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, November 11, 2006

Armistice Day 1941: "The Czechs too Know the Answer. The Poles. The Danes. The Dutch. The Serbs. The Belgians. The Norwegians. The Greeks."

Linkmeister posts:


Arlington Cemetery, November 11, 1941: Among the great days of national remembrance, none is more deeply moving to Americans of our generation than the Eleventh of November, the Anniversary of the Armistice of 1918, the day sacred to the memory of those who gave their lives in the war which that day ended.

Our observance of this Anniversary has a particular significance in the year 1941. For we are able today as we were not always able in the past to measure our indebtedness to those who died. A few years ago, even a few months, we questioned, some of us, the sacrifice they had made. Standing near to the tomb of the Unknown Soldier, Sergeant York of Tennessee, on a recent day spoke to such questioners. "There are those in this country today," said Sergeant York, "who ask me and other veterans of World War Number One, 'What did it get you?'"

Today we know the answer--all of us. All who search their hearts in honesty and candor know it. We know that these men died to save their country from a terrible danger of that day. We know, because we face that danger once again on this day. "What did it get you?" People who asked that question of Sergeant York and his comrades forgot the one essential fact which every man who looks can see today. They forgot that the danger which threatened this country in 1917 was real--and that the sacrifice of those who died averted that danger.

Because the danger was overcome, they were unable to remember that the danger had been present. Because our armies were victorious, they demanded why our armies had fought. Because our freedom was secure, they took the security of our freedom for granted and asked why those who died to save it should have died at all.

"What did it get you?" "What was there in it for you?" If our armies of 1917 and 1918 had lost there would not have been a man or woman in America who would have wondered why the war was fought. The reasons would have faced us everywhere. We would have known why liberty is worth defending as those alone whose liberty is lost can know it. We would have known why tyranny is worth defeating as only those whom tyrants rule can know.

But because the war had been won we forgot, some of us, that the war might have been lost.

Whatever we knew or thought we knew a few years or months ago, we know now that the danger of brutality and tyranny and slavery to freedom-loving peoples can be real and terrible. We know why these men fought to keep our freedom-and why the wars that save a people's liberties are wars worth fighting and worth winning-and at any price.

"What did it get you?" The men of France, prisoners in their cities, victims of searches and of seizures without law, hostages for the safety of their masters' lives, robbed of their harvests, murdered in their prisons--the men of France would know the answer to that question. They know now what a former victory of freedom against tyranny was worth. The Czechs too know the answer. The Poles. The Danes. The Dutch. The Serbs. The Belgians. The Norwegians. The Greeks.

We know it now.

We know that it was, in literal truth, to make the world safe for democracy that we took up arms in 1917. It was, in simple truth and in literal fact, to make the world habitable for decent and self-respecting men that those whom we now remember gave their lives. They died to prevent then the very thing that now, a quarter century later, has happened from one end of Europe to the other.

Now that it has happened we know in full the reason why they died.

We know also what obligation and duty their sacrifice imposes upon us. They did not die to make the world safe for decency and self-respect for five years or ten or maybe twenty. They died to make it safe. And if, by some fault of ours who lived beyond the war, its safety has again been threatened then the obligation and the duty are ours. It is in our charge now, as it was America's charge after the Civil War, to see to it "that these dead shall not have died in vain." Sergeant York spoke thus of the cynics and doubters: "The thing they forget is that liberty and freedom and democracy are so very precious that you do not fight to win them once and stop. Liberty and freedom and democracy are prizes awarded only to those peoples who fight to win them and then keep fighting eternally to hold them."

The people of America agree with that. They believe that liberty is worth fighting for. And if they are obliged to fight they will fight eternally to hold it.

This duty we owe, not to ourselves alone, but to the many dead who died to gain our freedom for us--to make the world a place where freedom can live and grow into the ages.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Bush Bipartisanship and the Reality-Based Community

From Joshua Micah Marshall's shop, Talking Points Memo:

Yup, that didn't last long. The new era of "bipartisanship" in Washington ended promptly at 1:22 EST Thursday -- when the White House sent John Bolton's nomination as UN ambassador back to the Senate. After seeing the nomination fail twice before, the White House hopes to push Bolton through a lame-duck Senate before the Democratic majority takes office in January.

As Steve Clemons noted, the White House made the move a mere 14 minutes after President Bush and Speaker-to-be Nancy Pelosi concluded their remarks to the press following a lunch meeting purportedly focused on how to work together. Thankfully, defeated Rhode Island Sen. Lincoln Chafee signaled that he would continue to oppose Bolton, dooming the nomination for a third time.

Meanwhile, it started to dawn on much of Washington that the President's nomination of Bob Gates to replace Don Rumsfeld as Secretary of Defense would have to make it through a Democratic-controlled Senate, a prospect the President himself did not seem to be considering when he offered the job to Gates on the Sunday before the mid-term elections. Suddenly, the ghosts of the Iran-contra scandal had returned.

As one TPM reader noted, "Who better to mend fences with a newly empowered Congress than someone whose claim to fame is involvement in a secret operation specifically forbidden by Congress?" -- TPM Reader DK

And a rumor that Bob Gates belongs to the reality-based community:

The Talent Show: Maybe Robert Gates Isn't So Bad After All: More interesting, however, is the note that accompanied the forwarded letter....

Dear Fellow Aggies (and some who aren't Aggies but will find this interesting),

By now, you've probably heard that Donald Rumsfeld has resigned as Secretary of Defense. (Thank God!) Also, you may have heard that Bush has nominated Robert Gates to be Rumsfeld's replacement. Gates is a former head of the CIA and, for the past two years, has been president of Texas A&M.

Below is an email forwarded to me by __, professor at A&M. Those of you who went to A&M might remember _ as a highly intelligent, fiercely liberal prof who loved to stir things up and encourage his students to challenge the status quo and stand up for what is right.

