Counterproductive Tendencies in Wisconsin Policy Debates

Reader John (sometimes Jack), who disapproves of my posts on Wisconsin, politely asks:

Dr Chinn,
Would you be willing to flesh out your background so as to better understand your positions in your research and blog postings?
Where were you born?
Where were your parents born?
Do your parents espouse your same political leanings?
Do you intend to remain in Wisconsin after you retire?
If not, where do you intend to move to?

I think this comment highlights the sad state of policy discourse, at least on one side, has descended to. At the very least, it demonstrates an inability to discuss issues on their own merit without bringing into play the personalities. At the worst, it demonstrates a nativist attitude which is all to pervasive these days. John comments again, in order to justify his questions:

Why do I care? Well, let’s see. Dr. Chinn collects 2 salaries from the University of Wisconsin system in his current position. I don’t know the specifics, but I believe his position ties into the State of Wisconsin Pension System, which, unlike most states, is 100% funded. Now, as Dr. Chinn continues to advicate for more and more and more state taxes to continue to feed the state government beast (of which he profits handsomely), I am intensely curious if he intends to stay around post-retirement. I am willing to bet not. I would be shocked if he did not take his state pension payout (based upon two University salaries) and move to a much more favorable tax state, rather than take his retirement in Wisconsin and continue to pay the enormous taxes. He indirectly advocates for these continuous yearly tax hikes by attacking anyone who dare suggest goverment restraint. But for those of us who continue to live here and pay the taxes funding Dr. Chinn’s lifestyle, his posts are something other than purely ‘academic’.
So, what I’m trying to figure out is where his posts are coming from. I suspect that he is arguing from a position of pure self-interest. More taxes = more raises = (eventually) more pension payouts that he can collect in another state with lower income tax rates.
Yet, I cannot rule out the possibility that his parents grew up in some communist, repressive country, and influenced his politics in that way. But, probably not. He’s most likely couching his self-interest behind ‘academic’ posts.

’nuff said. I wonder whether other bloggers get similar question, or I’m just lucky. I guess I have to be thankful that at least he didn’t claim to have “a list”.

 

I think we should be fighting the war of ideas with facts and logic (and perhaps with correct spelling), and not impugning the motives (and patriotism) of those who might hold different views.

 

Oh, and just to be clear, I do not collect two paychecks from the state of Wisconsin.

 

Update, 8/11, 11:45 AM Pacific: On a side note, Steve King has just reiterated his belief:

“for everyone who’s a valedictorian, there’s another 100 out there that weigh 130 pounds and they’ve got calves the size of cantaloupes because they’re hauling 75 pounds of marijuana across the desert.”
King said his statements were accurate and have been misconstrued.
“My numbers have not been debunked. I said valedictorians compared to people who would be legalized under the act that are drug smugglers coming across the border. My characterization was exclusively to drug smugglers,” King said.

Update, 8/24, 7:30PM Pacific: After a long discussion of how birtherism is an acceptable perspective, I thought this example of cognitive dissonance should be exhibit 1 in the rebuttal. From “Cruz’s Supporters Don’t Question Eligibility,” Texas Tribune:

When Democrat Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, Republican voter Christina Katok of Walden said she believed he was ineligible for the job.
She reasoned that he was born in Kenya and therefore wasn’t a “natural born” American — one of a handful of constitutional requirements for the job. (Obama’s birth certificate shows that he was born in Hawaii, but some critics do not accept that as fact.)
Fast forward six years and another freshman U.S. senator, Canadian-born Tea Party firebrand Ted Cruz of Texas, is being mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. But Katok, who would vote for Cruz in a heartbeat, doesn’t have any concerns about his eligibility.
“As far as I’m concerned, Canada is not really foreign soil,” she said. Katok said she was more disturbed by Obama’s “strong ties to Kenya,” the African country where his father was born. She also said she didn’t like the fact that Obama did not release his long-form birth certificate during the 2008 race.
Cruz, who recently released his Canadian birth certificate, is at least “up front about it,” she said.

I think this story summarizes the nature of the birther movement comprehensively.

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117 thoughts on “Counterproductive Tendencies in Wisconsin Policy Debates

  1. Ricardo

    Menzie,
    On this you and I agree. Yes, I have faced the same kind of thing here. I was asked when I worked then when I would not discuss it I was ridiculed.
    I have also been harassed quite often because I am using a pseudonym so that an internet stalker will not be able to harass others here. Some people semm to thing that exposing my real name is somehow hurting me, but actually if the stalker gets on this site he will disrupt the whole debate.

  2. Nylund

    You have to admit, there’s something almost funny about an email that’s essentially saying, “I am unable to make a logical argument against you, so I’d like to resort to an irrelevant argumentum ad hominem. Unfortunately, I do not know enough about you to do that. Can you please provide me with the details of your life so I can impugn your character?”

  3. jonathan

    I assume from the name Menzie that you’re Scottish, like haggis and toss the caber. I can impune both haggis and caber tossing, if you want.

  4. randomworker

    The internets these days are awash with trolls. Comment sections can degenerate pretty quickly. Hardcore economic sites seem to be less trafficked and thus less attractive to trolls, so it is both easier to notice the trend and relatively easier for the community of commenters to put a stop to it.
    I have noticed that trolls do a lot of projection. John perhaps feels that if he ever found himself in a position where he could write columns that influence debate he would certainly dedicate himself to getting more more more – more salary, more pension, MOAR everything!!! He wouldn’t be able to help himself! Therefore he just projects that on to everyone, even those who hold prestigious chairs in economics at top universities.
    Regards.

  5. tj

    Menzie
    He’s an idiot, but your reply is troubling. I think this comment highlights the sad state of policy discourse, at least on one side
    What do you mean by “at least on one side”? Are you stating that there are no liberal/Progressive bigots?
    If you had stopped at “the sad state of political discourse” I would agree 100%, but sadly you couldn’t resist the urge to link all conservatives (“at least on one side”) to an idiot poster, and lower yourself to his bigotted level.
    There are plenty more than the few examples of liberal bigottry below, just google it, and then apologize to your conservative readers.
    Joe Biden – “You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I’m not joking!”
    Joe Biden “I mean you’ve got the first sort of mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking guy.”
    Harry Reid on Obama – “a ‘light-skinned’ African American with ‘no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.’”
    Left-wing radio host Neil Rogers – “Is you their black-haired answer-mammy who be smart? Does they like how you shine their shoes, Condoleezza? Or the way you wash and park the whitey’s cars?”
    Spike Lee (On Clarence Thomas)- “A handkerchief-head, chicken-and-biscuit-eating Uncle Tom.”
    Hillary Clinton to political operative Paul Fray -
    “You f*cking Jew b@stard.”
    Jesse Jackson’s description of New York City while on the 1984 presidential campaign trail -’Hymies.’ ‘Hymietown.’
    Al Sharpton – “White folks was in the caves while we [blacks] was building empires … We built pyramids before Donald Trump ever knew what architecture was … we taught philosophy and astrology and mathematics before Socrates and them Greek homos ever got around to it.”
    Finally, to give your readers some perspective on the Progressive movement – From Journal of Economic Perspectives—Volume 19, Number 4—Fall 2005—Pages 207–224.
    Less well known is that a crude eugenic sorting of groups into deserving and
    undeserving classes crucially informed the labor and immigration reform that is the
    hallmark of the Progressive Era (Leonard, 2003). Reform-minded economists of
    the Progressive Era defended exclusionary labor and grounds that the labor force should be rid of unfit workers, whom they labeled
    “parasites,” “the unemployable,” “low-wage races” and the “industrial residuum.”
    Removing the unfit, went the argument, would uplift superior, deserving workers.

    Fear and dislike of immigrants certainly were not new in the Progressive Era.
    But leading professional economists were among the first to provide scientific
    respectability for immigration restriction on racial grounds. They justified racebased
    immigration restriction as a remedy for “race suicide,” a Progressive Era term
    for the process by which racially superior stock (“natives”) is outbred by a more
    prolific, but racially inferior stock (immigrants). The term “race suicide” is often
    attributed to Edward A. Ross (1901a, p. 88), who believed that “the higher race
    quietly and unmurmuringly eliminates itself rather than endure individually the
    bitter competition it has failed to ward off by collective action.” Ross was no outlier.
    He was a founding member of the American Economic Association, a pioneering
    sociologist and a leading public intellectual who boasted that his books sold in the
    hundreds of thousands.

  6. Menzie Chinn

    tj: They posted on blogs during the Progressive era? But seriously, do you really think the frequency of this type of argumentation (“where were you born?”) is equal on both sides of the political spectrum? If so, I have a bridge for you.

  7. c thomson

    Intellectual arguments don’t float in outer space. They are wrapped up in the human condition. Pure physics were political in Nazi German. Genetics are always political. And political beliefs may be genetic.
    Someone named Fergus O’Hara is likely to have different beliefs about Irish history than someone named Wallingford Caruthers. Rational arguments won’t sway either guy.
    Paul Krugman is a great academic economist but anyone who knows a selection of east coast Ivy League Jews of Eastern European origin could guess his position on too many topics to list. Camp gays are seldom gomer Republicans. And so on.
    Why worry about this, Professor Chinn? People don’t decide how to vote on the basis of pure reason. Anyway, academic economics is a shifting system of beliefs, data, projections and so forth. Fun but hardly predictively useful.

  8. Rick Styker

    Menzie,
    John is just searching for an explanation for how you could consistently believe so much left-wing tommyrot in the face of so much contrary evidence. I’ve often wondered that myself. He thinks it must be self-interest. I’m sure it’s not. I think you’d be calling for a tax increase if you were a billionaire and you’d happily pay. I don’t think you can help yourself.
    To prove my point, I will now make your head explode by uttering 4 indisputably true statements:
    1) Ed Lazear is so right that the Obama recovery has been sub-par
    2) If Romney had won, we’d be seeing 500k jobs per month by now
    3) President Paul Ryan, the embodiment of Plato’s Philosopher-King, will usher in a new golden age of conservative prosperity
    4) The Heritage Foundation is the most important economic research institution in the nation

  9. Menzie Chinn

    Rick Stryker: And so asking where my parents were born is a way of understanding the intellectual contents of my arguments? Please explicate. Thank you in advance.

  10. Anonymous

    TJ – Menzie’s question was “I wonder whether other bloggers get similar question, or I’m just lucky.”
    Afaik Joe Biden and Harry Reid aren’t trolls on internet comment threads.
    I spend a little time (I’m not sure why) reading NRO and perusing the comments there. There are plenty of liberal trolls on that site. Some threads bring them out more than others – like the social conservative posts by Maggie Gallagher or Kathy Lopez. And the comments can get personal. But the economic policy posts seem to be argued differently. So that, I think, is the comparison.
    Regards.

  11. randomworker

    Sorry anonymous above is me, randomworker: internet troll and most interesting man in the world!

  12. Joe

    Tj, you need to figure out how to properly apply the word bigot in the future, as that’s a rather serious accusation.

