Balkinization  

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Two paths to a Palin presidency (and one path to a military coup)

Sandy Levinson

There are two scenarios under which Sarah Palin could become President, neither very plausible, but, then, neither impossible:

1) She captures the Republican Party nomination and, in a traditional two-party contest, gets more electoral votes than the Democratic competitor (presumably Barack Obama). The problem I have with this scenario, descriptively, is that I find it hard to imagine that the Republican Party would grant her the nomination. There is, after all, a widespread (and totally accurate) belief even among loyal Republicans that she is totally and utterly unqualified, because of lack of knowledge and relevant experience, not to mention temperament, to be President of the United States. [Though see "update" below.]

There is, though, one way she could get the nomination, which involves the Republican Party sticking resolutely to its "winner take all" primary rules, which is the principal explanation for John McCain's getting the nomination in 2008. (The principal explanation for Barack Obama's getting the nomination is precisely that the Democratic Party adopted proportionality as its assignment rule, so that losses in the largest states really didn't matter all that much.) But one can imagine Palin coming in first in a number of states (with, say, 34% of the vote, which is exactly what McCain got in Missouri, against Huckabee's 32%, to garner all of Missouri's delegates). The question is whether Republicans, envisioning this possibility, will change their rules prior to 2012 to forestall it, given that extremely high likelihood that she would, like Barry Goldwater, lead the GOP to a disastrous loss (at least in the short-term).

Still, if as the Republican candidate, she gets (close to) a majority of the popular vote and a majority of the electoral vote, she becomes President, and I presume the military, though gritting its teeth, would recognize the principle of civilian supremacy. I simply don't think that this is a remotely plausible scenario.

2) She runs as the Tea Party candidate, getting, say, 35 electoral votes, while the Republican and Democrat split the remainder. The House would then pick among her and the other two candidates, on a one-state/one-vote basis. I can conceive of no circumstances whatsoever under which she would capture the support of a majority of House delegations and become President. This is, therefore, also not a remotely plausible scenario. But then there's

3) There are indeed, as suggested in my previous post, four "real" candidates, including Bloomberg-Bayh, and Palin manages to win a majority of the electoral college by pulling in 28% of the vote in enough states where the other three candidates evenly split the remaining 72%. This could happen, presumably, if the polls show that all of the four candidates are more-or-less evenly matched, so that there isn't an obvious "spoiler" a la Ralph Nader. That is, a "rational voter" could vote for any of the four in the belief that it was at least possible that her choice could actually become President. So, under this model, Palin gets, say, about 20% of the total popular vote (a little more than Perot did in 1992), but, because of the winner-take-all feature of assigning the electoral vote in all states save Maine and Nebraska, manages to come in first in enough states to amass her majority of electoral votes. If anyone thought this was a serious possibility, presumably the "rational" thing to do would be to emulate Maine and Nebraska and eliminate winner-take-all, though that would presumably have the consequence of throwing the election into the House. (I can also imagine that Tea Partiers would literally riot in the streets if they perceived state legislatures controlled by the "mainstream parties" as acting to "change the rules in the middle of the game.")

The coup scenario, frankly, rests on some version of scenario three, where it is obvious that a hefty majority of the voters, as well as an even greater majority of "thoughtful Americans" (including the Republicans who wisely refused to accept her as their nominee and perhaps nominate Gen. Pretraeus or someone else who has systematically attacked her capacity to serve as commander/diplomat in chief), agree that she is frighteningly unfit to become President but that, because of the idiocy of the electoral college, she nonetheless wins. This is, incidentally, why I am not an enthusiastic supporter of the Fair Vote initiative, though I heartily support Fair Vote in its attack on the electoral college itself. Insofar as one is fixated on the 2000 election, though, then the "remedy" is to say that whoever comes in first necessarily gets to the Oval Office, regardless of the percentage of votes received. Under some (foreseeable) circumstances, this is a recipe for utter disaster, and it is absolutely necessary to have some procedure for a run-off, either in a separate second election, as in France, or with an Alternative Transferrable Vote, as in San Francisco. (Rightwingers may appreciate being reminded of the fact that Salvador Allende won the Chilean presidency with a grand total of 36.2% of the vote. This factoid doesn't justify the military coup, almost certainly supported by the US, but it may help to explain why it was successful.)

