

    (Emphasis mine)
    Which brings us back to Hannah Arendt and the rejection of logical/dialectical consistency in favor of practicality.

    It’s the Circle of Life.

  57. 57
    PurpleGirl says:

    @Suffern ACE: I found the article. As someone in the comments there said, “the daughter of a conservative Christian is going to live with a pair black brothers in L.A.” (paraphrased). It’s such a fake narrative and the show will be fake too. Besides, she bought a house in Arizona, like she needs help in living somewhere. She’s just proving herself to be Grifter, Jr.

  58. 58
    aimai says:

    @Mark S.:

    Agreed, the “last ten years” would never have happened absent 9/11 and Bush/Cheney’s desire to go to war with Iraq. Reagan pulled out of Beirut without a backward glance after the bombing of the Marines. Even 9/11 wouldn’t have produced two full fledged wars without a huge PR program aimed at making them both inevitable. The country supported them, in the end, but barely.

    Of course the US remains an imperial power, with all the necessities that involves, but Goldberg’s wrong to shove it off on the Amurkan people. It is, as you say, an elite–that’s the definition of the concept behind the “military industrial complex”–game. They play it, we pay for it.

    aimai

  59. 59
    Mandramas says:

    @Mark S.: That’s funny since the richness of America in the last 40 years are due international corporations feeding the American market with outsourced goods and cheap commodities. If America takes a isolationist stance and stops their support to the status quo, this will trigger a massive depression. One of the main reasons that they increased a lot of pressure on middle east was to stop any OAPEC-like fiasco.

  60. 60
    gypsy howell says:

    @Warren Terra:

    This is very true of Gramm and Rubin, but not so much of Greenspan

    Are you sure about that? Just out of curiosity, does anyone know what Greenspan’s net worth is? I’ll bet it’s in the 10s of millions. The invisible hand works in mysterious ways.

    Which is not to say he isn’t ALSO a Randist freak, but I’ll bet you anything the money’s been damn good too.

  61. 61
    Napoleon says:

    @Bob:

    I don’t know the answer to that but he is in no way like them. He is conservative, it seems to me, but generally he has logical well thought out reasoning for the things he says (at least he did when I read him fairly regularly).

  62. 62
    Bob says:

    Pretty sure Greenspan isn’t worth more than the low millions, in the 3-5 million range.

    He’s been working at the Fed too long for that.

  63. 63
    David in NY says:

    @Sly: Very nice. They don’t call Hume a skeptic for nothing. And this is very like the Arendt quote.

    I think Upton Sinclair (and Krugman after him) was addressing a different point, however. That is the inclination of craftsmen (e.g., economists, climatologists), rather than philosophers, to deny what are fundamentally matters of demonstrable fact when driven by economic motives. The two things can certainly overlap, of course, most notably in the current Republican party.

  64. 64
    Bob says:

    @Napoleon
    I didn’t say he was like them; just that his internet popularity coincided with Instapundit’s popularity.

    It’d be fairly interesting if anyone had kept track of how bloggers became popular and if it was via being linked by major bloggers. Pretty sure Sullivan has pulled up some guys along with him like Ross and Conor via linkage. Instapundit had quite a few, most of them batshit.

    God forbid anyone bring up Den Beste.

  65. 65
    Martin says:

    @aimai:

    Reagan pulled out of Beirut without a backward glance after the bombing of the Marines

    Yeah, but I don’t think provides the illustration that you want it to. That move by Reagan is what OBL had repeatedly referenced as evidence that he could take the fight to the US. Whether the right or wrong lesson to learn, I can’t fault anyone post-9/11 from concluding that backing away from a similar black eye would have long-term repercussions.

    That’s not a defense of what Bush did, but you seem to be suggesting that Reagan clearly made the right call with Beiruit, which I think is at least debatable in hindsight.

  66. 66
    Chris says:

    @Bob:

    God forbid anyone bring up Den Beste.

    Oh, wow. Long time since I’ve heard that name. I thought I was the only one who knew it.

    Whatever happened to that guy?

  67. 67
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    I don’t understand why you won’t absolve President Obama for his many failures to learn from the crises caused by elites.
    .
    .

  68. 68
    Mark S. says:

    @Chris:

    Whatever happened to that guy?

    Who cares?

  69. 69
    kdaug says:

    @Bob: Andrea Mitchel brings in some coin, too.

  70. 70
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Bob: You can’t tell me anyone would give two runny shits about what Matt Yglesias had to say about anything if he hadn’t been an early adopter of blogging and, basically, indefatigable.

    While we’re on the subject, Jesse Taylor was SO MUCH better than the other younger blogpeople in that first wave, _and_ was the scout who spotted Ezra Klein and Amanda Marcotte, but he’s never even sniffed the majors himself, and that’s a shame.

