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Wednesday, December 29, 2010

From the comments

Partisan centrism — Crooked Timber: "The great achievement of American plutocracy is that it has created partisan controversy over issues that are largely irrelevant to the steady concentration of wealth. Abortion, homosexual rights, immigration, and “terrorism” absorb and deflect so much political energy that the dirty work of fine print manipulation of the law for plutocratic advantage proceeds unhindered. Thus the people’s pockets are picked while they are distracted by a false politics of misdirection."

As Bad as the Great Depression?

Guest Post: Underneath the Happy Talk, Is This As Bad as the Great Depression? � naked capitalism

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The military failure machine

The military failure machine — Crooked Timber: "The US military has fought five large-scale wars in the past fifty years, resulting in a draw in Korea[1], a defeat in Vietnam, and three inconclusive outcomes in Iraq (twice) and Afghanistan. That’s a record that makes the worst inner-city public school look pretty good. At least the majority of students, even at the worst schools, end up more or less literate."

Monday, December 27, 2010

Decision Points

LRB � Eliot Weinberger � ‘Damn right,’ I said: "Despite the sales, it’s unlikely that many will ever read Decision Points, and even fewer will finish it. Those who do will find three revelations, besides the foetus in the jar. Junior killed his sister Doro’s goldfish by pouring vodka in the fishbowl. He was convinced he should run for president after hearing a sermon about Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt. And, as a man who likes to go to bed early, at 10 p.m. on the night of 11 September 2001, President George W. Bush was complaining that he needed to get to sleep."

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan - NYTimes.com

We have seen this movie before; in Cambodia and Laos.

U.S. Military Seeks to Expand Raids in Pakistan - NYTimes.com

Reality Check: Why Truth Will Protect Social Security � New Deal 2.0

Another interesting look at social security. Auerback is one of the few supporters of the program who deny the validity of the "trust fund" argument. Social security is just another line item in the budget and should be treated as such.
We do not have a fund to support future increases in the military budget, why do we need one for social security.

Reality Check: Why Truth Will Protect Social Security � New Deal 2.0

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Civilian Sidekicks

The gall of our military leadership knows no bounds.
To call their civilian commanders "sidekicks" shows the decline of the concept of civilian control of the military. Will their be outrage?

Yglesias � Civilian Sidekicks

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Facebook Friends

Facebook Friends - Chart Porn

| Time for Negotiation

Time for negotiation in Afghanistan | Open letter | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk


And a look at how COIN is going.

The Inequality That Matters

A thoughtful essay that offers a generalized explanation of income inequality and the causes of the crash.


"
That’s an underappreciated way to think about our modern, wealthy economy: Smart people have greater reach than ever before, and nothing really can go so wrong for them. As a broad-based portrait of the new world, that sounds pretty good, and usually it is. Just keep in mind that every now and then those smart people will be making—collectively—some pretty big mistakes."

The Inequality That Matters - Tyler Cowen - The American Interest Magazine

Monday, December 13, 2010

Summer's over

Larry Summers’ Warning About The Growth Of Government (Transcript) - Swampland - TIME.com

Tax Cuts Forever?

Tax Cuts Forever? | The Nation: "It's the standard bribery model of legislating that has come to characterize Washington in the era of oligarchy: if you want to put food on the table of the unemployed, you must lavishly wine and dine the CEOs and bankers who laid them off. Obama didn't create this system, but he is making it stronger before our very eyes."

Spencer Bachus, Chairman of the House Financial Services Committee

The GOP is not even subtle about the bait and switch they use on the average tea party voter. This is the true GOP platform: how to better serve the banksters.

Spencer Bachus finally gets his chairmanship | al.com: "'In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks,' he said."

Lost 20 years

Even after 20 years of low growth and negative stock market returns, Japan takes care of most of its people.


Reconsidering Japan and Reconsidering Paul Krugman: "How, then, should we regard a country that has 5 percent unemployment, health care for all of its people, the lowest income inequality and is one of the world's leading exporters? This country also scores high on life expectancy, low on infant mortality, at the top in literacy, and low on crime, incarceration, homicides, mental illness and drug abuse. It also has a low rate of carbon emissions and is doing its part to reduce global warming. In all of these categories, this particular country beats both the US and China by a country mile."

Friday, December 10, 2010

Monday, December 06, 2010

Let’s Not Make a Deal

The last hope for the Obama administration is to hold fast and refuse to make a deal. Caving on this will only inspire the GOP.

