Semi-Daily Journal Archive

The Blogspot archive of the weblog of J. Bradford DeLong, Professor of Economics and Chair of the PEIS major at U.C. Berkeley, a Research Associate of the National Bureau of Economic Research, and former Deputy Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.

Saturday, March 25, 2006

WSJ Interview of Thomas Sowell

The Unknown Professor directs us to a...

Financial Rounds: WSJ Interview of Thomas Sowell: ...Wall Street Journal interview of Sowell. Not surprisingly (since he's 76), he's refreshingly old school. He makes a critical distinction between how he presents his views within the classroom vs. without: 'Mr. Sowell may be an unabashed free-market adherent, but he's proud to say that Professor Sowell left his personal views out of the classroom. In his 2000 memoir, "A Personal Odyssey," he relates an episode in which some students approached him after taking his graduate seminar on Marxian theory. They expressed appreciation for the course but added, "We still don't know what your opinion is on Marxism." He took it as an unintended compliment. "My job was to teach them economics, not teach them what I happen to believe," says Mr. Sowell...'

MarsEdit: Easy weblog editing

Mr. Potato Head Joins the War on Easter!

The "Easter Bunny" version of Mr. Potato Head:

is sold as part of a "Spring Basket." Apparently Playskool wants to sell Mr. Potato Head Easter Bunnies to Jews and Muslims and Atheists as well as to Christians who aren't too clear on the meaning of Easter.

I say Playskool should differentiate. I see a number of different Mr. Potato Heads associated with different spring religious festivals:

  • Lenten "Mr. Potato Head, Come Forth!" Edition: with Mr. Potato Head as Lazarus.
  • Holy Thursday "Deny Me Thrice" Edition: with Mr. Potato Head as Simon Peter.
  • Good Friday "Wash My Hands" Edition: with Mr. Potato Head as Pontius Pilate.
  • Greek "Liberation of Persephone" Edition: with Mr. Potato Head as Hades.
  • Noruz "Zoroastrian New Year" Edition: with Mr. Potato Head as Ahura Mazda.
  • Babylonian "Slaying of Tiamat" Edition: with Mr. Potato Head as Marduk.
  • Passover "Slaying of the Firstborn" Edition: with Mr. Potato Head as Azrael, the Angel of Death.

Reserve Diversification

Larry Summers thinks that poor countries should be earning higher returns on their reserves: - Summers Prods Officials In Emerging Markets To Diversify Reserves: Lawrence Summers... said emerging-market governments should consider diversifying their reserves away from "maximally liquid, maximally safe" short-term securities, such as U.S. Treasury debt.... Mr. Summers said China, Taiwan, Russia, Thailand, India and other countries with significant reserves should consider "more aggressive investment -- either in support of imports that have a high social return or in a much richer menu of international assets."... "It is an irony of our times," Mr. Summers said, "that the majority of the world's poorest people now live in countries with vast international financial reserves -- It is appropriate that some part of the focus of the international financial architecture move towards the challenge of deploying their large reserves as effectively as possible."

Mr. Summers said the that "large flow of capital from the world's most successful emerging markets to the traditional industrial countries" is "the most surprising development in the international financial system over the last half dozen years." Measured as a share of U.S. gross domestic product, U.S. annual borrowing from abroad now amounts to 7%. As he has in past speeches, Mr. Summers cautioned that the U.S. cannot continue to accumulate debt to foreigners at the pace as which it has been...

Friday, March 24, 2006

Ben Domenech One Last Time (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)

Ben Domenech's Parthian shot at RedAmerica was an attack on Steve Levitt and Steve Dubner:

Red America: In regards to another old post where I referenced something written by Father Richard John Neuhaus regarding the book "Freakonomics", I suggest that people actually take the time to read what is said. Neuhaus is setting up in blunt terms the logical consequences of the argument made in "Freakonomics" that hey, abortion may be icky, but at least it deters crime by eliminating people who may become criminals -- in this case, minority children in urban areas.

Is that what Levitt and Dubner argued? No. Let's roll the tape, starting on page 137 of Freakonomics:

By 1970 five states had made abortion entirely legal and broadly available.... On January 22, 1973, legalized abortion was suddenly extended to the entire country with... Roe v. Wade.... The Supreme Court gave voice to what the mothers in Romania and Scandinavia--and elsewhere--had lone known: when a woman does not want to have a child, she usually has good reason.... For any of a hundred reasons, she may feel that she cannot provide a home environment that is conducive to raising a healthy and productive child....

What sort of woman was most likely to take advantage of Roe v. Wade? Very often she was unmarried or in her teens or poor, and sometimes all three.... Childhood poverty and a single-parent household... are among the strongest predictors that a child will have a criminal future....

In the early 1990s, just as the first cohort of children born after Roe v. Wade was hitting its late teen years... the rate of crime began to fall.... And the crime rate continued to fall as an entire generation came of age minus the children whose mothers had not wanted to bring a child into the world. Legalized abortion led to less unwantedness; unwantedness leads to high crime; legalized abortion, therefore, led to less crime.

This theory is bound to provoke a variety of reactions, ranging from disbelief to revulsion.... The likeliest first objection is the most straightforward one: is the theory true?...

[E]arly legalizing states saw crime begin to fall earlier than the other[s].... [T]he states with the highest abortion rates in the 1970s experienced the greatest crime drops in the 1990s.... (New York City had high abortion rates and lay within an early-legalizing state, a pair of facts that further dampen the claim that innovative policing caused the crim drop.)...

To discover that abortion was one of the greatest crime-lowering factors in American history is... jarring. It... calls to mind a long ago dart attributed to G.K. Chesterton: when there aren't enough hats to go around, the problem is not solved by lopping off heads.... [O]ne need not oppose abortion... to feel shaken by the notion of a private sadness being converted into a public good....

[W]hat are we to make of the trade-off of more abortion for less crime?... For a person who is either resolutely pro-life or resolutely pro-choice, this is simple.... But let's consider a third person... [who] does not believe that a fetus is the 1:1 equivalent of a newborn... [but] for the sake of argument... decides that 1 newborn is worth 100 fetuses. There are roughly 1.5 million abortions in the United States every year... the equivalent [for this third person] of a loss of 15,000... the same number of people who die in homicides... and far more than the number of homicides eliminated... due to legalized abortion.... [E]ven for someone who considers a fetus... only one-hundredth of a human being, the trade-off between higher abortion and lower crime is, by an economist's reasoning, terribly inefficient.

Is that argument of Levitt and Dubner's fairly summarized by Domenech's "hey, abortion may be icky, but at least it deters crime by eliminating people who may become criminals -- in this case, minority children in urban areas"? No, it is not. Levitt and Dubner make it very clear that they think that abortion-on-demand is a big loser as an anti-crime policy.

Were I a trier of fact on this issue, I would conclude that Domenech's claims about the argument of Freakonomics are not only false but knowingly false, and made with deliberate and conscious malice.

Why do Domenech (and Richard John Neuhaus) falsely and maliciously misrepresent what Levitt and Dubner say? The only answer I have come up with is this: for the same reason that male dogs lick their testicles--because they can. Lying is simply what Domenech (and Neuhaus) do.

Why doesn't the Washington Post append a correction, stating that Domenech (and Neuhaus) have misrepresented the argument of Freakonomics, and regretting the error? Once again everybody: why do male dogs lick their testicles?

MarsEdit: Easy weblog editing

Mickey Kaus Has Reduced Michael Hiltzik to a Puddle of Shrillness

Michael deserves nothing but our sympathy. There, there, Michael. I know it's hard. Go out to Santa Monica and smell the flowers. It will get better. I promise.

A Platoon of Ignoramuses: You can always measure a writer's level of self-delusion by seeing what he points to as his best work. Mickey Kaus points us to the transcript of a joint appearance he made yesterday on Hugh Hewitt's radio show with Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds, in which the three of them agree heartily with each other like three bobbleheads on the dashboard of the same pickup. I don't know how else to describe this session, other than [censored].... Better to have kept this one under wraps, Mickey....

[Kaus] seems to buy into the argument that the elite media is leading the American public down the path of ignominious defeat and all but consciously aiding and abetting the enemy by signaling that they only have to wait out George Bush, and the US will withdraw. At one point Kaus unloads this amazing apercu:

Sure, the people in Iraq watch the American media often more closely than Americans do.

(It's followed by Reynolds's observation: "It's an information war. Terrorism is an information war disguised as a military conflict." To which we can all say in unison: Huh?).... Watching the right wing buffing up the argument that the liberal media are fomenting defeat in Iraq is an unedifying spectacle. It's dependent on the delusion that the war is going just spinningly, that we've got 'em where we want 'em, and it's just a matter of time before all resistance collapses--unless the virus of defeatism spreads. It also traps the rightosphere in self-contradiction: They can't claim that the traditional media are irrelevant and marginal while also granting us the influence to snooker the entire American populace into anti-war fanaticism. They can't have it both ways. The only person in America with the power to turn the country against the war is George W. Bush, and he's been doin' a heck of a job.

As for Kaus, he's certainly been flailing around lately, no? But giving aid and comfort to the enemies of coherent thought, that's a bit much...

Europe's Fiscal Constitution

Mark Thoma finds that Brad DeLong is worried:

Project Syndicate : Is the German government's willingness to issue more debt and run bigger deficits limited because the market recognizes and penalizes nation states that allow their fiscal positions to weaken? In a word, no. The interest rates on the euro-denominated sovereign debt of the twelve euro-zone governments are all very similar. So the market does not seem to care that countries have different potentials to generate exports to fund the financial flows needed for debt repayments, or different current and projected debt-to-GDP ratios.

