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More debate about who predicted the Great Recession, and lessons learned

9 April 2014

Summary:  The comments on the FM website often have Socratic dialogues, clashing views in the search of truth. Yesterday we had one at the intersection of several of our long-standing themes: debt, deflation, economic theory, making forecasts, and the credibility of experts. Participating was the distinguished economist Steve Keen, discussing if he “predicted” the Great Recession. This is what the Internet could be, if we worked at it.

Raphael: Plato & Aristotle

Group picture taken during the debate (Raphael’s “The School of Athens” (1510)

All the perplexities, confusions, and distresses in America arise, not from defects in their constitution or confederation, nor from want of honor or virtue, as much from downright ignorance of the nature of coin, credit, and circulation.
— John Adams, letter to Thomas Jefferson, 25 August 1787True then; true today.

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Contents

  1. A dialogue with Keen
  2. About Steve Keen
  3. Paul Krugman looks at Keen’s work
  4. For More Information

(1)  A dialogue with Keen

The opening act: Looking back at claims to have predicted the Great Recession, 8 April 2014

Many economists and financial experts claim to have predicted the Great Recession. That’s important, since these are the people we should be listening to. Oddly, they seldom quote or cite what must be their greatest accomplishment. Let’s look at one such claim, by Steve Keen.

Steve Keen replies (he provided URL’s; I’ve added full citations and sometimes abstracts).


Good grief Maximus,

Why are you even looking at journal papers or book chapters for proof of calling the crisis before it happened? That’s an inherently straw man critique of such claims: have you never heard of publication lags?

My 1995 paper, for example, was written in 1992, and accepted for publication in 1993–and then took two years to turn up in print in the Journal of Post Keynesian Economics.

At worst you should be looking for working papers or monographs, and at best media articles and interviews–because if you think (as I did from December 2005) that a really serious crisis was coming, you don’t bother with the academic production mill with its refereeing and editorial delays. You go for the mainstream media (and of course blogs).

BTW I chose to use Dirk’s Vox paper rather than the work on which it was based because that was an immediate URL rather than link to a PDF as with the paper. If you had checked that –- which you should have, given the claims you’re making here –- then you would have seen this link:  Keen, S. (2006). “The Lily and the Pond“. Interview reported by the Evans {Ed: sic, s/b Evatt} Foundations, 12 December 2006.

The is the story behind Australia’s private debt. It has been growing more than 4% faster than our GDP for 53 years. … It is 147.1% now. If the rate of growth doesn’t slow down, it will crack 150% of GDP by March 2007, and it will exceed 160% of GDP by the end of 2007. We simply can’t keep borrowing at that rate. We have to not merely stop the rise in debt, but reverse it.

Unfortunately, long before we manage to do so, the economy will be in a recession. … So when will this recession begin? On current data, the domestic economy may already be in one.

That’s far from the first such warning I gave of the causes and severity of the crisis I expected (with a focus on Australia since that’s where I live). Here are a few other links for you:

(a) Keen, S. (2006). “The Lily and the Pond“. Interview reported by the Evans {Ed: sic, s/b Evatt} Foundations, 12 December 2006.

The is the story behind Australia’s private debt. It has been growing more than 4% faster than our GDP for 53 years. … It is 147.1% now. If the rate of growth doesn’t slow down, it will crack 150% of GDP by March 2007, and it will exceed 160% of GDP by the end of 2007. We simply can’t keep borrowing at that rate. We have to not merely stop the rise in debt, but reverse it.

Unfortunately, long before we manage to do so, the economy will be in a recession. … So when will this recession begin? On current data, the domestic economy may already be in one.

(b) Why deflation is really possible“, Paul Amery, MoneyWeek, 7 February 2008

(c) Boom in Australia goes bust as global slowdown hits“, USA Today, 28 December 2008

The financial crisis is hitting debt-laden Australians hard. “We’re headed for a recession for the same reason the USA is in one now — the bursting of a debt-financed speculative bubble” … Keen predicts the downturn will unfold a bit differently than it did in the USA, where problems began in the housing market and spread to the broader economy. “We’re likely to go into the macro crisis first as debt growth plummets; then a housing crisis as the newly unemployed are unable to maintain their mortgages; and finally a credit crunch where the banks’ solvency doesn’t look so hot anymore.”