Let’s Not Make a Deal - NYTimes.com

Sunday, December 05, 2010

Tax expenditures favor the banksters.

A good article describing most of the problems of the banking industry. To sum it up: bankers think that they are different and special and the MM model does not apply. They believe more leverage allows them to "do God's work."
Interesting conclusion that tax expenditures are the root of this problem. Eliminating the debt interest deduction would go a long way to lowering leverage of banks.


What Jamie Dimon Won’t Tell You: His Big Bank Would Be Dangerously Leveraged � The Baseline Scenario

Friday, December 03, 2010

Marines are not so tough

They cannot even deal with gays.

Marines chief opposes DADT repeal - War Room - Salon.com

A possible explanation for Obama's actions

Department of "Huh?!" (Is Barack Obama Stupid? Edition) - Grasping Reality with Both Hands: "There has to be a better explanation. And there is:

Obama is in fact a manchurian candidate. Obama is doing what Obama is programmed to do, but he was programmed by the Ivy League / Wall Street axis of elitism rather than the communists or the muslims."

Oliver North Classic

The end of the world as we know it?


RealClearPolitics - Voting With Their Feet: "WASHINGTON -- Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini and Hideki Tojo tried and failed. Mao Zedong, Nikita Khrushchev and Ho Chi Minh couldn't do it. But commander in chief Barack Obama may well succeed where others could not. If he has his way, he will demolish the finest force for good in the history of mankind -- the U.S. armed forces. And he wants to make it all happen before the end of the year."

Admiral Mike Mullen differs. Soldiers who are bigots can leave the service. And soldiers need to follow orders.

Teachable moments


The failure of Obama economic policy:

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Hedge funds got access to loan funds intended for small businesses

Crony capitalism at its worst...

The Talf programme was set up in early 2009 and designed to kick-start lending to small and medium-sized businesses by pumping liquidity into the secondary loan market.


FT.com / Financials - Fed reveals it lent billions to hedge funds during crisis

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

75 Ways To Stay Unhappy Forever

75 Ways To Stay Unhappy Forever

Intelligence Hierarchy: Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom | The Big Picture

Intelligence Hierarchy: Data, Information, Knowledge, Wisdom | The Big Picture

The Right Under Bush vs The Left Under Obama - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

The Right Under Bush vs The Left Under Obama - The Daily Dish | By Andrew Sullivan

Wikileaks

Quote of the day: Gates on WikiLeaks and the nature of foreign policy - By Tom Ricks | The Best Defense: "Now, I've heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think -- I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it's in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets. Many governments -- some governments deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation.

So other nations will continue to deal with us. They will continue to work with us. We will continue to share sensitive information with one another.

Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest."

Why The GOP Is Like Bear Bryant | Talking Points Memo

Why The GOP Is Like Bear Bryant | Talking Points Memo: "It reminds me of the line attributed to the old football coach Bum Phillips, speaking about the legendary Alabama coach Paul 'Bear' Bryant: 'He can take his'n and beat your'n and take your'n and beat his'n.'"

Moment of Truth?

Organizational Innovation to Improve the Efficiency of Health Care Markets

Culter on healthcare. He makes change sound easy.

Organizational Innovation to Improve the Efficiency of Health Care Markets

Matt Stoller: End This Fed

Stroller outlines the issues with the current structure of the Fed. Less funny, but more informative than the talking bunnies.

Matt Stoller: End This Fed � naked capitalism

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Finding a Post-Crash Economic Model - WSJ.com


The limits to economic forecasting should be self evident after the events of the last three years. Now even non behavioral economists accept this fact.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Fake Taliban

"And the end of the fight is a tombstone white, with the name of the late deceased, And the epitaph drear: 'A fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.'

-Kipling"

Cogitamus: We Negotiated With Fake Taliban Leader in Afghanistan, and Gave Him Piles Of Money. Can We Go Home Now?:


Monday, November 22, 2010

What Good is Wall Street?

Wall Street, investment bankers, and social good : The New Yorker

Lobbying Explained

The Politics of the Mortgage Interest Deduction, Arnold Kling | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty: "What looks like a small, sensible reform to someone not involved in lobbying takes on enormous significance to the lobbying group. Thus, seemingly sensible reforms that both parties might support can be as difficult to enact as more comprehensive measures. Again, this is also true for trying to trim public sector employee compensation or for trying to reform entitlements. The lobbyists fight small reforms just as vigorously as they fight larger changes."

