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Member since: 2001
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Lysenko Economics (naming the mess Krugman describes)

In a blog post today Paul Krugman (knowingly or not) describes part of the "Sovietization" of the right:

Portes quotes a three-year-old piece from Niall Ferguson I mercifully missed, ridiculing me as the “man from Econ 101” who believed, foolishly, that huge government deficits could fail to raise interest rates in a depressed economy. Indeed, that is what Econ 101 said – and it has been completely right. Basic IS-LM macro also said that under these conditions printing lots of money would not be inflationary, and that cutting government spending sharply would cause the economy to shrink. All of this has come true.

So Econ 101 has done just fine – and perhaps more to the point, it has made successful predictions “out of sample”, that is, about what would happen under conditions very different from normal experience. This is the sort of thing that produces paradigm shifts in the hard sciences: light bends! Einstein is right!

So why the sense that macroeconomics is a mess? I’d say that it’s essentially political. The type of macroeconomics Portes and I do offends conservative notions of how things are supposed to work in a capitalist society, so they reject the theory no matter how well it performs, and throw their support behind other views and other people no matter how badly they get it wrong. As a result, all the public hears are arguments between dueling economists (some of them not knowing much about economics). That’s a big problem – but it’s not a problem with the economics, which has, once again, been spectacularly successful.

In the hard sciences there's a name for that sort of thing: Lysenkoism:
The word is derived from the centralized political control exercised over the fields of genetics and agriculture by the director of the Soviet Lenin All-Union Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Trofim Denisovich Lysenko and his followers, which began in the late 1920s and formally ended in 1964.

Lysenkoism is used colloquially to describe the manipulation or distortion of the scientific process as a way to reach a predetermined conclusion as dictated by an ideological bias, often related to social or political objectives.

Lysenko's ideas didn't pan out in practice, but he had the right message (from the Soviet's ideological viewpoint) from the right source (from a good peasant family, the equivalent of the Clark Kent "wholesome boy from the cornfields of The Heartland" image here in the US) at the right timeso the Soviets adopted it wholesale...and like so many things under the Soviets, dissent was "counterrevolutionary": treason, defilement of all that was good and pure, etc.
In 1948, genetics was officially declared "a bourgeois pseudoscience"; all geneticists were fired from their jobs (some were also arrested), and all genetic research was discontinued. Nikita Khrushchev, who claimed to be an expert in agricultural science, also valued Lysenko as a great scientist, and the taboo on genetics continued (but all geneticists were released or rehabilitated posthumously). The ban was only waived in the mid-1960s.

Thus, Lysenkoism caused serious, long-term harm to Soviet knowledge of biology. It represented a serious failure of the early Soviet leadership to find real solutions to agricultural problems, throwing their support behind a charlatan at the expense of many human lives.

Perhaps we should start encouraging use of the term: Chicago Soviet of Economics

Romney "Sick at Heart" Over Bain Job Losses

From Crooks and Liars:
Emphasis is mine.
Mods: this is 4 paragraphs from the C&L article. The indented parts are portions where the quoted article is quoting other sources, and are part of the paragraph of the non-indented lines above it.

But as the New York Times documented Friday, large sums of that money were going to Mitt Romney and his Bain colleagues whether their portfolio companies were profitable or not. Put another way, Bain won either way:

Bain structured deals so that it was difficult for the firm and its executives to ever really lose, even if practically everyone else involved with the company that Bain owned did, including its employees, creditors and even, at times, investors in Bain's funds.

Cambridge Industries, which filed for bankruptcy in 2000 after amassing $300 million in debt, is hardly unique when it came to Bain's "win even when they lose" business model:

Yet Bain Capital, the private equity firm that controlled the Michigan-based company, continued to religiously collect its $950,000-a-year "advisory fee" in quarterly installments, even to the very end, according to court documents.

In all, Bain garnered more than $10 million in fees from Cambridge over five years, including a $2.25 million payment just for buying the company, according to bankruptcy records and filings with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Meanwhile, Bain's investors saw their $16 million investment in Cambridge wiped out.

"Traditionally," Josh Kosman wrote in his 2009 book The Buyout of America, "cash-rich public companies have paid dividends to lure and reward investors." But private equity firms, he explained, stand this process on its head:

Fourteen of the largest American private equity firms had more than 40 percent of the North American companies they bought from 2002 until September 2006 pay them dividends. In thirty-two of the eighty-three case, 38 percent, they took money out in the first year.