  71. 71
    catclub says:

    @Emma: Actually, the Attorney General does report to him and could go ahead with investigations of them. There is NOTHING getting done anyway, so why not?

    I thought that if the AG had been doing investigations into torture in 2009 and 2010 that passing healthcare would have been EASIER with attention elsewhere.

    Plus, there is now plenty of evidence that Obama can do more than one thing at a time. Can the right wing noise machine get people angry about more than one?

  72. 72
    boatboy_srq says:

    Something in this debate that nobody brings up: taxes are unpopular. They’re always unpopular: even if the taxation rate is 1 cent per citizen per year, it will still be too high. There’s not a citizen of any nation who is happy paying taxes, regardless of the rates assessed. Campaigning on lower taxes will always be popular, since nobody likes paying. The trouble is that no pol talks about what lower taxes would actually mean: diminished services, reduced protections, higher risks for everyone.

    The Norquist crowd always talk about lower taxes – preferably zero taxes – as if that were a solution to all our problems. Yet somehow they still expect a functional DoD, police/fire/ER services, driveable roads, healthy food, etc, as though all those things were somehow divorced from public sector income.

    The Right has done a very good job of making the debate about taxes (which are unpopular) and not about policies and services (which generally are popular). OF COURSE people are going to side with the Right on taxes. What we need to discuss is whether those taxes are doing things we want done, and in the current climate that debate is all but impossible.

  73. 73
    PurpleGirl says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Jesse did return to Pandagon although not writing very often. But he recently graduated law school, so we will see if he picks up on his writing now.

  74. 74
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @boatboy_srq:

    somehow they still expect a functional DoD, police/fire/ER services, driveable roads, healthy food, etc, as though all those things were somehow divorced from public sector income.

    That’s because Republicans and conservatives (but I repeat myself) have a convincing just-so story: the government could still provide ample public services if only they cut off all the lazy moochers. “_My_ taxes should be lower; I’m getting gouged to cover the share of some freeloader!”

    I’d bet that if you polled people on what share of “government spending” they would consider “waste,” the median answer would be north of 50%.

  75. 75
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @PurpleGirl: If anyone should have been able to be a paid blogger/pundit from those initial boom years, it should have been Jesse Taylor. I hope his “real” professional life is wonderfully successful.

  76. 76
    Robert Waldmann says:

    I have two objections. First, on Iraq, you strongly understate the case. Up almost until the day of the invasion public opinion was split roughly in thirds with the middle third saying “invade only with UN security council approval.” This makes no sense to me, but it logically implied “don’t invade.” The public may have been stupid on Iraq, but the elite was vastly stupider. This includes admirable progressive bloggers.

    Oddly you list Rubin as on a jihad against regulation. He wasn’t even working for the Federal Government when Clinton signed the commodity futures modernization act. He does not belong on a list of three with Gramm and Greenspan. For one thing Wendy Gramm had a very very important role too. Also Rubin was much less supportive of deregulation than his successor.

    I think the inclusion of Rubin on the list shows two things. First how someone like Taibbi who writes well, is obsessed, knows a lot and is perfectly willing to make false claims* can influence the debate. Second how theory without evidence convinces people. Rubin is the one on the list who was an investment banker before regulating investment banks. One might guess he advocated policies pleasing to investment bankers. One might not bother checking the facts. Sorry many more than one.

    * my assertion that Taibbi claims things which are totally false and he must know are false has been contested (by Felix Salmon even). I don’t see how Salmon could have that view, but my proof is here

    http://rjwaldmann.blogspot.com.....to-be.html

    Taibbi wrote “The point is that an economic team made up exclusively of callous millionaire-assholes has absolutely zero interest in reforming the gamed system that made them rich in the first place.” In context, it is clear that he is referring to the Obama economics team and the gamed system is finance. The assertion is simply false. They may be millionaires and they may even be assholes for all I know, but they didn’t *all* get rich in the financial services industry. In fact the only then top member of the team to get rich that way is Larry Summers who’s case Taibbi discussed in the paragraph above (I checked for context). That paragraph contained another false claim of fact “Even the members of Obama’s economic team who have spent most of their lives in public office have managed to make small fortunes on Wall Street. The president’s economic czar, Larry Summers,” at the time Taibbi made that plainly false claim Summers had been in public office (including the World Bank) for 11 years out of 55, 37 adult and at least 26 working. 11 < 26/2. Taibbi doesn't care about facts.

    Notice I found that second error just because I was looking in the paragraph for context to demonstrate that the first error was an error. My view is that Taibbi is as reliable a reporter as Judith (fucking right) Miller.