(d) To intervene or not to intervene“, ABC (Australia), 3 November 2008

(e) Holding tight: can Australia ride the storm?“, The Age, 11 October 2008

“I think the comparison (with the Great Depression) is valid and the prognosis is extremely bleak,” suggested Sydney academic Steve Keen this week. … And Steve Keen, a University of Western Sydney lecturer, holds dire views. He has long warned of Australians’ “unsustainable debt addiction”. His latest musings put it this way: “We are not in a Great Depression — not yet anyway — but a key pre-condition for one has developed right under the noses of central banks: excessive private debt.

(f) Economics Meltdown 101“, Reporter: Steve Keen, The Age, sometime in 2008 {Similar content to the (e) article}

(g) Australia facing debt-driven depression“, ABC (Australia), 3 February 2009

The world is facing a “full-blown depression” and Australia needs to drastically rethink its attitude to debt if it is to climb out of its current economic trap, says leading economist Steve Keen.


Prof Keen,

I used that link because it was what you cited. It does not disprove your claim, but does not support it either (as you claimed). Also, as I noted, this shows the crash in US stock and residential home prices — so this is not a case of publication lag.

All that out of the way, thank you for these cites! I looked for an article or blog posts by you following up on your predictions, but could not find it (perhaps limitations of Google, or of my searching skills). I suggest that you write one. Good predictions are too rare to go undocumented, especially amidst all the chaff.

Read more…

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Looking back at claims to have predicted the Great Recession

8 April 2014

Many economists and financial experts claim to have predicted the Great Recession. That’s important, since these are the people we should be listening to.  Oddly, they seldom quote or cite what must be their greatest accomplishment. Let’s look at one such claim, by Steve Keen.

Update: Steve Keen provides additional citations in the comments.

Crystal Ball

First, a background note. By 2006 and 2007 it was clear to many people, not just experts, that the US had a large asset price bubble in residential real estate. Some of the the most obvious symptoms: rising vacancy rates, inappropriate credit extension to borrowers (often fraudulent), and obviously unsustainable prices.

What very few saw was that the collapse of the bubble would send the US into the most severe recession since the 1930. What nobody saw, so far as I know, was that this would spark a global crisis. There were many factors that magnified a sector crisis in America into a global downturn, but the top of the list were the collapse of US and foreign banks. This was unexpected, probably even to senior executives at those banks. The widespread belief as late as early 2008 was that the US might fall into a recession, but that the banks were strong. Banking collapses are the one of the two most common causes of severe economic downturns (wars are the other).

Back to the forecasting game. One economist often cited as predicting the crisis is Steve Keen (retired Prof Economics, U Western Sydney.). He often makes this claim, most recently (and unusually mildly):

Back in the Olde Days, before the global finan­cial cri­sis, when I was one of a hand­ful rais­ing the alarm

Let’s look at the link Keen gives as evidence of his predictive skill: “‘No one saw this coming’ – or did they?“, Dirk Bezemer (Asst Prof Economic, U Groningen), Vox, 30 September 2009 (see the full paper here):

Read more…

Cutting to the heart of the public policy debate about climate change

4 April 2014

Summary:  After a quarter-century of the climate wars, the chaff thrown up by political activists on both sides has largely obscured the key questions which we must answer in order to deal with this, perhaps the most important of the many shockwaves facing us. Today we look at the most important question of logic in the decision-making process.

“This impatience with ambiguity can be criticized in the phase: the absence of evidence is not the evidence of absence.”
– Carl Sagan in The Demon-haunted World – Science as a Candle in the Dark (1995), using the phrase attributed to British astrophysicist Martin Rees

Globe Aflame

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Content

  1. The very heart of the climate debate
  2. Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence
  3. Isn’t the climate signal from humanity obvious?
  4. For More Information

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(1)  The very heart of the climate debate

Judith Curry (Prof Atmospheric Science, GA Inst Tech) carved to the heart of the climate wars — the debate over the public policy response to climate change (running on a different track than the policy debate in the pubic arena) comes down to questions of epistemology and logic. How do we leap from a body of evidence to knowing enough to rely on theories? Especially when the theories are compelling, but there is as yet minimal evidence to validate or prove them.

Curry starts with the basics of scientific reasoning, with two methodologies — both equally legitimate. Which to use depends on one’s professional judgement.

Recall the dueling papers on Climate Null Hypotheses by myself and Kevin Trenberth.   Depending on which null hypothesis you select as a default position when conducting research you approach the problem in a different way.