Mitt Romney was a pioneer of this strategy. His private equity firm, Bain Capital, was the first large PE firm to make a serious portion of its money not from selling its companies or listing them on the stock exchange, but rather by collecting distributions and dividends, which in this context is the exact opposite of reinvesting in a company. Bain Capital is notorious for failing to plow profits back into its businesses.

Just how notorious was first detailed by the Times five years ago during Mitt Romney's first presidential bid:

One transaction, involving the medical diagnostics company Dade Behring, took place in 1999 as Mr. Romney was leaving the firm, and the other, involving KB Toys, occurred about two years later. Bain and its co-investors extracted special payments of over $100 million from each company, enabling Bain to make a healthy profit even before re-selling the businesses -- a practice known as "getting back your bait." Lenders say Bain is one of the firms that has taken the most in such payments, which companies usually make by taking on additional debt.

Both Dade Behring and KB Toys soon suffered dips in their business. Unable to meet the burden of their debts, each filed for bankruptcy and laid off thousands of workers. Bain Capital spokesmen have said the company did nothing improper.

Mr. Romney, who remains an investor in Bain Capital, said he had not been involved in those decisions but acknowledged that such payments became part of the buyout business "very early on."

Breaking: Boortz retiring, to be replaced by Herman Cain

AP is reporting that Radio Ranter Neil Boortz is retiring, and that Herman Cain will be the one to fill his rather stinky shoes.

ATLANTA (AP) — Conservative talk radio host Neal Boortz announced his retirement Monday after four decades at the microphone, saying he will be replaced by former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain.

Boortz said during his morning talk show that his last day will be Jan. 21, 2013, the day of the presidential inauguration. The 67-year-old Boortz said he is in good health and plans to enjoy retirement by traveling with his wife.

"This has been a stress-free job for me. It's just been a total and absolutely joy," he said. "I'm going to miss everything associated with doing a talk radio show."

Boortz's show is syndicated across the country through Atlanta's WSB radio, drawing about 6 million listeners on 230 radio stations.

Radio host Boortz retiring, with Cain to step in

Source: Associated Press

ATLANTA (AP) — Conservative talk radio host Neal Boortz announced his retirement Monday after four decades at the microphone, saying he will be replaced by former GOP presidential hopeful Herman Cain.

Boortz said during his morning talk show that his last day will be Jan. 21, 2013, the day of the presidential inauguration. The 67-year-old Boortz said he is in good health and plans to enjoy retirement by traveling with his wife.

"This has been a stress-free job for me. It's just been a total and absolutely joy," he said. "I'm going to miss everything associated with doing a talk radio show."

Boortz's show is syndicated across the country through Atlanta's WSB radio, drawing about 6 million listeners on 230 radio stations.

Read more: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gg_uPcHPMutrfaDdMpwAu84TLYUA?docId=a5e46707d4424d95b7ba024eaaff43f7

Absolutely Fabulist!

The president offers his sympathy (2007 edition)

On Wednesday, December 5, 2007, nineteen-year-old Robert Hawkins killed eight people and himself at the Westroads Mall in Omaha, Nebraska.
President Bush offered sympathy Thursday to the families of the victims.

“I was in Omaha just before the shooting took place, and I know what a difficult day it is for that fine community,” said Bush, who had traveled to the area to attend a Republican fundraiser and was on his way back to Washington when the shootings took place.

“The victims and their loved ones are in the prayers of Americans,” Bush said. “The federal government stands ready to help in any way we can, and the whole nation grieves for the people of Omaha.”

Number of liberal pundits or Democratic presidential hopefuls who took umbrage, suggesting Bush would have been less sympathetic if his itinerary had been different: zero

A lot of times, people just add in a little personal note when expressing sympathy. That's all.

Anybody have any "most likely to be believed" April Fools' stories?

I don't but the thought occurred to me so I'm asking:

Every now and then someone winds up looking dumb because they quote a prank April Fools story. And it happens all year 'round with stories from The Onion.

Any such stories from today that look ripe for leaving someone's ass hanging in the wind?

TPL Podcast Ep 120: The JOBS Bill? 10 Conservative Lies about Jobs

The Professional Left podcast, with Driftglass and Blue Gal
(contributors to Crooks and Liars)

Ep 120 The JOBS Bill? 10 Conservative Lies about Jobs (67:16)
Description: Why Blue Gal isn't going to knit a uterus for her congresscritter; and the top ten conservative lies about jobs and the economy.

