Totally conventional views which I hold

Most days on MR we try to bring you something new, whether it be a report or an opinion of ours.  Even if it is not truly new, perhaps it is at least new relative to the discourse on most other web sites.  We are reluctant to recycle old posts, even though I am still thinking about whether a lot of food tastes better when you eat it with your fingers.

But maybe telling you something conventional can be new in a way too.  So here are a few totally conventional views which I hold, or still hold, but otherwise don’t bother reporting very often if at all:

1. Scott Walker and Jeb Bush are the most likely candidates to win the GOP nomination.

2. The GOP won’t try to repeal Obamacare, see #Syriza.

2b. Obamacare hasn’t made us healthier (yet?), but it has served as an inefficient form of wealth insurance for some lower-income groups.  On net, the negative health consequences of the disemployment effects of the law could easily counterbalance the direct positive health care access effects.  Imagine that, a health care reform that doesn’t even boost health.  Given their utility functions, many of the law’s backers should be happy with it, but they shouldn’t think I am impressed with their numerous “victory lap” blog posts.  Here is my 2009 post on what we should have done instead.  I still think that, noting that I remain happy with the cost control parts of what was done.

3. The Supreme Court will rule against the current version of Obamacare and send the matter back to Congress.  Confusion will result.

4. During the upward phase of the recovery, monetary policy just doesn’t matter that much.

5. We are still in the great stagnation, for the most part.  But with nominal gdp well, well above its pre-crash peak, it is not demand-based “secular stagnation.”  It just isn’t, I don’t know how else to put it.  And the liquidity trap is still irrelevant and has been since about 2009.

6. There is modest good news on the wage front, but so far it doesn’t amount to a fundamental shift in regime.  Following the monthly squiggles doesn’t tell us much.  And since wage trouble dates from 1999 and arguably earlier, I don’t attribute much of it to debt overhang from the recession.

7. Edward Snowden is both a hero and a traitor.

8. Syriza still has to try to make a Greek economy work with roughly the same means their predecessors had.  I don’t think they can do it, and I am sticking with my recent Grexit prediction, which by the way had an 18-month time horizon on it (see my earlier Twitter response to Felix Salmon).

9. No one knows what to do about ISIS or Putin.  The latter is a bigger danger than the former.  Confusion will result.

If you’re not excited, fine, that’s the point.  The predictable is a kind of news, too.  But hold on and come back, because tomorrow you might just hear more about remote-controlled, cyber cockroaches.


Un-common sense! *This* is why I read this blog with passion!

I like this one: "4. During the upward phase of the recovery, monetary policy just doesn’t matter that much." - I would add during the downward phase as well.

(to all my fans: I moved to a bigger, better place and had internet connection problems, hence my absence). Ray is back, back with black and he's about to attack!

Ray is back, back with black and he’s about to attack!

And as stupid as ever

This list is useless without confidence estimates. How sure are you of each? 55%?

"Un-common sense! *This* is why I read this blog with passion!"

This blog seems to me the place where passion goes to die, but to each his own way.

What is your confidence estimate?

It is the most common of all conceits to think that one's own values and beliefs represent the rational, fair minded, informed, middle ground.

Looking at your 2009 post on health care reform, I'm surprised how much of it I agree with (as a full-fledged, card-carrying single payer supporter who grew up with govt health care and despairs at the insanity of the US system)

It's conventional wisdom that Obamacare would tank HSAs, and I thought it too, but one employer that I was at after Obamacare switched to an HSA from a traditional plan. I'm missing something.

Yep, HSAs are still a going thing. I have one where I work, for the first time ever

"It’s conventional wisdom that Obamacare would tank HSAs "

Our work has had an HSA and a High-Deductible plan for the last 6 or 7 years and our insurance rep gave a presentation in 2010 telling us that our HSA/HDP might not comply with Obamacare and they were awaiting a final ruling. The primary concern was whether the HSA contributions would count towards the minimal actuarial value of the HDP or not. Eventually the ruling was that the HSA contribution did count, but the ACA (Obamacare) language itself did not specify.

Having grown up with gov health care, and then having lived in the UK, US and Switzerland, I drew a few conclusions.

"Government health care" is an oxymoron. If typed into Google, it should say "Did you mean, bureaucracy and neglect?".

Freer markets are much better than government, for virtually everybody, and an order of magnitude better for people who are able to pay for treatment (which is almost everybody).

Health care is too juicy a subject for politicians not to put their snouts in it. Neither the US nor Switzerland have free health care markets, but even if they're better than a government run system, they would benefit from deregulation.

In that case let's turn the courts and the armies over to the private sector too. That worked so well in the Middle Ages!

Do you think international arbitration courts don't work?

No doubt Snowden thinks as follows: "traitor" is a word that sounds very bad but applies to people like George Washington or Claus von Stauffenberg. Does it even mean anything? Do people still think that word has says anything about ethics or someone's value? Perhaps it does, but only if you think one ought to be devoted to one's state, no matter what sort of state it is.

Well yes it does mean something, which is why you could confidently and correctly apply it to Washington.

Being a traitor is not always bad, and Washington is in fact both a traitor and a hero. If Snowden ever takes up arms against the US and successfully leads us to bright new libertopian age, we can consider him in similar terms. Till then, we can put him in a much more mundane box.

Now if we only knew what Putin thinks.

I imagine Putin thinks of him as a useful idiot. That is, a person that has acquired information useful to Putin, but has idiotically failed to use it to his own advantage.

I think that's an interesting questions in this context. What has Putin learned, if anything. from Snowden that is prehaps not public but might be relivent to the current state of the geopolitical relationship between Russia and the USA, with NATO/EU somewhat in tow?

Pure speculation but it does seem a bit irrational to be seeing this 1960's era proxy war going on within the Ukraine in the 21st Century -- though it is said history is a wheel.

I'm not sure if Washington was a traitor. He might have be might have been a non-juror (does anybody know) that never recognized the House of Hanover as the legitimate monarchy. In this case, you might call him an extreme loyalist.

if that works it's a technical victory and the same traitor/hero mix would apply to almost all of the other revolutionary leaders (Addams for instance)

It means something after you defect to Russia. On the other hand, if my options were Russia or getting thrown into a pit with Bradley Manning, I don't know what I would do.

Also, while Washington might be considered "traitorous" for turning against the King, the injustices against the American colonists were intolerable and necessitated revolution. The King's power is hardly absolute either, given that England had spent the better part of Millenium constraining the Monarch's power by that point. Snowden, on the other hand, defected to Russia.

What injustices? Making the colonists contribute to their defence against the French? Letting the conquered French settlers have their own religion and legal system? Not letting every redneck with a musket dispossess Indian allies of His Majesty?

Granted, Washington and Hamilton were the sanest of the revolutionaries. But they played with fire. it is a lucky thing it turned out as well as it did. These ones

More like the better part of a bit over than a century. English absolutism hit its peak under the Tudors, and didn't really take a solid hit until the English Civil War in the 1640s.

It is a little cute to say he defected to Russia in a time when Russia is not officially our enemy and Americans can freely travel to Russia and vice versa. He is providing aid and comfort to a major jerk and tyrant, and I don't approve of it, but I don't quite think "defect" is the right word or idea to describe what he did.

A tiny reminder: Snowden did not defect to Russia. The only reason he ended up there was because the US government trapped him there. Putin didn't want to have anything to do with Snowden, but the US wouldn't let him out so Russia had to give him asylum.

"Snowden did not defect to Russia"

According to his self serving statements. He went first to China and then Russia.

I was going to note the same thing: it was Russia via a brief stop-off in China. However you want to spin those destinations, they were nonetheless his destinations of choice at the time and his bedfellows are his bedfellows after all.

No, Snowden didn't "go to Russia." He flew to Latin America with a stop over in Moscow but was trapped. Remember US Air Force forcing down Bolivian Presidential Plane because they thought Snowden might be on it? Russia didn't want him and kept him in the airport for weeks while trying hard to send him on his way. But I am sure you'll say that this was all Putin's plot.

People like you are a bane on intelligent discussion everywhere.

