In this edition, I defend the vlogging medium from the scurrilous attacks of young Nick Yglesias. Let me also note that YouTube’s feature where video needs to be “processed” after uploading is really annoying and Julian Sanchez correctly pointed out to me that using Google Video lets you escape this.
Choe Sang-Hun reports for The New York Times of the US-Korea trade deal that “The agreement marks a significant victory for the Bush administration, which needed a prominent deal with clear benefits for American producers to shore up support for bilateral trade pacts with Panama, Peru and Colombia, which have thus far received a cool reception from a skeptical Congress.” Why would a deal with clear benefits for American producers shore up support for other trade pacts? Either the producers think those other pacts will benefit them, in which case they’ll be supported, or else they won’t, in which case they won’t be. At least that’s what I would do. Who cares whether or not the South Korea deal benefitted me — I should assess my position on each deal on its own terms?
I also have to remark that Bush seems to me to have pursued a rather idiosyncratic version of trade policy that represents interest-group brokerage at its worst with little in the way of an underlying rationale or principle other than whichever set of companies happens to have been lobbying the loudest.
A.M., a reader from abroad, suggests that while someone of my demographic may not know many Trotskyites, the sort of view Clive James is opposed to is more heavily represented in intellectual circles abroad. He cites as an example things like this Guardian column excoriating Communism’s critics as hypocrites and arguing that “the particular form of society created by 20th-century communist parties will never be replicated. But there are lessons to be learned from its successes as well as its failures.”
This may be so. Still, it seems to me to all the more clearly make the point that if you’re going to start slamming Trotskyism as a major force in intellectual life you ought to find some examples of Trotskyites you’re criticizing. It’s also worth noting an ambiguity here in terms of people of leftish sympathies who say nice things about people who don’t deserve praise. On the one hand, you might have someone who says he admires Trotsky but is actually admiring a false notion of what Trotsky stood for — an imagined Russian democratic socialist purged unjustly by the villainous Stalin. On the other hand, you might have someone who admires the actual Trotsky — a violent revolutionary and ardent advocate of dictatorial rule. Since most people’s understanding of Russian history is pretty weak, I can see how a lot of people might be confused about the specific issues at hand in the Trotsky-Stalin dispute, which is different from saying a lot of people are advocates of the militarization of labor.
In November, the issue of EPA’s refusal to regulate greenhouse gas emissions went before the Supreme Court. Today, the decision was announced 5-4 in favor of Massachusetts, meaning that the EPA does have the authority and responsibility to regulate carbon dioxide as a pollutant. In short, the time to act is now!
In the chutzpah department, EPA actually tried to argue that 1) “any EPA regulation of motor-vehicle emission” was a “piecemeal approach to climate change that would conflict with the President’s comprehensive [!!] approach” — comprehensive I suppose in the sense that he refuses to take any substantive action in every sector — and 2) such regulation “might hamper the President’s ability to persuade key developing nations to reduce emissions” — a particularly amazing argument since the president has been working hard behind the scenes to persuade key developing nations not to reduce emissions. Justice Stevens, writing for the majority, made short work of those absurd arguments.
To read more about the decision, check out the Massachusetts Attorney General’s page and the Supreme Court blog. A number of Congressmen have also commented, including Sen. Boxer (D-Cali.) and Sen. Bingaman (D-N.M.), who said, “The President no longer has a legal argument that the law prevents him from beginning to address the problem.”
Exactly – the judicial branch has been heard, both sides of Congress are working up a storm, and even the state-level campaigns are expected to get a boost (most notably California’s efforts to increase tailpipe emission standards). Given the 110th Congress’ track record of hearings uncovering the Bush Administration’s extensive climate-censorship policy, the cards are stacked heavily against the executive branch, as they should be on this most important of issues.
when you ask loaded questions. TPM Election Central looks at the latest Fox News poll, which manages to elicit “the exact opposite findings of other, more reputable polls on questions involving the Attorney Purge and the Iraq War.”
“The Pentagon said on Monday it will send another 9,000 U.S. troops to Iraq, with about half of them returning to combat ahead of schedule, in order to maintain troop levels in its new security crackdown through at least August. Two of the affected Army units, totaling about 4,500 troops, will return to combat short of their promised year at home, reflecting the strain placed on U.S. forces by commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.”
I certainly agree with Clive James that Leon Trotsky was a bad man and a Communist, but is it really true that there are lots of people “who even today persist in seeing him as some sort of liberal democrat; or, if not as that, then as a true champion of the working class.” James doesn’t have any, you know, examples of such people. But if you’re out there it’s true — Trotsky and Stalin fell out over interpersonal rivalries and Trotsky’s view that Stalin was proceeding too slowly with collectivization. That said, this seems a little pointless. Will Slate pay me to write some anti-Nazi articles?
“The crack of shots fired by unseen snipers echoed on Monday through Baghdad’s wholesale Shorja market, a day after U.S. Senator John McCain held up his visit there as one sign of improving security in Baghdad.”
UPDATE: “Last week’s suicide truck bombing in the northern city of Tal Afar is the deadliest single attack since the beginning of the Iraq war in 2003, a high-ranking Iraqi Interior Ministry official said Monday as a new death toll for the blast surfaced.”
Larry Kudlow defends the Laffer Curve against its critics: “Now, the Congressional Budget Office would try to argue that these revenues are lower than would have been the case if taxes had not been cut. But who’s to say? Economic growth would’ve been slower and hence revenues without tax cuts might have been lower.” Who, indeed, other than, perhaps, the staff economists at the Congressional Budget Office who are trained to make such calculations. One can try to argue, I suppose, that it’s per se illegitimate to mount any kind of argument about historical counterfactuals. This will, however, render it impossible to make any claims about causation.
There is, in fact, a method available for teasing out the answer to this riddle. We look at the actual level of tax revenue. Then we look at what the level of tax revenue would have been under higher tax rates assuming no growth effect. Then we look at how much lower growth would have had to have been for revenues under the counterfactual scenario to have been lower than revenues under the action scenario. Last, we must ask ourselves if we are in possession of any plausible account of why the higher-rate path would have generated such low growth. Neither the CBO nor any other credible individual or institution has produced such a model, which is why we’re left with Kudlow’s hand waving and “who’s to say?” nonsense.