Sunday Show Review

I’m driving cross country, and Sirius XM plays the audio from CNN, MSNBC and Fox, so I was able to listen to the Sunday shows. I haven’t watched them for years: as I assume most of you agree, they’re pretty damn stupid as well as wired for Republicans. Today, though, with the Trump White House and the GOP Congressional Leadership ducking the shows, it didn’t sound good for Trump. The only Republican stupid enough to go on Meet the Press, RonJon, spun up his deep state theories to a pretty unsympathetic audience in Chuck Todd. I didn’t catch the whole RonJon interview but the clips I heard were brutal, with Johnson sounding like a crank, and Todd jumping down his throat.

CNN overall, and Jake Tapper in particular, are pretty much in open revolt from the hegemony of bothsides. Tapper ended his show with a discussion of how Republicans turned on McCarthy, and used the examples of Margaret Chase Smith, who was out early against McCarthy, and Republican Majority Leader Bob Taft, who kept his mouth shut because he felt McCarthy was good for his Presidential ambitions. Jake noted that Smith’s obit led with her anti-McCarthy position, and Taft dropped dead before he could clean up his reputation. It was pretty fucking brutal and might possibly have convinced a Republican or two if any of them really did care about their reputations.

Still a lot of stupid questions, especially the “gotcha” one asking Senators whether they would vote for conviction knowing what they know today. Warren’s answer – the only smart one to that dumb question as far as I’m concerned – was a simple “Yes”. Booker and Klobuchar hemmed, hawed and hedged, ultimately wanting to say “yes” but not wanting to sound like they’re pre-judging Trump. Look, the guy has been trumpeting his guilt all over town – holding back when he’s letting fly looks weak.

I also listened to some of Chris Wallace, who’s the perfect example of how desperate people are for a Fox Newser to be somewhat reasonable that they latch on to the tiniest bit of journalistic practice like he’s the next Murrow. Wallace spent a bunch of time on the Schiff nonsense, but I admit I didn’t listen to the whole thing to avoid a traffic accident.

Overall, I guess I’m surprised that the overall tone and tenor of the shows was very negative for Trump, that (by their standards) they focused on the main issues of his criminality without getting sidetracked too far, and that there were very few hacks who would step up to defend Trump.

The Dim Possibility of Showing Some Restraint

Man, I hate to give Brooks any attention, but this is about perfect:

In case you haven’t been following along, Brooks did what he usually does when everything is bleak, it’s the middle of the night, he’s all alone and the dummies might be right: he masturbates onto the page, rolls over and goes to bed.

Slings and Arrows

So, this has kind of a coordinated feel to it, as tonight’s Democratic debate looms: Yesterday evening, Ed Rendell dropped a WaPo op-ed entitled “I like Elizabeth Warren. Too bad she’s a hypocrite.”

Rendell smarmily drags Warren for shunning high dollar donor events during the primary campaign because she did attend those type of events (including one hosted by Ed! for which he received a nice thank-you note!) when raising money for the senate and then rolled some of that money over into her primary campaign.

It’s a dog’s breakfast of an argument, IMO. Warren took a risk by eschewing big donor events during the primary. Her campaign finance chair quit over it. If she starts doing the swank circuit now, Rendell would have a point, but she hasn’t, so he doesn’t. Rendell even (stupidly) dragged President Obama into the hair-splitting:

Barack Obama, whom I consider one of the greatest presidents in my lifetime, vowed not to take any money from the political action committees of Wall Street firms in his 2008 campaign. At the same time, his campaign took in millions of dollars in contributions from individuals who worked for Wall Street firms.

But the news media basically gave Obama a free ride and didn’t point out the blatant hypocrisy of trying to win credit for shunning contributions from Wall Street firms while taking tons of money from people who work for those same Wall Street firms. Politics can make people do peculiar things.

Yeah, “politics can make people do peculiar things,” Ed, such as making you construct wholly specious arguments against better people to cover for the fact that you yourself are an old-timey bagman.

Rendell is using the same dumb argument many brainless ninnies deployed against Beto O’Rourke — implying that Beto was in the pocket of Big Oil because many of the individual folks who donated to his campaign worked for oil companies. Duh — he’s from Texas! Not too many lobstermen work in Texas.