About a year ago, I was in College Station and visited _ for a few drinks. He told me then of his admiration of Gates, despite some initial apprehension due to Gates' background, and for what Gates was doing for A&M. He also said that at a recent faculty party, Gates told him that he thought that Bush was the worst president we'd ever had...

Thursday, November 09, 2006

"Don't Expect Anything Bold" from Democrats

Mark Thoma catches one:

Economist's View: "Don't Expect Anything Bold" from Democrats: Robert Reich says you shouldn't expect much from Democrats, their power will be limited:

The Democratic Victory: Keep Your Expectations Low, by Robert Reich: Hold the champagne. Don’t expect anything bold to come out of the new Democratic House.

First, Dems don’t have enough votes to overcome Bush vetoes. Second, the new Dems are from marginal districts where they will have to be moderate-to-conservative in order to be reelected. Third, the Dem leadership has its eyes on the big prize – the 2008 presidency – and doesn’t want to do anything to scare off voters.

Barney Frank at the financial services committee will, at most, require more company disclosure of executive pay... John Dingle at energy and commerce is so concerned about the auto industry he won’t try to increase auto mileage standards (he has opposed increasing CAFÉ in the past). George Miller at education and commerce will at most seek additional money for Pell grants, but there won’t be additional money unless Dems cut defense discretionary, which they won’t do.

Dems will demand that Robert Gates, the new defense secretary, keep them in the loop over Iraq, but Dems won’t push him... they’ll have lots of hearings and do very little.

In other words, keep your expectations low....

[T]here's one huge plus: Bush's next Supreme Court nominee (should he have the chance to nominate) won't get easy passage.

Bob is right. The Democrats now have agenda-setting and oversight powers. But as to legislative oomph... Up until now it has taken the middle 20 senators and George W. Bush to pass laws, and that is still the case.

Stupidest Men Alive Nominations: Josh Bolten

Stupidest Men Alive nominations. Ezra Klein submits the name of Josh Bolten:

TAPPED: THE ROVE MYTH. Remember Josh Bolten's prediction for the election?

"I believe Karl Rove," Bolten said in an interview in his West Wing office Friday. "Karl Rove, somewhere inside that massive brain of his, has figured out the political landscape more clearly than the entire collection of conventional-wisdom pundits and pollsters in the entire city of Washington."

If nothing else, this election will destroy the myth of Rove. He managed to lose the vote in 2000. Win a few seats in 2002. Barely pull out a reelection during a time of instability and war. And then lead his party to historic losses in 2006.

Enough of this guy. He could've created an enduring majority after 9/11. Instead, he pursued a strategy of polarization and radicalization, tenuously constructed atop a foundation of corporate handouts (Medicare Part D), perverse policy, and fear mongering. Along the way, he destroyed the country's fiscal health and international prestige.

Discrediting his leadership template will be one of this election's sweetest effects.

He had a lot of help--from the mendacious, disconnected-from-reality, malevolent, and incompetent George W. Bush and the rest of his administration, and from all the Republicans and elite press members who pretended to take their fantasies seriously.

Nevertheless, Bolten's prediction is remarkable.

House Votes

A comment on Crooked Timber:

: Basically, the Democrats received 37,662,923 votes, and the Republicans received 33,668,227 votes. The Democrats received 52.8% of votes, whereas the Republicans received 47.2% of votes (keep in mind the caveats above)...

Macaque Says: George Allen Should Be Ambassador to India!

Macaque says: George Allen should be ambassador to India!

Especially in light of this:

3quarksdaily: Court to review nuisance monkeys: From BBC News:

India's Supreme Court is to review the fate of 300 monkeys captured roaming on the streets of the capital, Delhi. The court had ordered that the monkeys be relocated to forests in central Indian state of Madhya Pradesh. But the animals are proving unpopular there and locals there have lodged an official objection to the plan. Thousands of monkeys roam Delhi, mostly around government offices, and are considered a public nuisance. For years the wild animals have caused havoc, riding on the city's metro trains, roaming through parliament.

They have invaded the prime minister's office and the Defence Ministry, helping themselves to top secret military files. They cannot be killed because many Indians see them as sacred. Instead they have been captured, their fate decided by a bench of Supreme Court judges headed by India's Chief Justice.

The Definitive Word on Rumsfeld's Resignation

Nothing can replace Fafblog!. But the Onion comes close:

Eschaton: Rumsfeld Resignation: The Onion:

WASHINGTON, DC--After nearly six years of much-publicized service as Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld announced his resignation Wednesday afternoon, saying that he had "proudly accomplished everything [he'd] set out to bungle." "Years ago, I decided to bog this great nation down in an extended, grueling foreign occupation, and I'm happy to say that's exactly what I've done," said Rumsfeld in a farewell address at the White House, during which he urged Americans to continue waging the ill-conceived, mismanaged, and evidently unwelcome fight for democracy in the Middle East. "Each of my actions--from undersupplying troops with body armor to focusing on capturing Saddam Hussein while Osama bin Laden remained free--has led America inexorably toward our current predicament...

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative: Department of "Huh?"

Department of "Huh?"

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative is puzzled by Jacob Weisberg:

Worthwhile Canadian Initiative: How much damage can the Democrats do to free trade?: For some reason that I don't fully understand, the last few days have seen any number of commentators opining about the anti-free-trade leanings of many Democrats. Jacob Weisberg's column in today's FT is representative:

Free trade is the real election casualty: As a result of this year's election, it now seems unlikely that the new Congress will extend President Bush's "fast-track" trade negotiating authority, which expires this summer. The results are further bad news for the Doha round and bilateral trade agreements with South Korea and other countries. It is possible that congressional Democrats will revive efforts to saddle China with punitive tariffs as punishment for alleged "currency manipulation". It would be going too far to say that the 2006 election ushers in a new protectionist consensus. But free trade has definitely left the building.