Snowden was on a flight to South America which *happened* to pass through the Moscow airport.
His passport was revolked *while he was in flight*. As a consequence, he could not board the connecting leg of his flight out of Russia.
He literally lived in the international terminal of the Moscow airport for a month trying ot get asylum somewhere else.

CW, he went to Hong Kong initially because of it's protections for free speech. But he had no formal asylum there and was seeking asylum in a South American country (possibly Bolivia). That's why he left Hong Kong. The fact that he ended up in Russia was a total accident - his flight merely happened to pass through the Moscow airport.



All caps comments are a "bane on intelligent discussion".

First, as we saw from the recent demonstrations, Hong Kong is China.

Second, buying a ticket to X via Y while intending to stay at Y all the time is a very simple thing to do.

Snowden did not like his bid from China but preferred his Russian one instead.

Did he accidentally seek asylum in Russia as well? I suppose for a man of happenstance such as Snowden, it's possible.

Right, because obviously Snowden was in a position to know in advance that his passport would be revolked mid-flight, so he would have the perfect excuse to pursue is his plan of living in the Moscow airport for a month while pretending to seek asylum in Bolivia.

He sought asylum in Russia only AFTER he had been stuck in the terminal for a month, had not obtained asylum anywhere else, and was running out of money.

How long do you expect someone to sleep on an airport terminal floor, to prove they don't really want to enter the country?

And again, ALL OF THIS, was widely reported AS IT WAS HAPPENING.

Seriously, every freaking day there were updates on which countries Snowden was applying for asylum yet, and more updates on how he hadn't gotten asylum yet.

How old are you people? 12? How young and oblivious do you have to be not to remember all of this being front page news for weeks?

You sell him short. He most certainly understood that there was a very strong likelihood that his passport would be revoked very soon.

"Remember US Air Force forcing down Bolivian Presidential Plane because they thought Snowden might be on it?"

No, not at all.

Perhaps Bob from Ohio has some informaiton he'd like to share. How do you know he was "intending to stay at [Russia] all the time" even though he booked the flight and was seeking asylum in South America? Was that in his "self serving statements"?

It sounds like a classic case of what Scott Alexander would call "the worst argument in the world."

It's trying to make a person or concept look bad by associating it with words that have a negative connotation. "Traitor" is a classic case of that.

Indeed. I also recently learned on this blog that, in addition to being a *traitor* George Washington *owned* *slaves*, so he's a double plus bad guy.

I agree, the words 'hero' and 'traitor' are loaded with black/white connotations that really don't apply to Snowden. I wouldn't use either word to describe him.

If he had selected 20 embarrassing tidbits to leak, instead of tens of thousands, Snowden might have come close to a hero in my estimation, i.e. risking his safety and freedom to show us how much our privacy is being invaded, without doing any significant damage. But lazily dumping everything out there wasn't very smart or heroic - he strikes me as just a self-righteous, immature jerk.

Yeah, leaking PRISM is one thing, but it's hard to interpret leaking TAO information (for example) as anything but evil.

William Binney is an example of an persecuted NSA whistleblower who was a hero not a traitor.

and what did Binney accomplish? How many people did he inform?

He didn't dump everything out there, and it takes someone who knows zero about the Snowden affair to believe otherwise.

The whole reason he selected Greenwald and the Guardian was to ensure that a huge data dump--the kind that WikiLeaks created--didn't occur and that information was usefully bottlenecked and released to the public judiciously. If you'd bothered to think about the way in which the information is being released, namely piecemeal and by very specific media outlets, you'd understand that elementary fact.

Not a meaningless word. Both Washington and Snowden had punitive consequences directed at them for what they did. They both fully expected them and did things to limit them. Washington established (with help) a country. Snowden followed a very well trod path to Russia.

The police will comment something to the effect of " what did you expect" if you leave your camera gear on the front seat of your car, doors unlocked and someone steals it. The person is still a thief. Snowden pulled down the pants and slapped the dick of the security apparatus of the US government, with seeming ease. No wonder they are a bit upset, they should be. They were made to be utter fools, incompetent twits with almost unlimited power. What Snowden did will smarten them up, force them to do what they are paid to do. Possibly. But he is still a thief.

Snowden is, along with the rest of us, the one who left the camera in his front seat.

Only legal positivism could give us "thinkers" who believe that exposing a moral crime is a crime.

Really appreciated this post! Please do more of this sort. Thank you for your time & effort to enlighten the rest of us :-)

I'd like to second liking this post as a change of pace.

4. Partly agree
5. It's becoming so long that I'm starting to think it's the new normal
7. Indeed.
8. Many in Europe would welcome Grexit but the unknown costs for the rest and the embarrassment is too big to let Greece fall. I think Syriza is pushing too hard because they know Germany fears the disintegration of the Euro more than anything.
9. Man, you're mean :)


4. Partly agree

5. It's becoming so long that I'm starting to think it's the new normal

7. Indeed.

8. Many in Europe would welcome Grexit but the unknown costs for the rest and the embarrassment is too big to let Greece fall. I think Syriza is pushing too hard because they know Germany fears the disintegration of the Euro more than anything.

9. Man, you're mean :)

There is zero evidence that Snowden is a traitor. A traitor is someone who aids the enemy. No evidence Snowden had this in mind. His goal was to help the US, including its political system. So it wasn't sedition either. He may have exercised bad judgment but if you believe that he is not a hero either, just a well-meaning dupe.

Certainly if you believe Snowden is a traitor (e.g. you think he is aiding the Russians) you can't make him into a hero.

My belief is that Snowden is definitely not a traitor and time will tell if he is a hero.

Good point. NSA spying on Americans is a purely domestic matter, so the question of treason seems misplaced (though conventionally so). Conventional thought seems to have difficulty distinguishing between Bradley Manning, who leaked information damaging to American (both people and government) geopolitical interests, and Edward Snowden, who released information damaging to the American government in its dealings with the American people. Difficulty distinguishing between government and people also seems to be part of conventional thought.

Snowden's revelations, true or not, have not been "purely domestic". He is reported as the source of the information that the US had tapped Merkel's cell phones, for example.

Exactly. He revealed all kinds of information about overseas intelligence gathering that hurt the U.S. ability to get information not just about "friends" and geopolitical rivals but also actual terrorists

Merkel was not an enemy of the US.

He leaked catalogs of equipment used to spy on really hard targets. You can bet the Iranians did a clean sweep of their nuclear program walking around with a printout of that.

It's easy to draw a distinction between Manning and Assange. Manning blew his whole load to Assange, who hates America, and Assange published a bunch of unredacted stuff purely to hurt America. Snowden has been more careful, if not always perfect.

Except Snowden is now under Putin's thumb. Who knows what information they are getting out of him, with or without Snowden's knowledge?

edit: between Manning and Snowden

The damaging Snowden information isn't that somebody is transcribing your phone calls, which everyone from Merkel to Bin Laden presumably assumed, it's that the NSA has screenshots of your airgapped PC derived from various electrical and optical means, hacked networks to exfiltrate data opportunistically, and sophisticated mechanisms for analyzing all that.

Snowden leaked catalogs for that stuff. Vladimir Putin can look up part numbers, pictures, and specs.

Snowden is under Putin's thumb by choice of the US government, which not only denies Snowden immunity to get him to return to the US but also expended considerable effort to prevent friendly countries from offering Snowden asylum. That tells any careful observer all he or she needs to know about the purported national security threats related to information released or held by Snowden.

Presumably it tells us that the information is already released.

If you steal & release some confidential document of (say) national security policy does that automatically make you a traitor? Or must one demonstrate that you had that intent & the enemy actually used the info?

I'm just wondering about the letter of law. Not broad philosophy.

If you release confidential material without official consent you are a traitor.

Even if said confiendetial material exposes the illegal acitivies of said "officials" ?

Snowden's leaks concerning the NSA's domestic surveillance operations definitely fall into that category. His leaks concerning foreign intelligence gathering operations and methods do not. The NSA is supposed to be spying on our allies and enemies, and hampering the agency's ability to do so is borderline treasonous. I say borderline because Snowden clearly believes that all of his leaks are for the good of the US, and treason is definitively a crime that requires mens rea.

