This is an “explainer” post for our loyal Contra Krugman fans. On Episode 40 (which we just recorded but it hasn’t been posted yet), I referred to this Krugman blog post. My point is that Krugman made it sound like he had independent evidence that the outrage over Hillary Clinton’s private email scandal was a faux Republican invention, when in fact (I claimed) the actual news story showed just the opposite.
So here is how Krugman handled it in his post:
The Clinton email “scandal” goes on — still no sign that she broke any rules, no sign that she sent or received anything labeled “classified”, but she may have received and even forwarded items that were later classified or “should” have been classified. By normal human standards this is a big nothing; but Clinton Rules apply, under which malign behavior is the default assumption and where there’s smoke there must be fire even if everyone knows that the usual suspects are operating big smoke machines.
OK, so clearly you get the impression that the “latest news” shows that we are still waiting for a single shred of evidence that Clinton did something wrong, right? Now if you follow the link on the phrase “goes on,” it takes you to this Talking Points Memo piece.
Now here’s where it gets interesting. Even if you just read the TPM piece, you already would see that Krugman is wrong. The TPM piece is saying that a Reuters analysis has found that even though Team Clinton is claiming she never sent anything that was marked classified, that at least some of the emails in question should have AUTOMATICALLY been classified because of their nature (and that this is a big deal–a breaking of the rules pertaining to someone in her position).
And if you’re really into being objective–so that you go and click the Reuters link, rather than trusting the summaries by TPM and Paul Krugman–you would see stuff like this:
In the small fraction of emails made public so far, Reuters has found at least 30 email threads from 2009, representing scores of individual emails, that include what the State Department’s own “Classified” stamps now identify as so-called ‘foreign government information.’ The U.S. government defines this as any information, written or spoken, provided in confidence to U.S. officials by their foreign counterparts.
This sort of information, which the department says Clinton both sent and received in her emails, is the only kind that must be “presumed” classified, in part to protect national security and the integrity of diplomatic interactions, according to U.S. regulations examined by Reuters.
“It’s born classified,” said J. William Leonard, a former director of the U.S. government’s Information Security Oversight Office (ISOO). Leonard was director of ISOO, part of the National Archives and Records Administration, from 2002 until 2008, and worked for both the Bill Clinton and George W. Bush administrations.
“If a foreign minister just told the secretary of state something in confidence, by U.S. rules that is classified at the moment it’s in U.S. channels and U.S. possession,” he said in a telephone interview, adding that for the State Department to say otherwise was “blowing smoke.”
So in Krugman’s world, a Reuters report quoting a former director of the government’s Information Security Oversight Office, who worked for the Bill Clinton administration, saying that the State Department is obfuscating and that Hillary Clinton clearly broke rules that were in force at that time…is to be summarized as: “still no sign that she broke any rules.”
By the same logic, there is “still no sign” that Donald Trump did anything wrong with respect to Trump U, because after all Donald Trump himself, and the people around him, keep insisting that they did nothing wrong.
I thought these were all interesting observations. STANDARD DISCLAIMER WHENEVER I BLOG ABOUT TRUMP: I do not like the guy, I am not voting for him (or anyone else). But much of the commentary about him has been nonsensical, and the followings bloggers (like me) don’t like the guy either, but are pointing out oddities in the commentary.
==> Scott Adams (the Dilbert guy) writes a kinda-sorta defense of Trump that admittedly could apply to just about anyone, but still–I thought this was profound:
What exactly is the risk of a Trump presidency? Beats me. But let’s talk about it anyway.
Your Abysmal Track Record
For starters, ask yourself how well you predicted the performance of past presidents. Have your psychic powers been accurate?
I’m not good at predicting the performance of presidents. I thought Reagan would be dangerous, but he presided over the end of the Cold War. And I thought George W. Bush would be unlikely to start a war, much less two of them.
And how about your ability to predict the future of your own relationships? Most relationships end badly, so we know that the majority of Americans are not good at predicting the future. Have all of your relationships worked out the way you expected? Mine haven’t.
==> I am pleasantly surprised by how “conspiracy theorist” (though he explains in the post that his view does not rest on any closed-door meeting or secret memo) Gene Callahan has become lately:
When Howard Dean’s candidacy was sabotaged by the spread of the “Dean is crazy” meme, I began to recognize that although America ostensibly has two political parties, the goal of our elites is to make sure that each party runs a presidential candidate acceptable to them. Sure, the two parties are not identical, and there is plenty of room for disagreement so long as that disagreement is not on issues important to our elite class:
1) globalism and the gradual destruction of nation-states (so that trans-national corporations gain power);
2) continual low-level warfare around the world (so military contractors make more and more money); and
3) continued macroeconomic turbulence (so top investment banks become richer and richer).