If the past six years could be characterised as a crusade in favour of freer trade on the part of the US administration, then there would be cause for concern. But the typical reaction from the US' trade partners to this sort of spin is hollow laughter: the Bush administration's handling of the steel tariff and the softwood lumber dispute doesn't resemble the behaviour of a principled free-trader.

Free trade may have been in the building. But it appears to have been lying in state.

I agree: I'm puzzled. Normally, these days, Republican presidents are better on free trade than Democratic presidents. But George W. Bush is not a "normal" president. WCI is right that the appropriate response of other countries to Weisberg's spin is "hollow laughter."

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: CNN's Jeff Greenfield (Deliberately) Misses the Point

From Scienceblogs:

Dispatches from the Culture Wars: Greenfield Misses the Point: At Reason's Hit and Run, Jesse Walker nails CNN analyst Jeff Greenfield for this silly statement:

"For weeks Republicans have been saying, 'Do you really want Charlie Rangel of New York running the Ways and Means Committee, which does taxes? Do you really want John Conyers at the Judiciary Committee? Do you want Nancy Pelosi from San Francisco?'--a code word that has a pretty clear meaning of 'extreme liberal.'"

Uh, no, Jeff. That's not what "San Francisco" is a code word for. It's a code word for "gay".

Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?

The Learning Curve

From the Learning Curve:

Learning Curves: Honors: Multivariable Calculus: What textbook would you use to teach honors Calc 3?

Already rejected: Apostal for being too linear-algebra-y and Hurley for being out of print.

Too linear-alebra-y? How can a multivariable calculus textbook be too linear-algebra-y? Multivariable derivatives and integrals are linear maps in an algebra-like space, aren't they?

Econ 210a: Fall 2006: Memo Question for November 15

Memo Question for November 15:

Maxine Berg and Pat Hudson write that the "historiography of the industrial revolution in England has moved away from viewing the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a unique turning point in economic and social development." Do you agree with their conclusion that the literature has moved too far in this direction? Why or why not?

When Books Attack!--or, At Least, Look Accusatorially at You From Across the Room

When unread portions of your library attack!

Kieran Healy's (2005) Last Best Gifts: Altruism and the Market for Human Blood and Organs (Chicago: University of Chicago: 0226322378) is looking at me accusatorially from across the table. It is looking at me accusatorially because my sister, Julia DeLong Mahoney, says that it is excellent.

On the other hand, I have already read the book she is currently reading: Gregory Clark's (2007 forthcoming) A Farewell to Alms: A Brief Economic History of the World. I have some quibbles with the third quarter of the book, and some objections to the last quarter, but as a whole the book is truly excellent.

Thuds and Screams from Inside the Topkapi Palace!

A thud, a choked-off scream, a few running footsteps, a body rolled into a carpet and weighted with stones dropped into the Golden Horn.... And outsiders are left wondering just what has really happened among the competing viziers inside the Topkapi Palace competing to dominate the callow and unwise sultan:

Tom Barnett thinks that Jim Baker is the new Grand Vizier--that the evil vizier Rumsfeld is gone, that viziers Hadley and Rice and Cheney keep their dignity and their offices but lose their power:

Thomas P.M. Barnett :: Weblog: Tough for Rummy, just beginning for Rice: Consensus growing that Rumsfeld had to go to clear way for [Jim] Baker's solution [to Iraq to get] set to fly. No big surprise there. Real clearing is Cheney's, with Rummy as surrogate.

Missing in the analysis so far: with caretaker [Gates] in Pentagon [replacing Rumsfeld], Baker now takes over de facto control of the war, as almost his own national security adviser, SECDEF AND SECSTATE. No big whup for Gates. He knew that coming in. Quiet Hadley will do as told, as will Rice, but in reality, Rice's been replaced without leaving office. Imagine being SECSTATE and kicked off the one foreign policy issue that defines the administration.

Yes, yes, expect many protestations to the contrary and watch Baker go out of his way, using the study group as cover, not to upstage her. But make no mistake, we now have caretakers (and not the real players) in both the Building and Foggy Bottom.

Matthew Yglesias is not so sure:

Matthew Yglesias / proudly eponymous since 2002: Wishful Thinking on Iraq: I think Steve Teles' views... are largely sound, but I worry about this: "When Rumsfeld out, the most important architect of the Iraq disaster is already gone. The Baker-Hamilton commission is moving, and Democrats should basically get behind what they recommend, so long as it is reasonable."

This is a widespread sentiment... but there's a serious problem -- most indications are that the commission isn't going to recommend any one "thing" that Democrats can "get behind." Instead, it's going to try and clarify two or more different policy options... it would be very, very nice to be able to, in effect, hide behind Jim Baker's skirts on this, but by the same token the commission itself doesn't want to offer up a definitive answer....

A related bit of wishful thinking I've heard from a bunch of people -- particularly strategists associated with the "hawkish" tendency in the party -- is that growing Republican concern with the politics of the war will, in effect, force the Republicans to end it all on their own.... You'll recall that these same people mostly thought Bush would declare victory and go home during the course of 2004. They also thought we'd see troop levels drawn down in 2005. And also that Bush would be looking to wind the war down in time for the midterms in 2006. This prediction keeps getting made, in other words, and it keeps not happening. That's not to say it might not happen yet, but you can't just assume it will.

And neither is Steve Clemons, who writes:

The Washington Note: I suggested that there were three groups in competition around Bush:

  1. neoconservatives allied with pugnacious nationalists under the guidance of Wolfowitz, Feith, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and others -- and there was a large populatiion of these "types" throughout the administration;
  2. a small group of neo-realists under Condi Rice who did very little to build a roster of followers
  3. Secretary of State Colin Powell -- who was a movement unto himself but who had no real followers...

In Clemons's view the followers of Cheney and Rumsfeld still dominate the high levels of the bureaucracy, and will block by bureaucratic means any return to sanity and sane policies proposed by anybody in the reality-based community.

