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

My Extreme Opinions.

Here is an especially self indulgent post. I think the useful part is this link to a Data For Progress poll showing current US public opinion is way to the left of the inside the beltway Overton Window. Most US adults support proposals which are seen as fringe left in official Washington. The presentation is verbose. A good write up by Eric Levitz is here

This is interesting and raises the question of how a Congress which totally disagrees with a majority of the electorate got elected. I think the reason is that most voters don’t know the facts — that is don’t know what current policy is.

OK self indulgence after the jump

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Five 38s

This Quinnipiac poll is amazing. It has the delightful feature that all major Democratic candidates are well ahead of Trump, but the really impressive fact is that Trump’s floor and Trump’s ceiling seem to be almost exactly the same — 38% to 40% on Intention to vote for him, and approval on issues other than race (32%) and the economy (46%).

Amazingly there are five questions where 38% approve
general approval and approval of his handling of foreign policy, immigration, trade and gun policy.

I’d like to see the cross tabs. I think the correlations might be extraordinary. It won’t be the case that the exact same people say they approve of Trump on those issues and will vote for him against the Democrats. But I guess the sets will be almost exactly the same. There seems to be extraordinary polarization.

update: 2 more 38s “Thirty-eight percent of men and women want abortion illegal in all or most cases, “

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What is Antifa ?

Sorry to bring garbage from twitter over here, but this will take more than 280 characters.

Recently, there has been a lot of discussion including the neologism “Antifa”. In particular, Trump has threatened to declare Antifa an “organization of terror” following senators Cruz and Cassidy direction in a nonbinding resolution.

This is crazy. Trump, in particular, is not capable of telling plausible lies. His assertion is obviously false: because whatever Antifa is, it sure isn’t an organization. It would not be possible to list the members of Antifa as there are no conditions for membership and there is no trace of a chain of command. In contrast it is clear that the “Proud Boys”, “Patriot Prayer” are organizations.

On the other hand, there are people on Twitter claiming that I belong to Antifa, because I am opposed to fascism. That is silly too. I don’t consider myself a member of Antifa and I am more expert on myself than they are.

I would define Antifa as the set of counter demonstrators who assemble when one of the far right organizations holds a rally. So it’s a bunch of people who come to a general area with the general intention of contesting the far right organization.

This included the black block of Antifa, who are people who dress all in black often with masks and helmets, and who are clearly looking for a fight (as are the Proud Boys. They are all consenting adults, so I say let them fight provided; they don’t bother normal people, don’t bring deadly weapons, and there are police to referee making sure no one gets hurt (police services provided free because I’m generous with other people’s overtime).

But Antifa is also people who just want to stand and be counted and make sure the number of counter demonstrators dwarfs the mobilization of the far right organization. It also includes people who mock the proud boys and treat them as a joke including the dancing unicorn.

Not terrorists and not an organization. I don’t think the Proud Boys are a terrorist organization either. They are an organization and they are violent, but they are like the Jets and the Sharks not like al Qaeda or the Crips.

I think this is a tiny bit interesting, because it is clear that the talkingpoints memo has gone out directing Republican hacks and conservatives (but I repeat myself) to denounce Antifa. This shows three things. First and like the talking points about white supremacist terror; Republcans need to “what-about” when asked to discuss the violent far right (they doth protest too much). Second it shows how the MSM always fall for it; no matter how many times the GOP demonstrates bad faith, their latest BS is treated as if it were worthy of consideration. Finally, it shows how progressives always fall for it.

For example, I just wrote a long post attempting to refute obvious nonsense.

