Mark Liberman Does the Intellectual Garbage Collection on Charles Krauthammer

Mark Liberman: Another casual lie from Charles Krauthammer: “‘Krauthammer: “Obama Clearly a Narcissist”…

"Lives In a Cocoon Surrounded By Sycophants", Fox News 9/16/2014:

This is all because, I mean, count the number of times he uses the word I in any speech, and compare that to any other president. Remember when he announced the killing of bin Laden? That speech I believe had 29 references to I – on my command, I ordered, as commander-in-chief, I was then told, I this. You’d think he’d pulled the trigger out there in Abbottabad. You know, this is a guy, you look at every one of his speeches, even the way he introduces high officials – I’d like to introduce my secretary of State. He once referred to ‘my intelligence community’. And in one speech, I no longer remember it, ‘my military’. For God’s sake, he talks like the emperor, Napoleon.

Since Krauthammer can’t be bothered to check on mere matters of fact, I found the transcript of President Obama’s speech about the death of Osama bin Laden, and checked the pronoun counts and rates. In fact, the speech contains 1396 words, of which 10 are ‘I’, for a rate of 0.7%. Perhaps Krauthammer was thinking of President Reagan’s Address to the Nation on Events in Lebanon and Grenada, which did have “29 references to I”—though the overall word count was higher, so that the rate was exactly the same, at 0.7%.

It’s a tribute to our nation’s culture that a man like Krauthammer, who so consistently expresses blatant quantitative falsehoods about national leaders, is not only out of jail but comfortably established as a commentator for a major media outlet…

Steve M. Does the Intellectual Garbage Cleanup on David Brooks

Steve M.: David Brooks: You People with Your Damn Tech Start-Ups Are Responsible for the Ebola Crisis!: “David Brooks says we can’t fight Ebola properly…

…because we as a society like plucky upstart tech corporations—or something like that:

…it’s not just a failure of governance in Africa. It’s a failure of governance around the world. I wonder if we are looking at the results of a cultural shift. A few generations ago, people grew up in and were comfortable with big organizations—the army, corporations and agencies. They organized huge construction projects in the 1930s, gigantic industrial mobilization during World War II, highway construction and corporate growth during the 1950s. Institutional stewardship, the care and reform of big organizations, was more prestigious. Now nobody wants to be an Organization Man. We like start-ups, disrupters and rebels. Creativity is honored more than the administrative execution…. The Ebola crisis is another example that shows that this is misguided. The big, stolid agencies—the health ministries, the infrastructure builders, the procurement agencies—are the bulwarks of the civil and global order. Public and nonprofit management, the stuff that gets derided as “overhead,” really matters. It’s as important to attract talent to health ministries as it is to spend money on specific medicines…. When the boring tasks of governance are not performed, infrastructures don’t get built. Then, when epidemics strike, people die.

We don’t have an adequate infrastructure to fight Ebola because the culture favors “start-ups, disrupters and rebels”? Haven’t we structured the economic recovery so that more than 90% of the gains went to the already rich? Hasn’t William Deresiewicz been telling us lately that huge percentages of elite college graduates go to work for the Masters of the Universe on Wall Street? Didn’t we, as a society, just go into paroxysms of ecstasy after a new-product launch by a company that used to be a plucky start-up but is now the #5 corporation on the Fortune 500? We don’t have a problem with big and hierarchical. We have a problem with relatively big, relatively hierarchical organizations that don’t kick anyone’s ass….