Certainly George W. Bush's attempt one more time to get Bolton into the United Nations is a powerful argument against Barnett's view...

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Time Magazine Edition)

Dan Froomkin writes:

Dan Froomkin - Meet the 'New Bush' - Said New Bush:

I truly believe that Congresswoman Pelosi and Harry Reid care just about as much -- they care about the security of this country, like I do. They see -- no leader in Washington is going to walk away from protecting the country. We have different views on how to do that, but their spirit is such that they want to protect America. That's what I believe.

Q. "Just a few days before this election, in Texas, you said that Democrats, no matter how they put it, their approach to Iraq comes down to terrorists win, America loses. What has changed today?"

Bush: "What's changed today is the election is over, and the Democrats won."...

Q. "Vice President Cheney, of course, has made -- takes many of the same positions that Secretary Rumsfeld did on the war. Does he still have your complete confidence?"

Bush's response: "Yes, he does."

Q. "Do you expect him to stay -- "

Bush: "The campaign is over. Yes, he does."

In other words: This time I'm telling you the truth. Honest....

James Carney writes in Time about Bush's press conference, and starts off with a positive spin on Bush's new candor:

Give President Bush credit for being honest about his dishonesty.

But Carney then indicates that reporters soon had reason to believe it was a lie and that Rumsfeld's days were in fact numbered:

After Bush declared his unbending support for Rumsfeld last week, it was telling how few aides and advisers to the President were willing to reaffirm what the President had said. When asked about Bush's Rumsfeld comments, one official didn't try to hide the pain the question caused him. He wouldn't talk about it. He and others made it clear that the President said 'what he had to say.' In other words, Bush's support for Rumsfeld would last only until the last polling station closed on Tuesday night.

[T]he move that might actually have helped Bush and congressional Republicans when it mattered, before election day -- would have been to fire Rumsfeld last week, last month or last year....

[B]y waiting so long he let his pride get in the way of a much-needed change in Iraq policy. That mistake didn't just cost the Republicans seats in the Congress. It may have cost lives.

But here's my question: Don't those reporters who apparently knew it was a lie -- but didn't tell anybody -- bear some responsibility as well? What other lies do the reporters know about, but choose not to report?

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Efficient Markets: Hoisted from Comments

Hoisted from comments:

Barkley Rosser:

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Fair and Balanced Almost Every Day: Macaque Says: Vote on November 7!: There is no mispricing (although's predictions may well come out all wrong). So, according to their final predictions based on the bid of the leading candidate, the five most competitive races are MO, VA, RI, MD, and MT. In all the Dem leads narrowly and the Dems need to win all to get their six to get control. Just looking at the median reported bids, the probability that they will do it looks greater than 50%. But, given the dispersions, and most significantly that they all have Dems narrowly leading and must have them all win, it is perfectly consistent that the overall control bet is 2 to 1 in favor of the GOP. It is not 100.

BTW, the Lieberman SecDef switch story is irrelevant to this (although maybe not to the ultimate control outcome) because indeed the story is based on the outcome on election day, prior to any deals with Lieberman. The probabilities coming out of do not look all that ridiculous, although I suspect MT is more likely than RI to go GOP, and based on dispersions, VA is more likely to go GOP than MO, even though the bid spread is a bit higher in VA than in MO. In short, the difference in MO is more statistically significant.

Posted by: Barkley Rosser | November 07, 2006 at 02:49 PM

And Paul Reber:

Following up Barkely & Brad: I was looking at the potential hedged trade of the individual D's in critical Senate races versus the GOP-Holds-Senate contract with great curiousity yesterday afternoon.

Early afternoon, OH, PA and TN were basically assumed to be done (D, D, & R) but there were 4 critical swing races: VA, MO, MT & RI in play. Each was pricing between 60 and 75, suggesting the money put them all at slight D favorites. However the GOP-Holds-Senate was trading at only 70. That seemed very low. BTW, I checked the contract rules and the independents (CT, VT) did count as D for that contract as long as they agreed to caucus with the D's (so it was in play).

If the 4 necessary Senate races were independent probabilities, the GOP-Holds contract was fairly heavily underpriced -- it should have been at least 80 given the other contacts.

As I mulled this curiousity, it occurred to me that the GOP-Holds-Senate contract had implicitly priced in covariance among the individual D-Senate races. That is, the outcomes are not really independent and a "Democratic wave" phenomenon could cause them all to swing together. Which is what appears to have happened. The big win on the hedged trade was if 3 D's and 1 R won (making 4 of the contracts winners -- and you could lose a bit if there was an R sweep, so maybe it's not technically a "hedged" trade?). The actual Dem sweep outcome was close to a wash depending how heavily you weighed the GOP contract. Curiously, when I finally stopped hitting refresh to walk the dog last night, it looked like the 3-1 winning outcome was coming through (Webb was behind in VA) but when I got back, the Dem sweep was apparent. Overall, I'm glad I kept my money in my pocket (it was enough of a rollercoaster to watch the returns come in as it was).

However, I did find watching the Tradesports market evolve over the day very educational. With respect to the apparent pricing in the covariance among races, what makes the market so darn smart? Is it the influence of a few sharp traders who bang the system back to a shrewd equilibrium? Or is there some emergent property of the combined reasoning of the traders that tends to capture the underlying truth? The more I watch the markets, the more impressed I am by them.

