Sunday assorted links


Wow - just imagine if the Beatles had ever played on Ed Sullivan's show!

them bigger than Jesus.

Your use of the n-word shows that you are a racist. Perhaps your racism is subconscious and you did not think you intended to use the word, but your use of the word shows that there is racism somewhere inside you. And so, you deserve to be cast into outer darkness.

(i) L&M wrote good tunes except She Loves You.
(ii) Himself was getting very lazy with his left hand.

But, finally, what the devil is the point of it? It would be like getting the Berlin Phil top play Take the A Train: wrong skills.

Love to see some Ellington, even if this is far from peak period or content. There has never been anyone like him, nor will there ever be.

Even if you don't like the music, the video is worth watching for the sleeves alone.

Duke Ellington committed music theft.

6. There is no Great Stagnation in machine translation...

*Cowen: We strive for security, we want to protect ourselves against all possible losses, we want to establish a system of claims against the state. And we are moving less, we are setting up fewer companies. Much of our efforts are directed to slowing change rather than pushing it forward. This is the new America. The old restlessness that has shaped America is gone. This is evident in all possible areas of life.

* World on Sunday: For example, where?

Cowen: When I grew up, in the 70s, the car driving license was the symbol of freedom, autonomy and self-control par excellence. Everyone took a driving license as early as they could. Now every second does not make a driving license anymore, and those who do it do not have to hurry. There is a much more passive mentality. Instead of conquering the world, one waits for the world to come to one. And in the near future, we will also be riding around with machines. Yes, the autonomous driving will be convenient. But for me this is also a sign of slowing dynamism.

* World on Sunday: Where else do you see the Passivmentality?

Cowen: For drugs, for example. Earlier, LSD was used to produce hallucinations. Or stimulating drugs like cocaine. Today, marijuana and heroin are popular in the US, drugs that soothe and sleep. The medication is no different. At least one-fifth of young people in America are given medicines, and a large portion of them are used to soothe them so that they do not cause problems at school. No one thinks about the long-term consequences. It would be better for me if more people behaved strangely, but they would be closer to their true selves.

* World on Sunday: Not a few parents in America do not even let their children play outside.

Cowen: Yes, and kids are sent home from school, because their T-shirt is printed with a light sword. This is just crazy. If you shield people too much from all dangers, they lose understanding of risks. As a result, you have less security, no more.


World on Sunday: The voters in the US have just elected a president who promises radical change. This is not exactly evidence of risk.

Cowen: The voters perceive this differently. The risk posed by Donald Trump is primarily concerned with foreign policy. These are dangers inflicted on other peoples. The Americans, on the other hand, promised to cement their transfer claims. Moreover, he has already proved himself to be a very weak President, who will not achieve much. Trumps presidency will only consolidate self-satisfaction.

World on Sunday: Nevertheless, this presidency is a great experiment ...

Cowen: ... which the voters did not allow themselves until the economy had fully recovered from the financial crisis. Four years ago, when people still feared the great recession, the super-responsibility-conscious Mitt Romney was a candidate for the Republicans.

World on Sunday: The choice of trumps is commonly explained by the fact that many Americans are not satisfied that they feel dependent.

Cowen: When people in the Appalachians or Wisconsin lose their jobs today, they stay where they are. They used to be just gone. However, mobility between the US states has declined by 50 percent.
Welt am Sonntag: Und daran ist allein die Trägheit der Amerikaner schuld?

World on Sunday: And this is the sole fault of the Americans?

Cowen: No, of course not. In many of the most productive cities in the US, Los Angeles and San Francisco, for example, homeowners have ensured that the value of their properties is not threatened by the construction of new cheap housing. This makes it more difficult for people from other areas to go where the jobs are.

World on Sunday: Will the US be European?

Cowen: We've become more Western, I'd say. And we were times rather that, China was just.

World on Sunday: Namely?

Cowen: China is a mobile country. You can grow up there in bitter poverty and end up as a billionaire. The Chinese are accustomed to the fact that everything changes constantly, they expect nothing else. And they take it upon themselves to go across the country to get a better job or even to keep their present. China will be like the US in much of the 20th century.