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Milton Friedman and the Keynesians

I wrote a post with this title which is poor, solitary, nasty, and long over at Robert’s stochastic thoughts.

the bottom line is I say Friedman was always a Keynesian except for his insistence that the effect of the nominal interest rate on money demand is more or less pretty much negligible. This means that I argue that he differed from Keynes because he was a monetarist. In the 80s the difference between monetarists and Keynesians (which always was a matter of a paremeter estimate and not any fundamental disagreement) was dwarfed by the difference between them and the fresh water new classical ratexians. But the point, if any of the rant is that Friedman is determined not to be trapped among the Keynesians and that he bases his efforts fundamentally on the importance of i.

The failed aim was to introduce the following modified story in which an innocent hen which happens to be red is rejected by red haters who can’t admit that they agree with non conservatives

“Who will prime the pump?”

But Friedman said, “Not i,”

she ran about calling briskly: “Who will cut the tax?”

Friedman said, “Not i,”

“Who will press demand?”

But Freidman, with a grunt, said, “Not i,”

“Who will demand the Wheat on the market to be sold?”

Turning his back with snippy glee, Friedman said, “Not i,”

“Who will make some bread?”

Milt said “Not i”

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Read Seth Cotlar

@sethcotlar has a very excellent thread asking never Trump conservatives what really changed with Trump. He says he is willing to be convinced that Trump isn’t just letting the mask drop and saying the quiet parts out loud, but that they haven’t made a case that Conservativism was ever worth anything.

Zack Beauchamp fair used it over at Vox.com

It is devastating and brief (Twitter is evil but it does prevent prolixity — might be the only medium for concise historians not named Tacitus).

I fair use squared the following which I consider to be a very important insight

@SethCotlar

30. This points to another thread in the history of conservatism that dates all the way back to Bill Buckley…conservatism has often defined itself largely AGAINST a phantom “left” that doesn’t really exist as they think it does.

@SethCotlar

31. Not only do conservatives tend to see that “left” as monolithic, they also see it as posing an existential threat to “western civilization” or “our way of life.”

@SethCotlar
32. Without the slippery slope argument, conservatism loses much of its rhetorical punch. Want Medicare? You’re secretly a commie. Support gay right? You hate the nuclear family! Support the rights of transgender people? There’s no biological truth anymore!

@SethCotlar

33. This is not just a rhetorical device conservative politicians deployed to gin up votes. It’s also been an essential piece of conservative intellectual thought as well. “Standing athwart history yelling stop,” and such.

Yes yes yes. Partly, this is an example of an error of thought which is more common than any other error of thought or any valid method of thought, the false dichotomy. Setting up and knocking down straw men is irresistably tempting. But I think it is important that the seem to actually believe this.

American Conservatism largely defined itself as anti-Communism. I don’t think they evern managed to get over the end of the USSR. One of the central tenets was that of the “Clear and Present Danger” of Communist world conquest. The collapse of the USSR demonstrated that they were totally utterly wrong. But Reagan and Bush were Presidents at the time, so they declared that everything which showed they were wrong, showed they were right.

To an extraordinary extent, Conservatives reject compromise by arguing that compromise is impossible, that any concessions are steps out onto the slippery slope to serfism.

A bit more fairusing below.

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Grinding Old Axes II : This Time It’s Personal

So there wasn’t the groundswell of interest in my old axes in comments, so all continued grinding after the jump. Just to recall I stopped after 3 on a list which continued

4) John Kerry is much too stubborn. He won’t admit it when he is wrong. He should be more willing flip flop
5) Al Gore is a bearer of inconvenient truths who deserves much of the credit (or blame) for the existence of the internet
6) Bill Clinton is an ultra wonk who is relatively honest.
7) Walter Mondale was sharp as a knife and had charisma
8) Jimmy Carter is a visionary.
9) George McGovern was the only US politician willing to try to prevent horrible Communist crimes.

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Market oriented solutions to the problem of too many guns

There are too many guns in the USA. If you don’t agree, no need to bother reading on. The market oriented solution is obvious, has no Constitutional problems, and is simple.