Edit: definitely, not definitively. Stupid autocorrect.

His leaks concerning foreign intelligence gathering operations and methods do not.

Which leaks are those? The one about how we tapped Angela Merkel's phones? Or the ones about how we're routinely collecting the phone records of everyone in Germany too?

Of course true partiost and heros will be people who stood up to government corruption and abuses of power and failing to be bound by oths of office or laws of the land to bring government back to being servant of the people rather than rulers of the people.

Seems to support the heo-trator and maybe then trator doesn't mean something bad. It's just part of the sacrifies a hero makes.

Just saw Citizenfour, the (pretty amazing) Snowden documentary. In it, one of his lawyers points out that lack of intent to harm the US and lack of use by "the enemy" is not a defense for a violation of the (WWI era) Espionage Act, nor is virtually anything else.

He was doing really well after the initial disclosures, then he went to Hong Kong and revealed US operations in HK and China. Why did he do that? He could have been an undisputed hero by merely focusing on NSA operations against Americans, but it's kind of the government's job to spy on other countries and protect the nation.

He was IN Hong Kong while revealing the initial disclosures.
He went there immediately before Greenwald published his Guardian piece because he know that the NSA would find him very quickly.

"1. Scott Walker and Jeb Bush are the most likely candidates to win the GOP nomination"

Why leave out the inevitability of Hilary as the Dem Candidate?

The conventional view is that it's so conventional that it's not even worth mentioning how conventional it is.

Wasn't Bill a beneficiary of an equally conventional inevitability? Didn't the expectation that Cuomo would enter the race tie up the money and cause other worthies to hold off, leaving an opening for an unknown southern governor to gain the nomination?

I predict the Clinton nomination and presidential campaign will be at the forefront of medical innovation, and when she loses there will be a mature product for her to hawk.

It was clear to most Democrats that Cuomo wasn't running a long time before Cuomo declared he wasn't. The idea he was still "deciding" in the fall, or even summer of 1991 is up there with the sort of media speculation that Ford was going to save us at the Convention from Reagan or that Biden is going to have a serious run.

The reason nobody but Clinton jumped in was that the first Gulf War made Bush look unbeatable, and after the debacle of Clinton's 1988 convention speach he knew that this was his big, and only, chance. If Al Gore had had more testicular fortitude Clinton would not have run at all. Rememember he faced only Tsongas and Jerry Brown, by the time it lookedlike Bush was beatsble the only hope anyone more prominent than Before Bill had a chance was if they were drafted, a practice that has been defunct for more than half a century now.

This is a good list. Even if TC's opinions are boring, it gives us an excuse to vent non-boring ones.

7. Edward Snowden is both a hero and a traitor.

He is neither. And TC might be defining "traitor" down to fit some cosmopolitan world-view that I don't share.

He is not a hero because: there is something creepy about him.

He is not a traitor because: the US 1st Amendment must place some limit on what can be deemed an official secret. The officials keeping the secrets can't just decide for themselves. But in practice, spy agencies can do just that, except to the extent they are undermined by leakers taking the matter into their own hands and violating the terms of their employment contract. That is you can't judge whether he is a traitor without considering the content of the leaks. If the content is in the public interest (and I say it is), then at worst he is a contract breaker.

Can heros not be creepy?

There's nothing creepy about him at all. He has behaved with nothing less than ideal honor, courage, and humility throughout this entire affair.
And the US government's treatment of him has been nothing more than shameful.
He is a US citizen, with the rights of a US citizen, not a bug to be squashed for having outed the criminals in power.

Agree partly with 1 (Jeb Bush).
Disagree with 2a.
Agree with 2b.
Disagree with 3 and 4.
Agree with 5, 6, 7, and 8.
Strongly disagree with 9 (ISIS is an easily soluble problem and poses a much larger threat than Putin; the Ukraine conflict is more difficult to solve, but just doesn't pose that much of a threat).

Is there is a serious argument that "ISIS is an easily soluble problem", I would like to hear it.

A stimulus package of shovel-ready green jobs!

Maybe he means a really really big A-bomb.

ISIS is standard Hick-krieg, which means that it does a great job on the offensive and a terrible job running a state or taking direct body blows in a war of attrition. US air support, especially ISR, in conjunction with Kurds, Jordanians, and local Sunni warlords, will bleed ISIS dry. But if you let ISIS fester, you could very well end up with an insane Caliphate in the heart of the Middle East. Way worse than Putin, who is deterred by lots of nukes.

Obviously the solution is to negotiate with the insane theocracy ineffectually letting them get nukes. Then peace and harmony will prevail.

If you're referring to Iran, the Western powers should subject Iran to a strategic bombing campaign and then re-open negotiations, but none of the other Western powers have the stomach for that.

Agreed with your first comment, Beta Guy, but not with the second. Iran doesn't need nukes, doesn't have them, and probably will never get them. Sanctions and bombing campaigns in a time of reformist government only encourage the return of reactionaries to popularly elected positions. Sanctions on Iran should be reduced, not intensified. The Iranian people should not have to suffer the consequences of some long-past oil nationalization. Regimes should not have an easy excuse for their problems. Iran has, despite low GDP per capita, greatly improved under the Mullahs. I would like to see that improvement continue.

$15,090 is not all that low. China's PPP GDP per capita is lower. PPP is what counts for estimating the standard of living.

ISIS is just fighting a battle in an extremely long war of Islam vs the West. It's quite brilliant, really. Soon we'll be negotiating with Al Qaeda (you know, the moderates). Absent a change of trajectory, Islam will eventually defeat the West.

Putin is only a serious problem if we make him one. Of course, we keep provoking him (see Holocaust Memorial Day) so perhaps you are correct.

I just don't understand how Islam will ever defeat the West barring some sort of supernatural intervention.

I also think ISIS is more dangerous than Putin, who is just the latest in a long series of caudillos who are attempting to modernize somewhat broken nations, ie Ataturk, Chiang Kai-Shek, Mussolini, Franco, etc...

But something doesn't have to be an absolute mortal threat in and of itself to be very dangerous, militant Islam has already done tremendous damage to our ideologically weakened liberal states, heck they may even be the thing that destroys liberalism in the classical sense forever, but Islam won't be what replaces it.

The defeat of Islam in the west will be called "welfare reform".

In my more paranoid flights, I remark to myself that totalitarian dictatorships are remarkable at coercing support from those it governs even if they hate that governance. Think North Korea or--in one particularly striking example--the story of the Yang Kyoungjong, a Korean who was pressed in to service to fight for Japan, captured by the Soviets, pressed in to service to fight for Mother Russia, captured by the Nazis and ended up in a Wehrmacht uniform on the beach of Normandy.

Nations can oppose the advance of ISIS but those lands once absorbed become resources to advance further. And as long as they continue to recruit foreigners faster than we can kill both foreign and native recruits (which seems to be true) this makes it increasingly likely that they can metastasize. We're already seeing that occurring in Yemen, Tunisia, and among the ranks of Boko Haram.

I'm not practicing my Arabic, though, because they've been gambling this entire time and coming up lucky. Yet, if they get connected to damaging a particularly valued shrine, like, say, the Al Aqsa Mosque, the Vatican, or the Maha Bodhi I think the problem will be resolved very quickly. An incident like that is just a matter of time if they are trying for world domination.

One crucial difference while evaluating Putin versus ISIS as problems is that only one of the two could abruptly disappear due to cancer, a bullet or something.

Of course Russia will still exist sans Putin, I sometimes think the devil you know is the worst way to look at things.

As to ISIS, it is far less permanent than Russia. Remember the United Arab Republic? But sometimes temporary things go on to be permanent, and I would far rather be governed by Putin that a bunch of Salafist fanatics.

Russian resolve is much greater and the Islamic State is much more fragile than you think.

"Islam will eventually defeat the West"

If you mean militarily, there is no possible way Islam can defeat the West.

ISIS is a gnat. The crazy, uneducated peasants of ISIS can beat unmotivated Iraqi Army units "led" by corrupt political appointees but even the lightly armed Kurds, with minimal air support, beat them with ease. Against well trained US troops, they stand zero chance.