World on Sunday: Where does the frugality that you are diagnosing come from?

Cowen: You have to look back in the 60s and 70s. At that time, the US was a dynamic place with fairly strong income growth, especially for the middle class. But there was also a lot of crime, there were unrest and the unjust war in Vietnam. Ultimately, the people no longer agreed with this mix. So we locked up more people, we created more security, more regulated. In many ways, life in America has improved. But it was at the expense of economic dynamism.

World on Sunday: After all, America is at the forefront of the IT revolution.

Cowen: Information technology is a big, dynamic sector, that's right. But what has changed the IT? In essence, she has embellished our leisure time. We use IT to stay at home. We do not go shopping anymore, but let us deliver packages from Amazon. We do not go to the cinema, but use Netflix. So weird: We use the most dynamic part of the economy to slow down change in other areas of our lives.

World on Sunday: More security in exchange for a little less dynamism: What should be so bad in a already well-off society?

Cowen: These are precisely the things that give each individual a sense of well-being that is a great danger to us as a collective.

World on Sunday: To what extent?

Cowen: In addition to mobility. Moving costs money and effort. Whoever renounces to move is at least in the short term better off. But if nobody wants to move, the labor market loses the ability to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. This in turn reduces the dynamism of the economy.

World on Sunday: What is so bad about a rich society willing to pay this price?

Cowen: The present self-satisfaction can not last forever. We try to keep change away from us, and that can not work in the long run. If you try to do that, there is a very radical change that can not be controlled or controlled anymore. Incidentally, as a nation, we are dependent on dynamic innovation - just to pay off our debts.

perhaps a machine translation would be in order for "The Joke"

from wiki: Nevertheless, he [Kundera] eventually became dissatisfied with this translation as well, and supervised the creation of a "definite version," which was published in 1992."

That was before Google Translate appeared in 2006 and that has improved dramatically over the past ten years. So GT should translate The Joke to finally have a translation better than what Kundera supervised. By 2022, Google should be able to polish the original Czech version.

"It would be better for me if more people behaved strangely, but they would be closer to their true selves."

As far as people stay close to their true selves far from me, I have no objection.

Yesterday was a weird news day. We began with Donald's "Obama put a tapp on my phone" tweet. That one got everyone going. They soon settled on "if it was a tapp(*), it was FISA." But then it got really weird. Instead of following through on a "Watergate level" charge, Trump started tweeting about Apprentice and Schwarzenegger. Everyone was "wait, what?" And then "sources who should know" said there was no tapp.

I think end of the day consensus was that Trump just saw a Breitbart story, got animated about it, tweeted, and then lost interest.

This shows a broken Presidency on two levels. First, the President preferred questionable media sources to experts or calmer minds in his own administration. But maybe more importantly he didn't have the judgement in the moment that this tweet would be more damaging to him than helpful. Now he gets a Sunday news cycle that is largely "wait, what?" That is not a great way to advance any legislative agenda.

Critical reasoning skills are missing from this whole story arc.

* - adopting the Presidential spelling

Well, in all fairness to Trump, he might not have been briefed on how the U.S. taps all conversations involving Russian officials and those Russians considered to have something to do with Russian intelligence agencies or fronts (a true cynic would say that means all Russians due to the utter pervasiveness of the Russian intelligence apparatus and its ability to essentially co-opt anyone in Russia at any time).

Such intelligence/counter-intelligence taps do not require FISA authorization, and have been occurring in practice pretty much as long as Trump has been alive.

In other words, were Russians placing calls to Trump Tower being recorded? Absolutely - definitely by the Russians and the Americans, almost certainly by the French, the Chinese, and the Israelis, and likely by another couple of dozen other countries.

And if Trump thinks Obama is responsible, he should become familiar with this, originating with President Reagan, particularly part 2 - 'Executive Order 12333, United States Intelligence Activities, December 4, 1981 (As Amended by Executive Orders 13284 (2003), 13355 (2004)
and 13470 (2008))

Maybe some staffer would enjoy a trip to Mar-A-Lago to explain it to the president, if Trump has a few minutes to spare in his busy Florida scheduled activities?