  1. Humans have no influence on extreme weather events
  2. Humans are influencing extreme weather events

For #1, the null would be rejected if you find evidence of a human influence. In the absence of such evidence, #1 is not rejected. This is what Roger Pielke Jr argued.

For #2, the null would be rejected if there is evidence of no influence. RealClimate and Kerry Emanuel  {Prof Meteorology, MIT} essentially conclude that the data is insufficient, so they argue from ‘physics’ and state that there is no evidence of absence.

To me, the ‘no evidence of absence’ argument is rather fatuous given that simple thermodynamical reasoning is not really useful in elucidating the impacts of AGW on extreme weather events.

This grounds the debate in science and logic, not a matter of certainty as implied by activists.  For those of us who are not scientists, let’s look at this logical tool: “Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.” What does it mean?

(2)  Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence

Its first known use is by the British astrophysicist Martin Rees, discussing the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI):

Read more…

Destroying campaign finance laws, another win for the 1%. Another step to a New America.

3 April 2014

Summary: It’s fun to read the shocked, shocked reactions to the Supreme Court’s latest gutting of the campaign finance laws. The 1% have been gathering wealth, income, and political power for 40 years. What did the Left expect the 1% to once they owned the high ground n every aspect of American society? Like Bruce Wayne, dedicate themselves to building a better America for its people — especially the poor and working poor?

Scalia and Roberts

Please with themselves: Supreme Court Justices Antonin Scalia & John Roberts. Reuters/Brendan McDermid; AP/Larry Downing

The 1% are regular people, ambitious and greedy, so of course they’re wielding their power to consolidate their position, to break down the barriers hemming them in, and shifting the tax burden to others. And the sun will rise tomorrow.

They will continue to gain power. The process has passed the point when any easy reforms will slow, let alone stop, the process. Reversing it, restoring the Second Republic (or building a Third), is a goal beyond my sight today.

Doing the least of these things will require us to change ourselves, to again become citizens (not subjects).

Doing the greatest of these will require effort and risk beyond anything we’ve done in generations. Perhaps since the Civil War.

Below are reports about the latest step the Supreme Court has taken to boost the power of the 1%, which for most of American history has been its primary role. These stories, like most political reporting, are read by Americans as entertainment. Opportunities to cheer our side and boo the bad guys.  How sad. If these do not incite you to action, then why read them? Find a more productive or fulfilling way to spend your time — for they have no useful information content except to politicians, political operatives, lobbyists, and reformers.

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(a) Roberts Court: Government Must Be By, and For, the Wealthy“, Scott Lemieux (Prof History & Political Science, College of St Rose), The American Prospect, 2 April 2014 — Excerpt:

Everyone who thinks that the rich don’t have enough influence on American politics can rest easier.

In an expected but still depressing decision today, the Supreme Court struck down aggregate limits on how much an individual can donate to politicians and political parties within a 2-year window as a violation of the First Amendment. Having already made it impossible for Congress to place significant restrictions on campaign spending, a bare majority of the Court is now chipping away at the ability of Congress to place limits on donations as well.

… To the Roberts Court, money should talk as loudly as possible while ordinary voters can take a walk.

(b) The Supreme Court’s Ideology: More Money, Less Voting“, Ari Berman, The Nation, 2 April 2014

Read more…

Weather & climate change: how to interpret our past in order to prepare for our future

2 April 2014

Summary: Nate Silver’s new 538 project has started with a bang by featuring Roger Pielke Jr telling us about the research showing the trends in damage from natural disasters. It’s an important issue, reminding us of our infrastructure’s vulnerability to weather — weather of the kind we’ve seen in the past, and the probably worse we’ll see in the future. Previous posts discussed the hostile response by activists, illustrating how the debate about the public policy response to climate change has collapsed into a cacophony. Here’s an attempt to understand the issues Pielke has raised.

Meanwhile, climate science moves on. We will get definitive answers eventually, but perhaps to late for effective policy action. Hence the debate.

“History doesn’t always repeat itself. Sometimes it just screams, ‘Why don’t you listen to me?’ and lets fly with a big stick.”
— John W. Campbell Jr., Analog Science Fiction/Fact Magazine (1965)

Certainty Channel

The IPCC switches away from this channel

Contents

  1. Introduction to the battle, now in progress
  2. Larger lessons for us from this debate
  3. About Judith Curry
  4. What does the climate science literature say?
  5. Important things to know about climate change
  6. For More Information

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(1) Introduction to the battle, in progress

The rounds in the fight so far.