Monday, November 15, 2010

Wandering Mind Is a Sign of Unhappiness

There's an app for that...
The happiness app.

Wandering Mind Is a Sign of Unhappiness - NYTimes.com

Where Obama went wrong

EconoSpeak: The Finance Perspective: "My guess is that Summers, like the others who cashed in during the boom (and may be re-cashing today), really, truly believes that the people who have made him rich are doing the Lord’s work. Finance, for him, remains the command center of economic life, and it is necessary that smart people operate these controls and are given the latitude to get the job done. As is usually the case with ideology, it isn’t possible to disentangle the intellectual sources of belief from those of expediency."

The Science of Success

Good news for lazy parents.

The Science of Success, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Sunday, October 24, 2010

'The Social Network': A Review Of Aaron Sorkin's Film About Facebook And Mark Zuckerberg | The New Republic

'The Social Network': A Review Of Aaron Sorkin's Film About Facebook And Mark Zuckerberg | The New Republic

And more on Zuck

Questions for Republicans

Economist's View: One More Time with Gusto: Tax Cuts Do Not Pay for Themselves: "'Are you this ignorant about economics, in which case why should anyone vote for you, or are you deliberately misleading people? I'll assume you aren't ignorant, so here's the question. If you are willing to make false claims about the revenue generated from tax cuts in order to promote them for the wealthy, what other falsehoods will you be willing to promote in order to serve political ends? If voters can't trust you to tell the truth about tax cuts, how can they trust you on anything?'"

Greg Mankiw thinks U.S corporate tax rates are too high

Google does too.

What Happened to Change We Can Believe In? - NYTimes.com

What Happened to Change We Can Believe In? - NYTimes.com

The wrong time to cut the deficit is now

The Measure of Our Inability to Do the Right Thing - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Taxes

ataxingmatter: Plain English or Misleading Tax Rhetoric: "As a society, we need to share a common understanding of the role of taxation in supporting our goals.� By joining together to fund our government, we empower ourselves to take actions that otherwise would lie well beyond the capability of a single individual, whether it is regulating and overseeing multinational corporations that may pollute our waters or funding research in life-enriching innovations.� Taxation can reinforce our sense of a common destiny, that we are all in the same enterprise together.�"

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Greg Mankiw's anti-tax arguments

Mankiw's anti tax screed in the NYT created a whirlwind on the web. Here is one of the best counters.

ataxingmatter: Greg Mankiw's anti-tax arguments

And the best title:

http://noapparentmotive.org/blog/2010/10/12/three-card-mankiw-2/

Google

Is the stock a buy or a sell?

Business strategies: Things Google is doing | The Economist

GPI

The Google Price Index

Google Now Encroaching on Shadow Stats � naked capitalism

What Changes In Survival Rates Tell Us About US Health Care -- Muennig and Glied, 10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0073 -- Health Affairs

Population diversity, behavioral risk factors like smoking, obesity, traffic accidents and homicides do not explain the lower survival rates in the US. Nor do those factors explain the lack of progress of survival rates.
Then what is it that causes poor health outcomes.?
The study is less clear.


What Changes In Survival Rates Tell Us About US Health Care -- Muennig and Glied, 10.1377/hlthaff.2010.0073 -- Health Affairs

Monday, October 11, 2010

Do higher tax rates incent people to work less?

What kind of people and what kind of work is forgone because of tax rates?


Taxation: Take some time off, Mr Mankiw | The Economist: "that trading foregone Mankiw columns for better education or reduced debt isn't a bad deal. Or that a novelist who curtails his writing because of the tax rate isn't much of an artist. Or that a surgeon who skips life-saving operations because of a tax increase is a cruel and immoral man. Put another way, if workers are doing something truly important, they should carry on doing it whether or not taxes go up. And if they're not doing something important, then who cares whether they do less of it?"

It's different this time?

Mexico's 100 year bonds.

Editorial Notebook - What’s Your Timeline? - NYTimes.com

Facebook

Senators do better than junior staffers. The staffers use insider information to trade for a couple of thousand dollars. Senators get sweetheart deals in private equity. Boxer is a holder of facebook shares.

Facebook - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia: "Senator Barbra Boxer, Chris Hughes, and Owen Van Natta, while Reid Hoffman and Mark Pincus have sizable holdings of the company, and the remaining 30% or so are owned by employees,"

Congressional Staffers are savey traders

Makes trading sound easy...