  13. Anonymous

    Rick Stryker President Paul Ryan, the embodiment of Plato’s Philosopher-King, will usher in a new golden age of conservative prosperity
    You mean like Plato’s realworld philosopher king, Dionysius II of Syracuse?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dionysius_II_of_Syracuse
    That didn’t work out so well.
    On the other hand, like Dionysius, Paul Ryan seems to have a taste for expensive wines.
    http://www.politico.com/blogs/click/0711/Paul_Ryan_sips_expensive_wine.html

  14. tj

    Menzie
    do you really think the frequency of this type of argumentation (“where were you born?”) is equal on both sides
    Strawman.
    Your comment “at least on one side” places all racists and bigots in the conservative bucket. You probably believe the Tea Party is racist and violent. That’s what the media fed you, and apparently you swallowed it hook, line and sinker. There is little evidence of racism or violence in the Tea Party. At the same time, the Progressive Occupy crowd is extremely violent with anti-Semitic elements.
    Joe One who is narrowly or intolerantly devoted to his or her opinions and prejudices. This word is a general term that applies to everyone (racists, anti-Semites, misogynists, homophobes and xenophobes). http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=bigot
    Anonymous at August 8, 2013 01:44 PM
    Incorrect. The question is – Why would Menzie use the phrase “at least on one side”? That phrase reflects his belief that Conservatives are racists/xenophobes/bigots, while Liberals are above reproach.
    I would say that the Progressive Liberal leadership is as much, or more bigoted than Conservative leadership. (See my previous post.)So in my view, the “at least on one side” phrasing was offensive, and Menzie should apologize to all his readers for using it.
    Who said “At the very least, it demonstrates an inability to discuss issues on their own merit without bringing into play the personalities. At the worst, it demonstrates a nativist attitude which is all to pervasive these days.
    Seems a bit hypocritical, doesn’t it?

  15. tj

    Menzie
    I think I will let your (stunning) statement “There is little evidence of racism or violence in the Tea Party” speak for itself.
    It’s odd that one of the most popular Tea Partiers is Allen West, an African American. It’s odd that when hundreds of thousands of Tea Partiers gathered in Washington D.C., the police said it was on of the most peaceful crowds ever of that size, and they even picked up their trash afterward.

  16. Wise Pretzels

    Menzie:
    I’m sure you would agree that incentives matter. Learning about your background would allow readers to account for things that *could* help influence results. I wouldn’t say that disclosing personal/financial information is the way of doing it, but certainly it is a reasonable request.
    PS – Your recent post @05:35 is quite pretentious and contradictory to the entire premise of this blog post, wouldn’t you say?

  17. Johannes

    sounds like John (or Jack) is financed by the NSA …
    Menzie, though I think you are not seldom left-wing and biased, do not let yourself down due to a such a crackpot.
    Have a good day mate !

  18. Menzie Chinn

    tj: I was actually interested in verification regarding racism. I note that you did not write anything in that regard. I look forward to your interpretation of all those posters at the anti-Obama demonstrations.

  19. Menzie Chinn

    Wise Pretzels: I agree it is useful to know things about writers — like what consulting positions one has, whether one is a lobbyist. I disclose these things to the University of Wisconsin, and you know who I have consulted for from my cv. Sure, ask me if I’m a lobbyist for the tobacco companies, and I’ll be glad to answer (I’m not, just in case you were wondering). What I find interesting is that I don’t see other, say less ethnically identifiable, bloggers asked where they were born. Call me crazy if I find that a little disconcerting.

  20. Ricardo

    Menzie wrote:
    I think I will let your (stunning) statement “There is little evidence of racism or violence in the Tea Party” speak for itself.
    Menzie,
    Care to elaborate? In the spirit of your statement, “I think this comment highlights the sad state of policy discourse, at least on one side, has descended to. At the very least, it demonstrates an inability to discuss issues on their own merit…” I believe you need to explain what you are saying a little more. If you are serious about allowing the Tea Party to speak for itself then you and I agree, because the Tea Party is all about returning to “First Principles” of the American democratic replican form of government But your sentence seems to imply something else. Do you have evidence of something in the purpose of the Tea Party that I have never seen at their meetings?

  21. Ricardo

    Menzie,
    With your interest in the Tea Party you may find this article interesting (Don’t bother looking in the New York Times. They stopped reporting “all the news” a long time ago.)
    IRS agent: Tax agency is still targeting Tea Party groups
    In a remarkable admission that is likely to rock the Internal Revenue Service again, testimony released Thursday by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp reveals that an agent involved in reviewing tax exempt applications from conservative groups told a committee investigator that the agency is still targeting Tea Party groups, three months after the IRS scandal erupted.
    But the Obama administration says, “I seeee noooothinnnnn!”

  22. econimonium

    Ricardo, it’s the IRS’s job to vette people’s applications. That’s why this non-scandal disappeared. There was no “there” there. Also, what has this to do with the original post? Argue on the merits of the discussion, not on people or emotion. I honestly rarely read your posts anymore because they’re just not good enough or well-reasoned enough for me to waste my time on (honestly). But here I find your story arc fascinating because it neatly demonstrates what Menzie is arguing for above. Stick to facts and argue from them. Everything else is beside the point. This isn’t ideology, it’s economics, although in the past few years, people seem to think the two have something to do with each other. As when people do this in money management, you’d be very, very, wrong.

  23. Steven Kopits

    I think anyone who has a blog or comments on a blog can assume that they are fair game for commenting community. That’s the downside of allowing comments.
    The upside of such a policy is that it invites readers to follow the dialogue (at whatever quality). Thus, although I like Greg Mankiw’s work, I rarely visit his site, as he doesn’t allow comments, so the site has little dynamism beyond Greg’s occasional posts.
    At the same time, although I disagree with many of your views, Menzie, I have read most of your posts over the last several years, and at least know what your position is.
    If I had to choose between taking commenters’ shots or closing down the dialogue, I would choose the former.
    The quality of comments will relate to the nature of the post, in many cases. If you are talking about monetary policy, then you’ll get comments about that (and a few about the horrors or the Fed or Bernanke).
    If you talk about your personal life, you will receive comments about your personal life. So, if I rate the quality of comments, Scott Sumner’s site probably has the highest, as his posts are mostly technical. MR’s probably second best, although Tyler takes some heat for his restaurant reviews and seeming ideological ambivalence. Notwithstanding, there are some very sharp commenters over there.
    As Slugs might note, the comments at Zero Hedge are terrible; and who can find them at CR?
    But your posts, Menzie, typically have a political flavor, and as a result, tend to draw political responses. The quality of comments, as a result, tend to be more ideological and less technical than I would prefer.

  24. tj

    Menzie
    I was actually interested in verification regarding racism. I note that you did not write anything in that regard.
    What on earth are you talking about?
    Which part of my earlier post did you not understand? Let me see if I can connect the dots for you.
    Fact: Allen West is an African American.
    Fact: Allen West is one of the most popular leaders in the Tea Party. Many preferred him to Herman Cain (another popular memeber of the Tea Part who is African American), Romney, Gingrich and the other Republican candidates.
    Fact: White Racists do not support black candidates running for political office.
    Thus, either the vast majority of the Tea Party are not racists, or, your implication that they are racists is wrong.
    Which is it Menzie?
    I look forward to your interpretation of all those posters at the anti-Obama demonstrations.
    Can you please identify a single instance of an “Anti-Obama Demonstration”? The Tea Party disagrees with the his policies and have a constitutional right to organize and express their disagreement with those policies. I don’t recall any being billed as “Anti-Obama Demonstrations” except by the media and Progressives.
    Emily Ekins, a graduate student at UCLA, conducted the survey at the 9/12 Taxpayer March on Washington last month by scouring the crowd, row by row and hour by hour, and taking a picture of every sign she passed. Ekins’s conclusion is not that the racially charged messages are unimportant but that media coverage of tea party rallies over the past year have focused so heavily on the more controversial signs that it has contributed to the perception that such content dominates the tea party movement more than it actually does.
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/10/13/AR2010101303634.html

    ARE YOU BLIND TO THE HYPOCROSY YOU DEMONSTRATE WITH THIS STATEMENT, “I think we should be fighting the war of ideas with facts and logic (and perhaps with correct spelling), and not impugning the motives (and patriotism) of those who might hold different views.”
    WHILE AT THE SAME TIME IMPLYING EVERYONE ON THE CONSERVATIVE SIDE OF THE DEBATE IS A RACIST/XENOPHOBE BY PROCLAIMING:
    “I think this comment highlights the sad state of policy discourse,
    at least on one side, has descended to?”
    You are exhibiting the same ugliness as John/Jack, when you call all Conservatives Racists/Xenophobes and you should apologize to your readers and retract the at least on one side portion of your statement.

  25. J.D.

    Just want to point out this juxtaposition:
    “…it demonstrates a nativist attitude which is all to pervasive these days.”
    Don’t you mean “all too pervasive”?
    And then:
    “I think we should be fighting the war of ideas with facts and logic (and perhaps with correct spelling)…”
    Seems someone isn’t following his own advice. You know how they say “people who live in glass houses…”? This is why I suggest people never harp on anyone else’s spelling errors, because inevitably you make a typo and just end up looking like a shallow, mean person.

  26. valuethinker

    cthomson
    ‘Paul Krugman is a great academic economist but anyone who knows a selection of east coast Ivy League Jews of Eastern European origin could guess his position on too many topics to list.’
    WTF?
    Have you ever heard of *Milton Friedman*? He was Jewish. Not given to leftwing views, though.
    (Krugman is a German name, so is Friedman– I have no idea if their ancestors were German Jews or some other part of Eastern Europe– it was at the time largely under Austrian control in any case).
    Another Jewish economist? How about George Stigler? On political science types Norman Poedhoretz (founder of Commentary). Alan Bloom (another notorious Jew ;-))?
    Your post reads like ‘there is this well known left wing Jewish conspiracy in economics’.
    What there is is a lot of very smart Jewish academics- -their politics are not at all predictable.
    Just on the Ivys and Jews you probably know they had quotas on Jews? That effect will cascade down the generations, because of the legacy admissions effect– if your grandfather couldn’t get into Harvard in the 40s because of the quota, then that lowers your chance now.
    I will say one thing, I can confidently predict that Menzie Chinn’s father is not a Jew of Eastern European origin, or he changed his name. Menzie Chinn of course could be (Judaism is passed down the mother’s side).

  27. 2slugbaits

    Steven Kopits the comments at Zero Hedge are terrible
    On that point we completely agree.
    Ricardo As poster economonium noted, there is no “there” there with the supposed IRS “scandal.” The IRS was also “targeting” liberal groups. And note that I put “targeting” in quotes because it was really a just a case of filtering for likely politically oriented groups, which would not be entitled to tax exempt status. The IRS was faced with a deluge of these groups (illegally) claiming tax exempt status. Faced with an overwhelming workload and reduced staffing, I find it hard to blame the IRS for doing what we all do when we have big lists…use the “Find” command in Excel and look for key words. Your first clue that you got the story wrong should have been when you noticed that it came from the Washington Examiner. That’s the paper that people leave on the Metro so the homeless will have some warm insulation.
    tj I think it’s been pretty well established that the “violence” at those Occupy sites was staged by anti-Occupy groups trying to smear the movement. There was a fair amount of reporting on this at the time. Now there were some serious sexual abuse crimes that were reported, but those kinds of crimes are not rooted in a movement…just a sad commentary on everyday garden variety violence in America. The point that you seem to be missing, and what was really at the heart of Menzie’s post, is that a lot of the extreme conservative movement in general (and with the Tea Party in particular) is animated by a deep sense of “Know Nothing” nativism.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Know_Nothing
    This has always been an ugly part of the conservative movement, and combatting it was one reason William F. Buckley founded the National Review. For more on this and the kind of connection between nativism and the Tea Party, see this Oct 2010 New Yorker article by Princeton University historian Sean Wilentz:
    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2010/10/18/101018fa_fact_wilentz

  28. Anonymous

    If only the Tea Party folks were as smart and sophisticated as 2slugs, they could be liberal and elite and KNOW-IT-All snobs too. They would also be full of his type of BS.