The Senate, of course, could simply refuse to confirm any of her nominees for office, but what precise good would this do, given the President's status as "Chief Executive" and the modern ability to draw on unconfirmed "advisers," "kitchen cabinets," etc.? Perhaps there would be move to impeach her, but, of course, she would have skilled lawyers who could argue, perhaps even plausibly, that being totally unfit to be President is not an impeachable offense (see, e.g., George W. Bush). And, of course, it would take a lot of time and roil the country further. Can you spell "constitutional crisis"? Can you imagine that some "serious people" would call for the military to take control; as trusted generals and admirals take power and promise to return the government to civilian control, they might also simply call a new constitutional convention to address some of the problems revealed by the chaos of the past four years (i.e. 2009-2013).

All of this, of course, may be literally fantasy, no more credible, say, than the Tea Partiers version of what is going on right now in the United States. As one of the respondents to the previous post suggested, 2012 may turn out to be like 1984, where the Ronald Reagan who was in trouble in 1982 was able to run a "morning in America" campaign and trounce Walter Mondale. I doubt it. For starters, no serious person believes that the unemployment rate will be enough less than the current 10% to merit the appellation "morning in America." In 1984, the rate was down to 7.5% for the civilian labor force, down from about 10% in 1982. I would be happily surprised if that happened again, not least because I fear that the Republican Party will do "whatever it takes" to block any job-creation legislation for which Obama would be able to take credit.

So I think that such complacence would befit an ostrich, save that it appears to be a canard that ostriches bury their heads in the sand. Only humans seem to have that capacity. It should be absolutely clear that I would be appalled if this fantasy played itself out. But recall Benjamin Franklin's comment about having a Republic, "if you can keep it." What, indeed, does it take to maintain a Republican Form of Government in the 21st century. It is, most certainly, not blind and feckless commitment to a 1787 Constitution that came very close to giving us the equivalent of a military coup in 1800 (where the governors of Virginia and Pennsylvania threatened to send their state militias to Washington should the Federalists not give the presidency to Thomas Jefferson) and indeed help generate the slaughter of 2% of the American population between 1861-65 when a regional candidate with 39.8% of the vote got to the White House. (I am not remotely arguing that secession was justified; rather, I am trying to explain why American history is, contrary to some of its apologists, not a wonderful story of "stability" and "peaceful electoral change.")

Have a nice day!

UPDATE: Jules Witcover has a column suggesting that Sarah Palin could relatively easily win the GOP nomination, in part because at this point she doesn't have any very strong opponents within the Party. I agree with the latter, which is one reason that I offer Gen. Petraeus as the long-shot nominee. But his column also point out that 70% of those recently polled find her unqualified to be President; quite telling, I think, is that only 45% of conservative Republicans believe she is qualified, as compared with 29% of independents. I see nothing in her history to suggest that she will spend the next two years engaged in serious travel, study, reflection, etc. that might change these figures significantly. (Consider something so basic as speechwriting. One interesting thing that has come out about Ronald Reagan is that he in fact seems to have written his radio addresses in the 1970s, and, compared to Palin (or, for that matter, George W. Bush), he was a paragon of intellectual curiosity. So the Palin phenomenon really forces us to ask how many Republicans who know better will choose to be "useful idiots" for someone for whom they undoubtedly have contempt, but believe (I think falsely) they can control and use for their own purposes after paving her way to the White House? Perhaps here is where Weimar analogies might again be useful (though, to preclude misunderstandings, I am not suggesting that Palin is Hitlerian, only that she is scandalously unfit to be President and possesses a set of views that could quit easily become at least a "soft form" of fascism).




Comments:

"I can also imagine that Tea Partiers would literally riot in the streets if they perceived state legislatures controlled by the "mainstream parties" as acting to "change the rules in the middle of the game."

And rightfully so. That's among the most explosive things you can do in a democracy, changing the rules after the voting is done, to change who wins.
 

There is another possible path: the one she almost got in 2008. It seems possible that Palin could do well enough in the primaries that the primary winner would feel obligated to choose her as running-mate to secure the Palin/Tea Party base. After a Republican win, she's VP, and a death/resignation puts her in the White House.
 