Congressional Staffers Gain From Trading in Stocks - WSJ.com: "It's pretty straightforward: I bought on a dip and sold on spikes"

Books on the crisis

Sometimes book reviews are better than the books.

Satyajit Das: Pleasant & Unpleasant “Truths” � naked capitalism

Friday, October 08, 2010

Why don't people rock the boat in early on-line dating encounters?

Marginal Revolution: Why don't people rock the boat in early on-line dating encounters?: "First,�email is a bad medium for making and negotiating outrageous claims.� You can't communicate subtleties of tone and teasing and you can't easily do 'repair work' if you offend�the audience, even assuming you can notice the offense or keep the dialog going after an offense.�"

The End of the Tunnel

Op-Ed Columnist - The End of the Tunnel - NYTimes.com

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Larry Summers and the Subversion of Economics

The corruption of revolving door between corporations and government.


Larry Summers and the Subversion of Economics - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education: "2001 and his entry into the Obama administration, he made more than $20-million from the financial-services industry."

Monday, October 04, 2010

Immigration and Wages: A Socratic Dialogue, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Immigration and Wages: A Socratic Dialogue, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty: "Or in other words, without 'a bunch of low-skilled immigrants,' you would be less productive.� Call it magic.� Call it economics.� Either way, it's real.� For all practical purposes, low-skilled immigrants raise the productivity of native workers.� And as far as supply-and-demand is concerned, it's entirely possible for immigrants to actually boost natives' wages."

Immigration and Wages: A Socratic Dialogue, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty

Immigration and Wages: A Socratic Dialogue, Bryan Caplan | EconLog | Library of Economics and Liberty: "Or in other words, without 'a bunch of low-skilled immigrants,' you would be less productive.� Call it magic.� Call it economics.� Either way, it's real.� For all practical purposes, low-skilled immigrants raise the productivity of native workers.� And as far as supply-and-demand is concerned, it's entirely possible for immigrants to actually boost natives' wages."

Saturday, October 02, 2010

Tea & Crackers | Rolling Stone Politics

Matt Taibbi sets his sights on the Tea Party.

"
A loose definition of the Tea Party might be millions of pissed-off white people sent chasing after Mexicans on Medicaid by the handful of banks and investment firms who advertise on Fox and CNBC."

Tea & Crackers | Rolling Stone Politics

The Epicurean Dealmaker: The Relief of Distance

The Epicurean Dealmaker: The Relief of Distance: "The other significant change embedded in these new interactions is that people can cultivate relationships over virtual social networks for months and even years without ever meeting in the flesh. Stable, long-lasting, and—it is not irresponsible to imagine it—even durable relationships of the deepest kind can be established and maintained between characters or personae that individuals adopt and present to each other. Is this wise? Is it responsible? Is it fair?

Does it matter?"

Monday, September 27, 2010

The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. Corporations | The Big Picture

The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. Corporations | The Big Picture

For Fort Carson soldiers in Iraq, 'our mission has not changed,' officer says | fort, carson, new - Top Stories - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO

For Fort Carson soldiers in Iraq, 'our mission has not changed,' officer says | fort, carson, new - Top Stories - Colorado Springs Gazette, CO: "“Our mission has not changed,” Maj. Joe Bethel of the 3rd Brigade Combat Team said."