  29. Ricardo

    Slug and economonium,
    Please tell us where is the division of the IRS that is veting “liberal” groups for 2 years? Also, can you give me the name of one “liberal” group that has been denied tax exempt status in the Obama adminstration? Also can you name one “conservative” news organization that has been illegal information on “liberal” organizations? Can you tell me one person who have been disciplined for illegally disclosing infomation to “liberal” news organizations. Just a hint, the man who illegally disclosed information from the IRS on Tea Party groups has just been promoted by the Obama administration.

  30. tj

    2slugs
    I think it’s been pretty well established that the “violence” at those Occupy sites was staged by anti-Occupy groups trying to smear the movement.
    According to who? Let me guess, the same media that pushed the angry/violent/racist Tea Party? Of course, you didn’t question it. Did you question it when the same media described the Occupy crowd as peaceful patriots and any violence was attributed to outside groups?
    You brush off the much more violent Occupy crowd with a hand wave and claim it’s “well established” the violence was “stages”. That’s all according to 2slugs, but you offer no evidence.
    I’ve shown above that there are plenty of examples of the leadership on the left displaying the same bigoted behavior that Menzie identifies with John/Jack. I used their own words to show it. You offer what? Your “well established” opinion?
    Know Nothing” nativism Gosh, it’s odd that so many Catholics are conservatives today, what with all the hate toward them back in the 1850′s.
    If you want to go that route, there is plenty of abhorrent activity in the history of the progressive movement as well. Eugenics as an example. Some perspective on the Progressive movement – From Journal of Economic Perspectives—Volume 19, Number 4—Fall 2005—Pages 207–224.
    That article actually omits much of the ugliness associated with the early Progressives. It almost tries to justify some of the ugliness, just as you seem to be doing with the Occupy crowd.
    Look, there are plenty of idiots on both sides of the aisle, but my gripe is that Menzie, with his “at least on one side” comment, is effectively calling me, and anyone that disagrees with his political views, a racist/xenophobe.
    You can’t dispute it, he wrote it and he is standing by it. Menzie is exhibiting the same ugliness as John/Jack, when he implies all Conservatives are Racists/Xenophobes just like John/Jack.

  31. Ricardo

    Slug,
    I cannot believe what you wrote about the Occupy ecological disasters. Did you not see the trash and garbage at the encampments? Did you not see the pictures of the mess that was left for others to clean up? The Tea Party had over 300,000 in Washington and the place was cleaner when they left than when they arrived. Rapes and sexual assaults are not little things, btw. Those kinds of things are rooted in the people of the movement. The whole movement has not been spontaneous but was an advertising ploy. The people who turned out were homeless people looking for food and a good time. The people attending knew nothing about what they were doing. And Progressive propaganda has been slandering the Tea Party since it began because it is the most dangerous thing Progressives face. A motivated group of grass roots Americans demanding a return to “First Principles.” The Progressive crony capitalists and scrambling to keep the slop coming.

  32. Ricardo

    BTW, Slug, you do know that a President was almost impeached for simply attempting to use the IRS against his political opponents. In this real scandal we have an administration not only using the IRS against opponents but openly rewarding those engaged in the abuse. And then when the scandal hits the pages they simply continue. Obviously there will be no impeachment this time because the Democrats only impeach Republicans. With Democrats it is a resume builder.

  33. 2slugbaits

    Ricardo a President was almost impeached for simply attempting to use the IRS against his political opponents.
    What part of “The IRS was also ‘targeting’ liberal groups” did you not understand? The IRS official was a lifelong Republican, not a Democrat. The IRS office was simply following the law, which says that the IRS has to vet all tax exempt claims and make sure the organizations are not political in nature. The IG found that the IRS looked at liberal groups as well.
    http://www.cnn.com/2013/07/18/politics/irs-scandal
    can you give me the name of one “liberal” group that has been denied tax exempt status in the Obama adminstration?
    Yes. Emerge America saw it’s tax exempt status denied. You want some other groups? Now there were fewer liberal groups examined, but that is a function of a lot fewer liberal groups seeking tax exempt status.
    the man who illegally disclosed information from the IRS on Tea Party groups
    What information was “illegally” disclosed? The IRS did not release tax data on any of the groups…that would have been illegal. But identifying which groups would be granted tax exempt status and which ones wouldn’t is not illegal. In fact, the law requires that this information be made public.
    The people who turned out were homeless people looking for food and a good time.
    You’re partly correct here. In fact, the homeless and drifters were responsible for a lot of the violence. For example, there’s this almost amusing story of some crazed homeless person who went on a rampage at OWS. He was restrained by the OWS protesters.
    http://www.cbsnews.com/8301-504083_162-57318571-504083/crazed-homeless-man-starts-rampage-at-occupy-wall-street-protest-in-zuccotti-park/
    Then again, maybe the homeless man went to Zucotti Park because the NYPD was telling homeless bums and criminal elements to “Take it to Zucotti.”
    http://www.businessinsider.com/truth-about-crime-at-occupy-wall-street-2011-11?op=1
    The Tea Party rally at DC was only for a couple of hours. The OWS protests went on for months. I can only imagine the pile of Depends adult diapers that would have piled up at any Tea Party rally that went on as long as the OWS protests.
    tj my gripe is that Menzie, with his “at least on one side” comment, is effectively calling me, and anyone that disagrees with his political views, a racist/xenophobe.
    Then I think you have badly misunderstood Menzie’s point. You’re wrong on most issues; but that doesn’t make you a xenophobic racist. My guess is that JDH doesn’t share all of Menzie’s political views, but I don’t think Menzie regards JDH as a racist/xenophobe. But poster John clearly is a racist/xenophobe and that kind of nativism is something that is a much bigger problem for conservatives than it is for liberals. Liberals have their own demons, but a penchant for nativism isn’t usually one of them. Many Tea Party folks were simply political conservatives and CNBC viewers who (wrongly) opposed Obama’s economic stimulus program and Obamacare. But a lot of “birthers” and whackjobs on the extreme right (e.g., bringing guns to rallies) attached themselves to the movement and further radicalized a Tea Party that was originally created by Dick Armey and the Koch brothers. Many of the extreme Tea Party protesters were so intellectually confused that they didn’t even know the difference between fascism and communism, but they were just sure that Obama was both.
    Over the centuries the targets of nativist anger has changed from one group to the next. It’s been Catholics. It’s been southern Europeans. It’s been Jews, Asians, Hispanics, Blacks, Vulcans, Klingons, etc.

  34. Anonymous

    I am Lois Lerner and I work (well, vacation) for the IRS. I’ve seen these post from 2slug and want folks to know that 2smug is right–I did nothing wrong. I did NOT issue orders to BOLO those nasty conservatives and Tea Party folks so that they could be targeted and harassed; I did NOT have tell them the folks in Cincy in 2010 to pass all Tea Party 501 applications up the “IRS we love Obama” chain to Washington, DC so that the Chief Counsel of the IRS could ensure that nasty conservatives and Tea Party folks were DENIED their CONSTITUTIONAL right to fully participate in the 2012 election…(this would, after all, be worse than that right winger Richard Nixon)
    Now, it is true that when working for the FEC I went on a three-year jihad against the hateful Christian Coalition and I tried to disenfranchise them only to lose in court ….. but this has NO bearing on my work (now, my vacation) at the IRS.
    I could offer proof that we Obama-loving folks at the IRS did not target those anti-Obama groups, but I’ve taken the fifth. Thank god we have shills like 2slugs, the unbiased mainstream media, the clowns at New Yorker, and MSNBC….
    P.S. It really is (snicker, snicker) the GOP who wants to disenfranchise voters……

  35. Robert Hurley

    I find most of Dr. Chinn’s posts both entertaining and informative. He backs up his assertions with facts and data. What is amazing is how much people like TJ seem to live in an alternative universe where people never seem acknowledge facts that contradict their view, studies that might cause a thoughtful person to rethink his or her position. I am not sure what causes this phenomenon. I have friends who inhabit this same universe. So when they read economist like Chinn or DeLong, their response often includes ad hominem attacks. I would be interested in any studies on the connection between such behavior and adherence to an ideology.

  36. tj

    2slugs
    What part of “The IRS was also ‘targeting’ liberal groups” did you not understand?
    You are so far removed from reality on this one it’s comical.
    I can only imagine the pile of Depends…
    So which is it – Violent, angry, racists or old folks armed with Depends? You can’t have it both ways.
    Then I think you have badly misunderstood Menzie’s point.
    Menzie makes lots of points. One of them is that conservatives are racist xenophobes like John/Jack.
    Here are Menzie’s own words.
    “I think this comment highlights the sad state of policy discourse, at least on one side, has descended to.”
    Of course the fact that his discourse has sunk to the level of lumping all who disagree with his political view into the same group as John/Jack doesn’t register with you.
    Hurley
    Where’s my “ad hominem” attack? Those are Menzie’s words not mine. It’s not ad-hominem when I use Menzie’s own words to judge his character.
    TJ seem to live in an alternative universe where people never seem acknowledge facts that contradict their view
    I’ve presented Menzie’s own words as evidence, while you have resorted to your opinion/conjecture. Menzie lumps all conservatives in with John/Jack. Where’s the logic? Where’s the evidence?
    Your claim and Menzie’s claim both fit the definition of ad-hominem attack that you level at me, no?
    ad-hominem:
    Appealing to personal considerations rather than to logic or reason.

  37. Rick Stryker

    Tj,
    You are certainly right in your comments. Menzie has been doing exactly what he claims John did. And so have the other left wing commenters. But that’s to be expected.
    The reality is that you can never rely on the left to be principled or honest. Despite all the pious talk, it’s never really about logic and facts with those guys.
    Regarding the IRS targeting of conservatives, we also can’t ever rely on the left to look at this objectively. And we certainly can’t rely on the media to uncover the truth. The left will always just parrot the administration coverup. We have to do it ourselves.
    Fortunately, some tea party conservatives are doing something about it. Catherine Engelbrecht talks about the harassment she suffered here
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7MWxZzGg1XU
    for starting True the Vote.
    http://www.truethevote.org/
    Engelbrecht details an amazing abuse of power visited upon her and her husband. Rather than being intimidated, as most people would be, True the Vote is suing the IRS. The complaint is here
    http://www.scribd.com/doc/142784144/Amended-Filed-Complaint-True-the-Vote-v-IRS
    That’s the way to go. The only way to get to the bottom of this is to get these guys’ hands on a bible and pry the truth out of them. It will be a long road, as the Administration will stall and stymie the court proceedings as long as they can get away with it. I think we are eventually going to learn that this is quite a big scandal, with lots of illegal activities and serious abuses of power.

  38. Ricardo

    Slug,
    You weasel-word.
    The IG found that the IRS looked at liberal groups as well.
    Sure the IRS looked at liberal groups, and the applauded and gave then their exemptions. Slug, tell me where is the division created for organizations with an “liberal” words in their name? All of this abuse has happened since Obama’s election. And the thread of policy runs right into the White House (White House conusel) I doubt Obama ordered it directly. He just spoke at rallies saying he would like to see it, as did Sen Durbin and others. He may deny it but Obama owns it!!