Willem Buiter of the University of Amsterdam and Anne Sibert of the University of London believe that it is the ECB's willingness to, in effect, accept all euro-zone debt as collateral that has undermined the market's willingness to be an enforcer of fiscal prudence. As long as the marginal piece of German debt is used as collateral for a short-term loan or as the centerpiece of a repurchase agreement to gain liquidity, its value is much more likely to be determined by the terms on which the ECB accepts it as collateral than by its fundamentals. The ECB%u2019s treatment of all such debt as equally powerful sources of back-up liquidity now trumps any analysis of differences in long-term sovereign risk.

In the long run, this is dangerous. Both market discipline and sound fiscal management are needed to create a reasonable chance of long-run price stability. Omit either a market penalty now for behavior that may become reckless or the institutional levers that give a voice to future generations, and you run grave risks -- perhaps not today or tomorrow, but someday, and for the rest of your life...

A Really Good Idea

Max Sawicky suggests that the Washington Post hire Tom McGuire to "replace" Ben Domenech. That is a really good idea:

MaxSpeak, You Listen!: MAXSPEAK RESCUES
: Well, there you have it. McGuire's the one. Post, you don't have to thank me, because it is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to, than I have ever known.


As a runner-up, my choice is

Andrew Samwick.

Ben Domenech Speaks

Ben Domenech speaks:

The folks at understand my position and are convinced by my arguments on many of these issues... [but] there is no way this blog can continue without being permanently tagged to this firestorm. Therefore, I have resigned this position with This is a shame. As you all know, I am a conservative, but not a partisan – I believe had this blog been allowed to continue, it would have been a significant addition to the Post's site.... To my friends: thank you for your support. To my enemies: I take enormous solace in the fact that you spent this week bashing me, instead of America.


RedState - Conservative News and Community: Red America Ends By: Augustine · Section: Miscellania: Red America, my new blog at, has been under attack since its launch. It is a conservative blog on a mainstream media site, so many of the attacks were expected. If one bothers to read it, I believe it stands as a welcome addition to the opinion debate.

The hate mail that I have received since the launch of this blog has been overwhelmingly profane and violent. My family has been threatened; my friends have been deluged; my phone has been prank called. The most recent email that showed up while writing this post talked about how the author would like to hack off my head, and wishes my mother had aborted me.

But in the course of accusing me of racism, homophobia, bigotry, and even (on one extensive Atrios thread) of having a sexual relationship with my mother, the leftists shifted their accusations to ones of plagiarism. You can find the major examples here: I link to this source only because I believe it's the only place that hasn't yet written about how they'd like to rape my sister.

I know that charges of plagiarism are serious. While I am not a journalist, I have, myself, written more than one thing that has been plagiarized in the past. But these charges have also served to create an atmosphere where no matter what is said on my Red America blog, leftists will focus on things with my byline from when I was a teenager.

I can rebut several of the alleged incidents here. The most recent accusation, is that I stole a music review from Crosswalk and passed it off at National Review Online. In fact, I wrote both lists myself; I was one of Crosswalk's music review contributors at the time.

The Left has also accused me of foisting Sen. Frist quotes and some descriptive material from the Washington Post for a New York Press article on the Capitol Shooter. But the quotes I used were either properly credited or came from Sen. Frist’s press conference, which I attended along with many other reporters. So it is no surprise that we had similar quotes or similar descriptions of the same event. I have reams of notes and interviews about the events of that day. I also went over the entire piece step by step with NYPress editors to ensure that it was unquestionably solid before it ran.

Virtually every other alleged instance of plagiarism that I’ve seen comes from a single semester’s worth of pieces that were printed under my name at my college paper, The Flat Hat, when I was 17.

In one instance, I have been accused me of passing off P.J. O'Rourke's writing as my own in a column for the paper. But the truth is that I had met P.J. at a Republican event and asked his permission to do a college-specific version of his classic piece on partying. He granted permission, the piece was cleared with my editors at the paper, and it ran as inspired by O’Rourke’s original.

My critics have also accused me of plagiarism in multiple movie reviews for the college paper. I once caught an editor at the paper inserting a line from The New Yorker (which I read) into my copy and protested. When that editor was promoted, I resigned. Before that, insertions had been routinely made in my copy, which I did not question. I did not even at that time read the publications from which I am now alleged to have lifted material. When these insertions were made, I assumed, like most disgruntled writers would, that they were unnecessary but legitimate editorial additions.

But all these specifics are beside the point. Considering that all of this happened almost eight years ago, and that there are no files or notes that I've kept from that brief stint, it is simply my word against the liberal blogosphere on these examples. It becomes a matter of who you believe.

The truth is, a more responsible teenager would've nipped this sort of thing in the bud. A less sloppy writer would have made sure that material copied from other places never made it into a published piece, and never necessitated apologies or explanations that will do nothing to stop the critics. I was wrong not to do so.

But I do have one other collegiate example that might be to the point. When I was a junior in college, I wrote an article about liberal protests against Henry Kissinger’s visit to our campus. The leftists featured in the piece tried to get me kicked out of school. They mounted a six-month campaign against me. They posted fliers about me on campus. They sent me reams of hate mail. Ultimately, they were unsuccessful – the Honor Council completely cleared my name and the article as the truth. The events of the past 72 hours seem like a rerun of that experience.

The truth is, no conservative could write for the Post without being subject to the gauntlet of the liberal attack machine. There is no question in my mind that any RedState contributor writing for this blog would have found leftists delving through his high school yearbooks and grade school book reports in an effort to discredit and defame him. And if you too were a sloppy teenage writer, your errors or the errors of others would’ve been exploded.

I have a great many friends who are willing to stand and defend me on this. I appreciate their support. I have enormous respect for Jim Brady and the vision he has at WPNI. But while the folks at understand my position and are convinced by my arguments on many of these issues, they also feel that the firestorm here will only serve to damage us all, and that there is no way this blog can continue without being permanently tagged to this firestorm. Therefore, I have resigned this position with

This is a shame. As you all know, I am a conservative, but not a partisan – I believe had this blog been allowed to continue, it would have been a significant addition to the Post's site. The Post showed bravery by including a conservative voice, and I hope they continue to seek that balance.

While my blog was only alive for a week, it did have one result that was encouraging. If the change of heart described here continues, it will all have been worth it.

To my friends: thank you for your support. To my enemies: I take enormous solace in the fact that you spent this week bashing me, instead of America.



Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?

Dana Milbank has a very good question for's Jim Brady:

Post Politics Hour: Dana Milbank: OK, so it looks like 99% of the queries this morning are about this "Red America" blog and one Ben Domenech.... What I don't understand (although I haven't inquired) is why the website couldn't recruit somebody with more stature to do the job. This city is crawling with good conservative journalists with lots of heft. Domenech may be a smart fellow, but he's 24 years old and tells Kurtz "I'm not a journalist." I think that makes him the only "blogger" on the site who's not a journalist.


Fire Howard Kurtz Now (Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?)

Ben Domenech tells Howard Kurtz a number of things that both know to be false, and Kurtz prints them without any attempt at fact-checking:

Some Readers See Red Over's New Blogger: By Howard Kurtz: The Washington Post Co.'s Web operation has touched off an online furor by hiring as a blogger a 24-year-old former Bush administration aide who co-founded a conservative site and recently referred to Coretta Scott King as a "communist." Ben Domenech, an editor at the conservative Regnery Publishing, said he regrets the King reference, which he insists was tongue-in-cheek....

Jim Brady, executive editor of, said Domenech was hired because "we were completely unrepresented by a social conservative voice." He said his goal "is to provide voices from as many perspectives as possible" and that Domenech is not intended to balance anyone in particular on his staff. Domenech is "controversial" and the fact that liberals object to his hiring "shouldn't really be a shock to anybody," Brady said....

Domenech, who was home-schooled by his mother in South Carolina and Virginia, says he began writing for the conservative publication Human Events when he was 15 and continued until he left to attend the College of William & Mary. He was an intern and researcher for the Bush White House, served as a speechwriter for Tommy Thompson, then the health and human services secretary, and then spent two years working for Sen. John Cornyn (R-Tex.).

Late yesterday, the liberal Web sites Daily Kos and Atrios posted examples of what appeared to be instances of plagiarism from Domenech's writing at the William & Mary student paper. Three sentences of a 1999 Domenech review of a Martin Scorsese film were identical to a review in Salon magazine, and several sentences in Domenech's piece on a James Bond movie closely resembled one in the Internet Movie Database. Domenech said he needed to research the examples but that he never used material without attribution and had complained about a college editor improperly adding language to some of his articles.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Deborah Howell Hightails for the Border...

Last fall, when Deborah Howell was making her strafing runs at Dan Froomkin, the idea that the Washington Post's ombudsman's brief did not extend to never entered her head. Today, however...

AMERICAblog: Because a great nation deserves the truth: Isn't this interesting. The Washington Post ombudsman is now saying she'll have nothing to do with the Post's Republican blogger scandal because it's not her jurisdiction.... Which is quite funny... the same ombudsman recently wrote an article critical of Post writer Dan Froomkin who writes exclusively on the .com, and considering that the Post's Republican blogger was apparently hired to address the "liberal bias" concerns that the ombusdman raised in that very column about .com writer Froomkin.

So in what possible world is this issue not in the jurisdiction of the Post's ombudsman when she started the entire thing in the first place in her own column?...

Here's the email the Post ombsudman is now sending out to everyone who inquires about the blogger scandal:

From: Deborah C Howell
Date: March 23, 2006 9:44:05 PM EST
To: xxxxx
Subject: Re: Domenech

The Washington Post has not hired him. The website has. The two are under totally different management. He will not be working for the newspaper. If you want to complain to the right person, try


Wow, they're two totally different companies, yet Deborah Howell had no problem writing a column attacking supposed "liberal" Dan Froomkin who works for the "other company" that Howell claims she now has no jurisdiction over. Amazing how tunes change...

