Thursday assorted links

by on December 21, 2017 at 11:24 am in Uncategorized | Permalink

1 Guy Makiavelli December 21, 2017 at 11:44 am

Quoth Drezner: There is no way to read this document and not infer that the biggest threat to the American homeland is the foreign manipulation of public debate.

I didn’t read the document, but I would really really hope that the Trump admin would regard elite manipulation of public debate as a significant threat to the American homeland and polity

2 corvusb December 21, 2017 at 11:59 am

Nice hope. Any sign of it being anything more than wishful thinking yet?

3 Al December 21, 2017 at 2:06 pm

Let’s see whay happens after the mid terms, and the 2020 elections. The government is a large ship, it takes a while to turn.

Right now, the administration is succeeding wildly, even though the media had been agitating for the failure of the US. The 3+ % GDP growth, combined with 4 unemployment, and tax cuts should yield large victories by the GOP. After that it should be a simple matter to clean out the media.

4 msgkings December 21, 2017 at 2:47 pm

Reps are gonna take a beating in the midterms.

5 Art Deco December 21, 2017 at 3:09 pm

and tax cuts should yield large victories by the GOP.

It’s pretty atypical to gain ground in midterms, though it’s happened a couple of times in the last generation (after a 60 year hiatus). The Democrats have a bad calendar re the Senate, though.

6 Al December 21, 2017 at 4:31 pm

Agreed, it is atypical.

However, the economy is quite hot right now, after 8 years of being moribund. It is possible that this sets up like 1984.

One can hope.

It was irrational to think that the current administration could change Washington in 2 years. More victories are required.

7 msgkings December 21, 2017 at 4:40 pm


– The economy is about the same as it has been the last couple of years

– 1984 was not a midterm year. Reps lost seats in both 1982 and 1986, with a big loss (in the House) in 1982 (first midterm election after Rep win of presidency, like 2018)

– Washington isn’t going to change much

You’re welcome

8 Anonymous December 21, 2017 at 4:46 pm

You guys have no idea what a recovery looks like, do you? Eight years alright, but from

What happens next? Do the words “late stage recovery” worry you? When combined with “crypto bubble?” They probably should.

9 msgkings December 21, 2017 at 4:51 pm

@Anonymous: actually the silver lining of this very slow, very tepid recovery is that it likely will last much longer than any recovery period in history. No boom, no excesses to pop. The crypto bubble is nowhere near the risk of the (highly leveraged) real estate crash. At worst it will be like the tech stock bubble popping, which led to a very mild recession. I don’t think crypto can even cause that.

10 Anonymous December 21, 2017 at 5:04 pm

The Bitcoin rise may not be a systemic risk, but it still may be a warning of misallocation, and a late stage business cycle.

11 GoneWithTheWind December 22, 2017 at 9:43 am

The Democrats must sabotage the economy before the 2018 elections. They can do it. they’ve done it before. It is how they win elections; create a crisis and take advantage of it.

12 Anonymous December 22, 2017 at 9:48 am

Very funny news this morning. Donny has threatened to start working with Democrats. A couple days after the tax bill, and a day after being told he is going to lose the Congress in 2016.

13 Anonymous December 22, 2017 at 10:48 am

Contrast with

The poor, dumb, guy cannot hold a consistent policy in his head.

14 Chip December 21, 2017 at 5:27 pm

“– The economy is about the same as it has been the last couple of years“

GDP growth last year was 1.6%. The last two quarters of 2017 were over 3% and the NY Fed is forecasting 3.98% for Q4.

15 peri December 21, 2017 at 11:47 am

Did I break it? #! was going along interestingly enough, and then I got to the part referencing Lynn Sanders and clicked on the link to find out what her deal is, and now when I go back to the original essay it cuts off at “we won’t have to defer to stockbrokers who g” …

16 peri December 21, 2017 at 1:06 pm

It’s fixed now, with new title font and size.

No doubt Moana is one plucky princess, but her “complacent” people got “steady-state sustainable” by taking big risks with other species’ existence.

