Tuesday assorted links


"And: “The question I first posed was what to make of a president who is rhetorically unfit yet mainstream in policy.” — from Martin Gurri."

This seems similar to what Scott Adams was saying last year.

Not done with the article, but so far feels very on point to me.

I really agree with the parallels between this and Scott Adams' views.

I'm p. convinced "The Rhetoric of Trump" is a lot deeper than people are usually willing to believe.

Think about Steve Jobs as a person. Not very nice in his personal life. Kind of weird, too.

A workaholic jerk, too.

Does anyone care as long as you like his "product?"


But he's running a private business. Not getting elected to be the leader and symbol of a nation, to itself and the world. Try explaining to your kids why being a clowny jerk means you get to be president.

Give your kids this one-word explanation: Hillary.

I think I know why you hate Trump.

First FYI: From 2009 to 2017, I felt the same as you.

Obama misspent his two terms issuing unconstitutional edicts, politicizing/weaponizing the IRS, FBI, etc., attacking fossil fuels, quietly murdering Americans (Fast and Furious, etc.), dividing Americans (class and race hatred), flying to Iran pallets loaded with a couple hundred billion in currency (small, unmarked bills) and putting the premiere terrorist supporting nation on track to build the Bomb; and, in general, running down America.

Trump's election (we wanted change) and acts (tax cuts/reform; end to Obamacare individual mandate/tax come to mind) have wrought a huge stock market run-up, continued housing recovery, lowest black unemployment rates, improving labor force participation, rising consumer confidence, rebounding GDP growth, ISIS on the run, reshaping the lunatic-left, dysfunctional federal judiciary, etc.

I know why you don't like him: Trump is Making America Great Again.



Dick, it's been 101 months of rising equities since the last market bottom. It would not be surprising if there's another bottom before Trump's period end (cycles). What would you say in this case? Perhaps the Prez's actions don't control the market, it's just another factor among many.

I think his rhetoric is purposeful.

The Republicans passed a tax bill that would in normal times be subject to 24 hr over 3 weeks end of the world rhetoric from the media. The Democrats have been superb at that type of messaging, and likely it wouldn't have passed. But what was the 24 hour mob media going on about over those weeks?

Not the tax bill. Something about Melania cutting a tree down. Or some other silliness.

Development and large construction projects are about controlling the uncontrollable to an end result. If you don't believe that, get involved in one. Trump did well at that. He is simply applying his skills in a different environment.

"I think his rhetoric is purposeful."

Well, yes, its a staying-one-step-ahead-of the coverage tactic for sure. Control the news by being the news.

But the tax bill is less of a 13-dimension chess play by Trump, as it is an opportunistic blitz by the GOP Congress, exploiting the environment.

That is my point.

There is no 13 dimension chess play in a chaotic environment because there are no pieces, there is no board, and if someone sets them up they get knocked over within minutes.

And yet someone gets results. And the media is on to the next frenzy. Oddly enough.

I just don't see a conspiracy, as in the GOP sat around and set this thing up in advance as a way to pass legislation.

Trump is going around doing his thing, for reasons probably part shrewd and part pathological.

And the GOPs in Congress sort of blinked a few times, then glanced at each other, and then instinctively started filling their pockets.

No conspiracy. Maybe I've been in situations often where chaos reigns, and some people seem to come out of it with what they want. How? Not by some amazing master plan. Mostly by tweaking incentives, by getting others to do what you want.

What is remarkable is watching how people Trump needs are getting what they want. He needs the Democrats to be driven by the extremes, and the extremes are getting everything they need. The media loves chasing squirrels, so he gives them a new one every day. His cabinet secretaries need room, so they get it. The Republicans need some relevance, and they are getting it. If Democrats take the house next year they will get what they want as well, doing what Trump wants done.

You should work in commercial construction. My first impression was how does anything get done and work. Failures are common. Chaos and mayhem are the rule. Some people do extremely well. I've worked for people like Trump. They are all assholes. But they make money and get things done on time and budget.


@derek: those types should stick to the private sector then

You might have the consensus view of Washington.

I have been struck from the beginning how *relatively* soft Tyler has been on Trump compared to Tabarrok or even, say Jonah Goldberg/Kevin Williamson, even writing urging caution against ignoring the supply-side innovation of his tax reform. In spite of being much more left than Tabarrok/Goldberg/Williamson. Did he see something from the beginning that others didn't?

Other people who have been better: Will Wilkinson, Noah Smith

Those people haven’t “been better.” Tyler has been clear about his disdain for nationalism, civic pride, and most importantly cultural nationalism.

And he’s been right to say so. Tyler hs never made it ambiguous, his feelings about cultural nationalism.

And of course when it involves minorities it’s called liberation theory.

Where Will, Noah, and I say "citizenship" you say "cultural nationalism" .. and then not leaving well enough alone bring in "minorities?"

You have poor values, sir.

Your reading comprehension is as poor as your writing ability.

There is nothing to celebrate about cultural or ethnic nationalism. It's a poor choice of in group vs. out group based on superficial nonsense. Hence my support for Prof Cowen and his many disavowals. You've been triggered by your own stupidity and lack of reading comprehension.

There is ALSO nothing to celebrate about cultural subnational nationalism/ethnic movements, which is referred to as liberation theory/white nationalism among other inane names, depending mostly upon which side the politics aligns with. Which is why it is worth mentioning and comparing to the various nonsensical bullshit movements that are the cause du jour among the left and right.

Bannon/Trump nonsense is the right wing version of La Raza. Neither is desirable.

