Tuesday assorted links


The irony of those who try to talk about how the WSJ proves the benefits immigration restrictions on native jobs/wages is that those machinist jobs absolutely will not go to the very class of people they are worried about: the (white) working class w/o HS diplomas.

Nope, they will go to workers in Japan or Germany because US employers will not hire the unskilled and train them because they want the government to train them to do the job, but Bernie and Clinton are totally wrong in calling for higher taxes to pay for government post high school education.

Just heard a Hooksett, NH GE plant manager on NPR discuss the crisis he faces in replacing retiring factory workers who average 55 years of age. He wants the government to train workers for he and other NH manufacturers to hire, but he opposes higher taxes to pay for it. He endorsed Obama's program to fund community college job related education. Which I know about in regard to the Nashua community college where a couple of million in Federal grants funded a big investment in machine tool equipment and other manufacturing education infrastructure.

A decade ago, NH community colleges were cutting back on the funding forcing cuts to machine tool training. That forced the Japanese corporation that bought the bulk of NH ball bearing manufacturing to shift the expansion of production of high precision bearings to Japan where they had ample supply of machinists, at slightly high wages than in NH. Offering a higher wage in NH would not increase the number of machinists with five years experience by the hundred Timken needed to expand.

Universities don't train machinists, while the focus from the left is on getting as many people a four-year degree as possible.

What skills did he claim he needed?

He needs the filtering. He can't hire 10 HS grads and then fire the useless 5. It would look back for the company and have disparate impact issues.

#7. All nice and toasty warm in that NYT cocoon. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Category:Obama_administration_controversies.

#7 - That is fairly typical for the NYT: approximately 97% counterfactual. If you omit the economic ruin and genocide, the same essay could be fabricated for Pol Pot.

LOL. One of the many problems with ODS (or BDS or CDS) is in trying to discredit your bête noire you end up sounding like a hyperventilating idiot and making your bad guy seem relatively preferable.

I suspect that many of the commenters losing it over Cowen's implication that he thinks that Obama is fundamentally a decent fellow probably consider this site to be the most leftist site they frequent.

"Fundamentally decent fellow" is a rather anodyne way of summarizing Brooks' characterization. I'll give BO one point for not generating any domestic scandals, either of the sordid type (Clinton) or the vaguely comical type (the comings and goings of Ronald Reagan's children). (Of course, his children are adolescents and they're associated with a Democratic pol, so they will be left alone and their rude behavior to Secret Service agents will go unpublished).

That aside, he shows little evidence of 'fundamental decency' or seriousness of purpose. Ava Gardner once said, "Deep down, I'm pretty superficial". That's the President.

"Imagine if Barack and Michelle Obama joined the board of a charity you’re involved in. You’d be happy to have such people in your community. Could you say that comfortably about Ted Cruz?"

Depends. If I wanted to participate in some schmaltzy, feel-good, circle jerk, probably not. If I wanted to dismantle large portions of that community the way I would like to see the federal government disbanded, then, yes, Ted Cruz would be an excellent ally in those circumstances.

“Imagine if Barack and Michelle Obama joined the board of a charity you’re involved in. You’d be happy to have such people in your community. Could you say that comfortably about Ted Cruz?”

I would? He used to hang with William Ayers, Bernadine Dohrn, Rashid Khalidi, and Tony Rezko. Should that please me? Whatever did happen to the Chicago Annenberg Challenge? While were at it, just what was Michelle Obama paid to do during the interval running from 1991 to 2008? Might the University of Chicago Hospitals have thought it useful to have the wife of the chair of a crucial subcommittee in the Illinois legislature on the payroll to the tune of $150,000 a year? How many people got a 100% raise in 2004 / 05? How many of them had allowed their law license to lapse more than a decade earlier?

Would you really want Ted Cruz on the board of your nonprofit? Pretty much everyone that has had close relationship with him (college roomate, friends, congressmen, senators) thinks ha is a smart opportunistic a-hole who doesn't seem to care for anything as much as his ambition.
Maybe you don't agree with Brooks' opinon but those Obama arguments are all old, tired, paranoid nonsense that have had no relation to how Obama has acted as president.

Pretty much everyone that has had close relationship with him (college roomate, friends, congressmen, senators)

Can you name someone other than Craig Mazin? Craig Mazin does not hide the fact that he's an arrested development case. That he despises Cruz is a point in the Senator's favor. It would not surprise anyone to discover that Addison Mitchell McConnell despises Cruz as well; Cruz told the truth about him.

"...smart opportunistic a-hole who doesn’t seem to care for anything as much as his ambition."

Cruz can be as a big an a-hole as he chooses if he manages to, say, cap or reduce Medicaid spending, as an example. Also, just as an aside, B.O., as a young'un, was attracted to and steeped in the writings Saul Alinsky, whose whole philosophy revolved around being an amoral, opportunistic a-hole, so don't tell me Obama's some choirboy at heart; get serious. He just knows how to play one on tv.

all old, tired, paranoid nonsense

The 'old, tired, paranoid nonsense' is a precise description of his personal associations and achievements (or the lack of it). As a rule, institutions do not hand over $300,000 a year to lapsed lawyers who have no important skills. Her job was so crucial to the University of Chicago Hospitals that it was eliminated during a hiring freeze. Yes, I'm paranoid enough to think there's something not kosher there. We could also review Rahm Emmanuel's career as an 'investment banker', a position to which he was hired at age 41 subsequent to no business training nor any employment in the private sector above and beyond ordinary wage jobs.

Investment banking is essentially a sales job, lots of people run asset management companies without finance experience... That's what they hire quants to do. Not the smoking gun you were looking for

The quality of a president’s humanity flows out in the unexpected but important moments.

You can say that again. He was attending the humbug Million Man March while his mother was dying of cancer in Honolulu.

Really? Link?

The Million Man March was on 16 October 1995. Stanley Ann Dunham died on 7 November 1995.

Apparently people aren't allowed to do anything when someone they know has cancer. There was no sign she was going to suddenly die in October and he lived in Chicago.

All of this goes directly back to Tyler's point, All these things the ODS crowd obsesses about tend to be nothingburgers.