Or, as with the elder Bush, running on her own after a couple successful terms as VP. But that wouldn't put her into office until 2021.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

Path 1 might be more likely than we would like to think. Historically, a president's re-election is accurately predicted by his approval ratings. The character of the opposition candidate only comes into play if approval hovers around 50%. Republican strategist Matt Down made this argument here:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/11/23/AR2009112303216.html
 

The only way Palin becomes president is if a genie grants her 3 wishes.
 

I'm with Justin. The most likely scenario, other than Sandy's facetious fantasies, is Palin get a VP slot and then an unfortunate death of the President. Or, actually, she gets to be VP for a popular Republican president and runs on that.
 

Sandy,

I'll wager you $10 that unemployment will be less than 8% in 2012. The fact that no serious person thinks it it will happen means that it will probably happen. As Warren Buffett says, "Be greedy when others are fearful and fearful when others are greedy."

Obviously, your scenario could be right. I just think mine is more plausible than yours.
 

All of this, of course, may be literally fantasy, no more credible, say, than the Tea Partiers version of what is going on right now in the United States.

I found the NYT version of what is going on in the Tea Party movement to be quite fanciful. I wonder how many Tea Party groups they surveyed to find the handful of subjects of their ridicule.

As one of the respondents to the previous post suggested, 2012 may turn out to be like 1984, where the Ronald Reagan who was in trouble in 1982 was able to run a "morning in America" campaign and trounce Walter Mondale. I doubt it. For starters, no serious person believes that the unemployment rate will be enough less than the current 10% to merit the appellation "morning in America." In 1984, the rate was down to 7.5% for the civilian labor force, down from about 10% in 1982. I would be happily surprised if that happened again, not least because I fear that the Republican Party will do "whatever it takes" to block any job-creation legislation for which Obama would be able to take credit.

Have you considered that there might be a lesson here? Reagan never needed a "job creation program" to lower unemployment by 25% in two years. America is a job creation machine if government simply gets gets the hell out of the way.

NRO Campaign Spot offered an instructive anecdote today:

I attended a luncheon at the Federal Reserve Branch in Houston where one of the speakers was the economist for the Federal Reserve – El Paso branch.

His presentation mainly concerned Houston and how the city was positioned given the current economic doldrums (thankfully he was optimistic that the city would emerge from recession earlier than the rest of the country); however a main portion of the presentation involved his expectations for a very depressed hiring market for the next 2-3 years, meaning unemployment would remain stubbornly high in the rest of the country.

During the Q&A session, I felt compelled to ask the obvious question: Did he believe that the healthcare reform and related tax proposals, the proposed cap and trade legislation and the consequent increase in energy costs, the expiration of the Bush tax cuts, the agitation for higher taxes on the wealthy, the proposal to increase corporate tax rates, the proposal to increase capital gains taxes, the trial floating of ideas such as a national VAT and removal of the earnings cap on FICA, the more robust regulatory bureaucracy . . . did he believe any of these uncertainties were depressing hiring?

He stated yes, without a doubt and proceeded to relay a conversation he had with a local chemical company regarding their 2010 capital expenditure budget. When asked what the company intended to invest in 2010, the response was ‘nothing,’ not due to a paucity of good opportunities, but because it was impossible for the company to calculate a rate of return given all the uncertainty over cost of labor, energy prices, regulatory mandates and the like.

 

Ryan said...Path 1 might be more likely than we would like to think. Historically, a president's re-election is accurately predicted by his approval ratings. The character of the opposition candidate only comes into play if approval hovers around 50%

CNN currently has 52% of registered voters saying Obama does not deserve re-election. If Sandy is right about 9-10% unemployment extending into 2012, that number will be far higher.
 

America is a job creation machine if government simply gets gets the hell out of the way.


Baghdad, the Bush/Cheney government spent 8 years trying to "get the hell out of the way". It was an epic disaster.
 

Have you considered that there might be a lesson here? Reagan never needed a "job creation program" to lower unemployment by 25% in two years. America is a job creation machine if government simply gets gets the hell out of the way.

Didn't he raise taxes on business during those years? And doesn't the chairman of the Fed have a LOT more bearing on the course of the economy than the President? I'd be thanking Paul Volcker, rather than Reagan, if I were you.
 

Time has come when we give priority more on people rather than political party - when our economy suffering - our people jobless - history proves many time how we fought and Win.Lets fight together.
 

America is a job creation machine if government simply gets gets the hell out of the way.

That's the beauty of American capitalism, we can create jobs out the wazoo. And we do! It's just that we created them in China.
 