You are just playing a substitution game again.

We talk about American values, centered on things like rule of law, equal rights under the law, and citizenship (and legislation) as enlightened self-interest, and you just denigrate those things as an arbitrary "cultural" nationalism equal to "ethnic" nationalism.

Well, smart guy, when you ditch a culture based on American values, what have you got left?

An endless and futile contrarianism without destination?

5. The wrong thing to say, after the lifeguard drags you ashore, is "see, I was never going to drown." If it wasn't you, if it took a rescue, everything wasn't fine.

I like this essay from Douthat which captures that:


We might come out of this ok, but not by pretending everything is ok.

We will come out of this ok, in fact many things will be more than ok. Trump's awfulness is in his person not his policies.

The sun is out, end of cabin fever, and time for a bike ride.

While I'm doing that, read Douthat again, and look for where, if anywhere, he and I disagree.

Mine is a certain sort of mainstream position.

Trump’s awfulness is in his person not his policies.

No, it's both. The policies are a mixed bag, but his stance on trade is potentially disastrous, and his stance on immigration is objectively inhumane.

his stance on immigration is objectively inhumane.

Libertarianism = applied autism.

Really Art? Who is being autistic?

News yesterday was that Trump wants to cut back on all other border security (border surveillance, radar technology, patrol boats and customs agents) in order to pay for The Wall.

Good idea?

Autistics sure are known for their excessive and unnecessary empathy.

Uhh stop pretending things aren't ok.

They're very much ok, all you have to do is ignore social media and other leftist media.

Like a sane person.

And basically the rest of the world. Which is generally accustomed to poor leadership domestically, but is not accustomed to seeing such a display of it from the U.S. Just look at the list of still to be named/confirmed top level positions, that is, the actual people that set and carry out American policy -

295 No nominee / 16 Awaiting nomination / 74 Formally nominated / 241 Confirmed


Literally totally irrelevant.

Identify some meaningful impediments generated by the lack of a confirmed leadership position.

Trump Poised to Set Record for Appeals Court Judges


And as noted at the end of the Post article - 'Note: Judiciary and non-civilian positions are excluded.'

How is Trump doing with military appointments, by the way? Not counting Flynn, of course.

I hate Trump but his failure to appoint people to bureaucratic positions is not one of the things I would cite as his worst failing.

They aren't merely pretending things are not ok -- they are actively, extensively and hysterically shouting their panicked hallucinations 24/7, and have been for a year, and will continue doing so for another 3-7 years.

It would take a heart of stone not to laugh.

The level of hysteria is hilarious. There's an actual article today looking into whether Trump sang the anthem incorrectly. It's all a TV show at this point.

Well sure, Trump brings this on. He's the reality show president, now we have the reality show presidency.

There's nothing new about attacking the caricature of the president like it's the end of the world. What's new is he's already a caricature.

You mean like the birthers and the Tea Party?

Or, Trump beclowns himself constantly as his base screams "pay no attention to the man in front of the curtain!"

I will try not to recommend the Bruce Bartlett episode of MiB more than 3 times (2 now), but you need it.

Bruce Bartlett Talks About Why Truth Matters


Writing off huge swaths of evidence is not the path to understanding.

5c. Superb? Scott Adams has been well ahead of the curve for almost 3 years on Trump, and he still is. Credit where credit is due.

From August of 2015, when I was laughing at the doofus like everyone else:


Trump is a genius at self promotion, and he promoted himself all the way to the White House. He is also a clowny douchebag, sadly. And yes credit to Adams for seeing how things would play out.

You guys made a mistake in 2016 that you still haven't corrected. Trump's douchiness is all there is, no genius, but it did align with a douchiness in the Republican "base."

That douchiness and partisanship ("he can't possibly be as bad as he seems, he's a Republican!") got him the win .. with a little help from Vladimir at the margin.

What 'mistake' exactly? I didn't vote for him, and I was very clear on what a clown he is the entire year.

Isn't his "douchiness" exactly his genius?

"3-dimensional chess"? Hilarious. If that's what he's playing, then the Republican establishment is playing 4-dimensional chess because Trump has been co-opted. Their hope that he'd be an empty vessel on actual policy has come to fruition. They just have to learn to deal with his rhetoric, which they've handled pretty well though I think it's impeded their agenda (without pushing things in Trump's or his base's favor) but we won't know for sure until after the 2018 elections whether Republicans will escape the blow back from the negatives of Trump as president.

Oh the Reps are getting creamed in the midterms, but that's typical in the first midterm for the incumbent party. Trump probably does make it somewhat worse.

They doomed themselves when they didn't fix Obamacare. They failed because they still believed what they read in the Washington Post.

Eh, maybe. It's just a fact that the incumbent party gets creamed in the midterms. Exceptions like 2002 are rare (post 9-11 rally 'round the flag)

Not to quibble--but from that Adams article:

"There is no way Trump picks some desiccated Governor from an important state as his running mate."

So Adams didn't get all his predictions right concerning Trump! (Trump's appointees have really been "ground zero" of the calamity which is the Trump presidency!)

Gurri's hypothesis is much, much different from Adams'. Adams thinks Trump is a gifted salesman, while Gurri thinks Trump is trying to figure out how to do good Republican politics in a world preconditioned to Twitter rants. (Gurri also misuses the term "schizoid." He really means "schismatic." But let's forgive him for that.)