  1. A summary of the literature, consistent with the IPCC (but disappointing to the alarmists): “Disasters Cost More Than Ever — But Not Because of Climate Change”, Roger Pielke Jr (Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder), 538,  19 March 2014
  2. Following Up on Disasters And Climate Change“, Roger Pielke Jr, 21 March 2014 — Answers to questions from the comments
  3. Summary of the Left’s reaction to their darling Silver giving space to a non-alarmist: Nate Silver goes from hero to goat, convicted by the Left of apostasy 25 March 2014
  4. The smears and misrepresentations flow: The Left stages a two minute hate on Nate Silver, Roger Pielke Jr (& me), 29 March 2014

Lots of chaff has been tossed into the air to hide the peer-reviewed literature on this subject, which largely confirms Pielke’s analysis. Also seldom mentioned by Pielke’s critics is what the IPCC has to say on the subject.

(2)  Larger lessons for us from this debate

Evidence of absence versus absence of evidence

by Judith Curry, at her website Climate Etc
1 April 2014
Posted here under her Creative Commons license

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Does global warming make extreme weather events worse?

The IPCC SREX found limited evidence of global warming worsening extreme events. Nevertheless, there are a lot of climate scientists that think global warming is worsening extreme events.

RealClimate

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(a)  RealClimate

A post at RealClimate:

The most common fallacy in discussing extreme weather events + Update“,
by Stefan Rahmstorf, 25 March 2014
He is a Professor of Physics of the Oceans at Potsdam U; Wikipedia bio), — Excerpt:

Here is the #1 flawed reasoning you will have seen about this question: it is the classic confusion between absence of evidence and evidence for absence of an effect of global warming on extreme weather events. Sounds complicated? It isn’t.

The two most fundamental properties of extreme events are that they are rare (by definition) and highly random. These two aspects (together with limitations in the data we have) make it very hard to demonstrate any significant changes. And they make it very easy to find all sorts of statistics that do not show an effect of global warming – even if it exists and is quite large.

The fundamental issue here is not even one of attribution -– rather it is detecting a meaningful change.  For record high temperatures, it is fairly straightforward to expect more records as average temperatures increase.  But this is much more difficult for drought, hurricanes and other extreme weather events.  The RC post argues that physical reasoning is sufficient, e.g. warmer sea surface temperatures drive more intense hurricanes.  The RC post concludes:

Read more…

Auto loans are a driver of the expansion, but might be running out of gas

1 April 2014

Summary:  Modern history consists to a scary extent of boys with toys. Powerful tools used irresponsibly: Atomic weapons, nuclear power plants, debt, and (God help us, genetic engineering). The decades of the Cold War featured several terrifying close calls with nukes. Now we’re suffering the effects of imprudent debt accumulation, and are likely to for another decade. Today we look at auto loans (a follow-up to our November post). Along with student loans they’re a hot front in the household debt crisis.

Consumer debt head volcano

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Contents

  1. The secret to rising auto sales
  2. The bad news about those loans
  3. Perhaps the slowdown has already begun
  4. For More Information

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(1)  The secret to rising auto sales

November’s post pointed to a disturbing Bloomberg article about auto loans: “Good Job Is Good Enough as Subprime Car Buyers Lift Sales“.  Car loans are being made with an average maturity of 62 months and high loan-value levels (80%), so that a high fraction will have no equity if they default. And to make that more likely, lenders were boosting sales by increasing lending to sub-prime buyers. During the past 5 months the problem has grown worse.

Why is this important? Because auto sales have been one of the major drivers of the recovery. As shown by Atif Mian and Amir Sufi in “Another Debt-Fueled Spending Spree?“, at their website, 31 March 2014:

House of Debt: auto sales

House of Debt: auto sales, 31 March 2014

With little growth in real wages for most Americans since 2009, how have we managed to splurge on new cars? Mian and Sufi show the answer: a surge in auto loans:

Read more…

The IPCC releases its advice on “Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability”. To be attacked from both sides.

31 March 2014

Summary:  A draft has been leaked of the just-approved Working Group 2′s report to the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (WG2 of AR5), about II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability. I see each working group as a step down in scientific rigor and increase in utility in making public policy (one of the unfortunately commonplaces of life). As such I focus on WG1 — The Science of Climate Change — while politicians and journalists focus more on WG3. So now attention turns to the new report of WG2.