There was no sign she was going to suddenly die in October and he lived in Chicago. -

She had ovarian cancer, an ailment from which you do not 'suddenly' die. Some people with lung cancer are able to work up until their last week, but you're commonly bedridden when you've only got three weeks left and in hospice when you're about 10 days from the end. That he was using his discretionary time for something so stupid is indicative of the man's priorities, whether you care to acknowledge it or not.

She was not in hospice for 3 weeks, she is described as suddenly declining whether that's convenient for wingnut mythology or not. Maya arrived the day she died and Barrack arrived the next morning.

Yes people do rapidly decline with all sorts of cancers, especially the ones that frequently metastasize to the intestines and liver. Some of the most common immediate causes of death from advanced cases of ovarian cancer are sepsis and pneumonia.

Try and grasp the concept that "some people" and "commonly" =/= "all people" and "always".

"something so stupid"

That fact that you flip out over the MMM today says it was probably worth it and Obama's comments at the time are pretty critical of the organizers.

Heidi Cruz parents were missionaries, Mrs. Cruz knows a thing or two about managing an endowment, and Mr. Cruz knows a thing or two about the law. They would, of course, be quite an asset to a philanthropic board. Both Obamas allowed their law license to lapse, BO was employed as a law lecturer but never published any scholarly papers, and Mooch was a cog in the diversity racket (to the tune of $300,000 a year). And, of course, their household finances were such a mess they turned to Tony Rezko for assistance.

Has Brooks finally gone full- Stockholm? One of the very unique things about Obama is the degree to which he has made his Presidency personal-- a lot of very nasty and mean personal attacks. Unusually divisive rhetoric, at least, after he was elected. And, that's not including the IRS targeting, Operation Choke Point, Fast & Furious, EPA, etc...

The behaviour of his IRS is political gangsterism. Fast and Furious was beneath contempt.

It's hard to gel these two quotes.

President Obama - "You go into these small towns in Pennsylvania and ... And it's not surprising then they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy toward people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations."

David Brooks - "Obama radiates an ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance that I’m beginning to miss ..."

Why? Both are accurate.

"Why? Both are accurate."

No, the first quote is not accurate. To think that the majority of rural Americans like guns because they are "frustrated" about their employment situation is patently absurd. It might come off sounding intelligent to someone who's completely out of touch and is fond of pigeon-holing people into a convenient mental bracket, but it has no bearing in fact.

Furthermore, even if it were true, it's show neither humanity, good manners nor elegance.

Mr. Moderate msgkings everyone.

Not everyone to your left is a leftist, Sam.

Agreed which is why you are the only soi-disant moderate I routinely call out. It's because you are clearly the most mendacious and least plausible.

Wrong again, Sam.

Apparently there are a lot of commenters here that don't recognize empathy (specifically the "its not surprising..." part of the quote.

Its not surprising leftists all want wealth redistribution, because they are all stupid and unsuccessful.

There! I'm showing empathy!

This President is a divisive and destructive Marxist. Brooks is delusional - and I am going to have to rethink my relationship with MR and Tyler.

This is a low point and very disappointing.

This is the President who basically told the GOP to sit down and shut up because "I won"

Find me a President who uses "I" in is speeches as much as this man. That is not what I want or expect from a leader - it should be more inclusive - "we" are in this mess together and "we" need to work on getting things back on track.

I don't want to elect a President who does not believe that we begin by accepting the principles in the Constitution - we have had 8 years of a President who thinks that Constitution is no longer relevant - that has not worked for anyone.

I asked the question on another site and will ask it here - can you point to ANY group that is better off after the disaster that has been this man's presidency - ONE?

Anyone with stock market assets is doing better.

It's pretty easy to find presidents who have used "I" in speeches more than Obama - Bush I for a start. http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=17246

That's a poor analysis. The author only uses the State of the Union speeches. Those are the most vetted speeches any President gives and almost certainly aren't representative of their average speech. Furthermore, the analysis is purely technical on the word count and not the context. If one person said, "I think America is the greatest country in history" and another President said," I will make the seas stop rising", those would both count the same in the analysis, but clearly one is self-aggrandisement and the other is not.

It's possible the results are correct, but it's clear the actual analysis is flawed.


Obama's divisive rhetoric

7. So Obama's decision-making processes are sound? The results don't really bear that out, but never mind. My real question is, what happened to the Tyler Cowen who said he wouldn't comment on free speech controversies on university campuses, because he wasn't fully-informed? Somehow, he knows enough to comment on White House decision-making but not about public controversies on university campuses?

I know moral and intellectual cowardice when I see it.

what happened to the Tyler Cowen who said he wouldn’t comment on free speech controversies on university campuses, because he wasn’t fully-informed?

What that meant is that he's unwilling to have an argument in the rathskellar with the ample supply of professors who will defend the indefensible, or to do so in the company of the even more plentiful supply of professors who are bereft of any nerve or loyalty to anything other than the privileges of academic Bourbons.

Mentioning Obama (or most any sitting President) is like striking oil in a poor nation: everything else is crowded out.

I quite like #1. Its a lot like the interview questions, are you familiar with [new software framework x]? Hmm, I skimmed the blogs, it looks just like the previous five frameworks with slightly different syntax and a .yml extension instead of a .json, .properties extension, so... yes!

Ugh wrong thread.

We all love TC, but remember he has to attend dinner parties with these people. Plus he writes for the Gray Lady (of the Night).

Give his endorsement a Straussian reading.

Is there a Straussian reading to the Brooks column that maybe I'm missing?


The first and most important of these is basic integrity. The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free. Think of the way Iran-contra or the Lewinsky scandals swallowed years from Reagan and Clinton.

No, they're remarkable for successful stonewalling. Lois Lerner did not take the 5th in front of a congressional committee and the IRS wasn't playing hide the ball because there was no scandal. I've always been perplexed by the hostility to Brooks some display, but with that remark you have to figure the man is heavily medicated by Andrea Yates' head-shrinker or he's an epic liar.