Posted by: Paul Reber | November 08, 2006 at 09:55 AM

Econ 210a: Fall 2006: Readings for November 8--Catch-Up: Major Discussion Headings

  • Adam Smith (1776), The Wealth of Nations, entire
    • Who is Smith's audience?
    • What kind of a book is the Wealth of Nations?
    • What does Smith think his game-changing insight is?
      • Is Smith correct? Is it a game-changing insight?
      • Is the insight in fact true?
    • What does Smith leave out of the Wealth of Nations?
      • Self-interest in the narrow and in the extreme...
      • Law and order...
      • Government failure...
      • A theory of the moral sentiments...
  • Jan de Vries (1994), "The Industrious Revolution and the Industrial Revolution," Journal of Economic History 54:2 (June), pp. 249-70
    • How does Jan de Vries see the Low Countries in 1800 differing from the Low Countries in 1500?
    • The curious aspect of what did the peasants do in the nighttime in 1500...
    • What did peasants do in the nighttime in 1800?
    • What caused this difference?
      • Change in tastes?
      • Change in law-and-order?
      • Change in transportation costs?
        • A reflection of government policy? Or of technology?
      • Look east to China...
  • Patrick O'Brien (1982), "European Economic Development: the Contribution of the Periphery," Economic History Review, 1-18.
    • Could European industrialization have been fueled by exploitation of the America?
    • Exploitation there was--a hell of a lot of exploitation.
    • But how do you get resources from there to here?
      • Possible channels
  • Daron Acemoglu, Simon Johnson and James A. Robinson (2005), "The Rise of Europe: Atlantic Trade, Institutional Change and Economic Growth," American Economic Review
    • A possible answer to O'Brien's question:
      • Merchants and political power
      • Bristol
      • Amsterdam
      • But counterexamples:
        • La Rochelle
        • Seville
        • Barcelona
        • Venice

Macaque Says: Thank You Very Much!

Macaque says: Thank you very much for your votes on November 7!

Democratic Senators Represent 91,175,000 People. Republican Senators Represent 81,354,000 People

I wrote:

One way to look at last night's election is that the implicit gerrymandering of the Senate and the in-the-tank-ness of the press corps are keeping people from realizing how big the blowout was. Consider this: it looks like 32,100 thousand Americans voted for Democratic Senatorial candidates, and only 24,524 thousand Americans voted for Republican Senatorial candidates. That's a 13.4% margin of Democratic victory.

Hoisted from comments are Mo:

Brad DeLong's Semi-Daily Journal: Fair and Balanced Almost Every Day: 32,100,000 vs. 24,524,000: Here are the totals for the complete Senate, using Brad's numbers for last night:

21,428,784 18,665,605 02
37,645,909 38,164,089 04
32,100,000 24,524,000 06

91,174,693 81,353,694

Call it a ten-million seat majority.

Posted by: Mo | November 08, 2006 at 08:21 AM

And Neil':

The lack of emphasis on actual numbers of votes comes mostly from two strains: It's partly the SCLM's corporate slant on minimizing populist ways of interpreting what happens, and also the ingrained "republican government" obsession with the States as such being the unit of political expression, not (ironically, coming from "individualists") the individual voter.

Posted by: Neil' | November 08, 2006 at 08:39 AM

32,100,000 vs. 24,524,000

One way to look at last night's election is that the implicit gerrymandering of the Senate and the in-the-tank-ness of the press corps are keeping people from realizing how big the blowout was. Consider this: it looks like 32,100 thousand Americans voted for Democratic Senatorial candidates, and only 24,524 thousand Americans voted for Republican Senatorial candidates. That's a 13.4% margin of Democratic victory.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

The Delancy Street Restaurant

Election night parties make me proud to be a Democrat: lots of idealistic people who care deeply about making America a better place. San Francisco values: patriotism, tolerance, prosperity, seafood, and lots of laughter. But even though there was lots of guacamole and meatballs, there was no shrimp at the Dianne Feinstein-Jerry Brown-Bill Lockyer-Debra Bowen victory party at the Delancy Street restaurant.

Nevertheless I felt starved: starved of information. The only information that leaked into the room came from people on the fringes, on their cellphones, who would come in and shout random pieces of information or misinformation over the Glide Memorial Church choir's version of "America the Beautiful."

Eventually I went outside and eavesdropped as what's-his-name from the Washington Monthly said that it looked like Webb was pulling out a victory in Virginia...

And now that I am home I can jack back into the net, and see... Ah. 236 seats in the House. The Senate still up in the air...

A Victory for America!

A big victory for America, and for the Democratic Party: the Democrats are now projected to organize the House.

Now the really tough work begins: govern, investigate, and oversee.

moquol - Journal - MSNBC projects a 29-seat pickup for the Dems. They're too low...

The Moderate Voice - BULLETIN: NBC Projects Democrats Will Take Control Of The House: It's not up on their website yet, but the Democrats are projected to win at least 230 House seats...

Presidential vs. Congressional Parties

Felix Salmon writes:

RGE - Are Republicans better on trade?: since it's such a politically-fraught day, I'll concede one post to political matters, and give the floor to Greg Mankiw, who reckons the Republicans are much better than the Democrats on free trade:

The 1993 roll call vote in the House found 132 Republicans in favor of NAFTA, 43 against. Among House Democrats, there were 102 in favor, 156 against. In the Senate, the same story. Among Republican senators, there were 34 in favor of NAFTA, 10 against. Among Democratic senators, 27 were in favor, 28 against.

Since NAFTA, the difference between the two parties has, if anything, grown larger. When the Central America Free Trade Agreement came up for a vote in 2005, the House produced 202 Republicans in favor, 27 against. The Democrats had only 15 in favor, 187 against.

Of course, Mankiw's commenters (who seem to be a pretty Dem-leaning bunch) aren't taking this lying down. Some concede his point, but others contest it.... twicebitten:

Clinton was also much more successful at culminating the Uruguay round that coincided with his Presidency (which included important agreements and led to the creation of the WTO). Under Bush and with Republican leadership of both houses of Congress the Republicans have absolutely squandered the Doha round.

The difference seems to me to be that Mankiw's talking about the legislature and not the executive. The Bush White House has achieved very little on the free-trade front, in contrast to the Clinton White House. But if you put it to a vote, Republican legislators are more likely to support free-trade initiatives than Democratic ones.