Also, some discussion on why the manufacturing sector is important so we can't just send it all to China.


Carol Marin on Toni Preckwinkle and loyalty.
Driftglass and the Original, 2010 Etch-a-Sketch post NASDAQ on the Republican (HAND) JOBS Act.
Sara Robinson and the 40 hour work week.
Wonkette on Ron Paul's Libertarian Nepotism. Nepotarianism?

summary from http://driftglass.blogspot.com/2012/03/professional-left-podcast-120.html

TYT: Larry Pratt says Shooter Should Get Off on a Technicality

On The Young Turks show on Current TV:
Cenk interviews Larry Pratt, executive director of the Gun Owners of America, about the shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman. Pratt contends that Zimmerman was attacked by Martin and acted in self-defense.


ON EDIT: Crooks & Liars has a version without the ads and in one piece:

Cenk is a little over the top here for my taste, which lets Pratt almost look like the reasonable one (almost. He's so far gone that nothing can help).

The real zingers that Cenk never hones in on here is pointing out that Pratt is arguing for the very thing his entire movement has used to condemn liberals as "soft on crime": letting the accused go free "on a technicality", and that Pratt's argument also goes against everything ever said about not "second guessing" police in brutality/excessive force cases.

Pratt argues (based on one account. Others differ, but for the sake of argument we'll just go with Pratt's version for now) that once the encounter became physical (a fight), Treyvon should have run once he gained an advantage over Zimmerman instead of punching him. with Zimmerman now on the defensive, he was justified in pulling his gun and shooting Martin. Pratt underscores this point with his "count on it, I'm gonna shoot you" line in Cenk's hypothietical recreation of the incident between him and Pratt.

Now, the entire "liberals are soft on crime" meme comes from efforts to force police to actually follow the rules about due process, collection of evidence, etc. so that people didn't go to jail for crimes they didn't commit. This occasionally resulted in cases being thrown out because improperly-collected evidence could not be admitted, improper interrogations, etc., which outraged a lot of people for "violent criminals getting off on a technicality". It's what gave birth to the entire vigilante-movie genre of the 70's -- Dirty Harry, Death Wish, etc. -- and the RW in general and gun-promotion lobby in particular relies heavily on it.

Further, we're supposed to be very lenient about excessive force cases because we are "not there, making the call in the heat of the moment" where there just isn't time to rationally evaluate things and make sure all boxes on the proper procedure checklist are followed completely. This is for peace officers trained in the use of force in potentially violent confrontations.

So here is Pratt, who has spent his career humping the leg of the "got off on a technicality" meme, arguing for exactly the thing he's supposed to be against. And to do it, his justification is that an untrained teenager going about his normal business and suddenly finding himself in a physical confrontation should dot every "i" and cross every "t" about when he should break off, in an even more extreme version of what gets called "micromanagment" and "Monday morning quarterbacking" when applied to holding trained police officers accountable.

George Zimmerman F***ed up

Honest question: what do responsible gun owners in Florida think of this case?

I ask as someone with plenty of hunters and target shooters in the family and had very strict gun safety drummed into me when I was still in the single-digit age range. Those lessons revolved around one thing, whether it was gun ownership and gun usage in general, or with various laws to liberalize gun ownership, or to act in self defense.

That thing was the central responsibility of a gun owner TO NOT FUCK UP AND KILL AN INNOCENT PERSON!

There is no scenario that justifies the shooting of Treyvon Martin. None. Martin was a kid walking to his dad's place from a nearby store. That Zimmerman did not allow for that possibility is just one of the ways he FUCKED UP WHILE CARRYING A LOADED WEAPON.

If anything, had Martin been armed, he would have been justified at "standing his ground" against a larger unidentified man who had been following him, appoaching closely, and accosting him.

Every argument ever made against tightening regulations and restrictions on gun ownership assume that someone who acts irresponsibly with a gun will be held accountable.

So when is that happening here?

as seen (so to speak) on C&L, The Professional Left Podcast with Driftglass and Blue Gal

Ep 119 - How to talk politics when you must
Recorded Live from just outside the Illinois GOP Primary jihad, it's the Professional Left with Driftglass and Blue Gal

Speculation Chicago Republicans may not be all that enthused to get off their golf links to vote for Romney, which opens up the chance for TPers to give Santorum a good showing;
Letters about communicating with others on the current state of affairs;
Mentoring, on various levels;
and much else.

Run time 51 min, 30 s

Plus, Internet Kittie of the week:
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