Quants fail to live up to expectations

FT.com / FTfm / Investment strategy - Quants fail to live up to expectations


At the beginning of the twentieth century, Scott’s Porage Oats were marketed as being produced entirely through an automated process: “untouched by human hand”. Towards the end of the century, a new variety of asset management could lay claim to such a slogan – “quants” or quantitative managers fed mathematical models of financial markets into computers, which were then supposed to select stocks with none of the biases and fallibility of human stock selectors.
Investors were easily convinced of this concept, perhaps seduced by impressive technical descriptions of models, perhaps dubious about the possibility of traditional asset managers beating the market. Large amounts of money poured into quant funds, both long-only and hedge funds.
“Assets managed quantitatively grew phenomenally in the late 1990s and early 2000s,” says Martin Knowles, head of equity manager research at investment consultant Towers Watson.
More recently, quant funds have struggled as their performance, by and large, failed to satisfy investors through the credit crisis and afterwards. Fund research company Morningstar looked at the US quant sector recently, finding a group of 65 quant funds were on average in the bottom quartile of all US equity funds over three years to July 2010. This includes funds from Bridgeway, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan and Vanguard. Axa Rosenberg is shortly to liquidate four Laudus funds following a controversy over the handling of an error in one of its models. The controversy saw founder Barr Rosenberg and head of research Thomas Mead leave the company.
“Quant has got a bad press because of performance issues,” admits Eric Sorensen, president and chief executive of PanAgora, a US manager with a strong quant tradition. “When a lot of people come in and do the same thing, there are capacity constraints.”
It is difficult to get a precise handle on exact numbers flowing in or out of quant funds because the definition of such products is not clear-cut. Most fundamental managers use some quantitative techniques to filter their universe or provide suggestions, so the line between the two has become blurred.
“My impression is there have been asset outflows,” says Mr Knowles. “In one way, outflows are a good thing, because then you have less money chasing the same factors.” Nevertheless, this advantage will be minimal, he predicts, because the money leaving the sector is not material by comparison with the money that flowed in when quant was in fashion.
Investor attitudes to quant managers are not uniform, even after the struggles of the past few years. “Some clients have an appetite for the quant approach – it’s systematic, it’s easy to explain what the investment story is,” says Mr Knowles. “Some would regard it the opposite way, as a black box.”
Because many quant models identified and attempted to exploit similar factors in the market, such as momentum and value, the more money chasing these factors, the less outperformance any individual fund could achieve. They have also struggled in recent market conditions, explains Mr Knowles, because they frequently do best when the market is taking a clear direction.
“Inflexion points”, at which that direction changes, can be harder for a model to adapt to than a human, he explains. “Over the past year or so, the market’s been oscillating between worry and belief that everything’s going to be okay.
“That’s effectively been a whole series of inflexion points, which is generally not good for momentum strategies,” he says. 
This is not to say quant managers are sitting back and waiting for things to go their way again. Instead, many of them are re-examining their models, either because they are concerned they were not correct in the first place, or because they believe markets have changed sufficiently that new models, or at least adjusted versions, are necessary.
“The problem is that finding unique factors becomes ever more difficult as more and more people are looking for them,” says Mr Knowles, “and there’s an increased risk of identifying spurious relationships.”
Although it may be true figures cannot lie, it is very easy for them to mislead, suggesting trends or correlations that do not actually exist.
Other quants have looked at improving their trading techniques to squeeze extra performance from their models, while others are examining questions of timing in switching to eke out returns.
A reconsideration of the role of risk in portfolio management is another avenue for exploration by the mathematically minded. The fundamental indices that re-weight traditional market capitalisation weighted indices according to company metrics such as dividends have been in vogue for some time, but are often criticised for resulting simply in value investment strategies. Now alternative methods of weighting indices are being developed, such as the “anti-benchmark” approach of French quant Tobam, which systematically weights index components based on their correlation to each other to maximise diversification.
Since this approach is intended to minimise risk, as does the “minimum variance” approach, its success should be measured largely by the lower volatility it produces, but it has outperformed in most of the big markets Tobam invests in.
Like many investment innovations, quant managers’ core ideas have become mainstream – now they find themselves at the edge of thinking about what exactly investors want from their portfolios and how that might be produced.

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

7 Things To Do To Improve � The Kirk Report

7 Things To Do To Improve � The Kirk Report

Wall Street Actually likes Obama.

Stock market has performed well under his stewardship.
But he had a good leadin.

Bespoke Investment Group - Think BIG - 595 Days Into Obama's�Presidency

Wall Street Actually likes Obama.

Stock market has performed well under his stewardship.
But he had a good leadin.

Bespoke Investment Group - Think BIG - 595 Days Into Obama's�Presidency

Pants Size Chart - Waist Measurements for Men - Esquire


Pants Size Chart - Waist Measurements for Men - Esquire

Building on Faith in Lower Manhattan - NYTimes.com

Feisal Abdul Rauf


Op-Ed Contributor - Building on Faith in Lower Manhattan - NYTimes.com

Cogitamus: Just Because They Call Themselves That Doesn't Make It True

Modern conservatives and libertarians in the US want the US to be more like China.

Cogitamus: Just Because They Call Themselves That Doesn't Make It True

Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds

Beware of Greeks Bearing Bonds | Business | Vanity Fair

Michael Lewis is a national treasure.