Free trade appears to be a priority for the types of Democratic politicians who get elected president and for a solid majority of the types of Democratic apparatchiks who staff their administrations--this is, I think, because Democratic presidents and administrations understand not just the economic but the foreign policy political "soft power" arguments for free trade. Free trade hasn't been a priority for the types of Democrats who get elected to congress since the Reagan deficits of the 1980s and their side-effect creation of the "rust belt."

By contrast, free trade appears to be a priority for the types of Republican politicians who get elected to congress--or is it? The George W. Bush administration's apology for its trade restrictions was that the Republican congresscreatures were neanderthals, and that trade restrictions were the price of getting CAFTA and negotiating authority. But free trade does not appear to be a priority for the types of Republicans who get elected president--and definitely not for their staffs, a solid majority of whom understand neither the economic nor the foreign policy arguments for free trade.

Bloggers vs NYT: Mortgage Equity Withdrawal

Felix Salmon looks forward to a better world than this--one in which people get their information from bathrobe-clad webloggers in their basements with time on their hands rather than from establishment media outlets like the New York Times:

RGE - Bloggers vs NYT: Mortgage equity withdrawal: Here's the difference between the Economonitor and the anonymous blogger known to the world as Calculated Risk: the Economonitor stopped reading this New York Times article when he got to a rather ridiculous quotation from a California mortgage broker.

"People have literally picked up their house at the foundations and shook it upside down like a piggy bank," said Ed Smith, chief executive of the Plaza Financial Group, a mortgage brokerage firm in La Mesa, Calif., near San Diego.

Somehow I couldn't keep reading after that quote. The image of people literally picking up their houses and shaking them upside down was so Seussian that I immediately had to lie down with an attack of the vapors.

Calculated Risk, however, is made of sterner stuff, and actually started looking at numbers, specifically these ones:

As rates have gone up, the extraction has continued. In the first six months of this year, even with interest rates rising, more than $511 billion was extracted from homes through cash-out refinancing and home equity loans, and that was more than the amount taken out for all of 2005, a record year for mortgage equity extraction.

Bull----, says CR. According to his own calculations, which are backed up by links to actual Fed data, mortgage equity withdrawal was just $156 billion in the first half of 2006, down from $540 billion in all of 2005.

Stupidest Men Alive Contest Nominations: Mickey Kaus

Stupidest Men Alive contest nominations. Matthew Yglesias nominates Mickey Kaus:

Matthew Yglesias / proudly eponymous since 2002: Simple Answers to Silly Questions: Mickey Kaus:

What does it tell you about a political party if in a year of epic disaster for their opponents the best they can hope for is a 51-49 majority in the Senate?

That there are only 15 Republican-held Senate seats on the ballot this November, that the composition of the Senate naturally favors the GOP, and that defeating incumbent legislators is difficult.

*Editor--But Mickey Kaus isn't stupid! He knows perfectly well that for the Democrats to unseat six of fifteen Republican incumbents would be an amazing achievement. Kaus just thinks that his readers are stupid, and will buy his trash-talking of Democrats. Nominate him for the most mendacious men alive contest, not for the stupidest men alive one.*

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

Kevin Drum has lost all patience with Michael Kinsley:

p>The Washington Monthly: MORE ANNOYING CONTRARIANISM.... Look, I get the whole contrarianism schtick. And maybe Michael Kinsley is right that the Democratic campaign manifesto, "A New Direction for America," is too infatuated with new tax credits, which he thinks make for lousy fiscal policy. But then there's this:

Honesty is not just therapeutic. Fiscal honesty is a practical necessity. "New Direction" quite rightly denounces the staggering fiscal irresponsibility of Republican leaders and duly promises "Pay As You Go" spending. But in the entire document there is not one explicit revenue-raiser to balance the many specific and enormous new spending programs and tax credits.

Golly. You mean the Democratic document didn't have a whole section about exactly which taxes Nancy Pelosi wants to raise and by exactly how much? I wonder why? Kinsley then follows up this faux bumpkinism with a complaint that the Democrats also fail to present a plan for crushing the Iraq civil war, even though he admits one sentence later that neither does anyone else. If it weren't for the 800-word limit on op-eds, I figure the next paragraph would have been a complaint that Democrats lack a plan for turning water into wine.

What's the point of all this? Kinsley knows perfectly well -- as he acknowledges in passing -- that a central part of the Democratic agenda is PayGo, which requires all new expenditures to be offset with funding increases or cuts in other programs. And he knows perfectly well that "eliminating tax giveaways," a phrase the litters the Democratic plan, is standard-issue campaign-speak for higher taxes. What's more -- as he also knows perfectly well -- any number of Democrats are on record as wanting to let some of George Bush's tax cuts lapse when they come up for reauthorization. This is hardly a secret.

But that's not enough. Apparently the only thing sufficiently bracing for Kinsley's brand of tough love would be a joint suicide note from the Democratic Party. That would solve all our problems, wouldn't it?

POSTSCRIPT: After reading this, you might think that election day has made me unusually tetchy. You would be right.

"Aftathoughts on NAFTA": Berkeley Video Webcast

It is here:

webcast.berkeley | Events | Details: Afta Thoughts On Nafta: October 16, 2006, 12:00 am: Brad DeLong:

"I was a true believer in NAFTA--the North American Free Trade Agreement. Now my faith is not gone but shaken." So states Brad DeLong, economist and creator of one of the net's most popular weblogs on economics, at

J. Bradford DeLong is Professor of Economics and Chair of the Political Economy major at the University of California at Berkeley. He also serves as a Research Associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and was Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy.

Sponsor Info: College of Letters & Sciences. Sponsor website:

Monday, November 06, 2006

Nominations for the Stupidest Men Alive Contest Are Now Open

Stupidest Men Alive. Today's nominations:

From a correspondent who wishes to be known as, we have the nomination of disgraced evangelist Ted Haggard:

Wasisandistocome nominates Ted Haggard for his failure to take good advice on how to pray:

Jesus Christ had some advice about how to pray:

Lord, have mercy on me, a sinner...