Terrorist attacks in the US are of little strategic benefit and do not hurt us in any meaningful way.

Not to mention the US and France have nukes and neither would be shy in extremity to use them.

What does any of this have to do with THE RELIGION OF PEACE? ISIS isn't Islamic and Islam isn't putting on any crusades like Christians. The President, an admitted Christian, has told truth to power on this matter already.

I also laughed.

Putting aside the West keeps losing wars against Muslims, it really doesn't matter who has a better "military."

Unless there's a significant change of course, Islam will take over Europe easily by mid to late 22nd Century. Given immigration levels, a higher fertility rate, and substantial conversions, I'm being conservative.

What will be left of Western Civilization? Iceland? An America that celebrates European-American history month?

The west doesn't lose any war to Muslims - at least not since Attaturk kicked out the occupying allies in 1922. The US folded up Saddam's regime like a cheap suit in just a few weeks in 2003. But the West (especially the US) doesn't do occupation well, and local Arabs don't care much for western occupation either. But it's not like Iraqi guerillas sent the US running. The US, under Bush, negotiated a three year departure schedule with the elected Iraqi government and then left on that timeline.
In a more classic war sense, like Napoleon, if we had just marched in, deposed Saddam, signed a treaty with a military leader a few rungs down, and marched out, it would have been a lot better and cleaner.

What view do you hold strongly enough to bet real money on ?

No I am not R H.

ISIL and Putin are only problems if the West continues to stagnate economically and culturally.

Statism, insolvency and the preeminence of ridiculous fringe social issues in our political discourse are the only true threats.

Maybe we should just let future Asia deal with the children of Putin and ISIL.

What means Statism?

In context, I'd assume he means an ever growing regulatory state.

Oh so you don't think current Asia can deal with Putin? Your micro-aggressions will not stand! I am going to tell the provost on you!

'We are reluctant to recycle old posts' - but more than willing to keep flogging old arguments corncerning health care.

'The latter is a bigger danger than the former. ' - assuming, of course, that ISIS doesn't keep expanding into further oil exporting regions. Putin has been a quite reliable supplier to this point, if only because his regime collapses without oil/gas income.

Did you really just criticize someone for flogging old arguments? Did that actually happen?

Excellent irony detector!

I can detect sarcasm, too...

slow clap.

With fracking and horizontal drilling the world has other ways to get oil. Don't forget electric cars replacing the internal combustion engine.

A Straussian reading of this blog post:

Krugman is not the agenda-setter he thinks he is.

How about:
10. Germany and other euro user countries don't want to give Greece free money, and consequently "slow deficit-reduction" paths are not a realistic proposal that indicates good faith on the proposer's part.
Unfortunately, it may be that insufficient econ bloggers hold this view to make it conventional, which illustrates how delusional their perspective is ("Greece needs all the money, Germany is evil father figure to be bashed with sticks").

If those who agree with everything Rush Limbaugh says are called Dittoheads, what do we call those who agree with everything Cowen says? Cowheads. If "we are still in the great stagnation" but "it is not "demand-based" and if monetary policy "just doesn't matter that much", then let's go to lunch.

It's part of the narrative Cowen has been holding to for a while now. I don't know if he's right or wrong-it can be quite nuanced-but I wouldn't expect him to declare recovery anytime soon.

Tyler seems quite keen on the whole getting lunch idea, I oftensuspect he would rather just have a dining blog with econ content than what he has now, of course switching from the Marginal Revolution to "The Eating in NoVa and tips for where Tyler is going this month" blog would dramatically reduce traffic, and the quality of tips.

You just have to face it, Econoblogging and constant references to Strausian readings are just a loss leader around here.

What the Greek electorate presumably wants is all of

(1) An end to "austerity"
(2) A continuation of such customs as widespread tax evasion, universal corruption, extravagant retirement terms, and so on
(3) Continuing membership of the Euro.

It won't get all three (will it?).

When I think "unconventional views," MR doesn't jump to the top of the list. You don't write a column for NYT if you have unconventional views. Robot insects is pretty much right in the CW sweetspot.

I'd like to see Robin Hanson get an NYT column

"Obamacare hasn’t made us healthier (yet?), but it has served as an inefficient form of wealth insurance for some lower-income groups."

And also the reverse, as young people are now required by law to buy actuarially overpriced medical insurance in order to subsidize the insurance of oldsters (the very last thing this country needed was another form of state-mandated wealth transfer from young to old).

You were lucky to get the 3:1 premium ratio. It could have been much worse.

Probably the best defense of the ACA I've read.

They were discussing 6:1, which would have been much fairer.

In effect we are averaging out the premium over the course of an entire lifetime (well, between 27 and 65) so in reality it's entirely fair since (almost) every young person will eventually be a not-young person.



You counting on your 3:1 ACA subsidy in 40 years?

Your kids will be paying it. And I'm paying it now.

By then I will be on Medicare.





I know, and I agree with you. I am trolling the people who don't understand why spreading out these costs over the working lifetime makes sense.

Spread out expenses? Thank you for teaching me what to do with my retirement account! But you're missing the point, smart people expect to be ripped off by the government. You could bet on generous price ceilings for the elderly in 40 years, but then you wouldn't be smart. In other news after increasing by more than 600% since it's inception, social security isn't inspiring confidence for people looking 40 years out.

BTW Jan you owe Milton Friedman a HT for permanent income hypothesis.

600% increase in tax rate.

It should be 1:1 the same as all other goods and services. If someone proposed pricing gasoline or software by the age of the customer we'd regard it as bizarre if not an outrage. One price to all customers for any given product is necessary for markets to function efficiently.

What do you think about auto insurance, life insurance, affirmative action, race and gender-specific scholarships, ladies' nights at the bar, minimum ages for receiving Social Security, and Constitutionally minimal ages for running for national political office?

Hahaha. Why can't everything be 1:1? I have a job, the President has a job, a job is a job, give me 400k annual and a red button.

Personally, I'm going to make my kids work if they want to eat. 1:1, party of science, etc, etc.

If you think health care is a regular market good and that its risk can be handled like insurance for anything else you're wrong. Amazing how something so simple and obvious can elude so many people.

Jan, not clear who you were replying to. If it was me, you're putting words in my mouth. I was only trying to point out the absurdity of JonFraz's 1:1 idea.

It's not simple or obvious except to those people who accept it on faith. Further, Jon is just mixing the waters when he pretends that health insurance is fungible, like some commodity; 1:1 is exceptionally illogical and highlights Jon's horrendous reason, horrendous command of facts, or willful dishonesty.

One uniform price for a product is not "absurd". It's how almost all other goods and services are priced.
If you are going to say "But healthcare is different" then you are making a case for market failure.

Of course what I really suspect is that this is no more than a lot of special pleading by a certain species of rara avis: well-to-do young people who are not employed with benefits. If gasoline had been priced as absurdly as healthcare and then we normalized it, you can bet that the people who ended up paying more would be whining just as pitifully as we see here. That's human nature, and I don't regard it as particularly wicked. It is however still dead wrong.

Except that those young people are also being heavily subsidized to buy those policies, ultimately by taxes on high income earners. (who, with rare exceptions, are middle aged to elderly).

Everyone is being subsidized! Everyone gets it for less! Magic thinking.

My predictions:

1. Scott Walker, and this should have been evident a month ago. Bush thinks speaking Spanish can help him later, but the base will rationalize that the general election will be about Dubya's record against Bill Clinton's, and Bill is the most popular politician in the US. (This was much the same reason many of them decided upon Romney.) So who's the best to eat Hillary? The base is purist and religiously believes in Reaganomics, so it will be Walker. And whether Walker or Bush? Hillary wins the general by an historic landslide, which should have been predictable years ago. She gets all the Dems, and all the GOP women who aren't fervently anti-abortion. (One of her problems now is p.r. management of inevitability, so she should make fun of it. She's already taking care of the age issue by running as America's grandma, so this is going to be lots of fun.)

2b. Obamacare has already made us a little bit healthier by spurring doctors and hospitals to streamline patient records' transmission to each other, a process that had already been in slower progress. The medical sector is booming, so I'm not sure about your net disemployment effects.