I don't think you help Trump with that "fairness." It acknowledges too many of his deficits.

Any adult, especially of Trump's generation, knows that the US and Russia constantly spy on each other, and have for our whole lives.

And again, there is no rational self-interest in tweeting about that. He should have been talking about something, anything, positive in his legislative agenda.

Trump fans didn't want to talk about this today, but this is what Trump served up.

I am not trying to either help nor harm Trump, it is merely that his very existence has been massively entertaining for decades.

Quite agreed. And let's not forget he did save us from a Hillary presidency.

No matter what you think of him, you have to be on your knees thanking him for that.

@The other jim: Do we owe him thanks if we think that any generic Republican could have beaten Hillary, with probably a larger margin and way, way less baggage?

Don't forget that Republican Congressional candidates almost all did better than Trump. He's more a liability than an asset for them on many dimensions.

I might add that this article - - while very interesting, was not precisely entertaining, and provided some interesting perspectives on what Trump means to the current American system of government.

That article was very good, and it steps back nicely from the too-common "this is not really happening" response. This is happening, and until we get a serious replacement, we have to treat this President as a special (and dangerous) case.

We should have been thinking in these terms long before Trump arrived at the White House. We've spent decades building up presidential power in easily-abused ways, and while Trump's election may not have been foreseeable, it was pretty much certain that someone unfit would end up in his chair sooner or later.

No special briefing should be needed unless he wasn't paying attention to the Michael Flynn episode.

What link are you riffing on?

A combination of what came by on Twitter and a few news stories. Here is the "end of day" one:

FYI, the Whitehouse just issued a very strange position statement. They got nuthin' except a request that unspecified claims be investigated.

Oh, you mean link above? The only reason for a FISA link today (#4) would be the President's claim yesterday.

I think the probability that Trump's calls were NOT being listened in on is very close to zero.

As near zero as the Russians, Chinese, French, Israelis, etc. could make it, at least when it became apparent that Trump would be running for office. The same applies to all the other serious candidates, for that matter (not sure how many people would have bothered with Carson, for example).

What is strange is that so many devoted believers in various conspiracy theories seem utterly unaware of how banal such data collection has been for decades, and to what extent it is practiced by multiple players.

Sure. But I expect that Trump was being surveilled by US intelligence in addition to the others.

Not to mention the UK or Canadians -

This has been going on for a long time (think 1946), and as noted in the article, it is essentially impossible at this point to even tell who is actually wire tapping what. It is not just about American intelligence agencies, it is about an entire 70 year old framework.

Oddly, though, one of the few people able to get up to speed on this is the President of the United States, no congressional probe required. Maybe somebody should tell Trump.

3. The author is far too modest in stating how this applies to the U.S. - 'Consider two countries of the same GDP where one derives fifty percent of its GDP (expenditure method) from net exports and the other zero percent. The latter will have much higher material standards of living almost by definition (most of that difference is apt to be found in consumption, not, say, capital formation).

Yes, export activity generally contributes to the material well-being of its citizens (profits, wages, taxes, etc), but we are already capturing that pretty well in other GDP expenditure categories (especially consumption). Similar issues apply to capital formation activity. Ultimately the consumption component of GDP tells us much more about how much money a country truly has for consumption and other more discretionary uses of its resources and thus how much much we can expect them to spend on healthcare.'

Since the U.S. does not generate 0% net exports, it generates something on the order of -3% net exports ('For all of 2016, the trade deficit was USD 502.25 billion, the highest annual level since 2012 and a 0.4% increase from 2015’s gap of USD 500.36 billion.' ), allowing for even higher health care expenditures. Imagine how much more money the U.S. could spend on health care if it just doubled that figure to -6% net exports. Or how American health care costs would have to come down if the U.S. eliminated its current trade deficit entirely.

And as the U.S. trade deficit began to increase starting in the late 1970s, so did American health care costs compared to the rest of the world (at least if we don't adopt a different way of measuring the costs, of course), according to the author - 'The US looks above average in percentage of GDP terms starting roughly in mid-80s.'