When a candidate who is not “on board” on these issues seems to be a threat, there are certain standard ways to deal with him or her. They involve spreading the memes that:
1) that candidate is a racist;
2) that candidate is crazy; and
3) that candidate is dangerous.
==> And finally, Steve Landsburg put his finger on what has been bothering me about the recent outrage over “OMG Trump is so racist for saying the ‘Mexican’ judge is biased against him!!”
(I’m going to make the point a little differently from how Steve made it.) First of all, I’ve seen National Review-type guys pretending to be outraged that Trump called the judge Mexican, when the judge is American, you big racist jerk!! OK, this is ridiculous. If I say Olive Garden is an Italian restaurant, am I making a claim about geography? If someone says to me, “Murphy, that’s Irish right?” I’m not going to go ballistic.
Second, and more relevant: If you think it’s racist for Trump to argue that a judge of Mexican heritage might retaliate against Trump for his provocative views on illegal immigration, then you also would have a problem if a Republican strategist said the GOP was shooting itself in the foot for nominating Trump, since “Women and Hispanic voters do not appreciate his insulting remarks.”
Right? I’m assuming every single person who said Trump’s comments about the judge were racist, also condemned every political analyst who said Trump’s remarks alienate women and minorities, right?
Now of course, really what’s going on is that Trump has said things that are arguably racist, and so his critics don’t mind throwing the term around even when it doesn’t make sense. But still, if you want that term to retain any moral force, you can’t use it when it doesn’t make sense.
Last thing: For people who sincerely fear a Trump presidency as being qualitatively more dangerous than a Clinton (or Romney or Obama) presidency, let me point something out. The kind of person who is planning on voting for Trump, is certainly NOT going to change his or her mind when you loudly call him a racist, especially in a situation where the term doesn’t even make sense. You are truly hurting your own cause by doing that. To repeat something I’ve said for months now: In the beginning, I strongly disliked Trump and was amazed/appalled at the stuff he was saying. But after seeing self-righteous condemnations from people I knew didn’t actually deploy those same criteria (with which they denounced Trump) in previous elections, I started sympathizing with him. (Note, sympathize is not the same as support.)
This Friday I’m having an online debate on free trade with Vox Day, hosted by Tom Woods. You can register to watch it live here.
In this episode, Carlos and I explain the prep you should do before the first meeting with an authorized IBC Practitioner.
A lot of hijinx and tomfoolery in this episode. Be sure NOT to skip our plug of the Contra Cruise, because we give more details concerning this mysterious and magical voyage.
We certainly do not claim to be theologians, but I think this discussion with Steve Patterson turned out well. I definitely got into things I haven’t talked about publicly (though I’ve written on them, a bit, here at Free Advice).
My latest at IER. The reason I like this one is that I merely quote from climate change experts who support a carbon tax, in order to show just how dubious the case for it is. An excerpt:
Now I hope the reader starts to see how the bait-and-switch works. Advocates of intervention throw out short-term goals that they can (with unrealistic and naïve assumptions) show will have a relatively small impact on the economy. This leads the casual reader to suppose that the nightmarish climate catastrophes of the future can be avoided at relatively affordable cost.
Ah, but someone who digs deeper soon learns that these “affordable” policies don’t actually solve the problem. To do that, much more painful measures are necessary. Specifically…
Tyler Cowen links to a paper in which the authors write:
The Nordic countries are the most gender equal nations in the world, but at the same time, they also have a disproportionately high rate of intimate partner violence against women. This is perplexing because logically violence against women would be expected to drop as women gained equal status in a society. A new study explores this contradictory situation, which has been labeled the ‘Nordic paradox.’
I put the bold in. Why should this be perplexing? If you’re a boy and taught from the time you’re little that boys are stronger than girls, and therefore “a real man” doesn’t hit a woman, then you won’t take advantage of your obvious advantage.
However, if you’re taught that men and women are equal, and that such chivalrous talk is actually condescending, patriarchal, and patronizing, then why wouldn’t we expect guys to get in fights with women just like they do with other guys?