  39. Menzie Chinn

    tj and Rick Stryker: I see you two are locked into a mutual admiration society. Excellent! I did not mean to imply each and every conservative has descended to the use of nativist arguments as a means of forwarding their cause. Obviously there are many, many who do not.

    However, I believe we must have been on different planets when not so long ago we saw recurring assertions that the President was not born in the United States, documentation notwithstanding. I do not know whether either of you believe that the President was not born in the United States (I know to this day Ricardo believes in the existence of Iraqi WMDs in 2003, but even he has not argued the President was not born in the United States, at least on Econbrowser).

    Not exactly on the nativist issue, I notice a more pervasive use of the adjective “muslim” as a condition for disqualifying the views of someone coming from one side, than from the other. Please feel free to disagree, but I think most people with some acquaintance with reality would agree with my assessment.

    Hence, I think I might be excused for thinking that certain nativist views prevail with much much higher frequency on one side than the other.

    Oh, and take a look at these ads: [1] [2] If you can find a counterpart on the liberal side in the most recent electoral cycle, I would be very much obliged if you would provide the links. Thank you in advance.

  40. tj

    Menzie
    I see you two are locked into a mutual admiration society. Excellent!
    Can you show me an instance in this thread where I quoted Rick? You are a well-educated man, I am sure you understand the term “mutual”. Honestly, you can’t seem to get out of your own way on this issue.
    I did not mean to imply each and every conservative has descended to the use of nativist arguments as a means of forwarding their cause. Obviously there are many, many who do not.
    Thank you, apology accepted. :)
    Not exactly on the nativist issue, I notice a more pervasive use of the adjective “muslim” as a condition for disqualifying the views of someone coming from one side, than from the other.
    I believe the reference is to “radical Islamists” not “muslim”.
    However, if you want to continue to stereotype/profile conservatives, then be my guest. It’s your reputation.

  41. Menzie Chinn

    tj: I stand corrected. Mr. Stryker admires you; I have no idea what you think of Mr. Stryker.

    I did not say in my original post each and every conservative was a nativist; the fact that you jumped on this indicates to me a certain defensiveness derived from the fact you know that there is a heavy nativist streak on the right.

    Now, if you can find the equivalents of the Hoekstra ad (of equivalent reprehensibility) on the left for the last cycle, maybe I would be less inclined toward the view that the nativist tendency dominates more on the right.

    I further recall that many characterizations by self-identified Tea Party members of the President was that he was a muslim (i.e., I am merely quoting). Now, I believe they probably also believed that he was a radical Islamist, but I cannot verify that. So, I do believe that many on the right hold “muslim” Americans as lesser Americans.

  42. CoRev

    Menzie, 2slugs, and the other progressives/liberals commenting in this thread who believe “nativism) and its various forms is not pejorative. Wiki explains: “Nativism (politics) or political nativism, a term used by scholars to refer to ethnocentric beliefs relating to immigration and nationalism; antiforeignism”
    Why use even another form ad hominem by calling out others as “racists? Racist: Racism – http://www.webref.org/sociology/r/racism.htm “An ideological ethnocentric diseased set of beliefs that holds that one’s own racial group is a distinct group superior to other groups that have been labeled as racially distinctive.” Why do you use this term to define patriotic in negative terms?
    Menzie, your use of the term shows a complete ignorance of its actual meaning. (Or not so complete?) Moreover, it shows how and why these discussion degenerate into these base, name calling sessions.

  43. CoRev

    Menzie challenges us with some inanity re: political ads: “Now, if you can find the equivalents of the Hoekstra ad (of equivalent reprehensibility) on the left for the last cycle, maybe I would be less inclined toward the view that the nativist tendency dominates more on the right. ”
    http://www.adsavvy.org/25-most-racist-advertisements-and-commercials/
    What is strange is the obvious racism/gender ads against two sets of candidates: women and black GOP candidates. Lest we forget democratic politicism, how can Menzie forget the: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Yt4Wq0yXbQ

  44. Anonymous

    Great way to run an ECONOMICS blog, Menzie.
    What next, you gonna bring in some of of your peaceful, law abiding Wisconsin union thug friends to crack a few heads?

  45. Menzie Chinn

    CoRev: I regret I do not understand your comment. What’s with the “)”? If I used the term “nativist” in a manner that might be construed in a positive manner, I apologize. That was not my intent. I use the term to be as specific as possible. One could be a nativist, and not racist; one could be racist and not be a nativist — likely rare, but possible.

    Your statement “Why do you use this term to define patriotic in negative terms?” where I assume “this term” to equal “racist”. Are you trying to say that being racist is a form of patriotism?

    I further do not understand why you provided the link to the first clip of ads. It seems to validate my view, unless you think Intel and other high tech companies are progressive. I never thought of Intel as a particularly progressive company.

    The ad depicting Ryan is a non-sequitur.

    Anonymous (6:10AM) aka Robert: I don’t know what news you get about Madison in Cincinnati, but I haven’t heard about union thugs running amok here.

  46. Rick Styker

    If we want to see a good example of a nativist attempt to exploit the fear that foreigners will take American jobs, we need only look to the recent actions of the leadership of the Democratic party.
    During the campaign, Vice President Biden made a sustained attack on Romney before union groups on his alleged “outsourcing of jobs” to India and China. At one point, he said: “How many times you get the call, (in mock Indian accent)‘I like to talk to you about your … credit card,” he said, abandoning the mock accent. “It’s a little over done.” Despite his mocking of Indians’ ability to adopt an English accent, members of the Administration as well as other Democrats defended Biden. With that strong support, Biden continued to assert falsely that Romney would send American jobs to India and China if he became President.
    Here is the ad they put up to scare American workers about Indians and Chinese taking their jobs. This ad is false but keep in mind it wasn’t put up by a fringe group but by the Obama campaign itself.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LCZM19l6lVQ

  47. CoRev

    Menzie said: “where I assume “this term” to equal “racist”.” Exactly my point: nativist = racist = ad hominem. You confirm this with: “one could be racist and not be a nativist — likely rare, but possible.” Can liberals get by any disagreement without calling their opponent names?
    Your failure to understand my meaning is a failure to understand your own proclivity for straw man ad hominems.
    Its going to get worse again as we approach the elections.

  48. Rick Styker

    Menzie,
    Corev’s Paul Ryan video is not a non-sequiter, but rather relevant to your point that “At the very least, it demonstrates an inability to discuss issues on their own merit without bringing into play the personalities.” The Paul Ryan video is a shocking example from the liberal side. In the video, Paul Ryan is depicted as murdering a struggling old lady. You want to gloss over it but you should be publicly condemning it.
    Here’s another example of liberal hypocrisy on this issue. During the campaign, pundit and comedian Bill Maher called Sarah Palin a c**t, Michelle Bachmann a “bimbo” and referred to Sarah Palin’s special needs child as “retarded.” He refused to apologize. Meanwhile, he had just given $1 million to the Obama super pac. Did the Obama administration condemn Maher and return the money? No. Did his network fire him from his show? No. Did Maher’s liberal audience force his network to fire him by refusing to watch? No. Did any women’s group organize a boycott of his network? No.
    The left is OK with sexist attacks as long as the targets are conservative women. And the left is OK to mock a disabled child, as long as the disabled child’s mother is a conservative.

  49. Menzie Chinn

    CoRev: My point is an academic social scientist I want to be as specific as possible. For me, being a nativist is different from being racist; you would like to elide them. That’s fine for you, but I like to write precisely when describing social phenomena.

    Rick Stryker: If it makes you happy, I will be happy to criticize the VP for mockingly imitating an Indian accent. I would also do so if the did the same for a Chinese accent.

    However, it is one thing to be protectionist — although I don’t see how trying to revise tax laws so that there is less incentive to offshore is protectionist as long as compatible with WTO agreements — and to be a nativist, criticizing fellow Americans as being outsiders and hence not worthy of being listened to, as a consequence of not conforming to a certain ethnic ideal. Maybe that distinction eludes you, but I think many people do understand it.

    By the way, how do you know a President Mitt Romney would not offshore jobs? If doing so were to improve the bottom line of corporations (which he must have believed was the case when he was at Bain), and he seems to believe that what is good for corporate America is necessarily good for America, then it would be entirely consistent for him to promote policies that would offshore jobs.

  50. Menzie Chinn

    Rick Stryker (9:53AM): I don’t defend Bill Maher’s comments. I hope you don’t defend Rush Limbaugh’s. ’nuff said re: TV and radio personalities.

    Re: the ad depicting Ryan. I agree — it would have been much more appropriate for it to depict the old lady as making do on the streets. That is a much more likely outcome given what we know of the pre-Social Security era, trends in income inequality, and the various incarnations of the Ryan plan.

  51. Rick Stryker

    Menzie,
    You are focusing on one aspect of nativism but I’m thinking about the concept more broadly. Nativism is a belief and policy that desires special or preferred status for the natives of a country as opposed to newcomers. It is motivated by the belief that the newcomers are diluting the culture of the country and taking the natives’ jobs. Nativism is mostly manifested by anti-immigration policy but it also has your meaning, which is the denigration of the views of the newcomers as a product of a different or inferior culture.
    I was focusing on the jobs aspect of nativism. Whether you are talking about immigrants taking jobs by working within the country’s borders or taking them by outsourcing, it amounts to the same thing: the fear is that foreigners are taking American’s jobs. Thus, the administration’s attacks on Romney were nativist.
    I am personally strongly pro-immigration and anti-nativist. And I disagree that these attitude’s are mostly on the right. Perhaps the most blatantly nativist policy is being carried out by the left in major universities. Asian students as a group have very strong academic achievements and yet that is not reflected in the percent of Asian students accepted at elite universities.

  52. Menzie Chinn

    Anonymous aka Robert: Well, aside from the first clip, I only see gesticulation and finger pointing. In the first clip, which seems to not be from Madison (much too warm for winter here; others have noted that most clips are not from WI), there’s no violence. Do we know this is a union person (and why in the clip is it a person in red top shouting, then a person in a green top pointed to as the culprit walking away?), which is not to excuse the behavior (that’s not how my non-native but US citizen parents taught me to behave), but does not validate your assertion regarding “union thugs”.

    Rick Stryker: I see — if you define nativism thus, you will get your answer. I doubt most people have the same interpretation that you do. I would say most people would have called what you call nativism either protectionism or xenophobia.

    Regarding the last point on Asian students in elite universities — have you been on the campuses of one of these “elite” campuses you speak of recently? I challenge your perception. Now, if you say non-US citizen/non-permanent-resident Asian students are underrepresented given their credentials, I would agree. The same is true of foreign non-Asian students — we could have many more qualified non-citizen students from Europe and Latin America enrolled in our top universities (in my view, math prep is sorely deficient among American board students). But until these countries contribute equally to the funding of universities, I don’t see why we should grant equal access. (Can’t do much about Ivy’s re: “legacy” students — unless the government were to seize and nationalize, I suppose. Do you advocate?)

    tj and Rick Stryker: I am still awaiting your interpretation of you would characterize the long-standing assertion by some on the right (not on the left to my knowledge) that the President was not born in the United States.