Some people, though, even after all the handwaving, would reply to 'Obviously I’d like more observations to make a tighter estimate, but if US costs were nearly as astronomical as they are thought to be this should stand out.' by quoting something like this - 'Data from the OECD show that the U.S. spent 17.1 percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) on health care in 2013. This was almost 50 percent more than the next-highest spender (France, 11.6% of GDP) and almost double what was spent in the U.K. (8.8%). U.S. spending per person was equivalent to $9,086 (not adjusted for inflation).'

Forgive me for not really buying into the apparent argument of the author that because Americans consume more than anyone else, of course they consume more health care. Because even trying as hard as possible, I just cannot force myself to consider France as being 1/3 poorer than the U.S., possibly because France is maybe 20 miles from here. And possibly because how does one value 6 weeks of vacation per year in consumption terms while spending three weeks at a southern French beach each summer?

" I just cannot force myself to considerFrance as being 1/3 poorer than the U.S., possibly because France is maybe 20 miles from here. And possibly because how does one value 6 weeks of vacation per year in consumption terms while spending three weeks at a southern French beach each summer?"

That is why you can always use GDP/ hour worked (constant dollars, PPP, naturally)

The OECD shows that in constant 2010 dollars, France and Germany are at about $60/hour worked and the U.S. is at $63. The EU - 19 is at $53.

But you see, that would ruin the author's carefully constructed attempt to explain that America is fully normal in terms of health care costs. He attempts to use consumption figures, while dismissing all other measures as leading to the wrong result, i.e. America's health care costs are really an outlier on the high end.

Right. I agree. I also recall a study that shows the USA is an outlier in health care costs because their IP laws subsidize the rest of the world (ROW). That is, due to some US Sup. Ct decisions involving differential pricing and grey market goods (both not allowed), the USA must try and recoup all their patented medicine costs in just the USA, which makes US drugs much more expensive relative to the ROW. Certainly that seems to be the case with my experience with the Greek and Philippine health care costs relative to the USA's. For example, you can clean your teeth there, get routine dental work done, for less than $50 as opposed to the same thing in the USA for $200. That said, for really esoteric treatments you need to be in the USA (and lots of foreigners come to this country just for that reason, if they need specialized medicine).

The "we subsidize the rest of the world" and "our procedures are so advanced" arguments probably account for some of the difference in healthcare spending, but the sheer magnitude of the gap is amazing and shows that these can't be the prinicipal culprits.

Compare and contrast the US with its most similar European counterpart, the UK: the US spends 17.1% of its GDP, versus the UK's 8.8%.

So even if the UK decided to spend an additional gargantuan 2% of GDP on healthcare (57 billion USD), and a further 2% of its GDP on pharmaceutical research, we are still left with a gap of 4.3 % of GDP.

And don't forget that US GDP per capita is higher than UK GDP per capita.

"Where's my money?!?"

Hold on.

The very OECD web site you linked to also has GDP per person total and it shows a 37% higher number in the US over France. In addition, the author of the linked artivle already included another OECD link which states that this:

Is the better determination of actual living standards. Go to page four for the OECD's summary chart. Again, we see substantially higher consumption and actual living standards in the US.

The argument that less French are employed and that the average person in France works fewer hours doesn't undermine the author's argument in the slightest. I am sure he would agree that both are true.

Your (Todd, Ray and Prior) arguments fail across the board. The OECD data and narrative strongly supports his argument.

You haven't addressed the point about how the U.S.'s trade deficit contributes to higher American consumption, nor how using the author's example of 50% and 0% net exports and what that means, a decline in America's trade deficit would then, apparently, lead to a lowering of America's health care costs.

Further, the idea that 6 weeks free time is adequately measured by consumption figures seems profoundly misplaced, to be honest. Particularly when using that hanging out on the beach for 3 weeks example.

The argument on trade deficits isn't pertinent if the OECD data is correct. They are claiming actual living standards are 37% higher. Is this incorrect?

I understand that mandatory vacations are of value, though staying at the beach for three weeks usually requires an extra charge. Indeed, your argument can even be turned around that Americans have a third more income and less free time to spend it, thus leading to even more of it going to health care.