I’ve known people who might consider the GMU boys, and their fanboys, to be downright complacent about such things.

17 Paraguayan December 21, 2017 at 11:56 am

6. Is this the first recorded instance of Straussianism for good, for a High School Civics world?

Such is life in Trump’s America!

18 Guy Makiavelli December 21, 2017 at 11:56 am

> 6. Dan Drezner on Trump as Straussian.

Drezner claims that the authors of the National Security Strategy are Straussian. Not Trump.

Weird that Drezner and the other liberals are suddenly claiming to be so concerned about foreign intervention in public debate. I thought they were transnationalists. Didn’t Kerry say that foreigners should have “right of first refusal” over American policies???

19 Lenny Strauss December 21, 2017 at 12:09 pm

Perhaps, not all transnationalists believe in the total abolition of local norms, citizenshiip and laws – just as not all globalists want open borders and to murder white babies in their rural homes

20 Straw Man December 21, 2017 at 12:12 pm

I agree!

21 Moo cow December 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm

Did he? Actually say exactly what you quoted? A cite would be appreciated here.

22 jimmy December 21, 2017 at 1:28 pm

“Trump’s National Security Council spokesman acknowledges that Trump probably never read it. But you know who does read the NSS? The national security bureaucracy, when looking for preapproved language. And it is not hard to read parts of this NSS as Straussian rebukes of Trump as well.”

“This national security strategy is warning about the very forces that led to the Trump administration in the first place.”

“In coping with a ruler who acts like a toddler, that is the prudent approach to crafting important strategy documents.”

The authors of the strategy are apparently anti-Trump “Straussians” on Drezner’s reading. Is TC engaged in his own esotericism by getting it backwards? If so, I fail to see anything noble about the lie that “Trump is a Straussian.”

23 jimmy December 21, 2017 at 1:29 pm

Edit: Sorry Moo Cow, just realized you were probably asking about the Kerry quote.

24 Art Deco December 21, 2017 at 1:39 pm

Drezner’s business is a species of trash talking. He merits indifference.

25 Thor December 21, 2017 at 12:05 pm

That Indian list of Books of the Year was great. I particularly liked the choices — and the explanations/justifications — of the Indian Minister for External Affairs.

But there are a lot of PC dullards called “Author” in India. I had hoped that A. Roy was kind of a one off.

26 shrikanthk December 21, 2017 at 12:30 pm

A tidbit – The Minister of External Affairs is a practising Muslim in the Central government that is viewed as “hindu nationalist” in the West.

27 dearieme December 21, 2017 at 1:01 pm


28 Anonymous December 21, 2017 at 8:37 pm

He was also the prominent editor of a weekly magazine “Sunday” that was a refreshing change in the 70’s from then existing magazines.

29 rayward December 21, 2017 at 12:24 pm

6. Is Drezner’s interpretation itself Straussian? In other words, a Straussian interpretation of a Straussian NSS document. What? Hey, I do read this blog. Daily. And who knows what the Hell Cowen means. Of course, that’s the point. I look back fondly on an America that believed communication should be clear, a Strunk and White America, not an America in which communication is little more than propaganda. That’s our world today. How did we come to this? Maybe Cowen can educate us. Of course, his education of us would likely be Straussian.

30 shrikanthk December 21, 2017 at 12:38 pm

3. Thanks for the list.

Particularly intrigued by Pratap Mehta’s classic pick “Bharatiya Sanskriti aur Sadhana” – a Hindi language book with a rather ambitious title – A study of Indian culture in two volumes

The pick “Political Violence in Ancient India” is authored by Upinder Singh, the daughter of former Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

31 Ray Lopez December 21, 2017 at 12:40 pm

#4- this Catalonian says “I like the idea of belonging to the European Union, something impossible for a hypothetically independent Catalonia”…so that’s his “prior”. If he did not like the EU, then he would be pro-independence.

It seems to me the issue of political boundaries is simply this: how easy is it to redraw your political boundary these days? Say you are pro-Catalonia independence, your region becomes independent of the EU, then, after a few years they want to become again part of Spain. Why is that a problem? That goes to the heart of how / why we draw political boundaries.