Obama himself has not been implicated in any personal wrong doing (same with George W Bush), and I think that is what Brooks refers to. But his administration has had lots of events at the highest levels that are scandalous. The sheer number of them, and the lack of action against them,suggests either Obama is not concerned about such matters or is complicit in some way which in itself is scandalous, even if not illegal.

and I think that is what Brooks refers to

The subject of the sentence was 'the Obama Administration'. Regarding Obama himself, someone's not owning up to issuing a stand-down order re Libya or to concocting cover stories and lies about videos. While we're at it, Douglas Shulman was making scores of visits to the White House (a locus his predecessor hardly ever visited) and thought it expedient to talk about the Easter Egg Roll when asked about it.

You could find two terms worth of illegal activities in the first few months, starting with the stimulus money directed to cronies (e.g., Solyndra), stiffing creditors in the Chrysler bankruptcy, forgiving GM of tax liability with no legal authority, the Fast and Furious distribution of weapons to criminals including Mexican drug gangs (later covered by executive privilege). And even before his inauguration, there was the supposed sale of Obama's empty Senate seat; Rahm Emmanuel investigated then and found that the President-elect was innocent.

"Pants Crease" Brooks is delusional, but there is no reason that Tyler should fall for it.

Good point. The criminality regarding the extension of TARP to the auto industry components I'd forgotten about. It was quite overt.

He was shocked at the IRS! He learned it from the news!

But he didn't call up the IRS and demand those emails be found within 48 hours.

No, he did not. He let them slow walk it to death...or he ordered that.

The reality is that the media determines if something is a scandal or not. Because the media loves Obama, he has no scandals. When in fact, if he had an R behind his name, he would have had a dozen scandals, been forced to have special counsels, and probably not won re-election.

There's a reason the dictators always own the newspapers and have state TV.

That might all be true. He and his wife split up recently, word is that he moved to NY and has some young mistress. He's supposedly fairly depressed, so I wouldn't be shocked if he were heavily medicated.

"The first and most important of these is basic integrity. The Obama administration has been remarkably scandal-free."

Lois Lerner's mysterious and fortuitous series of crashed hard-drives and Hillary's 'wiped like with a cloth' home-brew email server containing not-really-top-secret information notwithstanding. But do I agree that the Obama administration has *seemed* relatively scandal free, since both the institutional press and DOJ have been resolutely disinterested. And even if illegal spying and administration officials lying under oath about it didn't result in anything like, you know, actual *indictments*, it did all at least provide some hilarious comedic moments:


In an environment like this, I don't think Watergate really would have given Nixon much trouble at all.

7. Considering that a couple of the Hillary scandals happened during her tenure under Obama, how can you say that he is relatively scandal free?

Seeing as how Obama is treated with kid gloves by the media, how would we even know if there was a scandal? What about Fast and Furious?

The IRS targeting of political opponents was pretty awful...

The Obama Derangement Syndrome is strong here.

How is it not awful for ostensibly apolitical regulatory bodies targeting the opponents of the Administration in power?

How does that line go? "It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so."

Are you claiming that the IRS wasn't targeting conservatives? Because the Treasury Inspector General concluded that they were.

Not that awful in the grand scheme of political scandals.

Yeah, this was only a problem for people with the wrong politics.

Yes, I am claiming that the IRS did not target conservatives, or to be more specific, they did not single out conservative groups. Political groups from both sides of the spectrum were targeted. That targeting may have been inappropriate, but that's a far less scandalous claim than "IRS targets conservative groups because they are political opponents of the administration". The reason why people who don't already hate Obama don't care about it is because it's just not that big a deal. This is true about most of the controversies people are ranting about in the comments here.

olitical groups from both sides of the spectrum were targeted.

Rubbish. There were a few tokens from one end. Lois Lerner did not take the 5th about that.

"There were a few tokens from one end"

Do you have some source that examines and quantifies the total number of organizations that were targeted and breaks them down by their politics? Or is this just you repeating priors?

And is there any reason you're ignoring the FBI and DOJ investigations that looked into the IRS behavior for signs of political targeting and found ... nothing at all? Does the conspiracy extend to law enforcement agencies as well?

And is there any reason you’re ignoring the FBI and DOJ investigations -

And you're ignoring the House investigation that also didn't turn up anything of note. If there was something there the republicans in congress would have found it.

You're right, this must be a coincidence (per CNN):

"The IRS mishandled the processing of tax-exempt applications in a manner that disproportionately impacted applicants affiliated with the tea party and similar groups, leaving the appearance that the IRS's conduct was motivated by political, discriminatory, corrupt, or other inappropriate motives."

Groups from right and left were targeted but only those from the right were audited and stonewalled, resulting in donor funds drying up before an election in which the Tea Party was ascendent.

This story is far from over.

"donor funds drying up before an election"

Whoops, Chip gave up the game. If these groups were all about donor funds and the election they deserved additional scrutiny and denial. If most of the groups abusing the process were conservative -- and they were [1] -- then it's no surprise these were the first ones identified on the watchlist.

[1] google "Report Says IRS Approved Tax-Exempt Status For Twice as Many Conservative Groups as Liberal Groups"

The ODS here is pretty remarkable. Every right-wing feverish conspiracy is getting aired. If only they shout about it a bit louder, perhaps Tyler will hear and realize the truth! I blame all the chemtrails....

Welcome to the wonderful world of profiling. You can step in line behind the Blacks and Muslims.

" Many of the traits of character and leadership that Obama possesses, and that maybe we have taken too much for granted,"

What would those traits be? BHO has been since his campaign for national office, and remains today, the most cloistered human in the country. Nobody except perhaps his closest advisers can know anything about a man whose every movement is carefully choreographed by a retinue of PR experts and whose every utterance is displayed on a screen before it emerges from his mouth. It wasn't all that long ago that leaders were required to circulate among the led, effusing the charisma that enabled their leadership. Not anymore. To the average American BHO is a character on a long-running TV reality show. Which is really what modern politics has become.


"He and his staff have generally behaved with basic rectitude. Hillary Clinton is constantly having to hold these defensive press conferences when she’s trying to explain away some vaguely shady shortcut she’s taken, or decision she has made, but Obama has not had to do that."