The thrust of item 3 seems entirely consistent with “Wagner's Law.” That is, the idea that as an economy's per capita output grows larger, government spending consumes a larger share.

So, no problem on healthcare, or much government spending, because it is for superior goods. Very clean water is a superior good. Keeping all the endangered creatures alive is a superior good. And so on.

(slightly tongue-in-cheek, somewhat serious)

Not really, because health care isn't necessarily paid by the government. It seems to reveal that as standards of living go up, we do indeed as you state spend on some highly valued goods and this includes health care. Adjusted for PPP, the US is in line with other advanced nations in health care spending. We may still be wasteful, but we are in line.

I think we are on the same page, that #3 and Wagner's Law are both rich people problems. They have significant overlap. Government healthcare costs have grown apace with private costs.

To be clear, my argument isn't so much that it's "no problem" but that the strength of this relationship and the minimal US residual imply we're unlikely to dramatically reduce per capita health expenditures by copying the health systems (e.g., single payer) found elsewhere in the the OECD/affiliates. I believe there are likely deeper seated reasons behind this (e.g., increased value placed on human life and even more rapidly diminishing marginal returns to other categories of consumption) and it's not immediately obvious what else we *ought* to be doing with those resources on at a macro-level (and why we should not subject those allocations to a similarly narrow framing), however this is somewhat beyond the scope of my primary argument.

** #4 (FISA is a Joke)

...of course Trump's phone was tapped by the Fed's -- 'Everyone's' phone/email/internet/etc is collected by the NSA routinely (yawn)

FISA is a sad and tyrannical joke on Americans. Secret Courts can not exist in a free society-- ergo, America is not a free society.

The 4th Amendment has long ago been neutralized by Presidents, Congress, and SCOTUS.

FISA is a compromise between having no checks and balances at all on intelligence gathering within the borders of the United States (the old system) and providing full 4th amendment protection even to foreigners who might have diplomatic immunity. It doesn't make much sense to say the NSA has to go before a federal magistrate and show probable cause before wiretapping the Russian ambassador since the ambassador, by virtue of his status, isn't subject to U.S. criminal law in the first place.

'and providing full 4th amendment protection even to foreigners who might have diplomatic immunity'

I am fully confident that the Russian ambassador to the United States of America has, de facto, precisely zero 4th Amendment rights when it comes to the U.S. attempting to record every single word he utters or transmits. And that any attempt for the Russian ambassador to the United States of America to claim such rights would be politely rejected.

The 4th Amendment states a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT for all persons within U.S. Federal Government jurisdiction.

The 4th Amendment has no clauses permitting Presidents/Congress/SCOTUS to modify that 4th Amendment... for purposes of "intelligence gathering", or any other reason.

The normal court system is perfectly adequate for obtaining warrants for domestic intelligence gathering in accordance with 4th Amendment requirements.

The real 'problem' is that Federal Government officials find it so very inconvenient to obey the 4th Amendment-- so they created unconstitutional workarounds (like FISA and Patriot Act) to ignore requirements for individualized search warrants and individualized probable cause.
The Federal Government now has de facto created its own "General Search Warrant" authority for the electronic communications of all persons in the U.S. (especially U.S. citizens).

The NSA and other government agencies now vigorously Collect-It-All 24/7 -- in open and very successful defiance of the 4th Amendment.

The 4th Amendment was very deliberately intended to be a severe restriction on Federal power-- it's a feature, not a bug in the Constitution.

Apparently the FISA fig leaf was all it took to fool most Americans about this Federal criminality. (read the referenced Greenwald article)

The actual text of the 4th amendment bans "unreasonable searches and seizures." It is defensible to say that the wiretapping of foreigners who are entitled to diplomatic immunity or who enter the U.S. under fraudulent pretenses for the purposes of engaging in espionage is "reasonable."