Blogs are so informative where we get lots of information on any topic. Nice job keep it up!!
_____________________________

Culture Dissertation
 

PMS CC:

Corporate tax rates bounced up and down with control of Congress until they were cut substantially by the Tax Reform Act of 1986.

1) Precisely how did Paul Volcker lower unemployment between 1982 and 1984?

2) If you claim that lowering interest rates accomplished this feat, why are our far, far lower current interest rates not creating any jobs today?

HINT: Read my anecdote above for a clue.
 

This from our not so subtle yodeler:

"HINT: Read my anecdote above for a clue."

That would be like double jeopardy. But our yodeler seems to be claiming this anecdote as personal, e.g. he was present at the Houston meeting making the inquiry reported.

HINT: Look for the pony in the anecdote that our yodeler seems to be riding.
 

Prof Levinson,

I don't think scenario 1 is that unlikely (Palin getting the nomination, at least). I have not heard any rumblings of changing the winner take all rules, and Nate Silver put up an analysis on 538 that shows ways she could run the primary season. The Palin supporters constitute a huge chunk of what's left of the republican party (perhaps a plurality) - do you really think there is enough organization between however many Rockefeller republicans, social moderate/fiscal conservative, and libertarian types remain that would still go to a primary to head her off at the pass? I don't see who else wins the nomination at this point. I guess people are talking Brown, but we have no idea what he's about, and he's more likely to split the Romney/Pawlenty voters than Palin's base. With Huckabee probably out due to the prisoner thing, her natural base is seemingly free of any competitors to take votes away. She just needs to win a couple of the first few (IA, NH, SC, and NV) to build momentum.

Also, since I'm back (at least for now) I did want to make one comment since Prof Balkin posted today (I read the title). I have checked in now and again, but I only have, and only will, read posts which allow comments. I was very disappointed, no matter what happened in some threads, that Prof Balkin and others chose to close comments on their posts. So, although a new paper on original meaning and the commerce clause would really be something I would love to read, I will not read it so long as Prof Balkin refuses to allow comments. Unfortunately, there is no other effective way to express my thoughts regarding some of Balkinization's posters' deplorable comments policies other than to post my thoughts on Prof Levinson's threads, and I apologize for doing so. However, my desire to say something has been brewing a long while, and I could no longer stay silent.
 

HINT: Read my anecdote above for a clue.

Variability in the market frightens business owners (who would otherwise be hiring out the wazoo) into inaction, therefore worsening the jobs situation?

It's like an argument for devolution; if someone doesn't act simply because the market is volatile and unpredictable, maybe they shouldn't be in the market at all.

If you claim that lowering interest rates accomplished this feat, why are our far, far lower current interest rates not creating any jobs today?

I don't claim any such thing. The economy was terrible, and the unemployment spike that Reagan supposedly "corrected" was a result of Volcker's actions (which included RAISING the interest rates, by the way). Once double-digit inflation had been dealt with, then the interest rates were lowered and the economy took off. Real growth occurred without being offset by inflation, and unemployment dropped.

Meanwhile, Reagan asked why we have a Fed board at all, and has posthumously been given credit for a recovery his own policies had little to do with.

Why doesn't it work that way now? Well, this isn't 1982, we don't have double-digit inflation, and it just might be a different problem requiring something other than a "one size fits all" policy decision from the Reagan playbook.
 

When asked what the company intended to invest in 2010, the response was ‘nothing,’ not due to a paucity of good opportunities, but because it was impossible for the company to calculate a rate of return given all the uncertainty over cost of labor, energy prices, regulatory mandates and the like.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 10:33 PM


So, people believe they'd make more money by investing, but they're not investing because they don't know exactly how much more money they would make?

Do you really expect anyone to believe this bullshit?
 

Also, since I'm back (at least for now) I did want to make one comment since Prof Balkin posted today (I read the title). I have checked in now and again, but I only have, and only will, read posts which allow comments. I was very disappointed, no matter what happened in some threads, that Prof Balkin and others chose to close comments on their posts.

I have one exception to this rule: Prof. Balkin. Otherwise, I'm with you: if they don't allow comments, I won't read it.
 

PMS_CC said...

BD: HINT: Read my anecdote above for a clue.

Variability in the market frightens business owners (who would otherwise be hiring out the wazoo) into inaction, therefore worsening the jobs situation?