A real ombudsman would write something like:

Post corporate headquarters is running the print paper and the website as separate companies located in separate states, largely to try to economize on labor costs. However, the reputations of the Washington Post newspaper and are inextricably intertwined. It is very unfortunate and regrettable that has hired a man whose idea of civil discourse is to call the late Coretta Scott King a "Communist" on the day of her funeral, and to condemn Justice Sandra Day O'Connor as worse than the KKK. We hope that will correct this error as soon as possible.

Standards, you know.

"Snakes on a Plane!" Is Going to Be Even Better than "Red Dawn"!

Duncan Black writes:

Eschaton: Best. Movie. Evar. And it's going to get even better.If you can't understand why a movie with Samuel L. Jackson killing snakes on plane will in fact be the greatest movie ever made no matter how bad it is then there's no hope for you.

Former USAID Director Andrew Natsios Is Shrill!

Welcome, Andrew to the Ancient, Hermetic, and Occult Order of the Shrill. Practice your moans of unearthly terror this evening: you have a solo in tomorrow's concert:

The Washington Monthly: THE REPUBLICAN CRACKUP CONTINUES.....In Newsweek, Michael Hirsh reports that former USAID Director Andrew Natsios is the latest long-suffering Republican loyalist to finally crack. The CPA, under the authority of Paul Bremer, "didn't hire the best people," he now says. "We were just watching it unfold. They [the CPA] were constantly hitting at our people, screaming at them. They were abusive."

But perhaps this paragraph is more interesting: 'There is much more to come, especially on the little-noticed issue of contracting in Iraq, which the watchdog group Transparency International last year warned could become "the biggest corruption scandal in history." The Special Inspector General for Iraq Reconstruction is expected to issue a harshly critical report in May concluding that the CPA did not have disciplined contracting procedures in place, according to several people involved in drafting the report. If the Democrats manage to get control of the House later this year, it's all going to come in an avalanche of subpoenas and new investigations.

It's not censure or impeachment that Republicans are really worried about if they lose control of Congress. It's subpoenas. If they lose the ability to block Democrats from conducting genuine investigations backed by the subpoena power of Congress, the jig is up. And they know it.

I disagree. Even if Democrats have a majority of *some* chamber come 2007, the Bush White House will refuse to submit to subpoenas. It will dare the Congress to impeach, and focus on holding the stupid 2/3 of the Republican senators. We do have a constitutional crisis here.

The Gift that Keeps on Giving...

No, no, Scott! Ben Domenech is so funny because he is so pathetic. I expected to find a huge amount of hypocrisy and stupidity. But even I didn't expect to find large-scale serial plagiarism. I mean, Elmer Gantry was at least competent:

Scott Rosenberg's Links & Comment: If it weren't so pathetic it would be hilarious. The Washington Post, caving in to a right-wing campaign against its blogger-columnist Dan Froomkin, recently hired a raging young conservative named Ben Domenech to start a blog called "Red America." If it were serious about balance, the Post would then have hired someone like Tom Tomorrow or Kos to bring the scales back to level. But then, they have track records. And they're not plagiarists.

Domenech, it turns out, spent his college years at William and Mary cribbing whole paragraphs from movie reviews in Salon (and other reviews by Steve Rhodes, and other pieces by P.J. O'Rourke.) I don't know which is worse: the act itself or the stupidity of doing so in 1999, as a college student in the Internet era, when you just have to know that it will catch up with you someday. Shouldn't he at least have been copying from National Review or the New Criterion? Did he figure none of his conservative pals would read Salon, so he could pilfer with abandon?

However the story plays out -- and it will, fast -- the black eye for the Post is, sadly, deserved.

Domenech has already posted an apology for complaining that President Bush shouldn't have attended Coretta Scott King's funeral because she was a "Communist." So far, no attempt to explain the multiple acts of plagiarism.

The Future of Globalization

Harold Myerson reads Alan Blinder:

Will Your Job Survive?: article in the March-April issue of Foreign Affairs by Princeton University economist Alan Blinder.... In the new global order, Blinder writes, not just manufacturing jobs but a large number of service jobs will be performed in cheaper climes. Indeed, only hands-on or face-to-face services look safe. "Janitors and crane operators are probably immune to foreign competition," Blinder writes, "accountants and computer programmers are not."

There follow some back-of-the-envelope calculations as Blinder totes up the number of jobs in tradable and non-tradable sectors. Then comes his (necessarily imprecise) bottom line: "The total number of current U.S. service-sector jobs that will be susceptible to offshoring in the electronic future is two to three times the total number of current manufacturing jobs (which is about 14 million)." As Blinder believes that all those manufacturing jobs are offshorable, too, the grand total of American jobs that could be bound for Bangalore or Bangladesh is somewhere between 42 million and 56 million. That doesn't mean all those jobs are going to be exported. It does mean that the Americans performing them will be in competition with people who will do the same work for a whole lot less.

The threat of globalization and the reality of de-unionization have combined to make the raise, for most Americans, a thing of the past. Between 2001 and 2004, median household income inched up by a meager 1.6 percent, even as productivity was expanding at a robust 11.7 percent. The broadly shared prosperity that characterized our economy in the three decades following World War II is now dead as a dodo.

Also dying, if not yet also kaput, is the comforting notion that a good education is the best defense against the ravages of globalization -- or, as Bill Clinton famously put it: What you earn is the result of what you learn. A study last year by economists J. Bradford Jensen of the Institute for International Economics and Lori Kletzer of the University of California at Santa Cruz demonstrates that it's the more highly skilled service-sector workers who are likely to have tradable jobs. And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the proportion of jobs in the United States that require a college degree will rise by a measly one percentage point -- from 26.9 percent in 2002 to 27.9 percent in 2012 -- during this decade.

Since education as such won't save us, Blinder recommends a kind of particularized vocational ed. We will have to specialize more, he writes, "in the delivery of services where personal presence is either imperative or highly beneficial. Thus, the U.S. workforce of the future will likely have more divorce lawyers and fewer attorneys who write routine contracts." Now, there's a prospect to galvanize a nation.

My own sense (which I develop at greater length in the April issue of the American Prospect) is that nothing short of a radical reordering of our economy will suffice if we're to save our beleaguered middle-class majority. Every other advanced economy -- certainly, those of the Europeans and the Japanese -- has a conscious strategy to keep its most highly skilled jobs at home. We have none; American capitalism, dominated by our financial sector, is uniquely wedded to disaggregating companies, thwarting unionization campaigns and offshoring work in a ceaseless campaign to impress investors that it has found the cheapest labor imaginable.

So, here are three immodest suggestions:

  • We need to entice industry to invest at home by having the government and our public- and union-controlled pension funds upgrade the infrastructure and invest in energy efficiency and worker training.
  • We need to unionize and upgrade the skills of the nearly 50 million private-sector workers in health care, transportation, construction, retail, restaurants and the like whose jobs can't be shipped abroad.
  • And, if America is to survive American capitalism in the age of globalization, we need to alter the composition of our corporate boards so that employee and public representatives can limit the offshoring of our economy.

John Tierney Is Shrill

John Tierney is shrill:

Passing the Dinar - New York Times: Two months before the Iraq war began, David Kay reported to the Pentagon for a job in the agency being formed to run postwar Iraq. Kay, a former Defense Department scientist and weapons inspector in Iraq, was supposed to oversee the police. He assumed this meant preparing for the looting and crime to be expected when any regime collapsed. But those problems didn't seem to be on anyone else's mind, he told me, recalling his first day on the job.

"I said our first priority should be to establish order quickly, but that was considered a peripheral issue," he said. "The attitude was that it's not a problem, and if something happens the military will deal with it. I had one of the worst feelings ever in my gut, that this was going over a cliff."

On his second day on the job, he resigned -- an excellent career move in retrospect, although Kay doesn't believe it took any special clairvoyance. There were tough questions before the war, like figuring out whether Saddam had W.M.D. or forecasting the strength of the insurgency. But the looting and disorder were easily predictable, and Kay wasn't the only one making the predictions, as Michael R. Gordon and Bernard E. Trainor document in their new book on the war, "Cobra II."

Before the war, Dick Mayer, a former policeman working for the Justice Department, came up with a plan to send in thousands of international police officers to maintain order after the invasion. But Pentagon officials bristled at the expense, and the White House rejected the plan.... Some Pentagon officials did warn of civil disorder and crime, but they didn't do anything about it. They passed the buck to Gen. Tommy Franks, even though he didn't have enough troops or money for the job and showed little interest in postwar planning. He simply assured President Bush that there would be a "lord mayor" in each city and large town to deal with civilian problems.

Looting, crime, mayhem -- that was always someone else's department. The buck-passing reached its most absurd level at a briefing in the Situation Room just before the invasion, when Bush heard about the postwar plan to rely on Iraqis for law enforcement. According to Gordon and Trainor, the president was told of an intelligence report concluding that the Iraqi police "appeared to have extensive professional training."

That was like concluding that Inspector Clouseau appeared to be a master detective. During Saddam's era, when his security forces were the prime enforcers of order, the Iraqi police were notorious for corruption and lethargy. Officers waited for citizens to report crimes and expected bribes for investigating them. To the police, preventing crime, or even doing street patrols, was not their job.... That summer, as Iraqis watched looters and criminals taking control, they kept asking why nobody put a stop to the crime. The answer from officials in Washington, it turns out, is the same one that would have been given by the old Iraqi police: not my job.

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Do it now.

Civilized Political Discourse

Yet more on Box Turtle Ben, the Washington Post's secret weapon to delegitimize the right.

Domenech writes:

: I'm happy that no one's engaged in any ridiculous hyperbole, unfounded accusations or unintentionally hilarious name-calling. We can all agree that such things lower the quality of debate on the Internet, play to the worst side of our knee-jerk partisan nature and have no place in the modern public square. I look forward to engaging you in a serious, respectful discussion on the issues that matter most to the future of our nation.