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Certainty Channel

The IPCC switches away from this channel

Contents

  1. Draft of the new IPCC AR5 WG2 Report
  2. About the author
  3. For More Information
  4. Important things to know about climate change

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IPCC AR5 WG2 Report – draft SPM

by Judith Curry, at her website Climate Etc
30 March 2014
Posted here under her Creative Commons license

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The WG2 Report will be officially released on Monday.  Here is what people are saying about a leaked version of the Summary for Policy Makers.

Donna LaFramboise has made available the latest version of the draft Summary for Policy Makers of the WG2 report that is currently being discussed in Yokohama (note: informed by Twitter that the SPM and full Report have just been approved).

The AR5 WG2 SPM has some startling differences and substantial additions relative to the AR4 version, and is in many ways a much better report. However, the AR4 WG2 Report is a low bar indeed, with the infamous Himalayan glacier error, and the substantial criticisms leveled by the IAC regarding treatment of uncertainty.

Chris Field, WG2 co-chair, has made this statement, excerpts:

The report itself is scientifically bold. It frames managing climate change as a challenge in managing risks, using this characterization as a starting point for two of the report’s core themes. The first is the importance of considering the full range of possible outcomes, including not only high-probability outcomes. It also considers outcomes with much lower probabilities but much, much larger consequences. Second, characterizing climate change as a challenge in managing risks opens doors to a wide range of options for solutions.

One of the things I like most about the report is that it combines cold, analytical realism, with a careful look at a broad range of possible solutions. This mapping of not only the serious and admittedly sometimes depressing “problem space” but also the exciting and potentially uplifting “solution space” allows the report to assess not only the impacts and challenges but also the opportunities and synergies. Truly, much of the material in the WGII report is as much about building a better world as it is about understanding serious problems.

Overviews

The best overview that I’ve seen so far is by {environment writer} Fred Pierce:  New UN Report is Cautions on Making Climate Predictions.  Excerpts:

Read more…

The Left stages a two minute hate on Nate Silver, Roger Pielke Jr (& me)

29 March 2014

Summary: This week many on the Left served a banquet of snark on Nate Silver and his new 538 website for the sin of posting an article by Roger Pielke Jr (Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder). An article well-supported in the climate studies literature, and consistent with the work of the IPCC (they conceal these things from their followers; least they ruin the narrative). These posts demonstrate the ineffectual tactics that have drained away the Left’s support during the past 3 decades, and after 25 years of work produced no gains in their highest-profile public policy initiative. See other posts in this series, listed below.

“Insanity is repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results.”

— The basic text of Narcotics Anonymous). People who know all about personal dysfunctionality.

Two Minute Hate

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Contents

  1. The two minute hate
  2. The road not taken:  another response to Pielke
  3. A larger perspective
  4. For More Information

(1) The two minute hate

The Left runs a Two Minute Hate on Nate Silver, his 538 website, Roger Pielke Jr (Prof Environmental Studies, U CO-Boulder) resulting from their publication of  “Disasters Cost More Than Ever — But Not Because of Climate Change”. And me, based on Nate Silver goes from hero to goat, convicted by the Left of apostasy. Read the following, and feel the hatred flow.

  1. Thursday Idiocy: Fabius Micromus” posted at Loyal to the Group of Seventeen, 27 March 2014. I posted a brief analysis in the comments. Quite interesting, in a silly way. He posts the comment thread with DeLong. He considers it “idiocy”, but doesn’t say why.
  2. Brad DeLong (Prof Economics, Berkeley) applauds. Again, he doesn’t explain. True believers don’t ask questions during the Two Minute Hate.
  3. The Launch of fivethirtyeight.com and Climate Change Disaster Weblogging: (Trying to Be) The Honest Broker for the Week of March 29, 2014“. By “honest broker” he means misrepresenting what I said, and substituting his judgement for the peer-reviewed literature about this issue. Plus lots of smears.

These are mostly silly in style and content, but rich in insights about the Left. Here are a few thoughts; post your thoughts in the comments.

(a)  They show how the politics of climate change has become a cacophony, both poisonous and ineffectual.  Smears, more rhetoric than reason. Clickbait for believers, firing up opponents, ignored by those in between. Which is fine for the Right, who wants nothing done, but defeat for the Left.

(b)  The Left now often ignores the relevant peer-reviewed literature and work of the IPCC, substituting big talk from amateurs and quotes from activist climate scientists (usually from the same small pool). When confronted with it, as in my post, they respond with smears.