Wow. Does Brooks not realize that all of the stuff the Clinton is trying to explain away is her scandalous conduct AS PART OF THE OBAMA ADMINISTRATION?

He does not and Tyler Cowen evidently does not either.

"There are all sorts of unsightly characters floating around politics, including in the Clinton camp and in Gov. Chris Christie’s administration. This sort has been blocked from team Obama."

Geez. It just keeps going on. Um, how about Clinton herself? Or Rahm?

Or maybe Brooks recognizes BENGAZI!!! as the pathetic hatchet job it is. Have they brought up a single charge? Has anyone even been fired over this? How does this stack up to Watergate, Iran/Contra, or even the response to Katrina. Not mentioned because it's not worth mentioning.

People were fired. Or whatever DC types claim to be fired. You know...moved to a new department.

#7 "He’s exuded this basic care and respect for the dignity of others time and time again."

So long as one is not a conservative or Republican [or a gun owner], perhaps. Obama is petty and condescending towards his political opponents.

Brooks, being an Obama supporter, and not in any shape or form a a conservative or Republican, pays no attention to his boorishness.

The bit of culture war incorporated into the President's spiels about guns - with its attempts to stick the bill for inner-city mayhem on rural gun owners - is the most indicative of a poisonous intramural hostility. Oh, how about the dignity of the suburban cops libeled by Eric Holder's Justice Department?

Of course Brooks will miss Obama, none of the current candidates have sharp trouser creases.

Do econometricians estimate growth rates or the size of an economy? If the former, error in the estimate of the size of an economy would grow over time until it became obvious. If the latter, as long as error is not growing, long term average error of the estimate of an economy's growth rate would be forced to zero.

I find it interesting that all the comments here are 100% on link #7. But, I think we are missing a bigger point. Its not just that this administration has not been scandal free, but I think this administration is directly responsible for the harshness and "impoliteness" of this campaign cycle. How about just two data points:

1. The unprecedented way that PPACA/Obamacare was passed. With reconcillation, in the middle of the night, even after Massachusetts' election of Scott Brown.

2. After the failure of the bipartisan immigration bill, the followup, not of licking wounds or learning lessons, but of implementing significant parts of it through executive orders.

One can be in favor of both of those policies and still be upset with the anti-democratic nature through which they were pushed. Even if you believe the methods to be truly lawful, at a minimum, they had a shocking political Tin Ear. The mechanisms would be defendable if the policies were popular, but they were not. Both of these policies above were highly unpopular, and pushed though in unprecedented ways, and that combination leaves a very bad taste in people's mouth.

but I think this administration is directly responsible for the harshness and “impoliteness” of this campaign cycle.

The Administration embodies what is bog standard in the Washington Democratic Party, and adds little of its own. The viciousness merely reflects the culture of the Democratic Party as is, and you can get a taste of that in the New York Times comboxes. George McGovern is dead and Nat Hentoff is real old.

The viciousness merely reflects the culture of the Republican Party as is, and you can get a taste of that in the Fox News comboxes. Ronald Reagan is dead and George H.W. Bush is real old.

But will Art ever see his boring and predictable partisanship for what it is?

This is freakin' Rove level tactics. Accuse your opponents of what you're guilty of doing regardless of facts.
The Senate has been a 60 vote chamber since 2009. Not just for laws that the GOP disagreed with, but everything down to confirmation hearings on low level posts. This is not Obama's fault, but slash and burn backlash after the GOP was beaten in two straight elections. If the Senate GOP had allowed a straight vote on the President's agenda, which is what should happen in a functioning democracy, then they wouldn't have needed reconciliation.
Don't blame Obama for the fact that the GOP is a disfunctional mess overran by nihilists.

To suggest that a bill that passed the Senate by a 59-41 margin was passed undemocratically is ridiculous. Yes, they were all Democrats. So what? All the nays were Republicans, including some votes from people who had previously supported extremely similar plans, but were pressured into presenting a solid GOP negative front.

Don't repeat stupid stuff.

#7 Civil? Do you call touting reforms that have the preface "common sense", so as to imply that the opposing camps are deranged lunatics, civil? How about calling health care semi-socialization the affordable care act? Who is it affordable for? He's used stealthy rhetorical tricks throughout the course of his governance because he isn't interested in considering other points of view. If you call it the affordable care act, no need to consider the consequences, simply wish the rate hikes away!

"Who is it affordable for?"

Easy, people who couldn't get insurance before because of preexisting conditions. There's a reason the number of uninsured have gone down since the ACA passed. It's because health care is now more affordable. Get it?

Of course there are downsides. But Brooks points out in the article that the ACA took coverage away from only a small percentage of Americans. The point is that the very bottom of society can now at least afford some type of insurance coverage now, especially in states that took up the medicaid expansion. You may not agree with that goal, but the goal was met. (the other option is to rely on free clinics, which I have personal experience with. I'm happy these exist, but no person in this great country of ours should have to rely only on charity when they fall on hard times.)

You're an idiot, that question was rhetorical. Calling something affordable does not hide the true intentions and impact of a piece of legislation, namely massive wealth redistribution. This is all besides the point; it's not about the legislation, it's about the tone and name which imply that it's something it's not. I take no umbrage with the effective redistribution of wealth, but I do not like to be spoken down to and made to feel like my grievances are illegitimate. My point is that giving a piece of legislation a name that implies that the legislation is unobjectively good (in this case, affordable care, who wouldn't want that?!) is not exactly conducive to debate. The same goes for "common sense" gun laws. I might agree that we need some legislation to limit access to firearms, but I sure as hell am not on board with the name calling and implications. Get it?

Gabe, you seem like a pretty intelligent guy, don't you see that's how they name all of their bills? "Patriot Act" "Student Success Act" etc.

Why are you getting so worked up about the name of the thing? http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/31/us/colorful-names-for-laws.html

I think and have always thought that calling that bill "The Patriot Act" is an affront to our intelligence. This administration was supposed to be transparent, and I was fooled like many other Americans. The names of bills are just archetypes of the MO of this administration, and basically all administrations.