3. SCOTUS will not overturn the Chevron deference; there are too many settled suits, and each piece of new further legislation would require an infinity of verbiage, a logarithmic network-effect of additional confusion for everybody. The only reason SCOTUS took the case was to help the GOP moderates stop the takeover of their party by completely insanity.

8. The Euro will hold together through all problems, no matter what, and this should have been evident on the day it was formed. Any exit by anyone would be a psychological failure for all, and a self-admission by the center that they don't understand their own system. Love is hard.

9. A. Oh for Christ's sake Tyler! I love you, but this is silly. Everybody knows what to do about ISIS. The US public is already 60% on board. The question appears to be whether the West can rope the surrounding "moderate" states into significant participation in the military action, for various reasons which become evident upon a moment's reflection, and Obama is very very wise to try to do this. It's really their goddamn problem after all, we got rid of Saddam for them, but this is peanuts in comparison, and they're still free-riding on US power.

B. Putin was dealt a bad hand from the beginning because his southern border is more or less entirely unstable. 70% Russian population in Crimea? Every other leader in the world is looking at this, secretly saying to themselves, "I would have done exactly the same thing." The US would have done exactly the same, you had better believe it. But of course the leaders can't say it to their electorates. You can even surmise that Putin didn't want to do it: observation of his strategy all along shows he prioritizes trade deals and loan deals with the rest of the world. He knew those had to vanish. Conclusion? Putin is not a big danger; far from it. Yes war is horrible, but they will draw a line and break it up, as soon as other world leaders can sell it to their fearful and infantile electorates. Including in the US.

1. Remember that SNL skit about how ridiculous it was to even think anybody could beat Bush senior?

Well a day is a week in politics, and a week is an eternity. (Mark Shields) Meaning, anything could happen. But who's your strong upstart, and what is he or she got going on?

She gets all the Dems, and all the GOP women who aren’t fervently anti-abortion.


Oh, there'll be a few others who don't, for sure. But most people particularly women do not run their lives ideologically, and will be thinking of their own daughters.

They'll vote for her just because she's a woman? No.

Not just because she's a woman, no.

Strong centrist credentials, strong policy involvement in a previous administration (an administration which is now admired, in retrospect, on both sides of the aisle), strong personal foreign policy experience, strong intellectual ability. Even her Republican male Senatorial colleagues like her. She's easily the best person positioned for the job, of either sex. In other words, she's not only the first woman running for the top job, she is the best qualified of any present candidate.

And I'd say the same thing if Hillary were Republican. I'm not a partisan when discussing the political horse races. And afterward, I find stuff to like in all the Presidents. They've got an impossible job, and they deserve much more joining of hands than they get.

But what's special about Republican women? Are they uniquely "non-ideological" compared to their menfolk? Why the point about Clinton and "their daughters." Again, not sure I understand?

Now, I don't understand. You don't think that mothers would hope that the example of a female President would be instructive for their young daughters to work hard, get ahead, and don't let anybody tell you that you can't do it, too? It's psychological gold!

You don’t think that mothers would hope that the example of a female President would be instructive for their young daughters to work hard, get ahead, and don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it, too? It’s psychological gold!

Sounds pretty ideological to me. The ones who think like that are called democrats, and a few swing voters.

I didn't realize that that is ideological. So, Republican parents, when faced with a little girl crying that the boys say she isn't good enough to do something, say what to the little girl, exactly?

Sarah Palin?* Margaret Thatcher? If they thought like liberal feminists, they'd be liberal feminists, so they wouldn't respond by telling their daughters to vote for a politician because she's a woman.

*I know she's stupid

"One day, you can marry a future president, ignore forgive his infidelities, and then you could be president too!"

Neither one of those was President of the US, which holds a current-time symbolical meaning for kids. And we're not talking about telling kids whom to vote for, we're telling them what they could be, if they do well in school.

Hillary's marriage is not an issue for kids. Now you are just getting shabby. And Hillary kept it together -- a crowning Republican virtue, I would think.

Hillary is also a rape denialist, Patriarchy denier, and discriminatory employer against women, and this is just in her personal life.

I'm sure everyone will rally against her, particularly for being a Patriarchy denier, whatever the heck that is.

It's the one where you deny a coercive power structure between the President and an intern. It's that one.

Well you can try to relitigate all of this, but I'm not sure how far most people will want to follow you back into private marital affairs. Hillary was in fact the aggrieved party, and I doubt whether Monica Lewinsky wants to be dragged back into the public spotlight. So give it a shot, though people will also be avoiding you at parties. There's also the logical problem of claiming that a female President is a triumph of the patriarchy.

Have you not been paying attention? Private matters are all the rage. Hillary's martyrd too many rape victims in her pursuit of power. Should be a real fun campaign season. Can't wait for the ads.

Also the tried and true: people won't like you if you say mean things, like: Bill Clinton is a rapist by all standards pushed by the left today, making Hillary a particularly brutal Machiavellian.

Lee A Arnold, we'll see with the exit polls.

I think you are seriously overestimating most peoples' appetite for rehashing this, except for those who are already obsessed by it.

My pays here are just a reflection of what I've read in the past few days. For instance, I didn't know Hillary spoke to the dead or hated rape survivors so much until today. I guess this will be coming up now and more often. Cool.

I want my state to look like Libya. For the girls.

Good luck with using this nonsense!

Hillary is politically indistinguishable from Nixon.
She loves war, hates civil liberties, and is as cynical as any human ever.
I find the fact that some people like her very depressing, because she would be a 3rd world strongwoman dictator, if only US institutions would let her.

I'm surprised you didn't include the obvious fascist significance of the fact that Lady Gaga just sang "Climb Every Mountain".

Thought Nixon got us OUT of Vietnam.

Nixon won twice. sounds like the American electorate will approve.

Poor Appalachian wrote men have power over Hillary!, but the actual Patriarch of the United States had none over an intern. At least Mitt's binders weren't filled with alleged rape victims.

NOW you're taking the high road!

Gotta put on kids gloves for ol' Hills?

Gotta come up with something substantive.

Keeping up your marriage with a sexual predator to protect your own legacy seems substantive to me.

It is an unprovable supposition about her personal motives, intended as a smear. The opposite of the dictionary definition of "substantive".

And unfortunately for Tyler Cowen, the sort of stuff that pops up around here, all the time.

Do try to keep up. I'm sure TC isn't pleased to have you here selling the First Rapist and Rape Apologizer-In-Chief, but he'll deal.

This is Aqua Buddha stuff.

Isn't our good deed of ridding the world of Saddam a massive party of the problem?

If I get your boss fired, then a new one comes in and is just as much of a jerk but also a worse executive, should I expect your gratitude for "fixing" things?

Saddams' removal is the proximate cause of the problem, not the underlying cause.

And the 60% of Iraqis (now 70%?) who are Shi'ite are happy that we fired that boss, so a big resounding "NO" on that one.

I like it - we do favors for some Shiites here at the expense of Sunnis, elsewhere we support the Sunnis against the Shiites, and generally leave things less stable and more blown up. Awesome.

"Less stable" is probably not an accurate description.

Walker is an amateur despite his years in politics. His debut on the stage has been less than inspiring, getting caught in the Obama as Christian trap was ludicrous.

He thinks pandering on immigration is his ticket to the nomination but he lies about his former position and since he has abandoned his former principles, he will drift. Romney and McCain could abandon everything they believed in but only because the opposition was so weak.

Walker has already peaked.

Walker's first presidential campaign video is masterly, not amateurish:

No partisans, neither on the right nor the left, ever care that their own guy is a liar, and partisans dominate the primaries.

Poll in Iowa, today: Walker 25%, Paul 13, Carson 11, Huckabee 11, Bush 10. (I won't adduce this evidence as indicative; it's way too early.)

Walker, I assume, does not produce his own videos. His personal performance is amateur.

His lies will matter to people for whom Walker is not "their own guy". 75% of the electorate in Iowa.

Nobody produces their own videos! That WOULD be amateur! Walker is not a commanding stage presence, I'll give you that.