Oh and, obviously, we didn’t fight Ebola effectively until now because outbreaks of the disease primarily affected rural black people. We care now because Ebola is spreading to the cities, and to white Western doctors… But until now, Ebola seemed like just a problem for, y’know, them. As Gregory Cowles of The New York Times Book Review, noted over the weekend, there was some concern about Ebola in the West years ago, but there was also a belief that the concern was a tad overheated. Cowles pointed to Colin Harrison’s 1997 Times dismissal of the work of science writer Richard Preston:

Nobody, it seems safe to say, wants to have his or her face slide off like overcooked oatmeal. This was something we were all supposed to be worrying about—remember? Three years ago, Richard Preston’s best seller, “The Hot Zone,” appeared, a nonfiction reconstruction of an outbreak of Ebola virus in a Virginia monkey quarantine installation, and, like a germ dropped into a ready petri dish, Ebola bloomed in the cultural consciousness. Although the outbreak in Virginia resulted in exactly zero human cases, the idea of an exotic virus that savages its victims effectively replicated itself in newspaper stories, copycat novels, television fright-fests and at least one movie, “Outbreak.” The happy frenzy showcased our mass media at their recombinantly contagious worst: it was the first time that everyone knew about a disease that nobody had. It was the first time that a virus was famous for being famous.

Well, the virus is famous for more than that now. We could have sustained that “frenzy” back then, but hey, why bother? Nobody here was dying, right? When all hell is about to break loose, we don’t really do a very good job of responding until the breaking loose is actually well under way—if then. Ask a climate scientist about that. Posted by Steve M. at 10:08 AM

Cato Institute: We Believe Not in Regulation But in Tort Law—Except for Us: People Shouldn’t Be Able to Sue Think Tanks When They Disagree with Us | Cato @ Liberty

A little inconsistency here, perhaps?

Ilya Shapiro creates the intellectual mess that needs a garbage cleanup:

Ilya Shapiro: People Shouldn’t Be Able to Sue Think Tanks When They Disagree with Us: “What’s worse than a public policy debate that turns bitter and impolite?…

…Well, for one, having the courts step into the marketplace of ideas to judge which side of a debate has the best “facts.” Yet that’s what Michael Mann has invited the D.C. court system to do. In response to some scathing criticism of his methodologies and an allegation of scientific misconduct, the author of the infamous “hockey stick” models of global warming—because they resemble the shape of a hockey stick, with temperatures rising drastically beginning in the 1900s—has taken the global climate change debate to a record low by suing the Competitive Enterprise Institute, National Review, and two individual commentators. The good Dr. Mann claims that some blogposts alleging his work to be “fraudulent” and “intellectually bogus” were libelous. (For more background on the matter, see this excellent summary by NR’s editor Rich Lowry; linking to that post is partly what led Mann to target CEI.) The D.C. trial court rejected the defendants’ motion to dismiss this lawsuit, holding that their criticism could be taken as a provably false assertion of fact because the EPA, among other bodies, have approved of Mann’s methodologies. In essence, the court seems to cite a consensus as a means of censoring a minority view. 

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Why Would NBC Think Chris Todd Would Be a Good Host to Run “Meet the Press”?

Let’s get into the WayBack machine and go back to the last time I saw Chris Todd—on Chris Matthews’s Hardball, on October 19, 2014—on which Chris Matthews showed off his “expertise” on presidential electoral politics. As of October 19, the state of the election was that Barack Obama had somewhat of a lead:

History of the Meta analysis

History of the Meta analysis

The numbers said that if Romney was going to win, some substantial surprise had to break his way—and with only two weeks and a bit left, the chances of something that substantial happening looked to be only one-in-two, and given that surprises break both ways Romney’s chances of victory were only one in four.

That’s not how the conversation went down:

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Katie Halper: Also, Ben Stein is nostalgic for when “lynchings of African Americans weren’t rare”

Katie Halper:* Also, Ben Stein is nostalgic for when “lynchings of African Americans weren’t rare” Ben Stein is a renaissance man…

…Famous for his role as the attendance-taking teacher in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, he was also a game show host, a speech writer and lawyer for President Nixon and a philanderer. He is a man of contradictions. Socially conservative and in an open marriage. Jewish and doesn’t believe in evolution.

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Noah Smith Does the Intellectual Garbage Collection on Casey Mulligan

Noah Smith: Wages and the Great Vacation, cont.: “Casey Mulligan has a response….