  53. CoRev

    Menzie, you’ve made your meaning crystal clear: “one could be racist and not be a nativist — likely rare, but possible.” Trying to justify it with: “My point is an academic social scientist I want to be as specific as possible.”
    You can not even consistently make your point without hypocrisy: “For me, being a nativist is different from being racist; you would like to elide them. That’s fine for you, but I like to write precisely when describing social phenomena.”
    Your “precision” has been defined for what it is, ” At the very least, it demonstrates an inability to discuss issues on their own merit without bringing into play the personalities.”
    Wrapping your comment in the folds of an “academic’s” cloak does not add precision. When using a more ?acceptable? synonym shows academic hubris and I interpret as deceit.

  54. Rick Stryker

    Menzie,
    I think my definition of nativism is accurate. See
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nativism_%28politics%29
    Regarding my point on nativism and Asian Americans, I do not base my belief on perceptions and I prefer data to walking around universities. I recommend the book, “No Longer Separate, Not Yet Equal: Race and Class in Elite College Admission and Campus Life” by Princeton sociologist Thomas Espenshade and Alexandria Walton Redford. By examining admissions data, they show that Asian students must have much higher grades and test scores to have an equal probability of being accepted to highly selective universities when compared to white, hispanic, and black students. Admittedly, the reasons for this are complex. Affirmative action, legacies, athletes, etc. play a role but I do believe there is also a nativist policy of the left at work.
    By the way, this is a good reference if you are planning on getting a child into college. It explains how the admissions process really works.
    On your birther question, you are trying to take a few cases to smear all conservatives. Prominent conservatives such as Eric Erikson of redstate, Andrew Breitbart, Romney, etc, etc., dismissed it. I myself looked at the evidence and dismissed it as did the vast majority of conservatives. You mention that you are not aware of the belief on the left, so I think you’d be surprised to hear that birtherism first appeared on the left among supporters of Hilary Clinton, not on the right.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJU37U5_rbc
    There are of course nuts on both sides but a breathtaking example of nuttiness on the left is the 9-11 truthers, liberals Democrats who believe that Bush and Cheney covered up what really happened on 9-11 in order to start a war and attack muslims.
    Take a look at this website:
    http://www.actorsandartistsfor911truth.org/index-old.htm
    and check out the prominent Left wing Hollywood Obama supporters who have signed on to this nonsense, including:
    Ed Asner
    Woody Harrelson
    Michelle Philipps
    Willie Nelson
    Rosie O Donnell
    Graham Nash
    Gore Vidal
    and, the man with the tiger blood, Charlie Sheen.

  55. Rick Styker

    Menzie,
    The birther movement, which started among Hilary Clinton’s supporters, had a small number of prominent supporters but was rejected by the overwhelming majority of conservative and Republican leaders. Similarly, the 9-11 truth movement has a small number of prominent supporters, but is rejected by the overwhelming majority of liberal and Democratic leaders. Both movements have unsettling large support according to polls, but that’s the nature of these polls. Polls show that lots of people believe the Kennedy assassination was a coverup and that we didn’t really land on the moon. Plenty of people also believe the earth was created 6000 years ago.

  56. Menzie Chinn

    Rick Stryker: I see. We should dispense with polls in terms of inferring what people think. (And here I thought polls were expected to do exactly that.) Otherwise, 49% constitutes “an overwhelming rejection” from the leftist publication Politico). That is, in 2011, 51% of Republican primary voters believed the President had been born outside of the country.

  57. tj

    Menzie
    I did not say in my original post each and every conservative was a nativist;
    I know. You said everyone “on one side” (the conservative side) of the argument” displays the same racist/xenophobic tendencies as John/Jack.
    I am still awaiting your interpretation of you would characterize the long-standing assertion by some on the right (not on the left to my knowledge) that the President was not born in the United States.
    Why would anyone on the left question anything about the President. He’s their guy. To be fair, we need to look at claims they made about Bush -
    George W. Bush was a “deserter” from the U.S. military, claims filmmaker Michael Moore. Worse, says Democrat Party chief Terry McAuliffe: “George Bush never served in our military in our country.” And not only that, adds McAuliffe, he went AWOL.
    I’m sure there are more, but I’ve made my point.

  58. Menzie Chinn

    tj: Did I use the word “everyone” in my original post?

    I think the incidence of any given view is of relevance; please see the statistics in my previous comment, re: Republican primary voters. If you are going to deny that there is a strong strain of birtherism in conservative circles, then I think you are denying reality.

  59. Rick Stryker

    Menzie,
    No, I wasn’t saying that we should dispense with polls to see what people think. Rather, I was saying that people unfortunately believe all kinds of conspiracy theories and the polls bear that out.
    But you seem to want to quote polls. So let’s look at the polling data. The poll you quoted was of Republican primary voters, the most conservative Republicans. Those polls indicate that a majority believe the President wasn’t born in the US. The polls do not say that he is complicitous in the murder of US citizens or that there is some sort of vast conspiracy. They merely say that a majority of the most conservative Republican voters believe he was born outside the US, just as 2slugbaits once tried to argue on these comment pages that George Romney was an illegal alien.
    Now let’s look at polls on the 9-11 truther movement and compare. A zogby poll from 2007 has the goods. When asked whether the Bush government knew the 9-11 attack was coming but let it happen for political reasons, 36.3% of Democrats said they believed that. When asked whether the US government planned or assisted in the attacks, 6.3% of Democrats agreed. Note, these are not primary voters but general Democrats. Thus, 42.6 percent of Democrats believe that Bush and other Republicans either allowed Americans to be murdered by terrorists or directly participated in it.
    When asked whether the public had been told the whole truth on the government knowledge and involvement in 9-11 and whether Congress should investigate the white house on this, 72.8 percent of Democrats agreed that we have not been told the truth and there should be an investigation.
    70.4 percent of Democrats said that the 911 commission should have investigated the collapse of building 7, not hit by airplanes. (The left loves to talk about black helicopters. Well here they are, from the liberals!)
    The left is always so smug, believing that all the foolishness is on the side of the people they disagree with. But these 9-11 truther polls show that vastly more lunacy is on the liberal side. Large percentages of Democrats believe in gigantic conspiracies that involve heinous acts by the government. It’s incredible really. Imagine what it would take to keep a conspiracy like this secret. It’s not possible of course, except in Hollywood movies made be left wing actors, but that doesn’t stop these Democrats from believing it anyway.
    Menzie, you need to look to your own house before criticizing others.

  60. westslope

    So let me guess, the rumour that the USA is now a post-racial society is not entirely accurate?

    I was so hoping.

  61. Menzie Chinn

    Rick Stryker: First, note the original question was about the nativist tendencies. I am glad that you now accede to the heavy presence of nativist tendencies amongst conservatives. Second, I am happy to accede to the proposition that there are some irrational views on the left. But the original question was not whether there was irrationality; it was whether nativist views were more dominant on the right than left, and now we have come to an agreement that indeed they are more dominant on the right.

    Had the Zogby poll asked whether the Bush Administration had been delinquent in not raising the alert level pre-9/11, I would have been one saying “yes” to that question. See the President’s Daily Briefing of August 6, 2001, written more than one month before 9/11. See also Richard Clarke‘s book, Against All Enemies. Clarke was the chief counter-terrorism official at the end of the Clinton and beginning of the G.W. Bush administrations.(By the way, you should recall that the heads of the commission have their own questions, noting the Bush Administration had not been fully accommodating in responding to requests for explanations).

  62. Rick Stryker

    Menzie,
    We have not agreed that nativist tendencies are more predominant on the right. Birtherism is a conspiracy theory that holds that the President is not constitutionally qualified to be President. It is not nativism. I’m willing to agree that there are conspiracy theories on both sides, but these theories are far more ludicrous on the Democratic side.
    I’m not talking about legitimate questions surrounding 9-11. I’m talking about a nutty conspiracy theory, which the polls have shown are heavily supported by Democrats.

  63. Steven Kopits

    On birthers:
    Obama was described as foreign born by any number of sources, including by his literary agent, for some 16 years.
    Then there were reports that the Governor of Hawaii was unable to find proof of Obama’s birth certificate there.
    And finally, the President himself was extraordinarily slow to produce the requisite document, only showing it in April 2011. You would think he had it handy, but it took him three years to produce the certificate.
    If the birthers were concerned about Obama’s origins, there were reasons to be so. If Obama had wanted to pre-empt the issue, he could have done so years earlier.
    http://www.wnd.com/2012/05/shocker-obama-was-still-kenyan-born-in-2003/
    http://www.infowars.com/abercrombie-admits-failure-to-discover-obama-birth-certificate/

  64. Menzie Chinn

    Steve Kopits: I guess, then, I had better post my birth certificate, just in case. The document released in 2011 was not the document generally necessary for proof of being born in the US; the short form was (released in 2008). To my knowledge among Presidential candidates only President Obama has been required to produce the long form (in 2011). Coincidence? I think not.

    All I can say is, just, wow. From you, I had hoped for more.

  65. Steven Kopits

    On nativists:
    As you know, I use a three ideology model: (classical) liberals, (social) conservatives, and egalitarians.
    During the communist era (to 1989), the fiscal and social conservatives co-habited, with the fiscal conservatives on the median voter boundary.
    After communism fell, a good number of egalitarians wandered to the conservative side. Classical liberals (fiscal conservatives) were effectively pushed to the left and adopted by the New Left, including Bill Clinton, whose major achievements were ultimately fiscally conservative.
    Bush II continued with the post-communist split, and effectively marginalized the fiscal conservatives with Part D and the Iraq war, both of which were viewed with disdain by the libertarian set. The financial crisis reinforced the sense that the social conservatives, now without fiscally conservative oversight, could not be trusted with the nation’s fiscal management.
    The libertarians might have cemented their relationship with the left had not Obama returned to 1970s leftist policies, including a huge healthcare plan. In addition, an unchecked fiscal deficit threatened the country’s stability, bringing the fiscally conservative Tea Party (not the Nativist Party) into existence. Thus, rejecting both the egalitarian left and the RINO right, the Tea Party sought assert the importance of libertarian values.
    However, life is not so simple. A great many of those in the Tea Party are older folks, grown up in a time (pre-1989) when fiscal and social conservatives co-habited and represented a single block. Thus, Tea Party sites feature not only talk of small government, but also plenty of American flags and talk of patriotism. Patriotism (as it is about agency) is a socially conservative concept. Thus, many Tea Party patriots sought to re-constitute the Republican Party as it was in the 1970s, encompassing both fiscally and socially conservatives ideologies, with the fiscal conservatives in charge.
    Where does nativism come into it? As I have commented before, democracy can be a means to assure good governance for society as a whole, or as a means for some groups to win redistribution of resources from other groups. Both of these are legitimate goals.
    However, when the median voter believes that democracy is about taking money from the other half, then that democracy transforms into something else, something less functional and decidedly darker. If you have not lived or visited in Latin America–in Argentina, or Mexico, or Brazil–I encourage you to do so. The average voter in these places, in my experience, believes democracy is primarily about wealth redistribution, and the condition of their respective economies show it. The difference between Australia and Argentina is essentially one of culture and mentality.
    Now, if the median voter in the US comes to think of democracy in the sense they think of it in Mexico or Detroit, then this country can well expect to lose its dynamism. And we are pretty close to that point now, perhaps even past it.
    One does not need to be a racist to believe that, the more Latin Americans there are in this country, the more our politics will look like those of Latin America. Nor does one have to be insular or intolerant in wanting to prevent the US from sinking to Latin American standards of governance. So it’s not hard to be a nativist in associating an increasing number of Latin Americans with declining US fortunes. For the Tea Party, resisting further immigration, at least from low wage, poor governance countries, may prove essential if the US has any hope to remain the bastion of prosperity and liberty and has been until recently.
    Is that nativist? I think so. Is it irrational? Probably not.