Whom do you think will get the nomination, then?

Jeb. Other than the immigration hard liners, he appeals to every significant faction of the party, especially the base of evangelicals.

Time will tell of course.

Wow. What crap. No solution, platitudes - waiving flags....pathetic.

You're wrong. Walker has a good feel for people, like Clinton or Reagan. He is formidable.

Re: The base is purist and religiously believes in Reaganomics

Not really. Most of the Republican case is economically illiterate (most of the country is of course) and does not know Reaganomics from dianetrics. Now if you are talking the donor base, that's a different story since they understand Reaganomics as "tax cuts for me", which is pretty much all that's left of GOP economic policy these days.

When you're done regulating the economy perhaps you could move on to other organic systems? Regulating the internal structure of trees perhaps?

If you think the economy is an "organic system", then I've got a spontaneous organization to sell you!

"When we put out a fire, we don't ask, 'but what will we replace it with'"

What does this mean?

Thomas Sowell, “No matter how disastrously some policy has turned out, anyone who criticizes it can expect to hear: ‘But what would you replace it with?’ When you put out a fire, what do you replace it with".

Nonsense, people organization improve their businesses and policies all the time.

Nonsense, organizations can improve their products and policies all the time. I had no idea that Thomas Sowell made such a ridiculous assertion.

Sorry, I just awoke to this.

JonFraz: "Most of the Republican case is economically illiterate"

As is most of the Democratic base! But "Reaganomics" also contains the emotional disposition that government spending is always bad (unless it's on what I like), that it necessarily makes people weak, and that it also must ruin economic growth. It's all nonsense, but the Tea Party has swallowed it hook, line, and sinker. And Walker is good at hawking the elixir.

As opposed to built in bromides about fake public goods, it takes a village, and government spending creates wealth? Can't we just multiplier ourselves to utopia?

The question above was why Walker may get the nomination, not about the general election. But since the Democrats do not appear to believe that all public spending is good, yet Republicans appear to believe that it is uniformly bad, I think you've an "asymmetrical information" problem too.

I'm not sure what kind of spending is bad if digging holes and refilling them, carpet bombing a continent, and preparing for imaginary space invaders are good uses of resources according to your public intellectuals.

Doubtless a good battle-cry into the next election. I say, "Run with it!"

9) Putin could be a bigger threat if we allow this to escalate militarily. Slowly tightening the sanction screws is probably the best we can do right now. We should admit to ourselves we don't care about Ukraine that much and focus on protecting the Baltic states.

No one is gonna vote for Scott Walker. He is a mostly media concoction at this point. He might do well in Iowa, but he has to win it. No one knows who he is outside of Wisconsin and the Beltway. If there is going to be a real challenger to Bush (in the primaries) it will come from someone who is not yet in the top 3 or 4 of most of these forecasts.

No one is gonna vote for Scott Walker.

And we have that on your authority. Several hundred thousand people have been voting for him in Wisconsin. He's currently leading the pack in surveys of Iowa. The most recent national survey offered by Real Clear Politics has the preference order as follows: Huckabee, 17%; Jeb Bush, 12%; Rand Paul, 11%; Scott Walker, 11%.

Do you not remember the Wisconsin public union protests back in 2011? It was a huge national story. Walker gained both infamy and praise across the country.

You do remember he's been elected twice and overcome a recall attempt by a landslide in a state that traditionally isn't very R-friendly?

No mention of Iranian nukes or FCC internet regulation.

So either TC's views on the topics are unconventional, or else he doesn't bother thinking about them ...

No one knows what to do about ISIS or Putin.

OTOH everyone knows who bears responsibility for their emergence .....

I honestly don't know which of the two demons you are referring to

Think for a minute.

Could this guy be any more normcore?

I know what to do about Putin, stop the aggression against his country.

I know what to do about ISIS too, tell our citizens not to enter war zones and let the various tribes kill each other in peace.

What's your tribe?

White American. What's yours?

Atheist statist.

Is Obama an Atheist and a liar or Christian and stupid? The Atheist Statist tribe must have a well-evolved capability for cognitive dissonance.

That's pretty funny Jan.

Oh, Tommy, you know he is C) Muslim and liar. Duh.

His tribe is alt-right. He despises blacks and Jews and wants to have V. Putin's baby.

I don't despise Jews, I'm just not a fan of non-White immigration and neocon wars. Art Deco is a neocon, who talks about 'antisemitism' the way democrats talk about 'racism.'

For the record, 'Art Deco' is a right communitarian without much time for sects and 'neocon' is a nonsense term (except for those obsessed with Jew wire-pullers).

Norman Podhoretz disagrees.

Norman Podhoretz disagrees.

He wrote these words in 1996:

"But let me first explain why I believe that neoconservatism is dead—by which, reverting from metaphor to straightforward denotation, I mean quite simply that it no longer exists as a distinctive phenomenon requiring a special name of its own. "

The term was invented by Peter Steinfels in 1979 to describe a collection of academics, opinion journalists, and once-and-future officials disaffected from main currents within the Democratic Party. It ceased be of use when people in this circle went their separate ways after 1991 and when the topical questions which most concerned them were no longer so salient; most of these people were incorporated without incident into the Republican Party, some returned to the Democratic Party. William Kristol has the stated viewpoints of a common-and-garden Republican. But, for people who hold to fanciful alternative histories in which Jewish wire-pullers somehow displaced some sort of 'authentic' conservatism, the term remains of use.

aren't you married to one clover

Eliminate the word, eliminate the distinction between them and conservatives who oppose their favored policies. Then claim that mass immigration and "world revolution" are "conservative." That's what they're hoping, though they haven't been very successful, Wikipedia, that notorious hive of neo-nazism, still calls Kristol, Podhoretz, ect, "neoconservatives" and liberals and liberal Jews still use the word frequently.

@HL, yes.

"I know what to do about Hitler, stop the aggression by the Czecks and Poles against his country."

I don't much like that comparison.

Yes we should go to war with Russia to deter further aggression. Putin is a madman who will stop at nothing to conquer all of Europe.

There is no aggression against his country.

Interfering in his sphere of influence. We used to respect the Bear. It seems no longer, and we will pay for that.


How did we interfere? Plans to induct Ukraine into NATO.

Or do you mean how will we pay? We are paying right now. The whole world is watching Putin stomp on international norms.

Art Deco: "How?"

By pulling in Estonia (or, less likely, Latvia and/or Lithuania) the same crap he's pulling in Ukraine. And, in so doing, daring us to either invoke NATO Article V or render it--and, by extension, the alliance itself--meaningless by not doing so.

By pulling in Estonia (or, less likely, Latvia and/or Lithuania) the same crap

Estonia's a NATO member. What 'crap'?

Art Deco: "Estonia’s a NATO member."

Precisely. Consequently, any military or paramilitary intervention in Estonia on Russia's part would have far, far greater geopolitical implications than its current involvement in Ukraine or its annexation of Crimea.

"What ‘crap’?"

Conquering and annexing a portion of a neighboring former Soviet country, ostensibly in the name of ethnic Russian solidarity, followed by support for, if not covert direction of, a paramilitary "independence movement" in another part of said country for the purposes of destabilizing the sitting government whose political proclivities are not aligned with those of Russia and, more importantly, taking measure of the Western powers backing that government, specifically how far they're willing to go diplomatically, economically, and militarily to defend that government.

I'm giving you the benefit of the doubt here and assuming 1) you're not being deliberately obtuse, 2) you're not so naive as to think Putin's regime in Russia has no involvement in the events currently unfolding in eastern Ukraine, 3) you're not so foolish as to believe that NATO membership is some sort of unstoppable force that a priori precludes Russia from conducting insurgency operations in Estonia or even outright invading it, and 4) you know what NATO Article V is and you understand its geopolitical significance.