…[I] said that flat real wages are a puzzle for explanations of the post-2009 stagnation that rely on government paying people not to work (the “Great Vacation” idea). Casey doesn’t like this. Let’s go through his points…

Naturally, a supply-demand decomposition exercise is enhanced by looking at both the quantity and price of labor, also known as the wage rate. That’s why my book on the recession starts off with various indicators of wage rates and their dynamics (see chapter 2 beginning on page 9).

Well then I guess my article was not exactly news to Casey.

Three or four decades of labor economics research are of great assistance in this exercise.

Well, I guess they’ve got to be good for something. I kid, I kid!

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Until Everybody Was French: Erik Loomis Does the Intellectual Garbage Cleanup on Kevin Williamson

Erik Loomis: Until Everybody Was French: “We all know Kevin Williamson is a horrible human being…

…and there’s really no good reason to link to his trolling of liberals…. [In last year’s] anti-Labor Day screed… he said one of the quiet parts loud:

The Canadian typographical workers had been demanding a 58-hour work week and the repeal of anti-union laws. Parliament obliged, and of course the unions’ immediate response was to press for a 54-hour work week, and then a still shorter one, and so on, until everybody was French. The French 35-hour work week is the current object of envy among our naïve Europhiles, and it has been an object of curiosity among economists: Contrary to their indolent reputation, French workers are, on paper, among the world’s most productive, outperforming U.S. workers on a GDP-per-work-hour basis. There are many possible explanations for that, the most likely of which is lying….

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Ben Stein: Doktor Zoom Does the Intellectual Garbage Collection

Doktor Zoom: Ben Stein: But Didn’t You See Michael Brown Was BLACK?” In a very important Newsmax interview…

…that we won’t see a red cent out of your clicking on, former game show host and one-memorable-role actor Ben Stein courageously took on the myth that Michael Brown was an “unarmed teen,” because, as he told interviewer Steve Malzberg, Michael Brown had a weapon as deadly as any shiv or zip gun:

The idea of calling this poor man ‘unarmed’ when he was six-foot-four, 300 pounds, full of muscles, apparently—from what I read in the New York Times—on marijuana, to call him unarmed is like calling Sonny Liston unarmed or Cassius Clay unarmed. I mean, this… he wasn’t unarmed. He was armed with his incredibly strong, scary self…

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Richard Mayhew on Avik Roy: The soft bigotry of low expectations: Conservative wonk edition

Richard Mayhew: The soft bigotry of low expectations: Conservative wonk edition: “I like Don Taylor…

…I like reading him as I know that there is a very high probability of reading something that he writes that will make me think long and hard about something that I thought I knew but now need to reexamine, or something that I knew that I did not know…. However, I think he has a blind spot… his tendency to encourage conservative wonks without enough criticism: From RBC on 8/14/14 regarding Avik Roy’s Manhattan Institute proposal:

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Peter Boettke’s “Living Economics”: Daniel Kuehn Does the Intellectual Garbage Collection

**Daniel Kuehn A Review of Boettke’s Living Economics: “Peter Boettke’s Living Economics gets off to an inauspicious start…

…with a rhetorical assault on one of the greatest and most passionate practitioners of economics in the history of the science, John Maynard Keynes. To the average economist or economics student, Boettke seems to be sending mixed signals from the outset. Are we supposed to be “living economics” or policing ourselves for any traces of Keynesianism—or “mainstream economics”, or “market failure”, etc.?…

The book is peppered with head-scratchers that I worry are liable to confuse students that pick it up…. Keynes did not think we live in conditions of post-scarcity…. Boettke… repeat[s] Frank Knight’s attack that Keynes carried economic thinking back to the dark ages, but he does not even discuss Keynes’s detailed criticisms of and differentiation…. Thomas Malthus did think the economy had equilibrating tendencies…. David Ricardo presented a stark alternative to Smithian trade theory, contrary to Boettke’s opposite claim (p. 339).

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