Adams' thesis is terrible. Gurri's thesis is much better and more realistic. I think my view - which is not entirely incompatible with Gurri's - is that Trump himself is a part of the sideshow. That is, we could expect similar results by electing your average snowflake college campus protestor. Trump buys into his own crap rhetoric. Even when he's wrong, he genuinely believes it. I know lots of people like this, genuinely charismatic people who say a lot of bulls--t, constantly, in a steady stream, but still manage to live functional and even successful lives. Like David Lee Roth, who is actually extremely smart and talented, but also a galactic-level B.S.-er with a truly strange personality.

My takeaway: There's a lot more room for weirdness in the world than people initially expect. As long as we judge Trump on his actions rather than his Tweets, we'll be okay.

"Adams thinks Trump is a gifted salesman, while Gurri thinks Trump is trying to figure out how to do good Republican politics in a world preconditioned to Twitter rants."

I disagree with your analysis a bit. I don't think Trump is trying to figure out how to do good Republican politics in a world of Twitter rants. Instead, I think Trump uses rhetorical ranting (in any convenient media) to overcome the constraints of the normal Overton window. And he's clearly been successful in this tactic.

I think the effective difference in Adams referring to Trump as being a Master Persuader and Gurri's stance, is that that Adam's stance doesn't necessarily indicate any effectiveness as a President. Adam's stance was that those skills would allow him to win the primary and later the election. But they don't really contradict.

I agree with you for the most part. Where we disagree is that where you see Trump trying to overcome the constraints of the Overton window, I actually think he believes what he says when he's saying it. This is fairly common narcissistic behavior. (Note, I'm not not calling Trump a bona fide NPD, but CEO and POTUS types do express more narcissistic traits than the rest of us.) When someone is expressing narcissism, whatever they say sort of "has to be" the truth. I get that vibe from Trump. I don't think it's a mere rhetorical ploy. I think he's selling himself on his B.S. while he's selling everyone else on it, too. Then when it turns out to be false, it doesn't matter because he's already onto something else. You can see how this would be valuable behavior to see in a CEO. Politics relies more on decorum than business does, however, thus sparking concerns that Trump is ruining the presidency forevermore. I'm not a pessimist on that question, but the pessimists do have a point.

Thank you for directing me to Gurri's piece, which I hadn't read and foud very good.

I see a fair amount of overlap between what Adams and Gurri are saying. My own view is probably closer to Gurri's, except that Trump really isn't and never has been a Republican, so policy has been a bit more gridlocky and less partisan than under the (IMO disastrous) GWB regime so far. This could all change if Trump gets talked into a war in Iran or something...

Look up "bloody nose korea."

If you believe Douthat's Petticoat Whitehouse, that becomes a battle of factions, and with an extra special Trump chaos risk.

2. "The decisions to set up the sites and take steps toward establishing a code of conduct, announced Friday evening during the group’s annual conference in Philadelphia, came after more than 1,000 economists signed a petition last year asking the AEA to supplant Economics Job Market Rumors, a website featuring anonymous comments about economics hiring and other topics."

I at first asked myself why none of the petitioners thought to set up an alternative to EJMR themselves, but then I remembered: women can't do tech.

How will the AEA prevent people from visiting a third party website? Is it really the case that there is no other place for people to discuss economics rumours other than on EJMR? Why don't they just set up a sub-reddit? That is the work of 5 minutes.

What a complacent chap that Brooks fellow is. He could teach a degree in smugness.

With options in self-congratulation.

Amen. Ann Althouse usefully points out Brooks' grammar error (using "we" instead of "us") that underscores the delusions of the annointed: http://althouse.blogspot.com/2018/01/i-sometimes-wonder-if-invisible-white.html The high-brows have no clothes. She is also on point in noting that Trump-hate is worse than silly. Unfortunately, Althouse goes on to betray judgmental intolerance by saying "Trump was too weird and crazy to be President." If you want to start enforcing norms in behavior, it helps if you don't cherry pick the norms to enforce. The Trump-haters hate Trump supporters for not having docilely kneeled before Obama who was plenty weird (all the" I will stop the oceans from rising, "Rev. Jeremiah Wright ties, and hubris in claiming his superiority has an intelligence analyst, etc). The bottom line is that Trump-hate is intolerant bigotry. As will be the Pence-hate once they do in Trump. We got a foretaste with Tyler's hateful mockery of Pence for being a Johnny Cash "I walk the line" kind of guy. Hate is an addictive and the hate epidemic is not going away anytime soon.

A course in Brooks isn't complete without a survey of Thomas Friedman's Amnesiac Tropes

Brooks made clear during the previous administration that style is the most important characteristic of a president, the quality of the crease in his slacks, for instance. And he confirms this when he lifts up NYT reporters as exemplars of excellence. It's not what they write, their adherence to the truth, but the elegance with which they write it, and the company they keep for cocktails.

Someone said 'cocktail parties', everybody drink (a cocktail)! Oh those sweet, sweet cocktail parties Cowen, Brooks, and the rest go to!

Brooks' piece was better than I anticipated; still, he could have mentioned the need for institutional cleaning-up in his conclusion about maintaining distinctions.

#2 Its amusing to see people/organizations trying SO hard to not appear racist or sexist. Virtue signalling is so cute...

yeah, what exactly would more women-in-economics do for the study of "economics" ?
What has the professional discipline of economics failed to accomplish due to insufficient female participation ?

most economists are leftists and leftists are obsessed with gender, race, and economic equality... poses.

I've asked this question so many times and there's simply no answer. The whole idea that total gender equality in all areas is desirable (or even needed!) is just crazy in my opinion. You never hear about bringing more men to be kindergarten teachers! This is all politics dressed as science, we should at least be honest enough to say that out loud.