Last thing: If you call me a hypocrite and allude to my use of petty insults, than remember that I am not the president of the United States and that I don't set the tone for discourse.

It's kind of disappointing that the shockingly out of touch article by David Brooks as sucked all the oxygen out of the other posts.

#5 if pretty significant. "5. The economics of Arizona’s crackdown on illegal immigration. "

It's surprising to me that the WSJ would actually cover both sides of the argument. It's clear that Arizona's crack down on illegal immigrants didn't destroy their economy. Indeed, by various metrics from the article, it's clear that Arizona's governmental spending decreased by significant amounts.

"But they also say the reduced competition for low-skilled jobs was a boon for some native-born construction and agricultural workers who got jobs or raises, and that the departures also saved the state money on education and health care. "


I read that this morning and thought it was pretty interesting. It's almost like supply and demand is an actual thing.

It's also another argument in the WSJ v. NYTimes battle. Can you ever imagine the NYTimes news people doing a similar article about one of the editorial staffs' sacred cows?

Well I read the Brooks piece quite differently. I thought it was a way for Brooks to express his dislike for Hillary and for Sanders. His "praise" of Obama looked like a subterfuge for him to disparage his favorite targets. Mood affiliation anyone? (perhaps all of us that have commented on #7?).

+1, that's the point Brooks was making. But if you have ODS you'll miss it.

If he wishes to 'express his dislike for Hillary or for Sanders', there's nothing impeding him from doing that. Uttering utter rubbish about the current incumbent (to which the moderator wishes to sign on!) is quite hopelessly stupid if your object is to critique someone else.

So you have a problem with drawing comparisons? M'kay.

Well, a genuinely independent thinker, of the sort that Brooks and Cowen claim to be, could have made the same point by commenting on how he missed George W. Bush (no scandals, few personal insults against his opponents, NCLB and prescription drug benefits for seniors, etc.) But of course Brooks and Cowen might get some hostile glances from their colleagues if they wrote that sort of thing, and neither of them has the fortitude for that kind of conflict.

Except no one misses the events from 2001 to 2009.
Also, I don't see how anyone with a conscience can look at the entire torture-extrodinary rendition-NSA spying regime and consider the administration that originated all that as "scandal free". But I guess I haven't had my memory wiped by the fox news reality distortion field.

If you applaud torture and starting wars in the middle east, you don't see Gitmo, Abu Gharib, or Iraq as a scandal.
I have no idea what leads them to whitewash all the other scandals from their memory, but that's the reason for the big two.

Judging by the primary results, most people are not going to miss the past eight years of falling median income and overseas humiliation. I know it's been fine for the 1%, like Krugman, Cowen (and me), but we only get to cast 1% or maybe 2% of the votes.

#1 explains a lot about this blog and answers the biggest question I have when evaluating the day's assorted links.
#3 I suspect is yes. I sometimes attend a church whose mother-church is based in Rwanda, and first-time returning missionaries are almost always disillusioned by the state of the country given how much progress it is alleged to have made. A lot of groups, both governmental and NGO, have an interest in presenting Rwanda as a success in cooperative intervention. The mother-church's biggest concern is shielding its flock from the effects of poorly managed government programs. I hadn't heard the shoe anecdote before. Maybe the church is off the official Potemkin Parade Route and the shoe ordinance isn't enforced.
#7 has everyone animated, and I can see why. I don't recognize the Obama in that portrait, and I thought we had all moved past projecting fantastical nonsense onto the man. For every Brooks example there have been copious counter-examples painting a distinctly different portrait of Obama. His White House is notoriously insular and dismissive of opposing views. He treats only his preferred groups with dignity and humanity (bitter-clingers vs. cool-clock-Ahmed, and his 2012 campaign was a masterpiece of divisive rhetoric and wedge issues pitting the 'right' groups against the 'wrong' groups.). Saying his administration has been scandal-free is an absurd joke. I think Brooks is committing the Left's "America vs. Europe" fallacy, where a fiction is compared to an amalgamation to demonstrate just how lousy things are. Is it really helpful to pick a quality of Obama's and then compare it to a different Republican foil each time? Like comparing his (alleged) ethics to Christie's? Then his humanity to Cruz's? Then his legislative record to Rubio's? Then his assertiveness to Kasich's? No more than considering Greece's robust civil service, Finland's test scores, Germany's renewable energy infrastructure, and French labor law, and wondering why America can't be like "Europe." I think Obama has been a poisonous figure in American politics, and if Brooks' and Tyler's assessment is anything to go by, he will continue to be so for a long time.

Re: Rwanda:

It's not uncommon in African history for rulers who had been competent in their primes to stay in power way too long, often turning megalomaniacal. The dictator of Eritrea, for example, was an impressive military organizer in the 1990s when fighting much bigger Ethiopia, but appears to be pretty far-gone today.

Similarly, Kagame, a Rwandan Tutsi exile in Uganda, was the intelligence chief in Museveni's military takeover of Uganda in the 1980s, in return for Museveni backing his military takeover of Hutu-ruled Rwanda in the 1990s. Rwanda's subsequent wars in the Congo were piratical, but daring. That's a formidable track record. But Kagame has been dictator for 20+ years now. His buddies on the Davos circuit like Tony Blair and Bill Gates should try harder to persuade him to retire fulltime to the Davos circuit where he could give speeches on the importance of peaceful transitions of power.

From personal business experience - Rwanda is full of thieves, poor folk trying to steal as much as they can get away with from as many investors as they can find. As people, many are very, very nice.

But compared to the others around, like the Kenya problems, Kigali is a HUGE improvement over Nairobi. It's not as good as touted, but it is making real progress.

There's no good way for a once elected now dictator to step down. And remain safe. Bribery to go into exile seems unlikely to work, but probably should be (semi-?) officially tried.

#7: Does anyone really believe that George Bush's administration had more scandals? That George Bush did not demonstrate grace under pressure?
Obama was praised beyond all reason in 2008, certainly in part because many people were in love with the narrative of the first African-American President as a success and healer. Mr. Brooks and many others have not broken free of the original spell.