Arbitrary government interventions are not part of the market, rather they distort it and make it unpredictable.

BD: If you claim that lowering interest rates accomplished this feat, why are our far, far lower current interest rates not creating any jobs today?

I don't claim any such thing. The economy was terrible, and the unemployment spike that Reagan supposedly "corrected" was a result of Volcker's actions (which included RAISING the interest rates, by the way). Once double-digit inflation had been dealt with, then the interest rates were lowered and the economy took off. Real growth occurred without being offset by inflation, and unemployment dropped.


Your ignorance of economics is appalling.

1) There is no correlation between inflation and employment. For example, the inflation rates in 1983-84 actually rose from 3.22% to 4.3%. http://inflationdata.com/inflation/Inflation_Rate/HistoricalInflation.aspx?dsInflation_currentPage=2

2) Raising interest rates to double digits and making credit extremely expensive did cause the Volcker recession.

3) The rates in 1983-84 bounced between 8.8% and 11.3%. Consumer credit rates were in the mid teens or higher. My car loan during this time was 19%. This was hardly easy credit and had nothing to do with the economic growth of the time. http://www.federalreserve.gov/releases/h15/data/Monthly/H15_FF_O.txt

Why doesn't it work that way now? Well, this isn't 1982, we don't have double-digit inflation, and it just might be a different problem requiring something other than a "one size fits all" policy decision from the Reagan playbook.

Agreed. As I pointed out above, the problem today is government inflicted uncertainty over whether some or all of the threatened punitive government taxes and regulations will be put into effect.

This is in many ways the inverse of the Reagan situation where he lowered existing taxes and removed existing regulations. Business could see what was coming and plan accordingly.
 

I think MF's exception reasonable though I think Prof. Balkin's actions ill advised. Deborah Pearlstein btw cross-posts. So, if desired, nerp. can read her at OJ, where comments are allowed.

I perused the referenced commerce post. I do wish he would allow comments, since I found a basic problem in the well argued piece: no real limiting principle. He claims to have one ("where Congress cannot reasonably claim to be solving a federal problem"), but why not give a few examples?

[I only skimmed the historical aspects of the piece, so maybe I missed something. But, the below is from a subsection expressly titled "limits"]

He cites Lopez (gun-free school zone case) but it's weak tea, and even there at best suggests the exception (if not the breadth of the ruling) "reasonable." It was 5-4, so easily many following his rule would go the other way.

The health mandate issue was repeatedly well explained by him to be allowed. But, I need some more evidence that his limiting principle has some teeth. This includes some special care (a rule suggested by Lopez but rejected by him) in certain areas of specific state or (I'd add) personal significance, such as marriage.
 

Agreed. As I pointed out above, the problem today is government inflicted uncertainty over whether some or all of the threatened punitive government taxes and regulations will be put into effect.

# posted by Bart DePalma : 11:25 AM


Baghdad, that is a load of crap. If businesses think they can make money, and you say that they do, then they will invest.
 

Then there's the monkeys-fly-out-of-my-butt scenario. If you're going to speculate on highly unlikely futures, why not give them all their day?

If on the other hand the idea is to speculate on things that have any reasonable chance of happening, those things as regards Sarah do not include Presidency, Papacy, or Supreme Court appointments. Rather they include punditry, polarization, and the further marginalization of the Party she claims to be a member of. That's why that Party wants nothing to do with her, and merely pretends she's credible to avoid alienating her supporters.

The center left majority however enjoys watching her act the fool. If your speculation cares to include high likelihoods, add that one in. That offers the benefit of entertainment value without the setup for disappointment that it was all fiction from the beginning.

Yet another option is to select for speculation the powerful forces that have little to do with individual celebrity, such as the license of big business to rent legislatures. Which Presidential candidate does the Fortune 500 want?
 

In its own way, it might be comforting to believe that the Republican nominee will necessarily be choice of Fortune 500 magnates. But what we're seeing is a genuine popular revolt against such elites, and it is foolish, I think, to assume that Palin is a flash-in-the-pan who can easily be pushed aside by her class betters in the Republican Party. But, of course, we'll see....
 

BTW, Prof. Levinson is not the only one who allows comments. Brian Tamanaha does as well, at times also responding to them.
 