Dfire responds:

It was a noble, if condescending, sentiment. Unfortunately, Domenech has never shown any inclination toward that sentiment in his own writing. A brief list of some of Domenech's worst moments, which I discovered in searching through the archives at Red State, where Domenech blogged under the handle Augustine:

  • Teresa Heinz Kerry looks like an "oddly shaped egotistical ketchup-colored muppet."
  • Michael Moore is "fatty fat fat fat... a blimp that crashed into the Fleet Center [causing] nearly $16 million in damage."
  • Andrew Sullivan "needs a woman to give him some stability."
  • Cartoonist Ted Rall is "a steaming bag of pus."
  • Senator Lincoln Chafee's "cranium would explode if he had one actual substantive thought."
  • The Post's own Froomkin... is "an embarrassment" "whose status as leader of the hack is without compare -- Froomkin isn't interested in the real story - just his cut and paste storyline."

Yet More on Ben Domenech

Duncan Black for the defense!

Eschaton: Signs of the Apocalypse: I must defend George Bush and by extension Box Turtle Ben from the vile slanders of unhinged lefty Kevin Drum and of Fox News. The law that Bush signed allowing hospitals to pull the plug over the objections of family only applied to adult patients. Governor Goodhair signed the sequel law which allowed them to pull the plug on kids, too.

The Washington Post's plan to delegitimize the right by giving airspace to Ben Domenech continues!

The Myopic Press

Mark Schmitt on the myopic press:

Straight-Line Projections | TPMCafe: Many years ago, I remember that the Washingtonian magazine commissioned the writer who goes by the name of "Joe Bob Briggs", and who had made his name in a Texas paper with his reviews of drive-in and B-movies, to review all the Sunday morning political talk shows. It was a hilarious piece of writing, which unfortunately I cannot find online, but I vividly remember, first, his observation that David Gergen bore an uncanny resemblance to The Cat in The Hat, and second, that everything that purported to be a "prediction" on McLaughlin or Meet the Press or Sam and Cokie was nothing more than "a straight-line projection from the present." Not necessarily a humorous observation, but accurate, and not always obvious.

Reading Elizabeth Bumiller's cold assessment this morning of Bush's futile effort to justify the Iraq war reminded me of Joe Bob's second observation.

It's tempting to play the game of "the press is cowed by the right," or "the press is all a bunch of liberals." The fact is that the main bias of the press is toward the assumption that, however things look now, that's how they will remain. For my money, over the last few years, no reporter has been more "in the tank," more slavishly devoted to the conventional wisdom on Bush's genius and Bush's overwhelming political strength than Bumiller. Part of that was the isolation of the bubble, but more important was that straight-line projection: Bush is politically strong, therefore he will remain politically strong.

Now of course, Bush looks ridiculously weak, so the straight-line projection has him going down the tubes.... The press isn't biased toward the right or the left (generally speaking, with some exceptions), but it is biased toward inertia. That's a factor that's worked hugely to the advantage of Bush and the right, and now it will kill them...

I think that Mark is wrong. The biases in the press are not toward "inertia." I'm not sure what they are, exactly, but they are powerful--and they give us a press corps that is, by and large, an embarrassment.

Transitory International Labor Migration

Transitory international labor migration: a Belle Waring's-eye view:

John & Belle Have A Blog: Trip: The girls and I are going to the Philippines next week with our maid Tena. She is from a town on the main island of Luzon, on the west coast about 7 hours drive north of Manila. She hasn't been back home to visit her kids in all the 5 years she's worked for us, preferring to take the money I would have spent on her ticket and send it home. I had been trying to convince her for quite a while, with little success.

Overseas workers who go back for a visit to their hometown are invariably hit up for money by every relative and even aquaintance they see. Some maids end up spending so much on these trips, what with presents to buy and people to help that they wind up in debt at the end of their 2-year contract, having sacrificed a lot for little apparent gain.

Tena also has said that it would make her feel so homesick to see her children for a short time and leave them again that not seeing them is better. But slowly, with the application of greater and greater amounts of cash, I talked her into it.

We are going back for her daughter's high school graduation. She's not telling her kids or her mom; she wants to just walk up and surprise them. Sounds to me like the kind of thing that causes heart attacks, but whatever. I have never been to the Philippines, and I'm really looking forward to it. It is always such a different experience to go and stay in someone's home, rather than in hotels. Tena's mom is going to teach me how to make lots of tasty food, such as stuffed milkfish and a kind of ox tongue stew. I am going to supply the meat (including a whole pig's head!) and beer and booze for a big party, and Tena's getting the veggies, soft drinks and so on.

I tried to get a whole suckling pig, but they could only come up with what is basically a small hog, and that's too much. So, head it is! I just hope I don't get drunk and get double-dog-dared into eating an eyeball (something I have done in the past, with a BBQ sheep's head in Cyprus.) They are almost certainly going to rent a karaoke machine and make me sing, though. I better start practicing "You Are The Wind Beneath My Wings" now.

Tena says there is a nice beach nearby, with restaurants on the beach where you can get tasty fresh fish and squid. I think most of the time we're just going to hang out, though there are some catholic shrines and things around that might be interesting. I'm looking forward to going to the wet markets and seeing all the stuff. I think I'm going to have to pass on the delicacy called balut, which is a boiled egg containing the partially formed chicken embryo, which you eat bones and all. Crunchy. Also, tripe stew? I just don't like tripe. I've tried.

John's parents are thoughtfully paying for Tena's daughter to go to nursing school starting in May. Her son is being a bit of a slacker but will hopefully finish up next year, and then I hope I can convince my family to help with his school. Big improvements all around! Thanks Paul and Kay, you rock!

Ben Domenech: Sandra Day O'Conner Worse than KKK!

Ben Domenech's views of Sandra Day O'Conner put her just a little bit shy of being WROSE THAN HILTER1!!1!:

Comments || Judges... The New KKK...: The worst black-robed men and women are worse then the KKK, and not just because they have the authority of the state behind them. They don't even use the vile pretense of skin color - they dismiss the value of all unborn lives, not just the lives of ethnic minorities...

Box Turtle Ben

Duncan Black writes, as we continue our practice of laughing--laughing at, not with--the Washington Post's secret weapon to delegitimize the right, Ben Domenech:

I guess we've been a bit hard on Ben Domenech, as there's a pretty good chance he's provided us with one of our most comical moments in recent political history. He was a speechwriter for Senator Cornyn.... "It does not affect your daily life very much if your neighbor marries a box turtle. But that does not mean it is right.... Now you must raise your children up in a world where that union of man and box turtle is on the same legal footing as man and wife."

But I Already Have Deep Ken (Rogoff, That Is) Right Here...

Ken Rogoff muses on whaat he sees as the near-singularity to come. Via Mark Thoma:

Economist's View: Rogoff: Artificial Intelligence and Globalization: Ken Rogoff wonders if replacing people with intelligent machines, e.g. pocket economics professors complete with holographic images instead of university professors, will be a bigger factor than globalization and outsourcing in explaining changes in global job and wage patterns in coming decades:

Artificial Intelligence and Globalization by Kenneth Rogoff, Project Syndicate: Today's conventional wisdom is that the rise of India and China will be the single biggest factor driving global jobs and wages over the twenty-first century. High-wage workers in rich countries can expect to see their competitive advantage steadily eroded by competition.... But I wonder whether... another factor will influence our work lives even more: the exponential rise of applications of artificial intelligence.

My portal to the world of artificial intelligence is a narrow one... chess.... Chess has long been the centerpiece of research in artificial intelligence. While in principle, chess is solvable, the game's computational complexity is almost incomprehensible.... For most of the twentieth century, programmers were patently unsuccessful in designing chess computers that could compete with the best humans.... Then, in 1997... IBM's "Deep Blue"... stunned the world.... Proud Kasparov, who was perhaps more stunned than anyone, was sure that the IBM team must have cheated... computer programmers no longer find beating humans a great challenge....

[W]hen I played professional chess 30 years ago... I could tell a lot about someone's personality by seeing a sampling of their games.... I could certainly distinguish a computer from a human opponent. Now everything changed like lightning. The machines can now even be set to imitate famous human players -- including their flaws -- so well that only an expert eye (and sometimes only another computer!) can tell the difference.... From my perspective, today's off-the-shelf computer programs come awfully close to meeting Turing's test. Over the course of a small number of games on the Internet, I could not easily tell the difference....

What's next? I certainly don't feel safe as an economics professor! I have no doubt that sometime later this century, one will be able to buy pocket professors -- perhaps with holographic images -- as easily as one can buy a pocket Kasparov chess computer today....

[T]he vast body of evidence suggests that technological changes were a much bigger driver in global wage patterns than trade. That is, technology, not trade, was the big story of the twentieth-century economy.... Are we so sure that it will be different in this century? Or will artificial intelligence replace the mantra of outsourcing and manufacturing migration? Chess players already know the answer.

From my perspective, Ken Rogoff is wrong. For I already have what is (nearly) a pocket Ken Rogoff in my office. It is called Maurice Obstfeld and Kenneth Rogoff (1996), Foundations of International Macroeconomics (Cambridge: MIT Press). The real near-singularity happened nearly six centuries ago, with Gutenberg.

Colonel Wilkerson Wants His Party Back

Colonel Wilkerson wants his party back:

The Washington Note: A TWN loyal reader in Australia caught this poignant segment about Wilkerson's political party loyalties:

Question: Now, you were, I believe, a Republican for many years, you worked with the Republican administration and the Republican secretary of state. Do you think the Republicans and the Republican President will end up paying the price, the political price, for this war?

Wilkerson: Yes and I'm very concerned about that as a citizen. My mum wrote me a letter the other day and she said, "Son," -- she's 86 years old -- she said, "Son, please don't become a Democrat".

And I told my mum, I called her and I said: "Mum, you know what? I want my party back. I don't want to become a Democrat. I want my party back."