Bonus trivia: while Socrates (says Plato) was a “citizen of the world”, he refused to exile himself from post-Peloponnese War Athens, which was easy to do, and instead drank the hemlock, essentially to prove a point.

32 Bob December 21, 2017 at 12:57 pm

It’s very difficult to be anti EU in Spain and be over 30, because we remember the 60s, the 70s, and the early 80s. Spain has only gotten better, and that’s including the horror’s of the Spanish Great Recession (Which I still blame on Aznar’s pro building laws)

The pro independence movement is both relatively rural and young: People that don’t know what Spain is like, Catalonia included, when we let our low quality institutions run amok. It’s right there in the article, and many a Spaniard has said it before: The Catalonian independence movement comes from allowing that crazy nation building for 20 years, and now the kids that were raised with that propaganda get to vote, and think that Spain is ruining them. And yet, economic numbers from the last half year show a Catalonia that is doing way worse than it ever did:You have to be mad to move there, or invest there these days. The election looks close, and we might find ourselves in the terrible situation of a pro-independence government with a pro-Spain popular vote, winning clearly in Barcelona. In that situation, the pro-independence faction has to bring in anti-capitalists to govern at all, and the entire region remains a tire fire.

Either way we slice it, this is a crisis for a decade or more: A region that is 70% pro independence will be independent and do the best they can. 70% pro spain will return to the status quo. But what we are getting here is a terrible split where 45% of the population is going to hate the result, and the only way to minimize the hate for later will involve more nation building (ie, propaganda), of one side or the other. Schoolteachers are all as pro-independence as the ICE is for Trump, or the EPA is for the Democrats, with the difference that they interact with the next generation every day. How can a region not end up in trouble like that? And how painful would be to have some sort of “purge”? There’s no way to win.

33 Art Deco December 21, 2017 at 1:34 pm

(Which I still blame on Aznar’s pro building laws)

Cue Mandy Rice-Davies.

It’s very difficult to be anti EU in Spain and be over 30, because we remember the 60s, the 70s, and the early 80s.

It’s not difficult if you take an interest in local control and sovereignty. Which evidently you do not.

34 clockwork_prior December 21, 2017 at 2:08 pm

‘This breaking news just in – Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead’ Because nothing say ‘local control and sovereignty’ like caudillo. Though the Basque just might disagree.

(And it is going to be fun to see how much local control and sovereignty the Little Englanders will be enjoying in 5 years, as they enjoy all the privileges and benefits of being a non-member of the EU.)

35 Art Deco December 21, 2017 at 3:00 pm

(And it is going to be fun to see how much local control and sovereignty the Little Englanders will be enjoying in 5 years, as they enjoy all the privileges and benefits of being a non-member of the EU.)

I’m enjoying your butt-hurt.

36 Snowflake Busta December 21, 2017 at 3:02 pm

Art likes making butts hurt.

37 Bob December 21, 2017 at 5:57 pm

Spain has a history of catastrophic local control: Regional governments are more corrupt, far more inefficient, and ultimately just give money to their friends. The word Cacique is still used today. Our local institutions are a catastrophe, and the smaller they are, the worse it gets. It’s straight out of Cowen’s books: Local control with no growth is the road back to the third world country that Spain was in the 30s.

Go look at pro EU numbers in Spain: It doesn’t matter what you think, it’s reality on the ground.

I’d also like to point out that, as expected, we got the nightmare scenario: Popular vote favors staying, most voted party is pro-spain, seats in the Catalonian assembly favor leaving, but only have a majority after bringing in anti-capitalists. Barcelona (the province, not just the city) voted for pro-Spain countries: Should they ask for independence from the rest of Catalonia?

It’s going to be a shitshow.

38 Art Deco December 22, 2017 at 7:33 am

Local decision-making isn’t why you have the occidental world’s most hopeless labor markets.

39 MOFO December 21, 2017 at 2:53 pm

The whole article is basically him saying “i like X, therefor X is the good and proper thing”. He never really makes a case for his preferences, he just acts as though they are self evident.

