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

Political Will has always been a Debased Coin

Gary Farber lays out the details of who the real “silent majority” were in the Nixon Administration’s approach to Viet Nam, using Nixon’s own words.

Such as this, from 20 January 1973—two years and three months before the ultimate U.S. withdrawal:

Nixon realized that the Communists were going to win in Vietnam. “I look at the tide of history out there,” he said in the Oval Office, “South Vietnam probably can never even survive anyway.”

Go read the whole thing.

Those Who Think the "Left of Center" is Too Tough on N. Gregory Mankiw

should read Sensible Centrist J. Bradford DeLong on the difference in forecasting between the current Administration and the CEA under N. Gregory Mankiw.

Romer/Bernstein/Kreuger et al., 2008-9 edition:

As I understand matters, last December the median private-sector forecast had the unemployment rate topping out at 9% in the second half of 2009. The incoming Obama administration simply adopted that forecast. At the time I thought that was a mistake: (I thought that was a mistake: I thought they should have made a bifurcated forecast with a “good case” 80th-percentile scenario and a “bad case” 20th-percentile scenario; they should then have stressed that in the bad case we would need a large stimulus indeed to prevent high unemployment, and that in the good case we could restrain inflation via monetary policy.)

Mankiw et al., 2003 edition:

it would make it extremely difficult for things to happen like what happened to the Mankiw CEA over the winter of 2003-2004, when high politics appears to have reached down into the forecast, changed the table for payroll employment (and only payroll employment: the rest of the forecast is not out of line with contemporary professional forecasts), and produced an estimate for December 2004 (a) inconsistent with the rest of the forecast, and (b) high by 2.3 million in its estimate of payroll employment–all because Karl Rove and company thought it important to avoid headlines like “Bush administration forecasts 2004 payroll employment to be less than when Bush took office.” (link from original)

The positive-spin version is that Mankiw plays politics better than the Obama Team.

UPDATE: Kauffman Foundation invitee Mark Thoma adds to the fun.

Clearly a Commie-Symp Terrorist

Who said:

The United States participated actively and effectively in the negotiation of the [1984 UN Convention on Torture] . It marks a significant step in the development during this century of international measures against torture and other inhuman treatment or punishment. Ratification of the Convention by the United States will clearly express United States opposition to torture, an abhorrent practice unfortunately still prevalent in the world today.

The core provisions of the Convention establish a regime for international cooperation in the criminal prosecution of torturers relying on so-called ‘universal jurisdiction.’ Each State Party is required either to prosecute torturers who are found in its territory or to extradite them to other countries for prosecution.

Answer here. Is he rolling over in his grave?

SF-Politics Tie-In of the Day

Greg Mitchell’s twitter feed reminds us of Upton Sinclair’s 1934 campaign for Governor of California.

Working on Sinclair’s campaign, as noted in an article we ran several years ago in NYRSF, was a former Naval Officer in his mid-20s whose career was cut short by tuberculosis: Robert A. Heinlein.

As Mitchell notes:

The champion of all dirty races in this century, in fact, was that 1934 contest. Like Barack Obama, Sinclair led a “change” campaign with masses of new or re-energized voters leading him to an upset victory for the nomination from the Democrats in dire economic times. Like Obama, he was pictured as mysterious interloper. And like Obama, he was labeled a “Socialist.”

Well, actually, that was mostly true in his case.

It’s always interesting to note that to all the people who say they became “libertarian” because of Heinlein.