(c)  This is the opposite of grass-roots organizing. Two minutes hate sessions build internal cohesion, but tend to repel outsiders. And they make enemies. It’s the opposite of John Boyd’s first rule of strategy: gather and empower allies.

Read more…

America swings to the Right. The Left loses. How has the Left dug itself into this hole?

28 March 2014

Summary: Today we look at one of the defining political trends of our time — America’s movement to the Right. Like most political evolutions in our history, it’s bipartisan. Previous posts have examined how the Right has won. Today and tomorrow we look at how the Left has accomplished this (it didn’t just happen), and how they have responded to this long series of defeats. These are just sketches about vast and complex trends. At the end see links to other posts in this series.

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America has been moving to the Right since roughly 1980. Not in all things. The 1% cares about power and money; as a class it does not care who marries who. The US health care system’s decay, and the Right’s indifference to reform, allowed the Left to pass ObamaCare.

But the overall trend has been to the Right. A few examples…

  1. Defunding public colleges.
  2. Cutting taxes on the rich and businesses, shifting the tax burden down (as the GOP is doing in the States today).
  3. Reducing the safety net (e.g., . Reducing the minimum wage (in real terms), Clinton “ending welfare as we know it” in 1996).
  4. Crushing private sector unions.
  5. Deregulation of corporations, especially banks.
  6. Eroding away the 1970s reforms on the military and intelligence agencies.

We can debate the wisdom of these changes (I’m mostly against them all), but let’s leave that debate for another day. How has the Left responded? Today we’ll see how the Left has worked to gain public support — and failed. Tomorrow we’ll examine how they addressed the equally important (in an operational sense) task of maintaining internal cohesion during their long defeat.

The Left fights back

The Left responded its efforts on use of two tactics.

(a)  Legal leverage

The Left used its strength in the Courts to effect public policy measures they could not do through democratic means. Most notably, expansion of environmental protections, plus expanded rights to abortion and same-sex marriage. Although this produced some wins, the long-term effect has been catastrophic for the Left.

The focus on legalistic tactics led to an atrophy of grass-roots organizing, and a loss of legitimacy for the agenda. Legitimacy in the political sense, people’s acceptance of governmental authority. From bussing to abortion to closing logging in the NW to save the spotted owl, court-driven policy measures produce powerful backlashes unless supported with deep measures to gain public support — which step the Left has often skipped. An increasing fraction of the public believes the Left uses anti-democratic (even authoritarian) means to change public policy.

Now the real weakness of this strategy appears, as the increased strength of the Right results in more conservative judges at all levels. Judicial activism works just as well for the Right as the Left. Indeed for most of American history the Courts have been a conservative, even reactionary force. We might return to this old normal.

(b)  Gaining strength by sounding alarms

 

Read more…

The Ukraine crisis gives us a peak behind the curtain into the workings of our government

27 March 2014

Summary: Every geopolitical crisis provides us with information about our nation and our world. They provide peeks into the machinery hidden behind the government’s secrecy and journalists’ narratives. The Crimean crisis, a small area inside Russia’s sphere of influence, hyped by our hawks into a world-shaking incident, provides a rich lode for mining insights. Helping us, doing the heavy lifting, is one of our top defense analysts, Chuck Spinney. See the last section for links to other useful articles about this.

Military spending

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Ukraine: Manna From Heaven for the Green Line and Beyond Crowd

Franklin “Chuck” Spinney

From his website, The Blaster
26 March 214

Posted with his generous permission

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Most Americans know very little about the immediate origins of the crisis in the Ukraine and their government’s involvement in it. They know even less about its deeper roots, that reach back into Russian view of American duplicity in breaking its verbal promises not to expand NATO and the European Union eastward (useful summaries can be found here and here).

These promises were interpreted quite reasonably by the Russians as a quid pro quo for Mikhail Gorbachev’s agreement to

  1. the unification of Germany,
  2. the dissolution of the Warsaw Pact, and
  3. the withdrawal of Soviet forces from eastern Europe.

Gorbachev’s dream of a common European Home was always fanciful, but today, Ukraine proves it is in tatters.

If one is to believe the reportage in the mainstream media, the duly elected but decidedly corrupt government of the Ukraine was overthrown by a spontaneous revolt of the freedom-seeking Ukrainian people. But it is also clear from leaked recordings of phone conversations and the bloviations of U.S. “pro-defense” legislators that members of the U.S. government were at least tangentially involved, as were Ukrainian neo-fascists.

There is much more, however.

 

Read more…

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