Yes, unfortunately it has nothing to do with equality of opportunity and everything to do with special interests grabbing whatever power they can get their hands on using whatever means they think will be most effective. This is plain from the lack of concern about areas where men are far behind, or where women are not interested (e.g. lumberjacks).

Who doesn't love LEGOs? I mean, seriously.

The blind.

People without hands. Hellen Keller.

also people walking on hard surfaces without shoes.

6A: That's pretty solid range, but "It's too bad we kept the heat off for most of the drive, to save power" seems like cheating. What kind of range would they have gotten with the heat on? With the heat off? Did they actually get the promised 310 miles? Seems like this section needs fleshing out more, and it's one of the most important aspects of the review.

I was curious about this too. According to this Quora site, using the heat in 0 Deg weather drastically cuts the range (-100 miles).


The energy load for heating has a larger range than for air conditioning, for one thing. Another is that cold is not good for batteries. As recognized by Tesla - 'Good news for Tesla owners living in colder climates as winter is coming. Tesla is working on a battery pre-heating feature in order to maximize efficiency.

Battery cells need to be maintained at moderate temperatures in order to perform.

A loss in electric vehicle range in cold climate is often associated with the use of climate control, but extreme cold can also directly affect the performance of the battery and limit efficiency.


As we discussed on our podcast last week, Tesla even started displaying the part of the range that is unavailable when the battery gets too cold:


With the recently released 2017.50 vehicle software update and an upcoming mobile app update, Tesla owners will be able to independently activate a “battery preheating” feature through the mobile app – again if the car is plugged in.

Tesla previously enabled owners to pre-heat the cabin through the app, but now it will also be able to warm the battery pack.

Of course, the advantage is that the battery can charge while the pre-heating process takes place, which maintains the charge before taking the vehicle for a drive. Tesla says that the new feature will maximize efficiency in cold climates.' https://electrek.co/2017/12/19/tesla-battery-pre-heating-feature-maximize-efficiency-cold-climates/

"With the recently released 2017.50 vehicle software update and an upcoming mobile app update, Tesla owners will be able to independently activate a “battery preheating” feature through the mobile app – again if the car is plugged in."

So the car was built to be able to do this, but the option was never given until now? That seems odd.

Teslas have any number of not necessarily activated features, as noted here - http://marginalrevolution.com/marginalrevolution/2017/09/teslas-damaged-goods-problem.html

It's pretty clear that people have already been pre-heating the battery. I think the new feature is being able to do it from a phone.

Previously you had to get in the car and start the preheating cycle: "You can also preheat the battery in ‘Settings->Driving->Preheat battery’"


It would be interesting to know how the energy withdrawn from the battery to preheat it compares to the increase in the energy available from the now-warmer but less-charged battery.

1b is a great read. Gave me the desire to read more about ancient Ethiopia.

It was mentioned in one comment on the recent post on "best books on each country", but mostly for contemporary Ethiopian. There was this reading list given though: https://uthiopia.com/books-to-understand-ethiopia. Any comment on any of these books, or any recommendation for a book about ancient Ethiopia?

That Ethiopia was important and connected to the Mediterranean world already in very high antiquity is clear: remember this passage from the Odyssey when Poseidon leaves Ulysses alone for a while because he is at a banquet in Ethiopia. Another thing that makes Ethiopia important and mysterious is the presence of people speaking Semitic languages in his territory. This is the only part of Africa where Semitic languages were spoken in ancient times (before "modern" invasions, like Phoenicians in Carthage or Arabs later). This makes Ethiopia even a plausible contender for being the cradle of the Semitic languages and people, if combined with the fact that the other languages of the larger group to which Semitic languages belong (the Afro-Asiatic group) are all original from Africa. I do not know what Ethiopian archeology says about all this, and it would be fascinating to learn.

The manuscripts found in the Ethiopian desert are written in Ethiopic, the ancient Semitic language of Abyssinia (i.e., the Ethiopian Empire consisting of the northern half of present-day Ethiopia). Their significance, besides the Semitic connection, is they are illuminated (illustrated). New Testament scholars believe the original Gospels were written in Greek (not Aramaic, the language spoken by Jesus and His apostles). Of course, Aramaic belongs to the Semitic subfamily of the Afroasiatic language family.

I thought the ancient Egyptians spoke a Semitic language.

There is a convention in what we decide to call a Semitic language (since the word Semitic comes from the Bible which has no pretense of being an exact linguistic treatise) -- but Egyptian, while related, is very different from the group formed by the Semitic languages (e.g. Akkadian, Babylonian, Hebrew, Arabic, old languages of south Arabia, etc.). Since the early 19th century, Egyptian was classified a Hamitic language (from Ham or Cham, younger brother of Sem, son of Noah), together with Berber and other languages.
Semitic languages together with languages anciently seen as Hamitic (which are not really an homogenous subgroup) are part of the larger family, Hamito-Semitic, or to use the more modern term free of biblical mythology, Afro-Asiatic (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Afroasiatic_languages).

But it's true that for a long time, people were loose with the classification. For example, the old "Semitic museum" of Harvard University still has a section about Egypt...