I think it's entirely plausible for Putin to calculate that there is little to no political will in the U.S. or in the key Western European states--France, Germany, and the UK--to go to war to defend the sovereignty of small former Soviet states in Eastern Europe and that, therefore, NATO Article V is so much hot air. Consequently, if he seeks to retaliate against the U.S. and its allies over the affair in Ukraine (and the sanctions against Russia that have followed), he could see destabilizing or invading Estonia (and potentially Latvia and Lithuania) as a tantalizing way to do that. Provided his calculation is correct, it would also provide the added benefit of upending the political-military order in Europe, offering Russia a window to once again extend its influence into parts of Europe. Even if his calculation proves to be incorrect, he'd still be be forcing the U.S. and the other Western powers into a very dangerous stand-off, and all the heartburn-inducing decisions that come with it, that they quite obviously do not want.

Has anybody ever modeled the US Party system as a three party one, dems, repubs, and libertarians since either HW Bush or Clinton. I'm pretty sure you'd get a best fitted lines.

My boring predictions.

It will be hot this summer with scattered thundershowers.

Fox TV will continue to disinform the public.

Rush Limbaugh will not win the Edward R. Murrow award.

Talk of gold and bitcoins will cause Libertarians to lose money.

The threat of inflation predicted by loose monetary policies three years will come true sometime within the next 40 years.

Someone will come up with a definition of mood affiliation and it will be placed in the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory as an incurable disease of bloggers and commenters who do not have better things to do with their time.

Another prediction;
Liberals will continue to think the world revolves around Fox and Limbaugh. It really is quite an obsession, but I guess it's nice to have totems to focus all of your rage against.

And, your support for the view that conservatives do not revolve around Fox and Limbaugh? I can get the data to challenge you if you want to take the challenge, but you go first for the support of your view.

Well, being that more people will continue to vote on American Idol than listen to Rush or watch Fox News you would have a hard time finding any evidence that conservatives revolve around anything but the Sun.

You assume in the belief that there are not people who deny the earth revolves around the sun.

Challenge still open. Hint: Go to Pew Research.

When Jon Stewart leaves, who will tell Progressives under 30 what to think?

My boring predictions are:

Some people will continue to make large, sweeping, generalizations to insult ideologies they disagree with.

Those same people will claim that the data is on their side, which justifies sweeping generalizations.

Independent thinkers will have to continue rolling their eyes as they are inevitably placed into an over generalized camp by "some people, and those same people".

My eyes are rolling right now.

And the Koch Brothers. What Alinsky set, "Pick the target, personalize it, polarize it".

No one knows what to do about ISIS or Putin. The latter is a bigger danger than the former.

Iranian nukes are a bigger danger than both. Hard to imagine how anyone could think otherwise.

ISIS is far more dangerous at the present. Iran knows that if anyone uses nukes, anywhere, they will be blamed, and the entire country of Iran will be vaporized. They are automatically on the hook for Nonmutual Assured Destruction.

ISIS is going to kill a lot of people in the meantime. They increase the future threat of an enormous, widespread non-nuke groundwar against Israel. There is presently no dealing with the ISIS regime in the hopes that any moderates inside of it exist, or will counsel reason to the others.

ISIS is going to kill a lot of other Arabs in the meantime.

"enormous, widespread non-nuke groundwar against Israel"

More dead Arabs. Even without direct US forces helping, it would be like the Iraq War in reverse. The IDF is not the current Iraq "Army".

ISIS is a danger only to other residents of Iraq and Syria and those westerners stupid enough to become targets.

ISIS is sending out a much clearer call to disaffected youth to commit terrorist acts inside Western countries, than Al Qaeda did.

US army blogs say that the IDF didn't even take out all the Hezbollah rocket positions during their last exit from Lebanon. No doubt the Israelis now welcome the buildup of a solid wall of antagonists around them until the war begins, when they can demonstrate their prowess at mowing down a huge wave of human beings coming in like the mob in "World War Z", but under trained combat leaders who had beaten the Peshmerga to a standstill yet, curiously, will have forgotten to arm themselves against the Israelis. Somehow I think you haven't been listening to public statements by Israeli military and security officials.

If an ISIS "army" marched towards Israel the Israeli Air Force would blast them away before they ever got close.

And this is a reason not to stop ISIS now?

"ISIS is sending out a much clearer call..."

This would not be nearly as big of an issue if there was actually an immigration policy in the national interest.

I imagine that it would have little bearing on it one way or the other.

It's easier to keep "disaffected youth" out than to deal with homegrown "disaffected youth" in your own country.

If Israel wants to "stop" ISIS, it can go right ahead. But it's not our fight.

Limited punitive expeditions by Israel into Lebanon or Gaza are not an “enormous, widespread non-nuke groundwar". The need to limit bad PR is a major hindrance to the IDF's performance.

In a “enormous, widespread non-nuke groundwar", the IDF will take the gloves off.

ISIS has not "beaten the Peshmerga to a standstill". They had some initial successes based on the element of surprise but once the Kurds stopped taking them lightly and got some very limited air support, its been victory after victory.

The Peshmerga, in any event, are lightly armed irregulars, not a combined arms modern Western army like the IDF.

You would characterize the South Lebanon Conflict and the July War, Israel's last two big operations in Lebanon, as "limited expeditions"? I think your strategic view of the region would be rejected by Israel's military and intelligence authorities. They probably think it's a good idea to avoid creating the need for this sort of thing, as would anybody who studies strategy and tactics.

Israel's military and intelligence leaders also clearly believe that Iran isn't the existential threat portrayed by their civilian leadership.

Do you think Mosul should be written off?

"You would characterize the South Lebanon Conflict and the July War, Israel’s last two big operations in Lebanon, as “limited expeditions”

Pretty much. They were fairly large scale but were limited in objectives and duration. Classic punitive expeditions.

I am sure Israel would like to avoid a large scale war but ISIS and its allies will never have the resources to pose a real threat to Israel.

Write off Mosul? Why not? Its not a US or Kurd problem.
A direct assault is going to be messy and costly . Let the Iraqi "Army" and the Sunni tribal irregulars die if they want.

You're not credible. The South Lebanese Conflict lasted 15 years and Israel had to go back in only 6 years later. Mosul is 20 miles or less from Kurdish territory and ISIS basing and resupply from there presents one of the largest threats to the Kurds.

ISIS would have to go through the rest of Syria and Lebanon before it gets to Israel. It won't.

Not in the present campaign, certainly, and I should have specified that, because I didn't mean it. But in the future, I am not sure how you can count upon Sunni groups continuing to stay under the thumbs of rulers in Syria, Jordan, Saudi, etc. I think those states will be subject to internal threat, and particularly if ISIS presents a source of weapons supply.

Iran, by contrast, is Shi'ite, their only religious ally is the government of Iraq, and further territorial expansion seems unlikely to me, because everything else is Sunni. The biggest danger I see is pushing Iran further into the China-Pakistan orbit, because the Shi'ites together are sitting on 2/3rds or so of the world's oil. Fighting ISIS to protect Baghdad in fact is a good way for the US to rack up some diplomatic reach into Iran here, and defuse some of the antagonism caused by the US support of the Shah.

I don't think America has anything to gain from intervening in those tribal wars. Bombing Iraq's Sunni population and trying to restore Shia rule over them will make the "youth's" more likely to commit terrorist attacks and the Shia will still see us as 'crusaders' who are only helping them for self interested reasons.

What? The Kurds can be a strong US ally, and the US certainly should be involved with protecting them. ISIS currently possesses Mosul. They also want Baghdad. Where do you think this line is to be drawn, and by whom?

And as a side issue, do you think that the Shia, or anybody else, thinks countries help one another for anything other than self-interested reasons?

Let them draw their own lines.

Well the Pershmerga lost a few battles. Would you let ISIS destroy the Kurds?

Iran is two weeks away from getting a nuclear weapon...and always will be. The Iranian state is not so foolish as to destroy itself with a nuclear weapon. It had plenty of opportunities to destroy itself in the past three decades.

#1 - cognitive and cultural elites are withdrawing from the Republican Party.

#4 - What does this mean? Surely if the Fed hiked rates by 500 basis points tomorrow, that would "matter," would it not? Or if, come September, the Fed were to announce unlimited QE4 instead of an interest rate hike, do you think that markets would fail to respond?

I mean, it's true that the Fed is making it's timing more clear and that markets don't seem to be freaking out about it, but isn't that just the Fed doing its job?