There's also the simple issue that perhaps the anti-Palin factions of the republican party may not see victory as a possibility, and let Palin win if Obama looks unbeatable in '12. (See 1964, when Johnson had 70% approval or higher all year) It would be better for the party heads to allow the general election to crush the spirit of the Palin contingent than to create fratricidal insanity in an already incoherently assembled party. So, IMHO, Palin's chance of getting the nomination is directly proportional to Obama's reelection outlook.

Mark and Joe,
I do read Brian Tamanaha's posts. But, though I think Prof. Balkin many times has very interesting posts (I'm certainly NOT saying I don't WANT to read them), I can't in good conscience read them when he has banned comments. He, after all, was the one who really elevated the situation. I may only be hurting myself, but that is my tiny protest, for all it's worth.
 

I think the main concern here should be Palin's influence on the Republican race as a whole, not just the distant chance of her becoming President.

Though reading an article cited by them might be different even under it, I think your protest is surely reasonable nerp. I myself tend to skip over his posts too basically for that reason.
 

nerpzillicus said...

There's also the simple issue that perhaps the anti-Palin factions of the republican party may not see victory as a possibility, and let Palin win if Obama looks unbeatable in '12. (See 1964, when Johnson had 70% approval or higher all year) It would be better for the party heads to allow the general election to crush the spirit of the Palin contingent than to create fratricidal insanity in an already incoherently assembled party. So, IMHO, Palin's chance of getting the nomination is directly proportional to Obama's reelection outlook.

Interesting take.

Palin resigned from the Alaska governorship to run for President and has been running since the Oprah kick off of the book tour.

The GOP views Obama as Carter II, so Palin will be hardly without competition.

Romney has just started hiring staff. He is in.

Pawlenty has been dipping his toe into the early states.

Huckabee is playing coy, but has been getting some good polling recently.

There is scuttlebutt floating around about Santorum and DeMint entering the fray. They would provide some serious competition to Palin on the right.

There will be around 6-7 GOP contenders after the GOP takes the House in 2010. While I like Sarah, there will be plenty of choices in a year.
 

In its own way, it might be comforting to believe that the Republican nominee will necessarily be choice of Fortune 500 magnates.

If you liked Enron, the mortgage meltdown, and capitalism for the poor, socialism for the rich, then you'll love the magnate's choice.

To be fair, there are many among the Fortune 500 who don't like this. Just as there are many football teams that want to win fair and square. Our new rules of play say you can bribe the refs; Gresham's Law will take it from there.

But what we're seeing is a genuine popular revolt against such elites

Nonsense. We're seeing astroturf underwritten by them. It will be attended with much singing and dancing that affects a populist tone, culminating in the selection of a candidate acceptable to the underwriters. The PR design will of course attempt to tap into disaffection that many ordinary people share, but the goal is not to solve their problems.

and it is foolish, I think, to assume that Palin is a flash-in-the-pan who can easily be pushed aside by her class betters in the Republican Party.

She already has been. They saw what she did to McCain's campaign, and they'll arrange to keep her away from theirs. It will seem otherwise to those who look only at public utterances, which will be designed to sound good to her followers without attracting her negatives. Such design work is well paid these days.
 

I religiously in secular fashion check in at Larry Solum's Legal Theory Blog (no comments) and at Mary Dudziak's Legal History Blog (comments permitted, but are light) for references to legal articles available via SSRN. At the former, I learned of Balkin's article yesterday, which I promptly downloaded, printed and will read hopefully by the end of the week. I wish Balkin permitted comments but I admire him so because of his writings, especially on Brown v. Board of Education, that I read many of his posts. I respect Balkin's treatment of his time and this Blog. I'm here because I want to be. And I'm appreciative of Larry and Mary for their Blogs, although I curse them from time to time because my eyes are bigger than my brain as my reading pile gets higher and higher as a result of their links. And I appreciate the regular posters at this Blog. But, hey, that's me. I've got lots of time on my hands in my semi-retirement, without a day job. Stay healthy. And don't lose your sense of humor - you'll need it if the 2012 path leads to a Palin presidency. As Yogi Berra might say, if we come to that fork in the road, there'll be no spooning.
 

jpk said...

But what we're seeing is a genuine popular revolt against such elites

Nonsense. We're seeing astroturf underwritten by them.


I haven't heard that one since Pelosi last year. Even the NYT isn't using that spin anymore.