'The 4th Amendment states a FUNDAMENTAL RIGHT for all persons within U.S. Federal Government jurisdiction. '

No offense, but ambassadors of foreign nations are exempted from being under 'U.S. Federal Government jurisdiction' - if only because then the charge of treason could be made against an ambassador who is in no way, shape, or form subject to penalties that would apply to American citizens, particularly this section in Article III - 'Treason against the United States, shall consist only in levying war against them, or in adhering to their enemies, giving them aid and comfort.'

Ambassadors are clearly involved in giving aid and comfort to their own nation, after all. Note that the U.S. government did not arrest the Japanese ambassador in 1941 due to his involvement in levying war against the U.S. And this is why the idea that a foreign national, representing a foreign nation, operating in an extraterritorial framework, is somehow covered by the 4th Amendment seems more than a bit strange. Particularly considering that it is essentially certain that the Russians are also recording all calls and conversations their ambassador makes, without asking whether such an action conforms the 4th Amendment, much less any other American law.

This is why the text of the 14th Amendment explicitly excludes a certain group - '"All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside." For example, the U.S. cannot claim that the child of an ambassador who was born in the U.S. is automatically an American citizen, and the U.S: is fully within its explicit constitutional authority to not give American citizenship to such a child.

'read the referenced Greenwald article'

I did - Greenwald, at least, does understand the difference between universal wiretapping of American citizens and the long running truth that all major governments spy on each other's representatives. Though I won't speak for Greenwald, it would be surprising if he were outraged that if he called the Russian ambassador to the U.S. on the phone, the conversation would be recorded. If only because Greenwald is intelligent enough to realize that his call is being recorded by as many governments as possible, and most certainly by the Russians themselves. seem really hung up on Ricardo's silly straw man of diplomat status, ducking the primary 4A issue here.

If a Canadian or Russian citizen comes to New York legally as a tourist-- can the FBI or NYPD freely enter their hotel rooms at will and search/seize anything they want? There are no Constitutional protections for foreigners in the U.S. ??
Is that your position ?

Just what (if anything) legally protects any foreign visitors from being arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned indefinitely without charges or trial within the U.S. ??

{Specific international treaty and protocol agreements on diplomat exchange and diplomat status have absolutely nothing to do with 4A. The issue here is warrantless searches/seizures for anybody/everybody in the United States}

'If a Canadian or Russian citizen comes to New York legally as a tourist– can the FBI or NYPD freely enter their hotel rooms at will and search/seize anything they want?'

Let us stick with the FBI and Russians, just to keep this clean (the NYPD has a long tradition of breaking the law by pretending to be an intelligence agency, and Canada does not seem to be actively opposing American interests using espionage). If that Russian tourist just happens to be a colonel in the FSB? Yep, the FBI can and does, though they would generally much rather do it as secretly as possible, in the generally forlorn hope that the FSB colonel won't notice (or alternatively, to make it very obvious, as a pointed reminder that they are keeping track of him). Espionage is played by another set of rules, after all - starting with the fact that technically, in this example, the FSB colonel is probably carrying a passport created by his government expressly to conceal his identity.

You might do better to point out that espionage/counter-espionage examples do not apply that often (which is definitely true, after all), instead of complaining that tracking FSB assets who just happen to be interested in acquiring current blueprints for the latest generation NRO spacecraft (which has undoubtedly been going on since the founding of the NRO in 1961, though back then, the FSB was called the KGB) is a violation of the 4th Amendment. And do note that the NRO itself did not even officially exist until 1992, by the way -

'There are no Constitutional protections for foreigners in the U.S. ?? Is that your position ?'

Well, if they are engaged, or reasonably suspected of being engaged in espionage? No, not really - they can be held without trial until swapped for American espionage assets, for example - 'The swap reflected both governments' desire to keep the scandal from tarnishing their improving relations. The Obama administration did not want months of U.S. court hearings about the spies to cast a shadow over important bilateral business, including a new nuclear-arms treaty being considered by the Senate.

Moscow's agents -- nine Russians and a Peruvian-born naturalized U.S. citizen -- boarded a Russian government Yak-42 jet in Vienna at about noon after disembarking from a U.S. charter plane that had carried them overnight from New York. They were traded for four Russians who were jailed for years because of their contacts with the West. Some were in poor health, U.S. officials said.