The Republican Party that I knew, that I grew up in, a moderate party, a party that believed in fiscal discipline, a party that believed in small government, a party that had genuine conservative values. This is not a conservative leadership. This is radical leadership. I called them neo-Jacobins. They are radical. They're not conservative. They've stolen my party and I would like my party back.

The political health of the country depends on the restoration of healty competition between the parties. But for that to occur, both parties have to restore their internal health. Dems need to sort out their agenda and probably need a few internal civil wars in order to move a coherent policy framework forward.

From my perspective, the view that "Democrats need to sort out their agenda" presumes a political system we do not have--one with a shadow government. The Democrats will do fine once there is a candidate to make decisions. Until then, there can be no coherent policy framework--and it is foolish to expect one.

The Republicans, of course, are in much more serious trouble. They need to replace their "leader" as soon as possible, and to apologize to America for foisting him upon us.

Corruption, Bush Family Style

From Josh Micah Marshall:

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: March 19, 2006 - March 25, 2006 Archives: Great moments in earmarks. The Houston Chronicle reports this morning that the donation Barbara Bush made to the Bush-Clinton Katrina Fund was 'earmarked' for the educational software company Ignite!

As some of you probably know that's the junk company owned by her ne'er-do-well son Neil Bush.

Actually, though, it's way better, or worse, depending on your turn of mind.

Ignite!'s has a unique business model, which works like this. Neil goes around the world finding international statesmen, bigwigs and criminals who want to 'invest' in Ignite! as a way to curry favor with the brother in the White House.

A couple years ago when I was at Salon I wrote about the craze for investment in Ignite! then taking hold among Red Sea oil magnates and progeny of the rulers of the People's Republic of China (See this article as well about the craze for investing in Ignite! in the United Arab Emirates and specifically in Dubai). Now, Russian tycoon Boris Berezovsky has awakened to the wonders of investing in Ignite!

Ben Domenech: Semper Fi

Atrios is sad:

Eschaton: Aw, Crap. I knew I should've saved the damn picture. Box Turtle Ben deleted the "Marine Sniper - you can run but you'll die tired" or whatever mug from his cafepress site.

You see, up until yesterday, the Washington Post's Ben "'Red Dawn' Is Not Just Another Cheesy Throwaway Sunday Afternoon Movie" Domenech sold "Marine Sniper - you can run but you'll die tired" mugs. Now he doesn't.

Now, Ben Domenech is not now and never has been a Marine sniper, or a Marine, or a volunteer for America's armed forces. I bet he does play a mean shoot-em-up video game though.

Now there is great honor in volunteering for America's military. Our soldiers, sailors, and airmen deserve our respect and our deference--including my grandfather the Marine (who died last week at 97), and my two cousins, one in Air Force flight training and the other in the 82nd. Those who merely sell "Marine Sniper" mugs--well, contrary to what John Milton said, they do not also serve.

And what do those who frantically purge their websites of "Marine Sniper" mugs when it begins to get some attention?

Semper Fi, Ben.

Wallet Biopsies

Kevin Drum joins the Legions of Righteousness as we laugh at--not with, at--the Washington Post's Ben Domenech:

The Washington Monthly: THE APOCALYPSE....I'm feeling left out of the Ben Domenech bashing, so let's take a crack at his latest post, which he mildly calls "one of the ever-growing number of signs of the apocalypse": In brief:

A group of British doctors fought in court for the right to remove a fully-conscious little boy from a ventilator, over the objections of his parents, because they judged his quality of life to not be worth living.

Damn socialists. It's a good thing that a God fearing man like George Bush would never sign legislation to allow such a thing to happen, isn't it?

In any case, I'm glad to see Ben arguing that the state should be obligated to provide medical care for sufficiently sick people. It's a start

Kevin misrepresents George W. Bush's Texas law. It allows hospitals to pull the plug not in the interest of mercy--for patients in great pain, or with no consciousness--but in the interest of $$$$$: if you can't pay, your ventilator goes.

Unintentionally Hilarious Name Calling

The Washington Post's plan to discredit the right by giving airtime to Ben Domenech continues to be wildly successful--this time over what Ben calls his own "unintentionally hilarious name calling."

Ben Domenech writes now:

Red America: I'm happy that no one's engaged in any ridiculous hyperbole, unfounded accusations or unintentionally hilarious name-calling. We can all agree that such things lower the quality of debate on the Internet, play to the worst side of our knee-jerk partisan nature and have no place in the modern public square. I look forward to engaging you in a serious, respectful discussion on the issues that matter most to the future of our nation...

Ben Domenech writes then:

Red America: Democrats... the shrieking denizens of their increasingly extreme base...

|| RedState: Yeah... I just have this specific and deep-rooted dislike for everything Dan Froomkin says and does. He's one of the dozen or so people in the world that I just detest - along with Noam Chomsky, Eric Alterman, Louis Farrakhan, Barbra Streisand, Kate Michelman, Mitch Albom, Michael Irvin, David Duke, Peter Singer, and Rick Reilly...

|| RedState: I've just gotta say it: Dan Froomkin is without question a lying weasel-faced Democrat shill...

|| RedState: If one spends any amount of time reading the columns of's Dan Froomkin - whose status as leader of the hack is without compare - it's easy to realize that, on any given day, the cut and paste function has to be a tiring chore. Every day, it's use the same template, find a new reason to hate. "Bush is a liar because X." "The President is a fool because X." "The White House wants to kill your child's pet because X." Etc...

As "Your Logo Here" writes:

Your Logo Here: In his third installment... Ben Domenech does his best to convince us that he is amused by the firestorm created by his hiring, calling it an "impressive reaction."... Ben says:

I'm happy that no one's engaged in any ridiculous hyperbole, unfounded accusations or unintentionally hilarious name-calling. We can all agree that such things lower the quality of debate on the Internet, play to the worst side of our knee-jerk partisan nature and have no place in the modern public square.

By name-calling, does Ben mean calling Coretta Scott King a "communist"? Do statements such as "Al Gore can suck it" lower the quality of debate? Granted, regular readers know that I've done a good deal myself to lower the quality of debate. But the Post would never hire me because my father wasn't Jack Abramoff's man in Interior...

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Ben Domenech, Meet Your Dad

Truly the gift that keeps on giving. Yet more on the Washington Post's sekrit plan to discredit the right by giving airtime to Ben Domenech.

Over at, the Washington Post's Ben Domenech writes that Jack Abramoff had no influence on policy at the Interior Department:

Comments || Norton Resigns from Cabinet || RedState: Oh please. By: Augustine. That's bullcrap. Abramoff boasted of being an insider at EVERY agency, not just Interior. Because he lied to his clients, we're supposed to believe that he actually had any effect on policy? Please.

Ben, there's somebody we want you to meet. You can call him "Dad":

Talking Points Memo: by Joshua Micah Marshall: March 19, 2006 - March 25, 2006 Archives: Little did I know this Ben Domenech gambit from the Post was a secret plot to create the grist for more Abramoff blogging. You see, it turns out the Domenech family came in for a number of Bush administration appointments. Not only Ben, but Ben's dad, Doug, who was White House liaison to the Department of Interior. Or to put it more colloquially, White House guy to make sure Jack Abramoff got what he wanted with the Indians and the Pacific Island stuff.

Wayne Smith was the point man for Indian casino policy at the Department of Interior. He ended up having kind of a rough ride over at Interior. And, according to Smith, as reported last year in the Denver Post, Domenech told him "we had to pay attention to [Jack] Abramoff, because otherwise the religious right and (Ralph) Reed are going to come up and bite us, and our whole base will go crazy. They will light up our phones, shut down our phone lines."

According to Smith, Domenech was the conduit for Abramoff operative Italia Federici. Said Smith: "Doug would come down and say, 'Italia called and Jack wants this' That's how it all happened internally."

Perhaps it's from first-hand family experience that Ben writes:

Red America: On the size of government, on immigration and on issues of federal power, Republicans have adopted the same Washington strategies.... They've grown fat and happy on pork contracts, and forgotten why they were sent to this town in the first place.

Ben Domenech, Confedsymp

The Washington Post's sekrit plan to discredit the right by giving airtime to Ben Domenech continues to roll forward.

Today we find that Ben Domenech of the Washington Post is pissed that George W. Bush went to the funeral of that "Communist" Coretta Scott King:

|| RedState: The President visits the funeral of a Communist... and phones in a message to the March for Life. I think we can get a little pissed about this...

And that Ben likes Jefferson Davis a whole lot: June 26, 2005 - July 02, 2005 Archives: Shelby Foote begins his Civil War trilogy with [a chapter on] the story of Jefferson Davis.... This all goes to explain why Foote ended his [entire] trilogy this way:

...Jefferson Davis could never match [Lincoln's] music, or perhaps even catch its tone. His was a different style, though it too had its beauty and its uses: as in his response to a recent Beauvoir visitor, a reporter who hoped to leave with something that would help explain to readers the underlying motivation of those crucial years of bloodshed and division. Davis pondered briefly, then replied. "Tell them--" He paused as if to sort the words. "Tell the world that I only loved America," he said.

Here's how much Jefferson Davis loved America:

From Davis's farewell speech to the U.S. Senate:

Jefferson Davis 1861: Mississippi... has heard proclaimed the theory that all men are created free and equal, and this made the basis of an attack upon her social institutions.... The Declaration of Independence is to be construed by the circumstances and purposes for which it was made. The communities were asserting that no man was born... booted and spurred, to ride over the rest of mankind; that men were created equal, meaning the men of the political community... [that] all stations were equally within the grasp of each member of the body politic. These were the great principles they announced.... They have no reference to the slave...