However, if you can find the GOP version of "Organizing for America" which is supposed to be paying the Tea Party, tell them to send me my check for all the time I have been putting in.

...and it is foolish, I think, to assume that Palin is a flash-in-the-pan who can easily be pushed aside by her class betters in the Republican Party.

She already has been. They saw what she did to McCain's campaign, and they'll arrange to keep her away from theirs.


Do you ever watch the news? Palin is by far the most demanded speaker at GOP campaign rallies and fundraisers. Just recently, she just appeared for Rick Perry and will appear for John McCain. There is no other potential presidential candidate who can even come close to rivaling her ability to draw crowds an separate them from their money.
 

That Palin is still popular with the GOP is proof that the GOP has still not learned its lesson from its courting of the religious right and southern bigots. If you try and humor irrationality for too long, you become, to any sane observer, non compos mentis yourself.

It's going to be amusing, in a dark, ironic way, to watch the corporatist leadership of the GOP spooning with the teabagger populists to try and co-opt irrationality into working for them.

While the Democrats have proven feckless, or at least minimally feckled, they'll be saved from irrelevance by the overwhelming revulsion in the independents due to the GOP coddling the neo-feudalists, brain-damaged pseudo-populists, and racists that comprise the current right wing.

Not that I'm sanguine about a progressive resurgence. Intellect and reason are simply not respected enough in this country for that to happen, when half-educated unthinking robots like Palin can draw crowds to hear her mash the English language in a fake Minnesota accent.

Rhetorical question: if "the plural of anecdote is not data", what is the singular of anecdote?
 

Mark and Joe,
I do read Brian Tamanaha's posts. But, though I think Prof. Balkin many times has very interesting posts (I'm certainly NOT saying I don't WANT to read them), I can't in good conscience read them when he has banned comments. He, after all, was the one who really elevated the situation. I may only be hurting myself, but that is my tiny protest, for all it's worth.


I understand this position; as I say, I follow it with just the one exception.

You and Joe are both right about Prof. Tamanaha, and of course I read his posts when comments are open.
 

what is the singular of anecdote?

"Richard Reid was an American citizen"
 

Your ignorance of economics is appalling.

1) There is no correlation between inflation and employment.


Wow. I am rubber, you are glue.

Even Friedman--sworn enemy of the Phillips curve--allows for a relationship between the two in the short run. You should write and see if you can get some Nobel prizes reassigned; apparently they give them out to people whose ignorance of economics is appalling!

Again, presidents may have extraordinary impact on the framing of economic questions in public discourse, but when it comes to the nuts-and-bolts of the economy, they are simply not the seat of power. No amount of idol worship is going to change that fact--it's like praising Al Gore for inventing the Internet.
 

But what we're seeing is a genuine popular revolt against such elites

Further to jpk's remarks: SL not looking at the big picture, the 'royal scam' of bamboozlement built into the structure of conservative politics in America. A conservative politician can use all the populist rhetoric Frank Luntz provides... it still won't mean shee-it. Because the GOP apparatus doesn't serve the interests of the disenfranchised.

Pity the rubes, and beware the havoc they'll threaten when their hopes are yet again betrayed.

Of course your average liberal, of which I'm one, isn't in a much better position since Democrats are almost as deeply in hoch to monied interests as the Repubs.
 

Also, I strongly agree with nerpzillicus re comment policy.

And thus repeat my plea: This could once again be a great legal blog if the software were changed to permit easy banning of obnoxious, obdurate and pathologically ignorant commenters like Bart whose mania invariably monopolizes the discussion.

Another good argument against free speech absolutism.
 

Of course your average liberal, of which I'm one, isn't in a much better position since Democrats are almost as deeply in hoch to monied interests as the Repubs.

Yep.

Pop quiz: who's the politician who's taken the most money from Big Tobacco?

Jeopardy music up and over...

Time's up!

If you answered big D Democrat Willie Brown, of the California Legislature, you are CORRECT.

The dirtiest money there is. Willie returned value for money, too. Diluted, derailed, and stopped tobacco prevention in its tracks.

He was joined by Republic Pete Wilson, the California Governor. It's great to see bipartisan support of slow, addictive, poison. Gets ya right HEAH.
 

Actually, Mattski, that comment of yours is a good demonstration why banning commentors is generally a bad idea. Between the fellow who calmly marshals arguments while disagreeing with you, and the guy who mostly engages in snide name calling while agreeing with you, who do you want banned?

