Relevant and even prescient commentary on news, politics and the economy.

Yup. Comey’s a Goner.

President Obama briefly addressed the FBI’s reopened investigation into Hillary Clinton’s email practices for the first time, saying in an interview posted Wednesday that the agency does not “operate on innuendo” and emphasizing that there is no evidence that the Democratic presidential nominee had violated the law.

“I do think that there is a norm that when there are investigations we don’t operate on innuendo, and we don’t operate on incomplete information, and we don’t operate on leaks,” Obama said in the interview with NowThis News, which was filmed Tuesday. “We operate based on concrete decisions that are made. When this was investigated thoroughly last time, the conclusion of the FBI, the conclusion of the Justice Department, the conclusion of repeated congressional investigations, was she had made some mistakes but that there wasn’t anything there that was prosecutable.”

Obama on FBI: ‘We don’t operate on innuendo’, David Nakamura, Washington Post, today at 11:46 a.m.

I’m sooo glad that President Obama reads Angry Bear.

Now, Mr. Obama, please read this post of mine.  And this one of mine.  Because you may be the only one who make these points and make them heard, before any more days of early voting go by.

And btw, although I certainly have some issues with Hillary Clinton but unequivocally supported her all along once she won the nomination, the intensity of my support is greater right now than at any earlier point.

I cannot–cannot–overstate the depth of my anger toward Comey.

Cannot.

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The Mad Hatter Columbia U. Law Prof. Who Advised Comey That He Needed to Destroy the Village In Order to Save It* – UPDATED (His name is Daniel C. Richman.)

Daniel C. Richman, an adviser to Mr. Comey and a Columbia University law professor, argued that despite the backlash, Mr. Comey’s decision to inform Congress preserved the F.B.I.’s independence, which will ultimately benefit the next president. “Those arguing that the director should have remained silent until the new emails could be reviewed — even if that process lasted, or was delayed, until after the election — give too little thought to the governing that needs to happen after November,” Mr. Richman said. “If the F.B.I. director doesn’t have the credibility to keep Congress from interfering in the bureau’s work and to assure Congress that a matter has been or is being looked into, the new administration will pay a high price.”

Former senior law enforcement officials in both parties, though, say Mr. Comey’s decision to break with Justice Department guidelines caused these problems. Had he handled the case the way the F.B.I. handled its investigations into the Clinton Foundation and Mr. Manafort over the summer, the argument goes, he would have endured criticism from Republicans in the future but would have preserved a larger principle that has guided cases involving both parties. …

F.B.I.’s Email Disclosure Broke a Pattern Followed Even This Summer, Matt Apuzzo, Michael S. Schmidt, Adam Goldman and William K. Rashbaum, New York Times, today

Gotta say, Comey comes off in this Washington Post article today as dumber than a rock.

— Me, here, yesterday

The particular part of that Washington Post article yesterday, by Ellen Nakashima, that I had most in mind was this:

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Repairing Macroeconomics

Here are some vague thoughts on the state of academic macroeconomic research and how it might be improved*. The current mainstream macroeconmic research program has recently been severely criticized by so many extremely emminent econonmists, that it is hard to consider it the main stream. However, the many efforts to present an alternative approach (including this one) are vague and tentative. I am one of those who think a good first step is to go back to the old Keynesian research program, to research done 40 or more years ago, and pick up where Tobin, Solow and Samuelson left off.

To publish, researchers need to address questions which are neither too easy nor too hard. Answering an easy question is not significant original research, while answering a very difficult question is very difficult. I think macroeconmic research has suffered because the questions to be addressed are either too easy or too hard. I think it is very hard to answer any question about behavior which depends on long term expectations. I think it is too easy to understand macroeconomic issues which don’t depend on long term expectations. This is the view expressed 80 years ago in “The General Theory of Employment, Interest, and Money”. I think subsequent research has tended to demonstrate it to be valid.

The appeal of assuming rational expectations is that models with rational expectations are tractable but not trivial. I think the resulting advantages for the academic made the assumption irresistable. Unfortunately, I think it leads to a sterile research program. I think it might be wise for all macroeconomists to try at least once to understand economic aggregates without even any appeal the rational expectations assumption. I think this is a good way to realize how central it is. This isn’t my first attempt to do so, but I aim here to consistently avoid the concept of model consistent expectations.

Excessively Easy Problems

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How Do You Use a Laptop Long-Distance?

On Tuesday, FBI investigators were continuing to examine the newly discovered emails and trying to discern how they ended up on a computer owned by Weiner. As of Tuesday morning, an official said, investigators had found no sign that the computer contained “new and bigger” evidence about Clinton. But the official said the FBI was deploying “all computers, all hands on deck” to sort through the high volume of emails and that “no one knows” what the emails contain.

