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JCD is Right!* Hitler is a cliche …

Il Dunce

With the pardon of the sheriff, with the order to the military Re: transgenderpeople in the  service, I’d have slapped up a shot of Der Fuhrer faster than lightning. But JCD is right, I’ve been over-using Hitler as an easy allusion for Drumph and Fascism.

So here is a new simulacrum that I’ll use. It’s a little lighter with a touch of humor. Although the situations grow less and less humorous.

Thanks JCD!

          * see JCD comment, 3rd comment under ‘Very Nice People’ post **


**  Granted, this is a meta reference to Williams. However, one that may be familiar to constant readers.

Addenda items …

At David’s good suggestion to search harder for a Williams College reference, I am adding this more direct beat-back.

This article in the blog of Christian Thorne, Associate Professor of English on 27 February, 2017:

Mussolini’s government, unlike Hitler’s, did not attempt to monopolize the entire sphere of thought and culture. Historians are keen to point out that there was no Italian Gleichschaltung—no effort to bring everyone into line. Within certain parameters, independent intellectuals continued to publish in Italy, which means not that there were still socialists or communists or liberals expressing themselves freely in Florence and Rome—those people really were shut down—but that there remained an outer circle of freelance fascists, the half-fascists or the merely unenrolled, the shirts not of black, but of charcoal and onyx and taupe,

Added by DDF:


Steel Yourself for This …



Keystone pipeline exempt from “Buy American”.

Didn’t THE SPEECH have an applause line set-up for the assurance of “Buy American”?



At least his tie was better …

UPDATE from DDF: Dan Drezner ’90 tells a story about buying American:

Economists are just now beginning to appreciate the power of narrative in explaining how people believe the economy actually works. These narratives are not always the truth, and certainly not always the whole truth. But a compelling narrative can profoundly influence how people think the economy functions. Robert Shiller, the new president of the American Economics Association, pointed this out in his recent presidential address: “President-elect Donald J. Trump is a master of narratives.”

So sit right back and let me tell you a story about one of the hidden costs of Donald Trump’s economic motto: Buy American and Hire American.

Read the whole thing. My main takeaway is that there is a lot of fat to be cut from the US budget!


About the above addition to my post by Dave:

Constant Readers of Ephblog know that my posts are rarely done for intellectual discussion and/or an in-depth look at a stance or belief. They are done simply as head turners, as head-turners about the particular issue.

This is the case on “Steel Yourself”. I am pointing out the chicanery of the speech itself with its set-up applause lines.

I must add that while I have no problem with Dave’s reference to Drezner’s article, I have trouble from an editing point-of-view with adding an extension to a post obviously done for brevity. His addition is what “comments” are for.


Trump Will Be Crushed

Dan Drezner (and many EphBlog regulars) assured me last month that “Trump will be crushed.” Perhaps that word does not mean what he thinks it means.


But, of course, Drezner ’90 is a highly credentialed political scientist, a tenured professor at Tufts.


He must know much more about how to win a US presidential election than an idiot like Trump . . .

[Those interested in arguing about the election should argue in this thread, not elsewhere.]


Never Trump, Eph Division

I missed this letter from March:

We the undersigned, members of the Republican national security community, represent a broad spectrum of opinion on America’s role in the world and what is necessary to keep us safe and prosperous. We have disagreed with one another on many issues, including the Iraq war and intervention in Syria. But we are united in our opposition to a Donald Trump presidency. Recognizing as we do, the conditions in American politics that have contributed to his popularity, we nonetheless are obligated to state our core objections clearly:

Usual anti-trump agitprop

Mr. Trump’s own statements lead us to conclude that as president, he would use the authority of his office to act in ways that make America less safe, and which would diminish our standing in the world. Furthermore, his expansive view of how presidential power should be wielded against his detractors poses a distinct threat to civil liberty in the United States. Therefore, as committed and loyal Republicans, we are unable to support a Party ticket with Mr. Trump at its head. We commit ourselves to working energetically to prevent the election of someone so utterly unfitted to the office.

The only Eph I recognize on this list is Dan Drezner ’90. Questions:

1) Are there other Ephs on the list?

2) Dan Drezner is a Republican? From five years ago:

I’m not a Democrat, and I don’t think I’ve become more liberal over time. That said, three things have affected my political loyalties over the past few years. First, I’ve become more uncertain about various dimensions of GOP ideology over time.

Second, the GOP has undeniably shifted further to the right over the past few years, and while I’m sympathetic to some of these shifts, most of it looks like a mutated version of “cargo cult science” directed at either Ludwig Von Mises or the U.S. Constitution (which, of course, is sacred and inviolate, unless conservatives want to amend it).