Of course, this discussion of the Gospels and Semitic languages is absurd: the Gospels, in whatever languages they are translated, are anti-Semitic! From a scholars point of view, the fact that the Gospels were copied in a Semitic language as late at the seventh century is important because it is evidence of Jewish followers of Jesus.

rayward at 6:56: Was Homer anti-Trojan? No. Was Vergil anti-Latin? Well, not as talented a poet, so maybe. Dante was probably anti-Semitic, being poorly educated, so there's that. But Shakespeare's bad Jewish character was balanced by even worse Christian characters, see the 'Merchant of Venice', and to call Shakespeare 'anti-Semitic' on the basis of a play where everybody is very nasty - thus pointing out an equivalence between Jews and Christians - is questionable. These examples serve as an analogy to the question of whether the Gospels are excessively pro- or anti- Semitic. In fact, the Gospels were more like Homer than like Vergil or Dante, to complete the analogy.

The major victims in the Gospel for whom we are called to mourn were all Jewish (starting with the Holy Innocents, killed by a Roman puppet, followed by John the Baptist, killed by another Roman puppet, followed by, among others and most importantly, Jesus, one of whose last statements was to his Father, asking Him to forgive those who killed Him (historically speaking, the Roman government, along with a misguided faction of His fellow Jews were legally responsible for His 'legal' death penalty). In the Gospels, Jesus disagreed with many people - primarily Jews, of course, because the opinions of the Romans and others were not really worth engaging with, not because the Jews were more wrong than others who might have expressed an opinion on God in the presence of Jesus- au contraire, they (the Jews) were the only ones who were close to being not wrong - but Jesus was the expert and they were not. Of course he did not disagree with those who agreed with what the Prophets, having been inspired by the Holy Spirit, had said. And all those Prophets, Rayward, were Jewish - not some, as one might expect, but all! Well, if you read the Bible in a contentious mood you will miss the profound agreement between Jesus and many of the Jews of that day on many of the teachings that we call Christian.

All the translations of the Gospels are susceptible to mistakes, and I would not be surprised if the majority of translations had mistakes that might make people think, as you claim to think, that the Gospels are 'anti-Semitic'. Fortunately, we have copies of the Greek originals that are fairly close to the first written sources, and we need not be misled by bad translations on any specific issue that we consider worth researching.

Is that a pun, or is there really in this message a mistake on the basic sense of these basic words? To the risk of being pedantic, let me take rayward's message seriously. In "Anti-Semitic", Semitic means "Jews". In "Semitic language", it means Hebrew (the historical language of the Jews) or Arabic, or Phoenician, or Babylonian, or Akkadian, or Assyrian, or Aramean, or etc...

Thus an Arab may be anti-semitic politically (meaning he has hostility toward Jews), even if he is a "semite" linguistically. And translating a text, the Gospels for instance, in a Semitic language doesn't mean at all it is translated for the Jews: the overwhelming majority (98% now) of Semitic speakers are not Jews, and moreover since a long time, the majority of Jews have a non-semitic language as their mother tongue: they tend to speak the language of the countries they're settled, or perhaps the preceding country they were settled before, such as Jews speaking Yiddish (that is, German) in Russia. These beautiful Ethiopian Gospels are no evidence at all of late Jewish followers of Jesus. (By the way I am not even sure what is meant by a "late Jewish follower of Jesus": isn't that usually called a "Christian"?)

All books about Ethiopian history nearly invariably start with the Axum/Yeha/Adulis Kingdom (BC), except if they bear the word 'contemporary' or 'modern' in their title (and then they's more often still give a brief overview).

As such, any good history of Ethiopia will cover this:

Layers of Time, by Henze
History of Ethiopia, by Marcus

For something more specific, you could try:

Axum, an African Civilisation of Late Antiquity, by Stuart Munro-Hay


yeah, the American government Drug War has been so very successful over past half century -- Jeff Sessions doesn't need any more analysis of the problem... just gut instinct

the alleged Opioid-Crisis is a phony media creation-- a small minority of people abuse drugs and some die. Same old story.

Most of those alleged "opioid" overdose deaths occurred in conjunction with benzodiazepines (like Valium and Xanax) and black market heroin & fentanyl.

Sessions doesn't need anything: the law is the law. I think it's politically stupid though.

"Most of those alleged “opioid” overdose deaths occurred in conjunction with benzodiazepines (like Valium and Xanax) and black market heroin & fentanyl."

Someone doesn't know what opioids are.

"synthetic" opioids

3. “…changes in economic conditions account for less than one-tenth of the rise in drug and opioid-involved mortality rates.”

The abstract doesn't indicate what he thinks accounts for nine-tenths of the rise. There is a physician in our family who argues, "The opioids weren't used correctly." No shit! The problem is when pharmaceutical companies and physicians flooded the market with opioids, people were bound to die--60 some-thousand in one year's time--more than the combined total from gun deaths and traffic fatalities. The economics of the "American Medical Model" does not allow for the proper management of drug treatment regimens. The poor economy was the wood, and the opioids were the gasoline and the match.

Trump does a lot of things that conservative elites tend to publicly support but privately oppose. Stuff like supporting the move to Jerusalem, cutting all aid to Pakistan or UNESCO, directly threatening North Korea with war over its nuclear program, making unqualified ideological cabinet appointments to "drain the swamp", deporting refugees and DREAMers, etc. There are pragmatic reasons to avoid these policies which have prevented them being implemented in the past, but Trump doesn't seem to weigh pragmatism in his moves. That makes him seem more "mainstream conservative", but I would argue it is more accurate to think of him as taking mainstream conservative talking points at face value and governing accordingly.