Jefferson Davis during the debate over the Compromise of 1850:

Jefferson Davis 1850: [S]ir, I have an allegiance to the State which I represent here. I have an allegiance to those who have entrusted their interests to me, which every consideration of faith and of duty, which every feeling of honor, tells me is above all other political considerations. I trust I shall never find my allegiance there and here in conflict. God forbid that the day should ever come when to be true to my constituents is to be hostile to the Union. If, sir, we have reached that hour in the progress of our institutions, it is past the age to which the Union should have lived. If we have got to the point when it is treason to the United States to protect the rights and interests of our constituents, I ask why should they longer be represented here? why longer remain a part of the Union? If there is a dominant party in this Union which can deny to us equality, and the rights we derive through the Constitution; if we are no longer the freemen our fathers left us; if we are to be crushed by the power of an unrestrained majority, this is not the Union for which the blood of the Revolution was shed; this is not the Union I was taught from my cradle to revere; this is not the Union in the service of which a large portion of my life has been passed; this is not the Union for which our fathers pledged their property, their lives, and sacred honor. No, sir, this would be a central Government, raised on the destruction of all the principles of the Constitution, and the first, the highest obligation of every man who has sworn to support that Constitution would be resistance to such usurpation. This is my position.

My colleague has truly represented the people of Mississippi as ardently attached to the Union. I think he has not gone beyond the truth when he has placed Mississippi one of the first, if not the first, of the States of the Confederation in attachment to it. But, sir, even that deep attachment and habitual reverence for the Union, common to us all--even that, it may become necessary to try by the touchstone of reason. It is not impossible that they should unfurl the flag of disunion. It is not impossible that violations of the Constitution and of their rights, should drive them to that dread extremity. I feel well assured that they will never reach it until it has been twice and three times justified. If, when thus fully warranted, they want a standard bearer, in default of a better, I am at their command.

Truly this is a gift that keeps on giving.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

The Washington Post's Master Plan Unfolds...

Yesterday we saw the opening act of the Washington Post's master plan to discredit the right by giving airspace to Ben Domenech. Today we see the second act begin, as P.Z. Myers outs Domenech as somebody who (a) lies about the work and views of Stephen Jay Gould, and (b) is an out-and-out creationist who "take[s] Genesis literally" and believes that the "theory of evolution is a total crock":

Pharyngula: Ben Domenech: creationist: [W]e could just assume he's uninformed, and doesn't know what he's talking about--but he goes beyond that to egregious dishonesty, with a fraudulent quote-mine.

Will Saletan['s]... offhand dismissal of the reasons for teaching Intelligent Design in public schools is full of holes.... [N]o less prominent an evolutionist than Stephen Jay Gould has lent weight to the theories of Michael Behe and his brethren....

You read that, and it sounds as if Gould had endorsed Intelligent Design creationism--Mr Domenech is slinging around Gould's credibility and authority to rebut Saletan's dismissal of ID. Follow that link, though, and you won't find Gould saying supportive things about Behe or the work of the Discovery Institute: instead, it's a diatribe by one Robert Wright, against Gould, accusing him of doing such poor science that he is providing aid and comfort to creationists. Wright's article is a rather hacky hit piece, but... there's nothing there to suggest that Gould had anything good to say about [creationists], either. Domenech is blatantly misrepresenting the story.

The rest--the implication that evolution is weak because it "remains a theory", that you cannot see the evidence for evolution, and that ID somehow meets a standard sufficient to be taught in public school--is just traditional creationist stupidity. Falling back on the argument from popularity is a theme common to this guy. Like here, where he also confesses to being a creationist:

Nearly twice as many Americans believe in creationism as in evolution.... I don't necessarily subscribe to all Creationist theories, but I do take Genesis literally. And I believe the commonly taught theory of evolution is a total crock.

It's time to demand that Domenech give answers to the most pressing question of our day: Were there rainbows before Noah's flood?

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Morons?

Wonkette reports that Ways and Means Chair Bill Thomas spent $27,000 getting to Beaver Creek, CO and back--off season.

How is it physically possible? The last time I went to Beaver Creek it was $368 roundtrip.

Ramesh Ponnuru Is Off Message!

Ramesh Ponnuru is off message:

The Corner on National Review Online: SOCIAL SECURITY: Matthew Yglesias accuses me of offering "bad math" in a post the other day. The accusation is a little mystifying. My post criticized Jacob Weisberg for claiming that President Bush had been unwilling to cut Social Security benefits and had instead balanced the books on his reform plan by invoking high stock-market returns. That wasn't true. Bush proposed cuts in future benefits.

Foolish Ramesh! George W. Bush assured us that he never proposed to cut Social Security benefits! He only proposed to slow the rate of growth of benefits!

And Bush never "balanced the books" on his Social Security reform plan. Never. Jason Furman--apparently the only person to go public with any estimates of the budget impact of the Bush plan, such as it was (certainly no Bush appointees ever had any numbers to talk about), says that:

The Impact of The President's Proposal On Social Security Solvency And The Budget, 7/22/05: the President's plan as a whole is found to close only 24 percent of the 75-year [estimated Social Security funding] gap. More than three-quarters of the gap would remain. Additional benefit reductions, new revenues, or large transfers from the rest of the budget would be necessary to fill the substantial remaining gap.

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These... Whatever They Ares?

George W. Bush... well, maybe you can call it "speaks"... but maybe not:

Press Conference of the President: Q Mr. President, in the upcoming elections I think many Republicans would tell you one of the big things they're worried about is the national debt, which was $5.7 trillion when you took office, and is now nearly $8.2 trillion, and Congress has just voted to raise it to $8.9 trillion. That would be a 58-percent increase. You've yet to veto a single bill, sir -- I assume that means you're satisfied with this.

THE PRESIDENT: No, I'm not satisfied with the rise of mandatory spending. As you know, the President doesn't have the -- doesn't veto mandatory spending increases. And mandatory spending increases are those increases in the budget caused by increases in spending on Medicare and Social Security. And that's why -- back to this man's question right here -- it's important for -- "this man" being Jim -- (laughter) -- sorry, Jim, I've got a lot on my mind these days. That's why it's important for us to modernize and strengthen Social Security and Medicare, in order to be able to deal with the increases in mandatory spending.

Secondly, in terms of discretionary spending, that part of the budget over which Congress has got some control, and over which the President can make suggestions -- we have suggested that the Congress fully fund the troops in harm's way. And they have, and for that the American people should be grateful.

Secondly, we suggested that Congress fund the reconstruction efforts for Katrina. They have spent now a little more than $100 billion, and I think that's money well-spent, a commitment that needed to be keep [sic]. Thirdly, we have said that other than security discretionary spending, that we ought to, last year, actually reduce the amount of discretionary spending, and were able to do so. Ever since I've been the President we have slowed the rate of growth of non-security discretionary spending and actually cut discretionary spending -- non-security discretionary spending. Last year I submitted a budget to the United States Congress. I would hope they would meet the targets of the budget that I submitted, in order to continue to make a commitment to the American people.

But in terms of the debt, mandatory spending increases is driving a lot of that debt. And that's why it's important to get the reforms done.

Q Thank you, sir. For the first time in years, interest rates are rising in the U.S., Europe and Japan at the same time. Is this a concern for you? And how much strain are higher interest rates placing on consumers and companies?

THE PRESIDENT: First of all, interest rates are set by an independent organization, which --

Q -- still, are you concerned about that?

THE PRESIDENT: Well, I'm not quite through with my answer yet.

Q I'm sorry.

THE PRESIDENT: I'm kind of stalling for time here. (Laughter.) Interest rates are set by the independent organization. I can only tell you that the economy of the United States looks very strong. And the reason I say that is that projections for first-quarter growth of this year look pretty decent. That's just projections, that's a guess by some economists, and until the actual numbers come out we won't know. But no question that the job market is strong. When you have 4.8 percent unemployment -- 4.8 percent nationwide unemployment, that indicates a strong job market, and that's very important.

One of the measures as to whether or not this economy will remain strong is productivity. And our productivity of the American worker and productivity of the American business sector is rising. And that's positive, because productivity increases eventually yield -- eventually yield higher standards of living. Home ownership is at an all-time high. And there has been all kinds of speculation about whether or not home ownership would -- home building would remain strong, and it appears to be steady. And that's important.

In other words -- and so to answer your question, I feel -- without getting into kind of the -- kind of micro-economics, from my perch and my perspective, the economy appears to be strong and getting stronger. And the fundamental question that those of us in Washington have to answer is, what do we do to keep it that way. How do we make sure, one, we don't put bad policies in place that will hurt economic growth? A bad policy is to raise taxes -- which some want to do. There are people in the United States Congress, primarily on the Democrat side, that would be anxious to let some of the tax relief expire. Some of them actually want to raise taxes now. I think raising taxes would be wrong. As a matter of fact, that's why -- and I think it's important for us to have certainty in the tax code. That's why I'd like to see the tax relief made permanent.

You know, it's a myth in Washington, for Washington people to go around the country saying, well, we'll balance the budget, just let us raise taxes. That's not how Washington works. Washington works raising taxes and they figure out new ways to spend. There is a huge appetite for spending here. One way to help cure that appetite is to give me the line-item veto. You mentioned vetoing a bill -- one reason why I haven't vetoed any appropriation bills is because they met the benchmarks we've set. They have -- on the discretionary spending, we've said, here is the budget, we've agreed to a number, and they met those numbers.

Now, sometimes I didn't -- I like the size of the pie, sometimes I didn't particularly like the slices within the pie. And so one way to deal with the slices in the pie is to give the President the line-item veto. And I was heartened the other day when members of both parties came down in the Cabinet Room to talk about passage of a line-item veto. I was particularly pleased that my opponent in the 2004 campaign, Senator Kerry, graciously came down and lent his support to a line-item veto, and also made very constructive suggestions about how to get one out of the United States Congress.

Let's see here. They told me what to say. David.

Interesting that he cannot remember "Federal Reserve" on the fly. Also interesting that he does not know that the Federal Reserve controls the overnight federal funds rate, but does not control--it influences--long-term rates. Interesting that he thinks his power to veto appropriations bills is the power to "make suggestions" about spending levels.

Who is the "they"? And did "they" really tell him to say that?