Ted Haggard did not take that advice:

From Ted Haggard's sermon last week: Four days before accusations of his gay affair became public:

Heavenly Father, give us grace and mercy. Help us this next week and a half as we go into national elections and, Lord, we pray for our country. Father, we pray lies would be exposed and deception exposed. Father we pray that wisdom would come upon our electorate...

From a correspondent who wishes to be known as, we have the nomination of David Irving-defender and military historian John Keegan.

Cluelessingaza asks:

Shouldn't John Keegan learn the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas before he holds himself out as an expert on the Middle East?

Another Middle East War Is on the Horizon: BY JOHN KEEGAN - The Daily Telegraph: There will soon be another war in the Middle East, this time a renewal of the conflict between the Israel Defense Force and Hezbollah. The conflict is inevitable and unavoidable. It will come about because Israel cannot tolerate the rebuilding of Hezbollah's fortified zone in South Lebanon, from which last year it launched its missile bombardment of northern Israel.

Hezbollah has now reconstructed the fortified zone and is replenishing its stocks of missiles there. It is also creating a fortified zone in the Gaza Strip and building up its stocks of missiles there...

Utter Stupidity

Head shrill neoconservative rat:

: Martini Republic: I guess this means no "George W. Bush Square" in Baghdad, after all: November 6th, 2006: Neocon warmonger and Iraq War booster Richard Perle turns on Bush, like a starving cur:

Richard Perle, who was chairman of the Pentagon's Defense Policy Board Advisory Committee until 2004, told Vanity Fair magazine associate editor David Rose that the team that executed the war was dangerously out of control. "The decisions did not get made that should have been,"Perle said, according to a report on Vanity Fair's Web site. "They didn't get made in a timely fashion, and the differences were argued out endlessly. At the end of the day, you have to hold the president responsible"...

Quite a change from September, 2003:

A year from now, I'll be very surprised if there is not some grand square in Baghdad that is named after President Bush...

Last year witnessed Perle's continued delusion:

I will be surprised, yet again, if we do not see a square in Baghdad named after this president...

I suppose this means Perle has finally changed his mind about that "grand square" in Baghdad, after all.

Well, as they say, failure is an orphan.

Bush Administration Competence Falls by Around 100%

Zalmay Khalilzad may be the only competent person in the circular firing squad of flying attack monkeys that is the Bush administration. Now he is leaving. Mark Kleiman reports:

The Reality-Based Community: BAD news: Posted by Mark Kleiman: Zalmay Khalilzad is about to quit: I can think of four possible causes, none of them encouraging:

  1. Khalilzad has given up on Iraq as a lost cause.
  2. BushCo has decided to get rid of him in order to implement a change in policy (e.g., backing a coup that would produce an unparliamentary, strongman-led "government of national salvation" or, alternatively, backing partition).
  3. BushCo has decided on a change of policy (a coup or partition) that Khalilzad wanted no part of.
  4. Prime Minister al-Maliki is tired of Khalilzad's demands that the Iraqi Security Forces be purged of, and ordered to fight, the partisan/communal militias, and either told Khalilzad he was no longer welcome or sent word to Washington that he wanted a new ambassador.

Only one thing is certain: If Khalilzad still thought his strategy had a chance of success, he wouldn't be talking about leaving.


Remember the days when Andrew Sullivan wrote things like: "Paul Krugman... insufferably pompous, shrill, Bush-bashing pseudo-populist..."?

Sure you do.

Here's today's quote from Andrew Sullivan: "What's at stake [in Tuesday's election] is saving the US from the incompetent, reckless fanatics now in control."

Googling for "paul krugman shrill": 71,200
Googling for "andrew sullivan shrill": 155,000

Give it up, Paul. You cannot compete.

Aaaaiiiiii!!!! Ph'nglui mglw'nafh Andrew Sullivan R'lyeh wagn'nagl fhtagn! Aaaaiiiiii!!!!

What's at stake is saving the US from the incompetent, reckless fanatics now in control - Sunday Times - Times Online: It is difficult to look into the future when you are going through what America is going through. All I can say about the atmosphere in the United States right now is that it feels as if the country is about to vomit. The nausea is there; the vote is imminent; and the purge necessary. And yet it hasn't happened yet. Americans are still staring at the porcelain. And those who desperately want a change -- as I do -- have to wait....

But this election is not a presidential one. That race is still a long way off. What's really on the ballot is the Iraq war and the Bush administration's conduct of it. The result on Tuesday could therefore change a huge amount -- or not much at all.

The awful truth is: whoever wins will be unable to alter the fundamental dynamic in Iraq. The project for a peaceful, democratic future in that country is dead. On Friday two core neoconservatives, Richard Perle and Ken Adelman, acted as coroners....

So what happens? We found out last week what the options are. One of the most astonishing things came out of the mouth of an American president in my lifetime. He declared that Rumsfeld and Dick Cheney had both done "fantastic jobs", and that both would stay in office till his last day in 2009. No, I'm not making that up. The man responsible for what has happened in Iraq has, in Bush's view, done a "fantastic job". That's how deep the denial goes. But then Bush also said that the man tasked with responding to Hurricane Katrina had done a "heckuva job".

If the Republicans somehow manage to defy expectations and retain control of House and Senate, this dangerous denial will be empowered and enhanced. Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld will be all the more convinced that they are right and all the more determined to pursue their manic dream of remaking the world. They will be like Nixon, the last to realise that their own fantasy has ended -- but, unlike Nixon, with a Congress of their own party they will be able to drag the entire country with them. If that happens, the centre in America will not hold. And we will be facing severe strife within America itself -- as well as a potential disaster in the Middle East...