At this point, it seems to me that he frames his decisions in order to look good during Fox News commentary. In places where Fox News is aligned with the elite conservative consensus, like, say, on judicial appointments, Trump looks like a standard conservative and this works out fine for the GOP. But when Fox News skews right of the elite conservative consensus in order to be more entertaining, such as on things like the Charlottesville protests or the supposed tendency of immigrants to commit lots of crimes, Trump ends up taking a line that is out of step with elite conservative opinion, and more closely in line with Fox News.

Well, I am not sure if conservatives don't agree with those points in private... I think conservative presidents in the past gave up on a lot of those points but I don't think a lot of conservatives were happy about it (North Korea is a prime example)

This seems like a Turing fail. Conservatives have mostly happy with his moves and picks, it's the tweeting that annoys them. At the end of the day substance trumps style, and Trump has had a lot of substance. Very good agency head picks, the move to Jerusalem (promised by every President since Bill Clinton), handling the UN, taking on Obama's foreign policy debacles have been huge wins in the eyes of conservatives.

The only Republicans that are anti Trump are the big government, Democrat-lite ones. Ted Cruz is the only other candidate who'd have the balls to do half of this, and everyone in Congress hates him too.

I'm going to add something to your DREAMers comment. Sessions has also started to enforce the marijuana laws. I'm pro legal pot and for letting the DREAMers stay, but Trump and Sessions are right in their actions. The DREAMers have been here on an illegal Executive order and this forces Congress to make this right. Trump didn't opposed allowing the DREAMers to stay, he just wants to do it legally, which will remove the ability of any president to change this at a whim.

Same goes for Sessions. Let Congress change the law if they want pot legal. It's their responsibility. Having enforcement at the whim of whoever is in power is a terrible way to run a country. The DOJ's job is not to decide what they would like to enforce, but to enforce the law. Congress needs to legislate instead of throwing hissy fits for CNN. Separation of powers is still a thing in the US.

Also, there are a lot of GOP who want a DACA deal. But not enough. They need some Democrats. So, let the Democrats and them join forces.

(Hint: the Democrats won't do this, because they want a wedge issue...they view DACA as a weapon to win elections not a problem that needs solving. GOP does this, too, especially McConnel.)

Plus once you give them citizenship you have nothing to hold over their heads.

They’re going to vote democrat regardless. Also they can’t vote if they’re not citizens.

I think Trump stumbled onto an obvious point: the Democrats want citizenship for illegal immigrants, and its 11 million democrat votes. Republicans are willing to give them a path to citizenship. But there’s a deal to be made that involves a give and take.

If Democrats are forced to choose between DACA and virtue signaling ..... We may see the end of DACA?

If Democrats cared about the program they would agree to end chain migration, move to a points system (like every other country) and throw some money at “a wall.” The fact that they will potentially agree to tossing 700,000 illegals out of the country to avoid pissing off their base seems absurd. That’s 700,000 votes.

Logically shouldn’t dems agree to a wall, transition to points, and e-verify for 700,000 future votes?

Federal wall building began with Clinton.

Building walls was supposed to stop illegal immigration. It didn't.

It moved the illegal crossings from California and a few other metro areas on the border where voters vote Democratic to rural border areas where landowners vote Republican.

Building walls increased the permanent "illegal" population.

When crossing the border without owning assets, like a car or truck, was no longer a matter of running across the border to be picked up by friends so you can do a week of work and return home with cash, trips to the US had to be longer to pay for the higher investment. Longer trips meant getting entangled in love, family, businesses which turn a three month working for cash to take home, to three years running a business, to three decades of family.

Harun: (Hint: the Democrats won’t do this, because they want a wedge issue…they view DACA as a weapon to win elections not a problem that needs solving. GOP does this, too, especially McConnel.)


The Dems want DACA because the Hispanic population is growing faster than the non-Hispanic White population. Every Mexican-American kid born to a "Dreamer" in Texas is a potential Democrat vote a couple of decades down the road. The more of them there are, the sooner Texas turns blue and puts a major dent in the GOP's Electoral College structural advantage. Combine that with the Puerto Rican influx into Florida and continuing Yankee colonization of North Carolina (a la what's already happened in Virginia).

The question is can the GOP lock down Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania as solid red states to compensate.

So, why do you think Republican leaders didn't do these things long ago, if they really did believe in them? I would argue that the simplest explanation is that they secretly thought they were a bad idea for various pragmatic reasons but couldn't tell their base that.

They didn't want to take the heat for it. Trump doesn't care or even thrives on it.

The neutering of the media is the reason.

No politician has ever survived the media mob onslaughts that Trump has endured. It took a while, but the Republicans in congress have figured out that the media obsession with what Trump eats at bedtime gives them space to pass legislation that otherwise would be subject to media onslaughts.

Same with deregulation. We are seeing the bureaucrats leaking and speaking out, but what they say is barely heard over the silliness that consumes the media. Fire and Fury already consumed a week, and lots of important stuff happened that wasn't on the news. This is end of the world stuff that could be 24 hour 3 week coverage, getting rid of two EPA employees. We are all going to die. But it isn't.

I read a story about the GSE's when a congress person worried about the nastiness going on would start making a fuss, and the GSE would arrange a media barrage about how your congressman was going to take your mortgage away. The whole thing would be dropped.

That has changed.

It's a shame Florence King is gone, because she could put into words the visceral hate I feel for the acronym/euphemism/term "DREAMers" and the cynic who coined it.

#7 It's good to see that Tyler is staying on top of developing NR research.