  77. 77
    DZ says:

    @David in NY:

    Just for fun, let’s not overstate. The actual facts are bad enough.

    Many mortgage lenders (wwhat you call ‘the mortgage lenders’) wrote subprime mortgages, but many did not.

    The only banks that securitized anything were investment banks. The standard retail and commercial banks – e.g. J.P. Morgan Chase, Bank of America, Wells Fargo, etc – didn’t securitize anything. They bought the bogus securities, for which they are still paying, but they didn’t create them.

  78. 78
    aimai says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I believe that is called the “Two Santas” theory of taxation.

    aimai

  79. 79
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @aimai: Ha, I hadn’t actually seen that before, thanks.

  80. 80
    singfoom says:

    @Robert Waldmann: One might point out that Taibbi’s point stands even if those 3 didn’t make their bones in the financial sector, but were millionaires nonetheless.

    YMMV, but I think Taibbi is one of the few voices speaking truth to power on the financial meltdown and his writings have mostly been consistent with other authors I’ve read about the issue (13 Bankers, All The Devils Are Here, The Big Short).

    Also, in context, pointing out his mistake about the years of Summers length of civil service does not invalidate the argument.

    It’s like saying, “Why did you stab me with that knife?” and I reply, “It’s not a knife, it’s a sword, so I didn’t stab you.” Regardless, you’re still bleeding. But hey, everyone’s allowed their opinions.

  81. 81
    Turgidson says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    And also too, don’t forget that if taxes were zero, the Invisible Hand would grow tired of punching the poor in the nuts and magically bestow all the services govt currently provides, except more private-like and efficient-style.

  82. 82
    The Raven says:

    “we cut off any chance to learn from the crisis”

    Science advances, one funeral at a time.

  83. 83
    Bill Murray says:

    @Robert Waldmann: you yourself are pretty good at ignoring facts that don’t comport with your apparent love for Rubin. The fact that Rubin was gone by the time President Clinton signed the commodity futures modernization act has no relevance as to whether Rubin helped stop derivatives regulation. IIRC you have been told this several times in several forums yet you still keep promoting your at best half-truths.

    Much more critical than when the bill was signed is when and how the bill was discussed, and Rubin clearly sided with Greenspan in not having CFTC regulate derivatives and followed no other public paths pushing for regulation. Rubin certainly has claimed since he wanted derivatives regulated and many have backed that claim, but regardless of Rubin’s thoughts “there is no evidence that he ever actively supported their regulation when it mattered” [quoted from link below].

    I think you must know this, as I rather think you were there (if you are the Waldman in the quote given here http://economistsview.typepad......andra.html), but instead of making a better argument based around, for instance, where and how Rubin thought regulation should occur, you go with the equivalent of saying Ted Kennedy had nothing to do with health care passing because he wasn’t in the Senate when President Obama signed the law.

  84. 84
    sneezy says:

    @Warren Terra:

    Greenspan wreaks his special havoc because he’s a true believer.

    Money quote on Greenspan, from Paul Samuelson:

    “[T]he trouble is that he had been an Ayn Rander. You can take the boy out of the cult but you can’t take the cult out of the boy.”

  85. 85
    Chris says:

    Heh heh. Krugthulu. That’s pretty good. ^_^

  86. 86
    moops says:

    @Bill Murray:

    I think that was an official Oh Snap posting.

    or are the kiddos saying Snip Snap ? Or is that just Jonathan Waters ?

  87. 87

    […] And Tim J at Balloon Juice adds two things: […]

  88. 88
    Bob says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    I don’t think I’m disagreeing with that. Political blogging pretty much went the way I expected from the start. All the talk of an Army of Davids never really rang true. Just seemed like more bullshit on the Internet.

    Worse, people still think lack of civility is the problem rather than lack of truth.

  89. 89
    PWL says:

    Hey, being an elite means never having to say you’re sorry. Or wrong.

  90. 90
    mclaren says:

    …By making up stories about our current predicament that absolve the people who put us here there, we cut off any chance to learn from the crisis.

    Is there any evidence that anyone EVER learns from any crisis?

    I haven’t been around for an awfully long time, but I’ve watched enough massive clusterfucks like the war in Vietnam (as a very small kid, to whom it was startlingly obvious that the whole thing was a giant clusterfuck) and Watergate to know that people don’t seem to learn anything from these crises.

    The Vietnams keep coming and everyone just says “This time it’ll be different.” The Watergate-style corruption and lawlessness keeps repeating and everyone just says “No, no, there’s an important reason why this illegal shit is actually legal, and it’s [FILL IN MEANINGLESS BULLSHIT HERE — “global war on terror,” “it would paralyze our government if we prosecuted people,” “it’s the way the system is set up,” ad nauseam.].

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