Does anyone really believe that George Bush’s administration had more scandals?

Michael Moore fancied the war in Afghanistan was an elaborate scheme to benefit the Unocal corporation.

Patrick FitzGerald futzed around for 3.5 years 'investigating' the outing of Valerie Plame, even though he knew before the end of 2003 the name of the official who disclosed her identity (who was never prosecuted). A man was convicted of 'perjury' because his memory (months afterward) of which journalist he'd told what when (regarding a matter of not much importance) differed from what said journalists recalled; he had a seven-digit sum of unpaid legal fees when the whole fan dance was over. Then Patrick FitzGerald turned his attention to destroying Conrad Black's businesses (with the assistance of a different federal judge).

Justifying the war in Iraq on WMD was a scandal that will handicap future administrations far into the future as nobody will ever believe a claim like this again.

Sigh. Let's take it from the top:
1) Saddam's main concern was Iran, not the West.
2) To deter Iran, Saddam Hussein pretended to have a much strong WMD program than he actually had.
3) Western Intelligence Agencies didn't have the correct mindset about all of this. The idea that he was just faking it to deter Iran didn't enter their analyses. Rather, they interpreted his behavior as evidence of WMD. Saddam Hussein was okay with this because he didn't believe the West would topple him.
4) Iraq War.
This was all documented in a post-mortem analysis. I don't have an internet link to it, but a copy of them is available in the book 'HEAD Game', by Philip Mudd.

Justifying the war in Iraq on WMD

That you've forgotten the list of reasons or the trilemma the administration faced in 2002 is not a scandal which adheres to the administration.

You do realize that we found thousands of WMD in Iraq, right? Several tons of yellowcake too?

Saddam faked a stronger WMD program than he had. That's pretty much fact, but it also doesn't mean we were safe with Saddam in charge. Saddam eventually would restart his active program. Do you think we could achieve even the marginal Iran nuclear deal with an active Hussein regime in Baghdad?

That is nonsense. But even if it were all true, it still didn't justify a multi-trillion dollar "mistake". Iraq at its best (which was not in the 2000s) was still not an existential or even a regional threat to the U.S. which means the entire war was unjustified. And no one in the GOP side will even own up to what a bad idea it was because their party is too disfunctional to admit even such an obvious mistake.

Ha. Well, true, Saddam never posed any existential threat to the United States, but the last time the US faced an existential risk was the Civil War. Even then, we have to ask ourselves whether this risk was really existential or whether the North insisted an unreasonable and unneeded preservation of the Republic.

Saddam certainly posed a regional threat to US interests. He steamrolled Kuwait in short order and threatened Saudi Arabia as well. We only really scratched the surface of how dangerous he was, since weapons proliferation hadn't taken off yet.

Again, in 2015, with Saddam in charge, do you think Iran agrees to give up any portion of its nuclear program? Given that, what is the reaction of the Saudi government?

Whether this justifies expenditure of American blood and American treasure is another question.

Does anyone really believe that George Bush’s administration had more scandals?


For people not locked into a media bubble, yes.

This is a terrible metric, since controversy != scandal, but here you go...


I would argue that more of the GWB "controversies" actually rise to the standard of actual "scandal" though.

The press was very critical of Bush. Of course you'll find more if you dig more.

Perhaps, just maybe there actually was reason for them to be more critical?

Of course, one can even argue they weren't critical enough given the fiasco of the unforced error that was the Iraq War.

Would you prefer we were dealing with Uday or Qusay?

Perhaps you are right. Maybe Bush was worse. But to find out you'll need to actually dig as deep. You basically admitted that the media did not dig as deep in the case of Obama just because they liked him more. And that's just the wrong approach.

@CL The media has dug plenty deep into Obama, as evidenced by all the posted random minutiae about every possibly untoward association he's ever had in his life. I'm sorry that the collective media's efforts don't always re-affirm one's desire to always see the man as an inhuman monster.

The modern media looks deeply into everything. The days of this formerly insulated industry to act as self-appointed "responsible gatekeepers" of knowledge to the public are gone. If there are clicks to be had, even for wrongheaded things like just disingenuously promoting pointless anger or resentment, there's someone willing to probe and post.

"Would you prefer we were dealing with Uday or Qusay?"
Instead of the Islamic State, you mean? Surely.

Yes. Under pressure, Bush approved the use of torture, and then of the invasion of a country that had nothing to do with 9-11 and created a boon for terrorist recruitment (with additional torture in Iraq).
There was the cronyism - staffing FEMA with Michael Brown (and the results of Hurricane Katrina), trying to nominate Harriet Miers to the Supreme Court, Alberto Gonzalez as AG, poltical conferences with the GSA on how to help Republicans and hurt democrats (violation of the Hatch Act), firing attorney generals for not prosecuting enough Democrats, the Dept of Interior employees giving favorable oil and gas deals in exchange for cocaine and sex,
The massive flow of money into Iraq which then disappeared, and the funneling of money to private contractors.
And of course, ignoring all the warnings about bin-Laden and Al Queda before 9-11 and the demoting of Richard Clarke and the Counterterrorism position.

Clearly, for David Brooks and Tyler Cowan, a political scandal is only real if NBC reports it and blames the president. Since NBC will never blame Obama for anything then it logically follows that Obama is scandal-free. Just don't ask any questions about Fast & Furious, the politicization of the IRS, Benghazi, Hillary Clinton & State Department e-mails, green energy bail-ins and bail-outs or about Obamacare & the failed exchanges and payouts to for-profit insurance companies. Keep your eye on the shiny glitter and ignore everything behind the curtain.

There are two other points Brooks is missing:
Huge parts of the press sucked up to Obama like to no President before.
The very few critical parts of the press got excluded, threatened and punished by this administration like never before.

An aspect of that has been the collapse of the media economy. With regard to print newspapers, ad revenue in real terms had by 2010 fallen to 1950 levels. They are just not that important anymore, and they've lost the ability to recruit anyone who's worth a pitcher of warm spit.