So for those reasons, I really am a Republican in Name Only at this point. And I say this for the GOP’s benefit. The next time someone writes, “even the Republican Dan Drezner has said….” GOP partisans should feel perfectly entitled to link to this post and call me a RINO. Because it’s true.

If self-styled “members of the Republican national security community” felt inclined to include a (lovable!) RINO like Dan, then I doubt that actual Republicans need to be overly concerned with their views on Trump.

And, the more that the Republican establishment attacks Trump, the more likely he is to win moderate Democrats to his cause. So, actual Trump supporters can only cheer the establishment on. You go, Dan!





FT on Drezner

The Financial Times has nice things to say about The System Worked, the latest book by Dan Drezner ’90.

While reading Dan Drezner’s The System Worked, I kept thinking of the well-publicised conversation between Barack Obama and Tim Geithner that took place shortly before Obama’s inauguration as president in January 2009.

As related in Geithner’s book…

Geithner: Your accomplishment is going to be preventing a second Great Depression.

Obama: That’s not enough for me. I’m not going to be defined by what I’ve prevented.

Geithner: If you don’t prevent a depression, you won’t be able to do anything else.

Obama: I know. But it’s not enough.

For global economic governance, as opposed to Presidential legacies, avoiding economic catastrophe when catastrophe was a non-trivial possibility is enough.

That’s the case made by Drezner . . .

Read the whole thing.


First Bank of the Living Dead

Dan Drezner ’90 reviews books about the financial crisis in The National Interest.

EARLIER THIS year, Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein attempted to justify his professional existence, proclaiming, “We’re very important. We help companies to grow by helping them to raise capital. Companies that grow create wealth. This, in turn, allows people to have jobs that create more growth and more wealth. . . . We have a social purpose.” This all sounds good enough, except that finance went from being responsible for 2.5 percent of GDP in 1947 to 7.7 percent in 2005. And at the peak of the housing bubble, the financial sector comprised 40 percent of all the earnings in the Standard & Poor’s 500. The incomes of the country’s top-twenty-five hedge-fund managers exceeded the total income of all the CEOs in that index. And by 2007, just about half of all Harvard graduates headed into finance jobs. If capital markets merely serve as conduits from savers to entrepreneurs, then why does such a large slice of them get siphoned off to compensate people like Lloyd Blankfein? To put it more broadly, what is the role of finance in a good and just society?

Read the whole thing.


Eph Reactions To the Death of Bin Laden

A sampling from across the political and intellectual spectrum:


Nurse Ratched

Dan Drezner ’90 on Martha Coakley ’75:

The special election to fill Ted Kennedy’s Senate seat is tomorrow, and polls have show a very tight race between Democrat Martha Coakley and Republican Scott Brown for the past week or so. …

[T]he candidates are God awful. Seriously, they stink. Just to review our choices: Democrat Martha Coakley has a prosecutor’s complex that would make Javert seeem like a bleeding-heart liberal. She is a God-awful politician so out of touch with reality that she accused Red Sox hero extraordinaire Curt Schilling of being a Yankee fan (Schilling’s blog response is here). Based on the ads I’ve seen, her campaign has also been, by far, the nastier of the two.

This leaves Republican Scott Brown, who based on his vacuous Boston Globe op-ed, is an empty shirt with no actual policy content whatsoever. He was in favor of health care reform before he was against it. He can’t stand the run-up in government debt, and wants to cut taxes across the board to take care of the problem — cause that makes perfect economic sense. The one thing he is unequivocally for is waterboarding suspected terrorists.

Seriously, these are my mainstream choices? These people are the recipients of all the political firepower both parties can muster? I’m inundated with 24/7 political blather so I can choose between Nurse Ratched and Bob Roberts?

Indeed. Although comparing Coakley to Ratched is . . .

Twisted genius?


8 Years Later

Professor Sam Crane reminds us with pictures why this is a day for reflection. Dan Drezner ’90 recalls the moment.

Howard Kestenbaum ’67, Brian Murphy ’80 and Lindsay Morehouse ’00 were lost to us that sad September morning. May their memories live on.


Veterans in Academia

Former Williams prof. Marc Lynch, in a response to a Tom Friedman column, writes about officers returning from military service to academia, particularly to pursue graduate studies in political science and Middle Eastern studies:

I’ve met a lot of these officers over the last few years, and have frequently been deeply impressed with them. A remarkable number of my students at Williams College (and later from George Washington) chose to serve in the military after graduation in the post-9/11 period (and some, like the much-missed Nate Krissoff, didn’t make it back). There is absolutely no reason why such officers and soldiers wouldn’t choose to pursue advanced degrees, or succeed brilliantly when they do.