The Elysium Basis study results may not look like a big deal but keep in mind that the 8% longer walking distance for 6 minutes and an 8% chair balancing improvement found by taking 500 mg of NR (a Viatmin B3 derivative) along with 100 mg of pterostilbine (a compound in blueberriers) was with a group of 40 healthy, non-obese subjects (60 to 79 years old) and that overall, more improvements are likely to be seen with less healthy, obese older adults. The U of Colorado/Chromadex study to be published soon will reveal more about how NR affects aspects of heart function and cognition.

Is that hobbyhorse of yours getting sore from all the whipping?

So an 8% increase in distance walking for 6 minutes is trivial? That is for healthy elderly - 60 to 79. After taking NR, my hair clearly became thicker after a few months. The Colorado study should be out soon where much more will be understood. So what's your objection to the elderly becoming a little healthier through a vitamin?

....what ? you mock academic economics research

Consider all the effective solutions to America's economic problems that professional economists have developed and implemented

#3 I am surprised that it is not less than zero. People drink more when they have more money why would they not drug more.

5) Why does Trump and the Republican party get props for passing legislation when the Obama administration only received criticism? Obama killed Bin Laden, but this got little praise as it was apparently something that any administration would have accomplished. Trump, however, presides over the end of ISIS and it is considered proof of the strength of his presidency.

The bar for Trump is crazy low, I get that, but it gets tiresome to hear how the country has been dramatically changed by his policies as Brooks states in his piece. I suspect that most Americans have not had their lives changed at all, just like most didn't under Obama. At the margins...perhaps, but only at the very margins.

The importance of the presidency is in how the country sees itself. Clearly most Trump voters didn't vote for him for his policies (and this applies to Democrats who voted for Hilary Clinton as well!) This is the measuring stick to be used to rate Trump- not legislative accomplishments. So looking a the disorder in the White House actually is pretty important. The packaging is more important than the contents!

"Why does Trump and the Republican party get props for passing legislation when the Obama administration only received criticism?"

Their legislation has been significantly better.

"Obama killed Bin Laden, but this got little praise" .... when it came out there had been other opportunities to do so, but Obama nix'd them. They had to keep him in the dark (they pulled him from a golf course) until the last second so he couldn't screw it up.

"Trump, however, presides over the end of ISIS and it is considered proof of the strength of his presidency." Trump oversaw the quick destruction of ISIS in the first year after Obama flailed for years at this. He allowed the generals to finally do their job.

"I suspect that most Americans have not had their lives changed at all"
Unemployment at a 17 year low, 45 year low for black folks, consumer and business optimism at decades old highs as well. People like having jobs, it is not meaningless.

"The packaging is more important than the contents!"

This describes the real divide between conservatives and liberals. Liberals care about style and conservatives care about substance. Substance is what feeds and clothes people. I don't think this a teachable thing, so you go ahead and elect Oprah or a Kardashian or whatever.

There is no substance! Explain to me how my life as an American citizen has been dramatically changed by Trump. You can't! My taxes may go down by about $500. It's something, but very little in the long or short run.

The only thing that has changed is how we view ourselves and our leader, our representative to the world. Some people don't even care about that, but I'll go out on a limb and say they're a small minority.

Again, looks matter. Trump knows this as well as anybody, otherwise he'd have tried to look more Presidential. He's playing up to his base.

Trump has received very little credit for ISIS.

In fact, its like the world doesn't even notice ISIS lost. Its kind of amazing. The re-taking of Mosul was barely news in America.

Obama got far more credit for killing Osama than you imagine.

I think in both cases, people didn't care because it happened slowly and people now demand insta-gratification.

'Trump has received very little credit for ISIS.'

Likely because Assad now being firmly in power (and extending Russian power at the same time) is the sort of geopolitical genius that no one is particularly interested in trumpeting.

Apart from the Russians, that is - 'MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia has started establishing a permanent military presence at naval and air bases in Syria, the defense minister said on Tuesday as parliament ratified a deal with Damascus to cement Russian presence in the country, the RIA news agency reported.

The deal, signed on Jan. 18 will expand the Tartus naval facility, Russia’s only naval foothold in the Mediterranean, and grant Russian warships access to Syrian waters and ports, Viktor Bondarev, head of the upper house security and defense committee, told RIA.

RIA news agency separately quoted Sergei Shoigu as saying: “Last week the Commander-in-Chief (President Vladimir Putin) approved the structure and the bases in Tartus and in Hmeimim (air base). We have begun forming a permanent presence there.” https://www.reuters.com/article/us-mideast-crisis-syria-russia-bases/russia-establishing-permanent-presence-at-its-syrian-bases-ria-idUSKBN1EK0HD

(I was actually on a Turkish destroyer a couple of years ago, a day after a Russian military tanker went through the Bosporus - the Turkish officer I was talking to was disgusted at how the Russians were gaining a firmer presence in Syria by supporting Assad - which just happens to border Turkey, after all. The Turks worry a lot more about the Russians than any group of terrorists - after all, the Crimea used to be Turkish territory.)

Assad is firmly in power of the largest part of a large pile of rubble. Syria is a poor country of no strategic significance.

The Soviet Union established that navy base in Syria and was an ally of Assad's dad. Really worked out well for them.

Turkey deserves everything bad that happens to them but Russia is not going to attack even a treasonous NATO country.

"Syria is a poor country of no strategic significance."

That's obvious from how everyone ignores it.

The minute Russian agents start suicide bombing westerners, stabbing people, or murdering people in TriBeCa with Home Depot vans I will give a shit.