After another release of documents, FBI finds itself caught in a partisan fray, Rosalind S. Helderman, Tom Hamburger and Sari Horwitz, Washington Post, tonight

Yesterday in this post, in (again) pointing out the unlikelihood that Huma Abedin would have put tens of thousands of her personal emails onto her husband’s laptops hard drive, I mentioned that Weiner used that laptop for his own (very) personal things, of the sort that he probably wasn’t hoping his wife would see.

But tonight, after recovering from the shock (literally) of reading in that article that the FBI, too, recognizes the improbability that Abedin would have put tens of thousands of her personal emails onto her husband’s laptop, or that she would have used his laptop regularly for anything, much less for corresponding with Clinton–and that he would have let her use it regularly (all things considered)–something else occurred to me: Abedin was rarely at home during her years as Clinton’s aide at the State Dept. or, for that matter, afterward.

Clinton traveled very extensively as secretary of state, and Abedin was virtually always with her.  When not traveling, she was at work at the State Dept. most of the time.  Weiner himself was in New York most of the time after (I think) early 2011, when he resigned as a House member.

Which raises the question: How do you use a laptop long-distance?

There are, of course, other questions, too, like: Why would you want to use a laptop long-distance, even if you could?  But I think the first question suffices to make the point.

So I’m guessing here that the FBI will start matching up the dates of those emails with Abedin’s schedule.  For starters.

Doesn’t sound to me like the Russian cyberhacking corps is likely to have thought about this beforehand.  Big mistake.

Probably.

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Eric Lichtblau vs. Eric Lichtblau: Why is the NYT hiding key information that the FBI knows but claims not to know (and that Lichtblau knows because he played a role in it) about the connection between a Trump organization server and Alpha Server, a huge Russian bank with connections to Putin?

Okay, folks.  Read this entire article, or if you’re short on time, do a word find for “Lichtblau.”  Then read this article in today’s NYT by Eric Lichtblau and Steven Lee Myers.

Then ask, rhetorically, why Lichtblau did not mention in the Times article what happened with the Trump server that the FBI claims is receiving only random marketing spam (but only from Alpha Bank), after Lichtblau called Alpha Bank and inquired about why the Trump server was receiving data from Alpha Bank.

Also ask—rhetorically—why the Times article today simply reports the FBI’s stated reason for concluding that this marketing-spam thing is plausible (and that that’s why they haven’t sought a search warrant for the server?), but doesn’t mention what Lichtblau knows: that the scientists Foer and, as I understand it, Lichtblau have received their information concluded a month or two ago that that explanation is virtually impossible.

Nor does it explain what happened with the Trump server after Lichtblau called Alpha Bank and inquired about why the Trump server was receiving data from Alpha Bank.  

Who in the FBI decided to accept that explanation, despite the fact that at least one of the scientists who told Foer that that explanation is highly implausible also works under contract for … the FBI or one of the other agencies working on the matter?

Lotsa rhetorical questions to ask, actually.  Start asking them, folks.  And not just ones for the New York Times.

____

UPDATE: Gotta say, Comey comes off in this Washington Post article today as dumber than a rock.

Added 11/1 at 1:32 p.m.

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SECOND UPDATE: Reader JackD and I just had the following exchange in the Comments thread:

JackD / November 1, 2016 2:26 pm

Dailykos is currently reporting that the FBI is releasing its closed investigative files regarding the Clinton Foundation and Bill Clinton’s pardon of Mark Rich. Come supervised the latter as it concluded. I suppose it could just be a coincidence. I didn’t know the FBI released its closed files that do not result in criminal action. The timing certainly stinks and could be relevant to a finding of Comey’s intent for Hatch Act purposed.

 

Me / November 1, 2016 3:16 pm

Hmmm. Who knew that the REAL purpose of the FBI is to use its investigative authority to help the Republican Party regain the WH and hold the Senate and House? Guess Comey did, but I sure didn’t. Until now.

Jack, the Foer revelations ARE now getting some real news media attention, as is the CNBC report from yesterday that Comey argued against release of the report in early Oct. that the Russians clearly are behind the Dem hackings and that the purpose is to influence the election.

I think what Comey’s up to is a preemptive distraction from probable imminent leaks that the FBI buried their own scientists’ conclusions that that Trump server in fact was communicating with Alpha Bank–and that the FBI declined to request a search warrant to confiscate the server. There’s no longer any danger of a breach-of-national-security charge against the leaker for release of classified info. The info about the server is now out there.

But just think about this: Comey knows that a Trump server at a minimum may be, and very likely is, communicating with Alpha Bank very, very secretly, using very elaborate techniques, and has been doing so since last spring. Yet he’s releasing raw investigative info shortly before the election, and during early voting in more than 20 states, in order to help Trump and down-ballot Republicans win election.

This is the FBI Director we’re talking about here.

And he’s not even named Hoover.  Or so he claims.

Added 11/1 at 3:29 p.m.

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