When they enter academic programs, these veterans will (and already do) bring a great deal of on-the-ground experience to the classroom and to their research. Many will (and do) enter their programs with far more advanced language skills than did earlier generations of students, although perhaps with more familiarity with colloquial spoken dialects than with Modern Standard Arabic (reversing a common traditional pattern). Their point of reference will be (and is) Iraq and the Gulf, not Israeli-Palestinian affairs, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, or other areas where a great number of current faculty began their encounters with the region. And they will have much greater familiarity and comfort with military and security issues than do many currently in the field.

I doubt that the main effect will be to push the field to the “right”, as I’ve heard suggested. The officers I’ve met are all over the map politically and in terms of their intellectual aspirations. Indeed, I’d guess that the bias would be towards pragmatism and empiricism, and against any kind of ideological doctrines. And at any rate, the allegations of the politicization of Middle East Studies — particularly political science — have always been wildly exaggerated. How the critics of the “Human Terrain Program” over in Anthropology might react, I admit I don’t know…

That’s not to say that there might not be depressing misperceptions on both sides. I’ve had a few soldiers interested in pursuing degrees ask me nervously whether they would be shunned by academics. I would be shocked if any experienced prejudice or bias because of their war service — certainly not at a place like GWU — and would be appalled if they did. I certainly hope that such concerns wouldn’t stop them from applying. I suppose there’s a chance that some faculty might feel threatened by students from such a background — but those are probably professors who have trouble in other areas as well, frankly. Constructive argument and productive friction between people with very different backgrounds, perspectives and knowledge should enrich and even electrify a well-run classroom, not cause problems. That’s a good, not a negative.

Continue reading here.

Dan Drezner ’90 comments:

To put it bluntly, most top political scientists don’t have a lot of experience beyond being political scientists. That is to say, the top Ph.D. students often enter graduate school straight from undergraduate programs. They might have interesting summer internships, but otherwise have limited hands-on experience with politics or international relations…..

The problem comes when everyone in a profession pursues the identical career track — to the point where those who deviate from the career track are thought of as strange or different. At that point, the profession loses something ineffable.

So, former members of the military should be ecouraged to enter Ph.D. programs — as should those who worked on the ground for NGOs and civil affairs branches of the government. I can’t guarantee that it will lead to better scholarship. At a minimum, however, it improves the quality of the teaching and the conversations that take place between colleagues. And I’m pretty confident that that leads to better research.

Additional comments here.


Drezner ’90 on Taylor

What does Mark Taylor love more than anything? Other people talking about his ideas! So, in the spirit of springtime, I will post daily link to commentary on Taylor’s New York Times op-ed, first discussed by JG here.

Start with Dan Drezner ’90:

Every time I think I’m done with the policy relevance of the academy, some postmodernist pulls me back in

Taylor was a professor at Williams College when I was an undergraduate. I took a course called Religion and Modern Secularism there, which assigned Taylor’s book Erring: A Postmodern A/theology. I found Taylor’s application of deconstructionist thought to theology to be completely inpenetrable somewhat difficult to absorb. So my first thought when I read Taylor’s plea for interdisciplinarity and accessibility in the academy to be along the lines of, “Great, 20 years late and $17 short.”

“Abolish permanent departments, even for undergraduate education, and create problem-focused programs.” Among the “problem-focused programs” he suggests are, “Mind, Body, Law, Information, Networks, Language, Space, Time, Media, Money, Life and Water.”

Hey, this is a fun idea — let’s try to come up with other one-word concentrations!

* Power
* Earth
* Love
* Mud
* Chocolate
* Nothing
* Puppies!

Let’s be clear — this idea is crap. Utter, complete, ridiculous crap. There are plenty of interdisciplinary majors, and more are being created as new problems arise. Taylor’s topics are so silly that I began to wonder if he was purposefully self-sabotaging here.


To sum up: this is a mostly silly, badly written op-ed that seems designed to provoke peals of laughter in order to scuttle the few good ideas contained in it.

Just like EphBlog!

Errr. I mean . . . uhhh . . . Read the whole thing.


Drezner ’90 Interview

Here is a fun interview of the premier blogging Eph, Dan Drezner ’90. (Hat tip: Instapundit)

Who are your intellectual heroes? Adam Smith, Albert Hirschman, Thomas Schelling, Friedrich von Hayek, and Samuel Huntington.

Who are your cultural heroes? Joss Whedon, Whit Stillman, Frank Miller and Alan Moore.

I share Dan’s intellectual heroes (although Hirschman is overrated), but have never heard of any of his cultural heroes. Not that that’s a bad thing . . .


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