This is the ultimate weirdness for me. The people who cheered Russia under the USSR and praised Jane Fonda for posing with communist soldiers killing Americans suddenly hate Russians for making Facebook posts. Facebook....posts.

Facebook posts versus supplying heavy weaponry to a totalitarian regime (killing Americans daily for years) that of course ended up putting its people in concentration camps. Genocide and gulags versus Facebook shenanigans. Putin is a sideshow and a leader of a failed alcoholic state. But now Russia is a threat. Jesus Christ. Where were you during the Cold War?

One of the biggest strawmen I've ever heard of. You've got to be kidding. Who are these supposed people? How many?

But now Russia is a threat.

Russia never stopped being a threat. As long as they have enough nukes to destroy much of the U.S. and the means to deliver them, they will be a threat. As long as they are hostile to U.S. interests, they are a threat.

The new dimension to the Russian threat is that they now have an eager, ready, and waiting fifth column in the U.S. in the form of the reactionary alt-right. Angry, disaffected, and naive Americans who hate their political opponents so much that they're willing to side with a hostile foreign power against their own government and their own countrymen. I expect the SVR's asset recruitment metrics in the U.S. over the past 12-18 months have been quite pleasing to the Kremlin.

Douthat has given him plenty of credit. He's not the only one. Google it.

I like Obama, but he obviously got kid glove treatment from the MSM.

Grammar Police report: Brooks writes about "the monotonous daily hysteria of we anti-Trumpers," and this appears in The New York Times!

Brooks wonders, "are we going to restore the distinction between excellence and mediocrity, truth and a lie?" How about between 'we' and 'us'?

#5 Martin Gurri "Let me specify what I mean by “unfit for office.” I don’t mean that he has committed high crimes and ought to be impeached. I mean, rather, that at the time of his election candidate ......was appallingly inexperienced in every qualification for the presidency. He also seemed ignorant of our history, incurious about our political habits and traditions, and impulsive and irresponsible in his interactions with the world."

Sounds a lot more like Obama than Trump.


- was appallingly inexperienced in every qualification for the presidency

Mostly this. Significantly more so than Trump. The other points don't really apply too much to either.

The Ethiopian highlands are NOT desert. They are green (during the rainy season anyway). They are also fairly cool in temperature.

"Desert," like "jungle," is a term people tend to use about Africa as if it does not have a diverse terrain (not to mention diverse people, polities, etc.)

You're being a bit optimistic if you expect Americans to pay much attention to geography.

pay much attention to geography.

You stuck the world with David Harvey and David M Smith. Piss off.

You first, fuckface.

Try learning something about academic geography, you innumerate shyster.

#6 Tesla = Delorean

Is Model 3 the one that they built 250 of last quarter or was that another scam model? Hard to keep track.

Tesla has built close to 300K cars at this point. Any valid comparisons to Delorean's ill fated company has long passed. Total Delorean production was around 9K.

Regardless of what happens in the the long term, it's clear that Tesla's electric cars have had a permanent impact. They've drastically accelerated the acceptance and phase in of electric cars.

"They’ve drastically accelerated the acceptance and phase in of electric cars."

Exactly. Consciously or not, Tesla kicked open the door, changed the conversation, demonstrated a pent up demand willing to pay top dollar, and proved the concept.

The big players are taking over now.

Mood affiliate much? Delorean sold 9000 cars. Tesla has sold well over 250,000 to date.

Did the opioid crisis researchers control for relative ease of access and transfer, low price, lack of criminal enforcement, promotion by the pharma industry, high addictiveness coupled with social acceptability of initial use and recreational misuse, etc?

Is that what they mean by: it's a "drug problem" not a poverty problem?

It's not that different than saying poverty doesn't cause gun violence. Since I assume there's high variability in correlation making it easy to try and rule out specific causation. But is it a necessary or frequent ingredient in the gumbo? A trigger, catalyst, etc.

Besides, poverty isn't really a great measure of misery. Per se.

#5, The NYT somehow manages a pompous self important tone regardless of who purportedly is doing the writing. Is it possible that a single person on the planet will have a different view of anything after reading this very stern lecture by David Brooks? Does Mr. Brooks say a single thing that has not been said ad infinitum over the past year? If not, then why does the writer adopt a tone that suggests he should be taken with a great deal of weight?

2: Interesting stuff, and there seems to be a rise in interest in diversity in economics. Alice Wu's paper of course is the latest catalyst, but even before that paper came out, Avilova and Goldin had started their experimental project. And Bayer and Wilcox used publicly available data to measure diversity of econ majors at US colleges and universities:

I'm not sure what provoked this recent rise; was it EJMR itself? One didn't need Alice Wu's statistical analysis to notice that there was rampant misogyny on that site. And presumably a lot of the commenters on that site are or will be teaching both male and female undergraduates, and with teachers like that it's no wonder that few college women want to become econ majors.

The signal-to-noise ratio at EJMR is so abysmal that I almost never peruse it, but when I last looked a few months ago some of the comments seemed to say that the operator of the site had cracked down on the most horrific comments? Long overdue, even MR deletes comments occasionally.

An interest in 'diversity' means a declining interest in academic rigor and seriousness.

About 30% of all econ majors are female, so some do manage to function in spite of all the 'misogyny'. In arts and sciences faculties, women dominate the humanities and selected science departments (e.g. biology and psychology). Men have an advantage in mathematics and allied disciplines, physical sciences, geo sciences, history, and most of the social research disciplines. The notable exceptions among the last are anthropology (no math, many SJWs) and sociology (SJWs everywhere, and a large selection of courses which eschew statistics).

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