MarsEdit: Easy weblog editing.

The Washington Post Disses the Right

Back in the 1980s, the Wall Street Journal editorial page's most effective and devastating right-wing columnist was left-wing nut-boy Alexander Cockburn: everyone (well, almost everyone) reading his columns would think, "If that's the left, I belong on the right."

Now comes the Washington Post pulling the same trick: hiring Ben Domenech--a man with no policy or analytic or reportorial qualifications save a couple years as a right-wing speechwriter, an unarmed man in a battle of wits--to be its right-wing weblogger. It's funny:

Red America: Since the election of 1992, the extreme political left has fought a losing battle. Their views on the economy, marriage, abortion, guns, the death penalty, health care, welfare, taxes, and a dozen other major domestic policy issues have been exposed as unpopular, unmarketable and unquestioned losers at the ballot box.... [T]he mainstream media continues to treat red state Americans as pachyderms in the mist - an alien and off-kilter group of suburbanite churchgoers about which little is known, and whose natural habitat is a discomforting place for even the most hardened reporter from the New York Times.

During the discussions about the launch of this new blog, the good folks at spent far too much time in sessions with markers and whiteboard, trying to settle on a name for the column. The suggestions were all over the map - but one suggestion provided a reminder of the sociopolitical divide in this country. "What about 'Red Dawn'?" said one helpful editor.

"Well, only if you want to make people think it was a gun blog," I said, to puzzled faces.

"Red Dawn? You must know it - the greatest pro-gun movie ever? I mean, they actually show the jackbooted communist thugs prying the guns from cold dead hands."

Any red-blooded American conservative, even those who hold a dim view of Patrick Swayze's acting "talent," knows a Red Dawn reference. For all the talk of left wing cultural political correctness, the right has such things, too (DO shop at Wal-Mart, DON'T buy gas from Citgo). But in the progressive halls of the mainstream media, such things prompt little or no recognition. For the MSM, Dan Rather is just another TV anchor, France is just another country and Red Dawn is just another cheesy throwaway Sunday afternoon movie...

Hate to break it to you, Ben, but "Red Dawn" is just another cheesy throwaway Sunday afternoon movie--and one that's not nearly as visually interesting as "Dirty Dancing." "Red Dawn" is currently #2883 with a bullet among amazon DVDs, behind such wonders of the cinematic art as "Don Knotts 4 Movie Reluctant Hero Pack (The Ghost And Mr. Chicken / The Reluctant Astronaut / The Shakiest Gun In The West / The Love God?)," "Simple Life 3 - The Interns," and "Arrested Development--Season 2."

This is going to be fun.

Why Was England First?

New Economist sends us to the latest take on why England was first:

New Economist: Why was England first to industrialise?: Why was England first to enter the Industrial Revolution? Why not France? Belgium? Or even China? So asked Nico Voigtländer and Hans-Joachim Voth from the Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, in a recent paper Why England? Demand, Growth and Inequality during the Industrial Revolution (PDF).

The authors conclude that "starting conditions were unusually favorable" in England, which had "higher per capita income" - and hence a ready consumer market for manufactured goods - as soon as favourable agricultural productivity shocks boosted incomes. Government policy, principally through "the relatively generous Poor Law system", played a role in boosting per capita living standards. So did the "low-pressure European marriage pattern", whereby age at first marriage for women was determined by socioeconomic conditions, not age at first menarche. The paper abstract explains their modeling and findings:

Why was England first? And why Europe? We present a probabilistic model that builds on big-push models by Murphy, Shleifer and Vishny (1989), combined with hierarchical preferences. Exogenous demographic factors (in particular the English low-pressure variant of the European marriage pattern) and redistributive institutions – such as the Old Poor Law – combined to make an Industrial Revolution more likely. Industrialization was the result of having a critical mass of consumers that is “rich enough” to afford (potentially) mass-produced goods.

Our model is calibrated to match the main characteristics of the English economy in 1780 and the observed transition until 1850. This allows us to address explicitly one of the key features of the British Industrial Revolution unearthed by economic historians over the last three decades – the slowness of productivity and output change. In our calibration, we find that the probability of Britain industrializing before France and Belgium is above 90 percent. Contrary to recent claims in the literature, 18th century China had only a minimal chance to industrialize at all.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Innumeracy: An Infantile Right-Wing Disorder

Duncan Black's head explodes he contemplates the innumeracy of Andrew Sullivan:

Eschaton: Give That Man a Budget: I know picking on Silly Sully [Andrew Sullivan] is just swatting flies, and the fact that intellectual lightweights like Sully dominate our discourse is truly sad, but this is part of the current conceit of post-Bush conservatives who are just shocked at his spending ways:

So let's recap: I'm in favor of Bush's tax cuts, but want spending cuts to match them; I favor balanced budgets... I want more money for defense, specifically more troops...

What would you cut? Which $350 billion or so would you cut out of the current budget, plus even more cuts to provide for even more defense spending, and even more cuts to pay for the extension to the tax cuts when the whole thing blows up?

It's a nice little fantasy to fetishize "small government" and imagine that liberals fetishize "big government" but that just isn't the reality. Put up or shut up--what would you cut out of this budget? Once you've answered that question, ask yourself if the politicians advocating such cuts will manage to stay in office.

The question one asks of these tax-cut big-defense balanced-budget "conservatives": are you knaves or are you fools? Are you trying to con your readers by not pointing out that two plus two does not equal five? Or do you believe that two plus two equals five yourself?

Davey Hume Is Shrill

But I always thought of Davey Hume as a whig. He's surely no throne-and-altar Tory:

The Reality-Based Community: David Hume is shrill by Mark Kleiman:

A too great disproportion among the citizens weakens any state. Every person, if possible, ought to enjoy the fruits of his labour, in a full possession of all the necessaries, and many of the conveniencies of life. No one can doubt, but such an equality is most suitable to human nature, and diminishes much less from the happiness of the rich than it adds to that of the poor. It also augments the power of the state, and makes any extraordinary taxes or impositions be paid with more chearfulness. Where the riches are engrossed by a few, these must contribute very largely to the supplying of the public necessities. But when the riches are dispersed among multitudes, the burthen feels light on every shoulder, and the taxes make not a very sensible difference on any one's way of living.

Add to this, that, where the riches are in few hands, these must enjoy all the power, and will readily conspire to lay the whole burthen on the poor, and oppress them still farther, to the discouragement of all industry.

From the essay "Of Commerce"

Hume was a close friend of Adam Smith and is usually thought of as a Tory,

MarsEdit: Easy weblog editing.

Covering the Economy: Readings for March 21: Budget Mechanics

A lecture on how the U.S. government decides to spend what it does...

Background readings:

Treasury Secretary John Snow annoys the Wall Street Journal's Greg Ip.

My speech to the National Association of Business Economists last week.

Long-run budget decisions will have to be made:

Budget overview: Gale-Orszag.
Health care funding crisis: Krugman-Wells.

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Liars

Greg Ip is annoyed by John Snow--who isn't a real Treasury Secretary, but occasionally plays one in high school gyms around the country: - Snow Defends President's Handling of Economy: Treasury Chief Says Many Benefit From Expansion; Some Data Show Otherwise By GREG IP March 20, 2006; Page A3

WASHINGTON -- Confronting criticism of the Bush administration's economic record, Treasury Secretary John Snow said the widening gap between high-paid and low-paid Americans reflects a labor market efficiently rewarding more-productive people. But "What's been happening in the United States for about 20 years is [a] long-term trend to differentiate compensation," Mr. Snow said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal last week. "Look at the Harvard economics faculty, look at doctors over here at George Washington University...look at baseball players, look at football players. We've moved into a star system for some reason which is not fully understood. Across virtually all professions, there have been growing gaps."

Mr. Snow said the same phenomenon explains why compensation for corporate chief executive officers has climbed so sharply. "In an aggregate sense, it reflects the marginal productivity of CEOs. Do I trust the market for CEOs to work efficiently? Yes. Until we can find a better way to compensate CEOs, I'm going to trust the marketplace." Since the 1970s, CEO compensation has gone from 40 times to more than 300 times the average worker's salary, according to a study by Carola Frydman of Harvard University and Raven Saks of the Federal Reserve.

Mr. Snow, a former CEO of CSX Corp. who holds a doctorate in economics, said the administration intends to publicly challenge perceptions that typical workers and families haven't benefited much from the economic expansion.... Mr. Snow distributed a fact sheet that showed after-tax income per person, adjusted for inflation, rose 8.2% from January 2001, when George W. Bush took office as president, through January 2006. The sheet also showed that per-person net worth -- total assets minus debt -- rose 24%, unadjusted for inflation, from early 2001 to the end of 2005. "People have more money in their pocket" and in their bank accounts, he said.

Mr. Snow's case relies on averages, which can be skewed by big gains among the wealthiest.... Census Bureau data show median family income -- half of families have income greater than the median, half have less -- fell 3.6% from 2000 through 2004. Incomes for the poorest families fell even further. The only group to gain was the family at the 95th percentile -- that is, richer than 95% of all families.... Alan Krueger... [said] the real median wage rose 3% from 2000 to 2005. Gains were smallest for the lowest-paid workers and largest for the best-paid. "From the standpoint of the work force, it's been a very weak recovery," he said. Wage data don't incorporate the effects of taxes, investment income or government payments.

As for net worth, a triennial Federal Reserve survey found that the net worth of the median family rose 1.5%, after inflation, from 2001 through 2004. That is far less than the 17% increase from 1995 to 1998 and the 10% increase from 1998 to 2001.... Robert Gordon... says the past few years represent the continuation of a 35-year trend in which a growing share of all labor income goes to a small group of "superstars."... On top of this trend, income on capital -- such as interest, dividends, rent and capital gains -- has taken a growing share of national income from labor, and it "goes mainly to a small slice of the population at the very top."...