  66. Johannes

    Cool down Menzie, maybe a glass of chilled orange juice helps.
    Hopefully in Wisconsin it isn’t so hot as here in Tokyo.
    Cheers, Johannes

  67. Steven Kopits

    Menzie -
    Did I ask you to post your birth certificate? Are you running for President?
    However, if you were the President and had lived in foreign countries for extended periods of time, and your place of birth became a political issue, yes, of course I would expect you to produce the document. Further, I would expect politicians to produce, say, their tax returns or their investment records. These pertain to matters of qualification for office (de jure, in the case of country of birth) and questions relating to corruption. For some, they are matters of taste, eg, not everyone liked that fact the Mitt Romney was rich. Well, so be it. I still think he has to post his returns.
    But yes, in the case of public figures, if there is a question of formal qualification for office, they should be able to produce the requisite documents within a fairly short period of time.

  68. Ricardo

    Steven Kopits,
    I absolutely hate it when we have to qualify liberals as “classical” liberals. Liberals are not classical. Liberals were always those who believed in maximum liberty for the individual and limited government control over the lives of citizens. I am tired of the autocratic, central planners stealing words and redefining them except when they want to use the old definition to deceive. Progressives, communists, socialists, central planners, and Democrats are not liberal. Don’t allow them to claim a to support a freedom that they are working against.
    While today most of the Republican party is conservative those of us who are liberal fight against those conservatives to try to force change so that our society will return to its true liberal roots. True liberals have a hard road because they have to fight both parties, but only the Democrats claim the label deceptively.

  69. Menzie Chinn

    Johannes: I was just in Tokyo. I know exactly what you mean. Never was AC more appreciated.

    Steve Kopits: John McCain was not even born in the United States (Panama Canal). Don’t recall anybody ever asked for a long form birth certificate from him. But the debate over that issue lasted barely any time at all, relative to that for President Obama. Once again, I ask, coincidence or not.

    No, I’m not running for office, but if I were too in certain parts of the country, how long before someone would ask to see the certificate?

  70. Steven Kopits

    No, Menzie, it’s not a coincidence.
    First of all, McCain was not elected President.
    Second, his family has been in the US for a long time, on both sides. For Pete’s sake, his father and grandfather were both four star admirals.
    Third, what was he doing in the Panama Canal? Well, what does Wikipedia say? John McCain was born on August 29, 1936, at Coco Solo Naval Air Station in the Panama Canal Zone, to naval officer John S. McCain, Jr. (1911–1981) and Roberta (Wright) McCain (b. 1912). At that time, the Panama Canal was under U.S. control.

  71. tj

    How about this rodeo clown story -
    “T.J. Hawkins (clown) rolled out the big inner tube, and the bull lowered his head, shot forward and launched into the tube, sending it bounding down the center of the arena. The crowd cheered. Then the bull saw the George Bush dummy.
    He tore into it, sending the rubber mask flying halfway across the sand as he turned toward the fence, sending cowboys scrambling up the fence rails, hooking one with his horn and tossing him off the fence.”
    http://articles.philly.com/1994-08-19/news/25842089_1_bullfighting-clowns-rodeo-arena-clown-smile
    It’s in poor taste to mock the president of the U.S., but then I guess it comes with territory.

  72. Rick Stryker

    Yes, it is important to put the birther controversy in context. Menzie wants to compare to John McCain to question the motives of those who don’t believe the President was born in the US, while at the same time decrying John for questioning his motives.
    There is an essential difference between McCain’s and Obama’s case. In McCain’s case, where he was born was not at issue. Rather, the issue was whether being born in Panama on a military base disqualified him constitutionally. Most legal scholars thought he was constitutionally qualified, but not everyone. But people did talk about it, just as they did for George Romney many years ago.
    In Obama’s case, the issue was where he was born. The birther controversy didn’t come out of nowhere. As late as April 2007, Obama’s official bio on the website of his literary agent read as follows:
    “BARACK OBAMA is the junior Democratic senator from Illinois and was the dynamic keynote speaker at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. He was also the first African-American president of the Harvard Law Review. He was born in Kenya to an American anthropologist and a Kenyan finance minister and was raised in Indonesia, Hawaii, and Chicago. His first book, DREAMS FROM MY FATHER: A STORY OF RACE AND INHERITANCE, has been a long time New York Times bestseller.”
    This quote can be verified by looking at the wayback machine here:
    http://web.archive.org/web/20070403190001/http://www.dystel.com/clientlist.html
    Anyone who has written a book knows that literary agents run their bios by their authors. Thus, Obama himself was publicly claiming to be born in Kenya while he was a U.S. Senator.
    Given that, people naturally asked questions, questions that were very slowly answered, which provoked more suspicion. Given the questions out there, the administration could have cleared it up very quickly by supplying all the forms as Steven suggested. But they didn’t do that. Many savvy Republicans smelled a rat, suspecting that the Administration was slow walking the evidence to fan the conspiracy theories, which they could then use later to discredit Republicans. That’s why so many Republicans ran away from the question and urged others to do the same.
    This has nothing to do with nativism. On the other hand, the 9-11 truther movement is truly lunacy, with no basis for it whatsoever.

  73. Menzie Chinn

    Steve Kopits: I find it interesting that all the people who are so concerned with the Constitution dispense with that debate in circumstances. The Constitution doesn’t say, as far as I know, that the birth requirement holds except in cases where the father or grandfather was an admiral.

    tj: Yes, poor taste, I agree. That’s not how discourse should go. But arguing that somebody is an alien agent seems much more akin to, well, you know what.

    Rick Stryker: So you believe that the birtherism movement is entirely understandable, and has absolutely no relationship to nativism?

  74. Steven Kopits

    No worries. It wasn’t that important, I think, and we’ve covered most of what’s to be said on the topic.

  75. Rick Stryker

    Menzie,
    I think the birther controversy is understandable in terms of the politics. It’s not about nativism but rather about the perception of nativism.
    Every President’s problem is how to keep the base in line without delivering too much to the base, because if you do that you lose the center. I think this problem is the key to understanding the birther question.
    Obama’s previous claims to have been born in Kenya did raise legitimate questions and people naturally wanted those questions answered. Those questions were finally answered by the release of the short form. However, the slow walking of the answers raised suspicions. As I said, the savvy Republicans smelled a rat. They knew that the claims to have been born in Kenya were just to sell books and they ran from investigating any further because the felt rightly that the Administration was setting a trap. The birther claims continued, but they were spearheaded by people who had an incentive to do it, mainly a small group of radio and tv personalities who were looking for publicity.
    The question is, why did the Administration slow walk the evidence and thus fan the conspiracy theories? I think the answer is that they need to manage their base. Birther conspiracy theories feed into the Democratic base’s stereotype of Republicans who are trying to de-legitimize the “other.” The democratic base spends it time fretting about perceived nativism and doesn’t really blame the Administration for not delivering on more left wing policies, because they think the Administration is being thwarted.
    It’s a very clever political strategy on the part of the Administration really. The advantage to them is that they keep their base happy without having to deliver too much. From the conservative point of view, the main advantage is similar: birther conspiracy theories give the Administration cover not to push for even more left wing policies. And the costs on the Republican side are low. Republican leaders were to smart to fall for this, so none of them were caught in the trap and discredited. And the talk show hosts got their publicity. The only very minor cost is that Republicans have to listen to the democratic base scream about nativism, xenophobia, or whatever. It’s annoying, yes, but no one really cares.
    Everybody wins.

  76. ottnott

    Forget long forms. I’m waiting for Hawaii to prove to my satisfaction that it is a U.S. state. Have you ever looked at a map?
    They’ll have to bring me out there at Hawaii’s expense for a prolonged investigation.

  77. valuethinker

    Steven Kopits
    ‘John McCain’s family has been in the United States a long time. For Pete’s sake, his father and grandfather were admirals’.
    Dear God, have you no shame?
    Barack Obama’s great grandparents lived in the USA — on his mother’s side. The man is certainly as American as someone with the very un-WASP name of ‘Kopits’- -that doesn’t sound like a real American name to *me*.
    I mean, what are you, some third generation Polish immigrant?
    Is one more ‘American’ if one’s ancestors were admirals, generals or other high military officers? More ‘American’ if one is a WASP?
    Is one more ‘American’ if one’s father had a more American-sounding name? If one’s father was not an immigrant?
    It amazes me an allegedly intelligent man can make comments like that, in the early 21st century. Actually I lie, it doesn’t amaze me. But it saddens me.

  78. valuethinker

    Steve Kopits
    Maybe I should explain where I am coming from.
    More than one Canadian Prime Minister was born in Scotland.
    And the Australian PM, Julia Gillard, was born in Wales, UK.
    And of Britain’s Prime Ministers, we count a Welshman (David Lloyd George), any number of Scotsmen (Gordon Brown most recently), at least one anglican convert of German-Jewish origin (Benjamin Disraeli). Of party leaders, Michael Howard’s father was a Romanian Jew. David Milliband’s grandfather was from Eastern Europe.
    Our royal family? German. Elizabeth of Sax Coborg Gotha– a descendant of the Elector of Hanover (a legal requirement, and Catholics need not apply).
    So how someone can question the Americanness of a guy whose maternal grandparents were clearly Anglo American stock, and who was born in the USA, just seems absurd. Particularly if being born in the Panama Canal Zone is ‘American’.
    In effect, you’ve gone down a path which basically takes you to racism.
    In which case I should remind you that people of Eastern European descent were seen as being ‘less American’ and ‘less British’ not very long ago in history, too. Not to mention Catholics, of course.

  79. tj

    valuethinker
    I never understood the fascination with Obama’s roots either. His “Americanism” as you call it, was evident when as a youth in Hawaii, he snorted coke and smoked pot with the Choom Gang.
    Obama’s admitted drug use puts his instructions to Holder to reduce the penalties for drug users and drug dealers in a whole new light !

  80. Steven Kopits

    Well, I did not question Obama’s commitment to America. I noted that it had been unclear whether he met the requirements of the law.
    But he does seem rather ambivalent about his loyalties, and that’s because to be committed to any place involves socially conservative impulses. It’s about belonging. I don’t have the sense that Obama feels he belongs anywhere; he is a true internationalist.
    Being an Argentine-born, US-raised, Eastern European Catholic myself, I can sympathize with Obama. I had many friends like him (we’re only a few months apart in age), and like him, I have both strong international experience and an understanding of a broader set of cultures. Having said that, I waver between freedom (liberalism, a la Ricardo) and belonging (conservatism). I think most people are similar. Duty and desire: that’s where principal-agent theory takes you.
    Obama, by contrast, is a more traditional egalitarian, more focused on class than ethnic or social group. He uses the word “empathy” frequently, and that translates into re-distributive policies from a hard left perspective. On the other hand, this means that he doesn’t have great insight into governing. His ideology is not about running the machine, but rather assuming that the machine is somehow exogenous, the outputs of which he is free to redistribute. He has come late to the realize (if at all), that the machine itself requires attention, and that he has to be able to interact using liberal and conservative mindsets as well, for those are the ideologies which deal with the functioning of society as a whole.
    But, you know, valuethinker, maybe I am being too harsh. After all, Ted Cruz was born in Canada.