The 10, arrested on June 27, were expelled after pleading guilty to serving as unregistered foreign agents for Russia. An 11th suspect disappeared after being released on bail in Cyprus.

The U.S. official said that most of the underage children of the "sleeper" agents had been sent to Russia ahead of their parents. "Everyone feels for them. The last thing you want to do is march them out on the tarmac with their parents" in front of TV cameras, he said.'

'Just what (if anything) legally protects any foreign visitors from being arbitrarily arrested and imprisoned indefinitely without charges or trial within the U.S. ??'

Not being a spy helps, to be honest - the above example is fairly recent, after all. And includes an American citizen, if that helps show the issue is about espionage, and not foreigners, per se.

'The issue here is warrantless searches/seizures for anybody/everybody in the United States'

There are warrantless searches/seizures going on in the U.S., if by this you mean without public warrants. You think this was public, or brought before a judge in open court, or that the FBI specified what they were looking for, and where it was located in accordance with the terms of the 4th Amendment? - 'In early March, headquarters authorized a full field investigation, code-named Windflyer, involving its foreign counterintelligence unit. The Naval Investigative Service also came into play since Michael Walker, a suspect by then, was an active-duty Sailor. Laura Snyder telephoned her father at the behest of the FBI, which recorded the conversation in which he evinced interest in her rejoining the military or perhaps the CIA. The FBI tapped Walker’s phones, and the NIS interviewed hundreds of persons who had known him and obtained a confession from Michael on board the Nimitz.'

"If a Canadian or Russian citizen comes to New York legally as a tourist– can the FBI or NYPD freely enter their hotel rooms at will and search/seize anything they want? There are no Constitutional protections for foreigners in the U.S. ?? Is that your position ?"

Again, the starting point is to note the 4th amendment bans "unreasonable searches and seizures." You are taking the discussion rather far afield with your hypothetical. The issue of whether using wiretaps for intelligence-gathering purposes is or is not "reasonable" is the subject of scholarship and court decisions and I would encourage you skim some of it. The benefit of FISA (as amended after the Aldrich Ames case, I believe) is that it regulates intelligence gathering within the U.S. and explicitly bans things like the FBI simply breaking into a foreign tourist's hotel room for no reason or without the approval of a FISA court.

@Ricardo: "Again, the starting point is to note the 4th amendment bans “unreasonable searches and seizures.” You are taking the discussion rather far afield with your hypothetical. "

The 4th Amendment is not my hypothetical. Your Russian Ambassador/diplomat scenario certainly is your irrelevant hypothetical.

The "starting point" for comments here is the referenced MR article on U.S. government severe violations of 4th Amendment by NSA/FISA/etc.

The 4th Amendment clearly and plainly states what a legally "reasonable" search/seizure is --- it is one with a valid judicial warrant against a specifically identified person/place, clearly identifying the object(s) of the search/seizure... and supported by specific 'probable cause' that the target of the warrant is involved in criminal activity.

Obscure legal scholarship and research are NOT required for average Americans to understand the simple, brief text of 4A.

The odd notion that some vague concept of government "intelligence gathering" ... somehow carves a hidden exception to the words of 4A -- is Wrong, Outrageous, and very Dangerous to American liberty.

Yes, these are clearly unconstitutional according to just about any possible interpretation.

Except, the Supreme Court said that intelligence is better suited that the courts to evaluate national security, and as a result has pre-declared intent to do nothing about any and all constitutional violations associated with such excuses.

The kind of stuff that would probably legitimize violent revolution if there were not very numerous (if extremely difficult) peaceful means of working towards an improved situation.

7. I'm probably wrong, but lately I have this nagging suspicion that N. Korea is trying a "Mouse That Roared" scenario.

I'm vaguely familiar with that book, but didn't the mouse win? That is, the small country inflicted significant damage on the larger one and got some concessions?

#7 Seems to ignore the possibility of a Chinese intervention. We all know how this turned out last time. The Chinese hate North Korea, but they won't stand by and watch America knock everything down.

... American taxpayers have spent over a Trillion Dollars defending South Korea, with no end in sight. What is the U.S. strategy now ??