40 MOFO December 21, 2017 at 3:52 pm

“There needs to be a setting out of the conditions under which Catalonia could have a legal referendum on independence, similar to Canada’s Clarity Act (enacted in response to secessionist sentiment in Quebec). Of course, in a federal Europe, this law should be European, not only Spanish.”

Of course, because… reasons.

41 Brian Donohue December 21, 2017 at 12:46 pm

#6. Two thoughts:

1. The important point, of course, is that the US is free to continue its longstanding policy of meddling wherever it sees fit. Isn’t it obvious how absurd this seems to much of the rest of the world?

2. If the American people are dumb enough to be so easily manipulable by foreign propaganda, we deserve what we get. Are we seriously going to try to let the flow of discourse by governed by the deep state? Without the ridiculous premise that Trump was elected by ingenious Russian bots, the whole argument falls apart anyway.

42 Hazel Meade December 21, 2017 at 1:38 pm

Totally agree with both points, especially #2. You can’t blame trumps election on the Russians. That is purely the result of our own homegrown brew of political stupidity and polarization.

43 clockwork_prior December 21, 2017 at 2:15 pm

With a little help from those nice bears Fancy and Cozy, and all those hacked e-mails. Which makes it amusing, in a grimly fatalistic way, to imagine what those talented bears did not bother to publicize in document dumps, is likely being used in the sort of one on one conversations that are better off done as far off the record as possible.

The Russians don’t care about Trump, they care about weakening the opponent that successfully took their empire out of their bloody hands. And the Russians are not going away – again, as a prediction, one is likely to see the bears’ product in the 2018 cycle, placed in such fashion to weaken the U.S. – for example, by supporting Democratic candidates so as to make impeachment more likely, with the resulting damage to the U.S. political system.

44 Brian Donohue December 21, 2017 at 2:43 pm

You should change your handle to ‘grimly fatalistic’.

45 Hazel Meade December 21, 2017 at 3:57 pm

You really ought to agree with us on this. Because the gist of the point is that Trump won because Republicans are stupid, not because ingenious Russian hackers tricked them.

46 Anonymous December 21, 2017 at 5:15 pm

It will always be indeterminate what combination of things put Trump over the top, but a certain percentage of the population cannot live with uncertainty. So for them it must be all of one, none of the others.

47 TMC December 21, 2017 at 4:38 pm

Yeah, it’s the fact emails were hacked that’s important, not the vile contents. Frankly, if it was were the Russians, we owe them a debt of gratitude.

48 Art Deco December 21, 2017 at 3:04 pm

Totally agree with both points, especially #2. You can’t blame trumps election on the Russians. That is purely the result of our own homegrown brew of political stupidity and polarization.

No, it’s a result of our homegrown assessment of Hillary Clinton and the Republican establishment.

49 Art Deco December 21, 2017 at 3:05 pm

1. The important point, of course, is that the US is free to continue its longstanding policy of meddling wherever it sees fit.

You say that like it’s a bad thing.

50 Anonymous December 21, 2017 at 5:11 pm

False dichotomy. Free intervention by foreign agents, and government censorship of citizens, are not the only choices.

Indeed, many of the responses so far have been free market. Facebook and Twitter seek to protect their brand, even if that means using Terms of Service to eject trolls of various sorts (including foreign troll factories).

51 Andao December 22, 2017 at 11:35 pm

#2 represents a kind of paradigm shift though. Previous attempts at propaganda, like running secret printing presses it dropping leaflets, weren’t nearly as effective. Using Facebook’s own marketing tools , the propagandists have a laser focus and can tap into precisely the insecurities of potential Trump supporters.

Yes the voters have ultimate responsibility, but we’ve never had a method of propaganda that’s so targeted. The Russian trolls can manipulate from the comfort of their living rooms. No smuggling illicit posters across the border.