  81. Rick Stryker

    Valuethinker,
    You’ve provided a valuable lesson for us. I’m just sorry it had to be at Steven Kopits’ expense, who I know from his comments to be a very nice guy.
    One of Menzie’s points in this post is
    “I think this comment highlights the sad state of policy discourse, at least on one side, has descended to. At the very least, it demonstrates an inability to discuss issues on their own merit without bringing into play the personalities.” I’d like to highlight the “at least on one side” portion of the comment and then review your comment in that context.
    First, you attribute an argument to Steven Kopits that he did not make. Rather than make your own counter argument on birtherism backed up by evidence that you link to, you spend your time attacking an argument that Steven didn’t make.
    Then, you start to reveal your underlying bigotry by saying that Kopits’ name doesn’t sound American. Then you speculate on his background, saying “what are you, some third generation Polish immigrant?” Then you question Steven’s intelligence and finally suggest that he’s on the path to racism. You never address the argument that he actually made. Instead, you engage in scurrilous personal attacks.
    Your comment shows that the behavior that Menzie was decrying in this post is much worse on the liberal side. You are exhibit A, B, C, … Z on that point.

  82. aaron

    I don’t get the birther thing, wasn’t his mother a US citizen when he was born? Makes it a mute point.

  83. Barkley Rosser

    Wow, what an awful thread. Do those of you criticizing Menzie for noting this inappropriate inquiry from John realize what you look like, pretty much the whole lot of you? Of course much of your posts amount to loudly denying that you are what you look like. Well, look again and more closely, guys.
    tj: On racism and the Tea Party, is it not the case that during that supposedly peaceful TP demo in Washington some of the TPers were spitting on African American (and civil rights hero) Congressman John Lewis?
    As for the IRS non-scandal, indeed they were looking at groups from both sides. It is also apparently the case that while some of the TP groups faced some delays in getting their exemptions, in the end they all got them.
    What is really shocking in this is that any of these groups from either side got them. These groups are all blatantly political and they do not deserve tax breaks. Having them pay taxes on their income is not suppressing them or preventing them from operating. They hysteria over this has been utterly hypocritical, particularly given that the issue was specifically cooked up by Darryl Issa asking specfically about treatment of TP groups and not any others.
    Again, there are an awful lot of you who should be seriously embarrassed and ashamed at the utter drivel you have been posting here.

  84. Rick Stryker

    Barkley Rosser,
    Like every left wing commenter, you just make dogmatic assertions that you don’t back up with any evidence. It’s you who should be ashamed.
    First, the incident with John Lewis and the other congressman never happened. These congressman made a lot of allegations but fortunately too many people at public rallies have iphones, cameras, ipads, etc these days. Plenty of people shot video that shows the incident these congressman claimed never happened. Andrew Breitbart offered a $100K reward to anyone who could corroborate the claims with video evidence. No one ever collected. In fact, no independent journalist or witness ever came forward to corroborate the story.
    If you think this happened, then where is your evidence? If you have video evidence, then you might still be able to collect the 100K. But in the meantime, here is some video evidence that contradicts the Congressmens’ story.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y17LKXBrkk#t=03m36s
    On the IRS, I linked to the civil complaint of True the Vote in an earlier comment which details the facts of that case. I also linked to a video of the founder discussing her outrageous harassment. Here’s some more video testimony from Cleta Mitchell, the lawyer who has been handling these cases:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r-L9b1ew9hg
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qdkdDVhP0wI
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VBJOlFTR4Nc
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Epx6OtQnDms
    If you think this has been happening on both sides, then post the complaints and video evidence of harassment on the liberal side. Who is the lawyer on the liberal side? Who on the liberal side has been investigated by various agencies of the government once they put in their application?
    The reason you don’t back up your claims with argument and evidence is that you can’t.

  85. aaron

    Barkley, what the IRS people did is about as bad as you can get without turning to actual violence or cover up some physically harmful neglect like poisoning masses people with industrial waste. If people don’t do serious jail time for that, it’ll be impossible for most people to have respect for our government. Even so it will be difficult.

  86. Anonymous

    Barkley, you (11:56 AM 8-13) post reminds me of the saying: if a man is a fool, the best thing to do is encourage him to talk. Your ignorance of the IRS scandal is stunning. Do you read anything other than the NY times?
    To this day, many Tea Party groups are still being targeted and still have not received 501C tax-exempt status. The targeting of the Tea Party groups that started in 2010 was for one and one purpose only — namely, to deny tax exempt status to as many as possible for 2 or 3 three … long enough to prevent them from fully participating in the 2012 election. And this is exactly what happened. They were disenfranchised, denied their constitutional right to fully participate in the 2012 election by fascists supporters of Obama (so much for the leftie meme that it is the GOP who wants to disenfranchise voters). Several progressive groups did receive follow-up questionnaires from the IRS following their initial 501 C applications, but were quickly granted tax exempt status. If, as you foolishly claim, Progressive groups were targeted on the same scale as Tea Party groups where are they? None have come forward–and god knows you libs are always moaning about how you are being treated unfairly. And yet, with the IRS scandal…not a PEEP. Another reason it’s obvious that Progressives were not targeted is to look at the unbiased mainstream media. You can bet your a$$ that we would be seeing investigative story after story (plus editorials and op-eds) from the Obama sycophants at the NY times, the WA Post, ABC, NBC, CBS, the hate merchants at MSNBC, NPR and on and on …if Progressives had been targeted and abused like the Tea Party. We know this because the unbiased media will look under every rock, every pebble at the mere whiff of a GOP scandal. But alas nothing from the unbiased media– they’re too busy shilling for Obama and the Dems.
    So continue with your ignorant, uniformed view that the IRS scandal is nothing. It’s not a scandal because Lois Lerner took the fifth. Its not a scandal because the IRS continues to stonewall the investigation (like Nixon…)? It’s not a scandal because no left-wing groupS have come forward telling horror stories about how they were abused like the Tea Party. And it’s not a scandal because the Tea Party BOLO requests seem to have originated in the Office of the Legal Counsel, the head of which is an Obama appointee. No scandal though……..Obama and the IRS are just like Nixon and Ivory Snow…99% pure.
    And as for Menzie posting what he considered an inappropriate series of questions from a blog reader …….what a silly, childish thing to do. He doesn’t post inappropriate comments from his teaching evaluations for teaching 1960s IS-LM models as legitimate macroeconomics(but then he doesn’t teach much either…). There was no compelling reason for Menzie to start this thread……and yet he just couldn’t resist. Funny that liberals are like this….
    We would all be better off going forward if Menzie would stick to economics and leave ‘conservative are evildoers’ BS to other blogs.

  87. Rick Stryker

    Aaron,
    You raise an important point. My understanding of the legal scholarship on the meaning of natural born citizen is that someone is a natural born citizen even if born in a foreign country, as long as at least one parent is a US citizen who met US residency requirements. Since the President’s mother met those requirements, it really doesn’t matter if the President was born in Kenya–he’s still constitutionally qualified. I think if more birthers understood that, there would be many fewer of them and a lot of the nonsense would disappear.

  88. Rick Styker

    Just to follow up on Anonymous’s comment, here is some pertinent text from the second article of impeachment of President Richard Nixon:
    “He has, acting personally and through his subordinates and agents, endeavoured to obtain from the Internal Revenue Service, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, confidential information contained in income tax returns for purposed not authorized by law, and to cause, in violation of the constitutional rights of citizens, income tax audits or other income tax investigations to be intitiated or conducted in a discriminatory manner.”
    This was serious stuff back then and the media were investigating diligently. They thought that was their role as the “Fourth Estate.” Guess times have changed.

  89. Menzie Chinn

    Anonymous (4:04 PM) aka Robert: It is remarkable that a post asserting someone else provides no proof itself provides absolutely no documentation. The ironies abound.

    I am curious. You say I posted “what he considered an inappropriate series of questions from a blog reader”. I sense from your phrasing that do not consider those questions inappropriate. Is that a correct surmise? That is, do you believe those kinds of questions are entirely appropriate when debating (in this case) the evolution of the employment numbers in Wisconsin? I think the answer to that question would explain much about your views.

  90. Anonymous

    Menzie……whether they were appropriate questions or not is not the point/issue. This is an Econ blog, not an “I be besmirched” blog. Some so-called inappropriate questions are, quite simply, best left alone. Who gives a shit where you or your parents were born or what your parents political believes are? You are the one who made this silly issue a BIG deal…..evidence, frankly of your insecurity and/or pettiness.
    Anyone who reads this blog knows you are a far-left liberal and that you frequently post political drivel. We read anyway, almost always disagree, and and move on. Here is a suggestion — grow UP and act like an adult instead of constantly playing the victim card. You ain’t no victim—-if you want victims look at UW students paying outrageous tuition so that you can constantly travel abroad on their dime…

  91. Menzie Chinn

    Anonymous aka Robert: Well, gee, I already posted over ten hours ago on exchange rate depreciation.

    I wonder if you have ever noticed that there is an Econbrowser category called here and there. You will observe that not everything that is on Econbrowser is about economics. Perhaps you should start your economics-only blog. I promise I would read it, at least once.

    Finally, a point of clarification: when I travel abroad, it is not on the university’s dime. Your statement to that effect demonstrates a truly astonishing level of ignorance regarding academia. But I am not surprised.

  92. Kevin O'Neill

    Why would these thoughts (of conservative bigotry, xenophopia, etc) surprise anyone? The literature is dotted with dozens of studies that support it.
    There’s a difference between fact and opinion. But sometimes opinions are *supported* by facts and other times they aren’t. If you’re a conservative and dislike the characterization – too bad.
    Professor Bob Altemeyer has studied these political differences extensively. His case studies are well-documented and if The Aothoritarians is a must read to understand today’s political/social climate.

  93. Steven Kopits

    I agree with Rick.
    Natural born is not defined in the Constitution. It has historically meant “born in the US”, without a clear definition of what that means (eg, is Puerto Rico the “US” for these purposes?).
    The Supreme Court has never ruled on the matter at the Presidential level. However, I believe they would rule narrowly, as the intent of the law is to prevent undue foreign influence, not restrict the choice of presidential candidates.
    Thus, most likely, they would argue that anyone who did not require naturalization would qualify as “natural born”. That’s a very clear, bright line and does not require nuanced interpretation.
    By this measure, all of Obama, McCain and Cruz would qualify as legitimate Presidential candidates.

  94. Anonymous

    Just can’t resist the cheap shots can you Menzie.
    You’re so petty.
    So, you pay your own freight when you travel abroad or within the US to conferences? Hard to swallow that one, but kudos if you refuse to dip into the department/university travel budget. I’m sure the money changers at UW appreciate this……IF TRUE.

  95. Menzie Chinn

    Rick Stryker and Barkley Rosser: Regarding the events at the Capitol, it was apparently Representative Cleaver who was spat upon, according to WaPo. Representatives Lewis and Frank claim to have racial and homophobic epithets hurled at them. The video that Rick Stryker provides does not seem dispositive either way, then, on the spitting issue (sure does sound like a lot of shouting going on).