Monday, September 06, 2010

Sunday, September 05, 2010

Doubles

Open House, Day 7: Why Don't Doubles-Loving Fans Watch Live Doubles? - NYTimes.com: "Tennis is aspirational, like certain other distractions in life, and most people who play it recreationally, and who may have started as kids, in their dreams always dreamed about becoming great singles players, not great doubles players. In their dreams they held up the singles trophy on Centre Court. Doubles reminds them that they’re no longer young, that life can be disappointing, that not all dreams come true, and that not anything is possible. Well, maybe that’s a little too Dostoeyevskian, but you get the point."

Hunter and a bear

copyranter: This is how to use YouTube to sell a product.

Why killing "criminals" with drones is a war crime. - By Ron Rosenbaum - Slate Magazine

Why killing "criminals" with drones is a war crime. - By Ron Rosenbaum - Slate Magazine: "It raises serious questions about the war itself: Are we in Afghanistan to fight a religious sect because 10 years ago, when it was in power, it sheltered al-Qaida and might again in the future? Are, therefore, all members of the sect legitimate military targets? Are there no civilian Taliban, who, repellant as some of their practices are, nonetheless deserve protection from drone strikes?"

Polling Bias

Only 48 economists were asked and 4 responded. Any guesses to the bias that the 48 economists choosen by the WSJ might have?

Economists Want Policy Makers to Back Off - WSJ.com

The true cost of the Iraq war: $3 trillion and beyond

The true cost of the Iraq war: $3 trillion and beyond: "absent the Iraq invasion, we would still be stuck in Afghanistan. And this is not the only 'what if' worth contemplating. We might also ask: If not for the war in Iraq, would oil prices have risen so rapidly? Would the federal debt be so high? Would the economic crisis have been so severe?"

Friday, September 03, 2010

Impressions of Afghanistan - International - The Atlantic

Today's long and depressing read.
There is no way out.

Impressions of Afghanistan - International - The Atlantic: "“We’ve killed hundreds and thousands of Taliban over nine years, and killing another thousand this year is not going to be the difference.”)"

Republican Interests

From the comments of an article on the inconsistencies of republican policy proposals.

Marginal Revolution: What stance will (should) Republicans take on payroll tax cuts?:

"Republican interest in the actual effects of policy. The balancing concerns are:

a) What will give Republicans more power?
b) What is better for America's largest corporations?
c) What is better for America's richest people?"

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Don't let you kids grow up to be salemen.

The Joy of a Salesman | The Big Picture

The Value of Education

Bill Dickens versus the Signaling Model of Education - Grasping Reality with Both Hands

The Three Illusions Shattered by the Iraq War



ABC The Drum Unleashed - Iraq and the collapse of neo-con illusions

The first of these illusions is the belief that preventive war was justified to combat rogue states. After the 9/11 attacks, it was confidently predicted that the twin pillars of national security policy during the Cold War - containment and deterrence - no longer worked against the Saddam Husseins of the world. As Bush said in 2002 (replayed with devastating effect in Oliver Stone's movie W): "After September 11, the doctrine of containment just doesn't hold any water as far as I'm concerned."

Today, it is clear that containment still has relevance. There is every reason to believe that any threat posed by Saddam, a cynical calculator whose overriding concern was consolidating power, not exporting martyrdom, could have been contained as it had been since the 1991 Gulf War. True, containment does not work against terrorists, who can run and hide, but rogue states do have a return address. Saddam knew if he smuggled weapons of mass destruction to Al-Qaeda or used banned weapons against US interests, his regime would have met, as Rice put it in another realist) life in 2000, "national obliteration" from the US nuclear arsenal.



The second neo-con illusion is the belief that democracy is an export commodity. This noble but misguided idea was an article of faith not only among the neo-conservatives in and out of the Bush administration but also among the anti-McGovern liberal wing of the Democratic Party. None of this was surprising - such idealistic instincts are as old as the republic itself. In the post-9/11 context, neo-cons and liberal hawks were adamant that problems abroad stemmed from the authoritarian nature of foreign governments, that the new era heralded an Arab spring, that the time was ripe for the political transformation of the whole region and that history was on the side of good over evil. The examples of post-fascist Japan and West Germany, the argument went, could be replicated in the Middle East.



The third illusion that guided neo-con policy was the Pax Americana or, as leading neo-conservative figures Bob Kagan and Bill Kristol once coined, "benign hegemony". This belief was engaged by neo-cons as well as liberal hawks following the collapse of the Soviet Empire and it gained more acclaim in the aftermath of 9/11. Even the words imperialism and empire, usually terms of abuse in American public discourse, were wholeheartedly embraced by many influential thinkers on the Washington think-tank circuit.