There are two other elements having to do with the intramural culture of the media. As early as 1993, opinion journalists fretted over the phenomenon of 'Clincest', the nexus of personal relationships in the Washington establishment which encompassed the media and the Administration. Well, a mess of these media people are married to Administration officials. That aside, the media has been more willingly suborned in any case. Even prior to the implosion of the media economy, there emerged in the national press corps a gulf between the working press (which retained a residual independence) and the broadcast media (who were an extension of the Clinton administration). Well, that working press has disappeared (Newsweek) or is even more bigoted and partisan than anyone could have imagined 30 years ago (New York TImes). Perhaps Bezos will improve The Post so it's worthwhile.

I suspect that at this juncture those who want to control the headlines have much more power than the customers who want to know the actual headlines.

This is actually backwards. Media was far more controlled in the past (for better and for worse...like most things). Can you imagine the circus if JFK tried to run today? I pretty sure all the abstinence-only education folks would be extremely unhappy about the nature of the headlines.

Obama tapped a journalists phone. James Rosen, IIRC.

There are so many scandals you forget them!

I think Sheryl Attkisson's computer was also hacked. These are mainstream reporters, not Christic Institute - type screwballs.

But there is a tone of ugliness creeping across the world, as democracies retreat, as tribalism mounts, as suspiciousness and authoritarianism take center stage.

And what led to the withdrawal of democracies?! Obama's character flaws - or his "ethos of integrity, humanity, good manners and elegance" as Brooks calls it - played a very huge part in this negative development. Disengagement was (and is) the very core ideology of Obama's policies. His character flaws leave him no other choice.

Brooks has a lot of weak pieces but this piece of his is even weaker than usual.

What lead to it in the U.S. was the complete dysfunction of one of the two political parties. Any party that manages to nominate a half-term governor of a state smaller than many American suburbs for Vice President has serious issues. The fact that they haven't done any better this time around shows how far they have to climb out of the hole they've dug.

Brooks is right on, Obama is easily a top 3 president. You're all suffering from mood affiliation, not to mention, you're racists.

Poe's Law?

The race card. How creative. I always considered Obama as a pretty typical white guy with a bit more melanin than others. His mother was white and he was basically raised by his white grandparents only. To me Obama is as white as you can get.

I have always considered Obama to be the President, in all my experience, most like me. He is nerdy. He structures rationale in a logical way, perhaps a pedantically logical way. He may not be clinically autistic, but he has to be on the scale. As it happens, I am white, so either Obama is white too, or racial profiling fails again.

The Brooks article is funny. He peppers praise with insult, hoping to keep partisans on board. But he should know that could never work. There is no quantity of bad things you can say about Obama that would make a RWNJ accept one good thing.

Tyler's surface acceptance of Brooks' argument is probably correct, but we can count on the RWNJs to self-identify.

Obama ain't autistic or close to the scale. He's WAY too popular and affable for that. There are some popular nerdy folk out there.

Zac Efron apparently is a secret weeaboo.

Obama is not 'nerdy'. He is not 'logical' in manner or degree which sets him apart from other politicians. He is notable merely for his dilletantishness, superficiality, consumerism, and unselfconscious social bigotry.

He's definitely more white than black.

It's great that even though Barkley was obviously kidding, chuck martel still jumped out of his chair, blurted out something weird and racist, then lost his balance and fell over.

nvm I guess it got deleted.

If it had been deleted, the nesting would have been ruined and the comments sent to the bottom of the thread. That's a parody Barkley Rosser and the commentary above from E. Harding is a parody E. Harding. (It's amusing that the moderator is so assiduous about deleting the comments of the real E. Harding while leaving the parodies up). The twit who posts as 'msgkings' has a history of stealing other people's handles for these purposes.

Quit lying, Art.

# 1 was interesting. A person who characterizes himself as a PDE expert (for those who do not know mathematics, a person who calls herself a PDE expert is something like what in the world of art someone who calls herself a landscape architect is - generally a confident, partially or even rarely mostly genuine, but not overly ambitious participant in the signal-fest that is known as "a profession") states that he is easily able, due to structural similarities in most published articles and books in subjects he is well on his way to being omniscient in, to skim 90 percent of the articles and books he reads and is thus able to focus, with the opportunity cost differential thus accumulated, on the ten percent or less of the article or book that has something new. So he can profitably read nine books in the time one book, read at a normal pace, would take. Nothing wrong with that, of course. But nobody listens to LPs they love at accelerated speeds, and the reading style described in the linked post does not describe how anyone reads genuine literature (poetry and storytelling, starting with the best of Homer and extending through transcripts of contemporary talk-radio at its most profound, not to mention the random aphoristically admirable post or quote on the internet) so the "how I read" statement at #1 is an overstatement, it should have been refined and made more accurate by a few more words ----[how I read] "technical and semi-technical non-fiction in fields I am familiar with" or something like that. (First appearance on the internet, by the way, of "transcripts of contemporary talk-radio at its most profound" and "the signal-fest that is known as a profession").

7) To paraphrase Jeb Bush, I think that president Obama is a good guy with some bad ideas. FWIW, that's basically my feeling about president George W Bush too, although I'll take a bad healthcare law over a bad invasion any day of the week.

I think that Brooks' piece laid it on a little thick, but many of the comments here are nuts. Yeah, there are problems with the Obama administration, but that's true for all administrations; the problems should be viewed on a relative (rather than absolute) scale.

Take the IRS scandal that so many comments mention. Talk about a first world problem! Yeah, it's a dick move, but in the scheme of things, who gives a shit? People remember Watergate, Iran-Contra, and Lewinsky decades later. No one is going to remember the IRS scandal in a few decades. FWIW, I put it a similar category with governor Christie's George Washington Bridge scandal. IRS being dicks? Bad traffic crossing the Hudson? Holy shit, call the wambulance!

I think that president Obama was civil, optimistic, and decent in ways that none of the current presidential candidates are. Given the choice to sit down, have a beer, and talk with president Obama or any of the current presidential candidates, I would choose Obama.