    A person was apprehended in the Cleaver incident. The article states that the Representative declined to press charges, so the implication is that the incident did indeed happen.

    This other article provides several interpretations, along with an imbedded video that shows the incident; you can see the specific episode more clearly than the one provided by Rick Stryker.

  96. Anonymous

    I almost never agree with Menzie, but the ad homs and probing personal questions are absurd.

  97. Rick Styker

    Menzie,
    Barkley mentioned Lewis, so I was refuting the slurs allegation, not the spitting. The video I posted was from across Independence Ave, where the congressmen claimed some of the slurs took place. Here is a more complete video that shows them walking down the steps from different angles as well as the shot from across the street. The steps are where they claimed 15 slurs took place. I think it’s clear that the slurs never occurred.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5y17LKXBrkk#t=01m51s
    The allegations surrounding the spitting were also false and misleading. After the incident, Rep Cleaver issued a statement that alleged that he was spat upon and that the person who did it was arrested. The statement is here:
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/20/tea-party-protests-nier-f_n_507116.html
    However, as the video shows, the congressman just walked by a screaming protester, who was screaming so vociferously that some of his spittle hit the congressman. There was nothing intentional about it. Moreover, the protester was not arrested but rather detained and then released, and not because the congressman declined to press charges. This article quotes Sgt. Kimberly Schneider, spokeswoman for the Capitol Police, who said:
    “There were no elements of a crime, and the individual wasn’t able to be positively identified,” she said. “(Cleaver) was unable to positively identify.”
    http://www.foxnews.com/story/2010/03/22/tea-party-protesters-dispute-reports-slurs-spitting-against-dem-lawmakers/
    Subsequently, the Congressman dropped it, refusing to talk about it. It’s not hard to understand why. No politician in his right mind, on the right or left, is going to go after a protester when there is no crime. It would create a political firestorm, raise serious first amendment issues, and be political suicide for the congressman and his party.
    As far as I know, all the accusations about the alleged violence and racism of the tea party is based on these two incidents. But when you look closely at the facts, there is no there there.

  98. kent

    I’m just stunned that Menzie puts up with any of this. Seriously, man, don’t you have better things to do with your time than argue with these guys?
    To take just the most recent comment: Rick Styker (previously Stryker) can only find two incidents in the whole history of the world that demonstrate any racism or violence on the part of anyone associated with the Tea Party. How do you even engage with a claim that is so far from reality?
    And that’s just one of literally dozens of claims that aren’t even in the ballpark of the real world.
    It *has* to be trolling. Nobody can actually believe this stuff.

  99. Robj

    Wow.
    All the right-wing trolls really got their tagged undies in a bunch about Mr. Head Troll John or what’s his face trying to do a type-writer family investigation of Menzie–on his own blog!!!!! Presumably to get Menzie deported, I suppose.
    You gots balls of Atlas to claim that you’ve been impugned by the blogwriter when you claim Menzie is illicitly pulling down salary (that presumably you feel you’re paying). Damn. Pay the blogger some money then, rather than using it for your sensitivity training since your parents didn’t invest in a bale of kleenex.
    Good Lord. What a bunch of snivelling Austerians with their sensitivities just all crushed, don’t you know. Grow up. Go get your own blogs instead of seeking apologies from your host.
    What a bunch of rightist parasites.
    I knew there was a reason I told myself not to read comments on this blog, by John (or toilet), ricardo, and tj. I’m sure there are others.
    Grow a beard or get testosterone injections, Austerians. Form an Austerian drum club. Do something positive rather than bitching about how Menzie is exploiting you. It’s like the Palestine Liberation Front in Monty Python’s Life of Brian–only sadly real and austerian.
    Disgoosting.
    Better yet–write your own blog and see who congregates.
    OMG!!! No irony gene for Mr. John or the faux Austerian trolls whatsover (OOOHHHH–someone called me a right-wing troll and I’m really an Austerian troll). Get some sensitivity therapy, trolls.
    Good Lord. Or go practice voter ID scanning or something productive.
    There’s a reason I resolved last year never to read comments and the reasons are John/toilet, tj, Ricardo and the “sensitive” Austerians who always have their underwear in a bunch.

  100. Rick Styker

    Kent,
    I said “As far as I know, all the accusations about the alleged violence and racism of the tea party are based on these two incidents.” I’m aware that there are fringe left wing bloggers making allegations about the tea party, but the two false claims I referenced in my comment are generally what people use to make the “racist,violent” argument about the tea party.
    As is typical, you just dogmatically assert that everyone knows that there is more evidence, but you don’t bother to point to any. If you think there is more evidence, then bring it on.
    But be warned that I will counter with evidence showing the bigotry and violence of the left.
    Robj,
    Your rambling, poorly written invective provides yet another counterexample to Menzie’s point about “the sad state of policy discourse, at least on one side, has descended to.” No, not on one side at all. Thanks for reminding us.

  101. valuethinker

    Steve Kopits
    Thanks for your measured reply.
    I used irony, and in a very thick tone, about ‘not WASP’ because I was trying to make a point about where your argument was going– it basically goes straight towards racism. If Obama is not an ‘American’ name, then neither is ‘Kopits’.
    Racism in American history is not something that has merely been applied to people of colour. The Irish got it from the English. The Germans from both. The Italians from everyone (a friend of mine was Italian-American in Wisconsin, her father a prof at Madison in economics, her entire high school years were about her classmates obsession that she was ‘mafiosi’). Hence my point about ‘un WASP’.
    Obama’s ‘lack of commitment to America’ is just a surreal argument to my ears. I mean WTF? as you would say in American-speak. The guy is an American original– in that he is the son of an immigrant, has lived in several states, married to the granddaughter of sharecroppers, etc.
    Obama in other words embodies the American narrative in his life. *this* is what Americans are, a nation of people who came from other places (even the Amerindians, once, a long time ago) and came together.
    It’s just amazing to me that people could talk about an American president that way. This is a guy who has ordered more drone attacks, effectively targetted assassinations, than any predecessor.
    And it saddens me, because it implies that there is a part of the US that is still trying to apply some kind of ‘litmus test’ about what counts as ‘American’ and what counts as ‘patriot’.
    It’s shocking when Americans show that nativism to outsiders, which is so at odds with the professed ideals of the nation, which the election of a half black man whose father was Kenyan seemed to so embody.
    I mean if you want ‘patriot’ then John Kerry far outscored GW Bush– Kerry *killed a man* in the service of his country. Up front, personal and retail. How much more ‘American’ can you get? Bush dodged the draft via his father and the National Guard.

  102. valuethinker

    Rick Stryker
    I think you missed a very strong tone of English irony in my post.
    You are esssentially accusing me of setting up a Straw Man with Steve Kopits. Maybe that’s true (see my separate post to him).
    But have you thought where this line of thought is going?
    That we can define a US president as less ‘American’ because:
    - he was born in Hawaii? and has lived in several states
    - his father was not American
    - (implicitly) he doesn’t look like a northern European
    - his last name is funny and not as ‘American’ as ‘McCain’
    (John Kerry’s grandfather was an Austrian Jew– did that make Kerry, a man who killed an enemy of the United States with an AR14 down a jungle trail, and was decorated for same act, less American? Would Obama be more American if his name was Barry Dunham? (ie his maternal grandfather’s name?).
    The reality is this line of logic comes damned close to the ways in the past in which groups like Jews were condemned as ‘not of us’. Irish Catholics f’rinstance. Japanese Americans at the dawn of WW2. These are very dark periods in American history– most people would agree with that, anti semitism is not buried that long ago in the American past.
    There’s 2 definitions of American, relevant to Barak Hussein Obama:
    - US passport holder – tick, he has that
    - born in the USA (and it appears, the Panama Canal Zone when it was part of the USA)- well no one has ever laid the slightest bit of plausible doubt that BHO was born in Hawaii, a state of the United States
    So he’s an American, whether you like him or not.

  103. valuethinker

    What is overall shocking to me about the original questions posed to Menzie is what if he had answered ‘Israel’ to any of these questions?
    Wouldn’t we all be backing away in concern at inadvertently sounding like anti-semites? (note I do mean anti-semite: there are both Jews and Arabs born in Israel, both languages are semitic in origin– in fact many Israeli Arabs are of Christian origin, just as many Israeli Jews are of Sephardic ie Arab origin (debated whether that means they share genes with Arabs, but they certainly came from Arab countries).
    Shouldn’t we accord a basic respect and presumption to anyone that when they advocate something, it’s not because of their presumed national, racial or ethnic roots? But because they believe it would be best for the people of Wisconsin? For the US as a nation?
    You could ask the question posed to Menzie as simply ‘what about the tax burden on future taxpayers of Wisconsin?’ without dragging anything about his origins into it.

  104. acerimusdux

    On the “Tea Party” it’s important to note that there wasn’t one “Tea Party”, there were a number of different groups with different agendas who adopted the banner. The intially grass-roots effort, the “Tea Party Patriots” was focused on limited government, lower spending, lower taxes, and repeal of the healthcare law. The same can be said of the “Contract From America”. There really was no obvious nativist or racist bent to any of this.

    That said, the nativist and even racist elements were quick to attempt to co-opt this movement and form their own groups. The worst of these was perhaps the “Tea Party Nation”, the only tea party related group classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center. Also problematic are Mark Williams and the “Tea Party Express”. The former group was responsible for organizing the “National Tea Party Convention” in February 2010, which was boycotted by the Tea “Party Patriots”. The latter group was expelled from the “National Tea Party Federation” due to it’s association with Williams, and some of his comments and blog posts.

    So it’s not fair to paint the “tea party” with a broad brush as being anything racist or nativist, and in fact a number of organizations and leaders have spoken out against such sentiments, and tried to purge the movement of any such influences. At the same time, it’s not a media invention either that some of these elements existed and had significant influence.

  105. acerimusdux

    On the IRS:

    link

    ‘The Internal Revenue Service used terms such as “progressive” and evidence of advocacy on Israel to flag groups’ tax-exempt applications for extra attention, complicating what had been seen as targeted scrutiny for small-government groups.’

    ‘Eight groups with “progress” or “progressive” in their names had appeared on a publicly available list of groups whose applications had been delayed…’

  106. Menzie Chinn

    Re: birtherism.

    From “Cruz’s Supporters Don’t Question Eligibility,” Texas Tribune:

    When Democrat Barack Obama was running for president in 2008, Republican voter Christina Katok of Walden said she believed he was ineligible for the job.

    She reasoned that he was born in Kenya and therefore wasn’t a “natural born” American — one of a handful of constitutional requirements for the job. (Obama’s birth certificate shows that he was born in Hawaii, but some critics do not accept that as fact.)

    Fast forward six years and another freshman U.S. senator, Canadian-born Tea Party firebrand Ted Cruz of Texas, is being mentioned as a potential 2016 presidential candidate. But Katok, who would vote for Cruz in a heartbeat, doesn’t have any concerns about his eligibility.

    “As far as I’m concerned, Canada is not really foreign soil,” she said. Katok said she was more disturbed by Obama’s “strong ties to Kenya,” the African country where his father was born. She also said she didn’t like the fact that Obama did not release his long-form birth certificate during the 2008 race.

    Cruz, who recently released his Canadian birth certificate, is at least “up front about it,” she said.

    I think this story summarizes the nature of the birther movement comprehensively.

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