Sunday, November 05, 2006

More from the Republican Slime Machine

Wonkette reports:

March Of the Robots - Wonkette: Robot phone calls are driving people nuts throughout the northeast. The prank calls claim to be from one candidate (the Democrat) while they're actually from the other (the Republican).

Prerecorded phone calls have been a pathetic part of campaigns for a generation, but these new robo-calls add a new element: Hang up, and the phone rings again. Hang up, and the phone rings again. Some of the robots are making seven or eight calls in a row to the same number.

The infuriated voter trying to eat dinner or beat his children ends up wanting to kill the candidate blamed for the call. It's pretty brilliant, and it's one more reason Wonkette is proud to be free of land lines.

Why Oh Why Can't We Have a Better Press Corps? (Just-Not-Doing-Their-Job Edition)

Look: Six years ago, every Republican I talked to who would let his or her hair down agreed that George W. Bush was incompetent to be president. It did not matter, they said, that we were electing somebody unqualified for the job. George W. Bush was smart enough, they said, to know that he was a good face man--a good head-of-state--and a bad head of government. He would take advice. Paul O'Neill would contruct a reality-based economic policy, and Bush would approve it. Condi Rice and Colin Powell would contruct a reality-based foreign policy, and Bush would approve it. Rumsfeld would corral the Pentagon and get good money for our defense dollars. Cheney and Card would make sure the trains ran on time, that the policy process was orderly and fair, and that George W. Bush was persuaded by the various consensuses reached by his NSC, NEC, and other policy-forming bodies. That's what they said would happen.

Needless to say, it did not work out that way.

For more than six years, John Harris, Mark Halperin, and their peers have known that George W. Bush was not competent to be president. For six years, John Harris, Mark Halperin, and their peers have dined out in private on stories about the incompetence, malevolence, disconnection from reality, and mendacity of George W. Bush and his administration. But in public--ah, in public things have been different.

Thus for more than six years John Harris, Mark Halperin, and their peers have been two-faced: the stories they have been telling each other are different from the bland "opinions on shape of earth differ" that they have been telling their readers and their viewers.

They simply have not done their jobs.

And they do not care that they have not done their jobs.

Here they are writing to each other in Slate:

Mark Halperin: What most amazes—-and discourages—-me right now is that the mood of both the politicians and the electorate seems so angry. Sure, there is a lot to be unhappy about in a country at war, and that has a lot of people feeling like the nation is on the wrong track, but this level of vitriol seems excessive and a bit scary.

I don't really mind negative ads or messages—in part because there is nothing that the press can do about them, in part because they often have useful information in them, and in part because if voters want to be swayed by them, they will get the government they deserve.

What I don't like is false negative messages. Those, I think, are just bad for the electoral process....

[P]eople who live in Bethesda, Chevy Chase, and Manhattan should understand that in much of red America, [Karl] Rove is beloved and respected....

John F. Harris: I agree that it is arbitrary to make public a week-long fragment of our regular correspondence, most of which will not be open to scholars before 2025. But as long as we are reasonably alert, we should be able to promote our book and stay out of trouble in these days before the election. (I'm way too busy already to read or answer hundreds of flaming e-mails, or to sit through a long interrogation by the ombudsman.)...

[Y]our instinct for inflaming people on both the left and right into paroxysms of (publicity-producing) anger is, I suppose, a bankable asset for us....

It is our job as journalists to play referee, and I agree that at times, our efforts to call out falsehoods are pretty feeble compared to the volume....

The big journalistic failure of recent years is one also shared by numerous other people and institutions. That was the media's failure--with some prominent exceptions, including several at the Post--to challenge and illuminate the administration's premises for the Iraq war before the invasion. That is not an ideological statement, or even a criticism of the war. It's just a statement of fact....

For what it's worth, I think our failures in campaign and government coverage usually have less to do with ideology and more to do with journalistic conventions. We follow noise, as witnessed by the coverage of the Kerry-Iraq uproar in recent days. (Though please note that this classic freak-show story ran inside the Post today, not on the front page.) And our professional habits and stylebook rules sometimes inhibit us from telling the truth--and from saying that someone is lying--in plain, conversational language. We let it become a matter of controversy whether it is sunny or rainy, when sometimes it's a matter of fact. This is one area of the liberal critique of Old Media that often is pretty compelling...

In my view, John Harris's and his peers' failures have next to nothing to do with journalistic conventions. They have something to do with ideology. They have something more to do with material interest. But what they mostly have to do with is cowardice.

Final Berkeley J-School Dean Search Listing

Here it is. Suggestions and applications welcome:

Dean. Graduate School of Journalism. University of California, Berkeley

The University of California, Berkeley, invites nominations and applications for the position of Dean of the Graduate School of Journalism. The appointment is effective July 1, 2007.

The School offers a master’s degree program that prepares students for the highest levels of journalism. The School’s purpose is to educate professionals to work in areas ranging from newspapers, magazines, and television to documentary film, radio, photography and new media.

The Dean provides academic, intellectual, professional, and executive leadership and maintains a collegial environment conducive to excellence in teaching, research and journalistic integrity. The Dean also takes a leadership role in raising funds and promoting relationships with alumni and the profession.

Applicants for this position should demonstrate an accomplished journalistic record consistent with a position in a news organization of recognized excellence. Top candidates will have a record of demonstrated leadership and administrative skills. Teaching experience is desirable but not required. The Dean may hold a professorship in the Graduate School of Journalism.

Nominations or applications will be given prompt consideration if received by December 31, 2006, but earlier submissions are strongly encouraged. Applications should contain a letter of interest, detailed resume, and the names of at least three professional references. Nominations should include complete contact information, through either print or electronic means.

Nominations or applications should be sent to:

Chair, Journalism Search Committee
University of California, Berkeley
109 California Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720-1500

Electronic submissions are encouraged and should be sent to:

This is a sensitive position and subject to a criminal background check.

The University of California is an Equal Opportunity, Affirmative Action Employer.