The former, of course.

Oh, and neither party's apparatus serves the interests of the disenfranchised; The disenfranchised can't vote, don'tcha know, and political party apparatchiks pretty much agree across the political spectrum that buying the votes of people who can't vote is a fool's game.
 

Brett, you & I are never going to agree on certain things, that's just life. And if you don't mind me saying so I think you frequently lose the spirit of ideas and instead get tangled in a pointless literalism. When I say "the disenfranchised" I'm talking broadly, OK? I'm talking about low-wage workers, people who work hard and live in conditions of near poverty.

You have a habit of making sweeping statements that are simply not true in my opinion. Such as suggesting that Democrats are no different than Republicans in this specific area. Democrats are more willing to tax the wealthy in order to fund programs to take the edge off poverty... for Pete's sake, that is precisely what you and Bart seem to take such vehement exception to!

My personal opinion is that Bart lives in an alternate reality. He is blessed with an obsession and his contributions on this blog do not elevate the conversation. Quite the contrary. I don't expect you to agree, but then you probably don't think Bart is mentally ill. I do.

You know what is truly comical? The way Bart--in the tragedy/farce thread--boasts about Sarah Palin "taking on the oil companies" and re-distributing their profits back to the people! You can't buy entertainment like that. Although, I'd prefer if it weren't free.

Alas.
 

Brett, just to be clear, when you write, "banning commenters is generally a bad idea" I am in full agreement. The whole point is that there are exceptions and that's why we say "generally."
 

PMS:

The Phillips curve postulates that increased wages created by approaching full employment can drive inflation, not your claim that lowering inflation somehow lowers unemployment.

FWIW, I agree with Friedman that a tight labor market can temporarily trigger wage inflation before the supply again matches demand. The Phillips Curve was pretty much discredited during the 70s stagflation and by the low unemployment, low inflation years since.
 

Our yodeler's a real Laffer.
 

PMS:

Is stagflation coming back again? CNBC is reporting that wholesale prices manufacturers charged retailers doubled in January while unemployment claims kept climbing in February.

Double un-good.

shag:

Nice quip.
 

Bart,

I'm trying to figure out a few things that don't add up.

First, I looked back, and I can't find where PMS_CC claimed that "lowering inflation somehow lowers unemployment".

What PMS_CC said was that inflation and unemployment were related. According to wikipedia, for example, although the original curve is now thought too simplistic, there is a relationship between unemployment and inflation.

Third, nowhere in your latest link does it say that wholesale prices doubled. They went up .3 of one percent, when expected to go up .1 of one percent, and 3/4 of the increase was energy. This doesn't even rise to the level of anecdotal evidence of stagflation.
 

C2H50H said...I can't find where PMS_CC claimed that "lowering inflation somehow lowers unemployment".

10:20 am post:

PMS_CC said...The economy was terrible, and the unemployment spike that Reagan supposedly "corrected" was a result of Volcker's actions (which included RAISING the interest rates, by the way). Once double-digit inflation had been dealt with, then the interest rates were lowered and the economy took off. Real growth occurred without being offset by inflation, and unemployment dropped.

What PMS_CC said was that inflation and unemployment were related.

No, PMS credited Volcker's reduction of inflation with employment growth between 1983 and 1984. This is erroneous as a matter of fact (as I noted above, inflation went up and interest rates with it during this period) and as a matter of theory (the Phillips Curve wrongly theorizes that full employment drives up inflation, not that a reduction of inflation increases employment).

Finally, I should have stated that wholesale inflation rose twice as fast as predicted. I stand corrected. Thankfully, retailers ate the increase and the CPI actually nudged down. Reatilers will not be able to do that long term. The Fed needs to start fixing this problem now by starting to soak up all that money it created and lent to the banks to restore liquidity in 2008.
 

This comment has been removed by the author.
 

PMS, why did you delete your comment?
 

I realized my comment was only very marginally on-topic, and I owed it to Sandy to quit being a distraction.

If you saw the post before it was deleted, I apologize for erasing it. For those of you who are curious, it was just a continuation of my argument that presidents do not wield the ability to make sweeping changes to the economy, but Fed reserve chairmen do. If we credit administrations with reducing unemployment, then we'd look to Clinton, not Reagan, as a mastermind economist.
 

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