1) tax gun production and imports. They don’t grow on trees. A tax of $ 5000 per gun would be useful. Better a higher tax on semi-automatics and a lower tax on shot guns. I don’t give a damn about the risk of depriving poor people of an easy way to kill themselves and each other.
2) Higher tax on alcohol too. Basically most gun deaths involve alcohol. This is obvious.
3) Pay list price for a new gun + the tax for guns and melt them.

So the tax is just a don’t kill someone before you sell this gun back deposit.

The solution is simple. People respond to prices. Yes gun nuts might decide to become super rich people instead.
Fine by me.

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Grinding Old Axes

This post is self therapy and probably not worth your time. Outline before the Jump
1) Hillary Clinton is very honest. Too honest
2) Mitt Romney is extremely dishonest. He lies often and without shame. Also he made his money conning ex friends.
3) John McCain was a major flip-flopper
4) John Kerry is much too stubborn. He won’t admit it when he is wrong. He should be more willing flip flop
5) Al Gore is a bearer of inconvenient truths who deserves much of the credit (or blame) for the existence of the internet
6) Bill Clinton is an ultra wonk who is relatively honest.
7) Walter Mondale was sharp as a knife and had charisma
8) Jimmy Carter is a visionary.
9) George McGovern was the only US politician willing to try to prevent horrible Communist crimes.

OK so I skipped Obama who was treated fairly by the mainstream media. Oh yeah, Dukakis, uh I got nothing.

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Free Market Government

This post will be especially confused. I am thinking about cash bail and how it is unacceptable that richer people have more liberty than poorer people. For some reason my thoughts turned to Jeffrey Epstein currently held without bail, because of course. Now he hasn’t been convicted yet, and I do support the 5th and 6th amendments, so I have a problem. I will try to solve the problem.

I’m going to start with Hobbes, Locke, Mill and Nozick (which one here is not like the others ?). I don’t believe that the moral law contains an article about private property — I think private property is a very useful even necessary social institution, but not a transcription of objective moral truth (this is following Michael Walzer sometimes colleague of Robert Nozick). But for this post, I will assume there are natural rights to private property (following Locke). And, like the listed guys, I will pretend that there is an actual social contract and that people are bound only by contracts they accept. I will go for 3 out of 4 and say they can’t be accepted under the threat of force. The guy who’s not like the other is Hobbes who was an absolutist and claimed that signatures extracted by force counted (his example not mine was armed robbery).

I conclude two things. One is that the maximum morally acceptable tax rate is roughly 100%. The other is that I can set bail for Epstein. Granting Locke, Mill, Nozick and von Hayek all they can imagine demanding, I end up concluding that they have (almost) nothing. I will discuss this after the jump.

But here I will try to focus on financial bail. The problem isn’t that people can buy temporary liberty with private property. The problem is the cash part, which favors the non liquidity constrained, and also the incorrect application of equality under the law. People must be treated equally. Dollars must not be treated equally. It’s one or the other. Bail should be set as a fraction of the defendant’s wealth (including human wealth that is future labor earnings). Currently, the idea is that bail is a number of dollars possibly adjusted for wealth. There is no way to get to justice starting with the idea that all dollars are, more or less to first approximation, equal.

Also high bail. With no liquidity constraint problem, there is no reason to have bail proportional to anything. I think the rule is simple, show up or any correct spelling of your name is a legally valid signature. You don’t play by our rules (showing up for your trial) and there will no longer be any concept of forging your signature. Everyone has the right to sign for you (especially including the Bailiff who will write checks to the state worth the balance of every known account in your name). Any future claim that you have exclusive ownership of anything will not be enforced. And by exclusive that means your claim that you own something any more than I do.

Epstein might still run away, but he would be running barefoot (someone would have taken his private jets, automobiles, and shoes). Natural rights do not include a natural right to have the state prosecute someone for forging your signature.

Now the dollar value of everything you own bail would be greater the richer the defendant. This is fair and equal. It implies discrimination against some dollars, which is no problem.

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