Mr. Snow argued the administration's tax cuts have made the tax code more progressive, because the rich now pay a larger share of total individual taxes.... The Tax Policy Center, a joint venture of the Brookings Institution and Urban Institute think tanks, estimates that after-tax incomes of the richest 1% of taxpayers were 4.6% higher in 2005 than they would have been without the tax cuts. Incomes of the middle 20% were 2.6% higher, and incomes of the bottom 20% were 0.3% higher.

Still, Greg Ip didn't react *nearly* as strongly when handfed b.s. by John Snow with a spoon as David Wessel had reacted when Paul O'Neill did the same thing.

Why Oh Why Are We Ruled by These Clowns?

Andrew Samwick is disgusted at what Congress has done with pension "reform"--on which he worked while he was in the Executive Office of the President. Once again evidence that Congress is America's only natural criminal class:

Vox Baby: Pass the Spittoon, Pension Reform Edition: For the trouble of having to wade through all of the details of the pension reform bill now being gutted in House-Senate conference, Mary Williams Walsh gets a Voxy. I remember working on the early stages of this reform effort while at CEA. It started out simply enough:

With a strong directive from the Bush administration, Congress set out more than a year ago to fashion legislation that would protect America's private pension system, tightening the rules to make sure companies set aside enough money to make good on their promises to employees.

Enter the Congressional porkfest, and what do we now have?

Then the political horse-trading began, with lawmakers, companies and lobbyists, representing everything from big Wall Street firms to tiny rural electric cooperatives, weighing in on the particulars of the Bush administration's blueprint.

In the end, lawmakers modified many of the proposed rules, allowing companies more time to cover pension shortfalls, to make more forgiving estimates about how much they will owe workers in the future, and even sometimes to assume that their workers will die younger than the rest of the population.

On top of those changes, companies also persuaded lawmakers to add dozens of specific measures, including a multibillion-dollar escape clause for the nation's airlines and a special exemption for the makers of Smithfield Farms hams.

As a result, the bill now being completed in a House-Senate conference committee, rather than strengthening the pension system, would actually weaken it, according to a little-noticed analysis by the government's pension agency. The agency's report projects that the House and Senate bills would lower corporate contributions to the already underfinanced pension system by $140 billion to $160 billion in the next three years.

Two excerpts from the article say it best:

"It takes a better economist than me to understand how reducing contributions by that much is going to protect benefits and put the system on a sounder footing," said Jeremy I. Bulow, an economist at Stanford University.

That's actually funny, since there are no demonstrably better economists than Jeremy Bulow. And then we have the author's own attempt to make sense of this:

Someone must pay for this. Currently, the pension agency finances itself in part through the insurance premiums that companies are required to pay into the system. Raising the premiums to support pilots or help other victims of corporate bankruptcies, some companies in other industries are starting to say, would be unfair.

This is the contemptible legislative impulse to favor the special interest over the general interest. Read the whole thing and be amazed at how unprincipled the House and Senate are being.

The President has been losing credibility on several issues related to finances as of late. He could get some of it back if he would simply VETO this monster and send it back to the sty. If for no other reason, he should do it to show respect for the many people in his administration who worked diligently on a much better blueprint for reform.

Sunday, March 19, 2006

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps?

Ryan Lizza attacks Russ Feingold, saying that it would be bad to censure Bush:

Russ Feingold's selfish move: Bush's long march from honest to incompetent, from approval ratings in the 60s to approval ratings in the 30s, must have seemed for Russ Feingold like the ideal time to stir a national debate about censuring the president. Feingold... restrained himself by limiting it to Bush's domestic spying program, which circumvents the FISA court and, if reading the plain language of legislation is still the best way to interpret a statute, clearly violates the law.... Censure is meaningless. Changing the FISA law is the way to address Bush's overreach...

So Bush (i) breaks the FISA law, (ii) announces that he intends to break any future laws like FISA that constrain him, and yet Ryan says that (iii) modifying FISA is "the way to address Bush's overreach"? How is passing yet another law that Bush has said he will ignore and break "the way to address Bush's overreach"?

Is this profoundly stupid, or what?

General Eaton Is Shrill

Who is General Eaton?

the defeatists!: Hell has just frozen over...: "One week after the president flew to the USS Lincoln in May 2003 to deliver his "Mission Accomplished" speech, the Defense Department ordered Maj. Gen. Paul Eaton to rush from Fort Benning, Ga., to Baghdad. His job: To lead an effort to try to rebuild Iraq's military. "I was very surprised to receive a mission so vital to our exit strategy so late," the now-retired general told The New York Times in an account published Feb. 11...

Here is what he says:

A Top-Down Review for the Pentagon - New York Times: By PAUL D. EATON: DURING World War II, American soldiers en route to Britain before D-Day were given a pamphlet on how to behave while awaiting the invasion. The most important quote in it was this: "It is impolite to criticize your host; it is militarily stupid to criticize your allies."

By that rule, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld is not competent to lead our armed forces. First, his failure to build coalitions with our allies from what he dismissively called "old Europe" has imposed far greater demands and risks on our soldiers in Iraq than necessary. Second, he alienated his allies in our own military, ignoring the advice of seasoned officers and denying subordinates any chance for input.

In sum, he has shown himself incompetent strategically, operationally and tactically, and is far more than anyone else responsible for what has happened to our important mission in Iraq. Mr. Rumsfeld must step down.

In the five years Mr. Rumsfeld has presided over the Pentagon, I have seen a climate of groupthink become dominant and a growing reluctance by experienced military men and civilians to challenge the notions of the senior leadership.

I thought we had a glimmer of hope last November when Gen. Peter Pace, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, faced off with Mr. Rumsfeld on the question of how our soldiers should react if they witnessed illegal treatment of prisoners by Iraqi authorities. (General Pace's view was that our soldiers should intervene, while Mr. Rumsfeld's position was that they should simply report the incident to superiors.)

Unfortunately, the general subsequently backed down and supported the secretary's call to have the rules clarified, giving the impression that our senior man in uniform is just as intimidated by Secretary Rumsfeld as was his predecessor, Gen. Richard Myers.

Mr. Rumsfeld has put the Pentagon at the mercy of his ego, his cold warrior's view of the world and his unrealistic confidence in technology to replace manpower. As a result, the Army finds itself severely undermanned %u2014 cut to 10 active divisions but asked by the administration to support a foreign policy that requires at least 12 or 14.

Only Gen. Eric Shinseki, the Army chief of staff when President Bush was elected, had the courage to challenge the downsizing plans. So Mr. Rumsfeld retaliated by naming General Shinseki's successor more than a year before his scheduled retirement, effectively undercutting his authority. The rest of the senior brass got the message, and nobody has complained since.

Now the Pentagon's new Quadrennial Defense Review shows that Mr. Rumsfeld also fails to understand the nature of protracted counterinsurgency warfare in Iraq and the demands it places on ground forces. The document, amazingly, does not call for enlarging the Army; rather, it increases only our Special Operations forces, by a token 15 percent, maybe 1,500 troops.

Mr. Rumsfeld has also failed in terms of operations in Iraq. He rejected the so-called Powell Doctrine of overwhelming force and sent just enough tech-enhanced troops to complete what we called Phase III of the war %u2014 ground combat against the uniformed Iraqis. He ignored competent advisers like Gen. Anthony Zinni and others who predicted that the Iraqi Army and security forces might melt away after the state apparatus self-destructed, leading to chaos.

It is all too clear that General Shinseki was right: several hundred thousand men would have made a big difference then, as we began Phase IV, or country reconstruction. There was never a question that we would make quick work of the Iraqi Army.

The true professional always looks to the "What's next?" phase. Unfortunately, the supreme commander, Gen. Tommy Franks, either didn't heed that rule or succumbed to Secretary Rumsfeld's bullying. We won't know which until some bright historian writes the true story of Mr. Rumsfeld and the generals he took to war, an Iraq version of the Vietnam War classic "Dereliction of Duty" by H. R. McMaster.

Last, you don't expect a secretary of defense to be criticized for tactical ineptness. Normally, tactics are the domain of the soldier on the ground. But in this case we all felt what L. Paul Bremer, the former viceroy in Iraq, has called the "8,000-mile screwdriver" reaching from the Pentagon. Commanders in the field had their discretionary financing for things like rebuilding hospitals and providing police uniforms randomly cut; money to pay Iraqi construction firms to build barracks was withheld; contracts we made for purchasing military equipment for the new Iraqi Army were rewritten back in Washington.

Donald Rumsfeld demands more than loyalty. He wants fealty. And he has hired men who give it. Consider the new secretary of the Army, Francis Harvey, who when faced with the compelling need to increase the service's size has refused to do so. He is instead relying on the shell game of hiring civilians to do jobs that had previously been done by soldiers, and thus keeping the force strength static on paper. This tactic may help for a bit, but it will likely fall apart in the next budget cycle, with those positions swiftly eliminated.

So, what to do?

First, President Bush should accept the offer to resign that Mr. Rumsfeld says he has tendered more than once, and hire a man who will listen to and support the magnificent soldiers on the ground. Perhaps a proven Democrat like Senator Joseph Lieberman could repair fissures that have arisen both between parties and between uniformed men and the Pentagon big shots.

More vital in the longer term, Congress must assert itself. Too much power has shifted to the executive branch, not just in terms of waging war but also in planning the military of the future. Congress should remember it still has the power of the purse; it should call our generals, colonels, captains and sergeants to testify frequently, so that their opinions and needs are known to the men they lead. Then when they are asked if they have enough troops -- and no soldier has ever had enough of anything, more is always better -- the reply is public.

Our most important, and sometimes most severe, judges are our subordinates. That is a fact I discovered early in my military career. It is, unfortunately, a lesson Donald Rumsfeld seems incapable of learning.

Impeach George W. Bush. Impeach Richard Cheney. Impeach Donald Rumsfeld. Do it now.