Making use of the tax collectors to harass the political opposition is a violation sufficiently grave that Richard Nixon hardly attempted it (he had a list of about 20 people to be targeted for audits and the IRS commissioner refused to co-operate). The cover-up is as bad as the crime. That partisan Democrats are so dismissive of this tells the rest of us two things: the Democratic Party is unfit to govern; and that partisan Democrats merit few privileges and immunities short of having their house or car blown up.

We're dismissive of it because you, and everyone else who pushes this non-story, are either gullible, blind, or crazy. IRS regulations permitted groups to get a tax-free status only if they refrained from engaging in political activities. All of these conservative groups that got investigated wanted to get a handout from the government, get it? They treated their tax-exempt status as their birthright, as their entitlement. Have you ever even heard of a Tea Party or "conservative" group that wasn't engaged in political activity? The IRS investigated "conservative" groups that objectively were very likely to be violating the regulation, as part of their express duty to uphold the laws and regulations of the United States of America, while they also investigated other, non-conservative groups that *also* applied for tax-free status.

I could read 100,000 deranged comments of fuckwits like yourself without even realizing the basic context of the "scandal" - the IRS investigating groups that wanted a government handout to see if they qualified for it!!!!!!! This somehow becomes horrifying political gulag in the hands of conservative victimization artists, when it's in fact the most mundane fucking behavior you could possibly imagine. The equivalent would be if Democrats created a quote unquote scandal because the IRS investigated food stamp recipients to see if they qualified for food stamps, thus clearly being a political targeting of Democrats 101010101!!!!

This is also the archetype of every other bullshit fake scandal created by the conservative movement this decade. It's a stone cold ratfuck pushed by the noise machine into the hands of the blind and the stupid.
The only real question is if you're an honest mark or a foot soldier in the propaganda movement, comrade.

"IRS regulations permitted groups to get a tax-free status only if they refrained from engaging in political activities.

It's clear that you don't know what you are talking about. 501(c)(4) organizations are allowed to engage in political activities. That's their purpose. They are prohibited from supporting specific political candidates.

This was the same designation that " Organizing for Action" obtained. "Organizing for Action" is the direct successor to the Obama 2012 election campaign.

"Founded after President Obama's re-election, the group seeks to mobilize supporters in favor of Obama's legislative priorities."


"The only real question is if you’re an honest mark or a foot soldier in the propaganda movement, comrade. "

Perhaps you should reflect upon that sentence for a few minutes.

United States federal tax law, specifically Section 501(c)(4) of the Internal Revenue Code (26 U.S.C. § 501(c)), exempts certain types of nonprofit organizations from having to pay federal income tax. The statutory language of IRC 501(c)(4) generally requires civic organizations described in that section to be "operated exclusively for the promotion of social welfare"


You've successfully identified a liberal non-profit group that should probably be paying federal income tax. I applaud you. This fails to demonstrate that the IRS should freely allow politically activist non-profit organizations that apply to be certified by the IRS as not breaking the law, to be certified as not breaking the law, when they are actually breaking the law, by doing so. We're going to disagree on the law's intent and what behavior it requires, but the pissing and moaning because you ask the IRS to certify your tax-exempt status and the IRS - gasp - asks you questions about whether your actions meet the criteria for 501c status - is Bundy Ranch levels of butthurt. Childish stupidity and special pleading honed into a weapon of war.

As for # 1, isn't that how everyone in a given technical field reads papers in their own field?
That's how we do it in psychology.
Except that if there's anything new it's more likely than not to be untrue or meaningless.

Were Brooks' comments heartfelt or was he trying to tell another noble lie?

The biggest scandal of Obama -- running away from Iraq and losing the "peace". Yes, the 2010-2011 Iraq situation wasn't fully stable, but with US troops and pressure, and bribery/ aid money, the Sunnis and Shiite could have mostly moved into capitalism money-making and cooperation rather than full ethnic cleansing and anti-Christian genocide.

Bush's surge won the Iraq war. Democrats running away lost the peace.
Just like Democrats' 1975 decision to stop funding the somewhat corrupt & not fully competent S. Viet government, almost 2 years after the Nixon pushed Paris Peace Accords of Jan., 1973. The Dems decided to lose the peace then, and allow/ enable genocide and commie victory. (Hmm, violation of treaty and war did seem to solve the "control of Vietnam" something.)

Lessons of WW II & Korea -- a country "saved for democracy" by the US will require a long-term US troop presence to stay safe.
The Dems are on the verge of leaving Afghanistan, and losing there -- so have chosen not to leave just yet.

The big increase in civilian suffering in the Middle East has been because of Obama enabling the terrorists by running away. But the Reps don't want to go back, so prefer to let the innocent die. There is no good solution now.

#1, I really don't think you have to be expert level to pick up the rhythm (pattern) in things.
With my lowly master in economics I can read fairly easy most econ journal papers and see how math is used more for bullshit than to actually show something new.
Besides, in all econ papers there is one simple trick to read all of it, not matter how 'complex' or 'mathy' it looks: question the assumption. The math usually fails at the assumption level, if you can pick that apart, you don't even need to know how to take a derivative! (it also helps that most econ papers heavy in math come from people with a poor grasp of history, which makes picking the mistake in the assumption even easier).

I doubt Brooks or Cowen would be so admiring of Obama's "superior integrity" and "rectitude" if they had been among the people Obama lied to about being able their health insurance.

Brooks is so damn stupid he thinks the 'news' he reads in the Times is all the news there is. Accordingly, he is ignorant of pretty much all the lies, slanders, corruption, criminality and Constitutional violations that have reached epidemic proportions during the Obama reign.

What is more concerning however, is where did Tyler's brain go? And will it be returned?

Tyler's endorsement of Brooks' fantastic fiction is strange. Just blew a massive hole in his credibility and judgment.

I'm with those who find Tyler's endorsement of Brooks' column, without any explanation, not only a disappointment but a conundrum. What is he saying? Without additional comment, he appears simply to want to leave an impression. Of what? As with Brooks, are they both signalling? Always one foot firmly in the intellectual establishment? Obama's temperament is commendable, but has he not been given a pass by the press on so many issues that any other president, particularly a Republican, would have been taken to task for? Are we all better off for this attitude and this journalistic lapse? Why send a bouquet at this time?

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