Putting Rendell aside (with great force, please and thank you), there’s this long and prolifically sourced Politico piece that came out today that is delightfully entitled: “Why Are You Pissing In Our Face?’: Inside Warren’s War With the Obama Team.” It’s an utterly fascinating article in which many unnamed Obama administration Treasury staffers — and Larry Summers, Tim Geithner and Rahm Emanuel — say Warren doesn’t play well with others. An excerpt:

The acrimonious differences between Warren and her allies, and members of the Obama team, led in part to her decision, with prodding from Obama himself, to leave the administration to run for the Senate rather than continue pursuing the leadership of the consumer-protection bureau. But they never fully abated, and now represent dueling approaches to Democratic economic policy-making, presenting the possibility that the next Democratic president will have ascended to the height of Democratic Party politics in part by bashing the previous one.

Though I recommend the Politico piece (unlike Rendell’s screed), I think that last sentence overdramatizes the schism in true Politico “let’s you and him fight” fashion. As the writer acknowledges, Warren on the trail has been complimentary of President Obama. Why wouldn’t she be? They agree on most things.

The dramatic confrontations are with people like Summers, Geithner and Emanuel. Some Democrats (your humble correspondent, for example) read those names and credited Warren for choosing her enemies wisely. It’s almost as good an unintentional Warren 2020 campaign contribution as Cramer’s “she must be stopped!” rant on CNBC the other day.

Still, the timing of all this is interesting. First lumbering griftosaurus Rendell’s hatchet job, then the moneymen have their say in Politico. If Arne Duncan drops an op-ed today, I’m going to start to get suspicious!

Industrial clusters and thick labor markets

I’m waiting for a huge piece of code to rerun and I should not be working on a cognitively intensive revise and resubmit on a Friday afternoon, so I want to go back to what I originally went to grad school for — urban economics and economic development — for a minute to respond to a seemingly populist and really dumb proposal to strip the federal government of expertise proposed by Andrew Yang.

Let’s think about Washington DC’s primary export industry as government and more specifically federal government leadership and top level analysis and management. The federal government is an industrial cluster in DC much like venture capital fueled technology firms are an industrial cluster in San Francisco-San Jose region, bio-tech is a cluster in Greater Boston and steel was a cluster in Pittsburgh. Clusters are interesting in that they are often positive feedback loops until they run into hard constraints or a massive external shock.

There is a huge literature on the positive feedback loops on economically successful clusters. One of the major drivers is that a cluster creates a rich and thick labor market. This means that at any given point, there are lots of good jobs available to anyone who is qualified to work in the cluster. People aren’t locked into a “good enough” job because that is the only job available that utilizes any specific human capital/education/tacit knowledge available to them, but that people can readily shift between positions to maximize their personal gain. In Washington DC, if someone is a research economist, there are a hundred opportunities within seven Metro stops of their current place of employment. If someone is a research economist in Sault Ste. Marie, there may be one or two within an hour of their current place of employment. The same applies for geneticists who work in Boston vs. geneticists who work in Boise.

Employment concentration creates specialization and optimization. It allows for work to be more productive as the cluster grows and the labor market becomes even thicker and deeper. This is all pretty standard.

There is another labor market point to make; large urban areas have lots of jobs that are not in the primary export industry. This could matter for me at some point in the future as I could easily see myself spending a couple of years working for either the federal government in the DC-Baltimore region or working for an entity that directly services the federal management and analysis industrial cluster. My wife has a skill set that could translate into this industrial sector but her current experience is in a general professional environment. If my options for moving to DC for federal work or Boone, North Carolina, my wife will far more readily find a good enough job in DC.

Dispersing the vast majority of the DC/Baltimore/NOVA government management and analysis cluster that has been built up over four generations is a great way to make the federal government less efficient and less attractive to top tier talent especially if the dispersion would be going to smaller urban clusters with far shallower and thinner labor markets.

Late Night Open Thread: “Mostly Harmless”

Turns out Human Ham Loaf Erick Erickson is still making bank off the beanfests TBoggs once mocked as Tragic: the Gathering. Not drawing a whole lot of mainstream-media attention, which is probably as Erickson prefers.

And yet, Recrudescence: the Homecoming was only the second most pathetic political convo this weekend. Presenting: RoseBros 4Evahcon:

Read more