To me, this is almost as weird a sentence as "at least the stasi was regulated"

My prediction for 2016:

The republican primary will be exceptionally nasty, with "dirty tricks" by the Bush campaign against insurgent social conservatives. Rand Paul will run on a 'moderate' anti-war platform but will still be shunned by social conservatives and neocons and will not get the same amount of support from independents and pro-White conservatives his father got. He will finish with less votes than his father did. Bush will dominate in money and media, the leftist media will relentlessly attack his rivals. After the end of the long campaign, Bush will be the narrow victor. Hillary will face some challengers, among whom will be an economically populist candidate and possibly an anti-Zionist candidate, but will win easily. In the general election, Clinton will crush Bush due to conservative's disgust with him and swing voter's disgust with the prospect of another stupid war, and Clinton's support from the growing number of minorities.

The "Is a person a likable Candidate" Theory?

Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, and Hillary all do not have sufficient charisma to get elected president. Jeb and Hillary are in the running only because of their name. They could never have gotten to where they are based only on their own ability in contrast to Obama, Bill Clinton, Reagan etc. Scott Walker at least got to Governor by himself, but won't get to President. Someone else will materialize with the required appeal to get the plurality of votes, and both Jeb and Hillary will go down in flames.

I this is closer to the truth than the other predictions. Democrats desperately want someone other than Hillary.

There are many terms you might apply to Obama. "Ability" is not one.

And Richard Nixon was charismatic?

In the general election, Clinton will crush Bush

That's your 'prediction'?

1. # x an incumbent party has won a 3d, 4th, 5th, or 6th presidential term (18 in 30 attempts)
2. # since the advent of popular balloting (13 in 24 attempts).
3. # since in the last 60-odd years (1 in 7 attempts)
4. # after failing to carry a majority in the House of Representatives 2 years earlier (4 in 30 attempts).
5. # without an incumbent president on the ballot (10 in 16 attempts)
6. # with neither an incumbent president on the ballot nor a standing majority in the House (1)
7. # winning with a plurality exceeding 7% of the ballots (7 of 24 attempts)
8. # of those not incumbent winning with that plurality (3 of 16 attempts).
9. # doing so with a plurality exceeding 7% of the ballots (1)

I get it. Hildebeast's campaign manager will be the ghost of Lee Atwater.

She communes with the ghost of Eleanor Roosevelt, so don't count anyone out yet.

It's not so improbable. Bush slobbers all over immigrants and otherwise fails to motivate white conservative voters so they stay home, like they did with McCain and Romney in 2008 and 2012. Ethnic minorities, single women and liberal-to-moderate whites turn out for Hillary, like they did for Obama in 2008 and 2012. For that matter, Hillary could even out-flank Bush to the right by calling for immigration restrictions to curry favor with white working-class voters.

Republicans have made it pretty clear that they don't intend to do anything that really motivates their conservative white base, so they are probably done as a national party.

It’s not so improbable.

I cannot see you're modeling this in any way (and, of course, people who apply econometric methods to the behavior of electorates are often embarrassed). If it's not 'so improbable', why are examples of anything resembling it so atypical? I keep seeing categorical declarations (a really stupid thing to do regarding this sort of thing unless you like losing bet money) from alt-right denizens and partisan Democrats to this effect, and there doesn't seem to be anything behind it other than wish-fulfillment (in the latter case) and the conviction that people who ignore us just must come a-cropper (in the former case). The alt-right will persuade me they understand electioneering well when their congressional caucus has someone other than Ron Paul and a couple of acolytes in it.

There are models, and then there's the real world with real personalities in it. There have been unprecedented demographic and cultural changes in the US since FDR's funeral. Do your precious models account for all of them?

"so they are probably done as a national party"

Except for their control of both houses of Congress and 30 states.

The GOP dominated the presidency from 1968 to 1992 but were shut out of the House and largely the Senate, often by huge margins. Losing presidential elections but winning congressional ones still makes you a national party.

Um, it's a myth that there were large numbers of GOP voters staying home in 2008 or 2012. In both elections the very prospect (in 2008) and then the reality (in 2012) of Barack Obama was sufficient to motivate them to vote. The problem is that the sort of knee-jerk GOP voter who can be counted on is slowly dying out. That does NOT make Democrats shoe-ins since Democratic voters do have a tendency to stay home (see: elections of 2010 and 2014), but it should be a wake-up call for the GOP that relying on stale, badly outdated policies for yesterday's problems with no concern for today's is a slow path to minority status.

If I want policy-makers who'll plunge us into foreign wars for democracy, open the borders, intervene in the economy, and expand entitlements, then I'll go for the real deal and vote Democrat.

the right should thank god mccain lost, what an insane nightmare that would have been

I like it. First you claim Republicans are knee-jerk racists, then you claim that Democrat voters 'have a tendency to stay home'. Tell us more about these 'stay at home' Democrat voters.

The decline in the number of White voters far exceeded any expected "natural" decline in White republican voters.

Clover, it's interesting you jump to a reply about "white" voters when I did not mention race. I mentioned GOP base voters. To reiterate: those people showed up in 2008 and 2010. The votes the GOP lost, when not due to natural attrition, were centrist voters turned off by Republican extremism (and by no means just on social issues) and the lack of answers to present day problems-- or even a willingness to admit those problems exist.

As The Anti-Gnostic said, there have been unprecedented cultural and demographic changes since FDR's funeral. It would have been unthinkable for a 1952 candidate to loose with 59% of the White vote as Romney did. Ask yourself, what advantages will Bush have over Romney? I can't think of any. Disadvantages? The base despises him, brother of the most unpopular president in recent history, and even more minorities in the electorate this time around.

#7: Tyler Cowen is both a genius and an idiot.

Looking back at that 2009 post, it only had 50 comments while today a picayune take on the events of the day garners 100 comments almost immediately. Have we reached peak comments?

Well 80% of commenters these days are trolls or character accounts, so the absolute number hasn't really gone up that much.

I don't think Putin being more dangerous than ISIS is very conventional at all. While we don't know what to do with Putin, he can not last forever and his blundering in Ukraine Mission Creep is hurting the Russia economy a lot. Right now Putin is riding high similar to Bush 2003 approval ratings, but if their economy and Mission Creep could last 4 years which could melt his popularity like Bush 2006 - 08. While ISIS is still relatively small, we have witnesssed that there is no shortage of potential 'entrants' with terrorist organizations.

In terms of long term Great Stagnation causes, how much is the slowdown because of the developed world continued baby bust? It seems to me that lack of population growth is the one variable that long term effect will effect the AS and AD curves.

Is it seriously contended that if we don't recapture Eastern Ukraine and the Crimea for the government in Kiev, that Putin will take over Ukraine, the Baltics, Georgia, Armenia, sweep into Europe, Finland, and then cross the Atlantic threatening the US fatherland itself? If not, then we need to stop picking this fight (Lord knows Kiev is incapable of fighting it) and push Putin to do the honorable thing and line a few key Ukrainian pockets in exchange for the territory Russia has acquired.

Salafists, on the other hand, don't look like they're going anywhere until we do to them what we did to the Nazis. They are especially dangerous in light of Western immigration policy.

Ukraine's finances are undeniably more strained than Russia's, yet, they have not backed off. A rapid popularity crash in Russia, however, is certainly not off the table.

What does "conventional" mean here?

#4. Scott Sumner returns volley:

For number 4, I agree that the SC will probably gut Obamacare. They will also probably point out that Congress can "fix" the issue at hand quite easily by simply adding two words to the law, thereby passing the buck to the legislature when it comes to the fate of the law. Congress will not add those two words as the GOP would prefer people lose their subsidies, with the hope being that those who did would blame the law (and the Democrats who passed it).

Were there not a gay marriage case also on the schedule, I think the SC might instead just toss the case on the issue of standing, but I think they'll rule for gay marriage the Republican justices will feel the need to toss the conservatives a bone.

Tyler, Obamacare is an "inefficient" mechanism for providing health insurance to poor people, compared to what? No health insurance at all? What other options were (or are) politically feasible?

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