Keep the course. There is no alternative now but nuclear war.

what percentage of your personal assets are you willing to contribute to the continuing defense of South Korea?

Yes, #7 also ignores the nuclear option that North Korea has, which is the wildcard. Sneak a nuke close to the border (Seoul is close to the DMZ) and detonate it, even a dirty bomb will cause panic)

That said, I'm in favor of assassination of Kim, and/or joint Chinese-US efforts to dismantle North Korea in exchange for trade concessions. Kim is not that popular with China except with certain Chinese military people it seems.

Completely agree with Evan. China is the elephant in the room which the article completely ignores, hence the article is completely irrelevant. North Korea alone can be easily neutralized. It is a weak, poor and fragile country. But China is an immensely powerful, wealthy and stable country and considers North Korea its backyard.

I think you and Evan are overestimating the possibility of Chinese involvement. China has everything to lose in a war with the U.S. They are rational and realise this.

However, I agree that the article at least ought to have considered how China would respond.

The author fails to mention prisoners. An operation of this scale would inevitably result in POWs held by the DPRK. What do we do about them? There isn't any scenario short of a ground invasion that would force DPRK to do anything.

#1. Did Kundera ever respond? His drift away from Czech culture to a vague comfortable eurocosmopolitanism is probably why he seem so irrelevant these days.

-but then why should a 21-year-old open letter to him be posted today?

I was asking myself the same question. I googled the name of the writer of the letter, whom I didn't know, and I found this about her in the news, from just 2 days ago: "Middlebury College professor injured by protesters as she escorted controversial speaker". (

The professor is indeed Allison Stanger, who wrote the letter and is a specialist of international politics. The speaker was Charles Murray. He and Stanger were attacked by protesters in their car, Murray was not injured but she got a twisted neck and have been put in a neck brace.

Now what I wonder is what Tyler was trying to do or to signal by attracting our attention on that sad event in such an indirect way (if indeed it was his intent).

We need a term for the next level above a Straussian reading. Metastraussian? Parastraussian? I like "double Straussian".

There's also the "Staussian pump fake" where the writer hints at a Straussian interpretation to bemuse his readers but actually doesn't have anything to say.

" There’s also the “Staussian pump fake” where the writer hints at a Straussian interpretation to bemuse his readers but actually doesn’t have anything to say."


I had seen the Charles Murray story first and recognized her name, so it didn't strike me as so out of the blue.

Peter, Kundera is getting old, very old. He is from 1929. He will always be relevant due to his past work, the work he wrote before he came to France in 1975, and perhaps also his first works written in France, like "the Immortality". That he didn't write anything as important and as good singe the 90's, that he perhaps messed up with the translation of his books, as the letter eloquently argues, is just sad, and a reminder of the cruel weakening of our capacities that await us all.

Hmm, I don't know, some of his relatively recent work is still very good. "Ignorance" really touched me, while "Slowness" was at least somewhat interesting.

Yes, that's the two I prefer among the recent ones (and "Slowness" is not so recent, 22 years old). But still, I believe they are a far cry form "Life is Elsewhere" or "The Farewell Wlatz" for instance, and I really didn't like "the Identity" and "The festival of Insignifiance".

5. Ross' course in Financial Economics was a tour de force of lecturing, flurries of chalk and one of the few times at Yale I felt genuinely intellectually intimidated. (Peter Gay's course on The Rise of Modernity was the other.) While the general pedagogical implications of being so clearly brilliant as he was are problematic, you need to have one or two of these guys lecturing to you to instill humility, if nothing else. RIP.

I just noticed a slight discrepency in Tyler's interview above and what he said a couple of days ago:

"And in the near future, we will also be riding around with machines. Yes, the autonomous driving will be convenient. But for me this is also a sign of slowing dynamism."

Hold it.... a couple of days ago he said we wouldn't see driverless (or maybe a tiny percentage) "for several decades" due to regulations but now he says we will have them "in the near future."

I tend not to think of the 2040s or 2050s as the "near future."

autonomous cars can't drive as well as people. they are not being held back by regulation

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