52 Ray Lopez December 21, 2017 at 12:47 pm

#2 – the Link paper was good, written apparently in the mid-1960s, and prophetic. But why do we give it any weight now? Keep in mind a paper should be judged by what contemporaries thought of it, if it influenced them. Apparently Link was highly esteemed so perhaps his opinion mattered back then, and thus this paper is worthy for that reason. However, if you simply give weight to a person who ‘turns out to have been right’ that everybody back in that person’s day ignored, you are committing a common historical fallacy named after Aristotle, the teleology fallacy. This is the idea that some person way back when “anticipated” a truth that’s common today, and thus this person was some kind of genius. It could well be that the person was an idiot but just guessed right. And if nobody read that person in his day, that person was a cipher.

Bonus trivia: mark my words, someday my predictions about how IP should be will be the received conventional wisdom of the day and will result in much greater GDP growth than in today’s society.

53 Niroscience December 21, 2017 at 12:49 pm

Very thankful for the books list, will definitely order the copy of “Political Violence in Ancient India”.

54 Hoosier December 21, 2017 at 12:55 pm

#4- self declared “leftists” like Cercas are the reason socialist parties in Europe are in the crapper.

Interesting that his piece makes no mention of the corrupt, disgrace that is the PP.

When these are your supposed allies, what are voters unsataified with the status quo in Catalonia left to do other than vote for the nationalist party?

55 Dave Barnes December 21, 2017 at 2:24 pm

I was said to see that the article was only available in English and Español when it should also have been available in Català.

56 DaveL December 21, 2017 at 8:09 pm

46: That would be “Lick,” short for “Licklider.” He was hardly an unknown or unsung prophet, as you imply. He was highly influential at DARPA and then at the MIT Lab for Computer Science.

57 Pearl Y December 21, 2017 at 9:23 pm

I’m increasingly seeing all references to Straussian interpretations as obnoxious. Finding hidden meanings is FUN, I agree, but it’s a nasty human conceit, and overall I see it as destructive toward the progress of civil society. In what sense is philosophy anything besides a big wankfest?

58 Thor December 22, 2017 at 5:08 am

Don’t confuse the wankfest of virtue signalling with an awareness that since not all things can be said openly they must be hidden and the key to the subtext revealed only to a select audience. As Hillary said to that audience of bankers (note, bankers not wankers), there’s what I say to you, and then there’s what I say to the deplorables.

59 AnonymousCoward December 22, 2017 at 12:56 am

#5 – Yes, without a doubt yes!

I went to Odisha (a.k.a. Orissa) a few years ago for the historical monuments – hadn’t even heard of Orissa cuisine, and was delighted to enjoy The. Best. seafood ever. Probably thanks to the large brackish water lagoon, which also serves as a bird sanctuary.

Bonus – almost no tourists.

The locals make these curry crabs that are so incredible, I think I would go back for a visit just to eat them again. Only accompaniment needed is some boiled rice and a chilled local beer. The meat (goat) and fish (fried or curry) are also incredible. Agree with the author that the cuisine is more rustic than Bengal. Also, minimal coconut, which is overused on the southern coasts. Other than Japan, I have never enjoyed every single meal of a trip as much. Even in France you end up disappointed from time to time.

Some of the “OTDC” guest-houses (not exactly hostels, not exactly governmental hotels, but either way, dreadful to stay at) actually have the best cooks in the whole state. Locals drive more than an hour to eat at a particularly popular OTDC guest-house in Chilika.

But avoid the hawkers selling “fresh catch” from tables laid out near the water’s edge. They can’t cook, they over charge, and you’re sitting out in the sun, as is the so-called “fresh” catch.

There weren’t many standard hotel options when I visited, but I hear they since opened some fairly high end accommodations.

The article suggest the Trident – do not stay there. There is a set of boutique hotels across the state owned by the Mayfair group – they are incredible hosts, very generous and very accommodative.

Lastly, the author only takes a “quick trip” to Chilika. But if you are going for the food, then half your meals should be in Chilika Lake.

I predict tourism in Orissa will take off like a Juggernaut (!

60 Rohan Jolly December 26, 2017 at 6:03 am

Thanks for the detailed review. I have never visited the state either even though I was born next door in Chhattisgarh but after reading all this I am considering making a trip soon.

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